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Lap around Paul Ricard Lap around Paul RicardRide with Coloni Motorsports for a lap around the Paul Ricard racetrack in France with sound. Click here, then click on Video. gp2series.com
Maserati team getting on with business at Sebring Maserati team getting on with business at SebringTheir names may not be as recognizable as Fellows, O'Connell, Brabham, Gavin or Beretta in the American Le Mans Series' GT1 class. But the trio of drivers piloting the No. 35 Maserati MC12 entry in Saturday's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring hope to show they are worthy of competing in the longest-running sports car race in America.  Italians Andrea Bertolini, Fabio Babini and Fabrizio De Simone each have experience in the FIA GT series. In addition, De Simone raced at last year's Petit Le Mans and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and Babini placed third in the 2002 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring driving a Pirelli Porsche 911 GT3 RS.  "It's a quite different track compared to the ones we have in Europe," said Simone. "The differences are mainly in the bumps and in the fast corners, especially Turn 1 and Turn 17. The different asphalts on this track…these are the main things...they are big differences."

The Maserati MC12 was 19th overall and ninth in class during Wednesday's morning practice session. It improved to 16th overall and eighth in the GT1 class during the afternoon with a fast lap of 2:00.381 (110.649 mph).  "We have been testing since Monday until today," commented De Simone. "We are still working to get our setup for our car. We did all we could do."

The team has one more practice session Thursday morning to tweak the car. Qualifying is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. EST.  "It's not easy to drive here for the cars are all different," said Babini. "It's not easy for the bumps on the tracks. But I'm excited to drive at Sebring. American racing is very spirited racing."  "Aston Martin is very fast and so is Corvette," said Bertolini. "I hope for the race that our car is very consistent.

Dyson team fastest in afternoon at Sebring Dyson team fastest in afternoon at SebringDyson Racing set the standard in afternoon practice, posting a run of 120.817 mph and a lap time of 1:50.249, eclipsing the No. 1 and No. 2 ADT Champion Audi R8s. Earlier in the day during the morning practice session, both Audis fared better than the Dyson team piloted by Chris Dyson and Guy Smith, who drove the fastest lap in the afternoon.

The fastest LMP2 time in the afternoon was a 1:51.752 lap (119.192 mph) posted by Jon Field, Duncan Dayton and Gregor Fisken in Telesis Intersport Racing's Lola B05/40. The fastest GT1 in the afternoon was the No. 4 Corvette Racing C6-R of Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen with a time of 1:57.347 (113.510 mph), surpassing the morning run of the No. 3 Corvette C6-R at 1:57.686 (113.183 mph).

In the GT2 class, the morning run of Patrick Long, Jorg Bergmeister and Lucas Luhr guided the No. 31 Petersen/White Lightning Porsche 911 GT3 RSR to a round of 2:04.960 (106.954 mph), faster than the quickest GT2 afternoon lap set by the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, and Sascha Maassen at 2:05.078 (106.494 mph).

There were only two incidents at the track on Wednesday. In the morning practice session, Tom Weickardt damaged the left front end of the No. 71 Dodge Viper. In the afternoon session, Ian Mitchell spun out in a braking incident in the No.27 Kruse Motorsport Courage.

Pos Pos No. Class Drivers Time Speed Lap Diff Laps Car Make
1 1 20 P1 C.Dyson/G.Smith 1:50.249 120.817 13 -.--- 19 Lola EX257/AER
2 2 1 P1 J.Lehto/M.Werner/T.Kristensen 1:50.565 120.472 17 0.316 25 Audi R8/Audi
3 3 2 P1 E.Pirro/F.Biela/A.McNish 1:51.407 119.562 19 1.158 20 Audi R8/Audi
4 1 37 P2 J.Field/D.Dayton/G.Fisken 1:51.752 119.192 14 1.503 20 Lola B05/40/AER
5 4 16 P1 J.Weaver/A.Wallace/B.Leitzinger 1:52.098 118.825 15 1.849 21 Lola EX257/AER
6 2 10 P2 J.Bucknum/C.McMurry/I.James 1:55.357 115.468 8 5.108 19 Courage C-65/AER
7 1 4 GT1 O.Gavin/O.Beretta/J.Magnussen 1:57.347 113.510 20 7.098 21 Chevrolet Corvette C6-R
8 2 3 GT1 R.Fellows/J.O'Connell/M.Papis 1:57.747 113.124 16 7.498 22 Chevrolet Corvette C6-R
9 5 88 P1 D.Theys/M.Krumm/J.Barbosa 1:58.001 112.880 18 7.752 18 Dallara/Nissan
10 6 12 P1 M.Lewis/T.Drissi/B.Willman 1:58.053 112.831 14 7.804 15 Riley & Scott Mk III C
11 3 58 GT1 P.Kox/P.Lamy/S.Sarrazin 1:58.370 112.529 22 8.121 23 Aston Martin DBR9
12 4 57 GT1 D.Brabham/D.Turner/S.Ortelli 1:59.069 111.868 16 8.820 20 Aston Martin DBR9
13 5 63 GT1 R.Kelleners/T.Borcheller/J.Mowlem 1:59.592 111.379 17 9.343 17 Saleen S7R
14 6 86 GT1 C.Bouchut/S.Bourdais/F.Gollin 2:00.115 110.894 9 9.866 18 Ferrari 550 Maranello
15 7 5 GT1 A.Figge/R.Dalziel/D.Empringham 2:00.172 110.841 16 9.923 21 Chevrolet Corvette C5-R
16 8 35 GT1 A.Bertolini/F.De Simone/F.Babini 2:00.381 110.649 11 10.132 20 Maserati MC12
17 3 27 P2 I.Mitchell/P.Bennett/H.Primat 2:01.819 109.343 16 11.570 16 Courage C-65/Judd
18 4 15 P2 W.Binnie/R.Julien/A.Sharpe 2:04.330 107.134 2 14.081 11 Lola B05/42/Nicholson/McLaren
19 1 23 GT2 T.Bernhard/R.Dumas/S.Maassen 2:05.078 106.494 19 14.829 19 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
20 2 31 GT2 P.Long/J.Bergmeister/L.Luhr 2:05.207 106.384 9 14.958 19 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
21 3 50 GT2 B.Auberlen/R.Liddell/E.Naspetti 2:05.948 105.758 16 15.699 18 Panoz GTLM
22 4 45 GT2 J.van Overbeek/J.Fogarty/D.Law 2:06.911 104.955 7 16.662 8 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
23 5 24 GT2 R.Pobst/I.Baas/B.Cunningham 2:07.284 104.648 5 17.035 17 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
24 6 67 GT2 P.Ehret/K.Buckler/A.Davis 2:07.625 104.368 11 17.376 20 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
25 7 44 GT2 L.Pechnik/S.Neiman/D.Murry 2:07.694 104.312 12 17.445 21 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
26 8 43 GT2 T.Burgess/M.Rockenfeller/M.Jensen 2:07.916 104.131 20 17.667 21 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
27 9 79 GT2 J.Jackson/T.Sugden/N.Jonsson 2:08.291 103.826 9 18.042 16 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
28 9 83 GT1 R.Sutherland/N.Smith/R.Cole 2:08.346 103.782 7 18.097 18 Saleen S7R
29 10 51 GT2 S.Maxwell/B.Sellers/G.Jeannette 2:09.453 102.894 7 19.204 8 Panoz GTLM
30 11 40 GT2 L.Tomilson/W.Hughes/J.Kane 2:10.004 102.458 19 19.755 21 TVR 400R
31 12 96 GT2 J.Barazi/M.Vergers/A.Thompson 2:11.257 101.480 3 21.008 19 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
32 13 41 GT2 M.Hynes/P.Pearce/R.Dean 2:11.297 101.449 10 21.048 16 TVR 400R
33 14 34 GT2 S.Ivankovich/S.Pumpelly/A.Lally 2:13.176 100.018 2 22.927 4 Porsche 911 GT3 RS
34 15 66 GT2 T.Krohn/M.Sluszny/M.Cawley 2:15.797 98.088 13 25.548 18 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
35 16 47 GT2 P.van Merksteijn/F.Munsterhuis/M.Franchitti 2:16.733 97.416 3 26.484 15 Spyker C-8 Spyker GT2 R
36 17 48 GT2 T.Coronel/M.Goossens/D.Crevels 4:01.190 55.226 1 2:10.941 1 Spyker C-8 Spyker GT2 R
37 5 30 P2 C.Field/G.Ridpath/L.Halliday -.--- - - -.--- 0 Lola B2K/40/Judd
38 10 71 GT1 T.Weickardt/M.Rugolo/J.Belloc -.--- - - -.--- 0 Dodge Viper
39 18 78 GT2 -.--- - - -.--- 0 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 

Aston Martin files formal protest Aston Martin files formal protestIMSA confirmed that Aston Martin is protesting the "validity of an entry" (i.e. –the No. 35 Maserati MC12). The protest was received by Race Director Marty Kauffman at the end of the business day Tuesday. The stewards first will determine if the matter is protestable and has been filed correctly and timely. Should the stewards determine that the matter is protestable and correct in its form, they then will determine a time and place for the protest hearing. IMSA rules state that the stewards have until the end of the event or business day following the protest hearing to issue their decision (which should be no later than end of day Thursday).  The rules for protest can be found in Article 9 of the IMSA code, which can be found at www.imsaracing.net. The stewards or IMSA cannot comment about the specifics of the protest until after a decision is reached.

The American Le Mans Series conducted a series of press briefings Wednesday. In light of the above protest, the most spirited session contained the heads of racing for Corvette Racing (Doug Fehan), Prodrives' (David Richards), Maserati Corse (Claudio Berro), Ferrari's Care Racing-Larbre (Jack LeConte), and Dodge Viper's Carsport Racing (Tom Weickhardt).

RICHARDS: "This is not directed at a manufacturer. It is about the protocol in which we go forward in this sport. It's our belief at Aston Martin that we have invested a lot to come here and build the cars and look toward the future of GT1. Today's press conference focusing on the competitiveness of this class is indicative of the interest in GT1. It is very clear that regulations be strictly adhered to because if we keep issuing waivers for different manufacturers, we'll never have stability in the sport. It's very important to establish that from the outset. We welcome the competition, but only on an equal basis. Unless we get stability, we won't attract new manufacturers."

BERRO: "We received an invitation from IMSA to race and we accepted it. The ACO and FIA recently came together for the same rules and regulations and we comply within the FIA regulations. The ACO says there is a 66mm difference between GT1 cars and our car and seven to 10 kilos. We are not concerned about the protest. We will respect IMSA's decision.

FEHAN: "At Corvette and General Motors, we've made it clear to the sanctioning body how important a stable rules base is. I think we've been consoled by them and assured by them that they are going to closely monitor Maserati's performance. The Maserati can't win points until they enter a legal car. Our business plan is to achieve a manufacturers' championship, and we understand the position of the series. I think we have a high level of understanding about why it is. We have a huge contingent of fans. They want to see us race whoever comes along, no matter how hard it is."

In a less-spirited moment, LeConte pointed out that this is his fourth trip to Sebring, all in different cars – Porsche in 2000, Viper in 2002, a Panoz in 2004, and this year with a Ferrari.

Lehto fastest on Wednesday at Sebring Lehto fastest on Wednesday at SebringUPDATE Team ADT Champion Racing successfully completed its first practice session Wednesday for this weekend's 53rd running of the 12 Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway. While the Audi R8 remained consistent in performance, track conditions deteriorated significantly throughout the day. High winds, dry conditions and blowing dust slowed the pace from the morning session to the afternoon session.

JJ Lehto, the "Flying Finn", set the fastest time of the day in the morning session with a time of 1:49.723 (121.397 mph) in his No. 1 ADT Champion Racing Audi R8. The sister car, the No. 2 entry, driven by Emanuele Pirro posted the second fastest time at 1:50.055 (121.030 mph) during the same session.

Tom Kristensen (No. 1 car) and Allan McNish (No. 2 car) have yet to have seat time as both Audi "works" drivers arrived from testing in Spain for AUDI AG's involvement in DTM, the German Touring car series.

03/16/05 JJ Lehto had the fastest time in the American Le Mans Series first official practice day at Sebring International Raceway.  The likeable Finn was clocked at 1:49.723 (121.297 mph) on the 3.7-miles historic road course in the morning's first timed session. Second fastest was the No. 20 Dyson Racing Lola EX257/AER with a 1:50.249 (120.817 mph).  More details later....

JJ Lehto (Fin). Age: 39. Born: Espoo, Finland. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:  12 Hours of Sebring – seventh career appearance including 2005.  “The car behaves really well but we are still waiting for our new tires from Michelin.  The track is the worse I have ever seen.  It’s really slippery and especially with this wind, it really messes up the car and the balance a lot.  But I really don’t have any complaints with the car.”

Marco Werner (D). Age: 38. Born: Dortmund, Germany. Lives: Kreuzlingen, Switzerland: 12 Hours of Sebring – third career appearance including 2005  “The car is good but the track is not, it’s very windy and dusty today.  We are about three seconds off from the times we did at testing in February.  We will work on this and see if we can improve for tomorrow.”

Frank Biela (D). Age: 40. Born: Neuss, Germany. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:   12 Hours of Sebring – seventh career appearance including 2005.  “This is a new team for me, first test and now first race with Champion Racing and I can honestly say I’m quite happy with everything.  The car seems to be good.  It’s been very difficult to judge as the conditions keep changing.  It’s been dry a lot, and now very windy and therefore you have a lot of dust on the track.”

Emanuele Pirro (It). Age: 43. Born: Rome, Italy. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:  12 Hours of Sebring – seventh career appearance including 2005.  “I’m quite happy so far with how things are going.  We’ve done some experiments in the car trying to find a good race set-up.  Frank and I have similar comments to the car and the car felt comfortable to drive.  The crew is working well so I am quite optimistic right now.”  

Grand-Am takes on Cooper Tires FF Zetec Series Grand-Am takes on Cooper Tires FF Zetec SeriesOfficials from the Grand American Road Racing Association today announced that the sanctioning body has agreed to sanction the 2005 Cooper Tires Championship Series for Formula Ford Zetec race cars.

The Cooper Series was previously sanctioned by Grand American in 2000 and 2001. In addition to the new sanctioning agreement, the Cooper Series plans to field its own Ford-powered Multimatic Daytona Prototype for series alumni-including the 2005 series champion-in the 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona. The series also expects to field the car in four 2005 Rolex Sports Car Series races, preferably with Zetec Formula Ford drivers.
Polestar and PKV to run promising female Polestar and PKV to run promising femaleOne of Europe’s most talented and promising young, female open-wheel drivers will compete for Polestar Racing Group this season as Great Britain’s Katherine Legge joins the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama with a full-season entry for 2005.

Legge (right talking to Jim Griffith), who shined during a February test session with the Polestar team, will pilot the #12 Toyota/Swift/Yokohama car this season with PKV Racing of the Champ Car World Series serving as primary sponsor for the determined 24-year-old racer. Legge’s 240 HP Atlantic machine will carry the new-look PKV Racing red and white color scheme this season as she hopes to compete for the championship for Polestar in her rookie Atlantic campaign.

“I am delighted to be driving with Polestar Racing Group this season,” said Legge, a native of Guildford, England, who currently resides in Northampton. “The team is so professional and helpful. I am hugely grateful for the opportunity presented to me by PKV Racing. Toyota Atlantics is a great Championship and I am in with an extremely good team. This will be the perfect situation for me. My aim is to become a successful driver and to be the fastest female road racer and I firmly believe that Toyota Atlantics and Champ Car are the places to achieve that.”

After winning numerous karting titles in the UK in the 1990s as she honed her racing skills, Legge quickly established herself as one of Europe’s fastest female drivers as she competed in the British Formula Ford, Formula Renault and Formula 3 championships over the last several years. She became the first woman to win a pole position in a Formula Ford Zetec race in 2000 and she earned the pole at Oulton Park in the British Formula Renault series in 2002. Last season, she ran in the North American Formula Renault championship and finished 10th in the final series standings, despite running only a partial season schedule.

“We’re really looking forward to having Katherine on the team this season,” said Polestar team owner Jim Griffith, who has helped engineer successful Atlantic rides for such series graduates as Patrick Carpentier, Alex Barron, Buddy Rice and Ronnie Bremer in recent years. “I think she’ll be a great asset to not only the team, but the series as well. She’s a very fast and competitive female race car driver whose marketability is second to none. I expect her to come up to speed very quickly once we hit the track. I think it’s also very exciting that PKV Racing is getting more involved and supporting Katherine and the Toyota Atlantic series.”

Legge and the Polestar team will continue pre-season testing at Arizona’s Firebird road course on March 30 and 31 before the 32nd season of Atlantic competition gets underway April 8-10 at the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama continues to be the premier open-wheel development series in North America. The championship is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into Champ Car competition and has helped produce past Champ Car champions Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve. For more information on the Atlantic series, please visit www.toyotaatlantic.com. To learn more about Katherine Legge, log on to www.gokatherine.com.

AFS to run Luyendyk, Mennen at PIR AFS to run Luyendyk, Mennen at PIRArie Luyendyk Jr. and G.J. Mennen will compete for AFS Racing in the Phoenix 100 March 19 at Phoenix International Raceway as the team returns to the Menards Infiniti Pro Series for its fourth season.  Luyendyk, son of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, will pilot the No. 5 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc. Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

"I'm very excited to race in Phoenix next Saturday," Luyendyk Jr. said. "With support from Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Joan Hubbard, and ScaleCars.com, along with a few returning sponsors from last year, we are ready for the challenge."

Luyendyk and team owner Gary Peterson tested the race cars at the 1-mile oval on March 10.  "It was a very beneficial test," Peterson said. "The information that we learned should definitely translate into better results on race day."

Peterson, who has started 22 races in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, will not participate in the Phoenix 100 due to a concussion he sustained at the end of the test session.  "Finding a replacement was easy," Peterson said. "All I had to do was call G.J. and ask him to drive the car. He jumped at the opportunity. He loves driving for AFS, and he will give us a solid result. G.J. has a lot of experience in these cars, not to mention that he drove the No. 25 car for us in 2003."

Mennen, 32, made 14 starts in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series in 2002 and 2003, recording 12 top-10 finishes.  "I am very excited about the opportunity to race for AFS Racing again," Mennen said. "I don't like that I won't be able to be out there racing with Gary, but I am truly honored that he called me fill in for him."

Abbott ready to race at Phoenix Abbott ready to race at PhoenixMishael Abbott was in tune with the amount of preparation, data dissemination and media hoopla associated with her inaugural Menards Infiniti Pro Series race March 6 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. But the first female to compete in the series was temporarily awestruck.

"The weekend was extremely exciting," said Abbott, 23, of Coral Springs, Fla. "I couldn't fathom that I'm not the one walking around with the T-shirt wanting autographs but am now the one distributing hero cards and giving my autograph to people."

Abbott, sitting in the shade of a large "Mishael Abbott" banner at Homestead, greeted young and old fans alike with a wide smile and friendly handshake during the twilight autograph session. She'll undoubtedly be a fan favorite this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.

Abbott qualified fourth and finished eighth in her debut race on the 1.5-mile variably banked oval. She'll take more confidence and information into the Phoenix 100 on the 1-mile relatively flat PIR configuration.

"To qualify on the outside of the second row was unbelievable," she said. "The (Hemelgarn 91 Johnson Motorsports) team gave me a great car. Our goal was to finish every lap, and we did. I got out of the car with a head full of information that I can apply to my next race."

Competing at PIR in the No. 91 Hemelgarn 91 Johnson Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone was not part of her five-race schedule, but results at Homestead-Miami Speedway changed the thoughts of team co-owners Ron Hemelgarn and Roger Johnson.

"Based on my performance and the response from the fans, they wanted me to add Phoenix to our lineup," Abbott said. "I am thrilled with their vote of confidence and look forward to the challenge of the Phoenix 100."

The past 10 days have included phone conversations between Abbott and team manager Lee Kunzman and other drivers about what to expect at PIR.

"We're going with the same approach that we used at Miami," she said. "Our focus is to complete every lap and take it step-by-step, gaining speed as I get more comfortable with the car. Hopefully we will be right there at the end in the hunt for a podium finish."

Marco Andretti to make IPS Debut at St. Petersburg Marco Andretti to make IPS Debut at St. Petersburg Marco Andretti, the 18-year-old son of Andretti Green Racing co-owner Michael Andretti and grandson of Mario Andretti, will make his Menards Infiniti Pro Series debut April 3 in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Marco Andretti, who won his first professional driving championship in 2004, will be behind the wheel of the No. 26 Vonage Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, which has been entered by Andretti Green Racing.  The car is being prepared by Keith Duesenberg Racing and will be engineered by open-wheel racing veteran Tony Cicale.

"I'm looking forward to it," Marco Andretti said. "I know it's going to be a big challenge, but it's a great opportunity. Hopefully, we'll have a good car and can put on a good show for everybody."

