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Relatives of MH370 passengers forced to switch hotel as F1 arrives in Kuala Lumpur (Update)  UPDATE It's a bit of a tedious situation this year. The Cyberview Hotel that Ferrari is staying at for the grand prix next weekend is also the hotel that has been hosting the families of people on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the plane that has been missing for over two weeks.

According to NBC, more than a dozen Chinese family members of passengers on the flight were forced to switch hotels Friday because of Ferrari's arrival.

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said he felt sorry for the family members forced to move because of Ferrari's bookings.

"I feel terribly, terribly sorry for these people," he told NBC. "But it is up to the hotel. What would happen if you told somebody that they no longer had a booking? You would get sued, I’d imagine.”

“If you have a booking at a hotel, what are you supposed to do?” More ...

Martin Truex Jr. Forced to Backup Car  Furniture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. was forced to a backup Chevrolet after damaging his primary car in Saturday's first Sprint Cup practice at Auto Club Speedway. The incident was triggered when the left-rear tire went flat as Truex was going into Turn 1 on the 2-mile oval. 

Truex's No. 78 Chevrolet smacked the outside wall, causing major body damage to the right-side of the car. Since he will be in a backup car, Truex's 12th-place qualifying effort will be nullified as he will have to start the 200-lap race from the rear of the field.  More ...

Marquez takes Qatar pole  
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez has secured the first pole of the season at the Losail circuit in Qatar with a time of 1’54.507, marking his 10th MotoGP career pole, from 19 starts in the class.

It was an exciting session with fastest times being traded between several riders. Marc, who is still suffering from the injury that sidelined him from the last two Winter tests, took provisional pole on his first exit in Q2 before securing it with a faster time on his final lap of his second exit. He’s now found a setup he is happy with and will work on fine tuning it in tomorrow’s warm-up session. More ...

Alexander Rossi Tops GP2 Timesheets Each Day in Bahrain Test  
Alexander Rossi
Alexander Rossi stamped his authority on the first day of the official GP2 testing in Bahrain by posting the fastest time of the day with a 1:40.604 during the afternoon session. Following a positive Abu Dhabi test, the team had moved to Bahrain hopeful of fine tuning the performance of the car and quickly showed their strength on track with consistent and positive results.

A near perfect second day of testing for EQ8 Caterham Racing saw Alexander end the day in P2 after experiencing a brief and unusual rain shower during his new tire run. With just four hundredths of a second separating him from P1, Alexander's morning times were good enough to maintain the second position until the end of the day. With performance runs completed during the morning session the focus then moved to consistency and tire evaluation over long runs during the afternoon.

The final day saw a trend in the positive performance and Alexander’s fastest lap from day two remained unbeaten for the remainder of the test. The third day's running went to plan with Alexander narrowly missing out on the top spot by just 0.046 during the morning performance runs. Having completed a large number laps over the last three days on both the Pirelli hard and soft tires the team now move to the Bahrain race on 5th and 6th April confident in both their qualifying and race pace. More ...

Brian C. speaks with Jim Michaelian  
Long Beach promoter Jim Michaelian thinks a 'Triple Crown' type-format highlighting the series' diversity would be good for IndyCar.
Yesterday, AutoRacing1.com columnist Brian Carroccio asked Grand Prix Association of Long Beach President/CEO Jim Michaelian about the changes to the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. In particular, Brian wanted to get Mr. Michaelian's thoughts regarding the series' decision to award double points in the three 500-mile races at Fontana, Indianapolis and Pocono, while keeping the other races such as Long Beach the same.

Michaelian did not criticize the decision, but did offer this interesting observation. "In the past I have been supportive of a different format which would be analogous to the 'Triple Crown' for horse racing. In that format the series would pick a street race, a road race and an oval which could vary from year to year and put some kind of added points incentive for those. That way they could highlight the diversity of the tracks as one of the strengths of series."

Yesterday, Brian C. shared his thoughts on the matter in this column.

AR1 Staff

Track scan dumps IndyCar  A letter from Track Scan:

"Dear IndyCar Fans,

It is an honor to have such a dedicated and loyal fan base over the past 20 years while providing Track Scan services at IndyCar events. We have truly enjoyed seeing familiar faces returning event after event, year after year. Track Scan has felt like a member of your extended racing family and for that we thank you!

Today, we are sorry to announce that Track Scan products will no longer be available at all 2014 IndyCar events. The changing racing landscape and distribution of resources does not make it viable to return to the full IndyCar schedule. As with all of our Series partners, we will continue to work together to revisit this partnership as part of the FanVision portfolio of events. More ...

