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Sato on road to recovery Sato on road to recoveryBAR's Takuma Sato, recovered enough to fly back to Europe on Monday, will probably return to the F1 wheel for the Bahrain GP.  The Japanese sat out Malaysia with a viral infection, even - at one point - attached to a drip with a temperature of more than 38.

But he's already feeling better, although unlikely to test the '007' at Paul Ricard.  ''He spent the rest of the weekend resting,'' a spokeswoman explained on Monday, ''and is looking forward to getting well again in time to be back in the car in Bahrain.''

Simmons fastest in IPS Indy test Simmons fastest in IPS Indy testMenards Infiniti Pro Series veteran Jeff Simmons was the quickest of 15 drivers who participated March 24 in the series' first test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Simmons turned a top lap of 1 minute, 25.8208 seconds, 109.064 mph in the No. 24 Team ISI Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone to lead the time charts by more than a second. "We started off pretty cold, and it just took some time to get some heat into the tires," Simmons said. "We learned a lot and got through our testing program. We certainly learned some things for when we come back here, which was important as well. We definitely made headway on St. Pete and when we come back here."

Drivers and teams in the IndyCar® Series' primary ladder series prepared for its historic race on the 2.605-mile road course during the United States Grand Prix weekend, June 17-19. The next event for the series is the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 3 at St. Petersburg, Fla., the series first-ever race on a street course.

Menards Infiniti Pro Series rookie Chris Festa was second overall at 1:27.0004, 107.586 in the No. 19 SpacePak/CareCentric/SSM Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, with Marco Andretti rounding out the top three at 1:27.0299, 107.549 in the No. 26 Vonage Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone. "We decided to wait until after lunch to run," Festa said. "We shook the car down right before lunch and did seven laps, but we only did a system's check of gears and things like that. After lunch, we ran about 100 miles on our first set of tires. We did our quickest lap on our second-to-last lap on those."

Andretti, the 18-year-old grandson of 1969 Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti and son of Indianapolis 500 standout Michael Andretti, drove a Menards Infiniti Pro Series car for the first time. He spun early in cool temperatures in the morning but recovered to reach the top three. Mario and Michael Andretti attended the test to offer advice and support for Marco. "It was a fun day," Marco Andretti said. "The first time in the car I felt pretty good, and we weren't slow; we were pretty quick, so it was a good day. "They're (cars) a lot of fun on the road course. I love this track because you get the feel for an oval, except you're turning right. You're hauling the mail into (Turn) 1 here, and basically it's all about mechanical grip for the infield and trying to trim out as much as you can for the banking. "It was pretty special coming down the first lap because of all of the history here."

Results Thursday from the IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series Open Test on the 2.605-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, with car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine and speed:
1. (24) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Infiniti, 109.064
2. (19) Chris Festa, Dallara-Infiniti, 107.586
3. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Infiniti, 107.549
4. (33) Wade Cunningham, Dallara-Infiniti, 107.180
5. (3) Al Unser, Dallara-Infiniti, 106.589
6. (5) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Dallara-Infiniti, 106.123
7. (21) Nick Bussell, Dallara-Infiniti, 105.773
8. (1) Jamie Camara, Dallara-Infiniti, 105.465
9. (4) Marty Roth, Dallara-Infiniti, 105.184
10. (27) G.J. Mennen, Dallara-Infiniti, 104.951
11. (7) Travis Gregg, Dallara-Infiniti, 104.650
12. (36) Larry Connor, Dallara-Infiniti, 104.514
13. (6) Jon Herb, Dallara-Infiniti, 103.412
14. (20) Jay Drake, Dallara-Infiniti, 103.302
15. (91) Mishael Abbott, Dallara-Infiniti, 88.552

Labonte leads TMS testing Labonte leads TMS testingTesting at Texas, Labonte fastest: #44-Terry Labonte posted the fastest lap during NASCAR Nextel Cup testing at Texas Motor Speedway on Wednesday. Labonte, a two-time Cup champion and winner of the 1999 race at TMS, toured the 1.5-mile quadoval at 189.474 mph in the #44 Chevrolet Monte Carlo he is driving in a limited 10-race schedule this season. Also testing in anticipation of the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 weekend April 14-17 were Cup regulars #45-Kyle Petty (189.208 mph), #15-Michael Waltrip (188.811 mph), #40-Sterling Marlin (188.153 mph) and #07-Dave Blaney (187.240 mph). "This place is wicked-fast," said Petty, driver of the #45 Dodge Charger. "Hopefully, with some of the new aero rules, it will be more of a multigroove racetrack. It was getting that way last year." Fort Worth Star Telegram
Former NASCAR team owner sent to prison Former NASCAR team owner sent to prisonTim Beverley ignored the camera as he walked into federal court today. What couldn't be ignored was the fact he'd be sentenced to prison. "He understood. I think he understood that he was going to be punished," says his attorney Gerry Goldstein. He could have received as much as 10 years, but the judged handed down a six year sentence with three years probation. "He took his punishment in the same vain that he lived his life, in respect for the court and respect for the law that he's violated," says Goldstein. Beverley had major success as owner of Tyler Jet. He told the judge today that financial problems began after investing in NASCAR [#17/#35 Darrell Waltrip/Rich Bickle in 1998, #10-Rich Bickle/David Green in 1999, #10-Johnny Benson in 2000]. His company declared bankruptcy and Beverley admitted to the court that his bout with drugs and alcohol and personal problems caused him to make careless business decisions. "Mr. Beverley [is] very sorry for what happened and I'm sure that his family would join him in wishing well all those people who were affected." Beverly will have to pay back those he defrauded more than 18 million dollars in restitution. He told the judge he's ready to move on with his life, which will be very different when he begins his prison sentence. kltv.com
Zonta fastest at Paul Ricard Zonta fastest at Paul RicardThursday test times from Paul Ricard
1. R. Zonta - Toyota - 1'03"848 (+0"000)
2. P. de la Rosa - McLaren Mercedes - 1'04"496 (+0"648)
3. A. Wurz - McLaren Mercedes - 1'04"593 (+0"745)
4. F. Montagny - Renault - 1'04"695 (+0"847)
5. H. Kovalainen - Renault' 1'04"843 (+0"995)
6. A. Davidson - BAR Honda - 1'05"180 (+1"332)
7. J. Button - BAR Honda - 1'06"434 (+2"586)
8. J. Trulli - Toyota - 1'06"725 (+2"877)
Marco Andretti spins on first lap Marco Andretti spins on first lapThe Indy Star reports that Marco Andretti, the 18-year-old son of IndyCar owner Michael Andretti and grandson of former Indianapolis 500 winner Mario Andretti, spun out today on the first lap of his first practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He did not make contact with the wall and was not injured. The younger Andretti is a rookie in the Infiniti Pro Series, the IRL's developmental program, and will make his debut April 3 at St. Petersburg, Fla., the third of the series' 14 events this year. Driving a Dallara-Infiniti for Andretti Green Racing, the team co-owned by his father, Marco was first on the track and spun in the first turn of the speedway's 2.6-mile road course during today's open test. Also on the track were rookies Al Unser, the son of two-time 500 winner Al Unser Jr., Jeff Simmons, Larry Connor, Marty Roth, Nick Bussell, G.J. Mennen and Wade Cunningham. Other drivers in the Infiniti series include season points leader Jon Herb, who has one victory this year, and Arie Luyendyk Jr., son of two-time Indy winner Arie Luyendyk. Marco Andretti was the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Southern Series champion last year.
Panther announces 2nd car for Lazier at Indy Panther announces 2nd car for Lazier at IndyPanther Racing, the two-time IndyCar Series Champions and winningest team in Indy Racing League history, is pleased to announce that they have entered into a partnership with Jonathan Byrd II and David Byrd for the formation of Byrd Brothers/Panther Racing. The Byrd Brothers/Panther Racing team has signed 1996 Indianapolis 500 Champion and 2000 IndyCar Champion Buddy Lazier to drive the No. 95 Jonathan Byrd's Cafeteria/Panther Racing/ESPN 950/Dallara/Chevrolet in the 2005 Indianapolis 500.
Scott Speed fast in first F1 test Scott Speed fast in first F1 testNeel Jani and Scott Speed had the opportunity to test with Red Bull, the latest experiencing F1 for the first time. The American driver was impressive, finishing with the fastest time of the day at the wheel of last year's car.

"We’re back in Barcelona for just two days this week, testing parts in preparation for next weekend’s race in Bahrain," said Williams Test Team Manager Tim Newton. "With Nick and Antonio on duty for the team, we concentrated on the usual set-up work this morning. While Nick carried out a series of long runs this afternoon, Antonio put the FW27 through its paces practicing starts. Both drivers will return to the track tomorrow.“

1. S. Speed - Red Bull Cosworth - 1'16"122 (+0"000) - 39 laps
2. N. Heidfeld - BMW Williams FW27 - 1'16"674 (+0"552) - 121 laps
3. A. Pizzonia - BMW Williams FW27 - 1'17"160 (+1"038) - 111 laps
4. N. Jani - Red Bull Cosworth - 1'18"037 (+1"915) - 51 laps

Seen at Sebring 6 Seen at Sebring 6We talked to someone from TV Azteca here in Sebring and they will broadcast 8 Champ Car races live in Mexico this year with the rest being tape delayed........Hearing that some more big announcements are coming out of Champ Car in the next 45 days, some at Long Beach........Hearing that mainstream media is picking up on Champ Car going to Beijing and we may see something tonight on CBS and NBC........Bruno Junqueira will test on the long course at Sebring next week for Newman/Haas, the first ever Champ Car test on the long course as far as we know. Mark C.
Bourdais turns smashing lap time Bourdais turns smashing lap timeThe track is faster today in Sebring and the lap times are tumbling. Sebastien Bourdais is fastest so far with a 51.1 second lap. Several drivers are down to 51.6 including Andrew Ranger and Alex Tagliani. More later...
HVM, Verstappen and Bremer Up to Speed at Sebring HVM, Verstappen and Bremer Up to Speed at SebringUPDATE Ronnie Bremer says on his website today that after yesterday's test with HVM he is 99% certain of being on the grid at Long Beach, but with which team?  Forsythe may also have an opening as they have said they are prepared to run 3 or even 4 cars if the drivers have enough sponsorship.  Mark C. 03/24/05 Preparing for their fifth year of Champ Car competition and coming off their strongest season thus far, HVM is in Sebring, Florida, participating in the “Florida Fling,” Champ Car’s two-day pre-season test at Sebring International Raceway on March 23 and 24th.

Two of Europe’s finest racers made their Champ Car debut today with HVM, Dutchman Jos Verstappen and Denmark’s Ronnie Bremer completed nearly 200 miles combined, despite the less than perfect track conditions caused by wind and rain.

Accomplished Formula One driver Jos Verstappen made a first impression that his potential competitors will not soon forget, setting the third quickest time of the day with a 51.82 second lap on the 1.3-mile road course. He completed 97 trouble-free laps and wasted no time acclimating himself to the HVM Lola, “There is a lot to get used to with these cars compared to a Formula 1 car,” stated Verstappen. “I have to get used to a lot of things, especially for me today getting a feel of running on cold tires and brakes. The HVM team works very well together and they are very easy to work with. I am happy with today’s run and feeling pretty good. I am looking forward to seeing what will happen.”

Ronnie Bremer is a product of the Champ Car Ladder System. He excelled in the Toyota Atlantic series in 2004 and demonstrated today that the Ladder System is a proven training ground. Up to speed immediately, Bremer was one of the quickest cars on track in the morning session and set his quickest time of 52.62 relatively early in the day. Due to the inclement weather he was unable to maximize his third and final set of fresh Bridgestone tires. Bremer commented on his debut, “The Champ Car is phenomenal and today was a fantastic experience. I learned a lot from the engineers, HVM is a very talented team and we were able to run quick, consistent laps without any problems. The Champ Car has quite a lot more power that the Atlantic car but it is very natural to drive and I look forward to the future.”

Keith Wiggins, Co-Owner and Managing Director commented on the performance of the perspective HVM drivers, “I am very happy with both drivers, they did a great job, didn’t make any mistakes and were quick from the word go.”  Testing continues tomorrow, Thursday, with Mexicans Mario Dominguez and Roberto Gonzalez.

Alabama drops out of HOF race Alabama drops out of HOF raceAn Alabama group has dropped its campaign to be the home of a proposed NASCAR Hall of Fame, reducing Charlotte's competition for the project to five rival bidders. On Wednesday, The Associated Press reported that Neal Wade, director of the Alabama Development Office, called a halt to the campaign to put the hall of fame between Birmingham and Talladega. Bids are due May 31 for the facility, which will likely cost $75 million to $100 million. At the same time, plans for a bid by Daytona, Fla., are also shifting. Early talks centered on the state providing as much as $75 million in funding. Now, according to reports in The Orlando Sentinel, Daytona museum backers are aiming for $30 million to be raised by selling NASCAR license plates. Beyond Charlotte and Daytona, the bidders are Atlanta; Kansas City, Mo.; Richmond, Va.; and the state of Michigan. Charlotte Business Journal/Daily Home
Ferrari decides to race new car in Bahrain Ferrari decides to race new car in BahrainFerrari will give their new F2005 car its race debut in Bahrain next week, the Formula One champions said on Thursday.  "We decided this morning," a spokesman said.  The decision was taken after seven-times champion Michael Schumacher drove the car for the first time at the Mugello circuit on Wednesday.
NASCAR sponsorship good for business NASCAR sponsorship good for businessAccording to the Business Journal of Kansas City, 24 companies which undertook NASCAR sponsorships between 1995 and 2001 saw the value of their stock rise by an average of $324 million. Credit for the study was given to professor Stephen Pruitt of the U of Missouri-Kansas City’s H.W. Bloch School of Business and Public Administration and co-writers T. Bettina Cornwell of the U of Queensland in Australia and J.M. Clark of the U of Southern Mississippi. The study reported NASCAR sponsorships have a more positive effect on company stock prices than stadium naming rights.
Industry News
Texas withdraws tax proposal Texas withdraws tax proposalTexas Motor Speedway abandons a proposed promotional deal.  Texas Motor Speedway on Tuesday withdrew a marketing proposal for the city to spend about $500,000 to promote races and other local events.   The proposal, publicly discussed at City Hall last month, would have teamed the speedway with the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau to market races -- and Fort Worth -- over the next 20 years. "We took the opportunity off the table," TMS President Eddie Gossage said. "As we continued to talk to the city, they wanted more and more and more.  "We simply couldn't provide them with what they wanted," he said. "It wasn't a good business deal."  He declined to elaborate specifically on the city's demands but estimated the value of the publicity to the city at $5 million. StarTelegram
ISC Plans in NYC ISC Plans in NYCNASCAR's New York speedway plans are becoming clearer. The France family's International Speedway Corp., is planning a three-quarter-mile track, similar in style to Richmond's, on Staten Island. ISC said that it would bring the expected 95,000 race-day fans to the track on a fleet of 950 buses and 100 ferries, from 16 parking lots around the city. Winston Salem-Journal
Industry News
CT approves Zoning for Dome Track CT approves Zoning for Dome TrackA proposal that could bring a racetrack and convention center to eastern Connecticut has passed its first test.  The Plainfield Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday night approved an amendment to its zoning regulations to establish a zone incorporating the project. The change would allow land off Interstate 395 to be used for a proposed indoor racetrack.  Local officials voted 4-1 to approve the application of New England Raceway LLC and Connecticut Yankee Greyhound Racing Inc.  A second application by the developers to designate more than 1,100 acres for inclusion into the zone is scheduled to be decided by the commission on April 12.  According to New England Raceway's Web site, the domed track would seat more than 100,000 people and could also host concerts, trade shows and expositions.  More on track at New England Raceway
Davidson fastest at Paul Ricard Davidson fastest at Paul RicardAnthony Davidson set the fastest time in this week's first day of testing at the Paul Ricard circuit. The BAR driver was only marginally quicker than Ricardo Zonta, second fastest in his Toyota.
1 . A. Davidson - BAR Honda 007 - 1:04.176 (+ 0.000 ) - 167 laps
2 . R. Zonta - Toyota - 1:04.213 (+ 0.037 ) - 121 laps
3 . P. de la Rosa - McLaren Mercedes MP4-19B - 1:04.305 (+ 0.129 ) - 129 laps
4 . A. Wurz - McLaren Mercedes MP4-19B - 1:04.613 (+ 0.437 ) - 117 laps
5 . H. Kovalainen - Renault R25 - 1:04.827 (+ 0.651 ) - 143 laps
6 . F. Montagny - Renault R25 - 1:04.912 (+ 0.736 ) - 150 laps
7 . O. Panis - Toyota - 1:05.581 (+ 1.405 ) - 70 laps
8 . E. Bernoldi - BAR Honda 006C - 1:06.044 (+ 1.868 ) - 176 laps.
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Schu in imperfect F2005
Bernie did a deal with banks
BAR on top in France
Finn to be Renault 'reserve'
Liuzzi's haircut
McLaren to challenge Renault
Full-'Speed'-ahead to F1
'Webber will win' - Williams
GPWC to settle on name change
Ferrari debut 3-seater F1
BRDC member arrested
Verstappen on form
Ferrari defend 'old' car call
Did Renault snub test accord?
Industry News
Johnson Controls to buy piece of Delphi Johnson Controls to buy piece of DelphiAutomotive interiors maker Johnson Controls Inc. Tuesday said it has agreed to buy Delphi Corp.'s global auto battery business for $212.5 million in a move to participate in the rapidly growing Asian auto battery market.  Johnson Controls (Research), in conjunction with the deal, also expects to receive a global long-term contract to supply General Motors Corp. (Research) with original-equipment batteries.

The deal, now covered by a nonbinding letter of intent, is subject to adjustments, Johnson Controls said.  The transaction is expected to close in the summer, subject to the signing of a final agreement and other conditions, including the GM supply contract and talks with union-represented workers, Johnson Controls and Delphi said.

Exclusive photos of proposed San Jose track Exclusive photos of proposed San Jose trackOur Paul Castoro snapped these photos on a very rainy day of the new proposed San Jose Champ Car track that hit the newswires today:


Industry News
Miller and Edwards on Wind Tunnel Miller and Edwards on Wind TunnelWind Tunnel With Dave Despain will have 2 Co-Hosts sharing the spotlight with Dave this Sunday, March 27: Roush Racing’s new phenom, Carl Edwards, and SPEED Channel Analyst, Robin Miller.

This past weekend in Atlanta, Carl Edwards did something that nobody had ever done before him – he not only won his first career NASCAR Busch Series race on Saturday, but he also won his first career NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race on Sunday! For a driver who is racing in his first full season in both divisions, that’s simply amazing! As far as quick studies go, there doesn’t seem to be any quicker than young Edwards. We’ll talk with Carl about his quick rise to the top along with the whirlwind of attention that comes with it.

