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Toronto Sun hammers open wheel ride buying Toronto Sun hammers open wheel ride buyingThis Toronto Sun article says that Paul Dana died Sunday because he was a victim of the 'open wheel racing' system that allows drivers who can bring money to make it to the big leagues.  In other sports you can't make it to the big leagues unless you absolutely have the talent, but in open wheel racing, which is desperate for money because they have lost most of the sponsors to NASCAR, ride-buying is commonplace. 

In closing the article says, If open-wheel racing doesn't use Dana's senseless death as impetus to change the way it does business, the blood will be on its hands.

NASCAR fines Gordon for shove NASCAR fines Gordon for shoveNASCAR announced Tuesday that Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet, has been fined $10,000 as a result of his involvement in an altercation on pit road after the completion of Sunday’s NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.  Gordon has also been placed on probation until Aug. 30, 2006. Gordon was in violation of Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) of the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup rule book.
Castroneves tops road-course test Castroneves tops road-course testHOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Marlboro Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. led the pace at the IndyCar Series Open Test on the 2.21-mile road course at Homestead-Miami Speedway.  Castroneves set the quickest time of the day on his next-to-last lap at 112.787 mph. Hornish posted a quick lap of 112.413 mph. Andretti Green Racing’s Bryan Herta was third quick (112.082 mph) and teammates Tony Kanaan and rookie Marco Andretti completed the top five.

A total of 1,226 laps were turned; Castroneves led the way with 92.

“It was great to make sure everything was good with the car and make any final adjustments before we head to St. Petersburg,” said Castroneves, driver of the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone. “It’s also good to get our rhythm going into a street course. Everything seems be very good. We'll take what we've learned here today and put it on the track in St. Pete, and hopefully we'll do more than 12 laps this year.”  zzzz

Veteran road course racer Roberto Moreno was in the seat of the Vision Racing No. 20 entry, replacing the injured Ed Carpenter. Moreno was 15th on the speed charts. Carpenter, who was involved in a crash March 26 before the Toyota Indy 300, was released from Jackson Memorial hospital in Miami on March 27. According to Dr. Henry Bock, senior medical director for the Indy Racing League, Carpenter will not be cleared to drive in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. A replacement driver has not been named.

Moreno drove practice laps at Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen International last year for Vision Racing to help set up Carpenter’s car. He hasn’t raced an open-wheel car since the 2003 season. IndyCar.com

Martin adds 7 more truck races Martin adds 7 more truck racesMark Martin and Roush Racing have decided to add an additional seven races to Martin’s 2006 Craftsman Truck Series schedule. Martin, who boasts two victories in the first three races of the season, will now run a total of 14 races in the Scotts Miracle-Gro Ford F-150 this season.

“We are excited about it,” said Martin. “It’s been a blast driving the Scotts F-150. I’ve said for a long time that I believe that the Truck Series has the best racing in all of NASCAR and we’ve had a lot of fun doing it. We’ve kind of come out and set the bar high – winning the first two – but I’m telling you that the competition is really good in that series and it’s a big challenge to go out and take on those guys every week.

“I’m excited to run a few more and I’m excited to be able to drive for Scotts for over half of the season,” added Martin. “Hopefully we’ll be able to go out and get a few more wins and give everyone something to cheer about with the No. 6 truck.”

Paul Dana's teammates make statements Paul Dana's teammates make statementsDanica Patrick and Buddy Rice, whose teammate Paul Dana was fatally injured in a crash on March 26, gave the following statements today. More....
Wiggins supports unification Wiggins supports unificationAutoRacing1.com posed the following two questions to CTE Racing-HVM team boss Keith Wiggins today:

Q.  There's been a lot of talk in the news recently about possible unification.  As a team owner in Champ Car, how do you feel about unification between Champ Car and the IRL?

KEITH WIGGINS:  I don't think anybody could deny that it makes great business sense for us to have one very strong series, one open‑wheel strong series in the U.S.  I've made no secret that I personally love Champ Car and I'm not really a big oval fan, so I like this series.

Of course, we always have to be of mind of what makes sense for us, for our partners so that we can all be healthy and give a good return.  So I think it's pretty obvious that one series would be a good direction.

Q.  Given the events of this past weekend in Homestead where there was an unfortunate accident, what do you view as a good mix of ovals and road and street courses, if there were to be a combined series?

KEITH WIGGINS:  I think that you have to look at the markets.  As I say, I don't have a love for them, you think more importantly it's where the tracks are, where those markets that are going to be good for our sport and for our partners and our sponsors.  I think one thing that we've shown is that street, the downtown events are fantastic marketplaces.  Unfortunately, I think there's many ovals in those areas, so I would say we would have to ‑‑ if there was such a thing as one, then you would have to get a mix of both.  There's obviously some very sort of prestigious ovals, some good events to go to.

I think it would also be important to have the right markets to go down to as well, so that's something that you would have to sit down and go through what ones work and what ones don't.  I suspect you'd come up with probably more road courses than ovals.  But that's an exercise everybody could get their teeth into if such an event occurred.

Canadian racer Andrew Ranger begins testing Canadian racer Andrew Ranger begins testingMONTREAL, /CNW Telbec/ - Andrew Ranger, the Canadian race-car driver who is coming off a promising rookie season that saw him earn 10th place in the Champ Car World Series drivers' standings, begins preparations for the 2006 campaign this week with a two-day testing session with the   Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Team on the Fontana, California road course.

While Ranger runs testing laps on Wednesday and Thursday, efforts will continue to secure additional sponsorship that will enable the 19-year-old Roxton Pond, Quebec driver to compete in a full Champ Car schedule. Ranger is currently set to race in the season opener at Long Beach, California, on   April 9, as well as the three Canadian stops on the schedule, in Toronto   (July 9), Edmonton (July 23) and Montreal (Aug. 27).

"It's still very much a work in progress," said Ranger's agent Alan Labrosse. "Thus far, we have managed to put together a package for the four races, but the ultimate goal is to give Andrew an opportunity to showcase his considerable talent and be able to contend for the championship. Andrew is one of the most promising young talents in the series, along with being a fine ambassador and spokesperson for his sponsors, and it would be unfortunate to see the career of a rising Canadian star compromised in this manner." Procter & Gamble Canada, a partner from day one through its Tide brand, has taken the lead in supporting Andrew's career. Other key partners for the 2006 season include Folgers, Kodak, Duracell, Kellogg Canada and Sharpie. zzzz

"I can't say enough about the tremendous support from P&G Canada and their belief in Andrew both on and off the track," said Labrosse. "They have been instrumental in bringing other sponsors on board, but we need to find more partners who share the same commitment and vision." Despite the uncertainty that surrounds his full-season status for the 2006 Champ Car season, Ranger is looking forward to putting his Mi-Jack Conquest car through its paces and providing the crew with feedback to help the fine-tuning process leading up to the season-opener.

"My focus is always on the competitive side of it, and I leave the business part to my agent," said Ranger. "Last year, we had a goal to finish in the top 10, and we managed to achieve that. I've spent several years climbing the racing ranks in pursuit of my dream and I'm hoping, for myself and everyone who has supported me that I'll be able to keep it going." Ranger burst quickly from the starting line when he garnered his first podium in only his second race when he drove to a second-place finish in Monterrey, Mexico, becoming the youngest driver ever to earn a Champ Car podium. He recorded five other top-10 finishes on the way to a 140-point season. At the tender age of 18, Ranger finished second to the seasoned Timo Glock in the series' rookie standings.

Track News
Kentucky Speedway/Clear Channel deal Kentucky Speedway/Clear Channel dealClear Channel stations WLW-AM and WSAI-AM have inked a deal with Kentucky Speedway to become the track’s new official Cincinnati radio partners. The stations will promote the speedway’s four ’06 race weekends through live, on-site broadcasts, ads and promotional Web site links. Clear Channel will receive facility and souvenir program advertising, grandstand tickets and other promotional elements. Kentucky Speedway
Track News
Circuit City to sponsor Richmond race Circuit City to sponsor Richmond raceRichmond International Raceway officials report that the track's May 5 Busch Series race will be called the Circuit City 250 under terms of an agreement with the Richmond-based retail chain. Financial terms of the sponsorship were not reported.
MotorVation adds to its Management Strength MotorVation adds to its Management StrengthIndianapolis: - MotorVation Founder Derek Daly today announced that Rick Milano has recently joined the company as Vice President of Business Development.  Rick brings a wealth of experience and energy to MotorVation, having spent most of the past 20 years in the motorsports and business world.  MotorVation is a professional services organization that uses motor sports as a learning and improvement platform for corporations. The motor sports team operating model helps our clients achieve high performance business results in a compressed time frame.
Blood and guts media Blood and guts mediaAs we see by the biased one-sided USA reporting coming out of IRAQ whereby the media only reports the bombs that blew up that day, it seems the media in other countries like "blood and guts" too.

Is the Mexican media more interested in sensationalized news than the racing itself? It looks that way as the leading Mexican newspapers, TV networks and Mexican motorsports web pages ran the story of the tragic death of Paul Dana, but they forgot to carry news of the race itself, not even the specialized motor sports races. No deaths, no horrible crashes, no coverage? Jose Arrambide

Spencer to drive No. 49 at M'Ville Spencer to drive No. 49 at M'VilleJimmy Spencer will drive the #49 Dodge Charger for BAM Racing at Martinsville Speedway this weekend. Spencer will join BAM Racing as an advisor for the team and mentor for rookie driver Brent Sherman. Spencer may run several additional races with BAM Racing this season, either in the #49 Dodge or another car. “I enjoy working with young drivers as they progress through the ranks of NASCAR,” said Spencer. “Brent has the determination and support it takes to compete at this level. I hope to be able to help him make a successful transition to the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.”

“The team has made this decision due to the fact that NASCAR will not allow rookie drivers any test sessions at Martinsville,” commented team general manager Eddie Jones. “Brent has never been to Martinsville before and our hope is that Jimmy will be able to provide him with the guidance it takes to compete at short tracks.”

“I believe the team is being fair in its decision for this weekend,” said Sherman. “Although I am not currently in a championship race, the team is in a points race. I always welcome opportunities that are presented to me, and to work with a veteran like Jimmy Spencer is a great opportunity. I hope that this decision will not only benefit me, but the team as well.” Sherman will return to driving duties for the #49 Dodge Charger for the upcoming race at Texas Motor Speedway. BAM Racing PR

12 Hours of Sebring by the Numbers 12 Hours of Sebring by the NumbersIt seems like in every American Le Mans Series event, records are broken and history is made. The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring is no exception, of course. Here’s a look at some of the more intriguing figures from both the American Le Mans Series and Sebring:

1: The number of diesel-powered cars to win in the American Le Mans Series and at Sebring. Audi Sport North America’s revolutionary Audi R10 TDI piloted by Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello cruised to an almost effortless four-lap victory in the 54th running of the 12 Hours despite starting from pit lane after changing the car’s heat exchanger during the formation lap.

McNish also posted the fastest qualifying time in the R10 TDI, another landmark for diesel power in the American Le Mans Series. “To get the first victory for a TDI engine after our pole position is fantastic,” said Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Motorsport. “We showed what’s in our new sports car with a diesel engine. We learned a lot today and know that it is still a long way to Le Mans.”

2: The highest overall finish by an LMP2 car at Sebring. Jon Field, Clint Field and Liz Halliday completed 345 laps for 1,276.5 miles in the No. 37 Intersport Lola B05/40-AER, both new marks for a P2 car at the 12-hour classic. “This place is really special,” Jon Field said. “We thought this was the real deal and we came through. We really had to drive hard, but be careful, to make it to the end.” zzzz

3: The number of marques on the GT2 podium following a titanic battle all day that saw Panoz, Porsche and Ferrari entries finish on the same lap. The No. 50 Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz Esperante GTLM of David Brabham, Scott Maxwell and Sebastien Bourdais beat out the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR by a scant 5.365 seconds.

Also in the mix was the new No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F430GTC in its debut race, which was 49.013 seconds back of the winning Panoz.

3: The number of classes in which Brabham has won in the American Le Mans Series, the only driver to do so. He has won seven times in the prototype ranks, four times in GT1 and now once in GT2. “I was lucky to be involved with Aston Martin's return last year, which was special,” Brabham said. “But this is too. It’s a class I'm not used to. With the car and the competitiveness out there, there wasn't a break out there the whole time.”