Domenicali urges Ferrari to 'react'  
Stefano Domenicali's team getting beat again
Ferrari must react as a "team" to last Sunday's trouncing by Mercedes, that is the opinion of team boss Stefano Domenicali.

Although Ferrari had a solid pre-season, when it all came down to it at the first race of the Championship the Scuderia found their F14T lacking.

Fernando Alonso could only manage fifth on the grid while an accident meant Kimi Raikkonen started in 11th place.

Despite both drivers finishing inside the points, fourth and seventh respectively, at no stage of the grand prix did it appear as if Ferrari had the pace to challenge for the podium never mind the win. More ...

Open wheel split started by Tony George caused Toyota to look to NASCAR (Update)  UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AR1.com, Given the destruction to their bread and butter noted below, I am surprised the Hulman George family still allows Tony George in the paddock. Most families would have disowned him.  Mordichai Rosen, Los Angeles, CA

03/22/14 Had the CART-IRL split of the mid-1990s never occurred, Toyota might still be racing open-wheelers instead of having a huge presence in NASCAR. But according to Toyota's U.S. racing boss, the split diluted the value of Indy car racing so badly that it ceased being of interest to the automaker.

"To demonstrate the lack of value ... in 2003, we won the Indy 500, we won the race in Japan, we won 13 out of 16 races that year, and that fall, we still had to sell to our management to stay in the sport," said David Wilson, president and general manager of TRD, U.S.A., the Costa Mesa, Calif.-based racing arm of Toyota.

"As much as we loved it from an engineering standpoint, we also starting realizing that there were a lot of empty seats," said Wilson. "And open-wheel in the United States was not exactly catching fire, so that started our ... relationship with NASCAR." Fox Sports More ...

Villeneuve gets his seat fitting  
Jacques Villeneuve
A few minutes into his seat fitting March 20 at the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports facility in Indianapolis, Jacques Villeneuve visualized the Verizon IndyCar Series car entering Turn 1 of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"It's really exciting. This is the next step toward Indy," said the 1995 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner, who on May 17 will seek to qualify for the 98th Indianapolis 500. "It's good to be sitting in an open-wheel car again."

Villeneuve and team owners Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson announced the alliance for the 500 Mile Race on Feb. 21. The No. 5 Honda-powered car will complement the full-season entries of Simon Pagenaud and Mikhail Aleshin. More ...

Rupert, Scott, Hough lead Friday qualifying at IHRA Southwestern Nationals  The return of traditional qualifying and a healthy championship battle was just as sweet as expected as the IHRA Nitro Jam Drag Racing Series opened the 2014 season on Friday to the fanfare of an excited crowd at the 2014 IHRA Southwestern Nationals at Southwestern International Raceway.

Jason Rupert led the way in IHRA's most anticipated championship, taking the top spot in Nitro Funny Car with a well-earned 5.898-second elapsed time at 245 miles per hour. Mike Scott topped the Nitro Harley field on Friday with a 6.353, 221.49 and Kyle Hough took the pole in Nitro Altered with a 6.796, 187.11 run. Mountain Motor Pro Stock will make the first of its qualifying runs on Saturday.

Nearly all of the chart-topping runs took place during the second round of competition as drivers struggled to find the right setup right out of the box. Rupert topped the charts after both rounds on opening night, but his final run on Friday set the pace for Saturday eliminations. More ...

Red Bull vows to 'prove' case in April 14 appeal (Update)  UPDATE
Daniel Ricciardo, from cheers to tears
(GMM)  Red Bull's appeal against the Daniel Ricciardo disqualification will take place in Paris a week after the Bahrain grand prix, the FIA announced late on Friday.

"The decision will be published as soon as possible after the (April 14) hearing," said the governing body in a statement.

The hearing is an important one not only for Red Bull - pushing to recover from a disastrous 2014 pre-season - but also for the FIA as it governs the sport's revolutionary regulations change.

Ricciardo was excluded by the stewards because a mandatory flow sensor fitted to his car showed that its Renault engine broke the new rule limiting fuel consumption. More ...

Lotus needs more staff - Grosjean  (GMM)  Lotus needs to recruit staff following a disastrous start to the 2014 season, team driver Romain Grosjean says.

Although competitive, the Enstone based team had a dire end to the 2013 season amid obvious financial difficulties, losing Kimi Raikkonen to Ferrari and later boss Eric Boullier to McLaren.

But there are no longer any reports of financial difficulty, after Pastor Maldonado and his PDVSA millions arrived, and reportedly 100 staff were shed.

Frenchman Grosjean said he supports the changes. More ...

