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Wypall Wipers Increases Stakes at Bristol
Wypall Wipers is going to make a certain pit crew extremely happy as well as treat a special young man to a once-in-a-lifetime experience this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. In addition to the $1,000 which goes to the Wypall Wipers “Crew Chief of the Race,” for Sunday’s Food City 500, a bonus of $1,000 will be awarded to the winning pit crew for their efforts. While they celebrate in Victory Lane with the extra cash, fifth grader Michael Castro will have already lived an unforgettable day. Castro, a student at Stonewall Jackson Elementary in Bristol, VA., is Wypall Wipers “Crew Chief of the Classroom.” A member of the Bristol Boys and Girls Club, the youngster will be an honorary “Crew Chief for a day,” and will shadow Todd Berrier, crew chief of the #29 Shell Pennzoil Chevy, before the race. The Wypall Wipers “Crew Chief of the Race” is a part of the Wypall Wipers “Crew Chief Challenge,” a season-long contest that will determine the best crew chiefs in the Sprint Cup Series garage. Go to Wypall.com to find out more about Wypall Wipers. Wypall PR


2nd Darlington tire test scheduled...no Toyota..again
Goodyear is going back to Darlington Raceway for another test on the newly paved surface, and once again a Toyota won't be involved. #16-Greg Biffle (Ford), #24-Jeff Gordon (Chevrolet) and #12-Ryan Newman (Dodge) will all return to Darlington in two weeks to help Goodyear find a suitable tire for when the series races there in May. Speeds inched toward 200 mph during the two-day test earlier this week, and Goodyear must find a tire capable of withstanding the speeds. Toyota officials were irked they were the only manufacturer not included in the initial test, and they grew angrier when they learned of the second session. But Goodyear officials said the participants are on a rotation, one manufacturer is always left out of the testing and having four teams at a session is overkill for the engineers. "We really don't need four cars to get the work done that we need to get done," said Greg Stucker, director of race tire sales. "We're going to go to Indianapolis in a few weeks, there will be a Toyota there and there won't be a Ford there. That's the way that it plays out. We're going to try to spread the work out among the teams that give us the best results." Brian Vickers is expected to represent Toyota in Indianapolis. But inclusion there did little to satisfy the Toyota camp, which feels the other three makes will be ahead of its teams because of data it gathers during the test. And, because the surface has been repaved, the other teams have a baseline for setups that Toyota will not have when it arrives in Darlington for the race. Toyota officials declined to comment on the exclusion. Associated Press


New Zealand wins sprint race in Mexico City
Jonny Reid
Mexico - A1 Team New Zealand raced to its third Sprint race victory of the season in this morning's incident-packed race at Mexico City's Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in perfect weather conditions, moving them up to second place in the championship. New Zealand held off Great Britain who crossed the line second to secure a superb podium finish while Switzerland took the final podium position, increasing its title lead as France failed to score any points.

The 22-car field was forced to reform on the grid for a second time after the scheduled start of the 20-minute race was red-flagged, as eight teams were involved in collisions at the rolling start and many sustained damage to their cars.

Once the debris had been cleared from the track, the race finally got underway and the pack jostled for position heading into turn one. Pole-sitter South Africa's Adrian Zaugg held the lead while GBR's Oliver Jarvis moved up two places to snatch third, slotting in behind New Zealand's Jonny Reid and just ahead of Switzerland's Neel Jani.

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Brawl brewing after F1 collision UPDATE A defiant Felipe Massa has insisted he will not be apologizing to David Coulthard after a coming together between the pair resulted in the Scot crashing out of the Australian Grand Prix.

Massa's Ferrari collided with Coulthard when the Brazilian tried to pass the Red Bull driver up the inside of Turn One, heavily damaging the 36-year-old's car and ending his race after just 26 laps and bringing out the second safety car of the afternoon.

An frustrated Coulthard afterwards blamed Massa, saying: "You've got to have your car alongside to pass someone, you can't just ram into them.

"I screwed up last year when I tried a move on Wurz but I took full responsibility for it and I would expect Felipe to do the same."

However, Massa hit back insisting he had every right to attempt the overtaking maneuver.

"Ask him, I don't know why he is not very happy," he said.

"He didn't see me. Next time ask him to watch in the mirrors because I was completely inside. I'm definitely not going to speak to him."

Massa and Coulthard collide
03/16/08 (GMM)  A menacing David Coulthard turned the airwaves blue on Sunday after colliding with Felipe Massa in the Australian grand prix.

Plenty of carbon fiber was shed throughout the field at Albert Park as the 2008 season kicked off, but Red Bull's Coulthard was clearly the most furious of the retirees as the media scrambled for live comments.

To a reporter for British TV, Coulthard demanded that Massa take full responsibility for the crash after they came together at turn one.

"If he doesn't, then I'm gonna kick three colors of shit out of the little bastard," he slammed.

But Massa, the Brazilian driver, risked incurring the Scotsman's wrath by refusing to apologize.

"He should just go and watch the television instead," the 26-year-old said.

"I was on the inside, I did nothing wrong," he told reporters.

Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali did not want to wade into the argument, but he pointed out that "race control didn't take any action".


Potenzas hold up in the heat
Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes) has won the first Grand Prix with Bridgestone as Formula One’s 'Official Tire Supplier' after using a medium-medium-soft compound Potenza tire strategy in the Australian Grand Prix.

Hamilton prevailed from pole in an eventful race where only seven cars were running at the checkered flag. Second place went to Nick Heidfeld whose BMW Sauber, using the same tire strategy as Hamilton, finished 5.4secs behind.

Nico Rosberg (AT&T Williams) finished in third place, registering his first podium finish in Formula One.

Next weekend sees the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang where Bridgestone’s hard and medium compound Potenza tires will be used.

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Injured Glock hits out at Aussie speed ramp
Timo Glock
(GMM)  Timo Glock left the Albert Park circuit late on Sunday afternoon wearing a bandage on his left wrist, after the violent crash that ended his race.

The German, racing in formula one for the first time since 2004, also led criticism of the section of Melbourne track that launched his Toyota into the air after Glock ran wide at the high speed chicane.

Niki Lauda and BMW Sauber boss Mario Theissen joined Glock in criticizing the uneven section at the exit of turn 12.

Race winner Lewis Hamilton was reluctant to comment specifically on the Glock incident, but he did reveal that several drivers have moaned about the "very bumpy" nature of the Australian venue this weekend.

"For sure, if there is a serious bump there then we need to get rid of it.  At the end of the day, it shouldn't be out there," the McLaren driver said.

Glock, meanwhile, does not expect his light wrist injury to put him out of next weekend's Malaysian grand prix.

He said the whack from his steering wheel was "quite painful", but when asked if he will be okay at Sepang, answered: "Yeah, I think so".

track news

Wall Township (N.J.) Speedway closes
Wall Township Speedway General Partners  Managing Member Timothy H. Shinn announced March 14 that the  57-year-old oval has closed.