4: The number of overall wins at Sebring for Kristensen, who solidified himself further as the dominant sports car driver of his generation with a record seven titles at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Kristensen also has four fastest race laps and is the first driver to win overall Series races with three different race cars: BMW V12 LMR, Audi R8 and Audi R10 TDI.

“I know how many people have been working very hard for this and I would like to thank all of them,” Kristensen said after the race. “Crossing the finish line was a historic moment for the diesel technology.”

4: The number of victories for Halliday in the Series, making her the most successful female driver in Series history. “I was lucky enough to be the one to cross the finish line,” she said. “I think that was the only time the car struggled all day. AER did a great job keeping things running. The driver change at the end was based on where the Porsche was at the time of our last stop.”

6: The number of consecutive Series wins in GT1 for Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin in Corvette Racing’s No. 4 Corvette C6.R. The defending class champions won the last five Series events of 2005 (not including a second straight win at Le Mans) before triumphing at Sebring (with Jan Magnussen) by a lap over Aston Martin Racing’s No. 009 Aston Martin DBR9.

“It's very satisfying,” Gavin said. “We didn't have one single problem. There were things that looked like they would be problems, but we managed to keep the lid under them.”

7: The number of different codrivers with whom Kristensen and Brabham have won Series events, tying the record held by Gavin. Kristensen had never won with McNish prior to Saturday, and Brabham drove for the first time with Maxwell and Bourdais.

8: The number of seasons Magnussen has won at least one race in the Series. He now is the only driver to have won in all eight years of the American Le Mans Series.

24: The number of LMP1/P900 wins for Audi Sport North America in the Series, the most among class teams. That total is six better than Champion Racing’s 18.

25: The number of lead changes in the stellar GT2 battle at Sebring. Four different marques – Panoz, Porsche, Ferrari and BMW – each led at least one lap during the 12 Hours, a scintillating preview of what is to come for the rest of the season.

25: The number of career victories in the American Le Mans Series for Beretta. The three-time season champion moved past Corvette Racing teammates Johnny O’Connell and Ron Fellows.

“Each time I win a race with Corvette Racing, I always think, wow that was a good one!” Beretta said. “It looks like every time we go to a race that we need to win, it is another fantastic victory.”

41: The number of victories by Corvette Racing in the Series. Alex Job Racing is second with 36.

47: The number of consecutive starts by Fellows following Sebring, another Series record. Frank Biela and Sascha Maassen shared the old mark of 40.

109: The number of drivers who have won in the American Le Mans Series in its eight-year history, with Bourdais being the most recent.

670: The number of drivers who have started an American Le Mans Series race, including 20 first-timers at Sebring.

The next round of the 2006 American Le Mans Series is the Lone Star Grand Prix, scheduled for 8 p.m. CDT on May 12 in Houston. It will be broadcast at 1 p.m. May 13 on CBS Sports, the first of five straight Series events on network television. Qualifying is set for 6:15 p.m. CDT on May 11. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage at www.americanlemans.com, which also will have IMSA Live Timing & Scoring.

Dan Clarke Completes CTE Racing – HVM Line-Up Dan Clarke Completes CTE Racing – HVM Line-UpIndianapolis, IN – CTE Racing – HVM partners Keith Wiggins and Cedric “The Entertainer” announced today that British racer Dan Clarke will complete their 2006 driver line-up and will be the  pilot of the #14 CTE Racing – HVM/Ford-Cosworth/Lola throughout the 2006 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Championship.

Clarke 22, a native of North Yorkshire, England will make his American racing debut in two weeks time at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.   Clarke completed a two day CTE Racing evaluation under the watchful eye of team owner Keith Wiggins last week at Sebring International Raceway, “I think it’s known that we always favor new talent and clearly with Dan’s history in Europe, it shows that has got the talent necessary given the right training and time,” commented Wiggins.  “Having said that, the evaluation Dan completed last week was extremely impressive, which just reaffirms our belief that in the right environment, he will shine in Champ Car, given the time to gain experience.”

Clarke joins the Champ Car World Series from the competitive British F3 Championship, where he won as a Rookie in 2005.  Prior to that, Clarke won the prestigious Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch in 2004 and finished second in the UK Formula Ford Championship that same year.  In his native Britain, Clarke is known as “Speedy Dan,” and by the likes of his recent CTE Racing – HVM evaluation, his nickname will stick Stateside as he clocked a 50.3 second lap at Sebring last week, on only his second time in a Champ Car. zzzz

Clarke anticipates a challenging yet rewarding Rookie season driving for CTE Racing – HVM, “I am thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to compete in Champ Car, one of the world’s most competitive open wheel racing series.  It’s always been a goal of mine to compete in this series, and to drive for and learn from an experienced team like CTE Racing – HVM will be a great step in my racing career.”  Clarke continued, “I have to thank Keith (Wiggins) and Cedric (“The Entertainer”), for this opportunity, the team was very supportive in my evaluation at Sebring, I felt comfortable in the car immediately.  My goal will be to win the Rookie of the Year title in 2006.”

With more than 2.2 million people attending Champ Car races annually and a massive worldwide television audience, CTE Racing-HVM offers a range of proven marketing and advertising platforms to enhance the business of its corporate partners.  The 2006 Championship kicks off April 7-9, with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.  Catch the action live on NBC, April 9th at 4:00 pm ET. For more information, visit www.speedydan.com.

#14 CTE Racing – HVM Ford/Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone
2006 Champ Car World Series
Residence:  Maidenhead, Berkshire, England    Birthplace: Mexborough, North Yorkshire
Birthdate:  October 10, 1983   Age: 22                       
Career Highlights:
Rookie winner British F3 Championship, 2005
Won Formula Ford Festival, Brands Hatch 2004
Second in UK Formula Ford Championship, 2004
Won BRDC Formula Ford Championship, 2001      


2005        Competed in the British F3 Championship in the Raikkonen Robertson Racing Team with teammate Bruno Senna.  Scored his maiden F3 victory at Castle Combe on his way to seven podium finishes in his rookie season.

2004        Competed in the UK Formula Ford Championship.  Scored a famous victory at Spa-

Francorchamps and finished second in the overall standings, earning nine podium finishes with three fastest laps and one lap record.  Won the prestigious end of the season Formula Ford Festival at Brand Hatch, winning his heat, the semi-final and the final.

2002          Finished fourth in the UK Junior Formula Ford Championship taking two wins at brands Hatch & Thruxton and three pole positions.

2001            In his first full season in cars, won the BRDC Formula Ford Championship, winning five out of 12 races with an additional three other podium finishes.

Early Career: Began karting at the age of ten, competing for eight years and winning many races and Championships.  Earned the nickname “Speedy Dan” in karting.

Website: www.speedydan.com

HVM decision to drop Bremer causing media stir HVM decision to drop Bremer causing media stirHVM's last minute turn down Ronnie Bremer is causing quite a media stir in Denmark. A front page article on B.T., the major Danish daily points out that Ronnie had a contract that promised him a ride this year and prevented him from talking to other Champ Car teams. Ronnie held his side of the deal, but HVM has now backed out in the 11th hour, leaving very few options for the quick Dane.

What they are saying in Denmark: In essence what has happened is that HVM has failed to honor the contract they had with Bremer, in place since last season, and instead have taken on pay-driver Dan Clarke, who brings with him sponsorship, but no knowledge of Champ Car Tracks nor any experience with a car over 300 hp.

Having run on the Champ Car circuits since 2004 with his strong run in the Atlantic series, Bremer would likely have been a better teammate to Nelson Philippe to push him, rather than Clarke.

Bremer was one of the most promising and exciting young drivers in the Champ Car series last season, but alas his decision to climb the series ladder in the US seems to have lead to a big drop to nowhere. The Dane was a great ambassador for the sport in race-crazy Denmark, securing a national broadcast deal that is now high and dry as well.  Hopefully he will return to Europe where his talent may have a better chance of going somewhere.

No. 20 Team Earns Second Straight Pit Crew Win No. 20 Team Earns Second Straight Pit Crew WinFor the second week in a row, Tony Stewart's pit crew secured the weekly Checkers® / Rally's® Double Drive-Thru Challenge competition by spending the least amount of time on pit road in Sunday's (March 26) NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway. "Our pit stops were really good all day," said Stewart, who recorded a 12th-place finish in his Home Depot/Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet. "For two straight weeks our stops have been good. The guys have really stepped it up and I'm proud of them. We never lost a spot on pit road, and at a place like Bristol where track position is so important, having a crew that keeps what you earned on the race track is invaluable." Stewart's team will be awarded the weekly $10,500 prize entitled to the winning team. In addition, a $105,000 reward will be presented to the team with the most pit crew wins at the conclusion of the 36-race Nextel Cup season. Stewart's over-the-wall crew, who spent 206.844 seconds on pit road during the 500-lap event, consists of: Jason Lee (jackman), Tom Dean (front-tire carrier), Ira-Jo Hussey (front-tire changer), Jody Fortson (rear-tire carrier), Todd Foster (rear-tire changer), Jeff Patterson (gasman), Brian Larson (catch can) and Scott Geerts (windshield). The team's crew chief is Greg Zipadelli and the pit stop coordinator is Paul Alepa. DMF Communications
Tobacco cloud moves above Oz GP Tobacco cloud moves above Oz GP(GMMf1NET)  The end of tobacco advertising in Australia could endanger the future of the grand prix in Melbourne, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has warned.

Sunday's event at Albert Park is the last time the federal health minister can exempt the sport from existing legislation, despite Melbourne's F1 race contract that explicitly refers to the display of cigarette logos.

''I understand now that there may be some problems with that,'' Bernie, in London, told the Sydney Morning Herald.

The 75-year-old added: ''We've got a contract with Australia and we'll have a look and see exactly what's what.''

Webber not worried about losing F1 ride Webber not worried about losing F1 ride(GMMf1NET)  Williams' Mark Webber says he is confident of remaining in a 'top team' despite being out of contract at the end of 2006.

The Australian driver, gearing up with a busy week of PR ahead of his home race, insisted on Tuesday that he is not worried about slipping out of pitlane after appearing just once on the podium in four years.

Indeed, should 29-year-old Webber leave Williams, his name is already connected with BMW Sauber but also Renault, run by his manager Flavio Briatore and sporting a vacancy with Fernando Alonso's exit.

''Everything is going in the right direction,'' he said in Melbourne.

''There are always lots of drivers ready to fill all the (vacant) slots, but I believe my performances will merit a place for me in a top team.''

MB2 Motorsports gets 3-race sponsor MB2 Motorsports gets 3-race sponsorMB2 Motorsports announced that Ginn Clubs & Resorts (pronounced GHIN) has agreed to be a primary sponsor on Sterling Marlin's Chevrolet for three Nextel Cup races and Kraig Kinser's Silverado for one Craftsman Truck race. The sponsorship package kicks off this weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway with Ginn Clubs & Resorts being the primary sponsor on Marlin's No. 14 entry for Sunday's Cup race and Kinser's No. 29 entry for Saturday's truck race. Kinser, an MB2 Motorsports development driver, is part of the Morgan-Dollar Motorsports truck team. The agreement also calls for Ginn Clubs & Resorts to sponsor Marlin's MB2-owned Chevrolet -- July 1 at Daytona International Speedway and Oct. 14 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte. Ginn Clubs & Resorts, based in Celebration, Fla., is a privately held resort development and management firm specializing in exclusive leisure lifestyle and vacation destination communities in the United States. The company first partnered with MB2 as the primary sponsor on Bill Elliott's No. 36 Chevrolet during February's Daytona Speedweeks. "This year, we sponsored Bill Elliott in the Daytona 500 with MB2 and it was an outstanding experience," said Bobby Ginn, president and CEO of Ginn Clubs & Resoirts. "We're looking to grow our motorsports relationship by sponsoring another popular veteran in Sterling Marlin and an upstart rookie in Kraig Kinser. We're excited and feel the MB2 and NASCAR associations are an excellent marketing vehicle for Ginn Clubs & Resorts." MB2 Motorsports
Bourdais also calls for merger Bourdais also calls for mergerChamp Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais agrees that an open wheel merger is necessary.

"I see it as a vital thing," Bourdais told the Houston Chronicle.

"If we want to give a run to the NASCAR guys, we've got to be strong. We have two series that are struggling some, and we need one strong one.

"They (IRL) have the Indy 500, one of the biggest races in the world, and we have some great venues.  If you put it together, you could have a great series."

Because of the Champ Car schedule this year, no Champ Car teams will field cars in this year's Indy 500.  Bourdais said he was glad not to be racing there in 2006 after his Newman/Haas teammate Bruno Junqueira's back-breaking accident in last year's event. 