Andretti, who won 11 races on his way to the 2004 Formula TR Pro Series title, will participate in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Open Test on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on March 24 and also will test the car at Sebring International Raceway on March 29 in preparation for the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Michael Andretti, who co-owns Andretti Green Racing with Kim Green and Kevin Savoree, sees only positives in this opportunity for his oldest son.  "This is a great opportunity for Marco, and I'm really glad that Andretti Green Racing can have a hand in it," said Andretti, who competed in 14 Indianapolis 500-Mile Races in a 20-year career. "Marco will get a chance to run a competitive car on a great circuit in front of a huge crowd of new fans in St. Petersburg."  Marco Andretti will join other second- and third-generation drivers Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Al Unser as competitors in the series.

Sauber does another Malaysia demo Sauber does another Malaysia demoStarting in 1999, the Formula One Demo has become a tradition for Sauber sponsor Petronas. The popular event has been held in Kuala Lumpur (1999), Penang (2000), Johor Bahru (2001), Kuantan (2002), Alor Setar (2003) and Kuching (2004). This year, in conjunction with Petronas’ ten years in F1 celebration, the demo was taken back to Kuala Lumpur. Both Jacques Villeneuve and Felipe Massa put on a show to 80,000 fans with their skills. In addition, a group of 100 children from welfare homes around the Klang Valley were invited to see the F1 Demo. They visited the Demo’s 'Pit Stop' and 'Garage." In addition to the Formula One Demo, Petronas has organized a series of events that are running through the week. Sauber
Skinner to meet with Bush Skinner to meet with BushThe 1995 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion, Mike Skinner, has battled for victory many times during his successful racing career, but on March 22, he will join other Daytona Beach, Fla., dignitaries not for a checkered flag, but for the State of Florida. Skinner, along with Daytona International Speedway president Robin Braig, will head to Tallahassee, Fla., to meet with Gov. Jeb Bush about receiving state funding to help Daytona Beach earn the right to become home to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Skinner and his wife, Angie, have made Daytona Beach their home for more than eight years.  The Skinners are distinguished members of the community and active public servants for the city in which NASCAR also makes its home. When Braig needed someone to help him in his fight to get the Hall of Fame, he called on Skinner. Skinner and Braig hope the state will help in Daytona's fight to get the NASCAR Hall of Fame awarded to NASCAR's birthplace. "Daytona Beach is where our great sport started over 50 years ago on the beach with names like France and Petty," Skinner said.  "I think it is only fitting that Daytona get the distinction of housing the Hall of Fame.   I think it is really cool NASCAR is trying to put together a Hall of Fame. There is so much history involved in our great sport, and it needs to be in one place. "I was honored Robin called me to go with him to meet Gov. Bush.  We have such a great relationship with Daytona International Speedway, I was happy to go.  I am looking forward to going and trying to help out the city that I and Angie love so much." There are a handful of metropolitan areas battling to host the Hall of Fame. The financial impacts of the Hall of Fame will greatly increase the host city's local economy and bring a greater NASCAR distinction to their municipality.
Villeneuve blames car instead of self Villeneuve blames car instead of selfJacques Villeneuve has been beaten by a number of teammates in recent years but continues to blame the car and not himself for being slow. Sauber's biggest problem was a lack of winter running, struggling team driver Jacques Villeneuve has insisted. The '97 champion, criticized by Peter Superior being off the pace in Melbourne, pointed to 'problems' honing the C24 car. "We still don't fully understand it," he claimed. "We had weather problems in testing, the car breaking. "F1 is like any other sport -- training is the key. We just haven't done enough with the C24."
McClures part ways with Raabe Racing McClures part ways with Raabe RacingLarry McClure, President and Team Manager of Morgan-McClure Motorsports, Inc. announced today that effective immediately, the organization and driver Eric McClure have parted ways with Raabe Racing Enterprises. "With two consecutive top 25 finishes the #4 car is running well and we are working together as a team. Accordingly, all of our effort is focused on finishing in the top 25 for the season points championship," said Larry McClure. "Eric will serve as a test driver and we will continue to look for marketing partners to launch our driver development program in the NASCAR Busch Series or the Craftsman Truck Series." Morgan-McClure Motorsports
Testing at Texas Testing at TexasTexas Motor Speedway will be the center of testing activity the next three weeks as NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series teams prepare for the Samsung/RadioShack 500 weekend April 14-17. The quest for Victory Lane in the April 16 O'Reilly 300 NASCAR Busch Series race and the April 17 Samsung/RadioShack 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event will result in six days of testing as teams prepare for race weekend.  Drivers scheduled to test at Texas Motor Speedway include #44-Terry Labonte, #45-Kyle Petty, #5-Kyle Busch, Mark Martin (Busch car) on March 22; #40-Sterling Marlin, #12-Ryan Newman, #07-Dave Blaney, #44-Labonte, #45-Petty, #5-Busch, Martin (Busch) and Reed Sorenson (Busch) on March 23; #07-Blaney, #40-Marlin, #12-Newman on March 24; #91-Bill Elliott, #36-Boris Said on March 29 and 30; and #2-Rusty Wallace on April 5. All test sessions are closed to the public. TMS
Proposed tax on athletes hits wall with race drivers Proposed tax on athletes hits wall with race driversLegislation that would impose taxes and license fees on professional athletes in Tennessee hit a wall Tuesday with race drivers and officials at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Four bills currently before the state General Assembly seek to impose registration or licensing fees for all professional athletes and coaches, along with taxes ranging from $400 to $2,500 each. Another bill would charge $400 per $100,000 of annual adjusted gross income.

The bills, all introduced by legislators from the Memphis area, are aimed at players and coaches for the state’s three professional franchises – the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies and the NHL’s Nashville Predators.

But if approved, the measures would also apply to minor league baseball players and anyone who receives prize money at any auto race track in the state.

"The way I read it, anyone who is paid money performing a sport is considered a professional," said Kevin Triplett, BMS vice president of public affairs. "So how far do we go? We have bracket racing nearly every weekend at the dragway and we have a late model race. It may not be a lot of money, but people are getting paid for doing it.

"The general premise of it could be a concern. From what I see and what I read, I think it could affect us and what we do negatively. I think it could affect more than just the Nextel Cup weekend and the (NHRA) drag weekend. It could affect our competitors negatively," he added.  More at Bristol News.com

Scott Speed Test Report Scott Speed Test ReportU.S. driver Scott Speed finished last week's test session on top form - a state of affairs he's hoping to continue into the next run-out in France.  As all the GP2 series teams gathered for the second round of testing their new Dallara chassis at the Paul Ricard circuit in France last week, the focus shifted from becoming familiar with the new car and the Renault engines to determining the best setup and running fast laps.

The iSport International team ran the first day's testing with Can Artam in the car, running eighty-eight laps. The second day began with Can driving again, and on new tires he ran another thirty-three consistent laps, with times quicker than the day before.

Scott Speed then took over the driving chores for the afternoon, and was quickly in P1 with a lap of 1.19.316 until halfway through the session when the tires were worn. After running forty-five laps and ending in P3 for the day, the team paused to change the car setup and to mount new tires for the next day.

On the final day, Scott got the iSport car around the track in 1 minute 18.8 seconds in only forty minutes of testing, and was a full one second up on all the other teams - this on his third lap out! By the end of the testing, Scott was still on top by almost one-half second.

Without the minor problems experienced during the initial test run, the iSport team was able to run some true testing, refining the car and obtaining a better setup. This allowed Scott to focus on his driving, and showing the other teams and drivers some true "Speed." Scott said, "The car was awesome - it was unexpected for both myself and team for us to leave in P1. I'm really looking forward to our next event - it's a three-day test session at Paul Ricard again on 4th through 6th April. The 6th is a media day, and we also qualify for our race numbers for the season - we expect to get a great number!" GP2 Series
Team Cadillac to Begin Quest for GT Title in Sebring Team Cadillac to Begin Quest for GT Title in SebringOnce proclaimed the "Standard of the World" by England's Royal Automobile Club, Cadillac is aiming to set the standard for performance in the SPEED World Challenge in 2005. Cadillac's first season in the production-based road racing series saw GM's luxury performance brand capture poles, win races and finish as runner-up in the 2004 manufacturers championship standings. Building on that strong foundation, Team Cadillac will begin the quest for its first title in the season-opening SPEED World Challenge race at Sebring International Raceway on Friday, March 18.

"Team Cadillac's goal in 2005 is to win the manufacturers championship in SPEED GT," said Dave Spitzer, GM Racing program manager for Team Cadillac. "We recognize this is a formidable task against strong competition, but I believe we have the car, the team and the drivers to accomplish it. We also look forward to Cadillac drivers Andy Pilgrim and Max Papis racing for the drivers championship."

Cadillac's CTS-V made a strong impression in its rookie season. Based on the production CTS-V, Team Cadillac's race-prepared CTS-Vs won the pole and posted a 1-2 finish in their competition debut in Sebring, Fla. In 10 events, Team Cadillac posted three victories, four poles and five podium finishes.

"We achieved outstanding results in Team Cadillac's first season in the series against experienced competitors," said Spitzer. "Our success on the race track translated to success in the showroom. Seeing the CTS-V four-door sedan racing with - and beating - two-seat sports cars is changing the perception of Cadillac among knowledgeable car buyers."

Team Cadillac is returning to the World Challenge arena with the same race-winning CTS-V sedans that went into the 2004 season finale in a tie for the GT manufacturers title. The driver lineup features a pair of championship-winning drivers as Andy Pilgrim is joined by new teammate Max Papis, the reigning Grand American champion. A third Cadillac CTS-V race car will compete in selected events with an all-star lineup of guest drivers.

"We're going into the new season with confidence in the ability of our drivers and in the capabilities of our Cadillac CTS-V race cars," Spitzer noted. "In our first season, every track was a new challenge for us. Now after a year of development, we know our team's strengths, we know that our cars have excellent reliability, and we have a database for our setups. Most important, we know how to focus our engineering efforts on the track. The crew is virtually intact from last season, so we have a deep well of real-world experience."

Papis shares Spitzer's enthusiasm. This versatile racer, who has Formula 1, Champ Car and Indy Racing League rides on his resume, will do double-duty at several events. He is competing in the SPEED World Challenge with Team Cadillac and in American Le Mans Series endurance events with Corvette Racing, while also racing in the International Race of Champions invitational series and defending his Grand American championship with a Pontiac-powered Daytona Prototype.

"You don't often get the opportunity to experience the same track with two different cars on the same day," said Papis. "It will definitely make me a better driver. It takes a few minutes to adjust to the car, but within three or four laps I'm up to speed.

"A driver needs to know how to go fast, and I feel very comfortable with the Cadillac CTS-V," he explained. "It's a car that has been through a lot of development. After driving open-wheel cars and prototypes, I had to adjust my style to suit a production-based race car. The first few races are going to be a steep learning curve, not only learning how the car behaves under racing conditions but also about the drivers I am racing with."

Papis is paired with Pilgrim, winner of more than 50 races in 10 series (including a victory in the 24-hour Daytona race) and multiple championships.

Champ Car TV announcers for 2005 Champ Car TV announcers for 2005The Champ Car World Series enters the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season with one of its strongest television packages in the last 10 seasons, and today announced that it has assembled a veteran team of motorsports professionals to describe all of the action on this year’s broadcasts.

Rick Benjamin returns as the play-by-play man for this year’s broadcasts, which will see four races carried on CBS, two on NBC and eight on SPEED Channel. Benjamin made his Champ Car debut last year after many years covering a number of different racing series, and returns for a second season in 2005.

“I am truly excited and honored to be back for what will be an exciting year in the Champ Car World Series,” Benjamin said. “We have one of the strongest driver lineups in years, the new events will be exciting and working with CBS, NBC and SPEED Channel gives us great outlets to showcase the series. I am really looking forward to a great season working with a great crew.”

Benjamin will be joined in the booth by long-time Champ Car announcer Derek Daly, who was a formidable racer in the Champ Car series in the 1980s before picking up the microphone. Daly has worked as an analyst and pit reporter for many seasons with Champ Car and will move upstairs to provide color commentary for the 2005 season.

“It’s been 20 years since I started my broadcast career as an analyst for Champ Car,” Daly recalled. “I am looking forward to returning to my television roots and injecting a little fun into the broadcast.”

Calvin Fish and Jon Beekhuis will provide key insights and up-to-the-minute information as the pit reporters for the 2005 season. Fish has been with the Champ Car World Series for the last three seasons as a pit reporter while Beekhuis returns to the Champ Car paddock after a season of covering drag racing. Additionally, Ralph Sheheen, who was part of the SPEED Channel Champ Car broadcasts in 2003, will be joining the staff for the four CBS races (Milwaukee, Portland, Cleveland, Toronto). Chris McClure, who delivered solid pit reporting for a number of races in 2004, will also be on hand to replace Fish during those instances when he has prior commitments.

“We worked very hard to find a team of announcers with the ability not only to describe all the action of the Champ Car World Series, but also to give the viewers an inside look at what is going on during the race,” said Champ Car President Dick Eidswick. “I believe the fans will really benefit from the knowledge and skill of this crew, as well as the skill of our television production partner Molson Sports & Entertainment.”

The 2005 season gets underway April 10 with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which will be carried live on NBC beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern Time.

Montagny allowed to drive at LeMans for Renault rival Montagny allowed to drive at LeMans for Renault rivalRenault test driver Franck Montagny has landed the final place in the ORECA Audi Le Mans squad after a last-minute change of heart by Renault.   The F1 team had said no to Montagny’s request to rejoin ORECA, with which he raced at Le Mans in 2001-02, because the race clashed with the US Grand Prix. Team boss Flavio Briatore subsequently relented over the Australian Grand Prix weekend and gave Renault’s reserve driver permission to return to Le Mans for the first time since ’02.
German DTM
DTM to implement cost-saving measures DTM to implement cost-saving measuresThe organizers of the German based DTM touring car series have launched a preemptive strike to avert a cost war that has been looming ever commissioner Christian Schacht, in case any of the 2005 cars suffer technical deficiencies that would render them uncompetitive for future seasons. Schacht said: “We want to freeze budgets and a way to achieve this is to look at freezing key parts like the safety cell, aerodynamics and the roll cage. It is my task now to make a proposal of what these components will be, then we’ll take it from there.” Success ballast will be introduced this year, with each winning manufacturer receiving an extra 10 kilos for the following round on its 2005 cars. For example, if reigning champion Mattias Ekström wins the opening round, he and Audi teammates since the arrival of Audi as a works force last year. Autosport Magazine
German DTM
Mercedes DTM cars like F1 Mercedes DTM cars like F1Mercedes has fitted a brand new exhaust system to its 2005 DTM design that gives the car a distinct, F1-style engine note. Works team ace Gary Paffett said: “Inside the car it doesn’t sound that different, but outside it is incredible. It sounds just like an F1 car, and it’s amazing when we floor it coming out of the pits.” Autosport Magazine [Editor's Note: Champ Car should have Cosworth embark on such a project for the Champ Car engine if they ever switch to normally aspirated. It would be difficult to make the current engine put out a mind-blowing F1 sound with the current muffler system (turbochargers).]
Grand Marshal named for Infineon race Grand Marshal named for Infineon raceLarry The Cable Guy, best known for adding catchphrases like "Git-R-Done" and "Lord, I Apologize" to the American lexicon, has been named Grand Marshal of the Dodge/Save Mart 350 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup weekend at Infineon Raceway, June 24-26. Larry The Cable Guy will be honored at the annual Raceway Builders Grand Marshal's Banquet at beautiful Cline Cellars in the Sonoma Valley on Friday night, June 24. The event is a benefit for Speedway Children's Charities and has generated nearly $200,000 the last three years.
Formula BMW
PoleVision posts promising times at first test PoleVision posts promising times at first testPoleVision Racing completed its first test for 2005 at the beautiful Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, AL. The drivers were 18 year-old Michael Abbate of Las Vegas, 15 year-old Elliott Ladik of Seattle and 19 year-old Jonathan Ziegelman of Florida.

With a few other teams from the Formula BMW series, PoleVision ran its first test of the season before the ban which prevents teams from testing on a track where a race is scheduled for the season. “This test was important for the drivers and the development of the cars,” said Benoit Morand. “We were very pleased with both.”

This was the first time on the Barber track for all drivers. “Abbate started the test fast and kept improving his time” said engineer John Mullen. “In car #27, which we used for development, Abbate posted the unofficial third quickest time of all the drivers at the test.” In car #28, Ladik showed potential when his time improved five seconds by the end of the test. Ziegelman, driving car #45, began conservatively, but drove increasingly fast and equaled Abbate’s time in the same car.

The team will soon announce its drivers for the 2005 Formula BMW championship. The cars are now being prepared for the first official Formula BMW test at Road Atlanta.

PoleVision Racing was founded by Benoit Morand and Gladys Curty Morand in Switzerland in 2000. In 2001 and 2002 the team finished second in that country's V8Star series. In 2003 the team managed driver Joel Camathias, the first Swiss driver to earn points in the Champ Car World Series. In 2004 Markus Bischof became a partner in the team and with the Morands started PoleVision Racing USA and ran two drivers in Formula BMW USA.

Bourdais and Bouchut building up for Sebring race Bourdais and Bouchut building up for Sebring raceAfter the second day of free practice for Saturday's opening round of the 2005 American Le Mans Series, the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, the Care Larbre Ferrari 550 has been slowly but surely making its imprint amongst its competitors in the GT1 category.

A collaboration between Care Racing Development, owners of one of the most successful GT cars in recent years, and Larbre Competition - GTS Champions in the 2004 Le Mans Endurance Series with the same car - has seen the French based team bring its 6-litre, V12 engined Ferrari to the US.

It is being driven by an all-star line up of Champions including reigning Champ Car Champion, Sebastien Bourdais, reigning Le Mans Endurance Series GTS Champion, Christophe Bouchut, and reigning FIA GT Champion, Fabrizio Gollin.

For Bourdais and Bouchut, Sebring presents an ideal opportunity for the two Frenchmen to drive together again after their race-winning partnership at the 2002 Spa 24 Hours.  Both have a great deal of experience at Sebring.

Italian Gollin, a Florida resident now that he is competing for Doran Racing in the Rolex Sportscar Series, is making his Sebring debut and has spent much of the recent practice time available learning the track.

"It was very slippery this afternoon but I am learning.  It is very important to know this track well because if you want to go faster you have to take a risk.  I don't want to take those risks yet but I have been watching our competitors as I go round the track and all the time learning.  I am using their experience at the same time as gaining my own!  I know I have more feeling for the track now and, while I maybe can't do the fastest lap, I can do a good race."
Team owner Jack Leconte has raced here in Florida on 3 previous occasions, finishing as high as 2nd (in class).  For him, despite the car not being as new or high profile as some of its competitors, a class win is more than a possibility.

"This is a very refined race car, whether you are talking about the aerodynamics or the suspension, the engine-gearbox unit or the transmission.  Everything is spot-on and perfectly reliable.  Providing we have no problems, and stay out of trouble, I think we have proved that we know how to win endurance races and that is definitely our aim."

Smoke and heat to greet F1 in Sepang Smoke and heat to greet F1 in SepangVery hot and humid weather is expected in Sepang at this weekend’s Malaysian GP. Making it even worse this year is smoke from numerous forest fires.  As late as last week visibility at Kuala Lumpur airport was reduced to 2.5km from 10km with more than 2000 firefighters struggling to tackle blazes across the country. GP organizers are confident the hazard will not affect the race. Autosport Magazine
High physical demands of the Malaysian GP High physical demands of the Malaysian GPDuring the course of the Formula One season all race drivers including McLaren stars Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen are subjected to forces of up to 5G on track, an extensive travel program and major climate changes, all placing a range of physical stresses on the body.

The Malaysian Grand Prix is one of the most physically demanding events of the season with extremely humid condition. As a result acclimatization and increased fluid intake are key aspects of Montoya and Raikkonen's preparations.

The affects of heat and humidity on the human body:
• Dehydration levels of just 2% have a negative effect on concentration levels, muscle contractile strength and endurance.

• Losses of 5% or more can lead to up to a 30% drop off in physical performance.

• Fluids are an integral part of any nutritional program, because water comprises 92 percent of the blood in the body and 75 percent of the brain, as well as 75 percent of the muscle tissue.

• Just a three percent loss of body fluid reduces muscle strength by 10 percent.

Pre-race preparations:
• Raikkonen and Montoya traveled to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore respectively following the Australian Grand Prix, as it takes the body around ten days to get used to heat. The majority of adaptation occurs within the first three to four days.

• The training is progressive and not flat-out from when the driver arrives in the local climate for the race. There is a small adaptation in time difference from Australia and the drivers start training outside in the local conditions progressively, building up day by day until the race weekend starts.

• Drivers train in the heat to get the body used to performing in the type of environment they will experience at the Sepang Circuit, and the more training that takes place in the local conditions, the better the drivers will adapt.

• This will also ensure their bodies get used to taking in a greater amount of fluids to replace what is lost through sweating, as they will learn to conserve electrolytes in the form of potassium, salt and chloride more efficiently.

• Nutrition plays a vital role not only in refueling the driver, but also in overcoming jet lag, acclimatizing and helping the recovery process whether post-race, testing or training. As a consequence both racers follow a specific nutritional program created by their respective trainers, containing the appropriate amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, fats and vitamins and minerals.