"It is with an extremely heavy heart that I must, at this  time, formally announce the closing of our beloved Wall  Township Speedway, formerly known to the vast majority of us  as Wall Stadium," said Shinn in a letter posted on  wallspeedway.com Friday night. "Unfortunately, we find  ourselves joining the long, ever-growing list of short tracks  across the country which have been forced to close.”

Shinn, in his two-page letter, said that he and his three  co-owners "did everything in our power since 2002 to provide top  quality short-track racing and keep the Speedway open.

  "We've made numerous attempts to create a scenario which would  enable us to continue with the Speedway operation," said Shinn, of  Manasquan, "all to no avail. Please also know that this decision  was made on March 14, 2008 as we were still exploring certain  options available to us in an attempt to remain open for the 2008  season; again to no avail.”

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Unexpected problems cost Audi Sebring win
Audi leads Peugeot
The Audi R10 TDI remains unbeaten after 22 races. In a turbulent 12-hour race at Sebring (US state of Florida), Audi achieved a 1-2 victory in the LM P1 category with their diesel-powered sports cars. Following eight Sebring victories in a row, however, Audi had to be content with class glory in the American endurance classic for the first time. In the overall classification, the two R10 TDI prototypes finished third and sixth.

At the mid-point in the race, the two Audi R10 TDI cars were running in front of the field. Lucas Luhr, Mike Rockenfeller and Marco Werner had a 40-second lead over their team mates Dindo Capello, Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen, when the right turbo charger and the front brake discs had to be changed on their R10 TDI. This cost them 16 laps and any chance to fight for victory. An off track excursion at dusk plus two stop-and-go penalties further delayed them.

The number 1 "sister car", which had started from pole position, lost 30 seconds due to a stop-and-go penalty in the opening stages of the heated battle. At the start of the eighth hour, the push-rod of the right front suspension had to be fixed while less than an hour later, the front brake discs had to be replaced.

Almost four laps down, Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish impressively fought their way back to the front, making it back onto the lead lap and eventually finishing third overall. They missed the outright victory by just 67 seconds – after losing almost ten minutes in the pits.


Peugeot satisfied with 12th place at Sebring
The Peugeot was fast, but fragile
When the decision was taken to enter a single 908 HDi FAP for the 2008 12 Hours of Sebring, Team Peugeot Total was clear about its objective which was to prepare for this year's priority, the Le Mans 24 Hours. The race enabled it to accomplish that mission and the overall result was finally positive for the team which saw the 908 overcome technical problems to finish the race after spending more than two hours in front and with the fastest race lap under its belt.

Despite the frustration of not being able to start from pole position after the results of the qualifying session were scrubbed, Nicolas Minassian started the race for Peugeot intent on being first into the opening corner.

Watched closely by the entire Team Peugeot Total squad, he achieved his goal and the car went on to pull out an assertive lead as Portugal's Pedro  Lamy and fellow Frenchman Stéphane Sarrazin took over at the wheel of the 908 HDi FAP. Its lead was practically 35 seconds after the first two hours of racing. However, 52 minutes later, a hydraulic leak forced Stéphane Sarrazin to make a lengthy pit stop. Despite losing nine laps, the Frenchman rejoined the race and soon came out on top of his ensuing duel with Allan McNish before having to make another stop, this time for 45 minutes, again because of a hydraulic problem.

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Berger praises Bourdais' fantastic debut
Berger praises Bourdais to reporters after race
Gerhard Berger isn't one to reap praise on Champ Car drivers, but he was gushing with enthusiasm after the Australian GP Sunday when his driver, 4-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais had a sure 4th place in the bag in his F1 debut until his engine expired 2 laps for the end.

Bourdais answers reporters post-race questions
"Bourdais  proved  all  through the  weekend that  he  was  the right choice to put alongside Vettel," said Berger. "He was a bit unlucky in qualifying, but he had a fantastic race, fighting with the best he managed to keep his position even towards the end on old tires. He made no mistakes, reading the race in the right way from beginning to end. I think we have a great team and showed a great performance all weekend. But the luck was not on our side and it hurts to be in a safe fourth and lose it with two laps to go. We can try again next Sunday, but fourth places don't come that often so you have to take them when they come. One point, or maybe two,  is  better  than  nothing.  At  the  moment  we  do  not  know  what  exactly  caused Sebastien to stop at the end."


Honda looks to extend Button's contract
(GMM)  Honda intends to secure the services of Jenson Button into the future, the Japanese team's CEO Nick Fry suggested in Melbourne on Sunday.

Despite Button warning late last year that he needs to be "ruthless" about his career following a dire 2007, Fry told the British broadcaster ITV that the two sides are working towards a new deal for 2009 and beyond.

"He's certainly someone we want on our side," he said, amid speculation of a new three year contract for Button, who is 28.

Fry would not be drawn on the precise timescale for the actual inking of signatures, but he hinted that Button's management and Honda chiefs will likely sit down "later this year".

He explained: "There's no big hurry -- we've got a great relationship with each other and we can take our time."


Nakajima punished for Kubica crash
(GMM)  Kazuki Nakajima will fall ten places down next Sunday's Malaysian grand prix grid, stewards in Melbourne declared after the 2008 season opener.

At the end of the third safety car period in Australia, the Japanese rookie's Williams crashed into the rear of the BMW Sauber of Robert Kubica, forcing the Pole to retire.

Afterwards, Nakajima explained that the incident was caused by cars "backing up into each other".

Stewards decided to penalize him by docking him ten grid positions at Sepang next weekend.

tv news

Sunday USA TV Reminders 
The Sunday USA TV reminders are shown below.  The complete USA TV Reminders for this weekend are listed here.

Courtesy of TVRacer.com

Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix

12:00am-2:30am (L) SPEED
NHRA Qualifying Gainesville, FL 
1:00am-3:00am ESPN2
NASCAR Nationwide Series Replay Sharpie Mini 300 Bristol 
3:00am-5:00am (R) ESPN2
10:00am-11:00am ESPN2
NASCAR in a Hurry 
11:00am-11:30am SPEED
NHRA Raceday Gainesville, FL 
11:00am-11:30am ESPN2
NASCAR RaceDay Bristol 
11:30am-1:30pm (L) SPEED
Formula 1 Replay Australian Grand Prix 
1:30pm-4:00pm (R) SPEED
NASCAR Sprint Cup Food City 500 Bristol
1:30pm-6:00pm (L) FOX Sports
AMA Supercross Minneapolis
6:00pm-7:00pm (3/15/08) SPEED
NHRA ACDelco Gatornationals Gainesville, FL
6:00pm-9:00pm (SD) ESPN2
SPEED Report 
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Victory Lane Bristol 
8:00pm-9:00pm (SD) SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
12 Hours of Sebring Winner (ALMS)
Greg Biffle (NASCAR)
Bob Varsha (F1 Host)
Marshall Pruett (Sportscar Racing Editor)   
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED

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


NASCAR cranks down on counterfeiters
NASCAR is racing to clamp down on counterfeit merchandise in the Carolinas and beyond.

The sanctioning body wants to limit knockoff T-shirts and hats by halting sales of unlicensed goods around NASCAR tracks, including Lowe's Motor Speedway. NASCAR, along with the major track operators and race teams, recently filed suit in U.S. District Court in Charlotte to seize counterfeit racing collectibles.