"It's probably not appropriate (to race in the Indy 500) anyway, because Bruno got hurt pretty bad there last year," said Bourdais. Latest stats on the folly of racing Indy Cars on high-speed ovals.

Gordon says Indy cars don’t belong on high speed ovals Gordon says Indy cars don’t belong on high speed ovals
From a mechanic to an Audi factory driver From a mechanic to an Audi factory driverAnyone looking for examples of successful racing careers cannot possibly ignore Audi factory driver Pierre Kaffer. The 29-year old DTM driver from Audi Sport Team Phoenix has experienced a veritable textbook career in his sport.
Kaffer was not even 20 years old when he completed his training as a vehicle mechanic with the Zakspeed racing team in the "old” DTM in 1995 and 1996. "Ernst Moser, who is my team boss today, was the master mechanic back then, our current team manager, Frank Lynn, was the journeyman, who looked after me, as well,” reminisces Kaffer. "Learning everything from scratch was really very helpful.”
Yet his training was not the only thing that kept him busy. Parallel to becoming a mechanic, the young talent from Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler was active in racing himself. In 1995 and 1996 "Germany’s quickest apprentice” won the Champion’s title in both of the Formula racing series he contested. At the same time, he would work longer hours to trade them in for compensatory time in order to be able to race at all. And at the end of the day he was awarded a straight A in his practical examination as a mechanic.
"If I had not become a racing driver I would have probably applied for a job as a mechanic with Audi Sport,” he says. Instead, Pierre Kaffer today is an Audi factory driver in the DTM with the team of his former master mechanic, for which he already contested the Porsche Carrera Cup back in 2002 and 2003.
CVC complete F1 takeover CVC complete F1 takeoverCVC Capital Partners Group have expressed their delight at completing their acquisition of the Formula One Group.  On Tuesday morning CVC finally managed to buy the Formula One Group through another one of their companies, Alpha Prema UK Limited.

CVC's Donald McKenzie enthused in a company statement: "We are pleased that we have now completed our investment in Formula One, and look forward to working with Bernie Ecclestone and his team to further develop and grow the business."

Davis loses Dodge lawsuit Davis loses Dodge lawsuitUPDATE Dodge has filed its responses to Bill Davis Racing's motions that ask a federal judge to reconsider a $6.5 million jury verdict levied in February against the race team. Dodge asks the judge not to change the verdict or grant BDR a new trial in the case, where the jury found the team guilty of giving confidential Dodge information to Toyota while building Toyota products for the Craftsman Truck Series. In May 2003, Dodge terminated its six-year, $18.425-million contract with BDR signed in 2000 and filed suit against the race team. Dodge also indicates that it will ask BDR for attorneys' fees for the trial, which could raise the total amount due to the manufacturer. BDR contends the verdict should be overturned for what it terms improper jury instructions and issues dealing with the way Dodge compiled its amount of damages. Dodge says the jury instructions were valid and that it compiled the amount of damages fairly. "BDR's issues in its motion for new trial are frivolous, improper and in bad faith," the Dodge brief states. Judge George Caram Steeh has not indicated when he would rule on the motions. If BDR loses, the team has said it would take the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals. NASCAR Daily Scene zzzz

02/09/06 DaimlerChrysler won a $6.5 million judgment Thursday against Bill Davis Racing in a breach of contract dispute in U.S. District Court in Detroit. A 7-member jury deliberated 4 hours after a 17-day trial before awarding the judgment to the Auburn Hills carmaker, which alleged that the North Carolina-based race team violated a six-year contract in 2003 by passing confidential Dodge Motorsports technology, parts and information to Toyota. The automaker said Bill Davis Racing helped Toyota develop a prototype Tundra racing truck for NASCAR’s Craftsman Truck series at the same time Davis was under contract to prepare DaimlerChrysler stock cars for the Winston Cup Series, now the Nextel Cup Series. After terminating its contract and suing Davis in federal court, DaimlerChrysler said it learned that Davis had signed a contract in February 2003 to provide a car to General Motors for the Winston Cup Series. DaimlerChrysler said both competitors used the information to develop engines for the Craftsman, Nextel Cup and Busch racing series. Bill Davis Racing denied the charges, countersued and sought $8.5 million to $9.8 million from DaimlerChrysler for breach of contract. The jury gave DaimlerChrysler what it asked for, $6.5 million. U.S. District Judge George Steeh gave Bill Davis Racing three weeks to file post-trial legal briefs, which could include a request to set aside the verdict. The company’s lawyer declined to comment on the verdict. Detroit Free Press

Sealy to sponsor Alan Sciuto Sealy to sponsor Alan SciutoSealy, the leading bedding manufacturer, announced it is aligning itself with one of America's most promising young racers, by sponsoring Atlantic Championship driver Alan Sciuto. Seventeen year-old Sciuto, a rising star of open-wheel racing, will drive the Sealy Posturepedic Atlantic car in seven races in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico in 2006. Sciuto's first race in the Sealy Posturepedic Atlantic Car will be in April 9 in Long Beach, California. Other races include Houston, Texas; Portland, Oregon; Monterrey, Mexico; Cleveland, Ohio; and Toronto, Ontario. Sciuto will be driving the newly-designed Swift 016.a chassis powered by a 300 horsepower Cosworth engine on Yokohama racing tires, which was unveiled in February.

The Sealy Posturepedic Atlantic car was unveiled when Sciuto sped the car around the California Speedway test track in Ontario, California.

"Alan has emerged as one of the most talented young drivers in the Champ Car Atlantic racing circuit and Sealy is proud to sponsor him in the Atlantic Series this summer. The growth and success of Champ Car racing has the ability to generate tremendous excitement for our brand," said Philip Dobbs, senior vice president of marketing at Sealy. zzzz

Sciuto was named "Young Driver of the Year" by Shifter Kart Magazine in 2002. In 2004 he was ranked nationally as the number one Shifter Kart driver in North America and the first to be named both Junior and Pro Driver of the Year with 15 consecutive National podiums. In 2005 he raced two Skip Barber races and two Pro Zetec events and finished with a first and second in both venues. Sciuto also competed in three Champ Car Atlantic events in 2005, and in Denver, Colorado he became the youngest driver ever to qualify on an Atlantic pole position. He lives with his parents in Orange, California.

Sciuto said, "I'm very proud of the sponsorship from Sealy and excited about the opportunity this year to compete and do my best. I am also thrilled with the relationship with PKV Racing and Polestar Racing Group and look forward to an exciting season." Polestar Racing Group Team was founded by Jim and Pam Griffith and Bruce Potter in 2001. PKV Racing is a Champ Car team that is owned by Dan Pettit, Kevin Kalkhoven, and Champ Car driver Jimmy Vasser. Champ Car, a shortened form of "Championship Car," has been the name for a class of open-wheel racing used in American Championship Car Racing. Successful drivers in the Atlantic Series often compete in the Champ Car World Series, much like NASCAR drivers in the Busch Series move on to the Nextel Cup.

track news
Long Beach to pump up NASCAR Long Beach to pump up NASCARIt may be Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach time around these parts, but one part that will be rallying behind the NASCAR stock car racing circuit is Long Beach-based DENSO Sales California, Inc.

Earlier this month DENSO announced it has signed a multi-year contract with NASCAR's automotive licensing program that allows DENSO's fuel pump product line to carry the NASCAR Performance brand labeling. The brand will be featured on DENSO's First Time Fit Fuel Pumps.

DENSO Sales is an overseas affiliate of the DENSO Corporation in Japan and is an automotive components sales and distribution company.

DENSO employs 232 people in Long Beach and has $544 million in annual sales.

NASCAR's licensing program uses partnerships with manufacturers and corporations to expand marketing for the popular racing series. In turn, companies get exposure to NASCAR's more than 75 million fans.

DENSO is also a 2006 contingency sponsor for NASCAR's Craftsman Truck and NEXTEL Cup series, with its logo to be displayed on front fenders of all team race vehicles and show cars. DENSO is providing prize money for the top three finishers of each race, if they have the DENSO logo on their car. Long Beach Press Telegram

track news
One secret to TMS’s success One secret to TMS’s successHow does Texas Motor Speedway draw those huge crowds every year?    One secret is that TMS is the only speedway in America to produce and distribute weekly a syndicated radio show. Texas Motor Speedway’s TOTAL ACCESS Presented by Chevrolet is now airing in 36 markets across six states. The one-hour weekly program has been on the air just one year and is produced in-house at the TMS radio broadcast studio and hosted by Texas Motor Speedway’s Brad Gillie. The show covers NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, Busch Series, and Craftsman Truck Series as well as the Indy Racing League and everything that happens at Texas Motor Speedway. In addition, Gillie hosts special podcast interviews available online at www.texasmotorspeedway.com.

In constructing the new Victory Lane Broadcast Center, Texas Motor Speedway was able to bring some heritage to its Victory Lane. Two large granite walls on each side of Victory Lane will transform into the Champions Wall of Fame. Every past race champion from the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, Busch Series, Craftsman Truck Series and Indy Racing League will have an engraved nameplate on the wall. In addition, TMS will begin a new tradition during the post-race ceremonies in which the winning drivers from those series will hang their nameplate. For the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and IRL race winners, an engraver will be on hand in Victory Lane to begin engraving their name on the plate as soon as the driver takes the checkered flag.

Can Open Wheel drivers keep streak alive? Can Open Wheel drivers keep streak alive?While NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers have a distinct edge over the open-wheel drivers in IROC, there is good news for drivers like Hornish Jr. and Papis at Texas Motor Speedway. TMS has hosted IROC races the past two seasons and both have been won by open-wheeler – open-wheel dirt champion Danny Lasoski in 2004 and two-time Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais last season. Will the trend continue and does TMS better suit the open-wheel drivers than some of the other tracks on the IROC circuit?
Mad Max is back Mad Max is backMax Papis, a current road-racing specialist and former CART driver, is enjoying his first season in IROC and holds a little-known but quite notable record at Texas Motor Speedway. Papis posted the fastest lap ever at TMS – in excess of 236 miles per hour! – during a practice session for the CART race in 2001 that was ultimately cancelled by the sanctioning body due to the high speeds. Now he makes his return in an IROC car and although he will not hit speeds anywhere near 236 miles per hour.
V8 Supercars
China race cancelled China race cancelledUPDATE THE V8 Supercar series will skip the Shanghai leg this year after its local promoter washed its hands off after picking up a huge debt.

The overseas leg of the annual Australian V8 Championship was staged at the Shanghai International Circuit for the first time in June last year.

AVESCO, which owns the series, had then announced that the saloon car race will stay in Shanghai for another four years. But local promoter, the Greenland Group, was clearly put off by the huge debt left over from the extravaganza.

Although around 40,000 spectators turned out on the race day on June 12 in Shanghai, Greenland ran up a huge bill, reportedly to the tune of 40 million yuan (US$5 million). That included AVESCO's licensing fee and a 7-million yuan rent for the three-day use of the circuit.

"The real problem was with the sponsors. It was always going to be difficult for a local promoter to find Chinese entrepreneurs who understand the value of motor sports as a marketing tool," said Mark Thomas, managing director of Vroom, a city-based motorsport agency.

"They have learnt a lot about the sport since Formula One arrived here two years ago but still have a long way to go before they can be induced to invest in these kinds of events. Most of the races mainly serve to promote the city's image with the main cost underwritten by the government."   More at Shanghai.com

03/26/06 The Shanghai, China round of the 2006 V8 Supercar Series has been cancelled.  Series Chief Executive Officer Wayne Cattach broke the news to the media at the Clipsal 500 at the opening round of the 2006 championship in Adelaide's east end, and revealed that several issues of debate failed to reach a suitable outcome.  It looks like 2005 may be the only time the Supercar Series races in China.

It's interesting to note that outside of Japan, major league racing is having a hard time gaining a foothold.  Champ Car has had to cancel it's Ansan, South Korea race at least twice, and if our sources are correct, will do so again this year.  Even the F1 races in Shanghai, China and Malaysia are big money losers for the race promoter.  Asia has not had any real racing superstars so fan interest is not yet where it needs to be to support the fees required to fly in a international race series.  In Japan the races are heavily supported by Honda and Toyota and there is a long history of Japanese involvement in motorsports.

Carpenter is injured, won’t drive Carpenter is injured, won’t driveUPDATE #2 This Indy Star article has some quotes from Ed Carpenter about the accident and what he remembers.

