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Seen in Homestead - 4  Champ Car drivers were out in force this weekend at Homestead looking for rides in the IRL and Grand-Am. We spotted Oriol Servia, Mario Dominguez and Nelson Philippe getting a LOT of interest from the IRL and Grand-Am paddock...interest from both fans and teams. We also spotted Jan Heylen sniffing around for a ride. With nothing cooking for them, as well as Bruno Junqueira, in Champ Car, they are forced to find work elsewhere. In NASCAR unemployed Cup drivers find rides in the Busch and Truck Series. Shame on Champ Car for not keeping them in the Atlantic Series as it would be another shot in the arm for that series and it would be a measure of how good the youngsters are.
skip barber
Debut win for Conor Daly  Conor Daly scored a debut win in the Skip Barber Southern regional championship in Moroso Motorsports Park on Saturday March 24th. Daly led all the way from his front row slot and was never headed. He also set fastest lap of the race. As is customary with first time winners, Conor was presented with a checkered flag. Another custom that was somewhat of a surprise was when he had a cooler full of water dumped on him....while he was still in the car. He will miss the next round of the championship in Daytona because it clashes with the opening round of the Stars of Karting championship in Norman, Oklahoma, April 14th-15th. Conor’s next Skip Barber race will be at the Virginia International Raceway on April 20th– 22nd.
F1 ticket sales increase 19 percent  Formula One ticket sales are up 19 per cent compared to the same time last year - indicating a rising interest in the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) said yesterday.

BIC general manager Martin Whitaker said that as of Saturday night 16,500 tickets had been sold, which was a significant improvement over last year.

"And we expect sales to spike up sharply, as they generally do in the last three weeks before the race," he said.

"This shows that the interest in the race is growing and that our marketing efforts have been successful."

He was speaking at a meeting with businessmen at the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), Manama.

The event was held to explore how the private sector can benefit from the race being hosted in Bahrain. More ...

Ty Manseau injured again  Mechanic Ty Manseau was admitted to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami after being struck by an errant wheel during Friday morning’s Grand-Am practice. Manseau was seriously injured in 1999 at a CART race in Milwaukee when his head was run over by Michael Andretti’s car, but luckily he was wearing a helmet.
tv news
Wind Tunnel guest change  John Henry, co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing, was to supposed to be the guest on SPEED's Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain tonight but Henry had to postpone his visit to Wind Tunnel, so tonight's guest will be Jay Frye from Ginn Racing. SPEED PR
Another NASCAR sponsor leaving series  Changes are on the way at Roush Fenway Racing, which is losing one primary sponsor after this season and has been ordered by NASCAR to drop one of its five Nextel Cup teams by 2010.

Ameriquest, the mortgage company that became the primary sponsor of Greg Biffle's No. 16 car this season, has asked Roush Fenway to sell off the final two years of its contract, which expires in 2009. The lender's struggling parent company recently announced a second round of layoffs, and Ameriquest last week pulled out of a 30-year deal as rights holder to the name of the Texas Rangers' ballpark.

"It's very clear that they want to reduce their contract exposure to us," Roush Fenway president Geoff Smith said Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway. "If we weren't able to do that, then you get into, OK, here's your car, what are we going to do with it? You've got this lame duck environment going on, which is not helpful to anybody. So in practical terms, we can assume that we'll have another sponsor for next season." More at NASCAR.com

Industry News
Goodyear sells part of its business for 1.48 billion  Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. has agreed to sell substantially all of its Engineered Products business for $1.475 billion. The buyer is EPD Inc., an entity sponsored by Carlyle Partners IV L.P.  The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the receipt of regulatory approvals as well as EPD's completion of a labor agreement with the United Steelworkers of America.  As part of the transaction, Goodyear has agreed to a trademark licensing agreement that allows EPD to use the Goodyear brand and certain other trademarks in connection with the Engineered Products business.

The Carlyle Group is one of the world's largest private equity firms with $54.5 billion under management, investments in more than 185 companies, and 750 employees in 16 countries. In the aggregate, Carlyle portfolio companies have more than $68 billion in revenue and employ more than 200,000 people around the world.
Yoong gives Malaysia third win in sprint race  Mexico City, Mexico - A1 Team Malaysia's Alex Yoong has made it a double pole weekend winning the Sprint race at the A1GP Mexico City, Mexico. A dominant drive saw Alex Yoong clearly demonstrate his racing experience making a clean start off the grid and retaining the top position which he held throughout the race. Yoong was joined on the podium by Great Britain and Australia whose driver Ian Dyk was making his debut in an A1GP race.

As the bright yellow car of Yoong pulled off the grid the action began right behind him. Host team Mexico and neighboring Brazil collided, pushing the Brazilian car over the nose of the Mexican and into championship leaders Germany. While Germany and Brazil were forced into early retirement, Salvador Duran managed to get the Mexican car back to the pits. The team made some quick repairs in time to get the car back out on track where Duran recorded the fastest lap of the race in a time of 1.27.534. More ...

Indy Pro debacle mercifully ended on lap 57  UPDATE #5 According to a report on SPEEDTV.com, Pablo Perez's lower extremity injuries were termed “gruesome” by an observer in Turn 2 and it was believed surgeons are fighting to save both legs.

03/25/07 Ganassi Indy Pro Series rookie driver Pablo Perez, 24, was in serious but stable condition at Jackson Memorial Hospital as of Saturday night, according to the Indy Racing League. Representative John Griffin said Perez underwent surgery on his legs, with doctors ''working on the lower extremities below the knees.'' Perez, of Argentina, also was scheduled to have a CT scan.  In a crash earlier in the race, Ryan Justice was knocked unconscious and airlifted to Jackson Memorial, but underwent CT scans that came back negative and was released by Saturday night.

03/24/07 How bad was this race?  Consider this:

Only 57 laps of 67 scheduled were run
36 under caution 63.2%
21 under green 36.8%

Had the race ran its full 67 laps the tally would have been
46 under caution 69%
21 under green  31%

03/24/07 Reports are that Perez has breaks in both legs.  No update yet on Justice.

03/24/07 Reports are that Perez (pictured right) is awake and alert but that he has orthopedic injuries (i.e. broken bones, let's hope it's not his spine).  Like Justice, he too is being airlifted to Jackson Memorial hospital.  Further updates as we get them.

03/24/07 As we predicted, the Indy Pro Series, full of inexperienced drivers of dubious talent, has turned into a real crashfest at Homestead Saturday afternoon. Very few laps of the race were run under green. The 2nd crash in Turn 2 on lap 21 sent Ryan Justice to the hospital after he ran over a piece of the crashing Wade Cunningham car. He was taken out of the car unconscious but regained consciousness on his way to the infield. His status is still unknown.

Then after a long yellow there was a 4-car accident in Turn 2 that sent Ganassi driver Pablo Perez from Argentina up into the fence reminiscent of the Kenny Brack accident in Texas years ago. The fence was so torn up the IRL had to terminate the race on lap 57 so the fence could be repaired in time for other races today. The car of Perez came to rest upside down. His condition is unknown.

racing news
Publisher magnate Robert Petersen dies  UPDATE Here is a nice obituary on Petersen from the LA Times.

03/24/07 Robert E. Petersen, an entrepreneur who single-handedly created the largest special-interest publishing company in America, was instrumental in the evolution of the hot-rodding culture, and who, with his wife Margie, realized his dream of establishing an educational museum to pay tribute to the automobile, died Friday, March 23, at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, Calif. after a short but valiant battle with neuroendocrine cancer. He was 80.

“Mr. Petersen helped create and feed the American obsession with the automobile, delivering gasoline-powered dreams to the mailboxes of millions,” said Dick Messer, Director of the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. “He understood the thrill that an average person could get from seeing and reading about horsepower as an art form.”

A native of Southern California, Mr. Petersen's mother passed away when he was 10, leaving him with his Danish-immigrant father, who worked as a truck and equipment mechanic. As a young man he picked up his father's skills, learning to weld, de-coke engines, and hone his fascination with cars. More ...

Gordon's new shop not ready, hires Wells  Robby Gordon said Friday that his new shop in Charlotte, N.C., will not be ready in May as he had hoped. “The weather this winter has just killed us,” said Gordon. “We’re moving dirt and getting up to speed on that, it’s just taking longer than I wanted, to be honest with you, to get the stuff in place.” The Nextel Cup owner/driver did not have a firm completion date, but said the pouring of the foundation for the new home of Robby Gordon Motorsports should be “in the next couple of weeks.” Gordon also has enlisted the help of former NASCAR Nextel Cup team owner Cal Wells III. “Cal’s been coming to work with us on race weekends and observing,” said Gordon Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway. “He’s just trying to help me in any way he can with the experience that he has.” As for the new Fusion Car of Tomorrow, Gordon is enthusiastic. “I’m fine with the new car,” said Gordon, who once again is without a sponsor this weekend. “I think it’s the great equalizer. We just haven’t got our piece figured out yet.” Ford Racing
tv news
Waltrip Fired From "Tradin' Paint"  Nextel Cup driver and team owner Michael Waltrip has been relieved of his duties as co-host of the Speed Channel show "Tradin' Paint," network officials confirmed Friday. Waltrip will remain on Speed's show "Inside Nextel Cup" and will continue to work in the broadcast booth for Speed Channel's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series broadcasts. Asked for a reason for Waltrip's departure, Speed spokesman Erik Arneson said the network would not elaborate on internal personnel matters. Speed expects to try out a different drivers on the show during the next few weeks, Arneson said. That's Racin'
Rossi goes flag-to-flag at Jerez  Valentino Rossi bowled all challengers to take victory at the Gran Premio bwin.com de España and put himself at the head of the overall classification. The five time MotoGP World Champion was never troubled after passing poleman Dani Pedrosa midway through the opening lap, and ended his five race longest ever winless streak with a masterful display of how to lead a Grand Prix.

‘The Doctor’ has won at Jerez on four previous occasions, and marked victory number five with a special celebration alongside his fan club. Decked out in skittle costumes, the group fell at the Italian’s feet as he gave them an underarm bowl on his parade lap.

Hyped up as a battle between Rossi and Pedrosa for dominance of the Spanish circuit, the race never really became a duel between the two riders. As the Fiat Yamaha rider continually upped his race pace, Pedrosa was left with little to do but follow his rival into second. Whilst clearly unable to keep up with Rossi, he was likewise unfazed by the presence of third placed Colin Edwards nearly three seconds behind him. For the ‘Texan Tornado’ the Gran Premio bwin.com de España marked a welcome return to the podium after an assured ride. More ...

Track News
Zhuhai blog  At around 9am on 24th March, a slight drizzle fell at Zhuhai International Circuit (ZIC), but it stopped very quickly, just in time for the 2007 FIA GT Championship China Round to start. It was bright and sunny again.

Perfect Racing Weekend.
At the main gate of ZIC, many giant balloons were flying in the air to welcome the spectators in. Many spectators gathered at the enquiry desk and the ticket booth to purchase their tickets. They have come from all over the world and they have all come early to see the glorious GT racing cars. It is obvious that ZIC has groomed the racing fans well here in South China.