And for those of you that either love him or hate him, Robin Miller will drop by the studio to share his latest array of controversial thoughts. Whatever he has to say, you can bet it will stir things up a bit.

Long Beach race adds yet another sponsor Long Beach race adds yet another sponsorGood Neighbor Pharmacy has found there’s good marketing medicine in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.  Continuing its long standing association with the Grand Prix as the event’s “Official Pharmacy,” Good Neighbor Pharmacy, a division of AmerisourceBergen, will team with Salonpas for a pre-race retail promotion that provides free Friday ticket vouchers to any race fan purchasing a Salonpas product in any Southern California-area Good Neighbor Pharmacy location.  Good Neighbor Pharmacy and Salonpas will also be one of the highlights of the Auto Club Lifestyle Expo, where they will have a “wellness’ exhibit at which attendees will be able to receive information and limited testing on various health elements.  In addition to the pre-race retail promotion and Expo involvement, event branding will help promote the company name to a world-wide TV audience.   “For Good Neighbor Pharmacy, the Toyota Grand Prix is a superb vehicle to showcase our company,” said Michael Quick, AmerisourceBergen Vice President of Retail Sales.  “It gives us unparalleled reach to more than 175,000 race fans who will come away from the event with a greater awareness of our complete stock of the Good Neighbor Brand of vitamins, home medical equipment and over-the-counter remedies.”
Tracy fastest on Day 1 at Sebring Tracy fastest on Day 1 at SebringAs Champ Car's leading active driver in terms of wins, poles, starts and laps led, Paul Tracy is accustomed to having people chasing him around the tracks of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford circuit.

Tracy was again in his familiar spot atop the time charts as a pack of 13 cars took the test track in Sebring Wednesday, but his closest pursuers were an unfamiliar lot as a trio of rookies turned in strong performances on a wind-swept day in Central Florida.

Tracy hustled his Forsythe Championship Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola around the 1.3-mile layout in 51.47 seconds to lead the field as teams prepare for the 2005 Champ Car opener April 8-10. He was the only driver to post 51-second runs in both the morning and evening sessions as he readied himself for a Long Beach race that he has already won four times.

"We worked through our task list today and we're very happy," Tracy said. "The track isn't in the best shape and the weather wasn't working with us today, but to post a fast time is always important for us."

The weather was a major factor today as heavy cloud cover brought rain in the morning and high winds in the afternoon, halting track activity for nearly two hours. But with time running out before the Long Beach opener, teams wrung every drop of sunlight out of the day before shutting down at 7 p.m.

Rocketsports' prospective rookie Timo Glock turned in the second-best time of the day with a morning run of 51.64 seconds. The Sebring outing marks the third time that the former Formula 1 pilot has tested with the Michigan-based squad, and he continues to impress alongside new teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay.

"We have a good car for this testing session," Glock reported. "That is a result from our test in Fontana where we really focused on the setup. We went out on two sets of tires today. We had some problems with the rear brake pads, and I am still getting used to the car as well. The second set of tires posed as a problem for the car, as I kept battling in Turn One. We went back to the original set of tires and posted our quickest time of the day."

Another former Formula 1 driver opened eyes in the Champ Car paddock today as Jos Verstappen broke into the 51s with a best lap of 51.82 in his first day of testing with HVM Inc. Verstappen, a veteran of 107 F1 starts, made his first test in a Champ Car today and showed that he wouldn't take long to get acclimated.

"There is a lot to get used to with these cars compared to a Formula 1 car," stated Verstappen. "I have to get used to a lot of things, especially for me today getting a feel of running on cold tires and brakes. The HVM team works very well together and they are very easy to work with. I am happy with today's run and feeling pretty good. I am looking forward to seeing what will happen."

The last driver to post 51-second laps is the series' newest shoe as Canadian Andrew Ranger clocked a 51.97-second lap in his new Mi-Jack/Conquest machine. The day featured a number of new faces as well as some popular returnees. Former FIA International F3000 champion Bjorn Wirdheim ran with Dale Coyne Racing while veteran Oriol Servia made his first 2005 test appearance with alongside the rookie.

"Overall, it was great to get back in the car after four months and turning some laps," Servia said. "The car was ok, and I was pleased to see that the car was not much different from last season, so that gives us something to work with. "

Ronnie Bremer ran in the second HVM Inc. machine today as the Indianapolis-based team auditioned a pair of drivers for a potential opening. The 2004 Toyota Atlantic competitor showed his ability later in the afternoon as he shaved a half-second off his best time for the morning. Last season's winner of the Bosch Most Improved Driver Award Rodolfo Lavin turned his first laps alongside Paul Tracy in the Forsythe machines today, running a full day and finding more than a second in the afternoon.

Former series champions Cristiano da Matta and Sebastien Bourdais did not run today, but are expected to test tomorrow at the Sebring short course layout.

The following are unofficial times from Wednesday's testing at Sebring. These times were provided by Cosworth Racing engineers.

1) Paul Tracy, Forsythe Championship Racing - 51.47
2) Timo Glock, Rocketsports Racing - 51.64
3) Jos Verstappen, HVM Inc. - 51.82
4) Andrew Ranger, Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing - 51.97
5) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Rocketsports Racing - 52.06
6) Rodolfo Lavin, Forsythe Championship Racing - 52.10
7) Nelson Philippe, Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing - 52.13
8) Jimmy Vasser, PKV Racing - 52.39
9) Alex Tagliani, Walker Racing - 52.57
10) Oriol Servia, Dale Coyne Racing - 52.60
11) Marcus Marshall, Walker Racing - 52.60
12) Ronnie Bremer, HVM Inc. - 52.62
13) Bjorn Wirdheim, Dale Coyne Racing - 52.92
More Champ Car TV news More Champ Car TV newsChamp Car reported tonight that with the announcement today of Champ Car racing in Beijing, the Chinese government wants to broadcast all Champ Car races in 2005. They also want to get Chinese drivers and a Champ Car team into Champ Car as soon as possible. The Beijing race will be on a significantly upgraded and lengthened Goldenport Park natural terrain road course. More on China to follow.
Champ Car TV news Champ Car TV newsAt the last minute Champ Car has added qualifying broadcasts for 8 races on SPEED as well as a half-hour preview show that will air April 2nd at 3:00 PM on SPEED. We reported other overseas venue TV news earlier today. A new company, Traveling Light Media, is on board to help enhance the TV product.
Champ Car announces Race in Beijing Champ Car announces Race in BeijingAs part of the continuing effort to carry the excitement of the Champ Car World Series to new fans and markets both in the United States and around the world, the series announced today that it had reached an agreement to stage a race in Beijing, China in 2006. Full Story
Tracy fastest Tracy fastestPaul Tracy turned four consecutive laps at 51.4 sec. late in the day to top Champ Car testing today at Sebring.
Industry News
California Speedway President resigns California Speedway President resignsWilliam G. Miller, President of California Speedway since Sept. 2000, announced his resignation from the speedway effective March 31, 2005.  No permanent replacement for Miller has been named at this time.  Phoenix International Raceway President Bryan Sperber will oversee operations of the speedway until a replacement is named.
"There is never a perfect time to leave an organization, but I thought now would be best for me and my family," Miller said.  "It also gives the team here time to work toward its two upcoming events in April and prepare for the Labor Day NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event.  It's been an honor and a pleasure to work with this team and our family of sponsors and partners."
John Saunders, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of International Speedway Corporation (ISC) stated, "Bill's reputation of leadership, integrity and credibility within the industry is exemplary. While we respect his desire to capitalize on this as well as his extensive experience, we also regret seeing someone of Bill's caliber leave our team and wish him and his family nothing but the best."

During his tenure as President, the speedway experienced unprecedented growth in the event schedule and facility usage, including two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series weekends, bringing the total to six major spectator events promoted by the speedway.  With the opening of the road course and drag strip in 2001, the facility quickly gained the reputation as one of the most multi-purpose venues in the country.  In 2004, the facility was in use over 330 calendar days.
"It was my dream to manage a top-tier professional motorsports facility.  I've lived and enjoyed that experience to the fullest," Miller said.  "I've learned and worked for some of the best in the business. ISC and Penske Motorsports gave me the tools and the opportunity to be successful and grow the sport.  I am grateful for their support and proud of all that my team and I have accomplished. It's time to focus on new challenges and opportunities to apply my leadership skills and add value to a new organization."

Drivers expect a smooth ride on IMS road course Drivers expect a smooth ride on IMS road courseAl Unser is familiar with Gasoline Alley and the racing oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He's been attending the Indianapolis 500 since he could crawl, watching his father, Al Unser Jr., compete.

On March 24, Unser will drive a race car for the first time at the Brickyard when he tests the No. 3 Brian Stewart Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone on the 3.4-mile road course. On June 19, the Menards Infiniti Pro Series for the first time will compete on the road course as part of the U.S. Grand Prix.

The test is free and open to the public.

"I've never been around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track," Unser said. "Well, actually I have in an Oscar Mayer wiener mobile, but that was a long time ago. I've never driven around the track. I'm excited to run the road course there. It's definitely a style of road course that will fit these cars, because of the monoshock.

"It's a nice, smooth F1-style track. It's designed for the F1 cars, and the monoshock was designed in thought of an F1 car. It will tell us a lot on how the car is going to handle on a road course."

It also will give drivers, including Unser, some seat time with the 40-lap race on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., coming up April 3.

"Driving these cars, turning right, I haven't done that yet," Unser said. "I hope to get down to Sebring (Fla.) though and test there, because St. Pete is a street course, and it will be bumpy, and Indy is not bumpy."

Another famous Indianapolis 500 name - Andretti - will be represented at the test. Marco Andretti will make his Menards Infiniti Pro Series debut at St. Petersburg.

"I'm excited to see what he can do and what Andretti Green Racing can do," Unser said. "If they can do the same thing they do in the IndyCar Series in the Pro Series, then we're in trouble."

Vision Racing's Jay Drake also is looking forward to gaining experience on the road course.

"By all definitions, I'm going to be a rookie there," the former USAC driver said. "I'm looking forward to it. I took a three-day Russell Racing school out at Sonoma a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully that's going to benefit me and be a big help. I'm looking forward to running the road courses. It will be exciting to stay the least."

Bucknum passes rookie test Bucknum passes rookie testJeff Bucknum passed his Indy Racing League rookie test at the Phoenix International Raceway on March 20, roughly 12 hours after winning the LTP2 class in the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Bucknum, the son of three-time Indianapolis 500 starter Ronnie Bucknum, will drive a second Dreyer & Reinbold Racing entry at Twin Ring Motegi and Indianapolis, with a primary sponsorship from Investment Properties of America. His No. 44 Honda-powered Dallara will carry the same red and blue color scheme as teammate Roger Yasukawa.

"I've driven a lot of miles at Phoenix, but this was my first time in an IndyCar (Series car), and it felt great to get the car up to speed," Bucknum said. "I've been racing for years, but the whole deal with pit stops was all really new. I've got a lot to learn with the stop and goes in traffic, but I'm looking forward to working with the team."

NASCAR appeal ruling NASCAR appeal ruling48 Team: On March 22, 2005, the National Stock Car Racing Commission heard and considered the Appeal of Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus concerning three penalties assessed by NASCAR relative to the #48 car following the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 13, 2005. The infractions concerned Section 12-4-A of the NASCAR Rule Book “Actions detrimental to stock car racing” and Section 12-4-Q “Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the car, car parts, components, and/or equipment used in the Event do not conform to NASCAR rules: roof height too low in post-race inspection.”

The penalties assessed were:
• Loss of 25 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Championship Car Owner Points for car owner Jeff Gordon.
• Loss of 25 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Championship Driver Points for Jimmie Johnson.
• $35,000.00 fine and suspension from NASCAR until April 6, 2005 and suspension from the next two (2) NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races for crew chief Chad Knaus.

The car was in violation of the rules at the conclusion of the race. This was not contested during the hearing.

Upon review of the evidence presented, and by a majority vote, it is the decision of the National Stock Car Racing Commission to uphold the penalties assessed against Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson and to amend the penalty assessed against Chad Knaus as follows:
$35,000.00 fine. Probation for 90 days, effective from the date of this Hearing.
This decision pertains specifically to the evidence presented in this Appeal. The Commission’s rulings do not have a bearing on existing or announced NASCAR enforcement policies. The Appellant has the right under Section 15 of the Rule Book to appeal this decision to the National Stock Car Racing Commissioner. Commission were John Cooper, Jack Housby, George Silbermann, Chairman. NASCAR

#5 Team: On March 22, 2005, the National Stock Car Racing Commission heard and considered the Appeal of Rick Hendrick, Kyle Busch and Alan Gustafson concerning three penalties assessed by NASCAR relative to the #5 car following the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 13, 2005. The infractions concerned Section 12-4-A of the NASCAR Rule Book “Actions detrimental to stock car racing” and Section 12-4-Q “Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the car, car parts, components, and/or equipment used in the Event do not conform to NASCAR rules: quarter panel heights too high in post-race inspection.”

The penalties assessed were:
• Loss of 25 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Championship Car Owner Points for car owner Rick Hendrick.
• Loss of 25 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Championship Driver Points for Kyle Busch.
• $25,000 fine and suspension from NASCAR until April 6, 2005 and suspension from the next two (2) NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races for crew chief Alan Gustafson.

The car was in violation of the rules at the conclusion of the race. This was not contested during the hearing.

Upon review of the evidence presented, and by a majority vote, it is the decision of the National Stock Car Racing Commission to uphold the penalties assessed against Rick Hendrick and Kyle Busch and to amend the penalty assessed against Alan Gustafson as follows:

$25,000.00 fine. Probation for 90 days, effective from the date of this Hearing.

This decision pertains specifically to the evidence presented in this Appeal. The Commission’s rulings do not have a bearing on existing or announced NASCAR enforcement policies. The Appellant has the right under Section 15 of the Rule Book to appeal this decision to the National Stock Car Racing Commissioner. Commission were John Cooper, Jack Housby, George Silbermann, Chairman. NASCAR

What Does this mean? Everything stands EXCEPT the suspensions to Knaus and Gustafson have been rescinded.

Verstappen sets a fast time Verstappen sets a fast timeDutchman Jos Verstappen turned a fast lap late in the day here at Sebring of 51.82 seconds according to the team timing and scoring, which is quite spectacular given it was his first day ever in a Champ Car. The only faster times that we have heard so far was Timo Glock at 51.64 and Paul Tracy at 51.76. However, cars are still on the track. Testing was delayed for several hours due to high winds in central Florida. We will have a complete rundown of times later.
Seen at Sebring 4 Seen at Sebring 4More scenes from Sebring:

Timo Glock (L) and Ronnie Bremer

Atlantic teams gear up for 2005 Atlantic teams gear up for 2005There will be some familiar faces and plenty of new blood in the mix when the 32nd season of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama gets underway April 8-10 with the crown jewel on the 2005 calendar – the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Several teams have already announced their ’05 driver lineups in the Atlantic series. Top returning teams Brooks Associates Racing and Polestar Racing Group will each field two-car programs with Brooks running Brazilian Fernando Rees and 2004 Formula BMW champion Andreas Wirth, and Polestar also carrying a dynamic duo in Canadian hot shoe Antoine Bessette and talented British racer Katherine Legge. McAtee Motorsports recently announced that it has joined the series this year with a two-car effort for Brian McAtee and Kyle Kelley.

A number of other teams have also solidified their plans for the upcoming season and several more have announced programs that are in place for the opening race of the year in Long Beach.

One of last season’s surprises as a rookie driver, Tonis Kasemets, will return to the Atlantic field in ’05 with a full-season effort. After a couple of off-season Champ Car test sessions, Kasemets will compete for Dan Cobb Racing/Team Tonis in the championship class while Dan Cobb will pilot a C2 entry for the team this season. Jensen Motorsport will return for its eighth season in the series with owner/driver Eric Jensen behind the wheel, while 2004’s C2 championship team – Binder Racing – will return with another owner/driver, Cam Binder, trying to defend his title.

Established sportscar road racer Chris Dyson, who made his Atlantic debut in ’04, also returns to the series this season. Thetford/Norcold Dyson Racing will kick off the year at Long Beach and will contest several more Atlantic events in 2005. Olsson Engineering will be back on the grid with talented C2 competitor Tony Loniewski returning for his second season.

Looking to make a strong run in the expanded C2 class this season, Mark Ishikawa will make his series debut at Long Beach as he brings the Ishikawa Racing Group team to the Atlantic series and plans to run the majority of races on the ’05 calendar.

Longtime Atlantic competitor P-1 Racing will bring a familiar face to the Atlantic paddock in Long Beach as former series standout Rocky Moran Jr., a two-time Atlantic race winner, returns to the track with his old team.

After making his Atlantic debut at Long Beach last season and winning the C2 class at the race he followed so closely growing up in Southern California, Justin Sofio returns to try and make it two wins in a row on the streets of Long Beach. Sofio has worked as a mechanic in the series for several years and still serves in that capacity on the Binder Racing team, but he’ll make his second career Atlantic start next month on the popular 1.968-mile street circuit with sponsorship from Bare Elegance/Valley Ball.

Two drivers who made their first career starts in Atlantic last season at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will return to compete in this year’s race. Dan Selznick will run for The Room Store team while Tom Nastasi will compete in C2 for Black Forest Motorsports. Newcomer Ben Johnston will also compete in a Black Forest Motorsports car at the opener.

Veteran racer Bob Siska will field a C2 entry at the Grand Prix with RJS Motorsports while Lee Atkins will make his first Atlantic start for Atkins Racing, also in the C2 class. The US Racetronics team will also field a rookie C2 entry as young Roby Feazell will also make series debut at Long Beach.

Several other teams are also trying to put together programs for the 12-race 2005 season and additional announcements are expected in the next week or so.