Stakes are high for all involved. NASCAR-licensed products generate $2 billion in sales annually, with royalties distributed to the sanctioning body, teams, drivers and sponsors.

This week, Concord-based Speedway Motorsports Inc. blamed its disappointing financial performance on poor sales at Motorsports Authentics, the top producer and seller of NASCAR-themed souvenirs. Charlotte Business Journal


Genoa Racing tabs Dane Cameron
Dane Cameron
After a strong showing during the first official Atlantic test at Sebring last month, Genoa Racing arrived at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca earlier this week ready to take another step forward in their quest to claim the 2008 Atlantic Championship.

Due to the withdrawal of his former team from the Atlantic series, rising star and 2007 Pro Mazda Champion Dane Cameron joined Genoa Racing for this second round of testing. Thomas Knapp, principal of Genoa and team technical director stated, “I was personally honored that, being placed in this difficult situation as a result of this unfortunate circumstance, Dane and his family, who have a long racing heritage, placed their trust in Genoa Racing to focus on continuing his winning ways. Dane is the real deal, was very pleased with our car from the start and as we tuned for the conditions, consistently set fast times throughout the test and ended up the fastest driver over the two days of testing. He is very quick and knows exactly what he needs from the car to get the job done. Now that Dane is part of the Genoa family, we have an interesting plan for him at the next series test in Houston, I can’t wait, stay tuned!”

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NASCAR pooh-poohs idea of tire test team
Could a dedicated NASCAR test team and driver help the tire situation in NASCAR which sees drivers unhappy with Goodyear tires year in and year out?

“You’ve got to have the best drivers and teams you can test tires,” Pemberton said. “You can’t have guys that don’t stand on the gas test tires. You can’t have retired guys test tires because they’re not going to get the most out of it.

“People who haven’t been tire testing or haven’t raced for a living can over-simplify it and say, ‘Just go get a test team and get a guy off a different series and test.’ There’s a reason they’re not in this level. You want guys on this level that know what they need.”

Goodyear has attempted to have a test team for other racing series.

“We don’t feel that is the best way to do it,” Goodyear Director of Race Tire Sales Greg Stucker said Friday. “The guys that are out here running every week are the closest to the cars, they’re closest to the engines, they’re close to the tires, they’re close to the race tracks – they’re the guys that could give us the most help, the most feedback.

“They’re also the guys that are going to be in race conditions. That is the sort of data that you want to gather. That’s the sort of information you want. If you have somebody that does nothing but testing, you can do some fundamental things, but you can’t do what we eventually want to do and that is to eventually find the right combination.”

Stucker said Goodyear left Atlanta in December believing officials had found an adequate tire.

“We ... walk out of there thinking, ‘We have a pretty good package here. This is going to be reasonable, we think we’ll be good for the stop and we’ll be OK,’ ” Stucker said. “You’re not going to know for sure until you get to the race weekend and you’ve got 43 Cup guys or 43 Nationwide guys out there all at once in race trim, in race conditions, trying to pass one another.

“We can test a lot, but the ultimate evaluation, the ultimate test is certainly going to be the race event.”


Ecclestone wants radical points shakeup
Bernie wants to mix things up
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone wants to push through a radical shake-up of the formula one points system for drivers.

The F1 chief executive thinks the current system, where drivers collect points depending on their race positions, does not properly reward winning and often encourages title contenders to settle for lower places.

"It is my intention to push this idea through in the coming weeks," Ecclestone, 77, confirmed to the Daily Mail.

His idea is to retain the current points system for the constructors' championship, but crown the driver who wins the most races in a season.

If two drivers are tied on wins, the champion will be the one with the most second places, according to Bernie's plan.

"Right now there are not enough overtaking maneuvers in the sport because drivers are happy not to take risks and claim second place because it is only two points less than winning the race," he said.

Ecclestone is confident that his plan can be introduced.

"Well, I am the president of the F1 commission," he pointed out to the British newspaper.


Sutil to start Aus GP from pits
(GMM) Adrian Sutil will start today's Australian grand prix from the pit lane.

The Force India driver spun off after getting the high-speed chicane wrong during qualifying on Saturday.

It now emerges that the bottom of his chassis was badly damaged when he crashed over the kerbs, and the Silverstone based team had to revert to building up a new car for the race.

The Dutch publication Formule 1 Race Report claims that the monocoque is so badly damaged that it is unlikely to ever reappear at a grand prix.

The regulations in 2008 forbid the use of more than two race cars per team per weekend, so the penalty for Germany's Sutil is to drop off the grid altogether, where he was scheduled to start from nineteenth.


Hamilton says no time to support GPDA
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has resisted calls for him to join F1's safety-oriented drivers' union, the GPDA.

Grand Prix Drivers' Association stalwarts Pedro de la Rosa and Mark Webber were particularly keen to recruit 2007 championship runner-up Hamilton, as he represents the highly popular young face of the sport.

But Hamilton, 23, told the Daily Telegraph that he doesn't have time.

"If you are part of an important organisation you have to be committed and I really don't have time at the moment," the Briton said.

Webber criticised the McLaren racer for not wanting to actively participate in the push to improve driver safety.

"One day he might be in the barriers and needs someone.

"I think it is a little bit naive of some young guys not to want to support.

"You don't have to be a totally active member -- we're only asking for 20 minutes per fortnight," Webber said.


Bowyer wins rain shortened Nationwide race
Clint Bowyer passes pole sitter Scott Wimmer en route to winning the Sharpie Mini 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR
The winning move for Clint Bowyer in Saturday’s Sharpie Mini 300 Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway was simply staying on the track when the rain started.

Bowyer and the eight cars behind him in the final running order remained on the track when NASCAR called the seventh caution of the race on lap 164, after a light sprinkle turned to heavy rain. After seven more laps under caution, Bowyer waited out a stoppage of approximately 47 minutes before NASCAR called the race and declared him the winner.

It was Bowyer’s fifth victory in the Nationwide Series and his first at Bristol. Kasey Kahne was credited with the runner-up finish, followed by David Reutimann, Brad Keselowski and Mike Bliss. Jason Leffler, Kevin
Harvick, David Ragan, David Stremme and Mike Wallace completed the top 10.

“It’s awesome -- I take it any way I can get it,” Bowyer said. “Kasey  raced me clean. He had the best car, but it’s not always the best car  that wins. It’s just special. This is a racetrack that’s always been special to me ever since I’ve come here. It’s hard to race on, and  you’ve earned it every time you roll into victory lane.”

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Honda chief mechanic to leave F1
(GMM) Honda's long time chief mechanic Alastair Gibson will leave the Japanese team after next Sunday's Malaysian grand prix.

The 45-year-old South African, who has been with the Brackley based outfit since its inception as BAR in 1999 also as pit stop 'lollipop' holder, said in Melbourne on Sunday morning that he has quit formula one to focus on his love of art.

"If I really want to make a go of it, I knew I was going to have to commit myself," he said.