On the grandstand, one of the spectators from Shanghai claimed that he had made plans very early to be here to see the FIA GT race. He told this reporter that Zhuhai is a lovely coastal city and two days ago he and his girlfriend visited one of the hot spring resorts in the area for a short stay. After the FIA GT race, they will also visit Hong Kong and Macau, rounding off a perfect racing vacation. More ...

Lamborghini wins first FIA-GT race  In front of a crowd of over 20,000 spectators Christophe Bouchut and Stefan Mücke started the season in the best possible way, giving All-Inkl.com Racing and the Lamborghini Murciélago their first FIA GT win. With the new two-hour format, where strategy is incredibly important, the timing of the pit stops along with a safety-car period saw the nr 7 car take the lead.

At the re-start, a storming Bouchut kept the lead ahead of Philipp Peter, sharing the nr 19 PSI Experience Corvette C6 with FIA GT newcomer Luke Hines, and the PK Carsport Corvette C5 of Bert Longin and Anthony Kumpen. With fastest laps being set one after the other, a frantic finish finally saw Lamborghini claim its first win.
The GT2 race was equally exciting, with a chaotic start seeing the leading cars fall back, catching up later. First across the line was the BMS Scuderia Italia Porsche 997 GT3 RSR; however, the car later failed scrutineering due to the ground clearance. Its exclusion meant that AF Corse Motorola Ferrari cars took first and second, giving Dirk Müller and Toni Vilander their first victory. Stéphane Ortelli and Gianmaria Bruni, whose car had been delayed due to a puncture, were second, with Scuderia Ecosse's Mullen and Enge third. More ...

Risatti withdraws from GP2  Ricardo 'Caito' Risatti has withdrawn from the GP2 Series with BCN Competition due to lack of money. The Argentinean was set to make his GP2 debut this year after four seasons in Spanish Formula Three.

A team press release said, "Due to the failure of Caito Risatti in raising the total budget needed to participate in the 2007 GP2 Series, and because of the negative response of South American and European companies, his managers and the BCN team have decided as from today to stop any contractual negotiation."

He is looking for another series to drive in.

Nurburgring to name corner after Schumacher  (GMM) Germany's Nurburgring circuit will honor Michael Schumacher by naming a corner after the newly retired former world champion.

The quick left hand curve after 'Dunlop', which leads into the equally quick turn ten right, will in the future be known as the 'Schumacher S', a spokesman for the venue located in the Eifel mountains confirmed.

"That is correct," Nurburgring managing director Walter Kafitz told the Cologne newspaper Express.

He added: "Michael is coming to the grand prix in July and we will unveil the 'Schumacher S' then."

The 38-year-old seven time world champion, who will do a lap of honor before the race this season, first won at the circuit in 1995, and subsequently in 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2006.

This year, the Nurburgring is the venue for the German grand prix, after a deal was struck with Hockenheim to annually alternate the race.

Barnhart and Angstadt to lead new IRL divisions  UPDATE TERRY ANGSTADT (president of commercial division): (About the opportunity that you are facing): "I could not be more excited about the opportunity. Anyone who has been in and around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis 500 and the Indy Racing League for the last  few years can understand why. I think we are really positioned for explosive growth." (About explosive growth): "I think it's a lot of customer relationship management, it's making the people, the sponsors, the partners, the suppliers that are involved with us now, feel even better and do even more to attract even more at a pretty accelerated manner."

BRIAN BARNHART (president of competition and operations): (About the new restructuring): "I'm excited about it overall. As Tony (George) said, it was a situation where we probably could have continued to tread water and stay where we are at. But that's not what the league's about; that's not what we're trying to do. We've actually had a situation develop in the last 12 to 18 months; we're starting to get momentum, some excitement about the series that perhaps didn't exist for a couple of years. A lot of that has to do with our ability to run road and street races, opportunities on the business side that needs someone dedicated to commit a full day's work.  If we don't take advantage of them, they become wasted opportunities, and we won't progress as a company." More ...
Valspar to sponsor Fisher and Rice  Dreyer & Reinbold Racing announced Saturday that the Valspar Corporation will serve as an associate sponsor of the  No. 5 and No. 15 cars driven by Sarah Fisher and Buddy Rice.   Valspar is the global leader in the paint and coatings industry, with a broad range of products including industrial, architectural, packaging, automotive refinish and floor coatings, specialty polymers and colorants.

ROBBIE BUHL (co-owner Dreyer & Reinbold): "We are thrilled to have a global brand like Valspar join our growing team. It's a great opportunity for DRR to introduce Valspar to motorsports and the IndyCar Series.  Buddy Rice and Sarah Fisher will represent their company well both on and off the track."

JEFF ALEXANDER (Division Vice President, Valspar): "Valspar is excited to participate in the IndyCar Series by joining the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team. We feel this will give us the opportunity to spread the Valspar brand to a growing IndyCar Series fan base. Valspar has a 200 year history of creating superior quality paints for many markets.  We look forward to a prosperous relationship with the entire DRR team."

George again downplays merger talks  HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Don't expect America's two rival open-wheel series to unify anytime soon. Tony George, founder and CEO of the Indianapolis Racing League and its IndyCar Series, said Saturday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway that talks with Kevin Kalkhoven, co-owner of the Champ Car World Series, have been put on the back burner for now.

"That was 12 months ago," George said before the start of the season-opening XM Satellite Radio Indy 300. "Kevin and I had been talking for four to six weeks, I'd say, prior to that. The reasons for being optimistic were we had had some good social interaction and we'd been kind of talking around some of the bigger issues.

"I felt those talks were going well, but we were not anywhere near ready to announce a plan for unification.

"As time went on," George added, "that whole thing changed and we've tried to stay in contact and see each other socially on occasion and have a professional relationship. As of last fall, we've kind of agreed that we don't have a lot to talk about in terms of unification and didn't likely have anything imminent that was going to change that in the next couple of years, but that we'd stay in touch. And, to a certain extent, we've done that."  More from AP article

Journalist, FIA, fight battle in court  (GMM)  A High Court tussle between a leading figure of F1's governing body and a specialist magazine resulted in a confusing outcome late last week.

Richard Woods, who is the FIA's director of communications, and BusinessF1 editor-in-chief Tom Rubython, have both claimed victory after a three day hearing in front of a jury.

Woods was reportedly awarded libel damages of up to 500,000 euros for a derogatory magazine article last year called 'The Propagandist'.

It is understood that Rubython offered an apology and even pledged to cease a regular anti-Woods column.

In a case heard by Justice Gray, however, Rubython was also awarded damages and legal costs for a libel counter-claim, after Woods allegedly accused the controversial journalist via emails and websites of associating with criminals.

It is believed that the FIA might foot Woods' bill.

French GP chief resigns  (GMM)  The French grand prix has received a blow with the resignation of the country's motor sport authority chief Jacques Regis.

The head of the Federation Francaise du Sport Automobile (FFSA), who has championed the annual race at Magny Cours since becoming president in 1997, cited personal reasons for quitting with immediate effect last week.

Treasurer Jean-Claude Cresp is Regis' replacement, ahead of the election of a permanent new president later in 2007.

Magny Cours, in rural Nevers, has a contract to host formula one until 2011.

Newey hopes for Le Mans start  (GMM)  Red Bull's chief technical officer Adrian Newey hopes to race in the fabled Le Mans 24 hour race later this year.

The designer of championship winning formula one cars, who is also an avid amateur racer, is aiming to share a Ferrari 430 GT2 with two other British drivers, despite the fact that the team has not yet secured a starting slot for the June race.

Newey tested the car at Monza recently and told Motorsport News: "We are looking at our options at the moment, but I want to do the race."

If he races, 48-year-old Newey would join F1 personalities including Jacques Villeneuve, Marc Gene and Johnny Herbert on the Le Mans grid.

NASCAR spends big on brand  In 2006 NASCAR spent $55.6 million on advertising of its brand according to a Nielsen Monitor-Plus report.  They ranked 49th out of 50 of the biggest companies spending money on advertising to promote their brand.  That is a huge sum of money and underscores how NASCAR dominates the USA motorsports media coverage.
Coincidence? I think not  A reader writes, Looks like the France family are up to their tricks in Grand-Am too.  Luggage Express announced they would sponsor the Mazda Raceway Grand-Am event on Friday and lo and behold the Luggage Express car wins a race the very next day.  This is a team that had never even come close to winning a Grand-Am race before.  I smell a rat.  Jeffrey Hopkins 
Alex Yoong puts Malaysia team on pole  Mexico City, Mexico – A1 Team Malaysia has taken its first Sprint race pole of the 2006/07 season showing the rookies who topped the morning practice session that experience pays when the pressure is on. Germany’s Christian Vietoris, competing in his first full race weekend qualified alongside Malaysia’s Alex Yoong on the front row of the grid, continuing the nation’s charge for the championship title.

After fixing the electronic failure that saw Malaysia retire early from the third practice session, Alex Yoong recorded the fastest lap in three of the four qualifying segments. He commented: ‘The car was very good. We struggled a little bit in the morning, but I think it is important that we didn’t panic. We thought it was the tires with them going off a little bit more than we expected but the car was very strong for qualifying.’

Talking about his race prospects, Yoong went on to say: ‘I am confident that tomorrow will be good. We did have concerns we were using the tires too hard yesterday and this morning, we know what the problem is and we will fix it and the car will be fine tomorrow.’ More ...

Track News
Long Beach fans offered Vegas deal  A note from Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach promoter Jim Michaelian:

Let me take this opportunity to thank you for your purchase of tickets to the upcoming 33rd annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. We are delighted that you will be joining us for a spectacular lineup of six races including a round of the Champ Car World Series as well as the debut of the American Le Mans Series here at Long Beach. We also have scheduled a number of other activities of interest including the Tecate concert on Saturday featuring "Taking Back Sunday". It should be an exciting weekend of activity for everyone.

As you might be aware, this year Long Beach is the second race of the season for Champ Car. The first event will be the inaugural Vegas Grand Prix taking place on the weekend of April 6-8. In recognition of your loyal support for the Toyota Grand Prix, the Las Vegas organizers have put together a special ticket/hospitality package (see below) for Long Beach patrons only at a cost of $187 per person, a savings of $288 off the regular price. Also included is information about room availability in Las Vegas during that weekend. More ...

Edwards wins Busch race  If ever someone asks what racing at Bristol is like, pop in a tape of the NASCAR Busch Series 2007 Sharpie Mini 300. Edwards does his customary back flip after winning. Photo by CIA Stock Photo

Carl Edwards survived a slugfest to capture his first victory of the season and his 10th career NASCAR Busch Series victory.

Edwards, in the No. 60 Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix Ford, ran up front all day while his counterparts tried to avoid the perils that come with racing at Bristol.

Edwards came into the race as the Busch Series points leader and 300 laps and one backflip later, he left in that same spot. More ...