Seen at Sebring 3 Seen at Sebring 3Some early scenes from Sebring this morning:

Ronnie Bremer (L) and Jos Verstappen

Bourdais' car (L) Jos Verstappen (Center) and Ronnie Bremer (R) 
All photos by Mark Cipolloni

Seen at Sebring 2 Seen at Sebring 2Fastest so far today in testing at Sebring is Paul Tracy at 51.7. Verstappen's best lap so far is 52.3 seconds. More later.....
Industry News
World of Outlaw Star to Race for Evernham World of Outlaw Star to Race for EvernhamEvernham Motorsports driver and World of Outlaws phenom Erin Crocker will make her first start in the ARCA Re/MAX series this weekend at Nashville Speedway. She will be driving the No. 98 Evernham Motorsports Dodge. This weekend, she will pilot Evernham Motorsports’ ARCA series Dodge on the 1.33-mile tri-oval speedway under the guidance of Ray Evernham. She will run several additional ARCA races this season, and will make her NASCAR Busch Series debut later this season. She also will compete in the USAC Silver Crown Series in a car fielded by Kasey Kahne Racing. “It is one thing to make laps when you are on your own. There is a lot more to it on race day with pit stops, restarts, and cars all around me. So we are off to a good start but it is only the very beginning. I am really looking forward to this weekend. I can’t wait to run my first race with Evernham Motorsports. I can't say it enough how thankful I am for this opportunity.” said Erin, who is just turning 24 years old. Crocker comes to Evernham Motorsports from the open-wheel ranks. She began her racing career in a Quarter Midget at the age of seven and is the only female to win a World of Outlaws (WoO) race. After spending the early part of the 2003 season competing in the USAC Silver Crown Series, Crocker returned to the dirt winged sprint cars. Crocker earned a bachelor’s degree in Industrial and Management Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. in 2003.Here is another engineering graduate suiting up as a race car driver. With the technology involved in racing these days, you may see many more engineering grads following in the footsteps of Erin Crocker and Ryan Newman.- Doug B
Dover to Complete SAFER Barrier Installation Dover to Complete SAFER Barrier InstallationThe final installation of the SAFER barriers at Dover International Speedway is underway, and will be completed in time for the June 3-5, 2005 MBNA race weekend. The SAFER (Steel And Foam Energy Reduction system) barrier walls consist of rectangular steel tubing backed by foam blocks, and reduces the force of the initial impact of a crash. Approximately 3,600 feet of tubing, primarily in the turns of the one-mile track, will be installed. Drivers and fans shouldn't expect a major difference in the on-track action at the Monster Mile. Known for its sweeping, wide turns, the SAFER barrier will extend approximately 30" from outside walls at Dover International Speedway. NASCAR's initiative to increase the safety of its competitors is one we wholeheartedly support," said Denis McGlynn, president and CEO of Dover Motorsports, Inc. "We are pleased the SAFER barrier installation will be complete for our June 3-5 race weekend." Before the Sept. 24-26, 2004 race weekend, the inside wall of the backstretch was rebuilt, and SAFER barriers were installed. The inside backstretch wall also serves as the retaining wall for Dover Downs Raceway, which features harness racing from November through April. Crews removed 1,132 feet of the 8" thick concrete block wall, and a 12" rebar-reinforced, poured concrete wall was installed. Dover International Speedway has been waiting on additional recommendations from expert advisor Dr. Dean Sicking, of the Midwest Roadside Safety Facility at the University of Nebraska, to proceed with the installation of SAFER barriers on other locations at the track. Each SAFER barrier system is tailor-made to address each track's design challenges. Because Dover has steel boilerplate walls, and additional reinforcement of the walls is also necessary, the engineering surveys took additional time to complete. With the completion of the installation at Dover International Speedway, Dover Motorsports, Inc. will have SAFER barriers in place at all of its facilities for their 2005 events. This includes the Nashville Superspeedway, Gateway International Raceway and Memphis Motorsports Park. Dover International Speedway PR
Hendrick Comments on Rescinded Suspensions Hendrick Comments on Rescinded SuspensionsTeam owner Rick Hendrick today commented on the results of Tuesday's NASCAR appeal hearing, which today rescinded the suspensions of two Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs. "I appreciate NASCAR giving us the opportunity to present the facts," Hendrick said. "From our perspective it's important everyone, especially our fans, know that we absolutely had no intention of breaking any rules. This sport has a rule book for good reason, and it's vital it be enforced. As an owner, I know it's equally important to have a just forum for teams and a fair system of checks and balances. We respect NASCAR's decision and look forward to carrying some momentum into Bristol." Hendrick Motorsports
Seen in Sebring 1 Seen in Sebring 1Seen this morning at Sebring - 4 drivers are testing for HVM over the next 2 days - Ronnie Bremer and Jos Verstappen today, and Roberto Gonzalez and Mario Dominguez tomorrow. We spoke to both Bremer and Verstappen during a rain break and both were thoroughly impressed with their first time in a Champ Car. They were 2nd and 3rd quick this morning behind Paul Tracy.

Bruno Junqueira is here but not testing, just Bourdais. The two Newman/Haas cars will carry McDonald's and Pacificare sponsorship.

Rodolfo Lavin is in the 2nd Forsythe car and it is expected he will land the 2nd Forsythe seat.

Because of the off and on showers, some teams have stopped running to not exceed the 50 mile limit over which it counts as an official test day. If the weather clears they will run again. At noon the rain has stopped. More later.....
Edwards car almost fully sponsored Edwards car almost fully sponsoredRoush Racing Ford has sponsors listed for all but the two New Hamphsire races. Scotts/Ortho, Office Depot will be the sponsor for most of the races, along with AAA [2 races at MIS and 1 at Indy], World Financial Group [3 races - Las Vegas and Tallagega - Oct and with Aegon at Pocono in June], Pennzoil at Daytona in July and something called Renessaince at Kansas. Some rumors for sponsors at New Hampshire include the Boston Red Sox and Intel. See the Roush Racing website for more.
Industry News
STP rep dies STP rep diesLongtime STP public relations representative Harvey Duck passed away Tuesday, March 22nd. He was 80 years old. Duck was the long-time Public Relations Rep for STP.
Two out of two for Renault Two out of two for RenaultThe Renault F1 Team has begun its 2005 campaign with some first- class results. Giancarlo Fisichella won the Australian GP two weeks ago, while team-mate Fernando Alonso Sunday took victory in Malaysia. The two men lead the drivers’ championship, while Renault is on top of the Constructors’ Championship.

A Renault car hasn’t accomplished the feat of successive victories since the RE30B did so in 1982. Then, it was also at the first two races of the season: Alain Prost won in South Africa (23 January) then in Brazil on 23 March.

That year, the team finished the championship third, behind Ferrari and McLaren. The team are hoping that history does not repeat itself throughout the season as a whole....

“It’s too early to know what will happen this season,” Alonso explained. “But what’s sure is that I’ve never been in such a good position to fight for the championship. In 2003, we are quick on some circuits but not others. In 2004, we were quick at the start of the year, but not the end. This year, Renault seems like the best team – at the moment..."

For Alonso, he takes the honor of not only leading the World Championship standings after two rounds, but also becoming the first Spanish Formula One to lead the Championship race. "It’s a dream come true,” Alonso admitted.

Heading to Bahrain for the third round of the championship, Renault will be looking to make it three straight wins in a row. While Alonso remains confident, he does expect his rivals - including Michael Schumacher - to fight back strongly.

“Toyota, Williams and McLaren will make life hard for us," Alonso continued. "Ferrari will be back when they have fixed their problems. Michael will be fighting up there, for sure. We need to make the most of their drop in speed to score as many points as possible, because I am sure we will have difficult races this year as well. We need to score as many points as possible while they are struggling.” Renault

Paddock news from Sepang Paddock news from SepangAs usual, the heat and humidity was the main talking point in the Sepang paddock. There were suggestions this could have been the hottest race on record, but people with very long memories reckoned there had been hotter ones back in the Fifties in South America. The 1978 Argentinean Grand Prix was also a scorcher and temperatures were so high that the fire extinguisher in Mario Andretti’s Lotus actually exploded in the heat!

Despite the heat, Bernie Ecclestone looked as cool as a cucumber in his trademark white shirt, as he did his usual pre-race grid walkabout. After the Grand Prix the F1 supremo claimed that the exciting race vindicated this year’s changes to the technical regulations and qualifying format.

Ferrari boss Jean Todt featured heavily in all the local Malaysian papers, as he has recently got engaged to former Bond film star, Michelle Yeoh, who is of Malaysian descent and starred alongside Pierce Brosnan in 'Tomorrow Never Dies' as well as acting in martial arts film, 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.' Later this week, the Italian team will decide whether or not to bring its new car, the F2005 to the next round in Bahrain.
Former McLaren driver, David Coulthard, has had a good start to the season. Now driving for Red Bull Racing, he has scored points in both races this season and after picking up three points for sixth place in Malaysia, he became the highest scoring British driver in the history of the world championship. Another one for statistics lovers: when Jarno Trulli finished second for Toyota, he gave the Japanese company their first ever Formula One podium since they came into the sport in 2002.

The burning sun that shone all weekend in Malaysia, disappeared for a while in the early stages of the race, as smoke from a nearby jungle fire drifted into the area in the early afternoon.

Ferrari came under fire for ignoring F1 testing restrictions, by testing in the week of a Grand Prix. All the other teams with the exception of Sauber signed a document which stated that: “We believe that this attitude is highly disrespectful to the sport and we strongly request that Ferrari reconsiders its position in regard to testing constraints..."

There was a very low ‘Celeb’ guest count in Malaysia, apart from the appearance of ageing rock band, Status Quo, who played a post-race concert at the track. West

Minassian tests at Paul Ricard Minassian tests at Paul RicardNicolas Minassian tested his Creation sports car yesterday at the Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track in France, it was the perfect day, temperatures around 19-20 degrees Celsius, sunny and not a breath of wind as he took to the track for a full day's testing. "We ran from 9am to 6pm with only an hour for lunch, it was an excellent test session, the best so far this year," commented Minassian. "We ran a full program, some aero work and some set up on many short runs throughout the day. We did no extended runs, but everytime we made a change things were going in the right direction, what more can you ask. The car is improving all the time and this track is perfect preparation for the LMES season and for the Le Mans 24 Hours. We have an official test here in just over a week and the work we have done today will give us a head start for that. I can't wait for the season to start now, I just want to go racing!"
McNish: 'Sebring my most exciting race' McNish: 'Sebring my most exciting race'Allan McNish on Sebring '05...."This must go down as the most exciting race I’ve ever contested. To be separated by seven seconds after 12 hours of hard, no holds barred racing is amazing."
Verstappen gets seat fitting at HVM Verstappen gets seat fitting at HVMUPDATE From Verstappen's website - Monday evening Jos Verstappen flew from Indianapolis to Orlando where he arrived at 9pm local time. Raymond Vermeulen and Jos Verstappen spent the night in a hotel and the next day they traveled to the Sebring circuit. All the teams were present, except RuSPORT (Justin Wilson is one of the drivers for this team), will perform test activities on Wednesday.

Jos is very impressed with the atmosphere and friendliness in Champ Cars. "It's less distant than Formula 1. Everyone talks with each other, just like friends, no formal things. It's completely different than what we are used to. No pit box but just a couple of those extra large trucks with tents built against them." This atmosphere suits Jos, just normality will do for him.

It is the first time that Jos Verstappen visits the Sebring circuit. "I have spoken with the engineers and we have studied the data. After some deliberation we decided that we needed to do some 'tweaking' on the car. My seat is almost ready, it only needs some filing to make it perfect. We also needed to change the position of the steering wheel and the same for the pedals. It's only fractions that have been changed but they are very important for the ideal seating position."

This is what Jos has been doing today at the Sebring circuit. A few drops of rain fell at a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. Ready for tomorrow, first test in a new race class, a new car and on a new circuit.

03/21/05 At 10.00 AM this morning in Indianapolis 33-year old Dutchman Jos Verstappen had his seat molded in one of HVM's Champ Cars in preparation for his first-ever Champ Car test Wednesday in Sebring.  "I have met with several of the staff and my Engineer," said Verstappen.  The car feels good and the pedals were already set to my liking. Here at HVM everyone is very professional.  People are very enthusiastic and the car seems impressive. My first impression is great.  Tomorrow morning we leave for Sebring. I cannot wait for Wednesday morning!"

Photos courtesy of Jos Verstappen's website

Maroney Returns West with Stars Divisional Point Lead Maroney Returns West with Stars Divisional Point LeadCadet driver Miles Maroney of Topanga Canyon, Calif., gets a positive head start as he takes home the Western Division point lead from the kick-off of the Snap-on Stars of Karting national series. Maroney had a calculating and spirited run at Oklahoma Motorsports Complex in Norman March 10-12 among a star-studded Race of the America’s field.  The 38-entry Cadet class produced some of the best racing action of the weekend packed with top competitors consisting of various nationalities.     

Maroney (right leading), who is the defending series Western Division champion, started off the weekend well placing his Josh Robertson-tuned Nevoso Kart atop the time sheets for Friday’s cold and windy practice.  He looked to Saturday for continued success but drastic changes in weather conditions introduced tuning issues that placed Maroney eighth on the grid for the pre-final.  The sixth grade student drove a respectable fourth in the pre-final that would see him starting on the fourth row outside for Sunday’s feature race.   

Mother Nature complicated set-ups again as conditions turned back to cold with extreme wind adding to the already challenging venue.  Focused on the start, Maroney knew it would be a feat to clear turn one without incident.  Only moments earlier, he witnessed three-time World Karting Champion Davidé Fore and other top ICA contenders in a chaotic start that knocked out about 10 drivers from row four back. While ICA got a second chance at re-start, Maroney knew he needed to stay alert, focused and out of trouble when the green dropped for their 17-lap final.   

Turn one was not without incident and chaos ignited when two karts collided forcing Maroney outside, paralyzed and freight-trained back to 20th position.  While the race for the win seemed out of reach at that point, Maroney stayed positive and produced one of the best drives of the weekend.  With a fast, calculating and steady pace, he charged through the field and found himself in contention at race end. 

With one lap to go, Maroney was bunched within the lead pack of eight talented kids.  At points they were three abreast down the front straight of the seven-tenths mile circuit.  Back on the straight as the white flag dropped, the lead two drivers cunningly took the inside line as another two stuck high at their side. Behind those four, Maroney found himself both in chase and fending off three of his peers, each with few options for real-estate change. It was still anyone’s race for the final lap that saw only slight separations through the infield.  Maroney knew a clean exit out of the final turn leading onto the straight was a must to keep him in contention. With that mission accomplished, Maroney gave it all he had attempting an inside move for a spectacular fourth place finish and only two-tenths off the race winner. 

Sage Karam managed the stunning win over Oscar Sanchez and Spencer Pigot as Maroney, Cody Robinson and Gustavo Menezes rounded out the top six. “After the first lap, I said to myself, I’ve got a lot of work to do, but my dad has taught me to drive hard green to checker and never give up.  Everyone drove a great race although there was quite a bit of blocking up front on the last couple of laps.  Staying positive and having the best support really helped me get to the front and I want to thank Josh Robertson, John Nevoso and my Dad for their help.  It’s great to set the tone for the Stars season with a strong finish against the top competition,” Maroney said. 

Maroney is now pumped for his next race for the divisional season opener at Moran Raceway April 22-24.  Focus for 2005 will see Maroney pilot his Alpinestars/ Josh Robertson powered/NevosoKart package in the Stars national series and selected WKA and IKF events. 

With aspirations of a career in motorsports, Maroney is in his fifth year of karting competition and is the 2003 and 2004 California State Cadet Champion.  Other credits include the 2004 Stars Western Division Cadet Champion and the 2004 WKA Manufacturer’s Cup Grand National HPV 1 champion.  Maroney also has regional wins contesting in the IKF region 7 championship series.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Barrichello's broken F2005
Narain dobs-in a doubter
Indian GP 'by 2010'
Red Bull's engine supply
JV boot 'speculation' - agent
'Hard but fair' - Ralf S.
Bridgestone come clean
Only Renault rule Toyota
Michelin man to Toyota
Sato to resume training
Sauber hunt 'third' man
Bernie 'backing down'?
McLaren and their 'third' car
Ferrari unmoved over testing
Formula BMW
Bahrain to host Formula BMW world finale Bahrain to host Formula BMW world finaleBMW has confirmed that it will run a first ever World Final for its Formula BMW category at the end of the year, after announcing on Tuesday that the event will take place in Bahrain in December.

Formula BMW will hold a world finale playoff at the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain on December 13-16, with the best drivers from its four regional series in Germany, Britain, Asia and the United States.

BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen said: "Bahrain is an ideal venue for the first Formula BMW World Final. Even in December, the Gulf region affords good weather conditions for high-caliber motor racing. But what we regard as particularly important is that the circuit boasts first-rate safety standards. We are delighted to have won the Bahrain International Circuit as a partner for our project. Motor racing fans can look forward to a real treat." The winner will get £30,000 and a test in the Williams-BMW Formula One car.

Formula BMW
Formula BMW USA announces drivers Formula BMW USA announces driversBMW of North America, LLC announced today the six 2005 Formula BMW USA Juniors who will receive a $40,000 scholarship and automatic enrollment in Formula BMW USA's Education and Coaching Program.

The drivers who earned the scholarships include two Americans, three Canadians and one Frenchman. Coming from Canada are, Adrien Herberts, 15, of Coquitlam, British Columbia; Kevin LaCroix, 16, of St-Eustache, Quebec; and Robert Wickens, 16, of Etobicoke, Ontario. Junior scholarship winner Wade Van Hooser declined the scholarship and the invitation was extended to the first-alternate, Wickens. If the performance of 2004 Junior driver and Rookie Champion James Hinchcliffe is any indication of the talent North of the border, the 2005 Championship battle will be a tough one. Juniors Justin Moon, 16, of Shingle Springs, Calif. and Reed Stevens, 19, of Palo Alto, Calif. will uphold the honor of the Golden State. Born in France, but making his home in Key Biscayne, Fla.,15-year old Philippe is the younger brother of Champ Car driver Nelson Philippe.

All six Juniors come either directly from karting or have less than one year's experience in a formula car. They will race for the Rookie championship, as well as the overall title.

Joining the six Juniors, 12 more young guns have signed on for the 2005 season. They include returning 2004 drivers Tom Sutherland, 16, and Derek Burseth, 21. Sutherland finished fifth in the 2004 Rookie Championship and 13th in the Overall Championship. Burseth ended the season seventh and 19th respectively. Daniel Herrington, 19, who raced in four rounds of the 2004 Championship, has elected to campaign the entire 2005 season.

International drivers competing in their first season of Formula BMW USA are third-generation Australian driver, James Davison, 18; Brazilian Renato Jader-David, 19; and 21-year-old Maxime Soulet, of Belgium.

U.S. entrants include, Darin Marcus, 17, of Northbrook, Ill.: Nathan DePagter, 16, of Sheboygan Falls, Wis.; John Zartarian, 17, of Carlsbad, Calif.; Matt Lee, 15, of Syosset, NY; Rob Bunker,16, of Bridgewater, NJ; and, with perhaps the coolest racing name since Speed Racer, Race Johnson, 16, of West Linn, Ore.

As the start of the 2005 Formula BMW USA season approaches, officials, teams and drivers are adding the final ingredients to a recipe that will ensure another excellent year of open-wheel racing and produce the next Formula BMW USA Champion.

Over the next two months, three official tests will be held at Road Atlanta, Virginia International Raceway and Carolina Motorsports Park.