Gibson is known in the paddock for taking carbon fibre scraps out of the bins at the Honda factory and turning them into sculptures of sea life, mainly fish.

His works have been exhibited around the world, in places including Tokyo, Milan and Jakarta, and he has already been commissioned to produce several pieces in 2008.

"I've enjoyed every day of it but it's time to say goodbye," he said of his F1 adventure.

"My heart will still be at all the circuits but you can't do things for ever."

Gibson entered F1 with Benetton in 1995.


Kubica still unhappy with second on grid
(GMM) Robert Kubica has explained his disappointment after achieving the highest grid position of his F1 career so far in Melbourne.

The Pole's second place, along with teammate Nick Heidfeld's fifth, also constituted BMW Sauber's best ever Saturday afternoon result, but 23-year-old Kubica was still not smiling when he left the paddock for his hotel.

"I pushed very hard (on that lap), with a lot of risk, and it did not pay off. There is a bit of difference with the (race) strategy, so that's why I'm disappointed," Kubica explained.

He estimates that his excursion onto the artificial grass at turn-12 cost him three tenths, which if true would have seen him easily faster than pole sitter Lewis Hamilton.

On his way into Albert Park on Sunday morning, meanwhile, Toyota newcomer Timo Glock said he was disappointed with FIA stewards for pushing him five further places down the grid for blocking Mark Webber in qualifying.

"I looked at the video and I didn't see anything too bad, and also Mark didn't complain about me, so I cannot understand it at all," the German said.


Sebring Hour 3: Audi runs 1-2
McNish in the leading Audi ahead of the Peugeot
Audi’s Allan McNish moved his Audi R10 TDI into the lead of the 56th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented Fresh from Florida while the Peugeot 908 sat in pitlane with mechanics working on the hydraulics of the factory prototype. McNish led Mike Rockenfeller back to a green-flag restart just shy of the three-hour mark Saturday.

As the green flag prepared to fly, the Peugeot rejoined the race ahead of the leaders with Stephane Sarrazin three laps down and ninth overall.

Nic Minassian and Pedro Lamy had dominated the early going for the Peugeot, leading by more than 30 seconds over the Audis, Penske Racing’s Porsche RS Spyder and Andretti Green Racing’s Acura ARX-01b. Marco Andretti drove the opening three stints for AGR and took the overall lead into the second hour, following in the footsteps of grandfather Mario, who last led at Sebring as he won the race for the third time in 1972.

AGR was the LMP2 leader during the caution with Christian Fittipaldi ahead of Penske’s Romain Dumas.

In GT1, Ron Fellows led for Corvette Racing in the No. 3 Corvette C6.R. Fellows, Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen led Bell Motorsports’ Aston Martin DBR9 and Chapman Ducote by two laps. The No. 4 Corvette lost time replacing a failed halfshaft.

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Drivers experience chicanery mayhem
The new chicane at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez certainly caught out its fair share of drivers today. The chicane has been added for this season’s A1GP event prior to the final Peraltada corner, in a bid to improve safety and to provide an extra overtaking opportunity in Sunday’s races.

However, it caught out a fair number of drivers in practice today, who outbraked themselves and chose to overshoot the chicane altogether, taking to the escape road instead before rejoining the track.

The chicane was cut a total of 17 times over the course of the day, and in the majority of cases, the lap times set were deleted from the official records as they were the personal best for the respective drivers.

Drivers were warned in their official briefing this morning that if any advantage was gained by cutting the chicane, then a penalty was likely to be awarded.

A1 Team USA’s Jonathan Summerton, who scored his best ever A1GP result on the alternative version of the circuit last season, said the new chicane is very tough to drive.

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Kubica admits error cost him pole
Kubica watches the video monitors in Melbourne
Robert Kubica reckons only a mistake on his final flying lap prevented him from taking the first pole of his Formula 1 career in the Australia.

"I took a lot of risks in the second run of Q3, but finally it didn’t pay off," he said.

"I went wide in corner twelve and ran on the artificial grass.

"This cost me between two and three tenths of a second and maybe pole position."

“P2 is a great achievement for the whole team, and that’s a good start to the season," he said.

"We had quite a difficult day yesterday, but we were able to make a lot of progress.

"The F1.08 is a very quick car, but quite delicate to set-up and to drive.

"When I look back on what level we started testing, I have to give a big compliment to the whole team in Munich and Hinwil.

"Everybody worked hard analyzing the problems and improving the car."


Cabo Wabo re-ups with A.J. Foyt Racing
Cabo Wabo Tequila will for the third consecutive year be an associate sponsor of the No. 14 A.J. Foyt Racing car driven by Darren Manning this year.

"Cabo Wabo's involvement with A.J. Foyt Racing stems from my personal passion for the sport," Cabo Wabo creator Sammy Hagar said. "As a committed racing fan, I was delighted about the opportunity to partner with such a legendary team as A.J. Foyt. The last two years, Cabo Wabo's participation has been an enormous success, and I'm sure the year ahead will be no exception."

Hagar attended the IndyCar Series race at Infineon Raceway last August, watching the race from A.J. Foyt's pit stand. The crew sported song titles on their race day uniforms, including "I Can't Drive 55." Moreover, Vic Johnson, a guitarist with Hagar's Waboritas band, was also on hand and served as an honorary crew member.

"Sammy is a real down-to-earth guy," A.J. Foyt said. "He created a lot of excitement around our team and I am looking forward to having Cabo Wabo Tequila and Sammy Hagar be part of our team again this year. At one point, he even joined my pitbox last year; this year I want him to join me in the winner's circle." IndyCar.com


Hamilton used soft Bridgestones to capture pole
Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton will be the first grand prix driver to start a race from pole position with Bridgestone as Formula One’s Official Tire Supplier after using the soft compound Potenza tire to set a time of 1min 26.714secs at Albert Park for this weekend’s ING Australian Grand Prix.

Hamilton, who also set the day’s fastest lap, in Q2, beat Robert Kubica to first place on the grid for tomorrow’s race by just over a tenth of a second. Heikki Kovalainen and Felipe Massa make up the second row tomorrow, with Kovalainen the faster.

Illustrating the close nature of competition in Melbourne, there were seven teams inside the top ten. Notable exceptions were reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen who had a mechanical problem which prevented him from progressing to Q2.

Two-time champion Fernando Alonso also qualified outside the top ten, in twelfth.

Qualifying was interrupted by a red flag period in Q2 after Mark Webber spun into the gravel with just under nine minutes of the session remaining. Earlier in the day Kubica was fastest in the final frantic moments of the morning’s practice session with a 1min 25.613secs time, over three tenths quicker than team-mate Nick Heidfeld, who was second quickest. 

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Stewart praises Goodyear tires in Bristol
NASCAR must have read Tony Stewart the riot act - praise Goodyear to make up for the pounding you gave them in Atlanta, or you can race somewhere else. 

"I thought the tires were good," Stewart said after Friday's rain-shortened Bristol Cup practice.

"Anytime that you can take your car and go from the top to the bottom of the track and back, you obviously have the grip you need to go where you want to go," he said. "Having that flexibility is what we're all looking for."