03/27/06 Ed Carpenter was released from Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami today, according to Dr. Henry Bock, senior director of medical services for the Indy Racing League. He remains under the care of Dr. Steve Olvey.

According to Bock, Carpenter remains in good condition with a bruised lung following yesterday's incident during the final warm-up session prior to the Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Carpenter has not been cleared to drive in Sunday's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, according to Bock. Vision Racing

03/26/06 Ed Carpenter, who was involved in the fatal accident at Homestead Sunday that resulted in the death of rookie Paul Dana, is reported to have suffered no broken bones, but is being kept in Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami overnight for further observations.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Webber launches new challenge
JV's jab at 'pointless' Friday
GPMA not dead yet - spokesman
JV's warning for 'amazing' Webber
Schu step-brother finds race spotlight
Gascoyne joins qualifying dissent
Honda and Super Aguri
Renault duo eye F1's big prize
Barrichello baulked at Ferrari 'limit'
Formula Nippon
Björn ready Formula Nippon debut Björn ready Formula Nippon debutSwedish Racing Driver Björn Wirdheim and his new Team, DoCoMo Team Dandelion Racing are well prepared for this year’s inaugural race in the Japanese Formula Nippon Championship. Björn recently attended the Team’s official kick off party that was held in Tokyo together with, among others, representatives from Dandelion Head Sponsor NTT DoCoMo and Sweden’s Ambassador in Japan, Michael Lindström. Pre-season testing concluded two weeks ago at the historical Fuji circuit and the development of the newly introduced Lola-chassis has gone according to plan. Björn is feeling optimistic heading into this years first race weekend.

"It has been a major change of lifestyle for me moving to Japan but the Team have made me feel very welcome and have made every effort to ensure everything has worked out smoothly. I'm impressed with their professionalism, they have worked hard to give me the opportunity to learn as many circuits as possible even though we’ve sometimes had to use the old spec chassis as the new one was not yet available,"

"I have obviously got a lot to learn but the difference compared to last year is that I have been given the best opportunity to prepare myself fully for the forthcoming season and our results in testing indicate that we can be competitive already from start." zzzz

The original two-day test at Fuji had to be cut short by one day due to heavy snow. Björn ended up fourth over all and was the quickest Honda powered Driver. At Suzuka, during the week before, the Formula Nippon Drivers had the opportunity to test in both wet and dry conditions over the course of three days.

"That was my debut on the Suzuka circuit and the first time we did some serious testing with the new car and engine. It has taken a while to understand the new Bridgestone tire, especially when it comes to optimizing the performance on new tires in the dying minutes of the sessions when there is a big improvement in track-grip due to everyone running new tires at the same time. Fortunately we made progress in that area at Fuji. It's all part of the learning-curve. My team mate ended up in the top six which proves that we've got a competitive package also at Suzuka."

The Race weekend at Fuji begins with two free practice sessions on Friday. Qualifying will run on Saturday followed by the race on Sunday that is scheduled to start 14:35 Tokyo time (GMT+09:00).

Red Bull to fund Academy Red Bull to fund AcademyRed Bull is to fund a MotoGP Academy for the commercial rights-holders for the MotoGP World Championships, Dorna Sports. The aim is to discover and develop new riders from all different backgrounds all over the world. Six young talents from Europe and Asia have been chosen for the scheme and their progress is being overseen by former GP star Alberto Puig. In the course of the 2006 season Dorna and Red Bull will expand their relationship with a new race series to be called the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. The series will pit 20 youngsters on standard specification 125cc Grand Prix machinery, supplied by KTM. The Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup is open to youngsters from anywhere in the world aged between 13 to 16. Grandprix.com
Vision Racing mourns loss, medical update Vision Racing mourns loss, medical updateMIAMI, Fla. -- The entire Vision Racing organization is mourning the loss of fellow Indy Racing League IndyCar Series family member, Paul Dana today. The team's thoughts and prayers are with the Dana Family and Rahal Letterman Racing team.

Ed Carpenter, driver of the #20 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone who was also involved in yesterday's incident, is saddened by the loss of a fellow friend and competitor and said, "It was a bad day for racing and my prayers and thoughts go out to Paul's family. I was fortunate to be able to speak with Paul's brother during my stay at the hospital and I was glad for that. I wish I could have spoken with his wife as well, but I want her to know that my sincerest sympathies and prayers are with her, their family and the entire Rahal Letterman Racing team at this time."

Carpenter was released from Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami today, according to Dr. Henry Bock, senior director of medical services for the Indy Racing League. He remains under the care of Dr. Steve Olvey.

According to Bock, Carpenter remains in good condition with a bruised lung following yesterday's incident during the final warm-up session prior to the Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. zzzz 

Carpenter has not been cleared to drive in Sunday's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, according to Bock. Grateful for his condition and care, Carpenter stated, "I want to first thank the entire IRL Safety Team and the other medical staff who treated me. I remember seeing Mike Yates of the IRL Safety Team first and that was a welcomed sight. It is comforting to have them present in these types of situations."

Carpenter went on to say, "I have bruising on my lungs and I need to watch out for that. I have some breathing exercises to do, but other than that I am doing very well. I'm very blessed and fortunate and it is my goal to get back in the car for St. Petersburg."

Vision Racing plans to participate in tomorrow's IndyCar Series test at St. Petersburg. Carpenter will not be behind the wheel of the #20 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone for that test. In spite of that, the team's main concern at this hour is the family of Paul Dana and Rahal Letterman Racing. Again, Vision Racing sends its deepest sympathies. Vision Racing

track news
Football great named Grand Marshal for Long Beach race Football great named Grand Marshal for Long Beach raceLONG BEACH, Calif. -- John Elway, a member of the Pro Football and College Football Halls of Fame, will serve as the Grand Marshal for the April 7-9, 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

He will also compete Saturday, April 8 in the 30th Anniversary Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. He also drove in the 2000 Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, finishing sixth among 13 celebrities.

Elway, who first gained notoriety with a brilliant prep career at Granada Hills High School in the San Fernando Valley, was a star in both football and baseball and the most highly recruited high school athlete in the country.

He attended Stanford University, where he was an All-American as a senior and set NCAA Division I marks for passing attempts and completions and most games with 200-plus yards passing yards.  He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

With the NFL Denver Broncos, Elway led the team to victories in Super Bowls XXXII (over Green Bay) and XXXIII (over Atlanta, when he was named Super Bowl MVP).  The NFL Most Valuable Player in 1987, Elway holds five NFL records (including directing 47 game-winning or game-tying drives in the fourth quarter!) and was a nine-time Pro Bowl player and three-time All-Pro choice.  zzzz

He joined the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio in 2004 along with Barry Sanders, Carl Eller and Bob Brown.

He currently resides in Englewood, Colorado and has used his B.A. degree in economics from Stanford to great advantage with his wide variety of business interests, which include automotive dealerships and as CEO of the Colorado Crush Arena Football League team.

Tickets for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, featuring six racing events including the opening round of the 2006 Champ Car World Series, can be purchased from the Grand Prix ticket office by calling the toll-free ticket hotline at (888) 82-SPEED.  A handy ticket brochure - which includes circuit map, grandstand and parking locations, ticket prices and order form - can be obtained by calling the ticket hotline. Tickets are also available online at longbeachgp.com or ticketmaster.com.

Ticket prices range from $35 for Friday/Saturday general admission up to $115 for a three-day ticket that includes Saturday and Sunday reserved seats in upper levels of the grandstands.  Pre-paid parking packages are also available when ordering through the Grand Prix Ticket Office. Handicapped seating, Bosch Champ Car Garage passes, super photo tickets and a variety of hospitality club packages are also available.

Q and A with Barnhart on Dana accident Q and A with Barnhart on Dana accidentFollowing is a Q & A with IRL President and Chief Operating Officer Brian Barnhart about the events surrounding the Toyota Indy 300 and Paul Dana’s fatal accident.

Q. Was it a tough decision to move ahead and race yesterday?
BRIAN BARNHART: It was a tough day yesterday in a lot respects, including the decision to move forward. We, the league, had discussions with ISC (International Speedway Corp.) and everyone at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Curtis Gray, the president of the race track, and we were all in agreement that the race should go on as scheduled. After the drivers’ meeting and talking with all of the participants, we felt it was the best decision to move forward. We were in agreement with the teams and participants. Looking back on it, I think it was the right decision.

Q. Will there be a review process of Paul Dana’s accident? What does it entail?
BRIAN BARNHART: There is a review process of every accident we have. We have a team that reviews every accident, whether there is an injury or not. The review process involves examination of video of the incident. It involves examination of any skid marks on the track. It involves examination of the car or cars on the track. It involves examination of the equipment in the accident and it involves examination of the electronic information in regards to telemetry and accident boxes. The review process is an on-going process, and we continue our review.

Q. What is your reaction to fans’ displeasure about Danica Patrick and Buddy Rice not participating in the event yesterday?
BRIAN BARNHART: I understand people want to see Buddy and Danica, but I would hope they have enough respect for Bobby Rahal and his race team. It’s not a league decision, but I understand that Buddy and Danica are two of our most popular drivers. I’m sure people want to see them, but they need to have respect for the race team due to the circumstances that happened Sunday morning.

Q. Do you expect a full field at St. Petersburg?
BRIAN BARNHART: That’s a tough question, because I don’t know what Vision’s plans are for the No. 20 car. Rahal Letterman Racing has already withdrawn the 17 car, but I know we’ll be as full as we can be based on the availability of equipment. But I don’t know what everyone’s plans are. If Danica and Buddy run, which Bobby Rahal told me they would, then we’ll have 18, and I consider that a full field.
Wheldon continues “perfect start” Wheldon continues “perfect start”Shortly after Dan Wheldon won the Toyota Indy 300 on March 26, his new boss, Chip Ganassi said "How about this guy? He’s two-for-two." Wheldon, the reigning IndyCar Series champion and Indianapolis 500 winner, teamed with Casey Mears and Scott Dixon to give Ganassi his first victory at the Rolex 24 At Daytona earlier this year. With his win at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he joined Michael Andretti as the only Ganassi drivers to win his debut race with the team. Scott Dixon won his IndyCar Series debut with the team in 2003. Zzzz

"It's obviously a fantastic team," Wheldon said following the win. "Fortunately, so far the first two races I've done for him I've won. I think right now I'm on the honeymoon period."

Wheldon outdueled Marlboro Team Penske’s preseason championship contenders, Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves, to record his second consecutive win in Miami. He said he hopes to repeat the past success of Miami race winners -- who have won four of the last five IndyCar Series championships -- but knows the competition will be tough.

"If anybody asked me if there was going to be a rivalry, I think it would be a Penske/Ganassi rivalry, because we've seen that before in the CART series," he said. "I think now that element of the series kind of maintains close competition or gives that you close competition, brought those teams together. I do think Andretti Green will be strong. I think there will be some others that are strong along the way."

Wheldon’s seamless transition from Andretti Green Racing to the Target Chip Ganassi organization has him confident as he heads to St. Petersburg for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, his adopted home race. "Everybody at Target Chip Ganassi Racing has been very welcoming," he said. It's very different when you go to a team as the Indy 500 champion, IndyCar Series champion, not as a rookie. It's been good. I just hope it continues."
Dana memorial scheduled Dana memorial scheduledA memorial service for IndyCar Series driver Paul Dana will be held at 5:15 p.m., on March 30. The service will take place at Mahaffey Theatre in St. Petersburg, Fla. Dana, a rookie who competed in three IndyCar Series events in 2005, was fatally injured in an accident March 26 minutes into the final practice session for the Toyota Indy 300.

Dana, a 30-year-old native of St. Louis, was pronounced dead at Jackson Memorial Hospital just before noon (EST). It was the first driver death during a sanctioned race weekend in the 11 years of the Indy Racing League (121 races and more than 400 practice and qualifying sessions).  In between a record number of drivers were injured, some severely.

Dana Memorial Service
Thursday, March 30, 5:15 p.m.
Mahaffey Theatre
400 1st St. South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Thursday, March 30
5:15 p.m. -- 5:45 p.m.