2005 Formula BMW USA Schedule
Official Test Road Atlanta March 21-22
Official Test Virginia Int'l Raceway April 9-10
Official Test Carolina Motorsports Park April 16-17
Round 1 and 2 Laguna Seca Raceway April 29-May 1
Round 3 and 4 Mid-Ohio Sports Car May 20-22
Round 5 and 6 Canadian Grand Prix June10-12
Round 7 and 8 United States Grand Prix June 17-19
Official Test Putnam Park July 12-13
Round 9 and 10 Barber Motorsports Park July 29 - 31
Round 11 and 12 Grand Prix of Denver Aug. 12-14
Round 13 and 14 Road Atlanta Sept. 29 - Oct. 1

Grinding makes Lowe's better Grinding makes Lowe's betterAfter several laps at Lowe's Motor Speedway during a Goodyear tire test Monday, Nextel Cup Series veteran Joe Nemechek believes track officials have achieved their goal of creating more side-by-side racing at the 1.5-mile superspeedway.  In preparation for the May races including the May 29 Coca-Cola 600 and May 21 Nextel All-Star Challenge, engineers recently used a combination of Global Positioning System technology and three-dimensional laser mapping to smooth the track's asphalt surface.

"It's going to make for more side-by-side racing," Nemechek said after climbing from his No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet. "The grinding has added so much more grip, and it's not just around the bottom. It's from the bottom to the wall, and that's a very good thing when you are trying to race around the high groove.   I've been running right around the bottom, trying to do the same thing every lap to give Goodyear some feedback," Nemechek continued. "But I've slid up a little bit and there is still a lot of grip. It might even be faster up high."

H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe's Motor speedway, was encouraged by the feedback he received from Nemechek and Goodyear officials.  This is the wave of the future," Wheeler said. "You'll see more tracks grind the surface in lieu of paving. It puts a second groove in an aged track. The increased grip is exactly what these drivers need with the current cars. It will make for better racing.   That final 20-lap segment in the Nextel All-Star Challenge should be a dandy with door-to-door racing in two fast grooves."

"These guys have definitely figured out how to smooth a race track. It's the smoothest I can remember Lowe's Motor Speedway-even smoother than after the last time they paved it," Nemechek said. "We used to always talk about the 'Humpy bumps' and how 'Humpy' Wheeler put the bumps in to make things interesting. The grinding might have taken some character away from the track, but it's going to be very interesting when we come back in May." In part from ThatsRacn.com 

Bullish on Champ Car's driver lineup Bullish on Champ Car's driver lineupA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I read with great interest your article about Champ Car's driver lineup being the best it has been in many many years. I agree wholeheartedly. Guys like Verstappen, Wirdheim, da Matta, Bourdais, Glock, Junqueira, Hunter-Reay...the list goes on....will light it up on the Champ Car circuit this year. Champ Car needs drivers with talent and character and for the most part now they have both. Let's hope that this year's TV production is improved and the race officiating is better.

As I see it, there are three areas that Champ Car is still seriously lacking - 1) They desperately need manufacturer involvement. Where is Ford and what are they doing to promote the series and the drivers? From a fan standpoint their involvement, their activation, has been terribly disappointing. 2) Team and Series sponsorship is still weak, and 3) Is anyone going to market Champ Car? In the USA we are overloaded with NASCAR everywhere we turn. The next thing we know, they'll even be engraved on the toilet paper in every Men's room (come to think of it, I like that idea.). But Champ Car? It's invisible to all but the very dedicated race fans. When Champ Car finally does get sponsorship and manufacturer involvement, the contracts had better include proper activation of some of their marketing efforts around Champ Car. Tim Fryer, Miami, FL
Karthikeyan hopes to be asked back in 2006 Karthikeyan hopes to be asked back in 2006Narain Karthikeyan, India's first Formula One driver, is hopeful his promising debut with Jordan will eventually lead to a long career in the sport. Karthikeyan, 28, finished 15th on his debut in the Melbourne Grand Prix and was 11th last weekend in Malaysia, considered encouraging for a rookie driver in his first two races for a team which finished ninth out of 10 teams in 2004. In both races he was faster than his teammate. "It was thought to be impossible. I made it possible," a beaming Karthikeyan said in a video conference on Tuesday on his first visit home since his Formula One entry. I'm just so happy to be here after doing well in the first two races," he said. "I have set realistic goals because I don't have the package to challenge the big ones." Bringing his car home in the first two races had hugely boosted his confidence. "So far I have coped with it and the car is very reliable," he said. "Some new aerodynamic parts will be added later on and we will make improvements. If I keep finishing, there will be some races where we will get the opportunity to score points. If I keep the momentum going, I will be on the wanted list for 2006."
Scott Speed to test F1 car Scott Speed to test F1 carScott Speed, the winner of the inaugural Red Bull Driver Search, will get behind the wheel of the Red Bull Racing Formula 1 car at the team¹s test in Barcelona later this week. Speed's debut in the F1 car signifies an historic occasion for the Driver Search Program designed to put American drivers back in Formula 1. Within four years of its inception, Speed hovers on the cusp of realizing the Program's ultimate goal. "This is so amazing," an excited Speed exclaimed, "my dream of competing in Formula 1 no longer seems so out of reach. I can't wait to experience the full power of the F1 car." Now in its fourth year, the Red Bull Driver Search aims to discover and support talented young racing drivers. The long-term goal is to have a steady group of three to six American drivers, racing on the Red Bull Junior Team in Europe, groomed to break into Formula 1 and compete for the World Championship.
Champ Car’s TV partners just don’t get it Champ Car’s TV partners just don’t get itUPDATE #2 AutoRacing1.com has learned that Champ Car TV promos will be running starting 2 weeks prior to an event and up to and including the event weekend. This is much needed and long overdue. Champ Car suffers from a lack of name recognition and needs to take every opportunity to promote itself. 03/22/05 A number of readers have written to say that because Champ Car buys time for the TV slots, they should be advertising the upcoming races, not CBS, NBC or SPEED.  While that may be partially true, the TV partners stand to make more money from Champ Car broadcasts in the future if they help to get TV ratings up now by advertising the races.  The more successful Champ Car is the more money they will reap in the long run.  The deal Champ Car struck should have included some investment by the networks.  A 5 sec plug here and there mentioning the upcoming race(s) is quite doable and in reality doesn't cost the networks a dime - they just squeeze in a mention here and there during the broadcast of other shows, like just before a golfer hit his putt. Mark C. 03/21/05 Whereas FOX ran numerous TV ads for the Daytona 500 during the Super Bowl, not a mention of Champ Car on CBS during the NCAA college basketball "March Madness" nor on NBC's golf coverage nor on SPEED's coverage of the 12 Hours of Sebring.  Whoever is responsible for such negligence should be fired.
NASCAR fan found dead NASCAR fan found deadA man was found dead of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning Monday morning inside an RV at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Henry County police said today. Police Lt. Jason Bolton said the RV's generator leaked, causing the deadly fumes to accumulate and kill B. Christopher Thompson, 37, of Ball Ground, GA. Thompson's wife, Lori Thompson, 34, was airlifted to Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta. The hospital refused to give information on her condition Monday afternoon. Bolton said the couple spent the weekend in the 1996 Dolphin 535 mobile home while attending the Golden Corral 500 at the racetrack in Hampton. Friends staying in another mobile home found the couple about 10:30am/et Monday. The group had decided to return home Monday rather than fight the traffic Sunday night, Bolton said. Foul play is not suspected and an autopsy will be performed Tuesday. Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Black Crowes to rock on Carb Day The Black Crowes to rock on Carb DayThe Black Crowes, "The Most Rock 'N Roll Rock 'N Roll Band In The World," will headline the Miller Lite Carb Day concert on Friday, May 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  The concert is free to all ticket holders for Miller Lite Carb Day, which moves to Friday this year with a full schedule of exciting events on and off the track leading up to the 89th Indianapolis 500 on May 29.
IRL announces official partnership with Argent IRL announces official partnership with ArgentThe Indy Racing League and Argent Mortgage, a leading national mortgage lender, have announced a partnership that makes the Irvine, Calif.,-based company the Official Mortgage Company of the IRL IndyCar® Series and the Indianapolis 500.

"We are pleased to welcome Argent Mortgage to the IRL family of partners," said Ken Ungar, senior vice president, business affairs for the IRL. "The partnership is an important component of Argent's comprehensive 2005 involvement with the league that also includes our drivers, teams and tracks."

Argent is serving as primary sponsor of the No. 16 IndyCar Series entry driven by Danica Patrick and co-primary sponsor of the No. 15 IndyCar Series entry driven by 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice. Also, Argent was the presenting sponsor of last week's IRL event at Phoenix International Raceway and will also be the title and presenting sponsor for three IndyCar Series races in 2005.

In addition, Argent Mortgage will sponsor the IRL's year-end Fastest Lap Award, which will present $25,000 to the entrant of the driver who posts the most fastest laps during the 17-race IndyCar Series season. Argent will also offer $2,500 to the driver who posts the fastest lap on each day of practice at Indianapolis during the month of May.

"We are proud to partner with the IRL as their Official Mortgage Company for the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500," said Wayne Lee, president of Argent Mortgage Company.  "At Argent Mortgage, we don't just sponsor motorsports; we are inspired by the people who bring IndyCar racing to fans every weekend throughout the season.  In the same way, we are building the most efficient and smartest company in the business and helping independent mortgage brokers provide the best possible loan products and service to homeowners across America."

Nunn and Fernandez make it official for 500 Nunn and Fernandez make it official for 500Motorsports veterans Morris Nunn and Adrián Fernández announced a partnership March 22 to contest the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500. The team will be known as Mo Nunn Fernández Racing.

Fernández, a three-time winner in the IRL IndyCar® Series in 2004, will drive the No. 5 Honda-powered Panoz with primary sponsorship from Investment Properties of America.

"I am thrilled that this program with Adrián has come to fruition," said Nunn, whose accomplishments as a race engineer include an Indianapolis 500 victory with Emerson Fittipaldi in 1989. "We are going to one of the most prestigious races in the world with a powerhouse combination that includes the driving talents of Adrián, the proven Honda/Panoz combination and a progressive partner in Investment Properties of America. I don't think you could put together a better recipe for success."

Fernández returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2004 after a nine-year absence. He qualified sixth in only his third IRL IndyCar® Series career start and finished seventh in the rain-shortened race - the highest finishing position by a Mexican driver in the history of the Indianapolis 500.

"I am more than ready to get back in the saddle," said Fernández, who has been focusing on his role as an IndyCar Series team owner of late. "This is a great opportunity to be able to partner with Morris, who I have known and respected for a long time, and put together a competitive program with Honda and with the support of Investment Properties of America.

"This team will be run alongside Super Aguri Fernández Racing and Delphi Fernández Racing, and I am really looking forward to working with both Kosuke [Matsuura] and Scott [Sharp] as teammates. Kosuke and I were incredibly strong throughout the month of May last year, and Scott has already proven he knows how to win and did a great job in Phoenix this past weekend. One of my goals has always been to win the Indianapolis 500 - as a driver or as an owner - and between the three of us, I think that goal can be reached this May."

Indianapolis-based Investment Properties of America (IPofA) is a commercial real estate investment company that acquires commercial income properties and transforms them into stable, income-producing assets for investors of all sizes. The company operates as a 1031 Tenant-in-Common real estate sponsor that offers an alternative to sole ownership of real estate in that investors share in the ownership of an entire property.

"We couldn't be happier with this opportunity to partner with Morris and Adrián for the Indianapolis 500," said Edward Okun, President and CEO of Investment Properties of America. "I am passionate about auto racing and am thrilled to align IPofA and our success in real estate with two proven winners. It is an expansion of our involvement within the IndyCar Series and the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing program, and we are looking forward to giving our business associates a lot to cheer about this May."

Industry News
Toyota sales expected to slow Toyota sales expected to slowToyota Motor Corp., which led the U.S. auto industry in volume growth in 2004, expects slower sales gains in North America this year because of limited factory capacity, a company executive said.  The world's second-largest automaker sold a record 2.06 million autos in the U.S. last year, an increase of 10 percent. Growth probably will drop to 2 percent in 2005, Dennis Cuneo, Toyota's senior vice president for North American operations, said on a conference call hosted by Morgan Stanley analysts.   "Part of that is availability of product," Cuneo said , speaking from New York. "Our North American plants right now are running flat out, all running overtime. Our growth this year, if anything, will be limited by constrained supply."

Toyota, based in Toyota City, Japan, wants to raise its global vehicle sales from about 8 million this year to 8.5 million in 2006 and plans to add North American capacity as sales grow.   The company already has five assembly plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, and next year will open a sixth, a pickup truck plant in Texas. Toyota said it might decide on additional North American factory capacity this year.

Pollock makes excuses for JV Pollock makes excuses for JVUPDATE A reader adds, I would put some credence into the problems between Villeneuve and the 2005 Sauber-Petronas. You don't become World Champion without driving talent even if you were driving a Williams (in 1997).  It can be documented that Peter Sauber does things his way, which has come back to bite him on numerous occasions. Last year they had a "Ferrari Clone" and if they would have ran the "Ferrari" the way it was recommended (by the Ferrari F1 team), they would have placed much better.
I can see Jacques and the Sauber team butting heads over how they each want the car. Felipe Massa is obviously more experienced with the team (as well as Ferrari methodology) so it is no wonder to me why he is doing better at the moment.  I would really like to see how Jacques performs in the car if it was completely set-up the way he would like it to be. What would it hurt the Sauber team to do that for at least one or two races? It couldn't be any worse than what it is right now.   That would be the true measure of Jacques Villeneuve the former F1 World Champion. Matthew Fetherman, Bangor, PA (USA) 03/22/05 "Basically it is rather simple," Pollock told Autosport. "When Jacques stepped into a Grand Prix car for the first time, he was quicker than David Coulthard after ten laps. If you have that capability, then you are quick - presuming, however, that you have confidence in the car.

"Right now, this 100 percent confidence is not there, because Jacques does not feel comfortable with the set-up. He lacks mileage and can only show 85 percent of what he is capable of. So both driver and team have to find out how to get back to 100 percent.

"Jacques knows that Sauber is a good team and he has huge experience with Grand Prix cars. But the confidence is not yet there."

More choices to buy USGP tickets More choices to buy USGP ticketsTickets for the United States Grand Prix on June 17-19 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are available now at three new locations for the convenience of fans.

Fans can purchase USGP tickets at both Brickyard Authentics Stores locations, at Circle Centre Mall in downtown Indianapolis and the Indianapolis International Airport. Tickets also can be purchased at the Photo Shop on the second floor of the Hall of Fame Museum at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Tickets also can be purchased online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area or in person at the ticket office in the Administration Building on the corner of 16th Street and Georgetown Road. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.

Bridgestone takes blame Bridgestone takes blameTires are the biggest factor in being fast in racing, just ask those in the know. Bridgestone, not Ferrari, is to blame for the Italian teams poor performance so far this year. "The reason for such a negative result in this race (Malaysia) is undoubtedly down to our tires," he told Gazzetta dello Sport, "even if the entire package is important. The potential over a flying lap was not satisfying," he admitted, "and the fact that Alonso and Trulli lapped a couple of seconds faster than us is certainly not down to different fuel loads. There are no mitigating factors," he continued, "it was a big lesson. However, it was healthy, in the sense that this defeat has taught us many things and we are ready to react. Obviously we've had lengthy discussions with Ferrari in order to create a new generation of tires," he said. "We think we've identified some which will let us become competitive again very soon. There's no doubt that, if Ferrari were to decide to bring the F2005 to Bahrain, we'll be able to pride a quantity of the tires in time, all we need is a few days."
Bernie backs testing cuts Bernie backs testing cutsBernie Ecclestone has come out in support of the teams' push for a unilateral reduction in testing.  "The stupid thing is that the teams spend a fortune on testing, a real fortune," Ecclestone told the Daily Telegraph. "We shouldn't have the necessity in this sport to spend money to be competitive," said Ecclestone. "That is what we are trying to cut down on.  And Ferrari are doing the opposite." [Editor's Note:  Does anyone expect Ferrari to cut testing while they are so far behind?  When they and Bridgestone catch up and everyone is more or less on a level playing field, then perhaps they will agree to cut back on testing.  The dilemma F1 has is that the rules allow so much originality which leads to new technology and new designs all the time, one needs testing to work out all the bugs.  Max Mosley is 100% correct, F1 needs to cut costs by first restricting the rules such that teams can't use new designs, new ideas, at least not to the extent they do today.  For example, Bridgestone is so far behind Michelin right now, if Ferrari doesn't test new tires all the time, Ferrari and Bridgestone are doomed.  There should be just one tire in F1.  Period.]
Oh Canada: NASCAR looks north of border Oh Canada: NASCAR looks north of borderUPDATE On The Fan 590 sports report in Toronto this morning there was not one mention about Andrew Ranger signing to run in Champ Car, but they talked about the C.O.O. of  NASCAR being in Toronto and Montreal Monday to look for suitable road courses.  03/20/05 This Winston-Salem Journal article says, These are heady times for NASCAR executives, embarking on a series of high-profile international ventures. A Canadian fact-finding trip to Montreal and Toronto is next on the agenda for NASCAR, George Pyne said, with the goal of finding a suitable track for a NASCAR race - probably a Busch race, studded with Nextel Cup stars - hopefully next season.

The success of the Mexico City race earlier this year has NASCAR officials eager to keep the ball rolling. Roger Penske, who probably has more passport stamps than any three men in NASCAR, said that the international game plan will work, as long as NASCAR doesn't go overboard as CART did. "I've been at that track, I raced at that track back in the '60s, and there is no stronger fan base anywhere in the world that is as excited as there to see us come," Penske said of Mexico City's Hermanos Rodriguez track. "If we took the Cup there, it might generate some more sponsorship. With NAFTA, you've got Canada and Mexico as trading partners, and there is lots of sponsorship in Mexico, and great fans and capability. "But we have to be careful we don't get too many international races, because some of the U.S. sponsors won't be interested, preferring exposure here."

Fellow car owner Jack Roush agrees that Mexico City and Montreal make sense for NASCAR: "I'd be fine with a Cup race in Mexico City and a Cup race in Montreal. "I'm not interesting in crossing the ocean to race on somebody else's continent. "But we have roots, born and defined in the Southeast, and we could see it spread from Mexico to Canada and that would be fine. Our economies are spun together and our peoples are coming together. "As long as we can satisfy our fans without loading our stuff on boats and going east or west is fine with me.