That Stewart had something kind to say about the company he assailed surprised Goodyear officials, who would have liked to have heard it directly from the driver.

"It would have been nice if he could have come over here and told us that," said Greg Stucker, director of race tire sales.


Latest F1 news in brief UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • Title didn't relax me, 'iceman' insists
  • Webber rules out move to Swiss exile
  • Vettel awaits Ferrari call-up
  • Relations not rosy after spy saga - Dennis
  • Hamilton vows to defend title lead in 2008
  • Briatore laughs at practice analysis
  • Super Aguri announce new sponsor
  • Glock drops five places for gearbox change New
  • Force India opposed to budget cap New
  • Coulthard '100 per cent' after test twinge New
  • No spares makes life harder for Davidson New

Title didn't relax me, 'iceman' insists
(GMM)  The press has got it wrong in suggesting that 'iceman' Kimi Raikkonen is even more relaxed now that he is a reigning world champion, the Finn insists.

Instead, the 28-year-old driver says his family members were "more excited" than he was when he wrapped up the title last October, and he thinks journalists have changed more than he has since then.

"It's a little easier, because the press don't ask so many questions, or write as much shit about me, as they did in the past," he told the Guardian.

"My day-to-day life hasn't changed, the driving and the racing hasn't changed.

"Sure I'm happy to have won the championship but that's got nothing to do with 2008 when everybody starts from scratch again and we'll see who does the best job," Raikkonen added.

Webber rules out move to Swiss exile
(GMM)  Mark Webber would like to join F1's growing army of Swiss residents.

The Red Bull driver and Australian, however, says he has no plans to move to the landlocked tax haven because his partner and her young son are settled in the UK.

"I would like to live in Switzerland," he told Auto Motor und Sport, "but Ann's small son keeps us in England."

Webber, 31, says he is not a particular fan of his adopted British home.

"I could not live there permanently, because of the weather," he told the German magazine.  "As an Australian it is pretty depressing.

"But because I am so often away, England is bearable," Webber laughed.

Meanwhile, he clarified recent reports that he still sees Michael Schumacher as his all-time hero.

Webber admits that he idolized the great German before entering F1 in 2002, when he "learned another side" of the seven time world champion.

"Some things he did, I don't understand," he explains.  "He found it hard to admit his mistakes."

Webber also says that when the drivers paid tribute to Schumacher in his last pre-race briefing in Brazil 2006, he refused their request to give a speech.

"He said nothing.  I found that unfortunate," Webber says.

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tv news

Weekend USA TV Reminders 
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Crash Science - Race Cars
5:00pm-6:00pm (R) NATG
American Le Mans Series 2008 Preview
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Sprint Cup Replay Kobalt Tools 500 Atlanta
10:30pm-1:00am (R) HDNet
Formula 1 Practice Australia
11:00pm-12:30am (L) SPEED

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De la Rosa leaves pregnant wife at home
(GMM)  Pedro de la Rosa turned down McLaren boss Ron Dennis' offer that he be allowed to stay home while the 2008 season kicks off in Australia this weekend.

The Spaniard, who attends all the races as the British team's reserve driver, revealed that his wife is "very close" to giving birth to the latest addition to his family.

"But this is my job," de la Rosa, 36, told the sports program El Larguero.

"My team gave me the option (to stay at home), but I preferred to take the risk," he added.


Cup Qualifying canceled by rain at Bristol
Rain washed out Friday’s qualifying for the Food City 500 Sprint Cup race, putting Jimmie Johnson on the pole for the 500-lap event at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Qualifying was slated to begin at 3:40 p.m. EDT, but steady rain forced NASCAR to cancel it just before 5 p.m.

It’s the second time in five races this season that qualifying has been rained out, as poor weather wiped out the session at Auto Club Speedway last month.

Three drivers failed to make the race: Jeff Green (Wood Brothers Racing), John Andretti (Front Row Motorsports) and Patrick Carpentier (Gillett Evernham Motorsports). The Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Ford would have made the race if regular driver Bill Elliott had been in the seat, but Elliott asked to drive next week at Martinsville instead of Bristol.


Elliott out, Green in for Wood Brothers' No. 21 Ford
Wood Brothers Racing has put Jeff Green in its No. 21 Ford this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, a move that endangers the team if qualifying is rained out.

The group originally had Bill Elliott on the entry list for Sunday’s Food City 500. As a past champion, he would be guaranteed a spot in the race if qualifying were rained out. But Wood made the switch to Green this week and now must race into the field based on qualifying speed since his group is outside the top 35 in 2006 owners points.

Green was ninth fastest in Friday's practice session.

“As we’ve done with Bill ever since we started this arrangement, I call him every week before finalizing our entry blank and ask him if he still wants to race for the coming week,” team co-owner Eddie Wood said. “When I spoke to Bill on Monday, he showed an interest in swapping out Bristol for Martinsville, so that’s what we did. Jeff Green has a good record here, and we thought putting him in the car would give us our best shot at qualifying on speed.

“I think what he’s done in practice here today shows that we made a good decision. Unfortunately, when I saw the weather forecast, I figured this was going to happen. I guess the most appropriate thing to say right now is that when it rains, it pours. This sort of typifies the way our season has gone so far.”


Australian GP: BMWs top final practice
Robert Kubica's BMW
The two BMW’s topped the timesheets in the final free practice session here at Albert Park this morning followed by Renault driver Fernando Alonso in third, Nico Rosberg fourth and the two Red Bull’s of David Coulthard and Mark Webber rounding out the top six. Lewis Hamilton was twelfth, Kimi Raikkonen fourteenth.

Cooler temperatures greeted the drivers here this morning with the thermometer hitting just twenty three degrees in comparison to the thirty six felt here on Friday.


Driver Team Time Laps
1. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:25.613 18
2. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:25.950 × 0.337 16
3. Alonso Renault 1:26.082 × 0.469 14
4. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:26.171 × 0.558 17
5. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:26.385 × 0.772 14
6. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:26.407 × 0.794 17
7. Button Honda 1:26.502 × 0.889 18
8. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:26.663 × 1.050 18
9. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:26.682 × 1.069 18
10. Trulli Toyota 1:26.882 × 1.269 11
11. Massa Ferrari 1:27.020 × 1.407 19
12. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.084 × 1.471 14
13. Glock Toyota 1:27.162 × 1.549 15
14. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:27.163 × 1.550 17
15. Piquet Renault 1:27.284 × 1.671 13
16. Barrichello Honda 1:27.333 × 1.720 18
17. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:27.489 × 1.876 18
18. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:27.578 × 1.965 17
19. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:27.601 × 1.988 15
20. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.992 × 2.379 15
21. Sato Super Aguri-Honda 1:28.363 × 2.750 13
22. Davidson Super Aguri-Honda 1:28.912 × 3.299 15


Rain Cancels Day One at Gatornationals
For the second event in a row, rain wiped out the first day of qualifying, this time for Sunday’s NHRA Gatornationals. While not getting a chance to compete out on the track, Bob Tasca III did face some competition off the track as the rain delay allowed the driver of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Shelby Mustang to spend time with fans and compete in the new Motorcraft/Quick Lane interactive display.