Rookies lead the way in Mexico  Rookie drivers Oliver Jarvis and Renger van der Zande set the pace in the final practice session for this morning’s A1GP Mexico City, Mexico this morning with Great Britain and the Netherlands topping the timing sheets and setting a strong challenge for the regular race drivers.

In a shake up of yesterday’s results, India, Brazil, the Czech Republic and Portugal all made dramatic improvements to move up the timing sheets with the usual race leaders New Zealand and Germany coming in fourth and 11th respectively. The 2006/07 championship title is within reach of both teams and a strong performance from Germany could see them leave Mexico City with the title sown up. Both will be looking to improve on this morning’s performance ahead of this afternoon’s Sprint race qualifying session. More ...

Steve Wallace nabs Busch pole  Steve Wallace won the pole for the Sharpie Mini 300 Busch Series race at Bristol with a lap of 125.387 mph in the Rusty Wallace Inc. No. 66 Dodge. 

Wallace edged Ryan Newman at 125.020.  Carl Edwards (Roush Fenway Racing) was third at 124.995, with Clint Bowyer (Richard Childress Racing) fourth at 124.963 and Bobby Labonte at 124.816.  Saturday's race is slated to start at 3 p.m. EDT.  All 43 cars attempting qualifying runs made the race.

Grand-Am race gets associate sponsor  Officials from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca announced today an agreement with Universal Express Inc. (OTCBB: USXP) division Luggage Express, a luggage delivery service, as the presenting sponsor of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve U.S. Sports Car Invitational delivered by Luggage Express May 18-20.

Luggage Express offers a more convenient and safe way of traveling, picking up a passenger’s luggage at their home or office and delivering it to their final destination. Immediate benefits include avoiding long baggage check-in lines, minimizing pre-flight waiting time, and assurance that your luggage will arrive at your destination

“A partnership with Luggage Express is another avenue for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to grow the profile of the U.S. Sports Car Invitational,” said Gill Campbell, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca CEO and general manager. “Those attending races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca often take extra days to enjoy the beauty of the Monterey Peninsula, and Luggage Express can ease those plans by delivering golf clubs and other luggage items for an extended stay.” More ...

Rahal cars sent to back of grid  The Nos. 8 and 17 Rahal Letterman Racing cars have been moved to the rear of the field for the XM Satellite Radio Indy 300 after their times were disallowed because of failing post-qualifying technical inspection.

Scott Sharp, who had the seventh-quickest speed (212.623 mph; 25.1431 seconds) on the 1.5-mile oval, will start 19th. Simmons, who had the 17th-quickest lap (211.104), will start 20th.

"The penalties imposed on the No. 8 and No. 17 cars by the IndyCar Series were purely of subjective interpretation, and Rahal Letterman Racing does not agree with this ruling," the team said in a statement. "Our cars have been in the same configuration since arriving at Homestead, and have passed IndyCar Series technical inspection at various times throughout the weekend.

"While we don't agree with the ruling, we are confident our cars were legal and therefore eligible within the Indy Car Series rules for competition, and we will now focus our energy on the race at hand and maximizing our results here at Homestead-Miami Speedway."  Indy Car PR

Red-Flagged Indy Pro race to Lloyd  Alex Lloyd claimed his third Indy Pro Series victory on March 24, winning a crash-marred season-opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Lloyd passed polesitter Chris Festa a few laps before a serious accident involving five cars brought the race to an early end due to damage to the catch fencing above the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2.

The No. 4 Guthrie Racing Car Crafters Special entry driven by Sean Guthrie and the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car driven by Pablo Perez touched wheels, sending Guthrie into the SAFER Barrier and Perez' car into the catch fencing. The debris from the incident scattered on the racetrack, and affected cars driven by Shane Lewis, Micky Gilbert and Joey Scarallo.

Perez was checked at the infield medical center and airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital listed in stable condition with leg injuries. He was awake and alert. More ...

Pedrosa takes pole on home ground  The Repsol Honda rider laid down a record breaking lap at the Circuito de Jerez to take his first top spot of the season, driving the thousands of fans flocked gathered at the Spanish track wild with delight. The session created the closest ever top ten in MotoGP history.

Pedrosa traded the fastest time honors with Valentino Rossi, and the two will start alongside each other on the front row at a race in which they are predicted to fight for the win all the way. The two were the quickest at last month’s Official Test, with Rossi emerging as the victor in a 40 minute shootout on that occasion.

The pole-setting 1’39.402 lap from the 21 year old was just five hundredths of a second quicker than that of the five time World Champion, with Carlos Checa just seven thousandths behind him. Checa has been on great form all week at his home track, and will start tomorrow from the front row after a long absence from the leading three. More ...

Seen in Homestead - 3  Radio stations and stores all over the area are having a hard time giving away all the free tickets available for today's races.

20 cars will start the Indy Car season opener and most carry sponsorship, unlike the rival Champ Car series which will be lucky to start 17 cars for its season opener and sponsorship is questionable for many of them.

The Grand-Am starting grid is down significantly from the season opener in Daytona.

The media room was full of Venezuelan media for the Milka Duno announcement indicating she will achieve star status this year in her home country assuming she is fast enough to qualify for the Indy 500. Oops we forgot, there is no longer any bumping at Indy so if you can find your way to the track without getting lost you're in.
TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday  
Courtesy of TVRacer.com

10:00am-11:00am ESPN2
Survival of the Fastest (NASCAR) Atlanta
10:30am-11:00am (R) SPEED
NASCAR Tradin' Paint 
11:00am-11:30am SPEED
NASCAR RaceDay Bristol
11:30am-1:30pm (L) SPEED
AMA Supercross Indianapolis
12:00pm-1:00pm (3/24/07) CBS
Speed World Challenge Sebring
1:30pm-2:30pm (3/16/07) -Touring
2:30pm-3:30pm (3/16/07) -GT SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Food City 500 Bristol
1:30pm-6:00pm (L) FOX
MotoGP World Championship  Spain
6:00pm-7:00pm (SDD) SPEED
The SPEED Report 
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Victory Lane Bristol
8:00pm-9:00pm (SDD) SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Guest: Jay Frye, Co-owner Ginn Racing
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED

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

Customer car dispute goes to arbitration  Spyker has launched arbitration proceedings to resolve the ongoing dispute over the use of customer cars in Formula 1. The Dutch-owned squad maintains that Super Aguri’s SA07 is a clone of last year’s Honda RA106 and that Toro Rosso’s STR2 is simply a repackaged Red Bull RB3 – in breach of the rule stating that F1 teams must be constructors.

The stewards said that the definition of a constructor and the terms by which teams may enter the world championship are as set out in the 1998 Concorde Agreement – the contract that governs F1's commercial relationships – and are therefore a matter for the courts.

The case will now go to the International Chamber of Commerce in Lausanne, Switzerland, which rules on all disputes pertaining to the Concorde Agreement.  Super Aguri and Toro Rosso are expected to be served papers notifying them that arbitration proceedings are underway in the next few days. ITV/F1

Biagi grabs pole in Zhuhai  Thomas Biagi claimed his first FIA GT pole position in the first round of 2007, setting a time of 1:31.339 in an extremely close qualifying session around the 4.318 km Zhuhai International Circuit.  (pictured right, Biagi left and Dirk Muller)

The Italian driver, in his nr 2 Vitaphone Maserati MC 12, was just 5 thousandths of a second ahead of Mike Hezemans in the Carsport Holland Corvette C6, who was in turn 20 thousandths ahead of his former team-mate Anthony Kumpen in the nr 4 PK Carsport Corvette C5.  

Reigning Champion Andrea Bertolini, in the Scuderia Playteam Sarafree Maserati MC 12 (pictured right), claimed a place on the second row of the starting grid with a time of 1:31.551. 

Proving that this is a real Corvette circuit, Philipp Peter (pictured left) was fifth with the PSI car, ahead of leading Aston Martin DBR9, the nr 23 Aston Martin Racing BMS car of Fabio Babini. More ...

Checa on top for practice 3 in Jerez  Carlos Checa was again on top of the timesheets in MotoGP's third free practice session for the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez Saturday morning.  He also set the fastest lap in yesterday's second session too.

Pos  Rider             Make      Time
 1.  Carlos Checa      Honda     1:40.659
 2.  Alex Barros       Ducati    1:40.841 + 0.182
 3.  Daniel Pedrosa    Honda     1:41.070 + 0.411
 4.  Marco Melandri    Honda     1:41.122 + 0.463
 5.  John Hopkins      Suzuki    1:41.175 + 0.516
 6.  Toni Elías        Honda     1:41.179 + 0.520
 7.  Colin Edwards     Yamaha    1:41.301 + 0.642
 8.  Nicky Hayden      Honda     1:41.366 + 0.707
 9.  Casey Stoner      Ducati    1:41.394 + 0.735
10.  Makoto Tamada     Yamaha    1:41.406 + 0.747
11.  Shinya Nakano     Honda     1:41.416 + 0.757
12.  Loris Capirossi   Ducati    1:41.482 + 0.823
13.  Sylvain Guintoli  Yamaha    1:41.674 + 1.015
14.  Randy de Puniet   Kawasaki  1:41.802 + 1.143
15.  Chris Vermeulen   Suzuki    1:41.872 + 1.213
16.  Alex Hofmann      Ducati    1:41.886 + 1.227
17.  K.Roberts Jr.     KR        1:41.966 + 1.307
18.  Valentino Rossi   Yamaha    1:42.129 + 1.470
19.  Kousuke Akiyoshi  Suzuki    1:42.464 + 1.805
20.  Olivier Jacque    Kawasaki  1:42.560 + 1.901

Seen in Bristol - 1  NASCAR drew more fans to qualifying in Bristol Friday than the IRL, Grand-Am and USAC Silver Crown series will draw for the entire weekend in Homestead.  While you could shoot a cannon into the grandstands at Homestead and not hit a soul, Bristol had a fairly healthy crowd as can be seen in this Toyota photograph of Dale Jarrett during qualifying.

The Car of Tomorrow made its debut at Bristol Friday and all the cars looked identical but for the paint scheme and the $29.95 decal kit for the front grill and headlights.  Here Jeremy Mayfield circles the Bristol bullring with his new paint scheme on his Toyota Camry.

Jeff Gordon said after qualifying "I just didn't think we would run these kinds of speeds. I just didn't think DuPont Impala SS would be able to run that fast, but it did.”  To which we overheard one wag say, "That's because the artificial NASCAR computer generated qualifying speeds selected you for the pole this weekend." More ...

NASCAR 'the place to be'  Sam Hornish Jr. grew up worshipping Indy-style racing, but three IndyCar championships and one Indianapolis 500 victory later, he is dabbling in NASCAR.

Dan Wheldon, who won the IndyCar title and Indy 500 in 2005, attended last month's Daytona 500, the next best thing to racing in NASCAR.

Since July, open wheel stars have defected to NASCAR for full-time Cup rides, most notably Juan Pablo Montoya, who left Formula One, and A.J. Allmendinger from Champ Car. Hornish has run in five Busch races and Wheldon had a Busch seat fitted and could compete in a race later this year.