Conditions during the race:
• The drivers are working in a cockpit environment that can be over 50 degrees centigrade.

• In an average race, a driver loses up to a liter of his body fluid. In Malaysia the heat and humidity can cause them to lose up to four liters.

• During the build-up to the race the focus is on getting the body used to taking in more fluids, whilst during the race weekend itself it is to ensure the drivers are re-hydrated as effectively as possible after free practice, qualifying and the race. McLaren Mercedes

FIA clamp down on engine loophole FIA clamp down on engine loopholeFollowing the decision taken by BAR Honda to retire two healthy race cars at the Australian Grand Prix in order to gain fresh engines for this weekend’s race in Malaysia, the FIA have today announced that with immediate effect a team must now explain the circumstances of its retirement to the Stewards of the meeting. It now seems that the engine loophole has been closed by the FIA.

What follows is a press release from the governing body.

FIA Press Release - Clarification: Two-Race Engines
“Each driver may use no more than one engine for two consecutive Events. Should it become necessary for a driver to use another engine he will drop ten places on the starting grid at that Event and may not use another engine until the end of the next Event. Any driver who failed to finish the race at the first of the two Events may start the second with a different engine without incurring a penalty.”

The purpose of including the final sentence in the first paragraph of Article 85 of the 2005 Formula One Sporting Regulations was to ensure that if a driver failed to finish the first of two races he would not be penalized in the second if the engine was changed, the principle being that failing to finish a race was sufficient penalty.
As a result of what happened on the last lap of the race in Melbourne a distinction will now be made between failing to finish and choosing not to finish, the former is normally accidental or beyond the control of the driver while the latter is not.

In order to ensure the purpose of the regulation is fully respected, and unless the reason is completely clear, in future we will require the team of any driver who fails to finish the first of two races to explain the circumstances surrounding the retirement to the Stewards of the meeting. FIA

Pat Symonds gives his views on the 2005 rules Pat Symonds gives his views on the 2005 rulesAfter the opening race of the season in Melbourne, Pat Symonds sat down to discuss what he thinks the strengths and weaknesses of the new regulations have been, so far.

There has been much debate, and criticism, surrounding the modified regulations and format for 2005. What is your opinion?
"Firstly, I think the aero rules have done the job they were intended to. The aim was to contain escalating speeds around the lap, and Melbourne gave a first indication that this has been achieved. The fastest race lap in 2004 was 1:24.128, whereas in 2005 it was 1:25.683. When we take into account that on average year-on- year gain in performance is of around one and a half to two seconds a lap, then Melbourne indicates that lap-times are three or more seconds off where they would have been had we not acted. Indeed, we seem to be at around 2002 performance levels, when Rubens Barrichello took pole in a time of 1:25.843."

"Secondly, the engine rules. The ideal of running an engine for two weekends is, I believe, a good one, but the loophole that has been left, of being able to change the engine if you do not take the flag, is ridiculous. To change the engine in the event of it being damaged in an accident, or failing, without incurring an additional penalty, seems to me reasonable. But otherwise, teams should keep the engine for a second weekend. A simple change to the interpretation of the existing wording of the regulations would suffice, but the loophole will continue to be exploited until it is closed."

"The new tire rules worked reasonably well. I would like a third set available on Friday, as it would allow the teams to do more running, evaluate the tires properly and provide the spectators with more on-track action. In race conditions, though, the need to preserve the tires means we will not see people stretching out big leads as it is important not to push your tires any harder than you have to, so any mistake could cost positions at the front; equally, at a more demanding circuit, I think the tire rules will generate late-race passing; and their was plenty of action in Melbourne between cars rejoining the circuit after pit-stops, with colder tires, who found themselves immediately involved in battles with competitors out on track."

Finally, looking at the format, there are two strands: aggregate qualifying times, and the timetabling. I do not think there is anything intrinsically wrong with the former, as it has made the first qualifying session relevant – something we failed to achieve in 2003 and 2004. Also, the system doubles the ‘chaos factor’ before the race, which I do not think is intrinsically bad. It may have seemed complicated, but that is a matter of improving the presentation – not the format itself. I think people will get used to it."

"The only real criticism I have is the timetabling, because I think we have got the rhythm of the build-up to the race wrong. The Sunday papers should be able to give fans a considered and meaningful judgment of what is going to happen in the race that afternoon – which means knowing the qualifying result. Equally, from a team point of view, the Sunday workload is perhaps too intense: there is very little time to plan strategy, and repairing a car damaged in qualifying will be a very hard task."
"The benefit of the Sunday session has been increased on-track action, but in my view, that is the point and purpose of support races, something racing enthusiasts also enjoy. Sunday morning should feature junior formulae, such as the GP2 series we will see this year and some saloon racing, to build up to the Grand Prix as the pinnacle of the event."

So, what solution would you propose? "Leaving aside the additional test session we ran that year, I would like to see us revert to the 2003 timetable this season, with qualifying on Friday and Saturday, but with aggregate times. However, I don’t think the current format is by any means drastically wrong. To maintain credibility, I think we will only get one chance to make further changes to the format this year and for that reason, it will be important not to rush into anything. We have not yet seen how the format works with constant conditions through the weekend and it is still too early to make a definitive judgment. There may be tweaks to be made, but they are not fundamental revisions." Renault

Malaysian GP - Ferrari - Preview Malaysian GP - Ferrari - PreviewFerrari may have won the title at a canter in 2004, but the first race of the 2005 season was not so kind to the Italian Champions. Rubens Barrichello recovered from a difficult qualifying session to score a solid runner-up position splitting the Renault duo, while Michael Schumacher worked his way up from the back of the grid following his own problems in qualifying.

It was ‘not to be’ for the seven-time Champion however, as he and compatriot Nick Heidfeld made contact late in the race ending Ferraris hopes of a double points finish. However, heading to Sepang and the Malaysian Grand Prix, Ferrari remain upbeat and confident that the F2004 M will be able to score solid points for the team.

Ferrari’s track record at the Malaysian circuit is impressive with Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher playing the numbers and taking a one-two result in 1999. Schumacher won in 2000 with Barrichello coming third and the 2002 event saw Schumacher win again with his Brazilian team-mate improving another position to make it a second one-two result for the team.

2002 saw Schumacher finish in third position, bouncing back the next year to finish in second with Barrichello sixth. Last year Schumacher was the victor once again with Barrichello finishing fourth.

From 12 starts at Sepang over six years, Ferrari have finished in the top six no less than 11 times and have four wins to their credit. Undoubtedly, the team will be a factor once again in 2005.

Rubens Barrichello “In a way, people are having to work for two races at a time, rather than working on the limit for one, so in Sepang we will see how the cars really perform. This is the real test. I have a certain mileage on my engine and I will have to look after it. It is an unknown for us. Is the car tough enough to keep on going? Will I have to pace myself? There are a lot of question marks, but I will be out to enjoy the experience: tires, drivers and engines must all last to the very final corner."

"Michael has less mileage on his engine so he will probably be able to run more laps in free practice. But we operate as a team at Ferrari and so that will be good for me too. Over the course of the year, managing the situation if me and Michael end up out of synchronization in terms of whether we are doing our first or second race with the same engine will be an interesting situation. I don’t know if that will arise with us too often, given our good reliability record. But it is a probability. At some tracks, as a driver you need more laps to get comfortable and that will certainly apply when we visit a new circuit, like in Turkey for example, where we need to learn the track.”

“We have two very good guys, Luca Badoer and Marc Gene, testing for us and that meant Michael and I were able to have a break, which is going to be very important in such a long season."

Michael Schumacher "The start of this championship was very different to last year's. I scored zero points at the Australian GP and not the usual ten. Those that see this as a problem are welcome to; I don't see one. There will be a new hand dealt in Malaysia and I think that we have a chance of doing well."

"As ever the heat and humidity will play a very important role in determining who has managed to prepare best for the race. This year there is also the uncertainty generated by the new rules: most teams at Sepang, in fact, will be using engines that have already been employed for a whole Grand Prix weekend. More, facing qualification and race with a single set of tires is not easy. So we have to wait to see exactly how this all plays out on the track. I can only state that Ferrari has, in recent years, been extraordinarily reliable."

"The circuit is an interesting one, as I have said in the past. It is very wide and so offers the chance to experiment with different racing lines. This is something we don't often encounter on the tracks we race on. At Sepang you have to try out different trajectories before opting for the ideal one." "I'm not to sure what to expect from the Grand Prix of Malaysia. In the past few years the relative strengths displayed in Australia and Malaysia have always alternated. What is certain is that I can't wait for the race and that I want to score my first points in 2005, naturally as many as I can!" Ferrari

Dudot to retire Dudot to retireBernard Dudot, Deputy Managing Director of Renault F1 Team, has decided to retire effective 1 April 2005, with the full agreement of Team President Patrick Faure and Flavio Briatore.

The Renault F1 Team is pleased to announce the joint appointment of Rob White and André Lainé as joint Deputy Managing Directors of Renault F1 Team France in Viry-Châtillon.

White will retain responsibility for all technical programs while Lainé will assume responsibility for Support Operations.

“I would like to thank Bernard for his contribution to the team: he re-joined Renault F1 Team at a critical time in our program, and has played a key role in our successes during the past two seasons," stated Patrick Faure. "I wish him well in his retirement, which I am confident will be extremely active!”

Managing Director Flavio Briatore commented: “Our team’s strength lies in its personnel, and I am confident that Rob and André will continue to enable our team at Viry to achieve its potential. The excellent collaboration between our technical groups in France and England has been reflected in the performance of this year’s car and engine, and will prove critical in the coming seasons as we strive to achieve our ambitious objectives.” Renault

Toyota scorn Honda's use of engine rule loophole Toyota scorn Honda's use of engine rule loophole(Reuters) - Toyota have criticized Honda-powered rivals BAR for their manipulation of Formula One's new engine rules. "There has been a lot of controversy surrounding loopholes in the new engine rules, but exploitation of such grey areas is against our understanding of racing," said Toyota's engine expert Luca Marmorini. Even though our drivers did not score any points in the last race, we decided to pass the checkered flag out of respect for the new rules," he added in a team preview for Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix. We fully accept the spirit and intention of the 2005 engine regulation and we believe that if we are to challenge for points regularly, we must finish the race and that means having an engine to last two races."

"Our reading of the rules is that if you fail to finish, it then gives you the opportunity to change your engine because you've effectively taken the penalty in the race you failed to finish," said BAR Honda team boss Nick Fry in Australia. So we've taken advantage of that and, if we choose to do so, fit a new engine for Malaysia."

ABC/ESPN to Add to Innovative Coverage of IRL IndyCar Series ABC/ESPN to Add to Innovative Coverage of IRL IndyCar SeriesABC Sports and ESPN will add to their innovative coverage of the 2005 IRL IndyCar Series with the debut of a cutaway IndyCar Series car beginning with ABC's coverage of the XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 Presented by Argent Mortgage on March 19.

The car, which will be the first such tool used during season-long telecasts of Indy-style racing, is a full-sized IndyCar Series machine featuring cutouts along its vertical axis.

It will give viewers a closer look at the inner workings of an IndyCar Series race car, showing everything from the cockpit and footbox to the aerodynamic and mechanical characteristics unique to IndyCar Series racing.

"I think it will afford us the opportunity to do the ultimate in show and tell," said ABC Sports pit reporter Jack Arute, who along with ESPN's Jerry Punch will utilize the car from its position at pit out during the race broadcasts throughout the season. "It's one thing to talk about a failed CV joint, it's another to show where it is and how it affects the performance of the car and driver."

IndyCar Series crew chiefs and engineers will be used with the cutaway car as needed by the telecast team.

ABC and ESPN featured a number of innovative production approaches as part of the IndyCar Series partnership during the Toyota Indy 300 on March 6 including:

Continuous coverage of race action through all national commercial breaks with Side-By-Side, a split screen of the race and commercials. ABC Sports will utilize Side-By-Side on the XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 presented by Argent Mortgage from Phoenix International Raceway on March 19.

* - The weekend also featured ESPN2 providing viewers with a unique look at IndyCar Series racing with a live telecast utilizing only in-car cameras serving as a simulcast of ESPN's coverage of the race from Homestead-Miami Speedway. Utilizing a separate announce team, ESPN2 used in-car cameras in the cars of Patrick Carpentier, Scott Dixon, Bryan Herta, Tony Kanaan, Danica Patrick, Tomas Scheckter and Scott Sharp.

* - Commentator Todd Harris and analyst Gil de Ferran made their debut in the booth with long-time IndyCar Series analyst Scott Goodyear and pit reporters Dr. Jerry Punch, Jamie Little and Vince Welch.

* - In addition, ESPN360, formerly ESPN Broadband, provided a live split-screen simultaneous display of ESPN and ESPN2's coverage, allowing users to see ESPN's side-by-side concept and ESPN2's unique in-car camera perspective at the same time.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
FIA close BAR loophole
Toyota could 'surprise'
Albers' sponsor
'Ferrari not fastest' - Brawn
'Bernie must save F1'
Another woman on track to F1
Schu at 'ice' gala
Sauber won't sizzle at Sepang
Ferrari upset Bridgestone?
A wet Malaysian GP?
Mexico, Brazil for 'A1'

Indian to Bahrain
C24's the problem - JV
Give F1 rulebook 'more time'
What's wrong with McLaren?
Stoddart vows quiet weekend
Aston Martin confirms final driver lineup Aston Martin confirms final driver lineupAston Martin Racing has officially confirmed the driver line-up for its two DBR9 entries at the 12 Hours of Sebring in Florida. David Brabham, Stephane Ortelli and Darren Turner will drive car number 57, in green and yellow livery and driving car number 58, in green and red, will be Peter Kox, Pedro Lamy and Stephane Sarrazin. The colours echo those first seen on the DB3S Works cars in the 1950s. George Howard-Chappell, Team Principal of Aston Martin Racing, said: “I’m sure enthusiasts around the world will share in the team’s excitement at Aston Martin’s long awaited return to the race track. “The 12 Hours of Sebring will undoubtedly be a tough race debut for the all-new DBR9, but we regard it as a critical milestone in our testing and development program leading up to the Le Mans 24 Hour race in June.
Penalties push Busch to No. 1 in points Penalties push Busch to No. 1 in pointsDefending NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Kurt Busch assumed the lead in the 2005 NEXTEL Cup point standings Tuesday afternoon when NASCAR announced penalties for rule infractions at Sunday’s UAW DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Busch led the series heading into Las Vegas by five points over race winner Jimmie Johnson, and trailed Johnson by 15 points after finishing third in the event before penalties were handed down.  Busch downplayed the significance of swapping places with Johnson as a result of the penalty.

“Even though we’re only three races into the season it seems as if Hendrick Motorsports and Roush Racing have separated themselves from the field as the teams to beat,” said Busch. “They’ve won two races and we’ve won one. This penalty certainly won’t affect the way we have to race against these guys in the future, because right now it looks like they’ll be the ones to beat further down the road, so the penalty is nothing we’re focusing on. They’ve been fast in all three races this year, and I don’t see any sign of that changing.”

“We’re only three races in to the deal, and March is way too early to talk about where you are in the points. Obviously we want to go out and earn as many points as we possibly can – that’s what is important right now. Not necessarily whether we’re in first, second, third or whatever.”

The driver of the Sharpie Ford found himself in a similar situation last year following a penalty against Dale Earnhardt Jr.   “It’s a familiar scenario,” Busch noted. “Last year we picked up the point’s lead off of a penalty during the ‘Chase’ when points were even more crucial, but at the end of the season we saw that the difference didn’t come into play. We’re even earlier in the season this time, so it’s really too early to contemplate how and if this will affect us.”

With his third place finish at Las Vegas, Busch has now finished sixth or better in 11 of his last 13 starts (with 12 top-10 finishes) dating back to his win at Loudon on Sept. 19, 2004.

Tickets on sale for Denver GP Tickets on sale for Denver GPOn August 12 through the 14 the world is coming to Denver. The international stars and cars of the Champ Car World Series are participating in the 4th Annual CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver presented by PacifiCare.* Starting today, tickets can be purchased on the new Grand Prix of Denver Web site, www.gpdenver.com, and prizes will be awarded to early ticket holders.

The Grand Prix of Denver features an urban festival, unlike any other Colorado summer event. Race weekend will offer three days of non-stop racing, the Rocky Mountain Concour D’Elegance, Street Party, the Johnsonville family picnic area, Action Sport competition and demonstrations, and other outdoor events being held at the Pepsi Center grounds. The Grand Prix offers something for every interest and taste.

Fans who purchase reserved seating tickets early will be entered to win multiple prizes including an all expense-paid trip for two to the 2005 Brickyard 400 or the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach as a guest of CENTRIX Financial.  Prize drawings will be held on March 31, April 30, on May 31 and the final drawing on June 30. Fans can learn more details about these prizes and purchase by dates by visiting www.gpdenver.com

“The Grand Prix of Denver is the fastest three days in Denver, and it is the only local summer event that combines open wheel racing with summer concerts and events,” Jim Freudenberg, general manager for the Grand Prix of Denver.  “Over the past four years, our fan base has expanded to include not only motorsports enthusiasts, but also families, singles and out-of-state vacationers who are looking for a weekend of fun and outdoor activities.”

Tickets and prizes are now featured on the Grand Prix of Denver’s new Web site, which also publicly launched today. The site, created by Denver-based and Grand Prix of Denver sponsor Creation Chamber, has been designed to be fan-friendly and provide new and interesting content on a frequent basis.  Fans can choose their grandstand seat location and then purchase their tickets from the site.

Reserved seating prices begin at $44, while general paddock passes can be purchased for as little as $20. Tickets can be purchased at www.gpdenver.com, any Ticketmaster location, www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 303-830-TIXS. Please see track diagram on Web site for additional seating information.

Record crowd expected for Sebring Record crowd expected for SebringWith ticket sales at an all-time record pace, the American Le Mans Series rolls into its seventh season this weekend at Sebring International Raceway for the 53rd running of the Mobil 1Twelve Hours of Sebring. The historic race will be telecast live on SPEED Channel from 10:30 a.m Saturday, March 19 until 11:00 p.m. EST.

More than 100,000 are expected during race week, which has developed many monikers over the years including "Spring Brake," the "Woodstock of Motorsports" and "The Super Bowl of American Sports Car Racing." This year's field of the finest drivers, manufacturers and race cars from around the world is not expected to disappoint. With no lack for key matchups and challenges in each of the four classes, fans should witness some of the most intense battles seen in years at the storied race course.

In the LMP1 class, there is a two-team Champion Audi effort in its Audi R8s that is hoping to find the top spot of the podium after finishing as bridesmaid the last four Sebrings. With returning series champions JJ Lehto, Marco Werner and third driver Tom Kristensen piloting the No. 1 Audi, the chances have never been better. But the No. 2 Champion Audi, with Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro and Allan McNish has something to prove as well. Biela is going for a Sebring record fourth overall championship, and McNish won here last year in an Audi UK entry. Dyson Racing will provide the stiffest test to Champion Audi with a pair of Lola EX257s. James Weaver, Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace will pilot the No. 16 while Chris Dyson and Guy Smith guide the two-man No. 20 team.

The LMP2 class features returning Sebring and series champion Miracle Motorsports with new drivers Chris McMurry and Jeff Bucknum joining LMP2 ALMS Champion, Ian James to make their maiden run on Kumho tires, a new edition to the ALMS tire manufacturer battle this season. Miracle's stiffest test is likely to come from a two-car Telesis Intersport Racing team. John Field, Duncan Dayton and Gregor Fisken will push the pedal for the No. 37 Lola B05/40 with John's son Clint Field, Gareth Ridpath and Liz Haliday piloting the No. 30 Dyson.

 The GT1 class may be the most competitive and closely watched of all the classes. Corvette Racing, which won all nine races a year ago (an ALMS record), marches out its new C6-R race car for the first official time here at Sebring. Returning ALMS champions Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell will pilot the No. 3 Corvette C6-R with third driver Max Papis while Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen take the helm of the No. 4 Corvette C6-R. A challenge looms however from a much-improved Saleen by ACEMCO Motorsports, a two-car factory effort by Aston Martin Racing and the emergence of Maserati Corse in its MC12.

Driving the Saleen S7R for ACEMCO is Terry Borcheller, Johnny Mowlem and Ralf Kelleners. Aston Martin's DBR9s have two teams with pedigree credentials. David Brabham, Darren Turner and Stephane Ortelli will pilot the No. 57 Aston Martin while Peter Kox, Pedro Lamy and Stephane Ortelli drive the No. 58 Aston Martin DBR9. Maserati Corse is guided by international racing stars Andrea Bertolini, Fabrio Babini and Fabrizio De Simone. Not to be overlooked is Care Racing-Labre's Ferrari 550 Maranello with Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais, Christophe Bouchut and Fabricio Gollin behind the wheel.