Canadian youngsters join Toyota Atlantic Series Canadian youngsters join Toyota Atlantic SeriesTalented Canadian open-wheel racers have been a staple of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama throughout the 31-year history of the series. The Canadian tradition will continue with today’s announcement that Quebec native Antoine Bessette will join Polestar Racing Group for the 32nd season of Atlantic competition with a full-season entry for the upcoming 2005 campaign.

After testing an Atlantic car with both Brooks Associates Racing and Sierra Sierra Enterprises during the last several months, Bessette showed the talent and speed to compete in North America’s top open-wheel development series. He has found a home with the Chardon, Ohio-based Polestar team and the promising racer feels he has the opportunity to compete for the series title in his first season on the Atlantic grid.

“Racing in the Toyota Atlantic Championship is a dream come true for me,” said Bessette. “The series has such a top reputation and is so highly regarded. I am very excited and proud to be part of it. On top of all that, I get to run for a top team with a top engineer. I hear (team owner) Jim Griffith is one of the best engineers in the racing world. It's strange because I signed up with a team that I didn't even test with, but because of Jim's reputation, I have complete faith in this team.”

The 23-year-old Bessette, who differs from many of today’s racing stars because he did not come up through the karting ranks, has experienced his share of success, despite only racing competitively for the past three years. In his first complete season in 2002, he ran in the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Midwest and East Divisions, posting five wins in 16 races. He competed in both Formula Ford 1600 cars and the Barber Dodge Pro Series in 2003 and last season he excelled in the North American Formula Renault series finishing third in the championship with three podiums and a victory at Alabama’s Barber Motorsports Park.

“It’s great to finally bring Antoine aboard. We’ve been talking to him and his family about putting something together for a couple of years now,” said Polestar Racing Group team owner Jim Griffith. “He’s got a great attitude about racing and a great personality. He’s actually not a typical young driver because he started racing in cars and I think it’s a testament to his skill and work ethic that he’s been able to accomplish all that he has without that background in karting.”

A native of St. Bruno, Quebec, Bessette hopes to add his name to a long list of French Canadian drivers that have excelled in the Atlantic series including such talented stars as Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve, Claude Bourbonnais, Patrick Carpentier and most recently Alex Tagliani and Andrew Ranger.

Bessette will pilot the #3 Toyota/Swift/Yokohama for Polestar this season, running with sponsorship from Unik Auto Design at the opening race of the year in Long Beach. He’ll join recently announced British female racer Katherine Legge on the third-year team. Bessette and Legge raced against each other last season in the North American Formula Renault series.

“When I ran with Katherine last year she was always in the top five or six drivers,” added Bessette. “She's a very good driver, she's fast and it makes no difference to me whether you're a girl or a guy, as long as you're fast. I'm glad to have her as a teammate. I know we'll get along real well.”

Both racers will spend two full days of testing at Arizona’s Firebird road circuit at the end of this month as they prepare to come out of the gates quickly when the 2005 season 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. Current Champ Car stars Alex Tagliani, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Andrew Ranger are also established Toyota Atlantic graduates along with 2004 Champ Car Rookie of the Year and 2003 Atlantic champion A.J. Allmendinger.

For more information on the Atlantic series, please visit www.toyotaatlantic.com.  To learn more about Antoine Bessette, log on to www.bessetteracing.com.

Rahal 3rd, Andretti 19th Rahal 3rd, Andretti 19thUPDATE Here are two photos from the race.

Graham Rahal (L) and Marco Andretti (R)
Photos by Bill Kistler

03/20/05 Graham Rahal, the 16-year-old son of Bobby Rahal, finished third in the season-opening race of the Star Mazda Championship, an event held in conjunction with the 12 Hours of Sebring (Fla.). Marco Andretti, the 18-year-old son of Michael Andretti, finished a disappointing 19th in the 42-car field........but that means he's ready for the IRL, where we expect to see him soon.......in 100% throttle racing, talent takes a back seat to "the show."
Villeneuve can't feel everything in car Villeneuve can't feel everything in car1997 World Champion Villeneuve also said he is still getting used to the current F1 cars.  "Braking has been the main problem," he said. "F1 has evolved a lot over the last few years and mainly on the electronics side, and it takes a long time to get used to everything with the car, and the other thing is that with all the electronics you have now, you don't feel everything that is happening. You become a bit of a passenger in the race car, and that is very different to what I'm used to."
NASCAR dynos engines NASCAR dynos enginesDynos in Atlanta: NASCAR tested the cars of Johnson, Dave Blaney, Michael Waltrip, Mark Martin, Edwards, Elliott Sadler, Kahne, Ryan Newman and Jamie McMurray on the chassis dynamometer, which measures rear wheel horsepower. Ken Schrader's team also volunteered for the test. ThatsRacin
Kalkhoven injured in accident Kalkhoven injured in accidentUPDATE So violent was the accident Kalkhoven's shoulder is broken in seven places and will be repaired Wednesday in Aspen. Earlier in the ski season he had another accident and injured some ribs. He should stick to racing cars, it's safer. 03/21/05 Champ Car Series and team owner Kevin Kalkhoven collided with a snowboarder yesterday while skiing in Aspen and broke his shoulder.  He will have surgery either today or tomorrow to correct the damage.
Attendance up in Malaysia Attendance up in MalaysiaThe organizers of the Malaysian Grand Prix announced that the race day attendance was100,000. The Sepang authorities said that the crowd was 8,000 on Friday and 40,000 on Saturday giving the race a total of 148,000 over three days.
Schumacher - We need to improve in all areas Schumacher - We need to improve in all areasSunday evening’s post-race briefing was rather a long one; this was not a surprise. Owing to the extended meeting, Michael left much later than expected after the season’s second race. He spoke at length and in detail to the engineers following his hard-fought seventh place at Sepang. The race demonstrated that “we were not able to be competitive and have to improve in all areas.”

Michael also observed that “after two races that have not gone well, it can be said that the world championship situation is a difficult one, but it is certainly not a hopeless one.”

The reigning World Champion even had to battle hard to earn that seventh spot but the Ferrari driver saw some reason to be positive. “Sepang has always been one of the hardest races of the year for us.”

This sounds a little strange given the good results the Prancing Horse has enjoyed on the Malaysian circuit in the past. “Notwithstanding everything, this is how things are, even if it is hard to understand from the outside. We have always had problems here though the results have often gone our way. So, we know how to take this race and this result. I am also convinced that we will win races this year. Didn’t I always say last year that situations can change in an instant? So, now it has happened but things can turn in our favor once again."

"The great thing, and we all know it, is that our team has all the attributes to do this. Now we have to work hard and we know what he have to apply ourselves to. I don’t expect any big change in the next race in Bahrain but I am certain that at Imola we will do fairly well.”
Michael has enough experience to realize that in every season there are difficult times to overcome.

“I have often been in situations where I have no chance in a race and then win the one after. We are a well-balanced team and we know that the season has to be considered as a whole. The championship is longer than ever and so lots of things can happen. Now we have to try our new car and then see how things work out.”

The champion will be driving the F2005 for the first time at Mugello on Wednesday. The new vehicle should replace the F2004 M soon. The decision will be taken this week whether to debut the new car in Bahrain.

“I have learnt a lot about the car from our test driver Luca Badoer. Now I am just pleased to be able to try it out in person. The first time is always exciting.” Ferrari Press

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Rivals slam Ferrari in letter
Webber wins 'supremo' acclaim
Firman returns to Japan
Button's still blazing
Button derailed Hakk return
Indian in Bahrain
Ron - no driver clash, yet
Ferrari condemned
Can Red Bull keep it up?
Ferrari's wake up call - Todt
BAR face wait for Imola
Schu to try new Ferrari Schu to try new FerrariWorld champion Michael Schumacher will try his new Ferrari on Wednesday.  Teammate Rubens Barrichello is already at Mugello, with a decision about whether to hasten the F2005's debut to shortly follow.  ''Luca Badoer has already told me a lot about the car,'' Schumacher, an uncompetitive 7th at Sepang, explained.

The Italian team were hard at work on Monday, albeit annoying its competitors by flaunting two test prohibitions -- running on a Monday, and simultaneously at two circuits.  Marc Gene piloted the F2004 at Fiorano, while Badoer plugged away at Autodromo del Mugello.  Technical director Ross Brawn revealed that the new car's running 'has not been faultless.  ''We've not got everything going perfectly.''

Hornish happy with Toyota’s gains Hornish happy with Toyota’s gainsOf course two-time IndyCar Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. would like a clear horsepower advantage. That's possible yet this season, but for now incremental gains by Toyota Racing Development have boosted his confidence and created opportunities.

That's when his cunning and experience -- such as in the race March 19 at Phoenix International Raceway -- come through. Hornish combined both to win the XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 Presented by Argent Mortgage at Phoenix International Raceway by 1.0408 seconds over Marlboro Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves. Adding a runner-up finish in the season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway to his first victory in 13 months, Hornish has vaulted to the top of the IndyCar Series standings.

Hornish and Castroneves in 2004 combined to post bookend victories in their Toyota-powered Dallaras, with Honda teams winning the 14 other races. In the initial two of 17 events this year, all three engine manufacturers have made strong showings for a burgeoning level playing field.

"I'm never going to be happy until we have an advantage," said Hornish, who recorded his series-leading 13th victory. "I know that the guys at Toyota are never going to be happy until they have an advantage. I think everything is real close right now, and everybody's working hard. If you can find 3 to 5 horsepower between every race, you're going to be better off than anybody else because that's what keeps all these guys going. They're just looking for those little gains. There are not big gains to be made anymore."

Toyota and Chevrolet appear to have made significant progress in the off-season. GM Racing has one two-car team to focus on, with the prospects for a half-dozen entries in the 89th Indianapolis 500. Toyota powers 10 entries, with more likely for the 500-Mile Race on May 29. Honda's 10 teams also remain strong - especially the four-car Andretti Green Racing juggernaut that already has combined for four top-5 finishes.

"Hopefully, with all the things that we've got going we'll just continue to be a little bit better each time that we go out for the races," said Hornish, who picked up his 13th career IndyCar Series victory. "Hopefully, we'll keep getting a little bit better and we'll be exactly where we need to be; we'll have an advantage."

The next test is the 1.8-mile street course in St. Petersburg, Fla., on April 3 - the first non-oval event in IndyCar Series history. The Ohio resident with an oval-racing pedigree acknowledges the perceived disadvantage, but isn't blunted. He was quick, though not among the quickest, in a two-day test on Homestead-Miami Speedway's road course in January, and has received instruction from Castroneves and team advisor Rick Mears.

"It's been a long time since I've been on a road course competitively," said Hornish, who has competed in the Toyota Atlantic series and U.S. F2000. "But, like I said, my goal for this season is to finish every lap. I'm going to go there, try to keep a cool head about me no matter what happens that weekend. I know if you're running at the end of that race, you're halfway competitive, you're going to be in the Top 10.

"You don't have to win every one of these races to win the championship. It sure helps if you can. But I'm just going to go out there and try to do the best I can. If we can go there and stay out of trouble, we'll be OK." IRL 

Hotel bookings up for 2005 GP of Long Beach Hotel bookings up for 2005 GP of Long BeachSince October 2003, Jay Smith has been director of sales and marketing at the Hilton Long Beach, which acts as the main registration center for the event's participants and the media covering the April 8-10 race . In that position, Smith knows the impact the Grand Prix has had on the economic landscape of Long Beach, and the image of the city.  The Hilton will see a direct $350,000 boost from the Grand Prix this year, Smith said. Industry executives estimate the Grand Prix has had a $20 million to $30 million annual impact on the local economy.

The Hilton is also fighting off dozens of meeting planners who have unexpectedly responded in big numbers to invitations by the hotel to be wined and dined during the Grand Prix in a marketing effort to show off Long Beach as a destination and to reward them for past business.  Smith budgeted trips for about 30 meeting planners, critical contacts who help determine where their companies or clients decide to stage meetings or events. But more than 50 have said they want to come, Smith said.  "We thought we would have to scrape to get 30," Smith said.

The Long Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is also bringing in planners, said Steve Goodling, president and CEO of the organization.  "It's a great time to showcase the city, and it shows how we can come together and pull off an event," Goodling said.

Presale bookings at the Hilton are higher than last year, and the previous several races, and it's the same at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach, the official hotel of the race located in the middle of the street course along the Long Beach bayfront.  "We're doing much better this year than last, but every year is different. It goes with the economic cycle," said Cheryl Phelps, vice president and managing director of the Hyatt.  The race is the largest single event the Hyatt sees each year, and sets up guest amenities and services for local race fans, including rooftop parties and giant televisions in the lobbies for spectators trying to get out of the sun. Long Beach Press-Telegram

NASCAR renews with radio company NASCAR renews with radio companyNASCAR announced a renewal of its longstanding association with Atlanta-based Diversified Electronics/Racing Radios to provide two-way radio communications for all NASCAR officials and competitors in NASCAR's three national series - the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, the NASCAR Busch Series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. The renewal runs through the 2013 season - coinciding with the terminus of the current NASCAR-Nextel Communications deal to sponsor NASCAR's top series - and continues a 30-year relationship. Building on that tradition, Racing Radios, the first and only two-ray radio provider for NASCAR, is moving ahead boldly by partnering with Nextel Communications to provide state-of-the-art technology. Nextel is in its second year as title sponsor of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. NASCAR PR
Bernie praises Webber Bernie praises WebberMark Webber's battling performance in the Malaysian Grand Prix has won a ringing endorsement from the most powerful man in Formula One.  Bernie Ecclestone praised the BMW-Williams star for the gutsy drive on Sunday that probably would have ensured a podium finish had the Australian not been shunted by the Renault of Australian Grand Prix winner Giancarlo Fisichella.  "He did a great job," Ecclestone said. "It was great to watch. That was a good performance and he showed what he can do.  "He is one of the rising young stars and he was unlucky to have been involved in an accident like that." Fox Sports
Judd doesn’t like Sam Hornish Judd doesn’t like Sam HornishUPDATE When Dave Despain asked Robin Miller on Wind Tunnel Sunday night what he thought about Ashley's comment, Robin said, "The darkest day in the history of motorsports was when they let women in the pits at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1974."  While we don't agree with that statement, it certainly has some people talking. 03/21/05 A comment by actress Ashley Judd raised eyebrows and drew surprised chuckles Saturday during the XM Satellite Radio Indy 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. In a live interview on ABC-TV while her husband, Dario Franchitti, trailed leader Sam Hornish Jr. under caution late in the race, Judd concluded by saying, “I’ve got to say that Sam Hornish is not his favorite person.”

After Hornish went on to win the race, Franchitti was asked about the comment.
“He’s fine in the race car. He’s not a guy I talk to, but I don’t have a problem with him,” Franchitti said. “He hit me earlier in the race, and he ran into the back of (A.J.) Foyt (IV), but on the restart, he did nothing wrong. I’d be the first to say something. I tried my best, and I came up short.”

Hornish seemed mildly amused when told about Judd’s comment.

“I already had that feeling, but I have to go out there and do the best I can,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with anybody I race with. There are too many guys that you have to pass all the time to have a grudge with everybody. Not everybody is going to like me.” SPEEDTV.com

Korean tires win in ALMS debut Korean tires win in ALMS debutKUMHO captured the LMP2 class win at the 53rd running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, held March 19 at Sebring International Raceway in Florida. Teamed with defending class champion Miracle Motorsports and drivers Jeff Bucknum, Ian James and Chris McMurry, KUMHO's new tires for Miracle's Courage C-65 prototype performed flawlessly, helping the team win Sebring for the second straight year and giving KUMHO a win in its first American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race.

"The tires performed as they were intended to," said KUMHO motorsports manager Rudy Consolacion. "The only issue we had was two punctures caused by debris. Fortunately they both happened at the same time and in a great location, just before the pit entrance, and Ian was able to duck into the pits for a tire change without losing much time and without damaging the car.

"We signed a contract with Miracle at the end of December, so our development schedule has been extremely compressed," noted Consolacion. "In two months we built molds and conducted two tests with four different compounds and constructions. We were very pleased with how the tires performed and how they held up."

The Miracle team ran double stints on the tires, and one set ran two-and-one-half stints-72 laps, nearly 270 miles at speeds up to 180 mph. When the crew finally pulled the tires off the car, Miracle tire engineer Jerry Burns said "The tires look good, real good. We could do another stint on them."

Burns, who's been involved in motorsports as a tire engineer since 1966, is still having fun. "I'm enjoying working with the KUMHO guys," he said. "It's fun to work with an up-and-coming team."

 "A lot of people wondered what the heck we were doing switching from a 'known' tire to KUMHO because they were new to the series," said driver Chris McMurry after the race. "But the tires were awesome."

"The biggest change in the car from last year is the tire manufacturer," said Ian James, who drove to a class championship with Miracle in 2004. "KUMHO has done a great job in a very short amount of time."

"We feel great working with KUMHO," said Jeff Bucknum. "We were confident before the race because we knew they would do the job. The tires performed great and were very drivable the whole time."

Spaniards tune in to watch Alonso win Spaniards tune in to watch Alonso winSpain tuned in to watch their hero Fernando Alonso this past weekend.  TV ratings for the Malaysian GP in Spain were up 44.1% over a year ago despite the pre-race show starting at 4:00 AM local time.  At 4 AM the rating was running 70.1% above last year.
Cleveland to run Toyota Atlantic doubleheader Cleveland to run Toyota Atlantic doubleheaderOfficials from the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama today announced an adjustment to the series’ originally announced 2005 schedule. The Atlantic Championship has added a second event in Cleveland this season and has taken Milwaukee off its schedule, maintaining a 12-race championship for 2005.

The Milwaukee Mile was to be the only oval course on the challenging ’05 Atlantic tour. Concerns over costs to the teams associated with equipment changes to an oval set-up led to the schedule adjustment.

“It’s unfortunate that we won’t be able to return to race this season at The Milwaukee Mile, but with many new teams and drivers entering the series in 2005 we found that it just wasn’t practical for them to put together oval programs in a short time frame,” explained Vicki O’Connor, Managing Director of the Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama. “We hope the tremendous racing fans in Milwaukee understand this difficult decision and we certainly hope to return to race at Milwaukee in the future.”

The 240 HP Atlantic cars were originally scheduled to compete at Milwaukee as part of the annual Champ Car race weekend, June 3-4.

“This economic-related move ends a string of 12 consecutive years in which The Milwaukee Mile fans have enjoyed Toyota Atlantic Championship racing. We would gladly welcome them back in the future,” commented Mark Perrone, Vice President / General Manager of the Milwaukee Mile. “We are moving forward with this opportunity on our weekend schedule to introduce a Formula Drifting competition to the Midwest, which is something new and exciting for our fans.”