Even NASCAR chairman Brian France said in his state of the sport address last month, ``This is the place to be when you want to test your skills against the best drivers in the world.'' More ...

Seen in Homestead - 2  Selected quotes from Brian Barnhart:
(About Milka Duno Announcement): "By the time she enters her first race event and races, she'll have thousands of miles under her belt. It's not like she announced today that she'll be racing next week in St. Pete. I think they have five scheduled test sessions.  We'll do plenty of testing on track with her including start and restart practice and pit stop practice. We'll even consider putting other cars out there with her to replicate traffic and give her an opportunity to get accustomed to running in dirty air. By the time she enters her first event, she'll have plenty of experience in terms of testing experience under the belt."

(About ethanol): "The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League have long been leaders in the industry. I think it was important to us to take the first step to make the switch and be the first series to ever run on renewable fuel.  It has been a tremendous step for us in terms of publicity and excitement around the series. It's creating a lot of buzz about what we're doing. It has had a seamless transition from the competition, the competitors. Honda's switch over in engines has been seamless.  They've run without any kind of failures. As you saw in our practice sessions and our Open Test, it's a switch without a hiccup." More ...

Seen in Homestead - 1  A whole host of media were flown in from Venezuela for the Milka Duno announcement that she will drive in the IRL with baking from CITGO.  It was the first time we ever saw a driver being followed around the paddock with a makeup artist.  Duno appears to be vying for top honors as 'princess' of the Indy Racing League.  Is this a sport or a show?

Danica Patrick, Sarah Fisher, and now Milka Duno.  IRL. You can't spell gIRLs without it!

At a press conference earlier today, SAMAX Motorsport owner Peter Baron and CITGO Petroleum Corp. president and CEO Felix Rodriguez announced that Milka Duno would drive the No. 23 CITGO Racing/SAMAX Motorsport Dallara/Honda/Firestone in 10 IndyCar Series events this season - including the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.

After testing and passing her rookie test in early April, Duno will launch her long-time aspirations April 29 at Kansas Speedway. She'll also compete at Texas Motor Speedway (June 9), Iowa Speedway (June 24), Watkins Glen International (July 8), Nashville Superspeedway (July 14), Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (July 22), Michigan International Speedway (Aug. 5), Kentucky Speedway (Aug. 11) and the season finale at Chicagoland Speedway (Sept. 9).

Festa wins pole for Indy pro opener  It was a banner day for Chip Ganassi's team as it also claimed the SWE Race Car Parts Pole Award for the Miami 100 Indy Pro Series event with driver Chris Festa. It was the first career pole for Festa.


CHRIS FESTA (No. 9 CGR Indy Pro Series, SWE Race Car Parts Pole Winner): "It's a great thing. The team is starting out for the first time, so to come out and get a pole is just a really good thing. They've worked so hard over the winter. I'm just so proud to be a part of this team. When somebody like Chip Ganassi hires you to drive his car, it definitely builds your ego a little bit, but I don't want it to get too big because that's when things start happening. We're feeling pretty good. We ran race setup in the session this morning, and we can put the car anywhere we wanted, so we're feeling very confident. We're looking forward to tomorrow." (About expecting to go 187 mph) "Honestly, no I didn't. I was expecting probably around 186, but I'm not going to complain. I'll take it. That was a pleasant surprise." More ...

Raikkonen would 'fit' at BMW - Theissen  (GMM)  Mario Theissen will be keeping an eye on Kimi Raikkonen as the Finn's career at Ferrari races on.

The BMW motor sport director says that despite paddock speculation that the 'iceman' is not a hard worker, he believes Raikkonen would fit in at his Hinwil based team.

Prior to Sauber's acquisition by the German carmaker BMW, Raikkonen made his formula one debut for the Swiss squad in 2001.

Since then, he has earned a reputation for being arguably F1's quickest driver, despite consistently raising eyebrows for his apparent lack of focus.

"A driver who wins fits with BMW," team principal Theissen, when asked about Raikkonen, told Der Spiegel.

Mario, who still employs team founder Peter Sauber as a consultant, explained of 27-year-old Raikkonen: "I rate him highly.

"I have not worked with him personally, but I know the opinions about him.

"He always drives consistently for very competent teams, and perhaps like no other driver he can also cope with a car that is not perfect."

Raikkonen, the 2007 championship leader, won his first race in a Ferrari cockpit last Sunday.

Reid again fastest in afternoon  Mexico City, Mexico - The first day of practice for this weekend's A1GP Mexico City, Mexico showed promise of an exciting and competitive pair of races ahead with the time sheet order continuously changing. Even the reduction in power due to the track being over a mile high didn't mean that the cars were not flying.

A1 Team New Zealand had regular driver Jonny Reid (pictured right) back behind the wheel after Matt Halliday stepped in for the Durban round. He was soon back in the groove, clocking the fastest lap of the day in the closing minutes of practice session two. 'We just went out casually going through our normal program making sure everything was right for the race. Then we got on with the job and realized the car was not quite on the pace. We just tuned in and sorted the problem and got P1 - we were pretty pleased about it,' Reid commented. More ...

Reid tops practice 1 in Mexico City  
1 Jonny REID NEW ZEALAND 24 1:28.174 - 181.6 24
2 Oliver JARVIS GREAT BRITAIN 7 1:28.185 +0.011 181.5 16
3 Christian VIETORIS GERMANY 2 1:28.244 +0.070 181.4 21
4 Alex YOONG MALAYSIA 21 1:28.378 +0.204 181.1 23
5 Jeroen BLEEKEMOLEN NETHERLANDS 14 1:28.470 +0.296 181.0 15
6 Jonathan SUMMERTON USA 2 1:28.631 +0.457 180.6 23
7 Enrico TOCCACELO ITALY 19 1:28.772 +0.598 180.3 25
8 Ho-Pin TUNG CHINA 21 1:28.800 +0.626 180.3 23
9 Adrian ZAUGG SOUTH AFRICA 18 1:28.860 +0.686 180.2 23
10 Salvador DURAN MEXICO 26 1:28.979 +0.805 179.9 27
11 Jean Karl VERNAY FRANCE 21 1:28.988 +0.814 179.9 21
12 Bruno JUNQUEIRA BRAZIL 20 1:29.047 +0.873 179.8 21
13 Narain KARTHIKEYAN INDIA 2 1:29.067 +0.893 179.7 19
14 Marcel FASSLER SWITZERLAND 4 1:29.150 +0.976 179.6 25
15 Ian DYK AUSTRALIA 6 1:29.310 +1.136 179.3 22
16 James HINCHCLIFFE CANADA 22 1:29.391 +1.217 179.1 25
17 Janis JAREK CZECH REPUBLIC 14 1:29.424 +1.250 179.0 18
18 Alvaro PARENTE PORTUGAL 20 1:30.113 +1.939 177.7 21
19 Allam KHODAIR LEBANON 3 1:30.135 +1.961 177.6 22
20 Richard LYONS IRELAND 10 1:30.199 +2.025 177.5 20
21 Ananda MIKOLA INDONESIA 21 1:30.276 +2.102 177.3 25
22 Nur ALI PAKISTAN 22 1:32.084 +3.910 173.9 24
Statements on Medlen's death  "This is really tough to take. We are just heartbroken for Eric's family. He was such a great person and a tremendous competitor. Eric had an energy about him that was totally contagious. He was the type of guy who lit up the room the minute he walked into it. And if you knew him, you couldn't help but root for him because of how he came up through the sport and his absolute commitment to his work. The loss we feel at Ford is indescribable. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, to John Force Racing, and to his fans. The sport lost one of its best people today." Dan Davis, Director, Ford Racing Technology

Eric Medlen's death has left a huge void in the racing community. Many of us at Las Vegas Motor Speedway have gotten to know Eric on both a professional and personal level. His willingness to assist the speedway in promoting events was second to none. The Las Vegas Motor Speedway family extends its sympathy and prayers to Eric's family and the John Force Racing family. Chris Powell, General Manager Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Medlen dies  UPDATE #3 Eric Medlen, 33, who had emerged as one of the most popular young drivers in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, succumbed Friday afternoon to injuries suffered when his race car crashed into a guardwall during a Monday test session at Gainesville Raceway.

The talented Funny Car driver never regained consciousness. After being treated at the track, he was transported by ShandsCair helicopter to Shands at the University of Florida medical center where medical staff treated him for four days for a severe closed head injury.

"Eric suffered from severe traumatic brain injury with diffuse axonal injury, or DAI," said Dr. Joseph Layon, Professor of Anesthesiology, Surgery and Medicine and the Chief of Critical Care Medicine at UF. "Survival rates associated with DAI are low.

"On Tuesday, UF and Shands neurosurgery team performed a cranjectomy and removed the front portion of the skull to relieve pressure and attempt to improve blood flow to the brain," Dr. Layon explained. "Despite receiving the most aggressive treatment, Eric continued to have uncontrollable intracranial pressure. His body lost the ability to manage it's salt and water levels and he began displaying the complicating factors associated with DAI. More ...

Hines Puts Foyt Back in Silver Crown Victory Lane  HOMESTEAD, Fla. – The No. 14 is back in Victory Lane in the USAC Silver Crown Series presented by K&N Engineering.  Born in the same season driver A.J. Foyt won the USAC Silver Crown title in a four-race season, Tracy Hines scored Friday’s “Homestead-Miami 100” at Homestead-Miami Speedway, driving for the legendary four-time Indianapolis 500 champion.

Hines, in his first race driving for Foyt as well as first race in the new generation Silver Crown Series, led the final four laps of the 67-lapper for his seventh career series victory after leader Wayne Reutimann Jr.’s car came out of gear on Lap 64. The victory earned Hines $26,000.
“The double zero (Reutimann) and the 26 (Pierce) were the class of the field,” said Hines, who started fifth in the No. 14 Green Special C&R/Chevy. “But one thing we worry about is keeping our car consistent.…The Greer Special was awesome. They called me over the winter and asked me to drive, and I said sure. I’m glad I did.” More ...

SunTrust Racing grabs Pole at Homestead  Jan Magnussen qualified the No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley of Wayne Taylor Racing on the pole for Saturday’s Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Grand Prix of Miami.

Magnussen, the Danish veteran of Formula One, Champ Car and sports car racing who is co-driving with 2005 series co-champion Max Angelelli in the SunTrust Racing machine, turned in a fast lap of 1 minute, 14.321 seconds (an average of 111.409 mph) around the 2.3-mile, 11-turn Homestead (Fla.) Miami Speedway road circuit during this afternoon’s 15-minute qualifying session. Magnussen’s lap was the fastest among 46 car-and-driver combinations entered in Saturday afternoon’s 400-kilometer race, Round 3 of 14 events on the 2007 schedule.

It was the sixth pole position for the fourth-year SunTrust Racing Rolex Series program, and Magnussen’s second since he first put the blue No. 10 Pontiac on the pole at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., last August.