Jimmie Johnson would like shorter Cup schedule  NASCAR drivers often want a little more time off. Six-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson apparently is one of them.

The race this weekend at Auto Club Speedway is 400 miles. It used to be 500 miles. 

Prior to practice Friday, Johnson was asked his opinion about shorter races and, in a grander scheme of things, a shorter Cup schedule. The circuit currently runs 36 points races each year, plus two special events. More ...

Audi to run 2014 R18 in town of Le Mans  Audi will unveil the definitive livery of its 2014 R18 e-tron quattro World Endurance Championship contender when Tom Kristensen drives the car from the city center of Le Mans to the racetrack next week.

Kristensen, who is bidding for a 10th victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours this season, will undertake the nine-mile journey with a police escort on Tuesday, March 25. The route will take him from the Place des Jacobins, the traditional home of Le Mans scrutineering in race week, to the Welcome Centre at the circuit.

The new R18 has so far been seen in photographs and in public appearances, in an interim livery. More ...

Andersen Promotions Launches Mazda Road to Indy Web TV Initiative  Flanked by racing industry leaders, regional corporate, political and community leaders and competitors in the Mazda Road to Indy, Andersen Promotions Owner and CEO Dan Andersen and Tampa-based Victory Group's CEO Adam Goodman this evening announced a new web TV initiative designed to boost open-wheel racing in North America "beginning with the sport's next generation." The gala launch of RoadToIndy.TV was held at the Victory Group's studios with over 200 guests in attendance.

The RoadToIndy.TV initiative led by Victory Group Creative Director Juan Pablo Manterola will comprise a stream of bi-weekly episodes throughout the racing season focusing on the behind-the-scenes stories of drivers and teams on their way up the ladder in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires. More ...

Johnson tops opening practice in Fontana  Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson topped the opening practice leaderboard in his home state Friday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

Johnson's best speed of 188.664 mph, achieved on the first of his seven laps, was enough to best a field of 43 cars.

A pair of Hendrick Motorsports teammates joined Johnson in the top five in Jeff Gordon (second, 188.511 mph) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fourth, 187.740 mph), while Clint Bowyer (third, 187.774) and Brad Keselowski (fifth, 187.003) completed the top five.

Last week's winner at Bristol Motor Speedway, Carl Edwards, was 20th on the charts at 184.644 mph, while defending race-winner Kyle Busch (185.066 mph) was 13th. More ...

MotoGP Free Practice Three Results in Qatar  
1. Aleix Espargaro ESP NGM Forward Racing (Forward Yamaha) 1m 54.773s
2. Andrea Iannone ITA Pramac Racing (Desmosedici) 1m 55.186s  +0.413s
3. Alvaro Bautista ESP GoFun Honda Gresini (RC213V) 1m 55.240s  +0.467s
4. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Ducati Team (Desmosedici) 1m 55.250s  +0.477s
5. Marc Marquez ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 1m 55.446s  +0.673s
6. Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 1m 55.474s  +0.701s
7. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 1m 55.495s  +0.722s
8. Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda MotoGP (RC213V) 1m 55.676s  +0.903s
9. Valentino Rossi ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP (YZR-M1) 1m 55.702s  +0.929s
10. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 1m 55.754s  +0.981s
11. Pol Espargaro ESP Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 1m 55.793s  +1.020s
12. Cal Crutchlow GBR Ducati Team (Desmosedici) 1m 56.013s  +1.240s
13. Nicky Hayden USA Drive M7 Aspar (RCV1000R) 1m 56.357s  +1.584s
14. Colin Edwards USA NGM Forward Racing (Forward Yamaha) 1m 56.373s  +1.600s
15. Yonny Hernandez COL Pramac Racing (Desmosedici) 1m 56.633s  +1.860s
16. Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Drive M7 Aspar (RCV1000R) 1m 56.939s  +2.166s
17. Scott Redding GBR GoFun Honda Gresini (RCV1000R) 1m 56.997s  +2.224s
18. Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing (RCV1000R) 1m 57.345s  +2.572s
19. Broc Parkes AUS Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART) 1m 57.665s  +2.892s
20. Mike Di Meglio FRA Avintia Racing (Avintia) 1m 58.204s  +3.431s
21. Hector Barbera ESP Avintia Racing (Avintia) 1m 58.219s  +3.446s
22. Michael Laverty GBR Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART) 1m 58.378s  +3.605s
23. Danilo Petrucci ITA IodaRacing Project (ART) 1m 58.651s  +3.878s More ...
NASCAR Bristol TV ratings (update)  UPDATE FOX aired only a pittance of live NASCAR racing on Sunday, but the numbers still held up well compared to last year. Abbreviated coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Food City 500 from Bristol earned a 4.5 final rating and 7.3 million viewers on FOX, according to Nielsen fast-nationals - down a tick in ratings and 3% in viewership from last year (4.6, 7.5M), and up 2% and flat, respectively, compared to 2012 (4.4, 7.3M). Of course, comparisons to previous years have little value considering that FOX aired less than an hour of live racing. The telecast still ranked as the top sporting event of the weekend on broadcast. Sunday's race was delayed twice - first before the start and then again after 124 laps. Two hours of rainout coverage earned a 3.7 and 6.1 million viewers on FOX. The race resumed in the evening on Fox Sports 1, which earned 3.2 million viewers for its coverage. The conclusion of the race ranks as the second-most viewed program on FS1 since it rebranded from Speed Channel last August. More ...
track news
State Lawmakers In Iowa, Florida Advance Racetrack Proposals  The Iowa state House Ways & Means Committee yesterday unanimously approved a plan to "extend a tax break" for Iowa Speedway, and the measure is "now eligible for floor debate." The Newton track receives a state sales tax rebate set to expire Jan. 1, 2016. DES MOINES REGISTER.