The Atlantic Championship will add a second event on the 2.106-mile Cleveland road circuit at Burke Lakefront Airport to replace Milwaukee on its 2005 schedule. The Toyota-powered cars will now run a doubleheader weekend at the unique airport course on the shores of Lake Erie with Round 5 of the 12-race championship run on Saturday, June 25. The second race of the weekend will be contested the following day as part of the annual Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland weekend.

“We’re happy that we were able to secure a second event at Cleveland this season, making for a very full weekend of racing at traditionally one of the most popular venues on the Atlantic schedule,” added O’Connor.

The Atlantic series will now have two doubleheader weekends on its ’05 lineup as Champ Car’s top development series will also run two races in two days with Rounds 3 and 4 scheduled for June 18 and 19 at Portland International Raceway.

The revised 12-race Toyota Atlantic 2005 schedule is listed below. All events will be broadcast on SPEED Channel this season with a complete broadcast schedule expected to be released in the coming days.

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.

2005 Season Schedule
April 10                         Long Beach
May 22                          Monterrey
June 18                          Portland
June 19                          Portland
June 25                          Cleveland
June 26                          Cleveland
July 10                           Toronto
July 17                           Edmonton
July 31                           San Jose
Aug. 14                          Denver
Aug. 21                          Road America
Aug. 28                          Montreal

Highlights from Andrew Ranger press conference Highlights from Andrew Ranger press conferenceUPDATE Here is a full transcript from the press conference. 03/21/05 Team owner Eric Bachelart and his new driver Andrew Ranger fielded questions from the media today on the announcement that Ranger is moving up to Champ Car with the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing. Highlights:
  • Bachelart is excited to have Ranger, Tide (Canadian races) and Kodak (USA races) aboard on the #27 Lola Ford. He feels Ranger is a natural talent and working with engineer Dave Faustino from Toyota Atlantic should provide good continuity. Having Bruce Ashmore aboard as Technical Director will also help. The team never had a Technical Director before. Team also hired another engineer so in that department team is much stronger.
  • Ranger feels his biggest challenge this year is the pressure, but he welcomes it. "I need to push a lot .
  • Making it to Champ Car has been a goal of Ranger's since his dirt modified days.
  • Jump to Champ Car isn't too difficult. Main difference in Champ Car and Toyota Atlantic car is the HP.
  • Philippe and teammate Ranger know each other from their go-karting days. Both teams will work closely together.
  • Bachelart feels that because all the teams in Champ Car have a lot of experience now with the Lola/Ford package,  having two young drivers isn't as critical as it might have been. However, he does not want to state the teams goals for the year until he sees how the team measures up at the upcoming Sebring test and the Long Beach race.
  • Ranger's main goal is to be Rookie of the Year in 2005, same as he was last year in Toyota Atlantics.
  • Ranger will use the No. 27 car because Gilles Villeneuve ran that number, Jacques Villeneuve won with that number at Indy, and Ranger's father ran No. 27 when he drove.
  • Team has a new shock program for 2005 that should help team. Spirit and atmosphere within the team is very high. Team members all work out three days per week and they are practicing pit stops outside the shop.
IPS To Test On IMS Road Course IPS To Test On IMS Road CourseUPDATE The official list of drivers participating in this test include:
Car Driver
1 Jaime Camara (R)
3 Al Unser
4 Marty Roth
6 Jon Herb
7 Travis Gregg (R)
19 Chris Festa (R)
20 Jay Drake (R)
21 Nick Bussell (R)
24 Jeff Simmons
26 Marco Andretti (R)
33 Wade Cunningham (R)
36 P.J. Chesson
91 Mishael Abbott (R)
03/18/05 Drivers and teams for the Indy Racing League® Menards Infiniti Pro Series will participate in an Open Test from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 24 on the 2.605-mile road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There will be a lunch break from noon-1 p.m. The test will include Mishael Abbott, Marco Andretti, Travis Gregg, Al Unser, Jay Drake and several other drivers.

The Menards Infiniti Pro Series, the developmental series for the IRL, is preparing for its IMS road course debut during the United States Grand Prix weekend, June 17-19. The series also competes on the IMS oval in the Futaba Freedom 100 on Friday, May 27 during the 89th Indianapolis 500. This will be the first Open Test for the series on a road circuit. The test will be open to the public with free admission, with the South Terrace grandstands open.

San Jose GP to host drifting event San Jose GP to host drifting eventFormula D's premiere drifters will showcase their talents during the San Jose Grand Prix, July 29-31 on the streets of San Jose, California.  The San Jose Grand Prix will be the second time Formula D will join the Champ Car World Series.  The series will make its Champ Car and professional street drifting debut at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 8-10. 

The Long Beach and San Jose drifting events are just two examples of the recently announced alliance between the Champ Car World Series and Formula D, and another example of Champ Car's active dedication to youth auto culture and young enthusiasts.

The top Formula D drifters will take to the streets Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the San Jose Grand Prix for full-circuit choreographed, precision tandem and multi-car drift exhibitions.  Sunday's drifting will immediately precede the running of the inaugural San Jose Grand Prix.  On-track drifting action will be complemented by a vendor row and show cars.

"This year Formula D will go to venues that have never seen drifting,” said Formula D principal Ryan Sage.  The Champ Car events in Long Beach and San Jose will be the crown jewels of the partnership between Champ Car and Formula D.”  San Jose Grand Prix Vice President and General Manager, Bob Singleton noted that, “Drifting, which originated in Japan, is the newest addition to the world motorsports scene and we are thrilled to have this very popular form of racing as part of the inaugural San Jose Grand Prix.”  

The alliance between the Champ Car World Series and Formula D is a ground-breaking first step in bringing mainstream motorsports and the youth automotive culture together.

There will be three drifting exhibitions during the three-day San Jose Grand Prix weekend.  The first exhibition will take place on Friday, July 29 at 7:45 a.m. from 4:45 – 5:00 p.m.  On Saturday, July 30, Formula D takes to the track at 9:30 a.m. for their second demonstration.  The third and final drifting show will be on Sunday, July 31 from 12:15 – 12:30 p.m. and will be followed by the main event the Champ Car World Series race, which is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m.

The inaugural San Jose Grand Prix, which is the eighth stop on the 2005 Bridgestone Present The Champ Car World Series schedule, will not be confined to activities at the track.  The schedule also calls for a week of activities in downtown San Jose including music, fairs, charity events and promotional activities.  The week long festival is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of fans to northern California’s largest city and become a mainstay on the Champ Car World Series calendar.  For additional information go to: www.sanjosegrandprix.com

Ralf calls Ferrari arrogant Ralf calls Ferrari arrogantRalf Schumacher blames Ferrari's poor start to the Formula One season on the Italian team's arrogance. "Ferrari have brought this on themselves," Schumacher, brother of Ferrari driver and seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher, told Germany's Bild newspaper. "How can they be so arrogant as to start the season with the old car? On top of that, they're going it alone with their own tire contract."
Ferrari ready to fight back Ferrari ready to fight backJean Todt admitted that Michael Schumacher’s seventh place in the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang on Sunday had increased Ferrari’s “motivation to react.”

The Ferrari Team Principal would not blame any one particular part of their package – they are running a 2005 adaptation of their 2004 championship-winning car - and would not even say that the new Formula One Ferrari, due to make its race debut at Barcelona, the fifth round of the championship, might redress the situation.

But he did say that the extreme conditions had made the race very difficult. How difficult? “Yes it has been more difficult than we expected, yes, by a lot.”

Todt continued “it would be wrong to say that we are satisfied with the situation. It is not our standard and it is not what we want to do and simply we are not quick enough. So we have to see how to improve the situation 360 degrees.

“The whole package is not performing how we want. There are a lot of reasons. I will say aerodynamic efficiency, not enough grip on the car, and not enough traction. All that adds up and it makes a huge difference.”

 Todt also refused to blame Bridgestone’s tires - all those ahead of Schumacher on Sunday were on Michelin tires. “We are all in it together,” said Todt of Bridgestone. “We were all involved in the success and we are all involved in the unsuccessful. They are fantastic partners and they remain fantastic even if we don’t perform well in two races.”

And Todt wouldn’t make the extreme conditions at Sepang an excuse either – the track temperature reached over 50 degrees during the race. “Honestly, it would be too convenient to say it was the worst race for us this season. So now we must take this race as a point of reference. I think we should say of this race that it is where we are and from here we have to recover the situation. You know, even if we are a bit sleepy, it wakes us up and that is good.

“The only thing I may say to those who thought that it was easy for Ferrari to win in the past… This shows that it was difficult, how difficult it is to be consistent in success and at the moment we are feeling that we are not good enough."

Was Todt confident that the new car can make up difference? “No, not confident. I am confident we will do everything we can to improve the situation and you know same drivers, same engineers, mechanics, same motivation.”

Testing continues with the new car and it is thought that Ferrari will seek even more performance from it, given their current gap to the front-runners. So would Michael’s opinion of the new car in coming week be a deciding factor regarding its introduction?

“It is a lot of things,” said Todt. “Of course, we are going to try to do something to act in this situation and to act in a proper way. You know, we were talking about stability and you can panic or you can try to react properly and we are going to try to act properly in this situation to achieve it.”

Todt dismissed the politics that had seen Ferrari criticized by the majority of other teams for their testing policy. “It’s such an unnecessary situation that we didn’t create. It is pointless to keep reminding us of the same things. We proposed some adaptations to the testing. We feel it is unfair for the small teams because they don’t save any money. We have been proposing a lot of actions to save money from next year, but they (the other teams) refused to come to the meeting.

“It is a distraction for them because they keep having meetings. We will focus on the real problem. The only thing that matters is that we are not competitive and that is all. We will get out of it. We will do it.” Ferrari

Q and A with Renault's Denis Chevrier Q and A with Renault's Denis ChevrierThe Renault RS25 engine achieved its first milestone yesterday when Fernando Alonso’s V10 took victory in Malaysia. Head of Engine Operations Denis Chevrier explains the satisfaction of the team at Viry.

Denis, how satisfying was it to see the RS25 complete its first life cycle without any problems?
"Without being over confident, it is a source of immense satisfaction to have reached the end of the second race for the RS25, without any incidents throughout the engine life. It is testament to the quality of the work the team has done over the winter, and a great reward for all our efforts in the design office, on the dyno and in testing. We managed our mileage and performance carefully in Melbourne and Malaysia, and this allowed us to complete the race distance without any problems. Until you have actually completed the challenge for real, it is hard to be totally confident; it is extremely pleasing to see our predictions confirmed on the track."

Were you surprised by the excellent level of reliability shown by the engine manufacturers?
"It was not a surprise for us, because we are well aware of the professionalism with which our competitors work. Already in 2004, the engine manufacturers had to step up to a big reliability challenge, and did so successfully; we have seen the same excellent results this year. The question that remains is what performance compromises have been made up and down the grid to achieve this reliability? For Renault, the satisfaction is that our overall compromise has been such that we have had the fastest car on track at the first two races."

Does this mean the challenge of the 2005 regulations has now been met?
"Far from it. Reliability remains, as it always has been, an over- riding priority, but it is by no means the only parameter by which we judge the engine’s success. We have no room to relax, and will not be lifting off in any area which can further improve our performance."  Renault F1 Team

Edwards and Crew Chief get first win Edwards and Crew Chief get first winCarl Edwards didn't think life could get any better after winning the Aaron's 312 on Saturday afternoon. Little did he know that he would eclipse his shining moment the very next day. In stunning fashion, Edwards followed up his Busch Series triumph with a victory in the Golden Coral 500. His team, led by crew chief Bob Osborne, kept Edwards in the hunt all race long, setting the stage for a dramatic last lap pass over Jimmie Johnson for the win. Osborne's performance earned him the WYPALL® Wipers Crew Chief of the Race.

The panel of voters, Rick Minter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, a WYPALL® Wipers representative and Robbie Reiser, all agreed Osborne outshined the competition. "He (Osborne) made all of the right adjustments during the race," said Minter. "He made the car its best when it mattered the most."

Osborne points to the final round of pit stops as the pivotal moment of the race. His crew got Edwards in front for the green flag run of the event. "I give the credit for this win to my crew," said Osborne while accepting his award. "My hat's off to them. We have a lot of new people on our crew and we've all come together. They got Carl (Edwards) out front on the last round of stops, and I think that gave him a mental edge for the final run. It got him focused for the rest of the race."

Robbie Reiser, crew chief of the #17 Ford, wasn't surprised to see the new team perform so well. "This may be Carl's (Edwards) first year in the Cup Series, but he drives like a veteran. The crew chief plays a huge part in that. Bob has done a great job coaching him and giving him good equipment. I knew it wouldn't be long before they were winning races."

Osborne won $1000 for picking up the Crew Chief of the Race award. He is now tied with Alan Gustafson, Pete Rondeau and Doug Richert in the point standings for the WYPALL® Wipers Crew Chief of the Year. At the end of the season, the crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000.
Forest Completes Second Straight F2000 Sweep Forest Completes Second Straight F2000 SweepMike Forest continued his domination of the Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Mickey Thompson Tires/Cooper Tire by taking the pole and then leading throughout this afternoon’s 18-lap second race of the weekend at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway road course.

Forest now has won all four races this year and taken a commanding lead in the Pacific F2000 Series’ "Spring Cup" initiative, which comprises the opening six rounds of the 12-race season and will be concluded with another pair of events in two weeks’ time at Phoenix International Raceway in Arizona.

Round 4 results (18 laps): 1.Mike Forest (Mygale SJ04), 26m 18.381s; 2. Brad Jaeger (Mygale SJ04); 3. J.R. Hildebrand (Mygale SJ04); 4. Greg Minium (Mygale SJ04); 5. Clark Cambern (Van Diemen RF03); 6. Scott Rarick (Van Diemen RF03); 7. Scott Foutch (Van Diemen RF03); 8. Bob Negron (Van Diemen RF99); 9. Al Salvo (Mygale SJ04); 10. Peter Hastrup (Van Diemen RF02); 11. John Lombardo Jr. (Van Diemen RF02); 12. Chris Hundley (Van Diemen RF05): 13. Fiorenzo Tirinnanzi (Van Diemen RF02); 14. Tim Harris (Van Diemen RF03); 15. Chris Spreitzer (Van Diemen RF94-Loyning/Pinto); 16. Jeremy Shaw (Van Diemen RF02); 17. Doug da Costa (Van Diemen RF02); 18. Efrain Olivares Jr. (Van Diemen RF97-Ivey/Pinto); 19. Ted Guenther (Van Diemen RF01-Ivey/Pinto); 20. Jim Bryant (Van Diemen RF00-Ivey/Pinto); 21. Les Phillips (Van Diemen RF01-Ivey/Pinto); 22. Dennis Goughary (Carbir DS3-Elite/Pinto); 23. Bill Modisette (Van Diemen RF96-Ivey/Pinto); 24. Robert Podlesni (Van Diemen RF03); 25 Tom Hope (Van Diemen RF98-Ivey/Pinto); 26 Jesse Yorio (Van Diemen RF01/Quicksilver/Pinto); 27 Steven M. Kries (Van Diemen RF01); 28 Shaun Modisette (Van Diemen RF96-Ivey/Pinto); Did not start: Gary Peterson (Crossle 71F-DFR/Pinto).
Fastest qualifier: Forest, 1m 26.921s, 82.834 mph.
Fastest race lap: Forest, 1m 26.819s, 82.931 mph.
Margin of victory: 4.961 seconds
Championship points, after three of 12 races: 1. Forest, 90; 2. Hildebrand, 68; 3. Jaeger, 43; 4. Harris, 41; 5. Lombardo & Podlesni, 27; 7. Cambern, 23; 8. Minium, 17; 9. Rarick, 16; 10 Salvo, 14; etc.

Next round: Phoenix International Raceway, Ariz., April 2/3.

Mazda and Sportsbook join ALMS Mazda and Sportsbook join ALMSThe American Le Mans Series (ALMS) hit the jackpot with a full house of ALMS sponsorship announcements made at Sebring International Raceway prior to the historic Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 19.  Sportsbook.com has decided to become a player on the track. The online giant will join the return of Mazda to North American Road Racing as the primary sponsor of the No. 8 Mazda factory powered Courage C65 for B-K Motorsports. Pat Kestner and Bob Bach of B-K will display a scale model of the race car at Chateau Elan at Sebring International Raceway. Story
Malaysia post-race press conference Malaysia post-race press conference Fernando Alonso stormed to victory today at the Malaysian Grand Prix recording Renault’s second straight win while Jarno Trulli brought Toyota their first podium position. Nick Heidfeld rounded out the top three with a well-deserved first podium position for BMW Williams. The following is a transcript of the race winner’s press conference. Transcript
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Mr. E enjoying Ferrari crisis
'I'm VERY angry' - Button
F2005 or no F2005?
Title in danger - Schumacher
Alonso a 'danger'?
Nick 'happy' in Schu's shadow
Bridgestone accept blame
DC is Britain's best
Schu holds no German grudge
Trulli's team target top tier
Toyota rub a little salt
F1 set for youngest champion
GP Roundup - Malaysia GP Roundup - Malaysia
Renault: Enstone is on a roll, but it was an exhausted and dehydrated Fernando Alonso who delivered the goods at Sepang. ''I felt a bit bad (physically) on the podium,'' the Spaniard admitted, ''but we proved we are the reference, and can fight for the title.'' Giancarlo Fisichella struggled in the sister R25. ''I think something broke,'' he said. ''As for the collision, I was ahead (of Mark Webber), my rear slid but Mark had left no margin.''

Ferrari: 'No excuses.' That's how Jean Todt summed up a thrashing in Malaysia. Michael Schumacher declined to blame Bridgestone. ''We're not strong enough in several areas,'' said the German, off to Europe to test the F2005. Rubens Barrichello retired a healthy car -- with worn-out tires. ''They found a bit of rubber on the wing,'' he explained, ''which produced bad oversteer.''

Red Bull-Cosworth: David Coulthard (6th) booked a place in history as Britain's highest ever points scorer. Christian Klien also fared well, with eighth. ''I think I'm more confident this year,'' he said.

BMW-Williams: A likely podium for Mark Webber shattered like carbon-fiber in a shunt with Giancarlo Fisichella. Nick Heidfeld picked up the pieces. ''It was real fun,'' said the German, ''even though my drink bottle broke.'' Webber was a lot less composed. ''Fisi's tires were finished, so I got past him -- but on the next corner he braked too late, lost the rear and took me out.''

McLaren-Mercedes: ''We want to win,'' said Juan Pablo Montoya, fourth, who struggled for vision after an early flat spot. A deflated Michelin - apparently a 'tire valve' problem - destroyed Kimi Raikkonen's day, but the Finn did set the fastest racing lap.

Toyota: Second place for Jarno Trulli is the Cologne-based team's first podium since debuting in 2002. ''I had a trouble free race,'' he said. But, like Trulli in Australia, teammate Ralf Schumacher struggled with tire wear, and clashed with Webber.