“I’m very happy with how things went both this afternoon (in qualifying) and this morning (in practice),” said Magnussen, who is riding a streak of seven finishes of fourth or better when co-driving the SunTrust Racing Pontiac with Angelelli, dating back to their victory together at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif., last May. “For qualifying, we made some great improvements on the car. To be on pole for this race is very important for us, especially since it’s a very big weekend for SunTrust with a lot of guests and a lot of very important people coming to the race. Hopefully, we can take this pole position and turn it into a win this time. We’re tired of being in third! Seriously, I think we have a good car. We’ll work a little bit more in the morning with the race setup. Like everybody else in qualifying, we were fast in the beginning, and it was more and more difficult to keep the life in the tire. But the car went well. Even when the tires went off, there was still good balance in the car. So, I’m looking forward to a good race car. Starting from the pole, of course, it makes it a lot easier – at the beginning of the race, at least.”

The top-five in qualifying were the following teams:
1. SunTrust Racing (No. 10 Pontiac Riley) with Jan Magnussen and Max Angelelli (1:14.321 at 111.409 mph)
2. Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing (No. 99 Pontiac Riley) with Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney (1:14.509 at 111.128 mph)
3. Alex Job Racing (No. 23 Porsche Crawford) with Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister (1:14.559 at 111.053 mph)
4. Krohn Racing (No. 75 Pontiac Riley) with Colin Braun and Max Papis (1:14.698 at 110.846 mph)
5. Red Bull Brumos Porsche (No. 58 Porsche Riley) with David Donohue and Darren Law (1:14.712 at 110.826 mph)

Montoya on ESPN Deportes SportsCenter Sunday Conversation  ESPN Deportes’ Sunday Conversation will feature an exclusive one-on-one interview with NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya March 25 at 10:30 p.m. ET.  The SportsCenter interview was conducted by Andrés Agulla, ESPN Deportes’ NASCAR play-by-play commentator.

In addition, ESPN Deportes will debut a new episode of Primera Plana, the network’s half-hour magazine show, which will take an in-depth look at Montoya, his life as a professional driver and move to NASCAR.  Primera Plana – Juan Pablo Montoya Llega a NASCAR (Juan Pablo Montoya arrives in NASCAR), will be aired Wednesday, March 28 at 10 p.m. ET.

Dan Wheldon tops Homestead practice  Dan Wheldon was fastest in early afternoon practice for Saturday night's XM Satellite Indy 300 at Homestead Miami Speedway.

Pos Driver Diff Best Time Best Speed
1 Dan Wheldon (10) ... 25.0970 213.014
2 Sam Hornish Jr (6) 0.0622 25.1592 212.487
3 Tony Kanaan (11) 0.1600 25.2570 211.664
4 Scott Dixon (9) 0.1624 25.2594 211.644
5 Vitor Meira (4) 0.1696 25.2666 211.584
6 Dario Franchitti (27) 0.1884 25.2854 211.426
7 Scott Sharp (8) 0.2313 25.3283 211.068
8 Helio Castroneves (3) 0.2427 25.3397 210.973
9 Ed Carpenter (20) 0.2664 25.3634 210.776
10 Marco Andretti (26) 0.2996 25.3966 210.501
11 Buddy Rice (15) 0.3276 25.4246 210.269
12 Sarah Fisher (5) 0.4008 25.4978 209.665
13 Danica Patrick (7) 0.4227 25.5197 209.485
14 A J Foyt IV (22) 0.4306 25.5276 209.420
15 Jeff Simmons (17) 0.4451 25.5421 209.302
16 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 0.5404 25.6374 208.523
17 Darren Manning (14) 0.5538 25.6508 208.415
18 Tomas Scheckter (2) 0.5796 25.6766 208.205
19 Alex Barron (98) 0.7029 25.7999 207.210
20 Marty Roth (25) 0.9767 26.0737 205.034

NASCAR Atlanta TV Rating  UPDATE The final rating for last weekend's NASCAR race from Atlanta on FOX was a 5.2/12 share, down 5.5% from 2005 - the last time the race was on FOX.  In 2006 the race was rained delayed to Monday and shown on cable channel FX.

03/19/07 The overnight TV rating on FOX for Sunday's Atlanta Kobalt 500 was a 4.7/10 Share.  Last year's race was rain delayed until Monday and shown on cable channel FX so there is no way to compare.  However, the overnight rating in 2004 was 5.3 and 4.9 in 2005, both on FOX.  Therefore, NASCAR's drop in popularity continues unabated accentuated by the massive number of empty grandstand seats on a beautiful sunny day in Atlanta Sunday.
Checa leads Friday PM Times in Jerez  Carlos Checa, Dani Pedrosa and Toni Elias made it a one-two-three for Honda in free practice for Sunday's Spanish MotoGP. Checa's best lap time was one minute 40.851 secs, with race favorite Pedrosa second, Elias third and Qatar race winner Casey Stoner in fourth. Valentino Rossi, out to end a five-race winless streak, was fifth fastest with reigning champion Nicky Hayden 13th.

Pos Rider Team Time Laps
 1. Carlos Checa Honda LCR 1:40.851 26
 2. Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 1:40.906 + 0.055 30
 3. Toni Elias Honda Gresini 1:40.972 + 0.121 22
 4. Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro Team 1:41.171 + 0.320 22
 5. Valentino Rossi Fiat Yamaha Team 1:41.198 + 0.347 26
 6. Kenny Roberts Jr Team Roberts 1:41.201 + 0.350 24
 7. John Hopkins Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1:41.245 + 0.394 24
 8. Chris Vermeulen Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1:41.305 + 0.454 25
 9. Colin Edwards Fiat Yamaha Team 1:41.339 + 0.488 27
10. Alex Barros Pramac d'Antin 1:41.362 + 0.511 19
11. Loris Capirossi Ducati Marlboro Team 1:41.409 + 0.558 23
12. Marco Melandri Honda Gresini 1:41.477 + 0.626 25
13. Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda Team 1:41.536 + 0.685 26
14. Randy De Puniet Kawasaki Racing Team 1:41.666 + 0.815 26
15. Alex Hofmann Pramac d'Antin 1:41.835 + 0.984 23
16. Makoto Tamada Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3 1:42.097 + 1.246 22
17. Sylvain Guintoli Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3 1:42.311 + 1.460 24
18. Olivier Jacque Kawasaki Racing Team 1:42.402 + 1.551 25
19. Shinya Nakano Konica Minolta Honda 1:42.424 + 1.573 23
20. Kousuke Akiyoshi Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1:42.549 + 1.698 21

CITGO backed Duno to drive in IRL  Milka Duno, the first woman in history to win a major international sportscar race in North America, and CITGO Racing, announced today at Homestead-Miami Speedway that they will compete in the 2007 IndyCar Series with SAMAX Motorsport. Duno will drive the No. 23 CITGO Racing/SAMAX Motorsport Dallara/Honda/Firestone in ten IndyCar Series events this season, including the 91st Indianapolis 500. She also plans to compete at Kansas, Texas, Iowa, Watkins Glen, Nashville, Mid Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Chicago.

[Editor's Note: CITGO is owned by the government of Venezuela that is led by USA hater Hugo Chavez.]

Duno joined Felix Rodriguez, president and CEO of CITGO Petroleum Corp., Peter Baron, team principal of SAMAX Motorsport, and Tony George, founder and CEO of the Indy Racing League, in announcing the sponsor and team plans to field an entry in the 2007 IndyCar Series season.

Although the team is new to the series, SAMAX Motorsport's IndyCar crew members are an experienced group with most having been part of an Indianapolis 500 win. Veteran campaigners Steve Challis and John Cummiskey have been named as lead engineer and team manager, respectively. Cummiskey has three Indy 500 wins next to his name and shared a 2nd place with Challis in 2002. The team will be based out of Gasoline Alley and members will be comprised of a mix of Indy specialists and a few familiar faces from Duno's Grand-Am team. More ...

Marino Franchitti to Join AGR ALMS Lineup  INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.  Andretti Green Racing announced today that Marino Franchitti will join Bryan Herta as a co-driver of the #26 XM Satellite Radio Acura for the inaugural Acura Sportscar Challenge of St. Petersburg on Saturday, March 31. Franchitti will jump into the car that won the LMP2 class at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on March 17. Franchitti, the younger brother of Andretti Green driver Dario Franchitti, is an ALMS veteran, having finished second in the GT2 class at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta in 2006.

Franchitti has spent the past six years driving in various sports car-related series including the Grand Am Rolex Series. He also earned a podium finish at the Spa 24 Hour race as well as a race win at Adria. Among his highlights in 2005 was an appearance as a works. driver for Panoz at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 2004 he captured pole position in the LMP2 category at the 12 Hours of Sebring and in 2001, his first season of professional racing, he earned eight victories en route to the British GTO Championship.

The inaugural Acura Sportscar Challenge is a 2 hour and 45 minute timed event held on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., in conjunction with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The race begins at 5:05 p.m. (EDT) on the 1.8-mile course with television coverage provided by SPEED Channel on a tape-delayed basis beginning at 8 p.m. (EDT). More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Paffett, Karthikeyan, to race in 2007
  • Hamilton may not win in 2007 - Fittipaldi
  • Hakkinen rules out F1 comeback
  • Ralf says Toyota can still win in 2007

Paffett, Karthikeyan, to race in 2007
British hopeful Gary Paffett has shelved his formula one dream for another year by committing to the DTM series in 2007.

After winning Germany's premier touring car series in 2005, the 25-year-old has signed to return this season at the wheel of a year-old AMG-Mercedes C-class.

As well as racing for the Persson team, Paffett will remain a McLaren test driver in 2007.

"I remain committed to finding a full-time formula one drive in the future," he said.

The DTM season kicks off next month.

Paffett's test driver colleague Narain Karthikeyan, meanwhile, who works for the Williams team, will race alongside Jean Alesi and Johnny Herbert in the new Speedcar stock car series, a statement said.

The Indian said: "The winter series is perfect for me as I can concentrate on formula one, my main obligation, but also be a part of a really serious racing series that keeps me competitive and racing, my only ambition."

The series begins in November.

Hamilton may not win in 2007 - Fittipaldi
Former world champion Emerson Fittipaldi has expressed doubt that formula one newcomer Lewis Hamilton can win a grand prix in his debut season of F1 in 2007.

The Brazilian, who won two drivers' titles in the 70s, has swam against the tide of hype following Hamilton's drive to the podium in Australia by suggesting that a victory is not necessarily the next step for the young Briton.

"I don't believe you can count on the fact that he will win races this year," Fittipaldi told the publication 'Sport'.

"After his impressive start in Australia he might have to be content with some further podium places."

Insisting that the jury still out on Hamilton, then, Fittipaldi labeled the rookie's McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso as "brilliant" and added that Lewis can "learn a lot" from the Spaniard.

He said: "(Hamilton) should consider Fernando as a yardstick; if Lewis can keep up with Alonso, then he can keep up with anyone."

Hakkinen rules out F1 comeback
Mika Hakkinen has ruled out ever returning to formula one.