Meanwhile, a proposal to send $2M in sales tax revenue to Daytona Int'l Speedway "advanced quickly" through the Florida Senate Rules Committee yesterday, "putting it on track for a potential vote on the Senate floor in coming weeks." The bill's passage "took less than 10 minutes" yesterday morning, "marking its last of four stops before a chance at a full vote." Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL
Lancaster nips Rossi to end GP2 pre-season testing on top  
Jon Lancaster
The final day of pre-season test session opened today at Bahrain International Circuit once again in overcast conditions. Jon Lancaster seemed eager to put his new set of soft Pirelli tires to good use as he fed onto the track before the rest of the field, but it was rookie Stoffel Vandoorne – also on soft compounds - who set the early pace until the Briton from MP Motorsport was able to dip under 1m41s and claimed the top spot.

Also on a set of new softs, Daniel Abt posted a laptime of 1:39.931 and moved to the top of the standings before stopping at Turn 6 and causing a brief red flag period. At the restart, Vandoorne hit the front with a laptime one hundredth quicker than the German, but Lancaster found some extra pace to reclaim the head of the standings. Felipe Nasr also improved enough to move up to P2 but remained two tenths behind the Briton. More ...
23 IMSA Entries for Long Beach  Thursday IMSA released the entry list for next month’s Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase at Long Beach.

The 100-minute race, for the first time, will feature only the Prototype and GT Le Mans classes, totaling 23 entries for the second round of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

Drivers Team Car Engine
Ryan Dalziel / Orlando, FL Scott Sharp / West Palm Beach, FL Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b Honda
Ed Brown / Boca Raton, FL , Johannes van Overbeek / Oakland, CA Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b Honda
Joao Barbosa / Porto, Portugal , Christian Fittipaldi / Sao Paolo, Brazil Action Express Racing Corvette DP Chevrolet
Klaus Graf / Dornhan, Germany , Lucas Luhr / Koblenz, Germany Muscle Milk Pickett Racing ORECA Nissan
Brian Frisselle / Aspen, CO , Burt Frisselle / Aspen, CO Action Express Racing Corvette DP Chevrolet
Ricky Taylor / Apopka, FL , Jordan Taylor / Apopka, FL Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP Chevrolet
Eric Curran / Holyoke, MA , Boris Said / Escondido, CA Marsh Racing Corvette DP Chevrolet
Olivier Pla / Toulouse, France , Gustavo Yacaman / Colombia OAK Racing Morgan Nissan
John Pew / Palm Beach, FL , Oswaldo Negri, Jr. Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Riley DP Ford EcoBoost
Tom Long / Raleigh, NC , Sylvain Tremblay / Parkland, FL SpeedSource Mazda Mazda
Richard Westbrook / London, England , Michael Valiante / Vancouver, BC, Canada Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP Chevrolet
Scott Pruett / Auburn, CA , Memo Rojas / Mexico City, Mexico Chip Ganassi Racing Riley DP Ford EcoBoost
Joel Miller / Hesperia, CA Tristan Nunez / Boca Raton, FL SpeedSource Mazda Mazda
Antonio Garcia / Barcelona, Spain Jan Magnussen / Roskilde, Denmark Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette Chevrolet
Oliver Gavin / Yardley Hastings, England , Tommy Milner / Lake Mary, FL Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette Chevrolet
Wolf Henzler / Nurtingen, Germany , Bryan Sellers / Atlanta, GA Team Falken Tire Porsce 911 RSR Porsche
Bill Auberlen / Redondo Beach, CA , Andy Priaulx / Guernsey, Normandy BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE BMW
Dirk Müller / Tagerwilen, Switzerland , John Edwards / Cincinnati, OH BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE BMW
Gianmaria Bruni / Rome, Italy , TBA / TBA Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia Ferrari
Dominik Farnbacher / Ansbach, Germany , Marc Goossens / Geel, Belgium SRT Motorsports SRT Viper GTS-R Viper V10
Jonathan Bomarito / Monterey, CA , Kuno Wittmer / Montreal, Quebec, Canada SRT Motorsports SRT Viper GTS-R Viper V10
Nick Tandy / Bedford, United Kingdom , Richard Lietz / Ybbs, Austria Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR Porsche
Patrick Long / Thousand Oaks, CA Michael Christensen / Karlslunde, Denmark Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR Porsche