Sauber-Petronas: Jacques Villeneuve's woes continue -- he retired after losing control. ''I'm having a hard time with this car,'' he admitted. Felipe Massa nursed an 'almost undriveable' car home. ''We must improve quickly,'' said Peter Sauber.

Jordan-Toyota: Narain Karthikeyan and Tiago Monteiro both finished. ''The race was a bit boring,'' said the former, whose EJ15 proved unable to compete with any non-Minardi rival.

BAR-Honda: Jenson Button slammed the team when yet another engine failed him in Malaysia. Anthony Davidson also exited in a Honda barbeque. ''We have to sort this out,'' said an angry JB. ''I'm sorry to the team and drivers,'' Honda's meek Shuhei Nakamoto later replied.

Minardi: Patrick Friesacher spun on oil, but rookie teammate Christijan Albers limped a damaged Minardi over the line. ''I guess the oil came from a BAR-Honda,'' Austria's Friesacher shrugged.
Fisichella warned over Webber accident Fisichella warned over Webber accidentGiancarlo Fisichella has been warned about his future racing conduct by race stewards at Sepang following his collision with Mark Webber during Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix. Fisichella slid into Webber's BMW Williams as the Australian tried to overtake around the outside of the final corner. After reviewing video footage of the incident and hearing statements from both drivers stewards decided to warn Fisichella but took no further action.
Gordon blows up another Menard engine Gordon blows up another Menard engineRobby Gordon blew up another one of John Menard's hand grenade engines Sunday in Atlanta maintaining a perfect 100% record through the first four races.  Not much different from the Indy Car engines he used to build.
Coulthard surpasses Mansell Coulthard surpasses MansellDavid Coulthard made history on Sunday when the Scottish racing driver finished sixth in the Malaysian Grand Prix and overhauled Englishman Nigel Mansell to become Britain’s greatest points-scorer in Formula One.  Coulthard, 34, next Sunday and a veteran of 13 wins in 177 Grand Prix in 12 seasons of racing, scored the three points required to increase his total to 483, leaping ahead of the 1992 champion Mansell who scored 482 in his 187 races.

He finished fourth in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne two weeks ago on his debut with the new Red Bull team and was understandably delighted with his efforts after Sundays torrid 56-laps race.

"Obviously, I am very proud of that achievement," he said. "I would have loved to have had a world title, that goes without saying. The past is the past, I'm just pleased to be able to keep adding points to my tally."

"This again vindicates my decision to want to be in this business. I'm delighted. I really am very proud of that achievement for everyone who supported me throughout my career. It's no small feat."

"Probably the paddock is divided as to whether I'm very good or not so obviously it's a great achievement for all those who played their part - I've had the prime spot in scoring all those points which is sitting behind the wheel. Jenson's got a long way to go!"

Race Penalties Now Less Severe Race Penalties Now Less SevereBeginning with Sunday's Golden Corral 500, eight infractions that used to bring a stop-and-go penalty will now be addressed with a pass through the pits. They include a crew member jumping over the wall too soon, too many crewmen in the pit service area, using more than two air wrenches during a stop, and tossing the fuel or catch cans. Other violations now covered by a pass-through penalty are: crew members returning from the equipment side of the wall, illegal use of extension poles, failing to carry the front air wrench to the pit wall side, and noncompliant refueling. A stop-and-go requires a car to return to its pit box for 15 seconds, while the lesser penalty is merely going back through pit road at the required speed limit. FoxSports/AP
Goodyear Tire Testing at Lowe's Motor Speedway Goodyear Tire Testing at Lowe's Motor SpeedwayJoe Nemechek and the #01 U.S. Army team will participate in a Goodyear tire test Monday, March 21st at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Nemechek will be the first NEXTEL Cup driver to circle the speedway since engineers used a combination of Global Positioning System technology and three-dimensional laser mapping to smooth the 1.5-mile racing surface. LMS
Industry News
John DeLorean dies John DeLorean diesJohn Z. DeLorean, an automotive innovator who left General Motors Corp. to develop a radically futuristic sports car only to see that venture crash spectacularly as he fought federal drug charges, has died at age 80.

DeLorean was among just a handful of U.S. entrepreneurs who dared start a car company in the last 75 years.

While apt to be remembered popularly as the man behind the car modified for time travel in the "Back to the Future" movies, DeLorean left a powerful imprint in automaking built on unique, souped-up cars.

DeLorean died late Saturday at Overlook Hospital in Summit, N.J., of complications from a recent stroke, said Paul Connell, an owner of A.J. Desmond & Sons Funeral Directors in Royal Oak, Mich., which was handling arrangements. AP Story


John Zachary DeLorean was born as the first of four sons to a foundry worker for Ford Motor Co. After his parents divorced, he grew up there and in Los Angeles. He played saxophone in a jazz band and won a music scholarship to the Lawrence Institute of Technology in Detroit. He shifted to engineering, and after graduating in 1948 was hired by Chrysler. DeLorean later earned advanced degrees in engineering and business administration.

He joined GM in 1956 as an engineering director for Pontiac. His patents included the recessed windshield wiper and the overhead cam engine.

DeLorean led Pontiac by age 40, and four years later became the youngest head of GM's giant Chevrolet division.

He helped shift Detroit toward smaller, more efficient autos, such as the Vega 2300 in 1970.

DeLorean was a GM vice president in charge of all North American car and truck operations when he quit in 1973.

The namesake car he created in the early '80s featured a rear-mounted, aluminum 2.8-liter V-6 fuel-injected engine that produced 130 horsepower and went 0-60 mph in less than 8 seconds. Independent four-wheel suspension, a broad 62-inch stance, and front wheels smaller than the rear set made for tight handling, aficionados said.

"Twenty years later, it's still just as modern as anything coming out of the factories now," Truscott said.

The two-seater originally sold for $33,000, and was available with either automatic or 5-speed manual transmissions. Some are now available for less than $20,000.

After the DeLorean car venture failed, he was involved in some 40 legal cases, including his 1985 divorce from model and talk show personality Cristina Ferrare -- his third wife -- after a 12-year marriage.

"I believe I deserve what happened to me," DeLorean told The Associated Press after the divorce, which followed his drug trial.

"The deadliest sin is pride," he said, proclaiming his faith as a born-again Christian. "I was an arrogant egomaniac. I needed this, as difficult as it was, to get my perspective back."

DeLorean is survived by his wife, Sally DeLorean; son, Zachary Tavio DeLorean; daughters, Kathryn Ann DeLorean and Sheila Baldwin DeLorean; three brothers; several nieces and nephews; and two grandchildren.

A public viewing was scheduled for Wednesday at the funeral home, with a private burial scheduled for Thursday at White Chapel Cemetery in the Detroit suburb of Troy.

A Detroit native, DeLorean broke the mold of staid Midwestern auto executives by "going Hollywood," and pushed GM to offer smaller models, auto historians said.

While at GM, he created what some consider the first "muscle car" in 1964 by cramming a V-8 engine into a Pontiac Tempest and calling it the GTO, fondly dubbed the "Goat" by auto enthusiasts.

"John DeLorean was one of Detroit's larger-than-life figures who secured a noteworthy place in our industry's history," GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said Sunday in a statement. "He made a name for himself through his talent, creativity, innovation and daring. At GM, he will always be remembered as the father of the Pontiac GTO, which really started the muscle-car craze of the '60s."

Last Time a win was stripped for an post-race inspection violation? Last Time a win was stripped for an post-race inspection violation?The last time NASCAR [Cup Series] disqualified a winner for failing a post-race inspection was in 1955, according to an official in NASCAR's statistical services. Fireball Roberts won the Daytona Beach race, but had the win taken away for an engine modification. NASCAR gave Tim Flock the win. Since then, drivers have kept wins regardless of the infractions. NASCAR stripped Rudd of a victory at the Sears Point (now Infineon) road course in 1991 for rough driving. Rudd made contact with leader Davey Allison before the final lap and caused Allison to spin. Rudd crossed the finish line first but was not given the checkered flag. That waved as Allison passed. News and Record
Corvette should have won Corvette should have wonBattered but unbroken, Corvette Racing overcame adversity to finish second and third yesterday in the GT1 class at Sebring International Raceway with the new Corvette C6.R race cars. After dominating the first eight hours of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the final third of the 12-hour race became a test of endurance for the Corvette Racing team as both cars were damaged in accidents. More.....
Aston Martin wins in debut Aston Martin wins in debutAston Martin Racing’s all-new DBR9 took a surprise GT1 class victory and fourth place overall in its debut race in the grueling 53rd Annual 12 Hours of Sebring at the International Raceway.

Record crowds saw David Brabham, Stephane Ortelli and Darren Turner, celebrate a GT1 class victory in the number 57 DBR9, ahead of the number three and number four Corvette C6-R’s. (Photo right by Scott Morris)

An ecstatic David Brabham, who took the checkered flag, enthused: “Aston Martin is back! This is just such a fantastic achievement for everyone involved in the program. The team were just superb - to come here and beat such a strong Corvette team is a massive achievement for Aston Martin Racing.”

Team Principal, George-Howard Chappell commented: “This is a fantastic result for us. Whilst we still have much work to do ahead of Silverstone and Le Mans, we can clearly be pleased with a win in our debut race against such established competition. “Our primary objective here was for both cars to finish – anything beyond that was clearly going to be a welcome bonus. We’ve been encouraged by the reliability of the cars throughout our testing program so far and the fact that they also had the pace to achieve victory here at Sebring is testament to the efforts of the whole Aston Martin Racing team. The whole team really appreciate the overwhelming support from the Sebring crowd throughout this week – especially given the strong home competition!”

Team Director, David Richards added: “This marks the beginning of a new era for Aston Martin.” Aston Martin

Maserati satisfied with MC12’s debut Maserati satisfied with MC12’s debutMaserati made its return to racing in an official car in the United States, obtaining a good finishing position at the 53rd 12 Hours of Sebring.

For the record, the race was won by the Kristensen/Werner/Lehto crew driving the Audi R8. The MC12 crewed by Andrea Bertolini/Fabrizio De Simone and Fabio Babini finished in fifth place in the GT1 category and ninth overall. It was a result that pleased the Maserati Corse technicians given that the car, one modified to adhere to FIA GT1 regulations, was making its competition debut. Only a month has passed since the first test session conducted at the Paul Ricard circuit in France.

It was also the first time that the MC12 had entered a twelve hour event. The very fact of having finished the race at the first attempt is a positive factor and is a demonstration that the project is proceeding well. This was the MC12’s fifth race since its debut at Imola last year.

Unfortunately, an unscheduled stop to secure the two gear lever support brackets in place meant eighteen laps were lost. The repairs could not be carried out in the pit lane and the team had to take the car to the paddock area to fix the problem. A contact with a Sport car and problem with a clutch fluid connection during a pit stop were additional hindrances.

Once back on the track, the MC12 kept up a consistent pace. A best time of 1.59.181 was set on lap 287. Of the thirty-eight crews that lined up at the start, only twenty crossed the finish line.  In line with IMSA rules, the car had 58kg of ballast on board, a factor that had an impact on its performance. In any case, a shrewd strategy, the crew’s fine driving and the Pirelli Racing P Zero tires resulted in the team scoring a great final position. Sebring sets the team up well for the rest of the season.

The IMSA have ruled definitively against Aston Martin’s protest at the MC12’s inclusion in the championship. Andrea Bertolini and Fabrizio De Simone, both at Sebring for the first time, will also be at Road Atlanta for the next meet. Fabio Babini, on the other hand, will be concentrating on the FIA GT international championship at the wheel of the Vitaphone Racing Team’s MC12. Maserati

Unlike Honda, Toyota engines go the distance Unlike Honda, Toyota engines go the distanceWhile Honda blew up both brand-new engines on lap two in Sepang, their Japanese rival Toyota made it through two full race distances with all four cars.  Below are the total distances attained by each RVX-05 unit on the grid:
Jarno Trulli, Panasonic Toyota Racing, 1244.4km
Ralf Schumacher, Panasonic Toyota Racing, 1171.1km
Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan-Toyota, 1263.7km
Tiago Monteiro, Jordan-Toyota, 1302.3km
Why is Penske getting special treatment? Why is Penske getting special treatment?A reader asks, Why is Team Penske allowed to rebuild their own engines in the IRL and no one else is? I read on SPEEDTV.com - Jim Aust, president of Toyota Racing Development say it's not because of anything special on his end that Penske's cars are faster than all the other Toyotas. "Everybody with a Toyota gets exactly the same parts -- all the way down to the O Rings," said Aust after Hornish and Castroneves ran 1-2 at Phoenix. "I know everybody is wondering the same thing because Ganassi has a great team as well and Cheever has good drivers. I don't know what it is either. Penske is dedicated and they've obviously got a combination that happens to work. But their engines are just like everyone else's."

Roger Penske has been doing his own engines for many years, and because he has money his engineers find more HP from the engines than even Toyota can. It's obvious when all the other Toyota teams are struggling except his. Honda does all their engines. Why doesn't Toyota do theirs too, including Penske's? Why? Because Roger is The Captain, who always, as the book says, gains an "unfair advantage." Mary Hamilton, New Orleans, LA.

Fisichella and Webber at odds over Sepang clash Fisichella and Webber at odds over Sepang clashGiancarlo Fisichella and Mark Webber were left at odds over who was to blame for the crash that put them out of the Malaysian Grand Prix. Both drivers were called to the stewards after the race here in Sepang but Fisichella, who won the race in Australia, insisted he was not to blame despite clearly locking his brakes and sliding into his rival.

"The car was not fantastic, the grip was not enough and I was struggling a bit but third was okay," Fisichella said. "I lost a bargeboard and lost a lot of downforce, a couple of seconds per lap. Mark caught me, he overtook me, then I overtook him again. I was ahead as we went in the corner, I saw him coming from the outside but there was no possibility for him to overtake me, there was no room. It is not my fault."

Webber apportioned the blame squarely on Fisichella's shoulders. "His tires were finished," said Webber who had already survived a brush with Toyota racer Ralf Schumacher. "I passed him fair and square. He came down the inside, there is zero grip there, he braked late and came into the side of me. I don't know how he was ever going to stop faster than me. The podium was there for me and it is really disappointing. But the fans enjoyed it and we will enjoy it again next time."

Ferrari leave Sepang with tail between legs Ferrari leave Sepang with tail between legsThe Ferrari team and key partners leave Sepang and the Malaysian Grand Prix well aware that they have plenty of work to do after Michael Schumacher finished in a distant seventh position scoring his first two points of the year. Rubens Barrichello did not finish the 56-lap race after pulling his F2004 M into the pits to retire from 11th place late in the race. The team have ten points from the first two events and are now working flat out to get the definitive 2005 chassis ready to race. For seven time Champion Michael Schumacher, seventh position is no cause for celebration while Sporting Director Jean Todt says there are no excuses.

Michael Schumacher “Of course, seventh place is not exactly worth celebrating, but I feel that I did the best I could have done today, coming up from 13th on the grid. My car ran reliably and with no problems. I was a bit conservative in the early stages, to be sure of having a competitive car in the closing parts and, given the situation I can be happy with two points. A Formula One car is very complex and there is not one single factor to blame for our poor performance. We are simply not strong enough in several areas at the moment. We are well aware of that and we are and we will continue to work hard to deal with that. Now I head to Mugello to drive the F2005 for the first time. Driving a new car is always something special, so I am looking forward to that.”
Rubens Barrichello "The race was going quite well at first and I was able to fight for at least sixth place. All of a sudden the car developed quite a lot of oversteer. I radioed the team and they told me that they could tell that there had been a change to the aerodynamics on the car and the handling was transformed: it was very bad. Then, when I pitted again, they found that a piece of rubber had got attached to the wing. But, because I had run for at least 20 laps with too much oversteer, it ruined my rear tires. It’s a shame, because until then the balance of the car was good. I wasn’t quick enough to win of course, but I could have ended up in the top six.”

Jean Todt “There can be no excuses after a race like this. After qualifying, we knew the race would be one of fighting our way up the order and so it turned out. We were beaten by opponents who proved to be stronger than us. We have won so often thanks to the work of the team and our partners and now we have to work together to turn the situation around. Once again, this shows how difficult it is to win. We know we have all the elements required to succeed. Our will to win and our readiness to work hard remain the same as ever. We already have three days of testing scheduled for next week at Mugello to develop the F2005 and the Bridgestone tires. After that, we will make a decision as to the program for the new car.”

Ross Brawn “This was a very disappointing race. We had been optimistic that track conditions might suit us during the race, but that did not happen. We were not competitive today, so I think we and our technical partners must look at what can be done over the next few weeks and months, to put us back where we need to be, because clearly we were not good enough today. We have been in this situation before and it might well happen again at some time in the future. But I have every faith in our own ability and that of our partners to rectify this situation. Regarding Rubens’ problem, we discovered that a piece of rubber got wedged in the rear wing. That upset the balance of the car, but he kept going and eventually, the handling imbalance damaged the rear tires. Michael did as much as we could have expected. He paced himself well during the race, the strategy was good, he pushed when he needed to. A couple of points could prove vital at the end of the season.” Ferrari

180,000 is record crowd for Sebring 180,000 is record crowd for SebringUPDATE A reader chimes in, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I was at the Sebring race. Huge crowd but it was a very light field this year. It seems apparent that a lot of competitors have been lost to Grand Am. Interesting thing is that so many people showed up, and the field was way down. The Grand-Am field almost doubled, and the crowd dropped. Interesting. Scott Mayfield, Orlando Dear Scott, It's not a mystery. We have been saying for years that road racing fans have zero interest in the France family's vision of dumbed down NASCARized sports cars. None. The attendance at their events say it all. Yet they continue to pump increasing amounts of money into the series in an effort to break the back of the ALMS. They either want to totally monopolize racing in the USA or kill off all competitors to their beloved NASCAR. In the end the paying customer has spoken. They have rejected the Grand-Am lock, stock and barrel. When is the France family going dissolve their failed puppy and let the two series merge so that sports car racing can grow? If the conspiracy theory is correct, never.....until ALMS's back is broken. Mark C. 03/20/05 A record 180,000 people attended this year's 12 Hours of Sebring ALMS event. That's more fans than the Grand-Am series will see through the turnstiles in 10 years (cumulatively). Why does the Grand-Am even exist if no fans show up to watch the races? The conspiracy theorists will tell you it's the France family's strategy to divide and conquer sports car racing so it doesn't get too big and take away from NASCAR's popularity. They say they employed the same strategy in siding with Tony George in his efforts to divide and destroy Indy Car Racing, once more popular than NASCAR.
NASCAR's pit road speeding system under fire NASCAR's pit road speeding system under fireNASCAR's new electronic pit road monitoring system – once hailed as a cure-all for the randomness and inaccuracies of its old system – is receiving a growing chorus of criticism from Nextel Cup drivers, crew chiefs and team owners.  For years, teams complained the old system used to monitor drivers' speeds on pit road, which involved officials timing random cars with stopwatches, was ineffective and arbitrary.