The former double world champion, who a few years ago flirted with a return for the Williams and BAR squads, tested a McLaren over the winter and has been tipped for more tests with the team he raced for until 2001.

But at a fitness camp for Mercedes-Benz drivers in Mallorca, where he is preparing to compete in the DTM series for the third consecutive year, he said about formula one: "There is nothing that could motivate me to return."

Hakkinen, who is 38, added: "With my two titles, I have reached in formula one everything there is to reach."

Ralf says Toyota can still win in 2007
Ralf Schumacher says he has not given up on securing Toyota's first formula one win this year.

After a difficult winter test period, the German finished the Australian grand prix eighth, which although below Toyota's expectations for 2007 was better than expected for the Japanese owned outfit's disappointing new TF107 car.

But Ralf, 31, and his Italian teammate Jarno Trulli, also qualified inside the top ten for the 2007 season opener.

Schumacher, who this week traveled to India for PR activities, said: "I believe we will be able to win the first grand prix for Toyota in formula one this year, even if we still have a long way to go.

"We shouldn't forget that the distance to the top teams is still quite extensive."

In India, Ralf explained to reporters that success in formula one requires patience, and that although six years old, Toyota's Cologne based grand prix team is still young.

He added: "In the momentary situation, we simply have to be patient."

Homestead a ghost town  Despite the USAC Silver Crown series, the Grand-Am series and the IRL at Homestead today practicing for tomorrow's races, we heard one team member comment "You can shoot a round of cannon fire in those grandstands and never hit a soul.  This is depressing."
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Gary Paffett Back in DTM  
Gary Paffett, 2005 DTM-Champion with the DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes C-Class, will return to the DTM after a one-year break. The 25-year-old Englishman, who has been a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes test driver in Formula One for more than a year, will drive the Persson team’s 2006 AMG-Mercedes C-Class, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport announced today. The 2007 DTM incorporates ten races and will start at Hockenheim on 22 April.

In December 2006 the possibility of Gary’s DTM comeback first arose. However, at that time the four HWA factory cars had been already allocated to DTM record champion Bernd Schneider (42), double Formula One World Champion Mika Häkkinen (38), 2006 DTM runner-up Bruno Spengler (23) and Jamie Green (24), 2004 Formula 3 Euro Series Champion.

Within the last two years, five drivers with cars from the respective previous years have scored points on a total of 19 occasions: Bruno Spengler (three times) and Stefan Mücke (2) in 2005, Jean Alesi (6), Alexandros Margaritis (5), Stefan Mücke (2) and Daniel la Rosa (1) in 2006. When Gary made his debut in the 2003 DTM, he raced a 2002 model; his best result in that year was sixth place at Austria’s A1-Ring. With the DTM’s weight rules, three generations of race cars are able to achieve podium positions. Whilst the new cars in 2007 will have a basic weight of 1,070 kilograms, 2006 cars will weigh 1,060 kilograms and 2005 cars will race with a weight of 1,020 kilograms. More ...

Food poisoning sidelines Jani  Champ Car driver Neel Jani, scheduled to make his last appearance this weekend for the Swiss A1GP team has been sidelined due to food poisoning.
Janis in for Czechs in Mexico  Jarek Janis will return to A1GP action this weekend after his strong performance in the Sebring 12 hours race last weekend. He is ready for to fight for victory at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City that hosts next round of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.

After nearly a one month break since the A1GP cars raced in Durban, South Africa, the teams are going to experience their third continent in as many races. The Czech Republic team have nominated Jarek Janis for the upcoming event, which will be his second race in A1GP and first in 2007. He made his debut last year in Indonesia but having taken part in a number of rookie sessions, Janis has much more experience of the car which should help him to learn a new track. More ...

Roberts leads opening MotoGP practice  Friday morning practice times from Jerez:

1 10 Kenny ROBERTS JR USA KR212V 1'41.182 25 25
2 33 Marco MELANDRI ITA HONDA 1'41.418 21 25
3 27 Casey STONER AUS DUCATI 1'41.450 13 22
4 1 Nicky HAYDEN USA HONDA 1'41.566 28 28
5 24 Toni ELIAS SPA HONDA 1'41.613 14 23
6 21 John HOPKINS USA SUZUKI 1'41.860 24 25
7 26 Dani PEDROSA SPA HONDA 1'41.959 28 28
8 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA YAMAHA 1'42.057
9 5 Colin EDWARDS USA YAMAHA 1'42.078 11 25
10 56 Shinya NAKANO JPN HONDA 1'42.199 26 27
11 7 Carlos CHECA SPA HONDA 1'42.205 24 24
12 71 Chris VERMEULEN AUS SUZUKI 1'42.269 21 24
13 4 Alex BARROS BRA DUCATI 1'42.383
14 65 Loris CAPIROSSI ITA DUCATI 1'42.427
15 66 Alex HOFMANN GER DUCATI 1'42.515 21 22
16 14 Randy DE PUNIET FRA KAWASAKI 1'42.892 19 24
17 19 Olivier JACQUE FRA KAWASAKI 1'42.997 20 23
18 50 Sylvain GUINTOLI FRA YAMAHA 1'43.161 10 24
19 6 Makoto TAMADA JPN YAMAHA 1'43.309 20 25
20 64 Kousuke AKIYOSHI JPN SUZUKI 1'44.168

A1GP bankrupts another race promoter  The Beijing round of the A1GP series, one of two in China, will be dropped for next season because the promoters cannot afford to cover the "huge" losses, the Shanghai Daily reported on Friday.

The Chinese capital made its debut in the second season of the "World Cup of Motorsport" last November but the $2.6M cost of putting on the race as well as the Shanghai round has proved too great for the promoters, Haiyi.

"We have worked our socks off to get everything right for both rounds over the past few months," said Guan Yunke, Haiyi's deputy general manager.

"But the financial burden to stage two races in a year is overwhelming with huge losses. Therefore we decided to drop the Beijing leg next season."

[Editor's Note:  The attendance was miniscule, hence the huge losses.  And the track was so bad that when the cars went out on their first warm-up lap none of them could make it past the tight chicane as the turning radius of the cars was too large for the poorly designed track so the remainder of the day was cancelled.  This weekend's A1GP race in Mexico City will be yet another huge financial loss for the race promoters.]

Melbourne crowd smallest in years  The Australian newspaper The Age reports the four-day crowd of 301,000 for this year's Australian GP was the smallest for the event since 1998, which means the race will bleed even more red ink than it has every year since it has been in existence.

And Bernie wants the promoter and the city to spend more to install lights so he can make more TV ad revenue in Europe?

Racing return for Karthikeyan  India's first Formula One driver is the latest big name to sign up for a brand new stock car championship starting later this year. Former Jordan racer, and current Williams tester Narain Karthikeyan, has been added to the growing list of motorsport stars that will take part in the Speedcar Series, the competition that will pit 24 identical 600bhp cars against each other on tracks across Asia and the Middle East.

Karthikeyan is the first Asian driver to be announced as a competitor in the championship, and promises to be a big hit with Speedcar Series fans when he brings his flat-out style to the competition, which starts later this year.

The 30-year-old is a single-seater veteran, having raced across the world in Formula Three, Formula Nippon, and the Dallara Nissan World Series, as well as Formula One, but can't wait to try stock car racing, he said: "I am very much looking forward to being a part of the new Speedcar Series, it is obviously very competitive, with great names such as Jean Alesi and Johnny Herbert, and it will be very exciting to pit myself against these legends of Formula One. More ...

BusinessF1 wins libel action against FIA  The editor of BusinessF1 Magazine, Tom Rubython, yesterday won a libel action in the High Court against Richard Woods, director of communications for the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA). After a three-day trial before a jury Mr. Rubython was awarded damages of £17,500 and Mr. Justice Gray ordered Mr. Woods should pay Mr. Rubython’s costs on an indemnity basis from June 2006 onwards. The total costs, payable by Mr. Woods, of both Mr. Rubython and the magazine plus those of Mr. Woods are approximately UK£250,000 (US$480,000). The FIA, which supported Mr. Woods during the action, had previously stated in open court that they were funding the action and the FIA are therefore likely to have to foot the bill for both side’s legal costs. It is not known whether Mr. Woods will be left to pay the damages personally. More ...
GM Racing CoT preview  DETROIT - Chevrolet, the most successful nameplate in NASCAR, will have the opportunity to achieve several historic milestones at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. With Jimmie Johnson's back-to-back wins in Las Vegas and Atlanta, Chevrolet has 599 NASCAR Cup wins as Team Chevy heads to Bristol, Tenn. where the Impala nameplate will make its return to NASCAR racing. If a Chevy driver wins in Bristol this weekend, it would be the 600th all-time victory for Chevrolet and the 61st win for Impala.

"We are extremely proud of Chevrolet's successful heritage in NASCAR," said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. "To score Chevrolet's 600th victory would be very special considering how tough the competition has been over the years. But it would also be even more significant to accomplish this milestone during the first race with the new Impala SS race car."

This weekend's Food City 500 in Bristol is the first event featuring NASCAR's next generation of race cars including the Chevy Impala SS. Forty-eight years after the nameplate was introduced to NASCAR racing, Impala returns to NASCAR competition in 16 Nextel Cup events this season. More ...

Chevy Aims for 600th NASCAR Cup Series Win  Chevrolet will have the opportunity to achieve several historic milestones at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. With Jimmie Johnson's back-to-back wins in Las Vegas and Atlanta, Chevrolet has 599 NASCAR Cup wins as Team Chevy heads to Bristol, Tenn. where the Impala nameplate will make its return to NASCAR racing. If a Chevy driver wins in Bristol this weekend, it would be the 600th all-time victory for Chevrolet and the 61st win for Impala. This weekend's Food City 500 in Bristol is the first event featuring NASCAR's next generation of race cars including the Chevy Impala SS. Forty-eight years after the nameplate was introduced to NASCAR racing, Impala returns to NASCAR competition in 16 Nextel Cup events this season. When it takes the track at Bristol, Impala will have already achieved consecutive NASCAR titles in 1960 and 1961 as well 60 race wins including the inaugural Impala race in 1959 at Daytona International Speedway. In addition to Impala's success, Chevrolet's history of NASCAR racing accolades includes 23 driver titles, 30 manufacturer championships and 599 victories. Chevrolet's closest competitor for all-time NASCAR victories trails by the equivalent of a full-season of race wins (22).

Total All-time NASCAR Cup Wins (by corporation): 1949-present
General Motors Corporation = 933
(Chevy: 599, Pontiac: 154, Olds: 115, Buick: 65)
Ford Motor Company = 676
(Ford: 577, Mercury 95, Lincoln: 4)
Chrysler Corporation = 444
(Dodge: 194, Plymouth: 191, Chrysler: 59)
GM Racing PR

Track News
Spanish GP venue opens new grandstand  (GMM)  Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya has announced the opening of a new grandstand at the venue for the Spanish grand prix.

Still enjoying the fruits of world champion Fernando Alonso's popularity, 'Grandstand S' has been built in front of the circuit's new chicane, near the end of the lap.