The GT2 field is the largest of the four classes and is not lacking in talent or depth. Reigning class champion Alex Job Racing enters both a factory and privateer team to make a run at yet another championship in its Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs. Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Sasscha Maassen are behind the wheel of the No. 23 factory effort while Randy Pobst, Ian Baas and Brian Cunningham guide the privateer race car. The most serious challenges to AJR are likely to come from series runners-up Flying Lizard Motorsports, 2004 24 Hours of Le Mans GT2 class winners Petersen/White Lightning Racing and a revamped Panoz Motor Sports.

The surprising Flying Lizards sport a two-team Porsche 911 GT3 RSR privateer effort with Johannes van Overbeek, Jon Fogarty and Darren Law guiding its No. 45 Porsche and Lonnie Pechnik, Seth Neiman and David Murry driving the Flying Lizard No. 44. Petersen/White Lightning Racing will take to the Sebring course in its No. 31 Porsche GT3 RSR with Patrick Long, Jorg Bergmeister and four-time Sebring winner Lucas Luhr. Team Panoz (a.k.a. - Panoz Motor Sports) presents perhaps the most formidable test to the Porsches with a two-team factory effort of the Panoz Esperante GTLM. Driving the No. 50 Panoz is Bill Auberlen, Robin Liddell and Formula One and ALMS veteran Emanuele Naspetti. Young guns Gunnar Jeannette, Bryan Sellers and Scott Maxwell will pilot the No. 51.

Notes from Sebring - III Notes from Sebring - III
Not So Fast  In the 52-year history of the event the driver with the fastest lap has won the race only eight times.

By the Numbers  102 drivers have won the 12 Hours of Sebring – 24 drivers remain active in motorsports; 51 have retired; 27 are deceased. 3,251 cars have started the 12 Hours of Sebring and more than 2,700 drivers have competed.

Gone But Not Forgotten  Audi Team Joest became the first team in history to win five consecutive Sebring races (2000-2004). It is not competing this year.

Fame Off the Race Track  Famous Sebring competitors from other walks of life include actors Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, James Brolin, Gene Hackman, Craig T. Nelson, David Carradine, Dick Smothers, and Lorenzo Lamas; journalist Walter Cronkite; astronaut Pete Conrad; and stock car racers Fireball Roberts, Curtis Turner, Bill Elliott, Ricky Rudd and Terry Labonte, who won the GT class in 1984.

More Famous Names Take Their Turns  Many of the names of the turns at Sebring are in honor of sports car racing legends:

Cunningham Corner – Briggs Cunningham (3-time Sebring winning car owner)

Collier Curve – Miles & Sam Collier were pioneers of American road racing. The first Sebring race ever in 1950 was named in Sam Collier's honor after he was killed at Watkins' Glen in 1949.

Bishop Bend – John Bishop, founder of the International Motor Sports Association

Fangio Chicane – Named in honor of five-time F1 champion and two-time Sebring winner Juan Manuel Fangio

Gurney Bend – Named in honor of American road racing legend Dan Gurney

Gendebien Bend – Three-time winner Olivier Gendebien

Ulmann Straight – Sebring founders Alex and Mary Ulmann

Tales, Folklore and Fact  The famous B-17 named "Memphis Belle" landed at Hendricks Field on what is now the Ulmann Straight, during a 1944 publicity tour.

Former President Jimmy Carter attended Sebring several times as a spectator. His family would travel from Georgia every March to attend the races.

Bruce McLaren had a remarkable career at Sebring. He won three times in three completely different races – the 1959 Formula One race, the 1967 12 Hours of Sebring and the 1962 GT support race.

John Fitch and Phil Waters co-drove a Cunningham to victory at Sebring in 1953. Remarkably, they had something else in common. Both were pilots during WWII, both were shot down and both were in German POW camps at the end of the war.

While it has not been uncommon to see cars from Germany, Italy, Japan, Great Britain, and the USA compete at Sebring, a most unusual entry occurred in 1963 with a Sabra built in Israel.

The legendary Juan Manuel Fangio won back-to-back races at Sebring in 1956-57, his only wins on American soil. Ironically, his nephew accomplished the same feat in 1992-93.

Notes from Sebring - II Notes from Sebring - II
Crisis Management
  The 12 Hours of Sebring was not held in 1974 due to the fuel crisis in the U.S. This past year, it was three hurricanes – Charley, Jeanne and Frances – that wreaked havoc at the race course, causing more than $300,000 worth of damage at the track.

The Porsche Streak  At least one Porsche has competed in every Sebring 12-hour race since 1953 – a streak of 51 consecutive races. Porsche boasts 17 victories, 61 class wins, nine poles, and 14 fast lap performances.

Leader of the Pack  Porsche also leads the list of manufacturers with the most overall wins at Sebring.

That list is a virtual "who's who" of world class sports car racing:
Porsche 17
Ferrari 12
Audi 5
Nissan 4
Ford 3
Toyota 2

1 each for Maserati, Riley & Scott, Chaparral, OSCA, Cunningham, and Fraser Nash

Lap Leaders  Among the 29 manufacturers that have led at least one lap of any event, Porsche, Ferrari, Audi, and Nissan rank at the top:

Porsche 3,997 laps 19,233.7 miles
Ferrari 2,743 laps 13,099.1 miles
Audi 1,762 laps 6,539.4 miles
Nissan 1,111 laps 2,478.6 miles

Where's the Starbucks When You Need It?  Ray Crawford is the only driver in history to complete the entire 12 Hours of Sebring race solo, accomplished in 1955. Crawford received special permission by the American Automobile Association that sanctioned the race that year to drive the event alone.

Whew! That Was Close!  The closest Sebring finish in history came in 1999 when only 9.2 seconds separated the winning BMW (JJ Lehto, Tom Kristensen, Jorg Muller) and second place. The 2001 margin of less than one second was a team-managed finish by Audi.

Notes from Sebring - I Notes from Sebring - I
Bring it On, Biela!  Frank Biela is one of only five drivers ever to have won three overall Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring championships. Should he capture the championship this year driving for Champion Audi in the No. 2 Audi R8, he would become Sebring's all-time champion, surpassing legends Phil Hill, Mario Andretti, Hans Stuck and Olivier Gendebien.

48 Years Ago …It was 48 years ago, 1957, that Maserati saw its last factory effort in the USA, winning the 12 Hours of Sebring in a Maserati 450S piloted by the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio and Jean Behra.

Can O'Connell Reign?  Phil Hill and Johnny O'Connell are the all-time leading winners at Sebring with a total of six victories apiece (overall and class wins combined). A win by O'Connell this year for Corvette Racing in the GT1 class with teammates Ron Fellows and Max Papis would secure a place in history for the Flowery Branch, Ga. resident. He has won three straight years with the factory Corvette team, while he also won three straight years in a Nissan GTX from 1993-95, including the overall title in 1994.

Dyson Trio has Impressive Sebring Numbers  The drivers of the No. 16 Dyson Lola (Andy Wallace, James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger) have 43 career starts at Sebring amassing 16 podium finishes, two wins, (both by Wallace), 10 second place finishes and three class wins. Weaver is the "dean" of Sebring drivers with 16 career starts. Wallace has stepped up to the most podium finishes at Sebring (9).

Florida On My Mind  Three of the four returning ALMS 2004 championship teams hail from the state of Florida. Champion Audi based in Pompano, Fla. won the LMP1 class a year ago. Miracle Motorsports including driver/owner John Macaluso, which won LMP2 class last season is located in Winter Haven, Fla. Alex Job Racing, last year's GT2 ALMS champion, is located just outside Orlando in Tavares, Fla. GT1 also had a Florida association a year ago with Max Papis, a resident of Miami, driving the winning GT1 car at Sebring. Panoz Motor Sports' Gunnar Jeannette lives in Palm Beach Garden.

Unofficially Fast Unofficially FastChampion Audi's No. 2 Audi R8, paced by three-time champion Frank Biela with teammates Emanuele Pirro and Allan McNish, turned the fastest time unofficially during practice Tuesday at Sebring International Raceway in preparation for Saturday's 53rd running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The trio turned in a best time of 1:49.653. They were trailed by LMP1 teammates JJ Lehto, Marco Werner and Tom Kristensen in the No. 1 Champion Audi, which turned a best lap of 1:49.953. Dyson Racing had the next two fastest race cars, with Chris Dyson and Guy Smith in the No. 20 Lola followed by James Weaver, Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace in the No. 16 Lola.

The fastest LMP2 run was made by Telesis Intersport Racing in its Lola B05/40 with drivers Jon Field, Duncan Dayton and Gregor Fisken. Corvette Racing had the two quickest runs in GT1 class with the No. 3 team of Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell and Max Papis slightly quicker than the No. 4 team of Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta, and Jan Magnussen. Defending champion Alex Job Racing's No. 23 Porsche GT3 RSR led the GT2 pack with drivers Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, and Sascha Maassen.   Qualifying for all four classes is set for Thursday afternoon.

Hinchcliffe tries hand at fenders Hinchcliffe tries hand at fendersLooking for every opportunity to be on track, 18-year-old James Hinchcliffe will compete in a Mazda RX8 in the Fontana Grand-Am Cup event in Fontana, CA. Co-driving with Billy Johnson, the duo will look to challenge for victory with the Speed Source squad.

Hinchcliffe (right), a former member of the FirstKart.com race team and ’04 BMW Rookie-of-the-Year, will use the off weekend from his full time effort in the Star Mazda series to contest the RX8. With a possibility of more events in the future, Hinchcliffe will look to perform at his fullest potential and provide the necessary feedback to get the Speed Source team upfront.

“I am pumped for this event and can’t wait to get in the car” stated Hinchcliffe in a recent phone interview. “I will be competing in car that I have never tested before and on a track that I have never seen but will try to adapt as quickly as possible. In the mean time, I will concentrate on the on our Star Mazda effort with AIM Autosport and complete as much research on the RX8 as possible.”

Hinchcliffe and Johnson met last season while contesting in the Formula BMW USA Championship and the two have become both very good friends and competitors. Though they are both fierce competitors on track, the duo will have to work together in the Speed Source RX8 to challenge for the win.

Hinchcliffe’s next on track activity will take place the week of March 14-18th. The talented young Canadian will compete in his first Pro Mazda race at Sebring Raceway in Sebring, FL. April 1-3rd weekend will provide Hinchcliffe with his first Grand-Am Cup experience in Fontana, CA on the Fontana road course.   

For sponsorship opportunities and more information on James Hinchcliffe and the Star Mazda series, please contact James at 416-522-7470 or via e-mail at james@jameshinchcliffe.com. For up-to-date news releases, race schedules, results and photos, please visit www.jameshinchcliffe.com.

RCR to Appeal NASCAR’s Penalty Against Berrier RCR to Appeal NASCAR’s Penalty Against BerrierRichard Childress Racing (RCR) will appeal the fine and suspension NASCAR handed down today to one of its NEXTEL Cup Series teams as a result of a rules infraction last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.  “I understand NASCAR’s reasons for imposing a penalty,” said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. “However, I think the penalty they have given us is out of line so we have decided to appeal their ruling.”
A lap of Sepang with Kimi Raikkonen A lap of Sepang with Kimi Raikkonen"Crossing the start line at the Sepang circuit, you reach a speed of 303km/h in seventh gear on the long pit straight before braking dramatically for the tight complex, which incorporates a downhill gradient. The right-hander is taken at 85km/h in second, with your speed dropping slightly for the left turn that follows immediately." .

"As the track is fairly wide at this point of the track there are often good opportunities for overtaking under braking. Accelerating out, the track leads to the long right-hander of turn three that sweeps you round onto a short straight.

"Pushing hard on the throttle, you reach some 290km/h in sixth gear before braking sharply, dropping down to 103km/h in second for the tight right-hander of turn four. On the exit, you quickly flick up through the gears as you approach the flowing left of turn five, which is negotiated at 225km/h in fourth gear."

"The tighter right of turn six follows and requires a slight touch on the brakes, bringing your speed down to 175km/h still in fourth. Another quick sprint along a short straight comes next, at speeds of 244km/h, on the approach to the two right-handers of turns seven and eight."

"Turn seven is taken at 193km/h, the slightly more open turn of eight sees your speed increase by 10km/h. As you exit the corner, you continue to push hard on the throttle along the straight that leads to the very tight turn nine."

"Braking hard as you enter the complex at the back of the circuit, the left-hander, is negotiated in second gear at 80km/h. On the throttle as you exit, you build and maintain your speed through the long, right-hander of turn ten, reaching some 210km/h in fourth gear."

"Turn eleven, a 90-degree right-hander is taken at 124km/h. Another short burst of power takes you to turn twelve. Keeping your speed through the corner, you then dab the brakes, dropping to 176km/h in third for the slower right hand of turn thirteen.

"Flicking down a gear, the sharp right of turn fourteen swings you round almost 180-degrees at some 114km/h onto the straight that runs parallel to the start-finish straight, separated by the massive grandstand."

"Powering along the straight at 290km/h in sixth, you then brake sharply to negotiate the hairpin of turn fifteen, at 106km/h in second, which flips you back onto the start-finish straight to begin another lap."

Denver companies give strong support to Champ Car race Denver companies give strong support to Champ Car raceThe CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver presented by PacifiCare has been establishing itself as the Urban Festival in downtown Denver over the course of its existence. Over the past three years, area companies have taken note and realized the impact they can have to consumers by being involved in the fastest three days in Denver.

Sponsorship involvement has grown from less than 10 companies in 2002 to more than 30 partners involved for the 2005 Grand Prix of Denver. Partners recognize the financial and community benefits the CFGPDPC has consistently brought to Denver and its surrounding areas. A successful sign that the Grand Prix of Denver is here to stay and that Denver is truly becoming a motorsports town.

"The CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver presented by PacifiCare has become the most significant cultural, entertainment and sporting event for Denver during the summer months," said Jim Freudenberg, general manager of the Grand Prix Of Denver. "Our partners are able to leverage their involvement in the Grand Prix in a myriad of ways that make business sense for their companies and the consumers they are trying to reach."

In addition to CENTRIX Financial and PacifiCare, the following companies have signed agreements with the Grand Prix of Denver:

  • Official Hotels ---Hyatt DTC, Loews Denver
  • Official Restaurants--Braun's Bar and Grill, Brooklyn's, Tamayo and Zenga
  • Official Suppliers-Burt Ford, Design Shop, Lucky Strike, St. Anthony's
  • Official Web Development Company ---Creation Chamber
  • Official Spirits---Brown-Forman, Jack Daniel's
  • Official Soft Drink, Bottled Water and Juice---Pepsi, Aquafina, Tropicana, Lipton and SoBe
  • Official Wireless Provider ---Cingular Wireless
  • Official Express Delivery Company--- DHL
  • Official Rental Car Company-Enterprise Car Rental
  • Official Printing and Office Supplies-Corporate Express
  • Official Telecommunications Provider---XO Communications

Reserved seating prices begin at $44, while general paddock passes can be purchased for as little as $20. Tickets can be purchased at www.gpdenver.com , any Ticketmaster location, www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 303-830-TIXS. Please see track diagram for additional seating information.

Riley to Build LeMans Prototype Riley to Build LeMans PrototypeThe reputable American race car builder, Riley Technologies, has set its sights on building LeMans Prototypes for the P1 and P2 classes.   Bob Riley, who has been building race cars for over five decades, and his son, Bill Riley, who currently oversees the successful Grand American Riley chassis program, believe it is time for a quality American-made LeMans chassis effort.

“We have designed and built winning cars in the past, including the successful Riley Mk.III from the former IMSA race days and the current Mk.XI, which is experiencing huge success in Grand Am competition for the past two years,” said the younger Riley. “Additionally, the new LeMans rules will be to our advantage because of the specified undertray and our history of optimizing new rules packages. We have proven numerous times that we can build a winning chassis. Now we want to do it with prototypes at LeMans.”

“We currently have two parallel programs – one for an open cockpit car, and one for a closed cockpit,” said Bob Riley, who has numerous wins in all arenas of motorsports. “The closed design features less drag, while the open car has a lower CG (center of gravity) and more ballast to shift, as required.”

Features of the currently named Riley Mk.XII chassis include a carbon fiber tub, power steering and paddle shifting. The body is developed using CFD, full-scale wind tunnel and coast down testing.  Customer support will include an expanded parts department, similar to the service currently being provided in the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series in the United States.

For more information, please contact Bill Riley at 317-248-9470, ext. 12 or email to bill.riley@rileytech.com.

Hendrick to appeal NASCAR penalties Hendrick to appeal NASCAR penaltiesRick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, today responded to sanctions levied by NASCAR on two of his NEXTEL Cup Series entries.  "I'm not disputing NASCAR's right to levy sanctions," Hendrick said.  "As a team owner, I understand why these standards are in place and have always taken pride in the fact that our organization has kept a very clean record.  In this particular instance, though, we disagree with the severity of NASCAR's stance and plan to appeal their decision.  I want to make it clear that we in no way intentionally ignored guidelines and I'm certain everyone understands that."  [Editor's Note:  Rick should know you don't appeal against NASCAR or next time they will be slammed even harder.  For once NASCAR has done more than just a slap on the wrist.....but they should have lost the win too.]
NASCAR slams cheaters NASCAR slams cheatersNASCAR has announced that rule infractions this past weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway have resulted in the suspension of three NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series crew chiefs.
  • The #48 Chevrolet team received three penalties, due to the car's roof height being too low in post-race inspection — a violation of Section 12-4-A of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rule book (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and Section 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components, and/or equipment used that do not conform to NASCAR rules). A penalty of 25 driver points dropped Jimmie Johnson — the race winner at Las Vegas — back to second place (500 points) in the standings, 10 behind reigning series champion Kurt Busch (510). Chad Knaus, Johnson's crew chief, has been suspended from competition for the next two races and fined $35,000; Jeff Gordon, the #48 car owner, has been penalized 25 owner points.
  • #29 Team: Todd Berrier, crew chief for the #29 Chevrolet driven by Kevin Harvick, has been suspended for the next four races and fined $25,000. Those penalties resulted from the #29 having an unapproved fuel filler and unapproved fuel cell vent. The car was in violation of Sections 12-4-A and 12-4-Q. The violation was found during post-qualifying inspection. In addition to Berrier's penalties, Harvick has been penalized 25 driver championship points, dropping him from eighth to 10th in the driver standings, while car owner Richard Childress loses 25 car owner championship points.
  • #5 Team: Alan Gustafson, crew chief for the #5 Chevrolet driven by Kyle Busch, has been suspended for two races and fined $25,000, due to the car's quarter-panel heights being too high in post-race inspection — also violations of Sections 12-4-A and 12-4-Q. Busch has been assessed 25 driver points, dropping him from 18th to 22nd in the standings; car owner Rick Hendrick loses 25 owner points.

In addition:

  • Harold Holly, crew chief for the #32 Chevrolet driven by Bobby Hamilton Jr., was fined $5,000 because of the #32 having an unapproved deck lid, a violation of Sections 12-4-A and 12-4-Q that was determined during opening-day inspection.
  • John Latchford, crew chief for the #89 Dodge driven by Morgan Shepherd, was fined $1,000 because of an unapproved fire suppression agent found during opening-day inspection. That also violated Sections 12-4-A and 12-4-Q.
  • Larry Carter, crew chief for the #2 Dodge driven by Rusty Wallace, was fined $1,000. During opening-day inspection, the car's shoulder harness did not have a date tag displayed, a violation of Sections 17.2-C (and 12-4-A). Fox Sports/Sporting News
Industry News
Indy gets first 2nd-generation SAFER Barrier Indy gets first 2nd-generation SAFER BarrierInstallation of the second generation of the revolutionary energy-absorbing SAFER Barrier is nearing completion at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Speedway crews have replaced the original Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) Barrier on the outside retaining wall of the Speedway oval’s four turns with a “Version 2” of the barrier. The total length of the SAFER Barrier on the outside retaining wall is 5,056 feet.

The Version 2 SAFER Barrier features these four major improvements:

  • The barrier sections, which were straight in Version 1, are slightly rolled, or curved, to provide a smoother impact surface.
  • A universal Styrofoam shape was created that is compatible with IndyCar Series cars and stock cars.
  • Improved attachment points anchor the barrier to the existing concrete retaining walls.
  • An increase of five steel tubes welded together form the barrier’s exterior instead of four used in the Version 1 barrier.

The Speedway also permanently lengthened the SAFER Barrier by 200 feet from the entrance of Turn 1 – also Turn 13 of the road course – northward into the main straightaway to add protection for drivers competing in the United States Grand Prix Formula One race.

Inside retaining walls exiting Turns 2 and 4 each received 616 feet of the Version 1 SAFER Barrier that was removed from the outside walls. With the additional 1,232 feet on the inside walls, the total amount of concrete retaining wall at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway covered by the SAFER Barrier is 6,288 feet, or 1.19 miles.

Kevin Forbes, the Speedway’s director of engineering and construction, said the original SAFER Barrier performed very well since its installation in May 2002, and Version 2 is the next step in its evolution. Data collected from accidents at Indianapolis in 2002 involving both Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series cars and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series stock cars allowed project engineers to find areas for improvement.