Porsche blames loose fastener for engine fires in 911 GT3 model  Porsche said a fastener that wasn't properly installed is to blame for engine fires in the 911 sports car's racing version that led the automaker to take the rare step of telling customers to stop driving the model.

"Engine damage resulted from a loosened screw joint on the connecting rod," Porsche said on Wednesday. "The loose connecting rod damaged the crankcase, which in both cases led to leakage of oil which then ignited."

The sports car maker sent out details to owners this week and will completely replace the engine of all 785 of the 911 GT3s from the current model year after two vehicles caught fire. No injuries were tied to the incidents with the model, which sells for 137,300 euros ($189,000). More ...

NASCAR TV ratings plummet despite success of Dale Earnhardt Jr  In recent years, NASCAR officials have offered a variety of reasons for declining television ratings, ranging from competition from the NFL, an overall decline for most top-rated shows, boring finishes and the lack of wins by Dale Earnhardt Jr.

After four races this year, the sanctioning body doesn’t have all the answers as to why this year’s ratings have fallen at a record pace.

According to Nielsen Media Research, ratings have dropped in all four races this year compared to numbers of a year ago.

And it comes without any competition from football, new rules that make winning important at all costs and the best start in Earnhardt’s career. More ...

Electric cars loud enough for fans - Agag  
Agag (L) with Michael Andretti
The man behind the new Formula E racing series has insisted fans will love the electric cars' "futuristic" sound after the introduction of quieter engines sparked a row in Formula One.

CEO Alejandro Agag refused to compare the battery-powered engines' sound to F1, but he said they reminded him of the Podracers seen in Star Wars film, "The Phantom Menace".

As Formula E prepares to debut this year, F1's new hybrid engines have been criticized by fans, organizers and top boss Bernie Ecclestone as being simply too quiet for motor-racing. More ...

Chris Pook making the rounds to promote Formula One racing in Long Beach  
Pook making case to bring F1 back to Long Beach
More than 40 years ago, Chris Pook made his case to the city to hold a major auto race in the streets of Long Beach, an idea that spawned the Long Beach Grand Prix and changed the look and stature of the city.

Forty years later, the entrepreneur is making his case for a major change in that race.

Pook wants to bring the venerable Formula One (F1) racing back to the streets. He is working with F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone and F1’s parent company, Delta Topco, to bring a race to Southern California.

The contract for the current Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which is operated by the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach in association with IndyCar racing, is up for renewal – the current deal is through 2015 – and the city is expected to decide within the next month whether to issue a request for proposal to consider the F1 bid. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief - Friday  
  • With Ecclestone friend Ron Walker gone will Melbourne vote to discontinue money losing Australian GP?
    Melbourne GP stalwart Ron Walker steps down
  • Red Bull appeal could take 'weeks' - reports
  • Rivals think Mercedes has big advantage
  • Expert alarmed at Schumacher weight loss
  • Kimi struggling with Ferrari brakes
  • Marussia Boss Lowdon fears noise reduction may affect sponsors
  • Malaysian GP lowdown with Renault Sport F1 track support leader, Cedrik Staudohar More ...
Brooke Werner steps down as Miss Sprint Cup  
Miss Sprint Cup Brooke Werner (R)
Miss Sprint Cup Brooke Werner announced Wednesday on her Facebook page that she is resigning as Miss Sprint Cup due to personal reasons. Werner posted the following message on Facebook on Wednesday.

"Hey fans, difficult decisions are always tough to communicate to people you love so much...like you guys. I recently made the hard decision to resign as Miss Sprint Cup for personal reasons (all good!) and hang up my firesuit. It's been one of the greatest times of my life and I have you all to thank for that. I'll miss you all very much but I know that you'll all be excited to meet the new Miss Sprint Cup soon!"