The electronic system, which is supposed to monitor all 43 cars in the race each time they are on pit road, was introduced in the season-opening Daytona 500 to rave reviews.

Since then, the system has received a barrage of criticism, with the bulk coming because NASCAR refuses to allow teams, or the media, to see the speeds of cars tagged for a violation in "real time," or when they occur.

Currently, teams are told of a speeding penalty as it happens, but only after the race are given an opportunity to see paperwork with the speeds.

NASCAR says it has no plans to allow anyone to see real-time pit road speeds.

"There's no reason for that," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president for competition. "They don't let the football players go to the review booth, either."

NFL players, and the public, do see replays on TV while calls are being reviewed, however.

Last weekend at Las Vegas, Kevin Harvick was called for speeding while exiting pit road. Why is that odd? Harvick was in the third pit stall from the exit, which means he had to have accelerated from zero to at least 60 mph before reaching the pit road exit line, approximately 140 feet.

The pit road speed limit at Las Vegas was 55 mph, but NASCAR has previously said it grants a 5 mph tolerance on pit road violations.

"If it's such a great system, then why can't anyone see the speeds before the race ends? They called me this week and said they could show me where I screwed up after the race, but they're still picking and choosing when they do it and when they don't," Harvick said.

"It's just like the old system, they got all this technology but nobody can see it."   More from Orlando Sentinel  [Editor's Note:  There is absolutely no reason why NASCAR can't show the pit road speeds in real time.  None....unless of course they want to manipulate the outcome of the race by overlooking certain speeders but not others.  If not true NASCAR, then make the pit road speeds available real-time for all to see and remove all doubt from our minds.] 

Cheating a given in NASCAR Cheating a given in NASCARIn the second race Big Bill France ever promoted - in 1938, nearly a decade before he founded NASCAR - the winner was disqualified for cheating.  Carl "Smokey" Purser took the checkered flag on Daytona Beach and just kept going, away from the race course to a downtown garage, then returned a while later for post-race inspection.  Big Bill didn't know and couldn't prove exactly how Purser cheated. He disqualified him anyway.

Fast-forward 38 years to 1976, and we find A.J. Foyt in a huff, about to be thrown off the Daytona 500 pole for cheating. Big Bill walks into the inspection station, where Foyt is raging, and closes the door.  "He said, `A.J., I think you're illegal,'" Foyt recalls. "I said, `No sir!' He said, `A.J., you're still disqualified.'"   That was it. Judge Roy Bean himself would have been proud.

Fast-forward another 39 years, to the present. There has been a big roundup of rustlers -- I mean, alleged cheaters -- from last race weekend, at Las Vegas. Three Nextel Cup crew chiefs have been suspended and two drivers docked championship points, including race winner Jimmie Johnson, knocked from atop the standings by the penalty.

Big Bill is 23 years gone, but NASCAR justice remains unyielding. Confess (as Kevin Harvick's crew chief did) or swear your innocence (as Johnson did). It doesn't matter. You're still going to be found guilty and sentenced summarily.

And things are about to get tougher. Word is, NASCAR President Mike Helton will chew out the teams at Atlanta this weekend, behind closed doors, threatening bigger penalties, longer suspensions and maybe worse, if the supposed lawlessness doesn't stop. So far, no gallows will be erected in the garage area.  Yet. 

What has long been called cheating in NASCAR is not comparable to steroids in baseball, where they're setting an awful example for self-damage to human bodies. Here they're tweaking pieces of metal, innovating, seeking advantages because everybody else is too. It's a merry cops and robbers, dating to revenuers and moonshiners, but the righteous new mission is to "protect the integrity of this sport," NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter told The Associated Press this week.

Isn't it a little late for that? Sixty-seven years of horses escaping from the barn, and now they want to close the door and pretend it never was open?  More from Orlando Sentinel  [Editor's Note:  No other form of motorsport, or sport, is rife with so much cheating as NASCAR. It's a sad situation where the competitors are constantly thinking up ways to cheat to win.  We have been saying this for years.  Now finally NASCAR is putting their foot down.  It's not going to work unless they start to exclude cars from racing as a form of penalty.  Too bad if it hurts their sponsor.  Don't cheat and you won't hurt your sponsor.  It's as simple as that.    But will NASCAR do that when penalty press releases help to make news during the week between events?  We shall see....] 

BAR Honda make fools of themselves BAR Honda make fools of themselvesBAR Honda found a loophole in the rules and, whereas all the other teams had used engines from Australia, started with fresh engines in Malaysia by stopping both cars in Australia before the end of the race, which then qualifies for a new engine next race. Ironically, despite having the new engine, both Honda powered cars blew up on lap 2 and were done......which had to bring a smile to many up and down pit road.
How popular is Jos Verstappen? How popular is Jos Verstappen?How popular is Jos Verstappen?  So popular his fans overloaded and crashed the guestbook database on the HVM website since they heard he will be testing for the team in Sebring this coming week.  He will be a good addition to the Champ Car grid as the once popular series looks to restore some of its past glory.
Ferrari 'rushing' new car Ferrari 'rushing' new carBelieve it or not, F1 rival Renault wants Ferrari to debut their brand new 'F2005' model 'as early as possible.'  Flavio Briatore, Enstone principal, said the move would indicate a loss of 'rationality' within the scarlet camp.

''Ferrari planned (to debut the car) in Spain,'' the Italian said, referring to the world champions' ploy to fast track the plan to Bahrain.  I think it's good for us if they rush it.''

Meanwhile, McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa scoffed at Ross Brawn's claim that the F2005 will be up to a full second per lap quicker.   The Spaniard, 34, said: ''I don't think so.  I'm sure it'll be a lot less.'' Andrew Maitland/GMM

Qual.2 roundup - Malaysia Qual.2 roundup - Malaysia
Minardi-Cosworth: Thought Minardi looked slow on Saturday?  Today, the best black runner - on aggregate - qualified a mighty fourteen seconds behind pole sitter Fernando Alonso.  ''I'm happy the race is soon,'' said Patrick Friesacher.

Jordan-Toyota: Narain Karthikeyan became dehydrated after Saturday's running.  ''The biggest challenge in the race,'' said the Indian, ''will be the heat.''

Sauber-Petronas:  ''We're not very fast,'' Jacques Villeneuve admitted.  Maybe so, but teammate Felipe Massa (14th) is faster.  ''I had lots of understeer,'' the young Brazilian moaned, ''and was quite slow.''

McLaren-Mercedes:  In the aggregate shake-up, Kimi Raikkonen dropped from fourth to sixth.  Juan Pablo Montoya made another mistake or two, and is eleventh.  ''Even though we lost positions,'' said the Colombian, ''I still think we have a good chance.''

Ferrari: Rubens Barrichello (12th) hopped ahead of Felipe Massa and teammate Michael Schumacher (13th).  ''My aim is to, at least, finish in the points,'' said Schumacher.

BMW-Williams: Mark Webber's a solid fourth, but Nick Heidfeld (10th) wore a scowl.  ''My car didn't handle well,'' he said, ''and I made a mistake.''

BAR-Honda: Jenson Button ninth, Anthony Davidson fifteenth.

Red Bull-Cosworth: Don't try to wipe the smile off Christian Klien's (7th) face -- he outqualified David Coulthard.  ''I'm really pleased,'' said the Austrian.  DC called his lap 'messy.'

Renault: Giancarlo Fisichella would like to pass Jarno Trulli (2nd) before the first corner.  ''I still have some understeer today,'' the Roman said in the FIA press conference.

Toyota: Also in the conference, front-row Trulli added: ''This is a sign of progress.'' Andrew Maitland/GMM

Jean Todt and Michelle Yeoh Jean Todt and Michelle Yeoh

Ferrari team boss Jean Todt and fiancée Michelle Yeoh
Notes from Sepang - 2 Notes from Sepang - 2
Karthikeyan 'dehydrated' India's first ever F1 driver, Narain Karthikeyan, ended Saturday at Sepang 'dehydrated,' a countryman and journalist reported. The Jordan rookie, 28, called off a planned video conference after the one-lap session because he 'did not want to take any risk the day before the race,' a Tata Motors spokesman - NK sponsor and conference organizer - said. Narain 'rested' for the rest of the day, he added.

Verstappen to test Champ Car The Netherlands' former F1 hero Jos Verstappen is on a plane to Indianapolis. He'll be in America to test for Keith Wiggins' Champ Car team. Verstappen, 33 and an ex-Benetton, Tyrrell and Minardi veteran, will fly to Sebring on Tuesday for the Wednesday test. ''The wait has paid off,'' JV told his website. ''We've made the first step. ''With good times I want to convince (them) I'm the man for the job.'' Former Jaguar tester Bjorn Wirdheim may also test at Sebring.

Sauber 'hobbled'? Ferrari powered grand prix team Sauber distanced itself from the so-called 'group of nine' at Sepang. Peter Sauber's Hinwil based operation said it was not consulted prior to the Minardi-issued statement entitled 'nine teams record ... disappointment regarding Ferrari testing.' Some suggested Sauber had been hobbled. ''When it comes to an issue such as this,'' said McLaren's Ron Dennis, ''(Sauber) isn't able to support it in public.'' He added, more informally: ''Do I have to spell it out for you?'' Meanwhile, BAR's CEO Nick Fry slammed Ferrari for 'flagrantly' disrespecting its competitors by testing non-stop. He said: ''If (Michael) Schumacher gains another world championship, it'll be hollow.''

'New' GPWC to be unveiled A new structure for the once-named 'GPWC' championship will be unveiled in April. McLaren chairman Ron Dennis hinted at Sepang that the soon-renamed 'breakaway' coalition would not involve Max Mosley's FIA. ''No one is comfortable with how we're being governed,'' he said. Ferrari, the aforementioned Federation, and Bernie Ecclestone are already signed-up for the conceivably defunct (post-2007) F1 category. 'GPWC' was comprised of BMW, Mercedes and Renault, but Toyota and Honda could line-up behind the all-new structure. Ferrari's Ross Brawn said in Malaysia: ''We don't want to be at odds with our fellow teams. ''It's a very complex issue.''

Sluggish champ backed Add another name to speculation that Anthony Davidson may replace the ailing Jacques Villeneuve -- McLaren test driver Alex Wurz. But, although the former world champion is again off the pace in Malaysia, a couple of men who once worked with Sauber-driving Villeneuve have defended him. ''His reputation is of being very laid back,'' said Pat Symonds, Renault - JV's home late last year - director of engineering. ''He's not -- he works quite hard. ''He's a very good driver and I can understand how he won the (1997) world championship.'' So why's JV so slow in '05? Symonds thinks a year away from full-throttle F1 is a near knock-out blow for any driver. Meanwhile, Geoff Willis - technical director at Jacques' old BAR team, backed the 'hard worker' tag. But he added: ''Jacques' very sensitive to what the car does.'' Andrew Maitland/GMM

Notes from Sepang - 1 Notes from Sepang - 1
Trulli sweet'n'sour A stellar pace aside, Jarno Trulli is a bit glum in the Sepang F1 paddock. The Toyota driver, after provisionally qualifying second on Saturday, revealed that 'a friend of mine has just died. ''I'm shocked. I just heard,'' the Italian told the media. ''I dedicate this ... to Stefano.'' 'Stefano', a rescue pilot for Canada Air, swooped on a fire on Friday but struck an electric cable. Shock and sadness aside, Trulli said - when signing for the Cologne-based team - he ultimately 'expected' to be at the very front of the grid. ''And things will only improve further,'' he promised, even though he is fearful of a repeat of Australia's rear tire problem.

Alonso - 'I love Sepang' Fernando Alonso, pole man in 2003, is a real fan of Malaysia's Sepang circuit. While Michael Schumacher & co. can't wait for Spa and Suzuka, the young Spaniard said the hot and humid venue is the best F1 layout 'in the world. ''It's a bit like Spa (in Belgium),'' he explained. ''High speed, low speed, very wide and smooth -- you have everything here to enjoy a lap.'' 23-year-old FA, meanwhile, is not worried that the Renault engine - also used in Australia - might fail in grand prix-two. ''100 per cent,'' Alonso smiled.

Schu - 'I can't win' It'll be almost impossible for Michael Schumacher, albeit a seven time champion, to win the Malaysian GP. Even the German, 36, can admit that. ''Renault and McLaren are the big ones to watch,'' he said after provisionally qualifying a dismal 12th. ''That's clear. ''But we have a strong engine so we can do some overtaking -- more here than in Melbourne.'' But, asked if he can pull off a legendary Schumi-win, the Ferrari driver conceded it's unlikely. MS winked: ''Maybe a podium. Our race pace is pretty good.'' He also hinted that Jarno Trulli's Toyota, while quick over a hot lap or two, could - like Melbourne - again suffer from tire degradation 'and lose pace.' Andrew Maitland/GMM

Alonso retains Pole Position from Trulli Alonso retains Pole Position from TrulliFernando Alonso, Jarno Trulli and Giancarlo Fisichella remained the top three on the grid for this afternoon’s Malaysian Grand Prix, following a thrilling second qualifying session this morning.

It was the Spaniard who put in the fastest lap, of 1m 35.090s, to retain his overall advantage with 3m 07.672s. Trulli’s overall best was 3m 07.925s, and Fisichella’s 3m 8.448s.

One of the bigger movers was Williams’ Mark Webber, who jumped from sixth to fourth on 3m 08.904s after lapping in 1m 35.700s. Ralf Schumacher remains fifth with 3m 09.007s, but Kimi Raikkonen dropped from fourth to sixth on 3m 09.483s.

The other biggest movers were the Red Bull duo, Christian Klien and David Coulthard. The Austrian maintained his advantage over his team-mate with 3m 09.589s, the Scot lapping in 3m 09.700s to climb from 11th to eighth. Clearly they look to be running lighter fuel loads than others.

Jenson Button remained ninth for BAR with 3m 09.832s, and Nick Heidfeld went the opposite way to Williams team mate Webber by dropping from eighth to 10th on 3m 09.917s after losing a bit of time going too far over a curb.

The biggest loser of all was Juan Pablo Montoya, who went from seventh to 11th on 3m 10.090s after a small mistake braking for one of the hairpins. The word from McLaren, however, is ‘Watch us in the race’.

Ferrari are still in trouble, but Rubens Barrichello vaulted past Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher to take 12th place on 3m 11.502s, while the world champion managed 3m 11.633s so drops a place to 13th.

At Sauber, Felipe Massa complained of understeer on his fuel load and dropped from 13th to 14th on 3m 11.884s as a result, and team mate Jacques Villeneuve was 16th on 3m 12.995s.

Anthony Davidson separates them with 3m 11.890s, and is thus ready to start his third grand prix, and his first for BAR, in 15th spot.

Narain Karthikeyan maintained his 17th position ahead of Jordan team mate Tiago Monteiro, with times of 3m 17.656s and 3m 17.962s respectively, while Patrick Friesacher and Christijan Albers likewise stayed put on 3m 21.186s and 3m 23.001s.

There are clearly a fair few refueling strategies at work. Almost certainly everyone will go for two stops, but the timing of them may well be critical. That, and tire wear in track temperatures expected to near 60 degrees Celsius. Without question, this is going to be a very tough race. .

Starting Grid
1. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault 1:32.582 1:35.090 3:07.672
2. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota 1:32.672 1:35.253 3:07.925
3. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Renault 1:32.765 1:35.683 3:08.448
4. Mark Webber Australia Williams-BMW 1:33.204 1:35.700 3:08.904
5. Ralf Schumacher Germany Toyota 1:33.106 1:35.901 3:09.007
6. Kimi Raikkonen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 1:32.839 1:36.644 3:09.483
7. Christian Klien Austria Red Bull-Cosworth 1:33.724 1:35.865 3:09.589
8. David Coulthard Britain Red Bull-Cosworth 1:33.809 1:35.891 3:09.700
9. Jenson Button Britain BAR-Honda 1:33.616 1:36.216 3:09.832
10. Nick Heidfeld Germany Williams-BMW 1:33.464 1:36.453 3:09.917
11. Juan Pablo Montoya Colombia McLaren-Mercedes 1:33.333 1:36.757 3:10.090
12. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Ferrari 1:34.162 1:37.340 3:11.502
13. Michael Schumacher Germany Ferrari 1:34.072 1:37.561 3:11.633
14. Felipe Massa Brazil Sauber-Petronas 1:34.151 1:37.733 3:11.884
15. Anthony Davidson Britain BAR-Honda 1:34.866 1:37.024 3:11.890
16. Jacques Villeneuve Canada Sauber-Petronas 1:34.887 1:38.108 3:12.995
17. Narain Karthikeyan India Jordan-Toyota 1:37.806 1:39.850 3:17.656
18. Tiago Monteiro Portugal Jordan-Toyota 1:37.856 1:40.106 3:17.962
19. Patrick Friesacher Austria Minardi-Cosworth 1:39.268 1:41.918 3:21.186
20. Christijan Albers Netherlands Minardi-Cosworth 1:40.432 1:42.569 3:23.001

Alex Job Racing has Disappointing Sebring Alex Job Racing has Disappointing SebringAlex Job Racing finished the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in a disappointing thirteenth and fourteenth place in GT2 this evening in round one of the American Le Mans Series.

The day started very positive with both Alex Job Racing cars running strong with the number 23 AJR car leading and the number 24 car in sixth place.  Things began to unravel on lap 20 when Randy Pobst, driving the 24/BellMicroproducts/ProVest/Alex Job Racing/Porsche 911 GT3, in sixth place began to hear transmission noise.  Soon after third gear had gone, causing his lap times to increase.  The team took the Porsche to the paddock and had to rebuild the transmission.  ALMS series rules no longer allow the replacement of the transmission; teams have to rebuild the one that started the race in the car.  This repair took about two hours.  Upon returning to the track on lap 107, the transmission problems persisted with a loss of fifth gear.  The car could not be repaired a second time to put it back on the track to complete 70% of race distance to score points so the car was withdrawn from the race.

The number 23/mail2web.com/Hyatt/Alex Job Racing/Porsche 911 GT3 RSR was started by defending GT2 series champion Timo Bernhard.  Bernhard took the lead in class on lap three from his third place starting position.  He then handed over to season long teammate Romain Dumas on lap 37 and the French driver continued to lead the GT2 field.  Sascha Maasen assumed the seat early in the afternoon only to suffer an engine problem that ended the day for the AJR 23 entry just four hours and 107 laps into the race.

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