“Version 2 is a result of understanding exactly how Version 1 performed in the real world, being attached to the walls at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway versus the test facility in Nebraska,” Forbes said. “There are things in the real world that occur when a car impacts a wall that we can’t replicate in a laboratory. The lab gave us a model that we knew was going to be a vast improvement over bare concrete walls.”

The most visible improvement is the addition of a fifth tube to the exterior of the barrier, adding strength to the area where the gearbox of a backward-sliding IndyCar Series strikes the barrier.

“(Added) strength means the entire assembly will move like it did before, but it won’t gouge or gash the (steel tubing) like it did,” Forbes said. “The primary goal there is to reduce repair time so the track can go green much more quickly after an accident.”

Industry News
Interview with Bob Jenkins Interview with Bob JenkinsAs SPEED Channel continues to profile members of its on-air team as well as key figures behind the scenes at one of the nation's fastest growing sports cable networks, we'd like to welcome the newest member of the SPEED Channel family - Bob Jenkins. With more than 30 years of broadcasting experience, Jenkins brings a wealth of history and knowledge to SPEED Channel's signature news program - SPEED News.

Q: What is your first vivid memory from the race track? Best memory from the race track? Jenkins: My first VIVID memory and one which still lingers, is traveling to the Dayton (Ohio) Speedway on August 12, 1956.  The "Championship Cars" ran a non-points paying race on the half-mile, high-banked track and my mom and dad took me and my brother ... moments from that day still pop into my mind now and then.  The race was won by Ed Elisian, who passed Pat O'Connor late in the event. 

My best memory from the race track was probably seeing Jeff Gordon win his first Cup race.  He lived near Indy and would visit us at Lingner Group now and then.  We became friends and it's so good to see the success he has had and the impact he's had on the world of motor sports.

Q:  How did you go from race fan to race broadcaster? 
Jenkins: I was a race fan first (from at least 10 years old).  My interest in broadcasting resulted from my love of music.  I originally wanted to be a disc-jockey.  I then decided to combine my love of racing with my career and began looking for a job in Indianapolis.  I found it in 1972 at WIRE radio, a country station.  I convinced the general manager to fly me to all USAC Championship races and phone back reports.  The rest is history.

Q: Best event you've covered that a lot of people might not know about?
Jenkins: The Iditarod dog sled race.  In 1985, I went with a friend of mine to Anchorage to see the ceremonial start of the event.  It was truly a memorable event.  I shot video (something I rarely do) and brought it back and made a story for SpeedWeek.  I'm a huge dog lover (we have two) and to see the sled dogs work was a real thrill.

Q: Someone has NEVER seen a race of any kind -- what three events do you take them to in order to get them hooked? 
Jenkins: The Indy 500.  The Daytona 500.  Texas IRL.
Q: What music is in your CD player?
Jenkins: Oldies, oldies and more oldies.  I have CD's and about 7,000 45-rpm records --.from the 50's thru 80's.  I told you I love music!

Q: Best interview? Worst interview? 
Jenkins: Best - (road racing champion) John Paul, Jr., shortly after he was released from prison.  Worst -- the rest, I hate to do interviews.

 Q: A lot of sports fans dream of hitting a home run in the World Series or hitting the winning shot at the buzzer -- any racing fantasies?
Jenkins: Not really.  My desire to be a race driver ended many years ago.  I think I've experienced just about everything I've wanted to in broadcasting.

Q: Biggest challenge to delivering a race to the television audience? 
Jenkins: Keeping everyone happy.  You're constantly accused of showing favoritism to a driver, make of car, etc.  I could care less who wins a race, as long as it's safe.

Q: Any interest in other sports? 
Jenkins: I enjoy baseball and hockey, but don't really devote a great deal of time to actually following one particular team.

Q: A lot of people would be surprised to know that Bob Jenkins ___ (fill in the blank) 
Jenkins: A lot of people would be surprised to know that Bob Jenkins is a cancer survivor. In 1983, I had colon cancer, endured eight-inch resection, six chemotherapy treatments.  No problems since then.  God has been very good to me.

Barrichello reflects on Melbourne Barrichello reflects on MelbourneAfter a great drive from eleventh on the grid to second on the podium in the season opener in Australia, Rubens Barrichello returned to his native Sao Paulo for a few days before preparing for the Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang circuit this coming weekend.

“I enjoyed the Australian weekend immensely," said Barrichello. "Before going there, we knew our old car was still competitive, but not to the level of last year, especially as Renault and McLaren had made a big improvement. We always go well in Australia, so I was confident, but then the rain in first qualifying put everything up in the air. Apart from the brake problems, I had a great race, pushing from start to finish with the tires lasting very well and I managed my brake balance problem perfectly.”

With twelve full seasons of F1 under his belt, the Brazilian has seen many changes in the way the sport is run, but he admitted that some aspects of the new 2005 rules still surprised him. “I’d prepared myself for the new format of the weekend, but some things still caught me out,” he admitted. “In second qualifying for example, I was expecting to see my actual lap time, followed later by the aggregate time and the position. Starting from my Friday time, I found it unusual even though I could see the minus and plus to other people’s laps. The feeling in the race itself was much the same as before. But in my mind, I wondered how much I could push with just one set of tires."

“I had no time to back off, as I had Alonso pushing me hard, but I think I managed the situation very well, as I knew it is not easy to overtake on the Albert Park circuit, even if he was a couple of tenths per lap quicker than me.”

In the post-race press conference, Barrichello mentioned the occasional difficulty lapping some of the rookie drivers in the pack, however the Brazilian does not feel it is a serious problem.

“You have to consider that in the case of someone like Monteiro, coming from CART, he is used to different rules," said Barrichello. "In that type of racing you can help yourself by holding up the leaders in the event of a possible Safety Car period. But in F1 the rules are very different. Although it is not written in our rules, between the drivers we have an agreement that if the blue flags are being waved at you, you have three corners to let the faster guy through. I was not too bothered, because we need to give these guys time to learn, especially as there is a big speed differential between our cars and their and we are coming up behind them to pass very fast.”

With Michael Schumacher failing to finish the opening round, Barrichello has a head start over his team-mate, but it is not something Rubens considers important. “I’ve been working hard to be a title contender all the time and I don’t think in terms of just beating Michael. I have all the ingredients I need to be successful. All I take from Australia is that starting eleventh and finishing second was a great result, especially as picking up points while we are still running the old car is very important.”

After training in 36°C heat in Sao Paulo, Barrichello arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Monday and he is intrigued to see how the second round will pan out… Ferrari

Roush Racing takes on 4 youngsters Roush Racing takes on 4 youngstersRoush Racing has added four drivers to its development program, Erik Darnell, Danny O’Quinn, Joey Logano and Marc Davis.  Each driver has a different racing background, but all four possess the talent to eventually succeed in the NASCAR ranks.

Darnell and O’Quinn were both discovered through Roush’s ‘Race For The Ride’ program last fall.  Both drivers made it to the final test at Darlington and were considered for the ride in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, which was awarded to Todd Kluever.  Darnell, 23, hails from Beach Park, Ill., and most recently competed in the NASCAR Autozone Elite Division.  O’Quinn, 19, is from Coeburn, Va., and has spent the past two seasons racing in the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series (southern division).  Both drivers plan to run a limited ARCA schedule this season starting March 26 at Nashville Superspeedway.

Logano, 14, is from Alpharetta, Ga., and was discovered by Mark Martin.  Martin first noticed Logano while racing with his son, Matt.  Last year Logano competed in five ASA National Touring Series events and qualified fifth in his first race.  Logano intends to compete in the Hooters Pro Cup Series this year after he turns 15 in May. 

Davis, also 14, resides in Mitchellville, Md.  He is currently the only African-American in the Roush driver development program.  He will continue to compete in the FASTKIDS truck series, as well as race a Roush-provided Ford Taurus at various short tracks throughout North Carolina.

”The driver development program is extremely important,” said Jack Roush.  “We need to constantly be searching for the next generation of drivers.  After our ‘Race For The Ride’ program last fall we found there is an immense amount of talent out there.  From that program and from other means we have found four drivers who possess a great amount of skill and determination.  We decided to create a program which will help them develop their racing careers and eventually move into one of our NASCAR programs when the time is right.”

All four Roush Racing development drivers are currently seeking sponsorship at various levels.  Companies inquiring about sponsorship opportunities within Roush Racing should contact John Miller at Roush Racing, (704) 720-4600.

CENTRIX as primary sponsor of the No. 01 CENTRIX as primary sponsor of the No. 01CENTRIX Financial will have a total of four primary sponsorships (4 races) on MB2/MBV's #01 Chevrolet driven by Joe Nemechek and #10 Chevrolet driven by Scott Riggs. MB2/MBV Motorsports
Snap-On to sponsor Blaney at Atlanta Snap-On to sponsor Blaney at AtlantaSnap-on Tools Company will be the primary sponsor of driver Dave Blaney and Richard Childress Racing’s (RCR) No. 07 Chevrolet in the March 20 Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.  Jack Daniel’s, the team’s fulltime primary sponsor, will assume a secondary role in the one-race program designated to commemorate Snap-on’s 85th year as a worldwide leader dedicated to supplying professional tool users with unmatched quality and innovation. The move also opens up an opportunity for both Snap-On and Jack Daniel’s to explore the potential of a business-to-business relationship.
Sebring: The irony of it all Sebring: The irony of it allUPDATE IMSA Statement: IMSA started scrutineering the ALMS cars for the Mobile 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on Sunday, March 13. The majority of the cars that go through scrutineering in the first two days are instructed by the IMSA technical department to make adjustments in order to completely comply with the regulations, homologation papers and administrative regulations. This is not unusual in endurance racing, and Charlie Cook, IMSA’s technical director, stated that the cars this year have been presented in better condition than at any time in the history of the ALMS. The infractions that have been noted are all of a minor nature.

As of 5:00 p.m. Monday, only one car received its passing technical sticker on first presentation, which was in the GT2 category. Fourteen had received their sticker once they had corrected the noted infractions. Seven cars had not yet been presented for technical inspection.

IMSA technical inspection appointments will continue through 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 14 and technical inspection will be open from 8:00 – 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, March 15 for final re-checks. No car is deemed to have “failed” technical inspection until that time. Cook will then provide a list of cars that have failed to pass technical inspection to Race Director Martin Kauffman, and those cars will be subject to further action. Any quotes attributed to IMSA officials regarding any so-called technical “failure” are hereby disclaimed.

03/14/05 At tech inspection today at Sebring the controversial Maserati MC12 sailed through and then the Aston Martin DBR9's took their turn. After measurements on the DBR9, IMSA was in the awkward position of telling them, "we are embarrassed to inform you that your car is 3mm too wide." After all the controversy made over the Maserati being illegal, no one expected the Aston Martins to be the ones that failed tech inspection.
Industry News
Honda USA Sales dip Honda USA Sales dipUSA sales are down for the Honda Civic and Accord.  Civic's U.S. sales dropped 26.9 percent in the first two months of this year to 33,481 compared with the year-ago period. Accord sales dropped 15.0 percent to 44,296.  Through February, Honda's U.S. sales were down 10.6 percent to 149,819. In 2004, Honda Division sales rose 1.4 percent, to 1,195,479 million. The U.S. market also rose 1.4 percent last year.   Whether this drop in sales has any effect on Honda's decision to remain in the IRL past 2006, when the current contract expires, remains to be seen.
NASCAR cheaters to get mere slap on wrist NASCAR cheaters to get mere slap on wrist[Editor's Note: Like we said on numerous occasions, if NASCAR wants to stop the cheating they will take Johnson's win away and bench him and the team for one race. NASCAR can stop the cheating cold, yet they allow it to happen with penalties far too lenient. NASCAR probably won't take away Jimmie Johnson's victory in Sunday's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400, despite his car's failing an inspection after the race for being too low at the roof. First, it might be difficult to give the win to teammate Kyle Busch, who finished second, because Busch's car also failed post-race inspection, for being too high at the rear quarterpanels. But it's not nice to try to fool John Darby, NASCAR's competitions director, and his justice may be harsh for both Johnson and Busch. But, a win is a win, no matter the asterisks - and no matter the razzing from rivals. The low roof that led to Johnson's violation would likely provide both an edge in speed on the straightaways as well as better handling in the corners because more air would reach the crucial rear spoiler. The high rear quarterpanels that led to Busch's violation would likely provide an edge in handling in the corners, because the rear spoiler would be higher. What NASCAR will likely do is take away enough points, probably 25, to knock Johnson out of the Nextel Cup points lead. That would put Kurt Busch, who finished third, back atop the standings. Winston Salem Journal
Patrick cleared to drive Patrick cleared to driveDanica Patrick, who still has no recollection of a crash that left her with a minor concussion two weeks ago in the Indy Racing League season opener at Homestead, Fla., has been medically cleared to resume driving in Saturday's XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway.  Bobby Rahal, who co-owns the team with talk show host David Letterman, said Patrick got the word Monday.  "She's ready to get back to racing," Rahal said by telephone. "Even when she was in the hospital after the accident, she was talking about the Phoenix race and what we had to do to the car. She was already thinking forward." Patrick was in 10th position at the time of the crash, which began when Kosuke Matsuura spun in front of Tomas Scheckter. Patrick, 22, nearly avoided the melee, but a lapped car driven by Ed Carpenter blocked her path. She hit Carpenter, then veered into the outside wall. AZCentral.com
Sharp reaches 100 Sharp reaches 10037-year-old race car driver Scott Sharp can reach a new plateau for the Indy Racing League this weekend in the XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. Saturday's race will be Sharp's 100th in the series and 92nd in succession, both league records and both remarkable given the league's history of putting drivers in the hospital.
Albers lines up Veronica Magazine Albers lines up Veronica MagazineVeronica Magazine confirmed today that it will be an official sponsor of Minardi F1 Team driver, Christijan Albers. The first indication of the arrangement came during the Australian Grand Prix weekend, when the logo of The Netherlands’ best-selling weekly magazine appeared on Albers’ distinctive orange and black helmet.  During the season, Veronica Magazine will carry regular coverage of Albers and the Minardi Formula One team. Albers will also attend several Veronica Magazine events.  “Christijan is the most talented Dutch Formula One driver competing at this time," said Peter Contant, Editor-in- Chief of the publication. "Veronica Magazine is the best, largest and most trendy magazine in The Netherlands, and thus we find a connection with Chris. Through our sponsorship, we express our trust in his racing talent.”  Veronica Magazine is the largest weekly magazine in the Netherlands with 2.7 million readers. Minardi
A1 Grand Prix
Dominguez helps launch Mexico A1 GP team Dominguez helps launch Mexico A1 GP teamMexico's dignitaries turned out in force yesterday to support the launch of A1 Team Mexico in the World Cup of Motorsport. Attended by guests including prominent business leaders and ministers, A1 Team Mexico President Juan Cortina introduced the race car, in full Mexican livery, at the prestigious Hipodromo de Las Americas.

"We are very excited that Mexico is going to have the opportunity to participate in the World Cup of Motorsport," said Cortina. "Mexico has all the ingredients to be very competitive in this new and exciting series and we are very proud to be able to build this winning team."

A1 Team Mexico Vice President Julio Jáuregui (right)followed by saying, "The opportunity that A1 has given us to represent our nation worldwide, not only gives our country global exposure, but also raises the profile of our culture, which is rich in motorsport history."

Welcoming the first country of the Americas to launch their A1 Grand Prix team Founder, President and Chairman Sheikh Maktoum said, "I am immensely proud to attend the first launch of an A1 team from the Americas and would like to take this opportunity to welcome them into the growing A1 family."
"I am also very happy to announce on this occasion, that the Brazilian team has been sold to Ronaldo, one of the world's greatest athletes and national hero to the 180 million-strong Brazilian population. A1 Grand Prix is a truly global series reaching every continent in the world and as our footprint continues to expand, I look forward to increasing our American contingent."

Speaking of his involvement in A1 Grand Prix Ronaldo commented, "It's an honor to represent Brazil in any way I can whether that's on the football pitch or by backing our national motorsport team. Like football, A1 Grand Prix is a team sport. Ultimately, it will be the country who will win the World Cup of Motorsport, not the driver. We've won the football World Cup more times than any other nation – it would be great to win the first ever World Cup of Motorsport to go alongside it."

Concluding the official unveiling of A1 Team Mexico, Champ Car driver and native Mexican, Mario Dominguez drove the A1 car around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Decked-out in the red, white and green colors of the national flag, A1 Team Mexico looks set to bring the spirit and flare of Central America to the inaugural World Cup of Motorsport. A1GP

Toyota previews the Malaysian GP Toyota previews the Malaysian GPSTAND AND DELIVER After placing his TF105 firmly on the front row of the grid for the Australian Grand Prix and shadowing eventual race winner Giancarlo Fisichella until the first round of pit stops, Jarno Trulli fell foul of a blistered rear tire after his first refueling stop which dropped him down the field to a disappointing ninth place come the checkered flag. Jarno, however, is adamant for better fortune in this weekend's 58-lap Malaysian Grand Prix.

Jarno Trulli (Car 16): "I was buoyed by our front row starting position in Australia because it wasn't all down to the weather conditions in qualifying. The TF105 was well suited to Albert Park and I was pleased with the car's behavior over the weekend. Therefore, I am confident for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Sepang is an interesting track technically and one of the most demanding of the season for drivers because of the intense heat and humidity. With the new technical regulations for engines and tires, we could see some surprises and upsets this weekend. I hope we fall into the former category. We missed out on points in Melbourne, but I looking to rectify that in Sepang."

KUALA SHAKER Starting from near the back of the field in Melbourne courtesy of a qualifying downpour, Ralf Schumacher had a competitive debut for Panasonic Toyota Racing, although few outside of the team even noticed. An unscheduled extra pit stop to tighten a loosened seat belt ended his chance of points, but in the process of making up positions to an ultimate 12th place, Ralf set the ninth quickest lap of the race, just 0.6s from the race winner's best lap. Like Jarno, Ralf is out to shake up the grid in Malaysia this weekend.

Ralf Schumacher (Car 17): "The Australian Grand Prix was full of mixed fortunes for me after sheer bad luck with the weather in qualifying, followed by an unexpected extra trip to the pits in the race. All in all, it was a missed opportunity to score points. My race debut for Toyota was extremely encouraging in terms of car performance and team operations. It can only be a matter of time before we finish in the points. Malaysia will be interesting because most cars will start the race with the same engine that finished in Australia. In Sepang, with the stifling heat, we could see some teams with technical issues. I think we should be confident in our TF105 car and RVX-05 engine and if our excellent reliability continues, points are by no means out the question."

HOT'S TOUGH With ambient temperatures often reaching in excess of 35°C, some 25°C hotter than the best of the pre-season testing conditions, it is not only the drivers who are put under pressure in Malaysia. Teams are forced to take extra preventative measures to keep their cars in shape during the entire weekend, but have only had European winter climes in which to prepare.

Mike Gascoyne - Technical Director Chassis: "The most challenging aspect for the weekend comes not from track, but from the ambient temperatures. Inside the car, the extra heat is impossible to replicate at pre-season testing, so we have to use data acquired from tests in Spain and data from previous racing seasons to carefully analyze what conditions to expect during the weekend. We need to make use of an efficient cooling system in the car, which I am pleased to say, performed well on the TF105 in Australia. As part of our ongoing development program, which is focused predominantly on aerodynamic upgrades, we will introduce a new front wing in Malaysia, as well as some other new smaller components, all of which have been designed to further improve the efficiency and performance of our entire aerodynamic package.

READY TWO RACE Panasonic Toyota Racing will start the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend with the same two engines with which it left the pitlane for the first lap of first practice in Melbourne. Each RVX-05 engine already has considerable mileage under its belt and will be looking at double that by the time Jarno and Ralf cross the checkered flag in Malaysia, whilst coping with the added pressure of the Sepang sun.

Luca Marmorini - Technical Director Engine: "Malaysia will be the first race where we will see the effects of the new engine rules. Reliability was impressive in Australia, but combined with the heat of Sepang, this second race will be extremely demanding for engines. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding loopholes in the new engine rules, but exploitation of such grey areas is against our understanding of racing. Even though our drivers did not score any points in the last race, we decided to pass the checkered flag out of respect for the new rules. We fully accept the spirit and intention of the 2005 engine regulation and we believe that if we are to challenge for points regularly, we must finish the race and that means having an engine to last two races. With Ralf completing 570km and Jarno 670km in Melbourne, this obviously increases the chance of having an engine failure in Malaysia, but this is how we must act if we are to fight for points."

Industry News
Kanaans to chair CARA fashion show Kanaans to chair CARA fashion showCurrent IRL IndyCar® Series champion Tony Kanaan and his wife Daniele have been named honorary chairpersons for this year’s CARA Charities Indianapolis 500 Fashion Show on Thursday, May 26, at the Indianapolis Westin Hotel.

One of the most popular social events surrounding the world’s largest auto racing event, the Indy 500 Fashion Show is named “Accelerate Your Fashion Senses” and will celebrate its 24th edition with many of the Indy 500 starting drivers and their families assisting in raising funds for local and national children’s charities.