Werner, a former Miss Vermont USA, had filled the role of Miss Sprint Cup with Kim Coon and Madison Martin. This is Martin's first year in the Miss Sprint Cup program, while it's Coon's fourth. Werner was beginning her second season on tour. Miss Sprint Cup serves as the representative for Sprint, entitlement sponsor of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

IndyCar stars, cars promote Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in downtown  Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to generate buzz among fans ahead of the March 30 race.

"It's all trying to spread the word around," said Sebastien Bourdais, who finished 12th in last year's Izod IndyCar Series points race, "and get the community engaged, and to try to broaden a little bit the boundaries just to get a little wider and to get more fans. Mostly, (it's) to try and get people to realize what it's all about. What they're going to see if they come."

Wednesday's visit to Manatee County for Bourdais started at Anderson RacePark in Palmetto for a go-karting competition, which his team of media members and local dignitaries won, including one driver from AutoRacing1.com. That is three straight years now that the AutoRacing1.com team came out a winner in the go-kart event. More ...

Smoke IS the Bandit with Mobil 1 - Final episode  Tony Stewart and Darrell Waltrip (as The Bandit and Snowman) return from their challenge trip to Texarkana with a truck load of Mobil 1 -- the Official Motor Oil of NASCAR -- with 10 minutes to spare, and are welcomed by Ricky Craven and Hermie Sadler (Big & Lil Enos), who again have a challenge for Bandit: find some Mobil 1 Transmission Fluid. Bandit even talks Nicole Briscoe (Frog) into coming along for the ride. Here's the final installment of "Smoke IS the Bandit with Mobil 1"

Australian Grand Prix Chair Walker To Be Replaced  Australian Grand Prix Chair RON WALKER "is to step down from the post after 22 years, as part of an overhaul of the event," according to Peter Rolfe of the HERALD SUN. The former lord mayor and Crown co-founder "will officially retire from the job he has held since 1994 after next year’s 20th Formula One race at Albert Park, when the current contract is due to expire." Walker said, “I’m 75 this year and it’s good governance to let someone fresh take the reins.’’ Walker, 74, has hand-picked his replacement -- Cricket World Cup CEO JOHN HARNDEN -- "and the decision has been ratified by the Grand Prix Corporation board." Walker, who is also chairman of the popular MotoGP at Phillip Island, said Harnden had been a “very able deputy chairman’’ and was “the next generation." HERALD SUN
Mistic Hosts Rally in St. Pete for IndyCar Driver Sebastien Bourdais  Mistic, maker of high quality, value-priced electronic cigarettes and vapor products, and co-primary sponsor of the No. 11 IndyCar piloted by KVSH Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais, today announced it will kick off the Mistic Machine National Tour with a pep rally on March 27 in St. Petersburg for the four-time Series champion.

"We are thrilled to be hosting this event and give St. Pete race fans the opportunity to get an up close look at the IndyCar experience."

The rally will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Circle K store at 5th Ave. and 34th St., celebrating Bourdais as he prepares for the March 30 IndyCar Series opener, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. More ...

track news
Texas Motor Speedway Unveils 'Big Hoss TV,' The World's Largest HD Video Board  Texas Motor Speedway lit up last night as track officials "unveiled the world's largest high-definition LED video board to the public," according to Richard Durrett of ESPN DALLAS. Sitting along the track's backstretch, the board -- "dubbed 'Big Hoss TV' and manufactured by Panasonic -- stands 12 stories high and provides 20,633.34 square feet of HD broadcasting."

The imagery on the board is 79% "larger than the huge video board at AT&T Stadium." TMS' new structure "also eclipses Charlotte Motor Speedway," which previously held the record for the largest HD board. For the video board to work, it "requires its own control room that is housed adjacent to the timing and scoring booth in the suite level right above the start-finish line." That room has "five servers and two switchers that control the feed and the operator will have the ability to choose from 19 different cameras." More ...
2014 MotoGP season gets underway in Qatar  Aleix Espargaro (NGM Forward Racing) set the pace in the opening FP1 session of the year for the premier class in Qatar, with Alvaro Baustista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech3) second and third respectively.

In the first Grand Prix practice session of the new ‘Open’ class era it was Espargaro in P1 with his Open entry Forward Yamaha with a 1’55.201 best lap, with Bautista 0.466s behind him. Espargaro’s pace was over 0.3s slower than he went in testing here two weeks ago.