Tasteless TastelessUPDATE #3 Dear Autoracing1.com,  I too tuned in to the IRL race after hearing about Paul Dana's death.  I watched the quotes from the winner's circle specifically because I was curious what the driver's reactions would be after winning an event marred in tragedy.  When Dan Wheldon was first approached in the winner's circle, he was asked a fairly in depth question from a jovial reporter about the race, to which he immediately side-stepped and, very somberly, paid tribute to Dana.  From what I saw, Wheldon was a class act all the way.  I did not see Helio's reactions after the race, but anyone that has ever met Helio knows that he is ultimately a very gracious, humble, down-to-earth guy. Rahal pulling his other two driver's was also admirable, especially with the enormous pressures that presumably come with owning a team, i.e. sponsors, championship points, etc... Noel Wilterding, Highland, CA

03/27/06 And another.....Dear AutoRacing1.com, I would just like to follow up on your previous writers comments about the lack of respect shown to Paul Dana and his family today. I am not a fan of the IRL. I never have been and never will be. I have also never watched an IRL broadcast. However, after returning home late this afternoon and reading online of Paul's unfortunate and untimely passing, I decided to see what I could catch of the race. The race was already over and to my surprise, there was Dan Wheldon up on stage with his arms pumping high into the air and holding his trophy high above his head. Then an interview with Helio Castroneves. I do not remember anything Helio said, because I was so shocked that he was standing there smiling, laughing and having a grand old time. Perhaps these so called professionals acted differently earlier on that I missed. However, from the little bit I saw, I was extremely disgusted. As a racing fan, I send my best wishes and greatest sympathies to the entire Dana family and their friends. Rest in peace Paul. Deke McTeer, MI

03/27/06 Another reader responds, Dear AutoRacing1.com, The FOX announcers paid tribute to Paul Dana at the very beginning of their Bristol coverage.  It was an unfortunate accident, but I bet most NASCAR fans didn't even know there was an IRL race today, and I'm sure most of them have never heard of Paul Dana or Ed Carpenter.  I'm not sure what kind of response our friend from the UK expected, but the FOX team did acknowledge the tragedy, and the accident in Florida was a long way from Bristol...Rob Baas

03/26/06 A reader visiting from the UK writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, After a hard week of work and traveling and working on the West Coast, I was really looking forward to a day in front of the TV with a vast array of sports (NASCAR, IRL, MotoGP, NCAA Basketball and USPGA golf) to keep me glued to the sofa. The awful news this morning of the death of Paul Dana naturally put a cloud over the day's viewing to come.
ABC's sister stations, ESPN and ESPN News covered the story well and treated it with the solemnity that it merited. One would have thought that such an awful event would have cast a cloud over all motorsport in the USA that day. I recall the mood of the F1 drivers at Monza following Alex Zanardi's accident that weekend. That did not seem to be the case over on Fox where Dana's death did not merit a mention by any of the announcers and Kurt Busch's victory lane celebrations went on unabated with the usual plaudits dished out to sponsor after sponsor.
Fox, NASCAR and Kurt Busch should be very proud of themselves that the almost assailing promotion of their event, its TV coverage and the exposure of its sponsors should not be interrupted by the tragic loss of a fellow practitioner of the sport they claim to love.
Personally I was sick to my stomach. Declan Brennan, Co-host of Midweek Motorsport on Globecast Radio 0157

Q and A with Toyota's Technical Directors Q and A with Toyota's Technical DirectorsAfter scoring one point courtesy of Ralf Schumacher in the Malaysian Grand Prix, Toyota will be hoping to build on that result in Australia this weekend. The team's two Technical Directors now give their views on the upcoming race down under.

Question: Was the improvement in form in Malaysia what you predicted?
Mike Gascoyne (Toyota, Technical Director Chassis): I think we certainly improved the problems we had in getting temperature into the tires. Once we'd got the tires to work we saw the level of performance we had based on pre-season testing. We had a car capable of racing in the top 10. Obviously for Australia we will have cooler conditions and that means that we've got to keep a very close eye on getting the tire to work. We suffered in Malaysia with Ralf's engine change and still some set-up issues with Jarno, but I think now we're on top of that.

Q: Have the improvements made been Bridgestone developments or a combination of that and set-up?
MG: I think it's a combination of set-up and us understanding the problem and reacting to it. I think in Bahrain and to some extent in Malaysia, our tires in general were too hard and we need to push to go to softer compounds because our car is very gentle on the tires. We need to be working at the softer end of the range compared to other Bridgestone teams.

Q: Is it tough to have a problem and then to face the mileage constraints of the current regulations?
MG: I think in Bahrain we got caught out by the limited mileage, yes. It was a track we had not been to before with those tires, a track where we thought the problem would disappear with the high temperature compared to Europe. We were caught out but I think we very quickly got on top of it and realized what happened. And I think what really affected us was that we seemed to have a reasonable level of performance on Saturday morning, which probably led to us not digging deeply enough into the problem. But looking at it after the race, it was very clear what happened and we understood it. zzzz

Q: Tires apart, what are the challenges of Melbourne?
MG: It's a street circuit, not in regular use and so it has low grip on the Friday and evolves quite a lot over the weekend. It's always an interesting venue and a fun place to visit. Logistically it's quite difficult with the long distances involved but other than that, there's nothing much to be too concerned about.

Q: After two races, what is your opinion of the new qualifying format?
MG: I think in general it's good but I think the first 15 minutes of the last session, where everyone is driving around getting fuel down, is not particularly interesting. That may need readjusting but overall it's definitely an improvement.

Q: Is it a bit hectic in the pits?
MG: It's a busy hour session but that's what I think qualifying should be. Before, when we used to have the four runs, it was boring for 40 minutes and then we had 20 minutes flat-out activity, so it's good to have more going on, that's for sure.

Q: We've seen a lot of engine changes already. Were you anticipating that?
MG: I think we've seen more than people expected but it's inevitable when you have a major architecture change like V10 to V8. You will get those issues but our failure on Ralf's car in Malaysia was pretty minor and not indicative of a major reliability issue. We've never had an oil pump failure before and it was disappointing when Ralf was going so well. We thought he could have qualified in the top five.

Q: Ralf scored a point in Malaysia but also suffered an engine failure in qualifying. What happened?
Luca Marmorini (Toyota, Technical Director Engine): I was very disappointed because it was not a typical failure coming from an internal part of the engine like a piston or a connecting rod, it was just a small shaft that drives the oil pump. This part we carried over from the old engine and it is something we have used for three years. It was a shame because although Ralf was quick enough to get into the top 10 run-off there was still a margin for him to improve. But we are not worried about the failure because it is not something that should happen again. When the shaft broke, the engine stayed at full revs for a few seconds without any oil, and so you can imagine what was inside!

Q: Did you have any concerns about Jarno's car?
LM: No, because we had tested to that mileage. As an engine man, on the one hand you want to limit the mileage but on the other it is good to go longer distances because then you know you can do more running on Fridays, which helps the team with set-up.

Q: What about the logistics for Melbourne?
LM: We ship engines to Melbourne a couple of days after Malaysia and although there is no reaction time from the engine point of view, if we find that the small shaft that failed was part of a rogue batch, it can be easily changed and does not require us to open the engine. But if we had discovered we had a major problem, like a connecting rod or piston, there would have been no chance to do anything before Melbourne. We consider the first three races as one. And then, of course, Imola is involved as well because that is the second race for a Melbourne engine.

Q: Is Melbourne a tough circuit?
LM: From an engine point of view it is not a particularly challenging track. In the past it was seen as difficult just because it was the first race. From our point of view, to be able to understand the tires may not be so easy because Melbourne can have quite a lot of changing temperatures and environmental conditions, which makes it more difficult to get the tire choice right. Source: Panasonic Toyota Racing
Moss: I took drugs Moss: I took drugsBritish Formula One legend Sir Stirling Moss has admitted that he took drugs before one of his classic victories.

Moss, 76, who won 16 Grands Prix and was runner-up for the world championship four times, recalled yesterday how he was given pills by his Argentinean rival, the great Juan Manuel Fangio, before the Mille Miglia (1,000 mile) rally from Brescia in Italy to Cologne in Germany in 1955. He said: "Fangio gave me some pills to help keep me awake. I have no idea what was in them but they certainly worked.

"At the time all the other drivers were taking them. They used Benzedrine and Dexedrine, especially in rallies. They would certainly be banned today." Daily Mirror

Wanted: Truck Driver Wanted: Truck DriverThe following race team is looking to hire a truck driver:
Velocity Motorsports
Attn: Kenneth R. Erb
15052 NC Highway 86 South
Prospect Hill, NC 27314
V (336) 562-8000
F (336) 562-8002
M (919) 696-1270
Ladies first for Legge in L.B. Ladies first for Legge in L.B.Two weeks from today, Katherine Legge of England will become the first woman to compete in a Champ Car race since Lyn St. James did at Michigan in 1995 when she makes her debut at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

There is great anticipation about such an event, but there also is skepticism about whether the 25-year-old Legge is a seasoned enough driver to move up to the bigger 750 horsepower vehicle she now will be driving compared to the 240 horsepower Formula Atlantic one she maneuvered on tracks last year.

There are those in the sport who feel Legge's promotion was premature, and that Kevin Kalkhoven's zest to find someone to match the IRL's Danica Patrick is a serious miscalculation.

At a recent press gathering at the Long Beach Hilton, I sat at a table next to Legge for a lengthy interview and, naturally, questioned her about the widespread doubts that surround her entrance to the big stage.  More at Long Beach Press Telegram

Despite death, race went on Despite death, race went onThis Miami Herald article gives a good overview of why the IndyCar race and the festivities went on Sunday in Homestead while Paul Dana's body lie in a morgue and his wife Tonya left a widow at an early age.  It says something about our sport.
John Frattura promoted to Crew Chief John Frattura promoted to Crew ChiefJohn Frattura has replaced Butch Hylton as the crew chief on the No. 12 Dodge Charger for FitzBradshaw Racing. Frattura was the car chief on the No. 14 Dodge Charger last year for David Stremme and held the same position for the first six races of the 2006 season. In the 2005 season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Frattura was the interim crew chief for the No. 12 Supercuts Dodge for driver Joel Kauffman.

"We decided that a change was in order to improve our performance after the race at Bristol. In order to enhance our program, we decided to replace Butch Hylton as crew chief of the Supercuts car," said FitzBradshaw co-owner Armando Fitz. "I am confident that John Frattura will be able to help this team turn things around. He did a great job with Joel and the No. 12 car in Homestead last year and I think that he's the right person to get this team back on track."

Q and A with Flavio Briatore Q and A with Flavio Briatore
Q: Flavio, what is your mood as you arrive in Melbourne for the 2006 Australian GP?

Flavio Briatore (FB): "I’m happy. Melbourne is a favorite race for everybody and we are happy to be there. In terms of our performance, we knew we needed to be fighting for the championship again, to be defending it with a strong competition. We have shown that Renault is at the top again in 2006, and that we will be fighting all the way to the end to try and win it."

Q: And what is your opinion of the show so far this season?

FB: "I think we have seen a fantastic show. After the first race, we saw Ferrari were back, and that is good for everybody in Formula 1. To have Fernando fighting with Michael increased the TV share everywhere, because Michael and Ferrari are fantastic assets for Formula 1."

Q: What about the new qualifying format?

FB: "I think the knockout system is very good, and spectacular for the spectators. But I am still not happy with the first part of Q3. At the moment, we are going round for no reason, and it doesn’t make sense for the people or for our image with the environment. I think the final session should be 15 minutes long, and you fuel beforehand. You then qualify, and whatever load you finish the session with, then you go to parc fermé and start the race like that. What we are doing now doesn’t make sense for the show." zzzz

Q: What has surprised you so far?

FB: "For me, Renault is the surprise this year. All through the winter, we only heard reasons why we would not be on top. And we have shown that we know how to work properly, to adapt to the rules and manage our season the right way. People didn’t expect us to still be at the front, and we are."

Q: Do you already have a feel for how the title fight might turn out?

FB: "I think we can expect to see four drivers fighting for the championship. Fernando, of course. Michael if the car is right. Kimi. And Fisichella. He is strong in the team this year, and we have already seen what he can do in Malaysia."

Q: But Giancarlo had a difficult season last year…

FB: "Yes, but last year, 80% of the problems he had were our fault. He arrived last year without any experience of a top team, and he realized it was a different game, with a lot of pressure. This year, he has settled down, we can see he is more relaxed, and he has been very quick. He needs the luck, yes, but that comes when you are strong and take risks, because you believe in yourself. I think he has started doing it."

Q: There were also suggestions that the early announcement of Fernando’s departure would destabilize the team…

FB: "I haven’t seen any change at all in Fernando. He is still hungry to win,. we saw that in Bahrain and Malaysia. Last year, he only made one mistake all year, and if anything, he is even more mature this season. But he is the same guy, with 100% commitment to the team."