Kanaan, the popular Brazilian driver for the Andretti Green Racing team, and wife Daniele have been regulars at the annual fashion extravaganza for several years as well as major supporters of CARA Charities’ fund raising activities throughout the past decade.  Kanaan finished second in last year’s Indianapolis 500 and produced one of the most impressive runs in Indy car history by completing every lap in the series 16-race campaign.  Kanaan won three IndyCar races in 2004 and finished in the Top Five in fifteen of sixteen races on the way to his first IRL point championship.  Local community leader Marlyne Sexton will serve as the Indianapolis area honorary chairperson.
“Daniele and I are honored to be honorary chairpersons for this year’s Fashion Show”, said Kanaan, who also finished third in the Indy 500 in 2003. “CARA is a great racing organization and has helped many needy people over the years.  Dani and I have enjoyed the Fashion Show each year and we are looking forward to this year’s event.  It should be a lot of fun and it is for a good cause too.”

The 24th annual fashion affair, featuring fashions provided by The Secret Ingredient, Day Furs and Chocolate Soup, will open with a social hour at 11 a.m., followed by a noon luncheon. The unique fashion show is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. The Westin is a sensational backdrop with a packed ballroom of attendees, sponsors and local dignitaries.

Kanaan and other Indy 500 drivers, including past champions like three-time winner Johnny Rutherford, two-time titlist Helio Castroneves and 2004 BorgWarner Trophy recipient Buddy Rice, will walk the runway on the Thursday prior to the May 29 500-mile race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 

“We are very excited to have Tony and Daniele as the honorary chairpersons this year,” said Mary Lou Bogner, executive director of CARA Charities. “They have been big supporters of CARA and we believe their participation will be a great contribution to the show and the attendees will be thrilled to see them and many of the Indy 500 drivers and their families. The CARA Fashion Show has become a tradition and a ‘must-see’ event around the 500 weekend.”

In addition to the drivers, families, friends and local dignitaries who walk the runway as models in the fashion show, CARA Charities also will unveil the annual “Christmas Ornament”, designed by four-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser that raises funds to benefit the CARA Children’s Fund in memory of Shirley Bettenhausen.

This year’s hosts for the 24th edition will be long time CARA member Beth Boles, WTHR-TV sports director Dave Calabro and national racing broadcaster Bob Jenkins.

Tickets are now available for the May 26th affair with individual tickets priced at $75 per person.  For more information on tickets, corporate tables or event sponsorships, contact the CARA Charities headquarters at 317-299-2277 or e-mail carachar@aol.com.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Tilting point in F1 row
Frank's 'a friend' - Button
Toyota oppose Honda loophole
Renault to fly in KL - Alonso
A1 race for Sydney
Sepang's 'exciting' - JPM
Schu - 'I have faith'
Liuzzi set for Imola gong
Button to wed in August
BAR boy to return
Minardi men to get new V10
Red Bull negate knockers
Heating up at Sepang
Expect a closer race - Fisi
Button thinks BAR, not Ferrari, the future Button thinks BAR, not Ferrari, the futureBAR Honda's Jenson Button has been linked with a future at Ferrari after Michael Schumacher retires ever since his first podium finish last year.  At that time even Ferrari technical chief Ross Brawn was singing the praises of the youngster.  Jenson, currently with no wins to his name, feels that Ferrari, who have secured 57 race wins since Jenson's arrival in F1, are past their best, and that BAR are the place to be for the future.  Speaking to British tabloid the Daily Star, Jenson commented that he "can see a clear down-trend. It's not because of the new rules but just that Ferrari doesn't seem to have what they did in the past."  With the 2005 season just one race old, Ferrari have scored eight points while BAR have zero.
Las Vegas TV Rating Las Vegas TV RatingFox's broadcast of Sunday's UAW/DaimlerChrysler 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway drew a 5.8 overnight rating from Nielsen Media Research and a 12 share and was the highest-rated sports show of the weekend, today's Sports Business Daily reports. The rating is 5.5% higher than the 5.5 overnight rating Fox drew for the race in 2004, but it was well below the 7.1 overnight rating Fox drew for the Feb. 27 Auto Club 500 at California Speedway and the 6.3 overnight rating the Las Vegas race drew for Fox in 2003. CBS's broadcast of the selection show for the NCAA men's basketball tournament finished second this weekend with a 5.7 overnight rating. NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter
Give Webber time - Stewart Give Webber time - StewartSir Jackie Stewart knows Mark Webber (right) well from his time at Jaguar Racing and now that Webber has joined Williams, Stewart continues to watch the Australian driver's progress as he too is with the team as a result of his role with sponsor Royal Bank of Scotland.

"Give him time. That's my message to the Australian people," WilliamsF1 report Stewart as saying. "Give him time, and I think you'll see him start to deliver soon."

Webber finished in fifth position in Australia after setting the pace in the second and final qualifying session that took place on Sunday morning. Starting fourth on the grid Webber was overtaken by David Coulthard at the start of the race and spent the next 58-laps trying to retake the position, recorded the eighth best lap of the race.

"I think he's one of the great potentials in the sport today," Stewart continued. "He's 28 years of age and already has a very mature mind. Mark is incredibly fit, he's one of the two or three fittest racing drivers in the world today."  WilliamsF1

Luca Marmorini talks engines Luca Marmorini talks enginesLuca Marmorini, Toyota's Technical Director of Engines, saw both Jarno Trulli and Ralf Schumacher finish the Australian Grand Prix with no reliability issues with regard to the RVX-05 V10 engines. Heading to the Malaysian Grand Prix Marmorini continues his quest for 'zero failures' and should the team manage to score a championship point, he will be 'ecstatic'.

What follows is a question and answer session with Marmorini in which he talks of his hopes for the coming weekend and his displeasure at some of the tactics taken by Toyota’s rivals with regard to the 2005 regulations.

Luca, what are your thoughts heading into the Malaysian Grand Prix?
"I am looking forward to seeing the race in Malaysia because this will be the first time that we will be able to see the impact of the new two-race, one-engine rules. We have done the best job that we can to prepare our engine for Australia and Malaysia, but it is natural that I feel a bit nervous because we have never had to complete two race weekends with one engine before. It is an excited nervous feeling though, full of expectation and anticipation. This weekend we will see if everything that we have planned, developed and accomplished over the winter is good enough."

Were you surprised by the lack of reliability issues in Melbourne?
"Honestly, I did not expect to see any teams with engine reliability issues in Australia and it was clear that engine reliability was impressive throughout the grid. Even last year, most teams were confident with their engine life over one race weekend, so I do not think anyone envisaged any dramas in Melbourne."

Is the new engine regulation strict enough in your point of view?
"There is still a grey area in the 2005 engine regulations, whereby a driver can come into the pits before the end of the race, effectively retiring a problem-free car, and then be permitted to change the engine for the next race."

What is Toyota's opinion on such loopholes?
"Toyota is against the existence of such loopholes in technical regulations. Toyota fully accepted the spirit and intention of the new two race, one engine regulation. We gave the chance for the team to run in all four free practice sessions in Australia, not only because it is important to learn the car's behavior at the track, but also because our participation in all sessions over the weekend is part of the F1 show. Even though our drivers did not score any points in the race, we decided to pass the checkered flag out of respect for the spirit of the new rules. This obviously increases the chance of having an engine failure in Malaysia, but this is what we understand by the concept of racing."

Is this why Ralf Schumacher's engine was not changed after qualifying in Australia?
"Yes - Ralf's qualifying was massively negated by the bad weather and left him near the back of the grid. It would have been easier to change the engine in those conditions with a comparatively minimal penalty, but to do this, especially in the first race, is not acceptable in our opinion. During the course of the season, we may change an engine if there are doubts or issues technically, but we should avoid it wherever possibly as part of the gentleman's agreement that was accepted before the season started."

Ralf and Jarno completed a lot of laps in Melbourne – what is the current mileage of their respective RVX-05 engines?
"In Australia, I think we were the team who completed most kilometres over the weekend – at least us and Jordan probably! Ralf has around 570km on his RVX-05 already, whilst Jarno has about 670km."

How is the working relationship with Jordan?
"I think everything ran extremely smoothly between Jordan and Toyota in Australia. Jordan appear to be pleased with the contribution that we have made to their team, but we are also particularly pleased with how the operated. They have three inexperienced drivers and this can increase the misuse of the engine, but we are happy with the job they did and we are looking forward to seeing them improve. Luckily, we are next door to them in the paddock, so our working relationship is very close. It can be more stressful for me as Technical Director Engine, though, because I now have four babies to look after during the weekend."

How will performance of the engine be affected as it is the second race weekend?
"Typically the performance of an engine increases a bit after the first 200-300 kilometres. The performance level gets higher compared to the first laps. When speaking about performance of the engine, we also speak about the stability of the performance. We want to have an engine that is still stable in terms of its power even after 1200km. This is the parameter we work to and how we develop our engines. Towards the end of the engine life, there will be a decrease of performance, but our job is to limit this drop off."

Aside from the rules, what is the biggest pressure exerted on the engine in Malaysia?
"Quite simply, the heat. Everyone remarks that Malaysia is hot, but it is the biggest problem we will face because it affects all aspects of the team from the car to the driver, even to the mechanics working in the garage. Malaysia is the first really hot race of the season, perhaps even the hottest so the internal working conditions of the engine could be critical. The Sepang International Circuit has two very long straights, so maximum speed is as important as downforce. But the heat is again the defining issue. We are able to replicate the Malaysian heat in our transient dyno in Cologne, so we have worked hard to make sure the engine has been run in even hotter conditions to those we expect to see this weekend, just to cover all eventualities."

What precautions do you take for Malaysia in terms of cooling?
"The aerodynamics department has to work a lot in advance of the race to open up the car at the rear to allow more airflow to the radiators. Our aero team have brought some extremely efficient solutions for engine cooling, so I do not think we will encounter any significant problems."

Finally, what are your personal goals for Malaysia?
"If we can finish the Malaysian GP with a combined engine distance over two races of nearly 1400km with no problems, I will be a very proud and happy man. If we add some championship points to that, I'll be ecstatic." Toyota
Montoya and Raikkonen look to improve in Sepang Montoya and Raikkonen look to improve in SepangThe 2005 Malaysian Grand Prix, round two of the Championship, takes place for the seventh time at the purpose-built Sepang circuit. The majority of the McLaren Mercedes team remained in Melbourne after the season opening Australian Grand Prix to prepare the four MP4-20 chassis for the journey to Kuala Lumpur. Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen finished sixth and eighth respectively in Melbourne and traveled to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur following the race to acclimatize for one of the most physically demanding event of the season.

Juan Pablo Montoya "The Sepang circuit is one of my favorite tracks, it is really fun to drive there and you usually see interesting races. Turns five and six are probably the most challenging and exciting to drive. You try to take this high speed S complex flat out and to achieve this, your car needs to be very well set-up. For the race, this sees a compromise between slow corner grip and high speed efficiency, as we have long periods of full throttle, with top speeds of up to 330km/h. For the drivers and team members it is important to acclimatize as the heat is enormous, for example temperatures in the cockpit can be over 50 degrees centigrade and we can lose up to four liters of fluid during the race. This is why I traveled to Singapore following the Australian Grand Prix, and I have been following a training and hydration program with my trainer to get my body used to the conditions to ensure I can perform to my best all weekend."
Kimi Raikkonen "Sepang, a medium to high downforce circuit, is fairly technical in nature. You need for good traction on the exit of the slow corners, such as 14 and 15 towards the end of the lap, as it is important to carry speed onto the two long straights that follow to get a good lap time. Also, the car must be stable under braking and work well through the direction changes at high speed, such as those in sector two. Despite its overall flowing nature, the track is physically very demanding on both the drivers and the cars, for example we have a higher flow into the radiators to try and keep everything cool. The track is very wide, up to 15 meters in places, and has various camber changes. The extra width allows more than one racing line, which makes overtaking possible with turn 15 being probably the best chance."

Schumacher looks to bounce back at Sepang Schumacher looks to bounce back at SepangNew race and new opportunity: this is the way that Michael Schumacher's feelings could be summed up ahead of the second race of the season in Malaysia following his failure to finish in Melbourne.  "We all know that Malaysia is one of the toughest races from a physical point of view," Schumacher said. "For sure, zero points in the season's first race is not what I expected. This, naturally, will give me an extra boost in Malaysia."

Schumacher's race in Australia came to an end after just 42 laps when he and countryman Nick Heidfeld made contact whist battling for position. While Schumacher made his way back to the Ferrari pit and retired, team-mate Rubens Barrichello worked his way up the order to finish second overall.  "From what we saw in Australia, the F2004 M was still competitive, much more than thought possible," Schumacher continued. "I think that we can expect a positive result in Sepang. Rubens proved that it is possible to finish highly even after a so-so qualifying session. I have faith because we were very consistent in the Grand Prix. We are ready for the next race."   Ferrari

Speed World Challenge
Preliminary Cleveland Schedule Preliminary Cleveland ScheduleThe preliminary schedule for this year's Champ Car, Trans-Am, Speed World Challenge, Toyota Atlantic and Drifting event at Cleveland is packed with on-track action.
  • The Champ Car World Series - CHAMP CAR
  • Toyota Atlantic Championship - Atlantic
  • Trans-Am Road Racing Series - Trans-Am
  • Cooper Tires Championship Series - FF2000
  • SPEED World Challenge Touring Championship - SWC Touring
  • SPEED World Challenge Grand Touring Championship - SWC GT
  •  Formula Drift - Drifting

Friday, June 24, 2005     
 10:00 AM - 10:20 AM  FF2000 Practice
 10:30 AM - 11:00 AM  Trans-Am Practice
 11:15 AM - 12:30 PM  CHAMP CAR PRACTICE
 12:30 PM    Trans-Am Driver Autograph Session (Location TBA)
 12:45 PM - 1:15 PM  Atlantic Practice
 1:30 PM - 2:00 PM  Pace Car On Track Activities
 2:15 PM - 2:45 PM  Trans-Am Practice
 4:15 PM - 4:45 PM  Atlantic Qualifying for Race # 1
 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM  CHAMP CAR Fan Appreciation Activity (All Driver Autograph Session - Location TBA)
 5:00 PM - 5:15 PM  SWC Touring Practice
 5:30 PM - 6:00 PM  Trans-Am Qualifying
 6:15 PM - 6:35 PM  FF2000 Qualifying
 6:50 PM - 7:10 PM  SWC GT Practice
 7:15 PM - 7:35 PM  SWC Touring Practice
 7:40 PM - 8:05 PM  Drifting Exhibition
 8:15 PM - 8:45 PM  Pace Car On Track Activities
 Saturday, June 25, 2005     
 7:30 AM - 8:00 AM  "Back Seat Driver" On Track Activities
 8:15 AM - 8:45 AM  Atlantic Qualifying for Race #2
 9:00 AM - 9:15 AM  Trans-Am Final Practice
 9:30 AM - 10:00 AM  Pace Car On Track Activities
 10:15 AM - 11:15 AM  CHAMP CAR PRACTICE
 11:30 AM - 12:00 PM  SWC Touring Qualifying
 12:10 PM - 12:30 PM  Pace Car On Track Activities
 12:30 PM    Grid Atlantic
 12:45 PM - 1:45 PM  Atlantic Race # 1 (35 Laps or 50 Minutes)
 1:45 PM - 5:00 PM  Atlantic Technical Inspection
 3:15 PM    Grid Trans-Am
 3:30 PM - 4:45 PM  Trans-Am Race (51 Laps or 75 Minutes)
 5:00 PM - 5:30 PM  FF2000 Race # 1
 5:45 PM - 6:45 PM  SWC Touring Race
 7:00 PM - 7:30 PM  SWC GT Practice
 7:45 PM - 8:15 PM  Drifting Exhibition
 Sunday, June 26, 2005     
 7:40 AM - 8:00 AM  SWC GT Qualifying
 8:15 AM - 8:30 AM  Atlantic Warm Up
 8:45 AM - 9:15 AM  "Back Seat Driver" On Track Activity
 9:15 AM - 9:45 AM  Pace Car On Track Activity
 10:00 AM - 10:30 AM  CHAMP CAR WARM UP
 10:45 AM - 11:15 AM  FF2000 Race # 2
 11:30 AM    Grid Atlantic Cars
 11:45 AM - 12:35 PM  Atlantic Race #2  (35 Laps or 50 Minutes)
 12:45 PM - 1:15 PM  Pace Car On Track Activity
 2:00 PM    START OF GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND (Race Number 5  of  the 2005 Champ Car World Series ) 97 Laps or 105 minutes
 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM  SWC GT Race

Kerry tests for DEI Kerry tests for DEIKerry Earnhardt tested for Dale Earnhardt Inc. last Wednesday at Kentucky Speedway and will return again this week to gather additional engine and chassis data. DEI's Michael Waltrip did not finish the first two races this season, once because of component problems, the other time because of an oil system problem. Vice president Richie Gilmore says development continues on DEI's in-house chassis. Four cars with the new chassis should be in the organization's rotation soon. FoxSports/Sporting News
Sebring pre-event news Sebring pre-event newsGates open at 7 am Wednesday for America's premier sports car endurance race, the 53rd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The opening race of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) takes the green flag at 10:45 am on Saturday.   Several thousand spectators are already in line awaiting the official opening of the track, a Sebring tradition that spans five decades. Tickets can still be purchased at the gate and there are numerous camping and viewing options. For more information visit sebringraceway.com or call 800-626-7223.

TESTING BEGINS  The first of two-days of testing in preparation for America's premier sports car race began this morning with the GT classes taking to the famous 3.7-mile, 17-turn circuit.  The controversial Maserati MC12 took its first hot laps this morning along with Aston Martin, Corvette, TVR, Saleen, Porsche and Panoz entries. The exotic Le Mans prototypes, led by defending champion Audi, will test later today.

CLEAR AND WARM FOR 12-HOUR CLASSIC  Long-range weather forecasts are calling for clear and warm conditions for America's oldest and most prestigious sports car race. Temperatures are expected to be in the 70s everyday of race week.

SPRING BRAKE PARTY ZONE   Sebring's popular Spring Brake Party Zone will be bigger and better than ever this year. Live entertainment on the Budweiser stage, beach volleyball, contests and a giant water slide are among the many activities at this Sebring attraction.

FRANK BIELA GOING FOR HISTORIC FOURTH  Audi driver Frank Biela has a good chance of winning his fourth Sebring race, something that has never been accomplished at America's premier sports car endurance race. He is currently tied with Mario Andretti, Phil Hill, Hans Stuck and Olivier Gendebien with three victories. Biela will be driving the Champion Audi R8.

BRIDESMAID NO MORE?  This year's Sebring classic could very well be a duel between the Dyson Racing Lolas and the Pompano Beach Florida-based Champion Audi team. Between them, they have six second place finishes at Sebring, but no victories. Champion has been runner-up the past three years. SIR

Party animal Earnhardt burns self out? Party animal Earnhardt burns self out?The bright lights of Las Vegas might be too much for NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. After finishing 35th here last year, Earnhardt crashed after 11 laps by rear-ending Brian Vickers during Sunday's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400. That gave him a 42nd-place finish. Count on more speculation that Earnhardt might have burned himself out after spending more than a week in Sin City before the race for the second year in a row. There were sightings all week of Earnhardt out on the town while staying most of the week in the "Real World" suites at the Palms.  Sunday's result was his worst NASCAR finish since 2002, when he ended up 42nd at Atlanta. "Junior" and his NASCAR running mates, including Martin Truex Jr., winner of the first NASCAR race in Mexico a week ago, were spotted partying at the "X" topless revue, the Palms ghostbar, Mix at The Hotel at Mandalay Bay, and Body English at the Hard Rock.  Review Journal
Why Champ Cars must go on a diet Why Champ Cars must go on a dietUPDATE This is a correction to our previous report.  It seems we were fooled because the two track lengths were identical making it appear both Champ Car and the Super GT cars ran on the identical course.  They did not. 

There were an additional 4 turns on the track for the Champ Car test.  That section of the track alone contributes 8.5 seconds to the overall lap time.  If that section of the track was removed the Champ Cars would have been at least 6 - 7 seconds faster on top of what our article originally stated.

Both track lengths are be very similar (within .05 of a mile) but the key difference is that there is a dual chicane section that runs parallel to the Super GT track so the difference in length is made up by the length of the two chicanes.  The driven line on the Champ Car track is about 1.465 miles.  There are several different configurations for the infield course at Fontana.