At the start of his second season in MotoGP Smith was third by a 0.6s margin, with Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) and rookie Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech3) also in top five as the riders who tested in Qatar occupying the top end of the timesheet. The younger Espargaro brother appears to be riding smoothly despite his collarbone injury sustained ten days ago at this track. More ...

INDYCAR Enhances Points Format For Verizon IndyCar Series Championships  INDYCAR announced today that it will enhance the points scoring format that will decide the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers' and entrants' championships.

The enhanced format, which will be implemented at the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 28-30, will put a premium on the three 500-mile events.

The base points structure remains unchanged, the following are enhancements:

• Double points awarded for 500-mile events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Auto Club Speedway. More ...
Football legend Joe Namath to be Grand Marshal for Barber IndyCar race  Barber Motorsports Park and ZOOM Motorsports announced today that former University of Alabama quarterback and Hall of Famer Joe Namath will be this year’s Grand Marshal for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama held April 25 – 27 in Birmingham, Ala.

Namath played college football under legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant at the University of Alabama from 1962 until 1964, where he led the team to a national championship in 1964. He then went on to play for the New York Jets, leading the team to a win over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III, among many other division championships. He finished his career playing for the Los Angeles Rams. Nicknamed “Broadway Joe” and “Joe Willie,” he was inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 1985. More ...

ECR Announces JR Hildebrand as Team's 2nd Driver for 98th Indy 500  
Ed Carpenter Racing today announced that American racer J.R. Hildebrand will be the driver of the team’s second entry in the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race set for May 25 at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Hildebrand, runner-up in the 2011 Indy 500 as a rookie, will drive the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet-powered Dallara car in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Corporate partnership support for Hildebrand’s entry will be announced in the near future.

ECR team owner and driver Ed Carpenter will make his 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series debut for his team in the Indy 500. The 2013 Indy 500 pole winner will pilot the popular No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet in the 200-lap racing classic. More ...

Haryanto and Rossi quickest on Day 2  
The second day of testing at Bahrain International Circuit opened this morning under overcast skies and in cooler temperatures. Jolyon Palmer, Takuya Izawa and Stoffel Vandoorne were quick to take to the track, but it was Conor Daly who topped the timesheets on soft Pirelli tires early into the session. Fellow countryman Alexander Rossi became the first man to dip under 1m41s today, but Daly went even quicker and lapped the track in 1:40.233. It was then Mitch Evans who found some extra pace to break under the 1m40s barrier. His lap time was bettered by Palmer by two hundredths, the Briton clocking in a time of 1:39.854.

A few drops of rain fell over the track, but most of the field opted to put on the softer compounds and it was Rio Haryanto’s time to shine: the Indonesian driver managed to set a blazing lap time of 1:39.129 – three tenths quicker than last year’s pole position. Haryanto’s teammate Rossi went out on track for another attempt at topping the timesheet but ended a hairsbreadth away from the Indonesian. In the final stages, Julian Leal edged Raffaele Marciello out of third. Behind the Italian, Palmer, Evans, Vandoorne, Stéphane Richelmi, Rene Binder and Kimiya Sato rounded out the top ten. More ...
Red Bull formally appeals Ricciardo exclusion  (GMM)  Red Bull is definitely appealing Daniel Ricciardo's disqualification from the Australian grand prix.

Immediately after the Melbourne stewards' verdict was published, boss Christian Horner said the team would file an appeal.

An FIA source said on Monday that Red Bull served notice of its intention to appeal, but formal documentation was not due to be lodged for four days. More ...

Lowe talks initially about Williams switch - Wolff  (GMM)  Toto Wolff has revealed his negotiations with Paddy Lowe were initially about wooing the former McLaren technical boss to Williams.

In 2012, Wolff was Williams' executive director and he is still a shareholder to this day.

He told Austria's Sportwoche magazine this week that, on the advice of former McLaren and Williams driver Alex Wurz, he tried to convince 51-year-old Lowe to leave McLaren.

"Our first meeting was at Alex's house in Monaco," Wolff revealed. More ...

Mercedes were also warned about fuel flow, but unlike Red Bull complied with FIA  Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team were warned about excessive fuel flow in the Australian Grand Prix, Mirror Sport reports. Mercedes, winners of last weekend's season opener in Melbourne, were asked to modify their fuel flow in both qualifying and the race itself.

World champions Red Bull defied the instruction on lap five of Sunday's showpiece and Daniel Ricciardo was subsequently disqualified from second place.

Now Mirror Sport has learned that race winner Nico Rosberg had to adjust his fuel flow at the instructions of the race director.