Q: Of course, speculation will soon begin concerning which drivers you will sign for 2007…

FB: "The important thing is to have a competitive team, to keep Renault strong in Formula 1. When the team is strong enough, then you attract strong drivers. We still have sixteen races to go, and people will try and talk about this every weekend. But we won’t do it in public. We will only talk about our drivers when the decision has been taken."

Q: Renault was also at the centre of speculation over its long-term commitment to the sport during the winter…

FB: "Renault is in the same situation as all the manufacturers and in that group, we are in a strong position. At the moment, all the parties are looking for the right compromise in the negotiations and Renault, like the other manufacturers, is waiting for an agreement. I think it is normal that any manager wants to know the basic business plan of the industry – the investment we need, and the term of the investment. But this position has nothing unique for Renault. In the meantime, we have won two world championships, and the first two races."

Q: The team is often cited as the most efficient in the sport. Where does that come from?

FB: "We invest every penny in the business, but it is also about how we operate. If you have an unlimited budget, it can be like going into a restaurant where the menu is fantastic. So you have a bit of that, of bit of this, and you end up with nothing. The way we work, is like going shopping. You know what you want for dinner. So you go any buy the ingredients, and you get the result you want. That is what we did again this winter, working the right way with the new rules, and delivering the right results."

FIA outlines 2008 engine freeze proposal FIA outlines 2008 engine freeze proposalOn March 24, the FIA held an informal meeting with Formula One engine experts from Cosworth, Ferrari and Renault. The purpose of the meeting was to formulate proposals to modify and extend the new (2008) rules for engine homologation so as to encourage research into engine efficiency and the more effective use of available energy.

Max Mosley, Charlie Whiting and Peter Wright represented the FIA, while Cosworth sent Tim Routsis and Alex Hitzinger. Ferrari had Jean Todt, Ross Brawn, Paolo Martinelli and Gilles Simon on hand, while Flavio Briatore, Pat Symonds and Rob White of Renault were in attendance.

The meeting agreed on the following proposals (which should be read in conjunction with Article 86(e) and Appendix 6 of the 2008 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations):

1. The engine will be homologated for 5 years, being 2008-2012 inclusive.

2. Each year modifications to the engine can be homologated. Details will be delivered to the FIA before January 1st of the year in question, and a complete engine delivered before the first of February of that year.

The elements of the engine which can be changed in this way on an annual basis, are:

combustion chamber shape;
valve size, shape, and angle;
piston crown (the weight of the piston must remain the same, as must piston ring position and compression height);
camshaft profiles and valve actuation kinematics;
intake manifolds;
injector nozzles (not injector actuator);
spark plugs;
changes to the cylinder head consequential upon and limited to those resulting from the above;

4. Changes to the engine on the “fair and equitable” principle will be limited to those that the FIA is satisfied are carried out and necessary for cost reduction or reliability. No modification will be permitted which, in the opinion of the FIA, may result in a performance gain. These changes will be published by the FIA.

5. For 2007, those present will endeavor to secure changes to the 2007 Sporting Regulations to incorporate the 2008 engine homologation regulations (Article 86(e) and Appendix 6) into the 2007 Regulations, including a limitation of engine speed. Source FIA

Industry News
Delphi gives UAW a new proposal for wage cuts Delphi gives UAW a new proposal for wage cutsDelphi Corp., which set a Thursday deadline to reduce labor costs, gave the UAW another proposal for cuts in wages and benefits.

Delphi CEO Steve Miller has said he wants a deal reached on reducing labor costs by Friday.

If a deal is not negotiated, he will file a motion to eliminate union contracts.

The UAW has said it would strike if that happens, which could put the supplier out of business and force its biggest customer, General Motors Corp., to seek bankruptcy protection.

UAW spokesman Paul Krell said Delphi delivered its proposal to the union Friday afternoon. He declined to give details. More at Detroit Free Press

Schu in Melbourne Schu in Melbourne(GMMf1NET)  F1's Michael Schumacher took in the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne on Sunday night.

The German, holidaying with his wife before the season revs up again in the Australian city, said he expected his Ferrari to perform with pace 'somewhere between' what was seen in Malaysia and Bahrain.

''Melbourne has nearly always been good to us,'' said the seven time champion, ''and I am convinced that this one will go better than a year ago.

''We'll be giving everything to be in front.''

Jacques Villeneuve is also already in Melbourne, tasked on Monday with acting as 'mentor' to a group of BMW celebrity race drivers at a local track.

Flav backs Ferrari, scolds quali Flav backs Ferrari, scolds qualiIt must be the 'week of compliments' in formula one.

After Ron Dennis praised Juan Pablo Montoya, Max Mosley praised Renault's boss, and Flavio Briatore praised Giancarlo Fisichella, Briatore has waved the wand of glory at F1 team Ferrari.

''We can see that Ferrari is back,'' said the Enstone based rival's managing director, ''and that is good for everybody.  To have Fernando (Alonso) fighting with Michael (Schumacher) increased the TV share everywhere, because Michael and Ferrari are fantastic assets for F1.''

'Flav', 55, also doesn't mind F1's new 'knockout' qualifying format -- except for the fuel-burn session in the final top-ten run.

He explained: ''It doesn't make sense for the people or for our image with the environment.''

Briatore proposes that, instead of running around gaining 'fuel credits', drivers should simply have to race the fuel they finish the session with.

GPMA sign up for 2008 Championship GPMA sign up for 2008 ChampionshipThe GPMA's war with F1 power brokers appears over, with the five carmakers signing up to race in the 2008 season.

Mercedes (McLaren), BMW (Sauber), Renault, Honda and Toyota have submitted entry forms to the FIA within the famous one-week window, a GMA statement announced.

The statement, however, insisted that commercial talks with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone are still 'ongoing'.

GPMA statement: The five teams united through the Grand Prix Manufacturers Association (BMW Sauber, Honda Racing F1, McLaren Mercedes, Renault F1, Toyota F1) have submitted their entry forms for the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship. The teams look forward to the FIA’s acceptances, and to beginning discussions with the FIA in order to finalize the regulations for 2008. The GPMA members are united and remain committed to improve the sport for the benefit of all stakeholders. Significant progress has been made in the negotiations between the GPMA and the commercial rights holder, and discussions are ongoing.

Johnson added to Lowe’s track surface test Johnson added to Lowe’s track surface testUPDATE Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Bobby Labonte and Scott Riggs have been picked by Goodyear and NASCAR to run the Charlotte tests, and that is drawing criticism from rivals. Johnson was a late substitution for Ken Schrader, and Johnson's selection has drawn criticism from some who say that the test may give him an unfair advantage. Some question why NASCAR and Goodyear would pick Labonte for a second tire test already this year, after just doing a tire test at Texas, when so many other teams have not yet been picked. No Ford drivers were picked, which led Jimmy Fennig, crew chief for Jamie McMurray, to complain that "all the manufacturers should be represented." Gil Martin, the crew chief for Clint Bowyer, said that "a dozen teams ought to be testing at Charlotte." Richard "Slugger" Labbe, the crew chief for the Dale Jarrett-Robert Yates operation, was more pointed, questioning the pre-race tire data supplied by Goodyear. Last year many teams, with the backing of Detroit's manufacturers, did their own pre-race tire testing at high-tech places like New York's Calspan tire-research facility. This year, NASCAR officials have halted all that independent testing by instituting a tire-leasing program, and teams are not allowed to take any tires away from any track after the race. Winston Salem Journal

03/25/06 Jimmie Johnson will replace Ken Schrader in next week’s planned Goodyear tire test at Lowe's Motor Speedway, track officials confirmed Saturday.  Originally, Scott Riggs, Bobby Labonte, Kevin Harvick and Schrader were selected by NASCAR to participate in the two-day test that begins Tuesday.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Oz grunt keeps Rubens awake
Barrichello admits to Honda 'struggle'
Williams lose chief designer
Ron's high praise for Montoya
Birthday boy DC defends Ferrari
Head warns of test limit side-effects
Ralf's spat spills into public arena
Aussie autumn to shape F1 tire war
JV to go 'cautious' in Oz
Upgrades for Oz
Silverstone's soccer clash solution
F1 tests end in Europe
F1 'freeze' summit at Maranello
Max heaps praise on 'Flav'
Michelin’s 200 GP’s Michelin’s 200 GP’sIn Malaysia, Michelin contested its 200th Formula One Grand Prix. A thrilling history that started almost 30 years ago, a certain July 17th, 1977, let’s take a look back…

1977 • Legend of the yellow teapot
July 17: in partnership with Renault, Michelin makes its F1 debut in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. Some smile at Jean-Pierre Jabouille's RS01.

1978 • "El lole" breaks Michelin’s duck
Six months after Michelin's F1 debut, Carlos Reutemann (Ferrari) scores the company's first win in the Brazilian Grand Prix at Jacarepagua, Rio. Two months later the Argentine idol notches up Michelin's first F1 pole position in the US GP West at Long Beach

1979 • Michelin’s double title triumph
Jody Scheckter (Ferrari) is world champion driver and his team wins the title for constructors.

1980 • The years roll on… and no two look the same
Renault scores 3 victories but Michelin has no more titles to add to its tally.

1981 • 13 wins = fightback
Michelin ends up supplying the whole grand prix field for 7 races. There are 15 events in all and Michelin wins 13. zzzz

1982 • Close, but…
Michelin captures 11 pole positions and 8 wins, but even that is not enough to secure any additional F1 titles. Running on Michelins, McLaren driver John Watson finishes as world championship runner-up.

1983 • Another title in the bag
Nelson Piquet (Brabham/Michelin) just pips Alain Prost (Renault/Michelin) to bring another world championship for drivers to Clermont-Ferrand. Michelin racks up 9 wins in all.

1984 • 59 wins in 112 Grands Prix
14 wins from 16 GPs contested. Niki Lauda (McLaren) crowned world champion driver, McLaren picks up constructors' title. Michelin decides to withdraw after proving the worth of its radial technology at the pinnacle of motor racing.

2000 • Michelin, the comeback
Michelin returns to F1. The news is announced in December 1999. Throughout 2000, Michelin test drivers Tom Kristensen and Jörg Müller evaluate more than 3,000 tires at a number of different circuits.

2001 • Mission accomplished
At the end of a long season, those who proposed this return are able to breathe a sigh of relief: Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) share four wins and four pole positions.

2002 • A lot of ground covered in a short space of time…
Michelin might have finished the campaign with “only” two victories to its name, but it makes significant – and positive – technical progress with its range of dry-weather tires.

2003 • Michelin in full flight
Michelin scores seven victories and 30 podium finishes – and the Hungarian GP will remain as an unforgettable highlight: Michelin cars take the top seven positions. Michelin’s tire development expertise is clear for all to see.

2004 • Three wins, despite the dominant reds
The 2004 season is notable for Ferrari’s almost total dominance. Michelin scores a hat trick of victories with three different teams: Jarno Trulli (Renault) wins in Monaco, Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren-Mercedes) in Belgium and Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams-BMW) in Brazil.

2005• Simply the best
Michelin supplies 70 per cent of the field and wins 18 of the 19 races – a 94.7 per cent strike rate – as it sweeps to en emphatic title double. Fernando Alonso (Renault F1 Team), at 24, makes history as the sport’s youngest champion while Renault clinches the constructors’ title. Michelin

Kyle Busch wins Busch race Kyle Busch wins Busch raceA heated battle for the win completed a race interrupted by snow in the NASCAR Busch Series Sharpie Mini 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday as Kyle Busch snatched the lead from Greg Biffle with 12 laps to go when Biffle’s Ford suffered a loose wheel.

Busch withstood heavy pressure from Kevin Harvick to the finish. Harvick, the 2001 series champion and four-time race winner at Bristol including this event last year, nipped a surging Matt Kenseth in side-by-side battle for third. Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards completed the top five.

The 20-year-old Busch's first career win at Bristol was his seventh in NASCAR Busch Series competition, but his first since last May. zzzz

Harvick, the series points leader, started from the pole as qualifying was set by owner points due to a wet track as a result of the initial snow storm of the day. He led the most laps in the event – 120 of the 300 on the high-banked, high-speed concrete half-mile – but briefly broke momentum when a window tear-off stuck to a tire during a pit stop on Lap 148. He restarted deep in the field, 33rd, a half-lap behind.