It has a capacity of 2000 seats, as the track's director of operations confirmed that the 2007 race, to take place in mid May, is nearly sold out.

"That's what remains for the event in our country," said Ramon Maltas.  "Once these tickets are sold out, the tickets for the formula one will be finished."

The new grandstand takes the Circuit de Catalunya's capacity to 76,700 seats.  Last year's total attendance of 131,200 at the race, where Alonso won for the first time, was a record. The Spanish grand prix has a contract until 2011.

industry news
Reader Feedback
Ford extends oil change period  UPDATE A reader writes, The traditional oil change periods of 3,000 - 5,000 miles are a crock.  I have a 1993 Lexus Coupe that I bought new and it now has more than 195,000 miles on the original engine.  Its oil has been and still is changed every 7,500 miles, just as the owner's manual recommends. Mark M., Texas

03/22/07 Most major automakers agree: The adage that you should change your car's oil every 3,000 miles is outdated, and even 5,000 miles may be too often.  Ford Motor Co. became the latest manufacturer to extend its oil life guidelines, making public that it is raising the recommended oil change interval from 5,000 miles to 7,500 on its newly redesigned 2007 models and all subsequent redesigned or new models.

The company, like many other manufacturers, said Tuesday that higher oil quality standards and new engine designs were responsible for the change, which affects vehicles driven under normal conditions.

"The oils have advanced a lot since the days when 3,000 miles were the typical oil drains," said Dennis Bachelder, senior engineer for the American Petroleum Institute, an industry organization that sets quality standards. "They're certainly more robust than the oils of 10, 15 years ago."

TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday  

Courtesy of TVRacer.com

The Late Show with David Letterman
Guest: Jimmie Johnson
12:35am-1:35am (R) CBS
(Check local listings for your time zone)
NASCAR Nextel Cup Practice Bristol
10:00am-11:00am (L) SPEED
Interview with Tonya Bergeson-Dana, Paul Dana's widow
10:00am-11:00am ESPN
NASCAR Busch Qualifying Bristol
11:00am-12:30pm (L) ESPN2
NASCAR Nextel Cup Final Practice Bristol
12:30pm-2:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Angels Ricky Carmichael (Motocross, NASCAR)
2:00pm-2:30pm (Check local listings for your time zone) ABC
Rolex Sports Car Series Homestead-Miami
2:00pm-5:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Series Bristol Sharpie Mini 300
2:30pm-6:00pm (L) Incl Pre & Post Show ABC
NASCAR Performance
7:30pm-8:00pm SPEED
Star Mazda Sebring
8:00pm-9:00pm (3/16/07) SPEED
IRL Homestead-Miami
8:00pm-10:30pm (L) ESPN2

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

Spyker starts legal action against teams  (GMM)  Spyker boss Colin Kolles has followed through on his promise to commence legal action against the Dutch team's formula one rivals Super Aguri and Toro Rosso.

He had made the threat in Australia last weekend, after FIA stewards told him that an official protest about the legality of Super Aguri's SA07 - which is arguably an altered copy of the 2006 works Honda - would have been rejected on the grounds that it is a commercial issue only.

Asked if Spyker would now seek arbitration in court, Kolles answered: "Yes, this is how I see it."

It is understood that Spyker's action is against both Super Aguri and Toro Rosso, who are racing this year with a car that is nearly identical to the Red Bull RB3, and may also involve the car suppliers Red Bull and Honda.

The teams will likely be issued with papers within the next few days before the case is sent to the Swiss based Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.

There is, however, no suggestion that Super Aguri and Toro Rosso will have to sit out races while the lengthy arbitration process advances.  Indeed, Spyker is seeking that the teams be ineligible for constructors' points rather than be excluded from the sport altogether.

Kimi Raikkonen delighted to win in Ferrari debut  Three days after the victory in Melbourne, Kimi Raikkonen spoke to Ferrari World about his impressions: "I've never hidden my joy, since the first day I came to Maranello," said Kimi. "Now, after the success in the first race with the team, I am - in case this is possible - even more joyful. When I signed my contract with Ferrari I thought that it would be nice to win as soon as possible, but in Melbourne it came even faster than expected, when I managed to win in my first race with the Prancing Horse. I have never in my whole career won the opening race of the season and that was something that gave me a whole lot of satisfaction. More ...
Kahne slams NASCAR’s appeals process  Asked Wednesday for his take on NASCAR’s appeals process, Kasey Kahne took the atypical approach of skipping the politics and stabbing straight to the core.

“My take is you don’t have a shot when you go in,” he said, stone-faced, other than a slight grin at the corner of his mouth.

He isn’t kidding. Kahne felt Evernham Motorsports carried a solid argument into the March 5 appeals hearing for the unapproved aerodynamic devices found on his No. 9 Dodge during prequalifying inspection for the Daytona 500, which resulted in hefty sanctions by NASCAR. More ...

Pierce Wins Pole at Homestead  Aaron Pierce has been fastest at Homestead-Miami Speedway in previous test sessions, practices and even qualifying for the USAC Silver Crown Series presented by K&N Engineering. On Thursday night, he did it again.

Popping out a speed of 171.423 mph (31.501 seconds), the Phoenix, Ariz. native will lead the 17-car starting field in Friday’s 67-lap, 100-mile “Homestead-Miami 100,” scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m.

Following steady rain showers which forced the delay of practice sessions and cancellation of single-car qualifying, practice began under the lights of the 1.5-mile track and became a scramble, with two sessions determining the starting field.
Pierce completed 25 laps, but it was one toward the end of the second session which forced Wayne Reutimann Jr. out of the top spot. Reutimann, instead, will start alongside of the front row, coming up with a speed of 169.279 mph.

The pole was Pierce’s fourth of his career, all of which have come on mile-and-a-half tracks. His series record speed of 175.012 mph was unchallenged due to track conditions. More ...

With no place to go, Indy pro contenders stay in series  With the announcement that 2006 Indy Pro Series championship runner-up Jonathan Klein would drive the No. 2 Team Moore Racing car in both races on the streets of St. Petersburg (Fla.), the talent of the series grew deeper.

Seven of the top eight finishers in last year's standings will be at St. Pete for races March 31 and April 1. Where are you Nick Bussell? In the opener March 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the series will celebrate a first with the past two season title holders returning. Jay Howard will compete for first-year team SpeedWorks, while '05 champion Wade Cunningham will drive an AFS Racing entry.

In all, a record 26 cars are entered for the race on the 1.5-mile oval that kicks off 16 events (nine road/street courses). Additional cars are possible for the St. Pete doubleheader weekend. Seven new teams have joined the series - so far.

"The series has grown this year, both in participants and in events, and I think this will be the strongest year in the history of the series," said Howard, who outdistanced Klein by four points last season and is locked in with the No. 44 car through the first three races. More ...

Lewis, Crews join Michael Crawford Motorsports  Michael Crawford Motorsports will campaign drivers CR Crews and Shane Lewis in the Indy Pro Series season opener March 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Crews, an 18-year-old Dallas native, will drive the No. 6 Magnus Energy Marketing car, while Lewis, who resides in nearby Jupiter, Fla., will drive the No. 8.

"I got my feet wet on both the ovals and road races last year," said Crews, who made four Indy Pro Series starts, recording two top-10 finishes. "I know I can win races in this series. I will win races in this series. I truly want to surprise as many people as possible by giving (team owner) Michael (Crawford) his best finishes." More ...

Fisher to contest full IndyCar Series schedule  Sarah Fisher will compete on the 12 ovals and five street/road course events on the IndyCar Series schedule in the No. 5 Dallara/Honda/Firestone prepared by Dreyer & Reinbold Racing.

"Sarah tested for the first time on a road course in an IndyCar (Series car) after the Homestead-Miami Open Test and really proved herself and her abilities," team co-owner Dennis Reinbold said. "She really impressed us, and because of this we are making a commitment to put all of our efforts behind her as the driver of the No. 5 car. We want to continue to develop her overall talents, which can only make us stronger as a team as we move forward."

The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 1 will be Fisher's first non-oval event in and IndyCar Series car. She is the first female in Indy car racing history to sit on a pole on an oval, and will compete in the season-opening XM Satellite Radio Indy 300 on March 24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. More ...

Interview with Foyt, Patrick, Andretti, and Wheldon  THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon and welcome to Homestead-Miami Speedway as we get set for the 2007 IndyCar Series season opener. In addition to the IndyCar Series opening up Saturday night under the lights, the Indy Pro Series cars will race Saturday afternoon, the Grand-Am Series will race Saturday after that, and Friday we will see the USAC Silver Crown series race.

We're fortunate to be joined by A.J. Foyt, legendary four-time Indianapolis 500 race winner as a driver. He won for the fifth time at Indianapolis in 1999 with Kenny Brack driving. He will have two cars in tomorrow night's Silver Crown event.

A.J., your 50th year in racing. I'm wondering if you can take a couple minutes, I'm assuming that the Silver Crown cars are still the closest thing to the big cars that you drove in your early days as an Indy car driver. Much comparison at all?  More ...

Krohn Racing and Lola team up for Daytona prototype  Lola Cars International Ltd and Krohn Racing are pleased to announce a new partnership that will produce Lola Daytona Prototypes to race in the 2008 Grand-Am series.

The new collaboration of Lola and Krohn has resulted in a new company being formed called Proto-Auto LLC, which has purchased a Grand-Am constructors license from Ontario based, Multimatic, whose chassis will form the basis of the 2008 Lola car. Several teams have expressed interest in using another competitive chassis to those presently competing in the Grand-Am series.

Under Grand-Am regulations a totally new body is permitted for all constructors to compete in the 2008 season. This is currently underway at Lola’s state-of-the-art facility in Huntingdon, UK, where an experienced team of sportscar engineers are working in Lola’s on-site 50% scale windtunnel.

After research, design and development at Lola, Proto-Auto will operate from a facility in Atlanta, Georgia, and will manage the marketing, engineering, parts and logistical support for all teams who campaign the Lola Daytona Prototype. More ...

Track News
Verizon signs sponsorship deal with Long Beach  Verizon, provider of the fastest Internet connections in Southern California through its all-fiber- optic network direct to customers' homes, is inviting everyone to move into the fast lane with free passes to the 33rd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach next month.

The passes, which are good for general admission on April 13, can be downloaded and printed at http://www.verizon.com/freefriday. The Grand Prix continues through April 15.

Verizon, the official communications sponsor for the race, will host several tents throughout the race enclosure at the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center during the weekend of the race, providing visitors with an opportunity to learn about the company's FiOS Internet and FiOS TV services.

"We're thrilled to be part of this exciting sport where speed rules," said Dustin Kroeger, director of consumer marketing for Verizon's West Coast region. "There's no better place than the Grand Prix to demonstrate Verizon FiOS Internet, the fastest broadband experience in the market and the Internet equivalent of driving a Grand Prix racing car."

Verizon's FiOS delivers speeds of up to 30 Mbps (megabits per second). At that speed, downloading a 1.2 gigabyte full-length feature movie takes about 5 minutes. More ...