“We weren’t able to get out and have some fun on the track today, but we were able to have a lot of fun with the fans at the new display,” said Tasca. “In NHRA racing, being with the fans and interacting with them is just as important as doing well out on the racetrack. “

Tasca competed against fans and the clock in the Motorcraft Holeshot Challenge and the Quick Lane Crew Challenge, setting the quickest time in the crew challenge at one minute flat.

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Joel Miller wins Star Mazda race again
(L to R) Chris Cumming, Peter Dempsey, Joel Miller, Charles Hall, Chuck Hulse
Joel Miller, the new Rocket Rookie of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, checked out to a 6.6-second margin of victory in his first race driving the #20 JDC Motorsports/Skip Barber/K&N Mazda.  Finishing 2nd was the #2 qualifier, Charles Hall of Sheffield, U.K., at the wheel of the #77 Andersen Racing/Pardoes Solicitors/Allied Mazda.  In 3rd was Irishman Peter Dempsey, piloting the #21 Andersen Racing/Allied Mazda, who moved up from his 6th-place qualifying spot. 

Winning the Expert Series (for drivers aged 30 to 44) was Vancouver, B.C.’s Chris Cumming who qualified 18th in his #16 World Speed Motorsports/Inviro Medical Mazda and finished 17th overall.  Winning in the Master Series (for drivers 45 and older) was Chuck Hulse of Yorba Linda, California who qualified 21st in the #12 JDC Motorsports/Silicon Salvage Mazda and moved up to finish 18th overall.  The top-finishing female racer, of the three in the 27-car field, was rookie Kristy Kester, the distaff half of the unique Kester Racing brother/sister duo.  Kester, from College Station, Texas, qualified 11th in the #48 Kester Racing/Texas World Speedway/Unifirst Mazda and moved up to finish 8th overall in a remarkable first race.

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Rain forces cancellation of NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying
Nationwide Series qualifying for the Sharpie Mini 300 slated for Saturday morning at Bristol Motor Speedway has been canceled.

The series had two practices scheduled Friday at the 0.533-mile track, but rain washed both of those away. Instead of qualifying Saturday morning, NASCAR has slated a practice from 8:30 to 10 a.m. EDT.

The National Weather Service calls for a 100 percent chance of rain Saturday, though most of the wet weather is mainly after 2 p.m.

The Sharpie Mini 300 is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and there is not enough room on the schedule for practice and qualifying.

Scott Wimmer will start on the pole as NASCAR set the field via the Nationwide Series rulebook. Wimmer drives the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, which won the 2007 owners championship.

Starting second is Denny Hamlin in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota.

The two drivers who failed to make the race were Penske Racing's Sam Hornish Jr. and Mac Hill Motorsports' Danny O'Quinn.


GBR On Top in Mexico City
Mexico - A1 Team Great Britain topped the time sheets in the second of today's two free practice sessions in Mexico City, as the eighth round of the 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport got underway at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in warm and sunny weather conditions.

Great Britain's Oliver Jarvis, who took the British team's first A1GP victory at the Mexican circuit last year, was the man to beat this afternoon, clocking a 1m21.431s lap of the 4.08km circuit. Having set the pace early on in the hour, Jarvis improved on his lap time with 15 minutes of the session remaining, reclaiming the top spot and demoting current title leader Switzerland’s Neel Jani to second.

The Swiss car was closely followed by Ireland's Adam Carroll in third, ending a strong day for the Irish squad, rookie Niall Quinn having posted the second fastest time this morning. Jeroen Bleekemolen was fourth quickest in the Dutch car this afternoon while South Africa's Adrian Zaugg finished the day fifth overall.

GBR's position was momentarily under threat by a late charge from New Zealand's Jonny Reid, however the Kiwi's time was deleted as he cut the tight chicane leading into the Peraltada corner, moving him down the order to sixth overall. Reid was not alone, many drivers committed the same offence throughout both practice sessions, causing their lap to be ruined and their time deleted.

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Eco Racing Withdraws from Sebring
Eco Racing has reluctantly had to withdraw its new bio diesel Radical SR10 from the 12 Hours of Sebring due to the incorrect provision of homologation papers from chassis manufacturer, Radical.

However, the Team has taken many positives from being at Sebring over the past days and will return to action for the 4th round of the ALMS at Salt Lake City in May, thereafter completing the full ALMS season with its unique production engined bio diesel LMP1 car. It is possible that this will increase to a two car effort.

ALMS Chief Operating Officer and Sebring Race Director, Tim Mayer said; “We have been delighted to welcome Eco Racing into the ALMS and greatly regret the circumstances of this situation, which were totally beyond the Team’s control. Eco Racing is exactly the sort of professional and innovative organization that we seek to attract to our Series and we look forward to seeing the cars competing in ALMS from Salt Lake City onwards.”

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Star Mazda Sebring Qualifying
The Rocket Rookie – perhaps not an official nickname yet, but certainly an apparently appropriate one.  Under discussion is Joel Miller, the 2007 Skip Barber Champion and Star Mazda rookie who took the pole by more than a second in this afternoon’s 40-minute qualifying session for tomorrow’s Round One of the 2008 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at Sebring. 

Miller, who is racing the #20 JDC Motorsports/Skip Barber/K&N Mazda courtesy of a full-season sponsorship from the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder, turned a lap of 2:00.451 (110.584 mph) around the historic 17-turn, 3.7 mile Sebring International Raceway.  It was not his fastest lap of the week – that being a 1:59.653 in testing on Tuesday morning – but it was more than a second clear of the 2nd-place qualifier, Charles Hall, of Sheffield, England, who set his time of 2:01.542 (109.592 mph) with a banzai run in the #77 Andersen Racing/Pardoes Solicitors/Allied Mazda on the final lap of the session.

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GM, Ford stocks hit historic lows
Shares of General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. sank to historic levels Thursday after Morgan Stanley Research cut its earnings forecasts based on a lowered outlook for U.S. auto sales.

Ford stock fell to its lowest level since 1985 and the price of GM stock fell to its lowest level since 2006, near the height of speculation that the automaker would need to declare bankruptcy if it didn't speed up its turnaround.

Ford shares fell to $5.12 early in the day, but the Dearborn automaker's shares rebounded slightly, closing down 31 cents, or 5.4%, at $5.39, its lowest price since November 1985, according to Bloomberg.

GM stock started the day with a steep drop to $19.07 -- its lowest level since April 2006 -- but rebounded to close down 62 cents, or 2.96%, at $20.31.


'Rain drops keep falling on my head......'
Once again, NASCAR teams may face rain interruptions this weekend.  The National Weather Service predicts a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms today at Bristol Motor Speedway, with that increasing to 90 percent Saturday before dropping to 20 percent Sunday.  Temperatures are expected in the 60s today and Saturday and the low 50s on Sunday.


Hankook and Corsa withdraw from Sebring race
Hankook Tire and Corsa Motorsports regret to announce that the No. 48 entry will not compete in the 56th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida.