Just 32 laps in, a second heavy snow began falling. During the 1 hour 19 minute stoppage, frigid feuding by funning crewmen developed on pit road as a number of snowball fights broke out. Some crewmen fashioned snowmen – or snow crewmen – as was the case for one frosty figure topped with a crew member’s helmet. The temperature did not reach beyond the 30s during the race.

In all, there were 13 caution periods consuming 80 laps.  Busch’s late race pass of 2002 series champion Biffle for the lead was the ninth lead change of the race.

Despite a 29th-place finish due to an accident, J.J, Yeley held on to second place in the series points race. Hamlin jumped two spots to third, Clint Bowyer held on to fourth with a 12th-place finish and Edwards jumped to fifth.

Johnny Sauter was the big points-gainer, climbing from 11th to sixth thanks to his 10th-place effort. Raybestos Rookie Burney Lamar moved to seventh in the rankings, followed by Jon Wood, who gained a position to eighth, while Jason Leffler lost three spots and fell to ninth due to involvement in a couple of incidents resulting in a 32nd place finish. Jamie McMurray, who did not enter the event, dropped seven positions to 10th in points.

Steve Wallace, the 18-year-old son of Rusty Wallace, instead made the start in the No. 64 Dodge he shares with McMurray. In his second career series start, Wallace led three laps at the beginning of the race before a run-in with Scott Riggs sent him into a spin and to the garage for repairs. He finished 33rd. NASCAR

Paul Dana Tribute Paul Dana TributeAll racing reporters, even the part-time ones, dread the day when a driver that you've met and grown to admire is taken away in a racing accident. Indy car racing has always been dangerous, but somehow you try to forget that.

Photo, right, of the late Paul Dana taken at Michigan last year. He is signing autographs for members of Big Brothers Big Sisters. At that time he was recovering from injuries suffered at Indy.

Paul was nice enough to sign autographs for kids in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program at Michigan International Speedway. I had to do a double take and search my memory banks for his name when he showed up. After all, few IRL drivers have the kind of recognition that came to CART drivers in the 80's, or today's NASCAR drivers. Quite frankly, he didn't look like a race car driver.

Paul was polite, quiet, but when he spoke he was very well spoken. At that time he was on injured reserve, suffering two broken vertebra at Indy two months earlier. Signing autographs, he didn't care that few showed up for the experience. He was a guy who had every reason to be offended, every reason to be angry with fate, but instead represented his team, his sport and himself with dignity.

After the kids were gone he opened up to the adults gathered there. One of us noticed that Paul signed all of his autographs with the left hand. Paul indicated that for some reason many of the IRL drivers were left-handed, and pondered the reasons why that might be. Paul was also an artist, a creative soul, and then he added that many of his fellow IRL drivers were artistic types too. Far from being the dashing hard-charging Evil Knievel movie stereotype he seemed to be happier when having quiet moments away from the track.

Other reporters will Google for facts to write an obituary for Paul Dana. For me, I'm left with memories that will last a lifetime, as will the kids who got his autograph while attending their first race. Tim Wohlford, AutoRacing1.com Correspondent

Too dangerous Too dangerousA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, This has to be one of the saddest days in Motor Racing today and my heart and prayers go out to Paul Dana's family. If there's ever going to be a merger between the two series then the high bank oval tracks should never ever be on the schedule after we've seen too many of these big wrecks like Texas, Chicagoland and Miami-Homestead. Do we need unification between the two series? Yes!!!! BUT an open wheel car has no business on these high banks. Alistair Fannell
Simmons nips Bussell in Indy Pro race Simmons nips Bussell in Indy Pro raceJeff Simmons made a last lap pass on Nick Bussell to win the Miami 100 Indy Pro Series event. Simmons beat Bussell by .0199 of a second. It is the second-closest finish in Indy Pro Series history.


JEFF SIMMONS (No. 24 Kenn Hardley Racing, winner Homestead-Miami 100): "I had to be patient the whole time. I was amazed. The car was no where near what it was like the rest of the weekend. The track changed on us a little bit. I had heard Tony Kanaan mention that before when they went out there before for their warm-up that the track seemed slick today. I didn't really believe him, but I do now. I really had to work on the car just to get it balanced a little bit. Fortunately, it came at the end there and I was able to patient, stay in the race and get it in the end." (About setting up the pass) "I did try to make the pass on one lap, but saw it wasn't going to happen. I knew right then I was going to have try to beat him at the line. So I did that one time with one lap to go and just set it up on that last pass. I don't know how much we beat him by, but I don't think it was more than a couple of feet." (About being the guy to beat since the mid-point of last season) "It took a little while for us to get the monkey off our back at Kenn Hardley Racing. We've actually got a whole new group of guys this year pretty much - a new engineer who worked with us a couple of times last year, Mark Moore. Jayson Madison came on as the crew chief. It's a lot of new guys, and it was a great way to welcome them to the team with a win here. I'm just so happy we're able to continue that momentum that we had from last year."

NICK BUSSELL (No. 52 Cheever Racing, finished second): "It was a lot of work for a little while there. When I was in fourth place, it was really greasy and I was working on the adjustments in the car, trying to get a compromise so I could get up there and be racy. I got a little lucky with the yellow and when Jay (Howard) had his restart. I thought I was going to get lucky, but Jeff (Simmons) did exactly what he has the experience to do. So he got me. zzzz

JAY HOWARD (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon/Sam Schmidt Mtrspt, finished third): "The bit where me and Jonathan (Klein) were running together was really good. I felt comfortable with him there, and he was real happy with how I was driving. We just wanted to stay there until the end and have our own little race. But he got together with the other guy (Chris Festa), which was a bit unfortunate on Jonathan's behalf. And I hated to see the yellow flag. I'm not very happy but at the end of the day, third place is not bad, by a long shot. So we'll go to St. Petersburg and improve on this.
ARIE LUYENDYK JR. (No. 25 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, finished fourth): "It was great out there. You know we've been struggling all weekend. We qualified ninth and that just comes because we didn't test here. Friday was my first day on the track all year. So I'm really pleased. The team has been awesome. Chuck Buckley put together a great car from me today, a car that I can work with. It was good in traffic but a little slow in clean air. It was a great finish and we'll build on it, and hopefully we'll come back strong in St. Pete."

Results Sunday of the Miami 100 IRL Indy Pro Series event March 26 at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any) and money earned:
1. (7) Jeff Simmons, Dallara, 67, $32,500
2. (8) Nick Bussell, Dallara, 67, Running $25,000
3. (1) Jay Howard, Dallara, 67, Running $20,000
4. (9) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Dallara, 67, Running $17,000
5. (11) Bobby Wilson, Dallara, 67, Running $16,500
6. (13) Jon Herb, Dallara, 67, Running $16,000
7. (10) Geoff Dodge, Dallara, 67, Running $15,500
8. (12) Brett Van Blankers, Dallara, 67, Running $15,000
9. (5) Marty Roth, Dallara, 67, Running $14,500
10. (4) Wade Cunningham, Dallara, 66, Running $14,000
11. (3) Jaime Camara, Dallara, 66, Running $13,000
12. (16) Travis Gregg, Dallara, 66, Running $12,000
13. (15) Mishael Abbott, Dallara, 66, Running $11,500
14. (14) Matthew Hamilton, Dallara, 66, Running $11,000
15. (2) Jonathan Klein, Dallara, 53, Running $10,750
16. (6) Chris Festa, Dallara, 53, Accident $10,500
Race Statistics
Winner's average speed: 162.712 mph
Time of race: 00:36:41.3232
Margin of victory: 0.0199 of a second
Cautions: 1 for 6 laps
Lead changes: 6 among 5 drivers
Lap leaders: Camara 1-4, Klein 5-9, Howard 10-59, Bussell 60-62, Simmons 63, Bussell 64-65, Simmons 66-67.
Point standings: Simmons 50, Bussell 42, Howard 38, Luyendyk 32, Wilson 30, Herb 28, Dodge 26, Van Blankers 24, Roth 22, Cunningham 20.

Rahal Letterman withdraws all cars Rahal Letterman withdraws all carsThe Rahal Letterman team has pulled all its cars from the IRL season opener at Homestead today following the death of one of its drivers - rookie Paul Dana.  Danica Patrick and Buddy Rice, Rahal's two other drivers, will not race today.
Paul Dana killed Paul Dana killedUPDATE #2 The IRL has announced that 30-year old Paul Dana has died from his injuries. It was a crash very reminiscent of Alex Zanardi's crash in Germany in 2001 except this time the car doing the hitting took the brunt of the accident. Dana appeared to hit Ed Carpenter's car in the gearbox/engine area, a much stiffer area of the car, and the impact sheared off the front of Dana's car. More....

03/26/06 An update on ESPN said Dana is in critical condition and Carpenter is awake and alert.

03/26/06 A violent accident involving the stepson of Indy Racing League founder Tony George occurred minutes into the final practice session for the Toyota Indy 300, the IRL IndyCar Series opener set for 3:30 this afternoon.

Ed Carpenter spun his Vision Racing car exiting Turn 2 of the 1.5- mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval and hugged the outside wall before slowly creeping back onto the racing surface. It was nearly stopped when it was hit in the left-rear corner at nearly full speed by a car driven by Paul Dana, a 30-year old rookie driving for Rahal Letterman Racing.

Dana's car sustained severe frontal damage and he is believed to have suffered serious injuries. He and Carpenter were airlifted to Jackson Hospital in Miami.

"I don't really know much other that he was flown to the hospital," said Dana's car owner Bobby Rahal. "We hope he's okay. It was a pretty vicious incident. We're thinking about Paul and hope he's in good shape." More at ESPN.com

Capirossi wins season opener Capirossi wins season openerDucati's Loris Capirossi has taken victory in the season opening Spanish Grand Prix - after finally breaking the strong challenge of MotoGP rookie Dani Pedrosa with just two laps to go. Pedrosa's American teammate Nicky Hayden barely held off Toni Elias for third while Valentino Rossi recovered from his first turn fall to claim 14th.

A frantic first corner incident saw Valentino Rossi slide off the track in a messy front and back collision whilst the two Ducati riders, ahead of Nicky Hayden, maintained their front two positions. Sete Gibernau’s good fortune wasn’t to last, as he appeared to receive a knock from the American which took him out on lap 3.

Dani Pedrosa moved up in front of his teammate with a daring maneuver in front of the home crowd early on, then pushed the Honda RC211V to try and close the gap on Capirossi. Randy de Puniet saw his race come to an early conclusion, clasping his right hand which had been injured this morning on the way from the box.

Whilst Capirossi and Pedrosa stretched out in front, Hayden and Melandri followed, with the Italian’s teammate Toni Elias lapping well before catching up and passing his more experienced companion. zzzz

By lap seventeen Pedrosa was well and truly on the back of Capirossi, unshakeable despite the Ducati rider’s fast lap times. The big question was going to be whether the young rookie had the endurance to not only pass the Italian but maintain the lead for any extended period. Pedrosa tried to dive inside at the end of the next lap, but was held off at the corner.

On lap 24 Capirossi’s experience was beginning to tell. The Ducati man pulled away from his young challenger, putting nearly nine hundredths of a second between the top two. Lap by lap the gap increased in large increments, Pedrosa seeming to ease off due to fatigue. Three seconds ahead at the finish line, on passing the checkered flag there was a difference of over three seconds.

A last second move on the home straight by Toni Elias was unsuccessful, leaving the top six standing as Capirossi, Pedrosa, Hayden, Elias, Melandri and Stoner.

Loris Capirossi I was surprised to see Nicky and Dani coming up behind me, I tried to extend the gap and I think the fact that we prepared really well in the test here showed through, we have the perfect bike and the perfect tire for the job I hope it is the start of many more victories.

Dani Pedrosa I think I was lucky not to get involved in the first crash, and then seeing Gibernau go off let me make up the places. I had to regain places after a bad start, then I had a few problems with the front tire. Anyway, it’s the first race, the team and Michelin have done really well and there are still 16 races to go. I think we will get better. I’m really happy with this second place.

Nicky Hayden We were missing that little bit of speed. Two weeks ago I didn’t have a chance and we’ve made a lot pf progress here. Its a distant third but I’ll take it and run with it. It’s been the first of sixteen races, so lets see where we go from here.