03/12/05 We have stated on numerous occasions that Champ Cars are simply too heavy and too slow. Need further proof? Champ Cars tested at the Fontana in-field course this week. That course was used by Super GT (JGTC) cars last year. The Super GT cars were almost faster. What an embarrassment. Champ Car needs a new car soon if it thinks it's going to make an impression on the world scene. Yes, the Super GT cars are loaded with technology, but we ask once again, where is Champ Car positioning itself in the world order of motorsports. It had better be right up there behind F1, like it was in its heyday.
Fontana Interior Test Course (1.45-mile) Lap Times
2005 Champ Car - 52.71
2004 Super GT GT500 Nissan Z Turbo - 53.345
Button to marry Button to marryJenson Button is set to marry starlet Louise Griffiths this summer at Goodwood House, near to the legendary racing venue in Sussex, England. The News of the World reports that the BAR star is planning to tie the knot with his fiancée at a church in Boxgrove on August 6. The British BAR ace got engaged to Griffiths in October 2003, and the couple have been in the news frequently with Louise targetting a pop career adjacent to her superstar boyfriend's racing commitments. Griffiths, who is close to completing her first album, admitted to the Daily Mirror last month that the pair are keen to start a family. "I want to have three children naturally but I would also like to adopt two as well," Griffiths told the newspaper. "At the moment, Jenson would just be happy with the three. But I think it would be so great to give an orphan a chance - a future in a happy, loving family. I really do want to adopt."
IRL trying to reverse decade of decline IRL trying to reverse decade of declineThe East Valley Tribune article talks about the woes of the IRL and the damage to Indy Car Racing since Tony George started the IRL by splitting off from the then hugely successful CART series.  The mainstream media is starting to realize how wrong it was to create the IRL, something we have said since its inception, which of course is not what the IRL contingent wants to hear.  They can continue to walk around with blinders on, or accept the reality that the IRL is going downhill.  A merger with Champ Car would make sense but that won't happen as long as Tony George is around.  He simply wants to be King.  Unfortunately his kingdom's foundation is collapsing (the numbers say it, not us), but every captain must go down with the ship as they say.
"Car of Tomorrow" On Schedule "Car of Tomorrow" On ScheduleUPDATE Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, says the "car of tomorrow" — the next form of stock car — could make its debut as early as 2007. However, the adjustments to the cars will be made gradually so "we're not tearing up everybody's fleet of chassis and bodies" at excessive cost to the owners, Pemberton says. He added that NASCAR is brainstorming with manufacturers and teams along the way. One major move in the next few years will be the use of unleaded fuel, a topic that had been dormant since 1998. FoxSports/Sporting News 01/25/05 Gary Nelson, who runs NASCAR's Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C., said the next generation stock car, dubbed "the Car of Tomorrow," is right on schedule. "Actually, we're pretty excited about what's happening," Nelson said. "We've got several of them under construction, working with several teams now and, probably within the next couple of months we'll pick up several more teams now that they've got a lot of their '05 cars done.  "We've got a pretty exciting and aggressive schedule for the next couple of months."  The developmental car features a larger cockpit area - known as the greenhouse - a higher and wider profile to promote more aerodynamic drag - slowing the cars down - and new "crush zones" to better absorb impacts. NASCAR has built several of the cars and more are now being constructed for testing by the teams. "Our schedule has always said that it will be ready near the end of this season to be on the track, but a lot of other factors come into play," Nelson said.
Trouble with new Dodge nose Trouble with new Dodge noseDodge officials have been in negotiations with NASCAR officials, apparently over aerodynamic issues. Dodge has a new nose and tail this season, and the nose has been controversial because of its tendency to suck up trash on the track and lead to engine overheating. Winston Salem Journal
Engineering Fisichella's Sepang hopes Engineering Fisichella's Sepang hopesEngineering Giancarlo Fisichella's #6 Renault is no easy task. Having already tasted success in the first race of the season, the Fisichella camp regroup at the Sepang circuit with the strict ambition of making it two wins from two starts in 2005. Alan Permane, race engineer to Fisichella, as well as engine engineer Fabrice Lom explain the demands of the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Alan Permane, Race Engineer, Car No. 6
"Sepang is a circuit that includes a little bit of everything: there are high-speed corners, with high speed changes of direction (turns five and six for example) as well as low speed hairpins with major traction events on the exit. Consequently, the car must be well balanced and stable, both under heavy braking and in the slower corners. Like in Melbourne, we spring the car stiffly for this circuit, although unlike the last race, the track is neither bumpy nor are the curbs particularly high: this means we have to compromise less in terms of the car’s overall stiffness.”

"Downforce levels are also similar to those seen in Australia – medium to high, in order to optimize performance through the long, quick corners and under braking. However, the ideal set-up and a suitable set-up for the race can sometimes be quite different, and we may have to reduce downforce levels for qualifying, and therefore the race, to protect against being overtaken. However, the top speeds of the R25 were extremely competitive in Melbourne, which should minimize the need for any compromise.”

"Tire performance will be critical in Malaysia, and is one of the primary unknown factors we face during the race weekend. The fast corners, combined with high track temperatures, put more energy through the tires than at Melbourne, and this in turn means tire wear is higher. So far, the R25 seems to look after its tires well, and wear rates are even with Giancarlo’s smooth driving style. However, it is still early days, and we have not yet run the long- distance tires with significant track temperatures.”

"In terms of set-up, we will concentrate on minimizing levels of tire wear, and I am sure we will make adjustments relative to 2004 in order to specifically control this. One thing that emerged in the race in Australia was that if we have to compromise on balance in the race, we prefer to run the car with slight understeer rather than increasing the levels of front wing and risking an oversteering car later in the race. Throughout race conditions, we try to protect the heavily worked rear tires as much as possible, and the lap-time penalty for any unpredictable oversteer in Sepang will be higher than it was in Melbourne.”

"Finally, we will have to adjust the cooling levels to suit the ambient temperatures. Our simulations provide us with accurate data for making the necessary adjustments to the car, and as is normal, the cooling efficiency of the R25 has improved relative to its predecessor."

Fabrice Lom, Engine Engineer, Car No. 6
"The demands placed on the engine by the circuit configuration at Sepang are not particularly severe: with only 57 percent of the lap spent at full throttle, the circuit is situated in the bottom half of the season in terms of its severity. Equally, there are no very slow corners which see the engine operating at very low revs, meaning the rev range required is also within our normal limits.”

"The primary danger for the engine is that it has to run at partial throttle openings at very high revs, particularly through turns five and six. If not properly managed, this can endanger pistons and piston rings through the phenomenon of blow by.”

"The most abnormal characteristics of Sepang for the engine are the temperature and humidity. The high temperatures and humidity decrease the available engine power and alter the air intake acoustics such that this peak power is produced at higher revs. The engineers must therefore cope with the contradictory demands of excellent cooling in the high temperatures, and running higher engine speeds in order to maximize output, which in turns increases the engine’s heat rejection. As a result, compromise is always the name of the game at Sepang when it comes to optimizing the performance of the V10." Source Renault
Renault predicts close Sepang race Renault predicts close Sepang raceIt was a dream start to the season for Giancarlo Fisichella and the Renault team as the Italian led from Pole Position to take the Australian Grand Prix victory just over a week ago. Now heading to the second round of the championship in Malaysia, the team expect to be competitive from the outset, but also expect a strong challenge for its rivals throughout the weekend.

Giancarlo Fisichella

Giancarlo, one week on from your first win with Renault, how does it feel?
"We had a great weekend in Australia, a quick car and some luck too, and the team did a great job in making sure we had no problems at all. But we are all focused on the future now, and looking ahead to the race this weekend in Sepang. We know the weather made the circumstances strange in Melbourne, so we expect other teams like Ferrari and McLaren to be much stronger in Malaysia. But we have a good package, so let’s see what happens."

How does the car need to handle to be quick in Malaysia?
"Sepang is a circuit which shows if a car is good or not. The long, fast corners mean you need a very stable rear end, and a consistent car balance so that you know the car’s reactions through the quick sections. There are some corners where the drivers can really make the difference as well."

With the hot temperatures, tire performance will be an important factor...
"At the moment, nobody knows how the tire performance will unfold in temperatures like we have in Sepang, and it will be interesting to find out. All we know is that Michelin have done a great job this winter and in the first race. The tires in Melbourne were very consistent, and the performance was there. In Malaysia, they will have to be durable under much tougher circumstances, but the R25 seems to manage the tires well. I am confident we will have good performance there."

So what are your expectations for this race?
"The race in Malaysia is always very tough physically, and I said before Melbourne that it is very easy to make mistakes at the end of the race when the tires are old. With the fatigue from the heat as well, that is even more true for Sepang, but I have been really motivated in training this winter and I am not worried about the physical side. As for expectations? The team is very optimistic, and I think we will expect to fight at the front again. But if bad weather does not play a part, I am sure the race will be a lot closer than in Australia."

Fernando Alonso

Prior to going to Malaysia, you have been in the Maldives – why choose that destination?
"I wanted to relax after a busy winter, and also prepare for the conditions in Malaysia. The Maldives is a good place for that, so I can train in the heat and humidity, and make sure I am ready for Sepang. Also, in a region like the Malidves that was hit by the tsunami, it is important that we can maintain their economies by continuing tourism."

Fernando, how well do you think the R25 will suit Sepang?
"For the drivers, the time when we really feel the difference of the R25 is in high speed corners, so Sepang is obviously one of the races we are looking forward to this year. I love the track, there are lots of long, fast corners and it is a place where you really see the potential of the cars. In Melbourne, I think the difference between the best and the worst car is quite close, because all you have to do it brake for the slow corners, turn in and get back on the throttle. Sepang is very different, and there is a huge difference from the best to worst cars. I think we will see more of the potential of the R25 in Malaysia."

Pat Symonds
Pat, first of all, you collected the team’s trophy on the podium in Melbourne. How did that feel?
"It was a really fantastic feeling to be up on the podium. After twenty-five years in Formula One, I have won a lot of races, but it was a very special moment to look out from the balcony and see the excitement and happiness of the whole team. It was a real sense of accomplishment to be up there as I felt I was there on behalf of the whole team both those at the track and those back at base who had contributed so much to our success that day."

After the result in Melbourne, do you have a clear picture of the balance of power, or are there still questions to be answered?
"There are still lots to be answered. As we have seen in the past, Australia was an unusual race, and for one reason or another we did not see the true form of all the teams. We think we know where that form might lie, but we need to see it under clean conditions. Secondly, while the tire performance in Melbourne was extremely good, all the teams approached the problem with a degree of conservatism. Conditions were cool, and when we get to other tracks, maybe even Sepang, we will see tire management become a much more important factor, that may further differentiate the teams."

What will be the keys to the race in Malaysia?
"Tires. Their management under extreme conditions will be critical. Equally, we will see the reality of whether the teams have really built two-race engines. Reliability was superb in Australia, but we only ran the engines to half their life – and failures are much more likely in the second half than the first..."

Finally, what are your performance expectations for the team?
"We were extremely pleased with Australia. Melbourne was only the fourth circuit at which we have properly run the car but at each one, we have found the set-up sweet spot almost immediately. So we are confident, but as I have said, tire management and temperatures are now a more fundamental part of Grand Prix racing than ever before, so the picture may change. I think we are close to a number of teams on performance, and it will take very little for the pendulum to swing one way or the other." Source Renault
Cosworth pushing for more results in Malaysia Cosworth pushing for more results in Malaysia"We didn't have any technical or operational problems throughout the Melbourne GP weekend which is a great reward for the efforts from everybody at Cosworth," Alexander Hitzinger, Head of F1 Development at Cosworth, told F1- Live.com. "This double points finish gave us a big boost and is a great motivation to keep pushing.

"There is still a lot of work to be done, to achieve our objectives, but we are now in a much better position than we have been for quite some time," Hitzinger continued. "Nothing will change on the engines in Malaysia, only some inspections will be carried out. The running conditions for the engines will be quite similar to those in Melbourne, which means we will not reduce the rev limit. Like for every race, the engine calibration will be optimized for the conditions and the circuit characteristics.

“We at Cosworth specify a window of operating conditions for the engine,” said Hitzinger. “The team has the flexibility to adjust the aero package to the various engine cooling requirements throughout the season, to be able to stay within the specified operating window.

“If there is a problem, then we discuss it and find together a solution. The cooperation between Red Bull Racing and Cosworth is exceptionally good. This is the result of a long-standing relationship with the Milton Keynes based engineering team.”

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Villeneuve 'irritated'
Jerez: Renault cap last day
Webber to 'squeeze' DC
Sauber in action
Want to be an F1 hack?
Minardi in cash boost
Pecking order to be unveiled
Schu to blame - Flav
F1 innovation in Bahrain
New car 'better' - Badoer
EJ - 'I didn't want Schu'
DC in bearded lesson
BAR men to race new engine
'Phew -- no Swiss GP!'
'I'm a good driver' - Indian
More overtaking in F1?
FW27 speed 'fine' - Sam M.
Jim Clark to race again
How Fisi nearly lost Oz GP
Fort Worth mayor gets special ride Fort Worth mayor gets special rideFort Worth mayor Mike Moncrief arrived at City Hall in plenty of time for his first appointment on March 11 thanks to IndyCar Series driver Dan Wheldon.

Wheldon, accustomed to darting between traffic -- though at 200-plus mph -- chauffeured the mayor to work from the Fort Worth Club in the Jim Beam "drink smart" gas-powered two-seater being used to promote The Road to Indy tour.

"It's always fun to catch people's reaction when they see one of these cars driving on the road," said Wheldon, winner of the season-opening Toyota Indy 300 on March 6 in the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

“I think that is about the quickest I have ever got to work,” Moncrief said. “That was an experience to be in our downtown in a race car. I have been in a race car at Texas Motor Speedway but never driving through our downtown area. That was one of the most unique experiences I have had in my lifetime.

“I was watching how close the front of our race car was coming to the truck that we were following. It was pretty tight, it certainly got their attention. I think we woke up City Hall when we arrived.”

The tour began at Homestead-Miami Speedway last weekend and continues until May 29 -- race day for the 89th "Greatest Spectacle in Racing."

Wheldon also appeared on a number of local TV morning shows, taped a segment with FOX Sports Southwest and was the guest of honor at a luncheon. The Jim Beam two-seater also was on display at four establishments at the Stockyards in Fort Worth.

The car also will be a part of the Fort Worth St. Patrick's Day parade on March 12 and the Dallas St. Patrick's Day parade on March 13.

The remaining schedule:
March -- Phoenix (17-20); Nashville (24-27)

April -- St. Petersburg (3/31 - 4/3); Charlotte (7-10); Louisville (14-15); Cincinnati (16-17); Detroit (21-24); Milwaukee (4/28-5/1)

May -- Chicago (5-8); Denver (12-15); Kansas City (19-22); Indianapolis (26-29) IndyRacing.com

Menard's junk engines move over to NASCAR Menard's junk engines move over to NASCARJohn Menard may be rich, but his race engine company builds horrible engines.  His engines had a reputation of being unreliable in the IRL and now the same poor quality continues in NASCAR.  Robby Gordon, who is fielding his own team this season with motors built by Indy-car engine builder John Menard, has blown three in three races and failed to make the Daytona 500 partly because of an engine problem.  His latest blowup came today in Las Vegas.
NASCAR teams cheat their way to victory NASCAR teams cheat their way to victoryThe cheating in NASCAR continues unabated week in and week out. So pervasive is the cheating, one has to wonder how many races are won by cheaters that are not caught. Las Vegas Nextel Cup winner Jimmie Johnson's car measured too low (by a wide margin) in post-race inspection.  Meanwhile Kyle Busch's runner-up car had a rear quarter panel that was too high.  Kevin Harvick, who had to start in 42nd place because his team had an illegal fuel tank in qualifying, battled back and overcame a speeding penalty to finish fifth.  Any penalties that may come from those infractions will be handed down later in the week, but the cheaters will be allowed to keep 1st and 2nd place........only in NASCAR, and it dates back to the moonshiner days and is part of the NASCAR allure.  In NASCAR winning is the only thing, regardless of how you get it.  It is clear you can cheat your way to victory and then get a slap on the wrist afterwards.  You keep the victory, which encourages cheating.  NASCAR can stop cheating cold by banning a team from running for five races.  You can bet that team won't cheat again.  But NASCAR won't do it and so the cheating continues.
Audi Champion ADT team announces sponsors Audi Champion ADT team announces sponsorsTeam ADT Champion Racing, reigning LMP1 American Le Mans Series Champion, is pleased to announce the 2005 title and associate sponsors for the #1 and #2 Audi R8 LMP1 cars entered in all 10 races in the premier North American sports car series, the American Le Mans Series. Champion Racing will also enter the same two cars at the 73rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.  Story....
Nevada NASCAR Day May 20th Nevada NASCAR Day May 20thThe Honorable Governor Kenny Guinn has declared NASCAR Day 2005 as May 20 in the state of Nevada. The proclamation was announced at an event at Sam's Town Hotel & Casino in conjunction with Speedway Children's Charities, one of the three 2005 NASCAR Day Beneficiaries. Many celebrities and dignitaries were on hand for the event including drivers Kevin Harvick, Scott Wimmer, Kyle Petty, David Green, Stacy Compton, Clint Bowyer, Jon Wood, Ashton Lewis, Jason Keller, Kevin Lepage, Randy LaJoie, Shane Hmiel, Brent Sherman, Ryan Hemphill, Aaron Fike, Kim Crosby, Reed Sorenson, Brendan Gaughan, and NFL Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly.  NASCAR Day, NASCAR's largest annual charitable program, will be held on Friday, May 20, the weekend of the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge. In exchange for a $5 donation to the 2005 NASCAR Day Designated Charities, fans, businesses and schools will be able to wear their favorite NASCAR gear to work that Friday. In addition, participants will receive a commemorative NASCAR Day 2005 lapel pin. NASCAR
American John Edwards Earns His First European Podium American John Edwards Earns His First European Podium2005 Red Bull Driver Search winner John Edwards scored his first podium in European karting competition this weekend, racing to third place in the Pomposa International Cup at the Circuito di Pomposa, 100 kilometers south of Venice, Italy.

Edwards, who turned fourteen on Friday, has made the ambitious commitment to his own future with the support of Red Bull, moving to Italy and starting his European racing education in the karting ranks. After winning the pole position against some of the best and brightest Italian karting talents, Edwards finished third in the twenty-lap final to cap his birthday weekend.
“There isn’t any better way I can think of to spend my birthday—racing against some of the best karters in all of Europe and taking a pole in qualifying and podium in the race!” said Edwards. “Being here is such a big challenge for me, and I am loving every minute of it because I am learning so much over here.”

LVMS to build new grandstand honoring Richard Petty LVMS to build new grandstand honoring Richard PettyLike the city for which it’s named, Las Vegas Motor Speedway is expanding. LVMS officials announced today that a grandstand will be built in time for the 2006 NASCAR Weekend.  The seating capacity for the new structure has not yet been determined, but it likely will exceed 14,000.

The grandstand will be named in honor of Richard Petty, the seven-time NASCAR champion.  The “Richard Petty Terrace” will feature “flip-down” seats and extra amenities such as dedicated restrooms and concessions and will be located above the current Section 1, adjacent to LVMS’s Turn 1.

“The growth of Las Vegas and the demand for tickets at Las Vegas Motor Speedway are remarkably similar,” said Chris Powell, LVMS general manager.  “Las Vegas is the fastest-growing community in the country.  Today’s announcement reflects that growth as well as the tremendous energy around motorsports here in Southern Nevada.”

Powell said the idea of naming the new structure for NASCAR’s “King” was a simple one.  “Bruton and I discussed it, and we agreed there was truly only one choice,” Powell said of Bruton Smith, chairman of LVMS’s parent company, Speedway Motorsports Inc.  “There are only two seven-time NASCAR champions, and the addition of the Richard Petty Terrace gives our speedway grandstands named in honor of both of them.”

The decision to build additional seating at LVMS comes just a year after the completion of the Dale Earnhardt Terrace.  LVMS’s current capacity stands at 122,000 permanent seats, excluding suites and those watching from motorhome locations.

Carpentier says IRL better organized Carpentier says IRL better organizedThis Toronto Star article says (excerpts), Patrick Carpentier was on the phone from St. Petersburg, Fla., last Monday morning, about 17 hours after he'd finished driving his first race in the Indy Racing League and he summed up his feelings thusly:   "It was crazy."

Carpentier (right) was talking about driving flat out around the Homestead-Miami Speedway for about two hours last Sunday afternoon — that's flat out at an average speed approaching 145 miles an hour (230 km/h) — and he still sounded like his heart was in his throat.  "It's a big change, that's for sure," said the Quebec native in comparing his new seat with his old Champ Car World Series ride that he gave up to join Eddie Cheever's team in the IRL.

"When you're driving around an oval by yourself in a Champ Car or Indy car, it's very similar. It feels very much the same. But when you're out there in the middle of a field of very fast racing cars and very good drivers, it's very different, very tough."

How different? How tough?  "The Champ Cars tend to stretch out," he said. "You're not running that close. In the Indy cars, you're running inches apart, in the middle of as many as 20 other cars, sometimes three-wide, and you have to stay full-throttle the whole way.

"The IRL car has less power than the Champ Car and this means that you can't lift. If you lift, you lose the draft and you get left behind. Your momentum is gone and you go right to the back. So you keep your foot down if you want to stay even.  In fact, I think that's why there was the big accident, because nobody was going to lift."

The "big accident" Carpentier was talking about happened on lap 158, when Kosuke Matsuura got wobbly after a restart and spun in front of Tomas Scheckter. This caused Scheckter to lose control and — presto! — a NASCAR-type "big one" took place.  Danica Patrick, making her first start for Rahal Letterman Racing, suffered a concussion in the pileup, which eliminated eight cars.  Carpentier flew through unscathed.