“After several days of practice on this challenging course, it is clear that we have not yet achieved our competitive goals,” explained Bill Bainbridge Hankook Director of Brand Communications. “Therefore it is in our mutual best interest that we withdraw from this event and continue our tire development work and testing in order to compete in the series at the highest level.”

“Corsa Motorsports, its drivers and partners have worked extremely hard this week and in previous testing to compete at Sebring and looking ahead, want nothing more than to race and be competitive.  Together with Hankook Tires, we are discussing the best way to move forward in our partnership and effort to develop a competitive product,” said Steve Pruitt, Team Principal of Corsa Motorsports.  “To say we are disappointed not to race Saturday is an understatement.  However, it’s certainly in the best interest of our team and partner to improve the performance before putting our Ferrari on the track in a race situation.”

Bainbridge added “We are grateful to Corsa for their continuing commitment to work with us. While disappointed that spectators will not have the opportunity to see the Hankook-shod Ferrari on the track here in Sebring on Saturday, we are determined to be competing in the series as soon as possible.”

tv news

Final NASCAR Atlanta TV ratings jump 23.1 percent UPDATE The final TV Rating for last Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race from Atlanta Georgia on FOX was a 6.4/15 share, up 23.1% from last year's 5.2/12 share.  It looks like NASCAR has managed to turn the corner on their TV rating plunge of the past two years.

03/10/08 Fox's broadcast of Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway earned a 5.6 overnight Nielsen Media Research rating and a 12 market share.  The rating is 19.1 percent higher than the 4.7/10 the race earned overnight last year.


ALMS Manufacturers row
The American Le Mans Series boasts more auto manufacturers involved in its series than any other series in the world. Aligned for its annual inaugural race of the year, the Mobil Twelve Hours of Sebring, are 10 manufacturers that will see action in this year’s endurance classic.

Top manufacturers at Sebring
Auto manufacturers pictured are: front row (l to r):  Aston Martin (Drayson-Barwell Motorsport), Mazda (B-K Motorsports), Audi (Audi Sport North American), Porsche (Penske Racing), Acura (Lowe’s Fernandez Racing) and Corvette (Corvette Racing). Back row (l to r) Dodge (Primetime Race Group), Panoz (Panoz Team PTG), Ferrari (Risi Competizione), Porsche (Flying Lizard Motorsports) and Ford (Robertson Racing).

There are 34 teams on the opening grid for the 56th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida, March 15 at Sebring International Raceway.

Porsche builds both a prototype and grand touring race car and ,consequently, is entered in two classes - LMP2 and GT2. Aston Martin and Corvette have cars in both GT1 and GT2 class. In addition, French-made Peugeot has entered a diesel race car at Sebring. BMW also recently announced a full-season factory effort under the tutelage of Rahal Letterman Racing which begins in 2009.


Audi to defend ALMS title
In spite of regulations that further penalize the most powerful cars, AUDI AG once again will compete in the American Le Mans Series as a factory team in the 2008 season. Team Audi Sport North America enters two Audi R10 TDI prototypes in all eleven races of the popular sportscar championship. Audi confirmed this prior to the 12 Hours of Sebring (USA), the opening round of the American Le Mans Series.

Although computer simulations show that the lighter LM P2 sports cars have an advantage over the "bigger" LM P1 class on seven of the eleven circuits visited by the American Le Mans Series, Audi nevertheless faces this challenge. "The American Le Mans Series is an excellent platform in America for an automobile manufacturer to compete in motorsport at a high-level with innovative technology," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "We want to continue to use this platform and, more specifically, to support the diesel campaign in the USA. We will show fighting spirit and in spite of the situation with the regulations try to win."

The near 650-hp Audi R10 TDI was the pioneer for the "Green Racing" initiative with which the American Le Mans Series regards itself as a meaningful, environmentally aware race series in its tenth year of existence. The R10 TDI also heralds the TDI offensive that Audi starts in the USA in 2008.

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Risi Ferrari team announces new driver lineup
Risi Competizione is pleased to announce that former Formula One driver, Patrick Friesacher, and Grand-Am regular, Harrison Brix, will be joining the team for the 2008 American Le Mans Series from St Petersburg onwards.

The Austrian-American pairing will be driving the no. 61 Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 GT alongside their Championship-winning team mates, Jaime Melo and Mika Salo, and both drivers will be making their debut in the world’s most buoyant racing series.

Team Principal, Giuseppe Risi, commented: “We’re delighted to have Harrison Brix and Patrick Friesacher racing with Risi Competizione.  Anyone who has followed Risi over the last few years knows that while the driver lineup for the No. 62 car has been quite constant, we have faced a more fluid situation with the drivers in the No. 61 car. In 2008, we have solidified that situation, with Tracy Krohn and Nic Jönsson driving with us at major events like Sebring and Le Mans, and Harrison and Patrick piloting for us in the heart of the American Le Mans Series schedule. Their addition to Risi Competizione’s driver lineup for 2008 continues with our strategic emphasis on consistency and continuity, and enables us to build on the strong competitive foundation we’ve built with the Ferrari 430GTC over the last two years.”

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tv news

ITV to show F1 practice on its website
Commercial broadcaster ITV is to add a further tier to its coverage of Formula 1 by making races, practice sessions and press conferences available live, online.

The broadcaster has signed an exclusive one-year deal with Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One Management.

Under the deal, which begins with coverage of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, F1 races will be made available to view via ITV.com/F1 and be cross-promoted across the website and during the broadcaster's TV coverage. Each Grand Prix will be available to view for 30 days on ITV.com's catch-up TV service after the race has finished.

Mark Sharman, ITV Director of News and Sport, said: “We know from listening to our viewers that there is great demand from motor sport fans to watch F1 practice sessions and press conferences”.

It is the first time that Friday practice sessions have been shown on television.


NASCAR wants to avoid a tire war
Ramsey Poston, NASCAR managing director of corporate communication, said, “we are not interested (in a tire war). Goodyear has been a remarkably good partner.”

For the time being, Firestone, the American company that is probably best suited to go after Goodyear’s contract when it expires, is not interested in approaching NASCAR.

“Obviously,” Al Speyer, motor-sports executive director for Firestone, said, “NASCAR is a very successful form of motor racing. But, we are really, really busy with open-wheel racing.”

Might that change when Goodyear’s contract with NASCAR expires?

Speyer said, “We are always looking at all motor sports, and we have ongoing analysis, but we could never comment on pending business ventures.”

Stewart has criticized Goodyear several times over the years. His latest objection concerned the tire brought to Atlanta. Stewart, a two-time Sprint Cup champion, said tires were just too hard. As such, he said, they did not offer enough grip, and that made for a dangerous situation as drivers had a hard time keeping control.

“It was just sliding around,” Stewart said. “(The car was) loose in and loose off and tight in the center. Everything you asked the car to do, it wouldn’t do because the tires couldn’t take it.”

Stewart, who has raced other brands of tires when he was in USAC and the Indy Racing League, said Goodyear should be embarrassed and that Firestone and Hoosier could do a better job.

In a statement released this week, Goodyear said it believed it had brought the best tires possible to Atlanta.