Track News
What again?  We hear these same stories every year - that Silverstone needs upgrades to keep its Grand Prix. Yada Yada Yada. We're beginning to think it's a cheap way to get some PR to sell race tickets.

Sports minister Richard Caborn has given his seal of approval to plans to develop Northamptonshire's Silverstone track and safeguard its future on the Formula One circuit.

Silverstone has a contract with the sports governing body, the FIA, to host F1 until 2009, but problems with public access to the track, a lack of investment and a growing number of potential successors in the Far East and Asia have made a renewal of that deal increasingly uncertain.

The president of the British Racing Drivers' Club who own the circuit, Damon Hill, admitted earlier this month that the British Grand Prix's future was "hanging in the balance." More ...

Team Roberts announce partnership  In a unique all-American collaboration, Kenny Roberts, Sr. and Team Roberts has joined forces with F1 MAX-X and MGM's Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas to increase the popularity of MotoGP in North America starting this weekend at the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez, Spain.

Huge on-site weekend attendance estimated between 250-300,000 spectators, along with over 300 million television viewers worldwide will see the 2000 World Champion Kenny Roberts, Jr. take to the track in a dramatic new livery scheme, representing a paradigm shift in sports marketing.

F1 MAX-X and MGM's Treasure Island Hotel and Casino along with a number of North American based global corporations, are taking a close interest in the development of MotoGP within the United States. More ...

Maassen taking street smarts to St. Pete  Sascha Maassen is as much at home on a street circuit as a natural-terrain road course. He clinched his first American Le Mans Series championship with a win on the streets of Miami, so he’s hoping for another strong Florida finish next week at the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg.

Maassen started racing on classic European road courses like the Nurburgring and Spa-Francorchamps, but he quickly adapted to the close confines and concrete walls of North American street circuits. In 2002, he topped the GT class in the American Le Mans Series’ street races in Trois-Rivieres, Miami and Washington en route to the GT driver co-championship. He also set a record GT lap for qualifying in Washington - in just two laps.

“There are two theories about me being quick on street circuits,” Maassen explained. “One is that I am driving carefully enough to be still driving at the end. This helps to be successful! The second one is that it suits my driving style, which always has been a clean, non-spectacular one. That is the best and safest way around a street circuit with the walls being a little closer than normal.” More ...

IRL driver's widow speaks on Saturday  One year after IndyCar Series driver Paul Dana’s death in a pre-race practice run at the season opener in Homestead, Fla., SportsCenter will present an exclusive television interview with his widow, Tonya Bergeson-Dana on Saturday’s 10 a.m. ET show. Speaking on television for the first time since her husband's fatal accident, she tells reporter Mark Schwarz that the results of an IRL inquiry into the tragedy -- that were never made public -- were shared with Dana's family and contradict many news reports about Dana's final actions. He had been an advocate of the renewable fuel ethanol, which the IRL made mandatory this year.

Additionally, Bergeson-Dana will speak about their son Paul Conor Bergeson-Dana, who was born in December, 8-1/2 months after Dana's death at age 32.

Excerpts from the Tonya Bergeson-Dana interview:

On IRL's findings in its investigation of Paul Dana's fatal accident:
“The IRL has been able to tell us, through examining some data, that Paul was going at speeds that were on par with the speeds that the other drivers were going through at that point. They were also able to tell us that he hit a piece of debris just before hitting Ed Carpenter’s car… If you hit a piece of debris, there’s nothing you can do, whether you’re a rookie or whether you’re the most experienced driver in the world.” More ...

Gordon Tests New Chevy Engine  A new Chevrolet R07 engine completed 500 miles the last week. But it wasn't at Atlanta Motor Speedway. While Scott Wimmer failed to qualify for the Kobalt Tools 500 Nextel Cup race - meaning that Richard Childress Racing couldn't do a race weekend test - Jeff Gordon completed 500 miles in one of the new engines earlier in the week in a tire test at Darlington Raceway.   "The thing looked real nice, very good," Hendrick engine assembly director Jeff Andrews said Sunday. "We were real pleased with the performance of the engine. Jeff said the engine felt real good. It wasn't a marketable difference in power. It was really just a reliability test of parts and castings. The encouraging thing is we've taken something that is virtually brand new and we've come out of the box with it very equal and close to that power-wise."  The new engine has modernized oil and cooling systems and takes advantage of new NASCAR rules as far as dimensions of pieces in the engine. It should produce the same horsepower and be more reliable when it rolls out.
track news
SMI executive salaries  Speedway Motorsports Inc. Chairman and CEO Bruton Smith earned $2.05 million last year for his role in the company, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Humpy Wheeler, SMI president, earned a total of $1,186,133, while Chief Financial Officer Bill Brooks earned $1,232,598 and Executive Vice President Marcus Smith, Bruton's son, earned $1,111,986.
industry news
Mazda reaffirms partnership with Ford  Mazda Motor Corp. reaffirmed its partnership with ailing Ford Motor Co. today in announcing a target for global sales of 1.6 million vehicles per year by fiscal 2010.  Mazda, which has been one bright spot in Ford’s recent dismal business, said it saw the alliance with Ford as “a win-win partnership.” Ford owns 33.9 percent of Mazda. Mazda said it will aim for more than 200 billion yen operating profit in fiscal 2010. That’s up by about 63% from its operating profit in the latest fiscal year, which ended March 2006.
ISC's Washington funding plan gets another hearing  International Speedway Corp.'s funding proposal for a race track in Washington will go before the state senate's Ways and Means Committee on Monday.  Both the Senate committee and the House's Finance Committee must approve the bill. The Finance Committee has had its hearing but has taken no action.
Ethanol's Growing List of Enemies  Paul Hitch has spent his entire life raising cattle and hogs on a stretch of the Oklahoma panhandle he says is "flat as a billiard table." His great-grandfather started the ranch in 1884, before Oklahoma was a state, and now Hitch, 63, is preparing to pass the family business on to his two sons.

But he worries that they'll face mounting pressures in the industry, particularly because of the soaring price for corn, which the business depends on to feed the livestock. In the past year, corn prices have doubled as demand from ethanol producers has surged.

"This ethanol binge is insane," says Hitch, who's president-elect of the National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. (NCBA). "This talk about energy independence and wrapping yourself in the flag and singing God Bless America—all that's going to come at a severe cost to another part of the economy."

The ethanol movement is sprouting a vocal crop of critics. While politicians including President George W. Bush and farmers across the Midwest hope that the U.S. can win its energy independence by turning corn into fuel, Hitch and an unlikely assortment of allies are raising their voices in opposition. The effort is uniting ranchers and environmentalists, hog farmers and hippies, solar-power idealists and free-market pragmatists.  More at Businessweek

TV News
USA TV reminders for Friday  

Courtesy of TVRacer.com

NASCAR Busch Final Practice Bristol
2:30pm-3:30pm (L) ESPN2
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Bristol
3:30pm-5:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Bristol
5:00pm-5:30pm (L) SPEED
6:30pm-7:00pm ESPN2
Survival of the Fastest (NASCAR) Atlanta
6:30pm-7:00pm SPEED
Trackside Bristol
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Bristol
8:00pm-9:30pm (R) SPEED
60 Minutes on Classic -Richard Petty 30 minute Show
10:00pm-10:30pm (R) ESPN Classic
The Late Show with David Letterman
Guest: Jimmie Johnson
12:35am-1:35am Saturday morning (R) CBS
(check local listings)

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

First tests of the “new” Audi A4 DTM  Since the start of the 2004 season, Audi has been involved at factory level in the DTM. Despite the restrictive regulations, which give the technicians little room for maneuver, a great deal has been undertaken since then: The latest generation Audi A4 DTM, which bears the project name "R13” within Audi Sport, has very little in common with the "R11” 2004 Championship winning car.
The basic principle remains: The A4 DTM is a pure-blooded race car sporting the Audi A4 silhouette. The chassis is constructed from approximately 28 meters of aircraft quality steel tubing. The driver sits in a carbon-fiber cell which closely resembles the monocoque of a Formula 1 car. This combination guarantees the highest-level of safety. The Audi A4 DTM is assembled from approximately 6,000 parts – excluding engine and gearbox components. If all of the parts are available, the high-tech jigsaw puzzle requires about 50 hours to complete. More ...
NASCAR fan arrested for shooting  A  man suspected of opening fire on a crowd at California Speedway during NASCAR Busch Series races last month was arrested Monday by sheriff's deputies. Ramon Luis Caraballos, 30, of San Bernardino was booked into Central Detention Center on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies said. Deputies from the Fontana station responded to a reported shooting at 8:17pm/pt, Saturday, Feb. 24 at the Speedway, 9300 Cherry Ave. The shooting occurred after a fight between Caraballos and another man. Deputies said Caraballos had been drinking and punched the man in the face. He then pulled out a knife and later got a gun from his car. He fired twice at the man and a crowd behind him, but no one was struck, deputies said. Investigators identified Caraballos as the suspect Monday and arrested him in San Bernardino. Sheriff's spokeswoman Jodi Miller did not have any further information on the incident Tuesday evening. He was being held on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon in lieu of $50,000 bail, according to the sheriff's online log. A call to California Speedway on Tuesday was not returned. San Bernardino County Sun
Hendrick going for 200th win  Car owner Rick Hendrick now has 199 combined NASCAR victories: 151 at the NEXTEL Cup level, 23 in the Busch Series and 25 in the Craftsman Truck Series. The total includes a 1983 Busch Series win by the late Dale Earnhardt at Lowe's Motor Speedway in a car co-owned by Hendrick and Robert Gee. HMS PR
Sarah Fisher and A.J. Foyt IV were confirmed  Sarah Fisher and A.J. Foyt IV were confirmed to Indy-car rides Wednesday. Fisher, previously secured as the oval-track driver for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, will drive all races. Foyt tested with Vision Racing in the off-season but was formally confirmed Wednesday. IndyStar
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Malaysia wants to keep GP beyond 2010
  • Schu is most popular Ferrari driver ever
  • Fisi hopes for quicker Renault in Malaysia
  • Speed ridicules party-animal criticism
  • Alonso denies Hamilton best ever teammate

Malaysia wants to keep GP beyond 2010
The boss of the Sepang circuit near Kuala Lumpur says Malaysia wants to host formula one races beyond the expiration of the current contract.

Sepang chairman Datuk Mokhzani Tun Mahathir revealed that he was telephoned by a reporter this week asking if he was worried about F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone's recent negotiations with officials for a Singapore grand prix.

"I replied that we have the mandate from the (Malaysian) Prime Minister and the government to negotiate the hosting of F1 beyond 2010," the Bernama news agency quoted him as saying.

He insisted: "So, I have that mandate and we are talking to F1 management about that."

Sepang, located near Kuala Lumpur, began staging F1 races in 1999. Dakut Mokhzani Tun Mahathir said two meetings with Ecclestone about a contract extension had already taken place since last September.

"It's up to the management of F1 to make a decision," he added. More ...

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