Carpentier said he hasn't had too much trouble adjusting to the IRL paddock.  "It's very similar, in that a lot of teams that used to race in Champ Car are over here now, so I know a lot of people. There wasn't that big a change."

There is, however, a noticeable change in the approach to racing.   "The IRL is much better organized. I have to say I was surprised to find that. It's extremely different. There is only one chief here (IRL president Brian Barnhart) and he's very good. Over there (Champ Car), there's too many chiefs.

"A big difference is in the drivers' meeting. The difference is night and day. Here, it's: `This is how we do things — one, two, three — no arguing.' That's easy to deal with."

The ex-Champ Car star emphasized that he didn't want to appear negative toward his former series.  "Hey, I had a good time in Champ Car. I'm going to miss Paul (Tracy) and some of the people. I liked going to Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. But I really, really liked the race yesterday. And I like this series. I like the way they do things here.  As I said, it's crazy. I finished the race and got out of the car and my adrenalin was just pumping! It was like drinking six Red Bulls in a row!"

Marlin hoping for extension with Ganassi Marlin hoping for extension with GanassiIt's no secret in the garage area that Sterling Marlin needs results to get a contract extension at Chip Ganassi Racing. Marlin said Saturday getting a deal done is one of his top priorities.   "I'd like to get something worked out by May or June," Marlin said at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, site of his last Nextel Cup victory, in March 2002. "A few people have walked up and asked me when my deal's up with Chip, but I like where I'm at. If I can stay here, I'll stay here.  Winning helps everything," he said. "We know we've got a team that's capable of winning in this series. If we can get a break here and there, and not lose ground in the pits, we can win.  There's no doubt in my mind I can still get the job done. We've just got to get everything working right and go out and do it." AP Story
Newman: NASCAR should stay in USA Newman: NASCAR should stay in USANASCAR's first foray outside of the U.S. was considering a success for the racing series, which ran a Busch Series event in Mexico City last weekend.  But at least one driver doesn't understand why NASCAR bothered to run in Mexico.  "We need to touch people in the United States before we go to Mexico," said Ryan Newman, who will start from the pole Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "The Pacific Northwest for sure. The upper Midwest, maybe North Dakota. And there's a lot of people in Montana.  We need to take care of the United States before we take care of anything else. Maybe that's selfish. Canada is more my style than Mexico. But I still think taking care of the United States is number one. We don't need to be a traveling international series."  Newman didn't participate in Sunday's race in Mexico, although several Nextel Cup regulars did. AP Story
Only Montoya has guts to attack Schumacher Only Montoya has guts to attack SchumacherOnly Juan Montoya has the guts to go head-to-head on the track with Michael Schumacher and pass him.  He has done it a number of times.  The other drivers are intimidated.  World champion Michael Schumacher has it too easy on the race track and it is about time the other drivers put him under some pressure, Renault boss Flavio Briatore said on Sunday.
"We've made it too easy for Michael," Briatore told Germany's Welt am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday. "He's relaxed out there like a taxi driver. Sticks his arm out and just cuts in.   He knows that he enjoys a lot of respect among the other drives," Briatore said. "No one takes any risks against him ... We have to put Michael under more pressure. He makes mistakes when under pressure."

Briatore said he believed Ferrari driver Schumacher deserved the blame for the crash with Williams driver Nick Heidfeld that knocked both out of the race in Melbourne.  "It looked like he did not do everything he could to prevent the accident," Briatore said.

Davidson positive after Jerez test Davidson positive after Jerez testAnthony Davidson believes a test session in Jerez may have fixed the teams problems. The team were hit by aerodynamic issues in Australia which made the car difficult to drive when following others and Davidson's three-day test concentrated on rectifying the problem.  "The main focus for my car at this test has been an aerodynamics evaluation program.  I covered lots of mileage, just under our target, before the engine failed on Friday morning, so we have collected a lot of valuable data.  I hope that the team back at the factory will be able to use this information in time for the race in Malaysia next week."
Webber: Malaysia will be a better indicator Webber: Malaysia will be a better indicatorMark Webber believes that the Malaysian race will give a better indication of where each team stands in performance terms after the Australian Grand Prix was affected by rain during qualifying. "I have both good and bad memories of Malaysia," said the Australian. "Obviously, qualifying on the front row last year was great, but then I had a very poor start. The race is a tremendous challenge for the drivers and the teams because of the high temperatures, and the impact this has on car cooling, braking and tire performance. Despite all of this, I think Sepang is a very, very good circuit. The weather can be quite unpredictable though, it's always one thing or the other, and when it rains, it really rains. I think we'll get a true reflection of people's pace at Sepang because the results from qualifying one in Melbourne were affected by heavy rain," he added. "If we get a consistent weekend in Malaysia, we will get an idea of where everyone stands."
History of F1 Auto Racing Part 6 History of F1 Auto Racing Part 6The development of the turbo engine in the 1980’s did not receive a round of applause from most of the F1 teams.

It was widely known that Renault, Ferrari and Alfa Romeo were the only teams that were producing their own engines supported by the financial and technical abilities of their car factories. The rest of the teams had to depend on others to provide the engine.  Part VI: The turbo revolution

Part I: Before the 1950s
Part II: The Birth of Formula One
Part III: F1's technical advances and stages
Part IV: The Constructors
Part V: Renault introduces turbo engines

Industry News
Delphi accounting woes rattle through industry Delphi accounting woes rattle through industryThe erroneous accounting that has entangled auto supplier giant Delphi Corp. -- prompting everything from a regulatory investigation to the ouster of Delphi's chief financial officer -- has investors, accountants and auto insiders worrying that other auto companies could be next.

The fear, in Detroit and on Wall Street, is that the accounting scandal at Delphi is also just the tip of the iceberg -- both for Delphi and the automotive industry.  "The auto industry should be worried. There is a real herd mentality in accounting, and if you're an auto supplier and your competition at Delphi is doing something misleading to boost their numbers, then you feel pressure to keep up," said Nell Minow, founder of the Corporate Library, a leading corporate governance firm.

HOW THE PRACTICE WORKS  Delphi Corp. and other suppliers get their vendors to give them money up front for future business. The idea is that if a vendor is going to save a company a big chunk of money over the life of the contract, that vendor should write a check for that amount up front.

Though the practice -- often called pay to play -- is frowned on by some in the business community, it's not what initially got Delphi in trouble. What hurt the firm is the big rebates it got from a vendor, about $46 million from Electronic Data Systems Corp. Delphi then improperly accounted for the rebate all at once, instead of over the several-year life of the contract, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Delphi prematurely booked it all at once to inflate profits in certain years, namely 2001.

The practice is considered improper and has happened at places like Enron and Kmart.
It seemed new to the auto industry that Delphi was tricking Wall Street, auditors and regulators with improper accounting for so-called pay to play contracts, but it wasn't new to the Detroit area: It was the same thing that snared Kmart Corp.

There, the problem mushroomed, leading to other investigations at Kmart, then companies that did business with Kmart, and finally other retailers.  More at Detroit Free Press

Even Busch race gets huge crowd Even Busch race gets huge crowdAs can be seen in photo to right, even NASCAR's Busch Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway today filled almost every seat in the house.....such is NASCAR's growing popularity.  Soon the France family will have no use for the IRL.  As their three top series continue to grow and play before huge crowds, there will no longer be a need for open wheel races at their tracks -- between the Truck Series, Busch Series and Nextel Cup Series, who needs an IRL race?   The conspiracy theorists insist that the France Family played Tony George like a fiddle to divide and destroy Indy Car Racing (their primary competition) and when they have no further use for him, the IRL will quickly become out of favor.  That day appears to be quickly approaching.
Martin wins Vegas Busch race Martin wins Vegas Busch raceMark Martin passed David Stremme just after the final restart and hung on to win the Sam's Town 300 on Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It is Roush Racing's 11th NASCAR victory at the track.
Gordon Turned down Mexico Race, Wants Canadian Oval Gordon Turned down Mexico Race, Wants Canadian OvalSome NASCAR Cup team sponsors, particularly those with corporate ties in Mexico, are interested in sponsoring their teams in the Mexico City race. DuPont was reported to be willing to sponsor Jeff Gordon in a Mexico City Busch car, but Gordon declined. Gordon, though, says he's looking forward to Montreal: "I'm a big fan of Formula One, so I know the course. I'd love to see us in Canada.  "Staying in North America is extremely important. Canada seems like the next natural place for us to go. Obviously Mexico went well for the Busch cars; that might be a good option (for a Cup race) as well. But I want to see us on an oval. I don't want to see us on a road course in Canada. We can put on such a better show for the fans. And I know there are a lot of fans in Canada who follow NASCAR. I wish we had an oval track up there. "If we're going to go there, we need to start that process." Winston-Salem Journal
IRL TV rating observation IRL TV rating observationA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, I could not help but shake my head when I saw that the IRL TV ratings continue to plummet (33% drop again) like a lead sinker. I look back at where Indy Car racing was in the early to mid 90's and where it is now thanks to the split and I get overcome with utter disgust.

To Anton George, Roger Penske, AJ Foyt, Eddie Cheever and all the other shortsighted individuals who thought that CART was so bad, who thought the IRL was the answer, take a bow, face the mirror every day, and give the bird to the stupid greedy person looking right at you. What you have done to Indy Car Racing is despicable. Dave Moon
NASCAR to keep rules package NASCAR to keep rules packageNASCAR said on Friday that it would probably leave the current rules package in place for the remainder of the 2005 season. This weekend's UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 is the third race under the new rules, which included sweeping changes to tires (softer), gears (shorter), spoiler size (smaller) and pit road speeds (stricter enforcement). Las Vegas' 1.5-mile oval is just the second non-restrictor-plate event of the year, but most Nextel Cup teams already have a thousand miles of data concerning the new rules. Put together, the rules have created cars that are much looser than in years past, and drivers who can adapt to that hang-onto-the-car style are the ones that have succeeded in early downforce tests. NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said he likes the current package and will try to use it all season. "We have to listen to our competitors. We're not going to make mid-year rule changes," Pemberton said. "You always get criticized the first 3-4 races of the year of a rule change and it always takes the competitor 3-4 races. The same guys are going to be happy and the same guys are going to be mad every year, no matter if you have a rules change or not." NASCAR is pushing to reel in costs for already strapped teams, and keeping a rules package for the entire season can save millions. Pemberton also said that NASCAR is trying to phase in the practice of impounding the cars following qualifying. "We hope we get back to common schedule like we have in the past. It is probably a few years away, we hate it goes this way," Pemberton said. "We're pushing towards the impound schedule. It'll help on expenses. We don't race in our backyard like we did every week." NASCAR.com
Company to purchase NASCAR attraction Company to purchase NASCAR attractionGordon Gaming Inc., owner of the Sahara Hotel and Casino, has purchased the property's NASCAR attraction from Dyer Ventures Inc. for an undisclosed sum.

The purchase is aimed at capitalizing on the "unbelievable growth of NASCAR racing and national popularity of all things related to the sport," Gordon Gaming said in a statement.

Sahara officials declined further comment today on the deal. The 90,000-square-foot attraction includes a roller-coaster called "Speed -- The Ride," simulated NASCAR and Indy car motion rides and a NASCAR shop with licensed clothing and other souvenirs.

The purchase doesn't include the NASCAR Cafe restaurant, which will continue to be operated as an independent franchise. The restaurant was the subject of a lease dispute with Dyer in 2003 that was resolved the same year.

The roller-coaster, which loops through the Sahara's marquee sign and launches riders above the Strip, was part of a $100 million upgrade at the Sahara and has become a signature feature of the property. The roller-coaster cost about $6 million to build.

As of 2003, the cafe and roller-coaster paid about $2 million a year to the Sahara as part of its lease with Dyer. The parties split the venue's gross revenue.

The purchase comes just in time for Las Vegas' annual NASCAR race, the UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400 Nextel Cup at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in North Las Vegas. The Sunday race will be preceded by the Sam's Town 300 NASCAR Bush Series race on Saturday. Las Vegas Sun

Industry News
Ford deal to save Visteon Ford deal to save VisteonAfter more than six months of negotiations, Visteon Corp. has reached a partial agreement with former parent Ford Motor Co. that will save the struggling parts-maker at least $390 million in 2005.

Ford agreed to buy some equipment for Visteon, pick up almost one-fourth of the cost of UAW members' wages and pay for parts more quickly. Visteon agreed to "continue uninterrupted supply to Ford and to comply with contractual agreements with Ford and the UAW," according to a company statement. The deal took effect Thursday, Ford said.

"This financial agreement is the right step forward with Ford and supports the operations that directly serve our largest customer," Mike Johnston, Visteon's president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "The commitments made by Ford and Visteon under this agreement will improve Visteon's operating results and cash flow. It's a mutually beneficial agreement that is in the best interest of both companies."

Corvette to take on Maserati MC12 in Europe Corvette to take on Maserati MC12 in EuropeBelgo-Dutch team GLPK-Carsport has confirmed that it entered a Corvette C5-R from the Pratt & Miller workshops in the 2005 FIA-GT championship. The car will be driven by Bert Longin, Mike Hezemans and Anthony Kumpen - all regular FIA GT drivers.

Until recently known as GLPK Racing and Carsport Holland, the Paul Kumpen and Toine Hezemans teams carried out a regular merger with a view to this new Corvette adventure. The result of this association is called GLPK Carsport, and from a practical point of view, the C5-R will be serviced in the GLPK Racing workshops in Belgium.

To take care of it there will be a GLPK engineer and a Carsport engineer, in addition to the mechanics, all of them coming from the Belgian team. During the races, Toine Hezemans will officiate as team manager. "For the new team created to take part in the FIA-GT championship, it is a very prestigious challenge," comments Toine Hezemans. "To find oneself on the international scene with the support of Cadillac & Corvette Europe, a new entity based in the Netherlands, is an honor and, above all, an opportunity to be seized. The contract concerning the C5-R is now signed, and the adventure can begin …"

The car will be one of the two official cars which participated in - and won - the American Le Mans Series in the GTS category last year. "This Corvette benefits from the latest 2004 developments," explains Bert Longin. "Which means that it will be equipped with latest-generation X-Trac sequential gearbox, as well as the latest engine development and the most efficient aerodynamic package. With a car like that, I'm sure we can lay claim to a prominent place in the FIA-GT championship. In the course of its career, the C5-R has won everywhere it has gone, whether in ALMS or at Le Mans 24 Hours. It is the first time that such a car will be involved in the FIA-GT, and we are very confident. I even think it is the only serious rival for the Maserati MC12…" (pictured right)

If the Corvette should do well in the 3-hour races, one of the major events of the season will of course be the 24 Hours of Francorchamps. "At Spa, we will clearly be there to win," says Mike Hezemans, one of the trio of drivers. "For the rest, we would like to prepare for going twice around the clock by participating in the 1000 Km of Spa, the inaugural round of the Le Mans Endurance Series. But nothing is yet decided with regard to this. In fact, the hardest thing for the team will be to make a good impression at the opening of the FIA-GT championship. Because of quite tight deadlines, we will be unable to test the car before Monza, and this initial race will be an unknown quantity for us …".

While this project is organized with the support of Cadillac & Corvette Europe, the GLPK Carsport team will also be able to count on the unconditional assistance of Pirelli. A partnership which delights Anthony Kumpen, the third driver of the Belgo-Dutch team … "It is in fact very important to have support like this from a tire manufacturer, especially at the European level. In this way, after Monza, we are already sure of carrying out several test sessions, which will allow us not only to continue learning about the Corvette but also to accelerate its development. What is already certain is that the potential of the car is enormous and this is a great source of motivation for everybody. I think that we are on the eve of a great adventure, and you can count on the entire GLPK Carsport team to get its quintessential best from this extraordinary car very quickly …"

FIA-GT Championship 2005 / Schedule
Monza (I) : April, 09 & 10
Magny-Cours (F) : April 30, May 01
Silverstone (GB) : May, 15
Imola (I) : May, 28 & 29
Brno (TCH) : June, 25 & 26
Francorchamps 24 Hours (B) : July, 30 & 31
Oschersleben (D) : August, 27 & 28
Istanbul (T) : September, 17 & 18
Zhuhaï (CHI) : October, 22 & 23
Dubaï (DUB) : November, 17 & 18
Bahrain (UAE) : November, 24 & 25

Williams prepares for Malaysia heat Williams prepares for Malaysia heatBMW Williams completed a two day test at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit, in Spain, today. Antonio Pizzonia was the sole driver on duty for the team and completed a comprehensive program of set-up work and tire testing in preparation for the next two rounds of the season in Malaysia on 20th March and Bahrain on 3rd April.

The team paid particular attention to the FW27’s cooling systems in anticipation of the extreme temperatures the cars will face in Sepang. During the test, Pizzonia completed 147 laps, a total of just over 650 kilometres. The team will head to Barcelona in the week following the Malaysian Grand Prix for another two day test commencing on Thursday 23rd March.

Sam Michael, Williams Technical Director "We kicked off our in-season testing program in Jerez this week with Antonio driving an FW27. He worked through a program of cooling configurations for Malaysia, tire testing for Bahrain, brake cooling improvements and various other electronic and systems tests. Despite a wet track on the final morning of the test, we still managed to achieve the mileage and component testing we had originally planned."

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director The team has had a good two day test in Jerez, concentrating on fine tuning the entire car. With regards the engine, we focused on the set-up of the traction control system as well as practicing starts and carrying out heat soak tests. In addition, we used this test to further verify the reliability of the engine." BMW Williams

Bridgestone ready for Malaysia heat Bridgestone ready for Malaysia heatFollowing the first race of the year in Melbourne, where Ferrari’s Rubens Barrichello stormed to a fantastic second place from eleventh on the grid, the Formula One circus and the three Bridgestone-shod teams move on to hot and humid Sepang.

Located on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, Sepang is dubbed the hottest race on the calendar, testing the limits of drivers and machinery alike. Michael Schumacher won in Malaysia last year and Bridgestone’s engineers are keen to take on the challenge once again.

Bridgestone is sending three dry weather specifications of Potenza Formula One tire to the 5.543km Sepang circuit in Malaysia from its Tokyo factory. One wet weather and one extreme wet weather specification will also be available to Bridgestone’s teams.

The tires have been specifically tailored to stand the extreme temperatures encountered in Malaysia – last year track temperatures reached 41 degrees Celsius. Tire compounds, however, will be from the medium range to provide the competitive combination of grip and wear performance on this smooth but tough track.

Jim Clark Revival set for April at Hockenheim Jim Clark Revival set for April at HockenheimFrom April 22–24, 2005 the first 'International Historic Grand Prix' will take place at the Hockenheim, a circuit rich in the tradition of motor sport.   Entitled the 'Jim Clark Revival', the event pays homage to former double champion Jim Clark who died on 7 April, 1968 in a Formula 2 European Championship race at the circuit.  From 1969-1985, the memorial event called 'The Jim Clark Race' was held in memory of his name every year and the Hockenheimring is set to continue this tradition.  The Jim Clark Revival is aimed at re-creating the race atmosphere from the era. This includes inviting former Formula 2 drivers such as FIA President Max Mosley.  
Ecclestone and Frances in Forbes Billionaire List Ecclestone and Frances in Forbes Billionaire ListF1's Bernie Ecclestone is listed as the 151st richest man in the world according to Forbes Magazine's Top-500 Billionaires in the World list.  His net worth is estimated at $3.6 billion.  Brothers Bill and Jim France clocked in 507th with $1.3 billion each, up from $1.2 billion in last year's list. The France family owns NASCAR and are major holders of stock in International Speedway Corp., all based in Daytona Beach.
Fatback Calling the Race from Home Again Fatback Calling the Race from Home AgainCrew chief Michael "Fatback" McSwain will call the shots on Ricky Rudd's No. 21 Ford from his Mooresville, N.C., home for the second consecutive race. McSwain still is recovering from back surgery two weeks ago and might not be ready for next week's event at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He will monitor Sunday's race at Las Vegas and communicate in real time through telecommunications technology provided by Nextel, Racing Radios and NASCAR.com. Times Dispatch
History of F1 Auto Racing Part 5 History of F1 Auto Racing Part 5The French company – Renault – is dubbed to be one of the leading car manufacturers in the world. It all started in 1898 at the Renault home when Louis, seduced by experimental motorized tricycles, decided to jump in and attempt to create a new machine. Finally he created a car model that launched Renault.

107 years later, Renault is leading the way with innovations. Going back to the history books, Renault actually won the first Grand Prix held in France in 1906. Part V: Renault introduces turbo engines

Part I: Before the 1950s
Part II: The Birth of Formula One
Part III: F1's technical advances and stages
Part IV: The Constructors

NASCAR fines cheaters in Mexico NASCAR fines cheaters in MexicoNASCAR handed out two fines for rules infractions stemming from Mexico.  Elton Sawyer, crew chief for Paul Wolfe, was docked $2,500 for an unapproved ratio. Danny Gill, crew chief for Eric Jones, was fined $500 for an unapproved intake manifold.  Jones made the race by taking the last spot available on owners points, while Wolfe failed to qualify.
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