“We believe that our engineering, research and tire development is second to none. We accept that drivers will have their own opinions about our tires,” the statement said.

Stewart reacted to Goodyear statements Wednesday by telling the Martinsville-Henry County chamber of commerce in Virginia: “For them to say that they were satisfied with the race, that’s insane,” Stewart said. “If they really firmly believe that, if they believe what they put out in their press statement that they were happy with the result, then that scares me to death.”


Rahal team, Scott Sharp, Patron Reach Settlement In Breach-of-Contract Case
Rahal Letterman Racing, Scott Sharp Sports LLC, Scott Sharp Inc. and Scott Sharp, joined by The Patr¢n Spirits Company today announced that the parties have reached an amicable settlement in their breach-of-contract case claims against each other.

Terms of the settlement are confidential and will not be released.

“We are pleased to put this mutually unpleasant matter behind us. We now can look forward to the start of what promises to be a successful  2008 season.” said Rahal Letterman Racing co-owner Bobby Rahal. “I appreciate Scott's and Patron's commitment to creating a fair and equitable settlement in this matter and I wish both Ed Brown and Scott the best of luck in their racing endeavors this season.”

“We’re glad that Rahal Letterman Racing and Scott Sharp were able to mutually agree upon a settlement and move forward,” said Ed Brown, president and CEO of The Patr¢n Spirits Company. “Bobby Rahal, not to mention the entire Rahal Letterman organization, is one of the premier names in motorsports – we have a tremendous amount of respect for their professionalism and talent, and we wish them a successful 2008 IndyCar season.”

Rahal Letterman Racing will begin its 2008 racing season March 29 with the IndyCar Series’ Gainsco Auto Insurance Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Scott Sharp and Highcroft Racing will kick off the racing season in the Patr¢n car this weekend at the 12 hours of Sebring. 


200 mph at Darlington
What a difference a paving makes: 200 miles per hour. That's how fast the Sprint Cup Series cars ran during Goodyear tire tests earlier this week at historic Darlington Raceway. That's not a misprint. The Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon, the Ford of Greg Biffle and the Dodge of Daytona 500 winner Ryan Newman were all clocked unofficially at 200 mph at the end of this old track's smooth, newly repaved backstretch. Darlington Raceway President Chris Browning almost couldn't believe it himself. "We had some of the telemetry numbers from the teams and I couldn't believe it when they told me they were hitting 200 mph at the end of the backstretch," said Browning. "That's incredible!" Jeff Gordon, a seven-time winner on the tricky, treacherous, 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval, said the track was fast and smooth. "The old humps and bumps are gone," said Gordon. "It's still Darlington. It's just a lot smoother and a lot faster." Order tickets now by calling 1-866-459-RACE. Darlington Raceway PR


Stewart continues to pound Goodyear
Tony Stewart continued to criticize Goodyear officials on Wednesday for what he said was an unacceptable tire at Atlanta Sunday and what he says are lingering problems with the company's NASCAR tires.

Stewart criticized the company during a press conference at Martinsville Speedway on Wednesday, saying he stood by his harsh comments at Atlanta and will continue to talk about what he perceives as widespread tire problems.

"It wasn't a situation that we're just trying to beat a company up," Stewart said. "We don't want to have to even say bad things about it to begin with.  We want a tire that is safe every week and that's competitive every week. That's all we ask out of them. To us that's their responsibility as the exclusive manufacturer in the series. That's their responsibility to do that every week.

"We felt like, as drivers, we were let down this particular weekend worse than some of the other weeks when it may not be a huge complaint but it is a complaint. When year after year the same problems keep creeping up, and some years it seems like its getting worse and worse, like the technology in NASCAR keeps growing but Goodyear is starting to fall behind in that category, we're not saying it because we want to hurt them. We're saying what we said this past weekend because we want to get somebody's attention in the company to where they're going to do something.

"Do something productive. Do something to make a change, make a difference. Give us something better than what we've got. If that's what it took to do it, then it's the right thing to do.

"Did it hurt the company? I'm sure it probably did. That wasn't our intention necessarily but I don't want to sit here for the next 30 weeks of the season and ride around on a tire like I rode around on last Sunday. That's not my idea of a good time. So, if you've got to speak with a loud voice to get somebody's attention, if that's what it takes to get something done, then that's what you've got to do."


New names for Aguri's new future
(GMM)  Two names have cropped up as favorites to lead a new management structure at the newly-sold Super Aguri team.

The Japanese squad's usual managing director, Daniele Audetto, has conspicuously not made the trip to Melbourne, shortly after the buyout by Magma Group was confirmed.

Former team owner Aguri Suzuki's precise role at the Leafield based squad is reportedly also up for grabs, and an interesting face in the team's paddock area on Friday was GP2 team boss and former formula one man David Price.

Martin Leach, the figure behind the London based Magma Group, is also in Australia for the 2008 opener.

Meanwhile, the Dutch publication Formule 1 Race Report suggests that Jost Capito, instrumental in Ford's rally efforts, could also be involved in Super Aguri's restructured management.


De la Rosa replaces Ralf S. in GPDA
Pedro de la Rosa
(GMM)  McLaren test and reserve driver Pedro de la Rosa has been elected chairman of the F1 drivers' union GPDA.

The Grand Prix Drivers' Association met in Melbourne on Friday, and de la Rosa was put forward by his fellow members to replace the departed chairman Ralf Schumacher.

"The guys supported me so I am happy to get the job," the 36-year-old Spaniard said.

De la Rosa said one of his main aims in the role is to recruit as members youngsters like Lewis Hamilton, and world champion Kimi Raikkonen.

"We all have to be part of it because we are working on safety and safety is for everyone," he is quoted as saying by the British news agency Reuters.

The GPDA's other directors are Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber.

Webber told a news conference on Friday afternoon that he also hopes to recruit rookies Nelson Piquet and Timo Glock, and revealed that Sebastien Bourdais has already joined the voluntary body.

"I hope they will get involved, because everyone is benefiting from our work," the Red Bull driver said.


Webber hints at low fuel run
(GMM)  Mark Webber on Friday insisted that, despite setting the second quickest time in afternoon practice at Albert Park, his Red Bull is not in the hunt for a podium in the Australian grand prix.

To the delight of the crowd, the local driver sat atop the times for much of the second ninety minute session in the Melbourne heat, but Webber admitted afterwards that his RB4's performance was aided by a low fuel run.

His teammate, David Coulthard, seemed to confirm the Renault-powered team's potential by going fifth.

But in the paddock, a sweat-soaked Webber insisted: "We're not quickest, for sure.

"It was not too bad but there are at least four of five cars that are quicker than us.

"I'm not even sure exactly where we finished up to be honest, so that's just the way it panned out today.

"There were a few different fuel loads floating about I think," he added.

Meanwhile, Toyota's chief race engineer Dieter Gass said it was a "shame" that Jarno Trulli beached his TF108 in the gravel at turn three.

Gass said the TF108 nonetheless seems to be "in quite good shape" in terms of performance in Australia, with Trulli hanging on for seventh best.

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