The same had happened on the previous day. More ...
NASCAR ok with Fox moving Bristol race to FoxSports 1  Fox Sports didn't break any agreements with NASCAR in moving the rain-delayed race at Bristol to Fox Sports 1 Sunday night. Once the Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway went past 7:00pm/et, Fox had the option of moving the remainder of the event to Fox Sports 1, according to NASCAR. Fox elected to use that option instead of keeping the telecast on network television and pre-empting its Sunday night lineup.

The race started about 90 minutes late because of rain and then had a delay of 3 hours, 18 minutes because of more rain that pushed the final 376 laps to after 7:00pm. According to the SportsBusiness Journal, the last three-quarters of the Bristol race on FS1 drew a 1.8 overnight rating. More ...
Audi Abandons ERS-H System  Audi is poised to run with only one hybrid system in this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship after reportedly calling off plans to utilize an exhaust-based energy recovery system for its new LMP1 challenger.

Head of Audi Motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, told the Austin American-Statesman Tuesday that its ERS-H system, developed to capture and convert thermal energy from the exhaust into electric energy, will not be used in this year’s championship.

The German manufacturer is testing at Circuit of The Americas this week, following a six-day test alongside Porsche’s new LMP1 car at Sebring International Raceway earlier this month. More ...
Management change for Russian GP  The administration of the Krasnodar region has announced a change to the management of the forthcoming Grand Prix in Sochi.

The decision was announced at a meeting of the 'Department for the organization of the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix of OJSCD Center Omega' by Alexander Saurin, Deputy Head of the Krasnodar region administration and supervisor of the project.

Sergey Vorobyev, who was previously Deputy Director of the Department has been appointed Acting Director of the Department. The administration announced that Oleg Zabar, who previously filled the role, will now be responsible for “other projects”. More ...
EcoPower Backs Roush Fenway Racing  Safety-Kleen and its premium refined motor oil brand, EcoPower, have signed a team-wide sponsorship agreement with Roush Fenway Racing.

While EcoPower will be the official oil partner for Roush Fenway Racing, it will also be the primary sponsor for multiple races on the No. 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car driven by Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

“We are pleased to have EcoPower on board as our official oil partner,” said team owner Jack Roush. “The partnership reflects Roush Fenway’s commitment to both sustainability and using highest quality products. EcoPower protects engines and protects the environment. More ...
Toyota struggles continue in Sprint Cup  We’re four races in and Toyota hasn’t made it to Victory Lane? Their 0-for-4 performances, thus far highlight some weaknesses at both Joe Gibbs and Michael Waltrip Racing. Combined, Toyotas have just one top-5 finish out of 20 recorded thus far in 2014; only two drivers (Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth) sit inside the top 10 in Cup Series points. That’s a far cry from last year, early in the season when JGR looked to be the fastest team on the circuit.

Toyota’s struggles in Sprint Cup this year have Joe Gibbs wondering what the fix is. What’s the issue? The manufacturer, who had just ten cars in Sunday’s field at Bristol has the lowest number of full-time teams compared to Ford and Chevrolet. More ...
Bourdais is ready to return to IndyCar title contention  
Bourdais calls St. Petersburg home
Some 11 years ago, a young, bespectacled Frenchman emerged in St. Petersburg, Fla. and shook up the proverbial open-wheel establishment.

That driver’s name was Sebastien Bourdais. And 11 years later, in car No. 11, starting in St. Petersburg, Fla., the bespectacled badass is ready to do it again.

Bourdais’ pole for Newman/Haas Racing in the inaugural St. Pete Champ Car race of 2003 marked himself as a star of the future. He won his first races later that year and was an easy rookie-of-the-year.

In 2004, he began his incredible run of four straight Champ Car titles, the latter of which in 2007 propelled him into Formula One the following season. More ...

V8 Supercars Commission confirms restart procedure changes  
V8 Supercar
The V8 Supercars Commission has made four key changes to the safety car restart procedure for all V8 Supercar events to come into effect from next week's Tyrepower Tasmania Challenge.

The restart procedure has been modified based on lengthy consideration by the Commission and feedback from key stakeholders, including drivers, to simplify the procedure.

The primary objective was to simplify the system, as well as only introduce methods that can be genuinely monitored. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief - Thursday  
  • De la Rosa to step down
    De la Rosa wants to step down as GPDA chief
  • Briatore, Rossi dislike 'new' F1 era
  • F1 cannot just turn up the volume - Lauda
  • New F1 to struggle in Malaysian heat
  • Williams still second best after Mercedes
  • McLaren chimes in on Red Bull fuel controversy
  • Rivals begin chase to catch Mercedes
  • Formula 1 - Sport or Just Entertainment?
  • Lotus: We need a big leap forward More ...
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