GM sues IRL team for $721K GM sues IRL team for $721KUPDATE Eddie Cheever claims his side of the story has not been told yet, but it will be told in court. Photos courtesy IRL

03/24/06 General Motors Corp. sued Team Cheever, an IRL IndyCar Series team, in U.S. District Court in Detroit because the team failed to pay $721,000 -- the outstanding balance on a leased Chevy Indy V8 engine used during the 2004 season, GM said. Cheever Racing agreed to pay $1.4 million for the leased engine in four installments, the suit said. Cheever made the first payment for $350,000 in January 2004 and was credited by GM because the company owed the racing team for testing. The team never made the remaining payments, but the team used the engine during the entire IRL season, GM said. GM said the team's owner, Eddie Cheever Jr., was personally involved in negotiating the lease.  More at Detroit News

Loeb cruises to rally win Loeb cruises to rally winSebastien Loeb has won the Rally Catalunya, and made it look easy after his main rival Marcus Gronholm lost three minutes with turbo problems in his Ford Focus on Friday. Gronholm had been leading Loeb by around 10 seconds when he hit trouble late on leg one and fell back to 10th.  (Photo courtesy of Kronos/McKlein)

Loeb's final victory margin was 48.2 seconds over young Spaniard Sordo.  Marcus Gronholm took the final podium place for Ford, after charging his way back up the leaderboard

Pos Driver Make Time
1. 1 S. LOEB 0.0
2. 15 D. SORDO +48.2s
3. 3 M. GRÖNHOLM +1m45.8s
4. 19 A. BENGUE 2:01.9
5. 21 J. KOPECKÝ 2:57.2
6. 18 F. DUVAL 3:37.8
7. 5 P. SOLBERG 3:48.2
8. 6 S. SARRAZIN 4:36.4
9. 4 M. HIRVONEN 5:01.6
10. 11 G. PANIZZI 5:04.4
11. 16 C. ATKINSON 5:33.9
12. 7 M. STOHL 5:48.4
13. 12 A. AIGNER 9:37.3
14. 22 S. VOJTECH 17:16.9
15. 9 M. WILSON 17:57.4
16. 10 J. LATVALA 18:12.3
17. 49 M. PROKOP 24:02.3
18. 52 B. CASIER 24:44.6
19. 32 K. MEEKE 25:07.7
20. 67 A. PIATTO 25:29.2  zzzz
21. 45 J. BERES 26:00.4
22. 71 O. SVEDLUND 27:58.6
23. 23 S. PEREZ 28:07.8
24. 44 M. KOSCIUSZKO 28:32.9
25. 39 C. RAUTENBACH 28:51.4
26. 51 F. KARA 29:58.6
27. 77 H. WENG 31:15.5
28. 75 T. CSERHALMI 31:18.0
29. 76 S. JONES 31:40.9
30. 55 B. TIRABASSI 32:43.7
31. 68 S. PINTARELLI 33:38.5
32. 78 S. CANALS 35:22.7
33. 62 J. ZURITA 35:42.9
34. 70 A. ORRIOLS 36:20.2
35. 89 R. MONTLLEO 39:07.8
36. 74 A. LLOVERA 40:12.2
37. 79 M. BIASION 43:32.2
38. 87 S. PEREZ 46:38.4
39. 94 J. Mª LOPEZ 47:31.4
40. 86 Y. PHILIPPEDES 49:22.8
41. 83 S. HUGHES 50:29.2
42. 88 E. MIR 53:55.8
43. 90 A. GIBERT 54:11.4
44. 66 M. CANELLA 55:21.7
45. 80 A. BETTEGA 56:07.8
46. 69 P. FONT 56:45.1
47. 47 F. A. BORDIGNON 57:33.6
48. 95 C. SCHMIDT 1:00:57.6
49. 50 K. PINOMÄKI 1:01:42.9
50. 72 T. KUHLMANN 1:06:27.4
51. 82 G. SCHAMMEL 1:06:55.6
52. 84 L. ATHANASSOULAS 1:07:18.0
53. 93 F. LEYMARIE 1:18:19.0

Tyler wins Silver Crown race Tyler wins Silver Crown raceBrian Tyler held off Aaron Pierce in a spirited battle in Saturday's U.S. Auto Club Silver Crown race at Homestead.  USAC had 13 cars for its second race in the revamped series.  There were no major incidences and the attendance was miniscule.
Marco Andretti easing into IndyCars Marco Andretti easing into IndyCarsMarco Andretti recorded a lap of 214.000 miles per hour (24.9813 seconds) in the #26 NYSE Dallara/Honda/Firestone during qualifying today at Homestead-Miami Speedway, which finds him in the 17th starting position for Sunday's running of the Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series Homestead-Miami Indy 300 Presented by XM Satellite Radio. The season-opening event of the 2006 IndyCar Series is set to go green at 3:45 p.m. (EST) Sunday with ABC Sports providing live broadcast coverage of the 200-lap event beginning at 3:30 p.m. (EST). The race may also be heard on XM Satellite Radio on XM channel 145.

Marco Andretti had this to say about his qualifying run - "The #26 NYSE car felt good through turns 1 and 2, but when I got into 3 and 4 it had a big understeer and I just scrubbed all my speed off. My qualifying run could have been better, but you can qualify almost anywhere at these places and if you have a good race setup you'll be okay. My goal for tomorrow is a top-10 and I believe if I have a comfortable car then I can hang with the lead group." AGR, Photos courtesy of IRL

The woes of the NASCAR Field-Fillers The woes of the NASCAR Field-FillersThe space inside the half-mile oval at Bristol Motor Speedway is so small that there is not enough room along pit road for all the teams that tried to qualify for a NASCAR Nextel Cup race.

So on Friday, the handful of low-budget hopefuls not guaranteed a spot in the Food City 500 on Sunday were crammed behind the cars of NASCAR’s elite.

It seemed an appropriate place for those so-called field fillers of the Nextel Cup. They are the teams on the periphery of the business. They are in a chase of their own to qualify and race well enough, often with lesser equipment, to attract the attention of a big-money sponsor.

They are dreamers, because they have to be. More at the NY Times

A bargain at any price A bargain at any priceA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, If I was a sponsor of a Grand-Am team, I would be pretty pleased looking out into those vast stands at Homestead Saturday night and knowing that dozens, maybe even a hundred people will see my product! What a great deal I got my company! Name and address withheld

Dear No Name, We think you underestimate the Grand-Am's appeal. There were at least 1,000 in attendance. A track promotion made tickets a bargain - if you were a Homestead resident you could get in for $15, so revenue for the race was at least $15K.......not near enough to pay the purse, but the France family isn't in the business to make money with Grand-Am. If they were, they would have shut it down long ago because attendance has been horrible from Day 1. Mark C.

Cheever using Homestead as a tune-up Cheever using Homestead as a tune-up“Our goal when we came to Homestead was to leave here with a solid top-10 finish and I think we’re in position to achieve that, provided all the right things happen. We’ve spent all weekend getting our Circle K car race ready. We didn’t turn a single qualifying lap until it was time to actually qualify. I think we’ll be in fine shape for tomorrow. I’ll admit the first 30-40 laps yesterday were a handful because things were coming at us pretty quickly out there. But things are more and more comfortable with each lap we turn. I’d say we’re about 70% where we want to be by the time we get ready for the Indy 500 in earnest. We want to be at 90% when we go to Indy for the first test in April. And, of course, I want to be peaking at about 12:05 p.m. on the last Sunday in May! We’re doing this race and next week’s in St. Petersburg in order to properly prepare us for our Indy 500 effort. We’ll get what we can tomorrow; hopefully get a solid top 10, and then move on to St. Pete.”
Button sets record Button sets recordJenson Button has established a record he will not wish to be reminded about when the Formula One teams gather in Melbourne next weekend. By finishing third in Malaysia last Sunday, Button became the first driver to have reached the podium 13 times without winning.
Penske doubts merger will happen Penske doubts merger will happenIn this NY Times article, Roger Penske says he's doubts recent merger talks between the IRL and Champ Car are anymore than just talk. 

''I've sat back for the last three years trying to make it happen and it never has,'' Penske said. ''Mario Andretti, he went to the wall to try to get it together (last year). I did it the year before. What's changed?

''I think it's all talk. I'd like to see the facts. I've been there, that's why I'm so pessimistic that there's anything there.''

''I'd like to have it happen, but I don't see what's going to be the economic benefit today,'' Penske said. ''What are we going to do: We're going to run a different car, a different engine, run all road races, going to have run 29 races? What's going to happen? Tell me.''

Chip Ganassi, whose team won four CART titles before moving to the IRL, said he is hopeful.

''I'm trying to leave them alone to get it put together and get it put together quickly,'' Ganassi said. ''It seems like a harbinger of each spring that there's these talks, but we have to all stay out of it and let them hurry up and get this done because a lot of teams are on life support now.

''As far as our team is concerned, (unification) is an absolute necessity.''

Tom Anderson, co-owner of an IRL team with Adrian Fernandez and a former Champ Car owner, wants a quick resolution.

''We all hope it happens,'' he said. ''Let's get it done as fast as possible.''

Honda is supplying all the engines for the IRL this year. Robert Clarke, who heads up the Honda racing program, said the chances of the talks succeeding are ''no more than 50-50.

''They have already gotten through some issues that nobody ever even got to in past talks. Still, there's a lot more major issues to deal with.''

AutoRacing1.com spotted Champ Car co-owner Paul Gentilozzi talking to Tony George a couple of times at Homestead this weekend.  Gentilozzi is there racing his Grand-Am car and of course George is there for the IRL season opener.

[Editor's Note: So far everyone is for the reunification.  Roger Penske appears to be the biggest pessimist.  Maybe he really does not want to see it happen.  Interesting to see Ganassi say  for his team it's a necessity, as if to say if it does not happen they're out of there.  There's little doubt in our mind that the reunification must happen for 2007, not 2008.  Champ Car starts with new cars in 2007, it has to happen then so all players are on a level playing field and teams from one side or another are not faced with higher costs.  Does not matter whether you have existing IndyCars or Champ Cars.  All new cars for everyone.  Our theory is that the deal is essentially done and all the naysayer talk is just to hold off the media for the right timing for an announcement.]

Toyota Indy 300 Qualifying Quotes Toyota Indy 300 Qualifying Quotes
SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, Marlboro Pole Award winner): "We were really excited after this morning's session. The past couple of days we've been out here, we've been up towards the top of the speed charts. We were trying to be a little bit conservative and make sure that we had good race set up. When it came time for qualifying, we put as little downforce as we could on it and went out there and tried to hold on to it. After Helio's lap this morning, I thought for sure he was the guy that would be tough to beat. We had just enough to get him and that's all that matters. We're really happy that Marlboro Team Penske is 1-2."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified second): "We had a good morning session, and we made some changes for qualifying. We're looking good, and we're happy with the car. We knew what Sam had, and we went a little conservative, and we fell just a little short. But good for Sam, and good for the team. We've worked really hard since the open test here, and I think we'll be strong tomorrow. I think Sam will too. Marlboro Team Penske will be strong tomorrow."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Argent Panoz/Honda/Firestone, qualified third): "The Argent Mortgage Honda felt pretty good in qualifying, which is something I haven’t been able to say at all this weekend. I guess my engineer Ray [Leto] must have some magic in him because he solved most of the problems from this morning. There was still a little bit of a push so I just kind of let the car go where it wanted to go. Because there was a push in the car, the front end of the car wasn’t getting around the corner as well as I would have liked. Instead of fighting it and adding more understeer, I just kind of let it drift to where it wanted to go. More than anything, I am a little bit relieved after this run, especially after the problems we had yesterday. A run like this helps you gain the confidence you need to keep your foot down. All we have focused on was getting the car to be balanced and to be at the point where I can really push the car hard and be confident in it." zzzz 

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fourth): "I feel pretty good about the run. The car was really comfortable, and we had no issues. I think our race speed will be much better, and I feel somewhat more confident going into this first race of the season than we did in a few races last year. The car is really good and while in the past we were chasing speed, now were just going to work on making the car comfortable to drive for the race."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fifth): "We never worked on our qualifying car in practice. I've got to thank Dario (Franchitti) and my engineers because Dario did some work this morning on the qualifying setup while I worked on race setup in the Team 7-Eleven car. That's the secret of this team. We're not as dominant as we were last year, but we're still going to work together and tomorrow we're gonna go for it."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified seventh): "We’re not focused too much on qualifying. Last year, we had cars that could get from the back to the front pretty quick. We’re going to make the best of what we’ve got. The Klein Tool/Jim Beam car was good in race trim this morning, so we’ll see what we’ve got tomorrow. It’s all about tomorrow and having a car that will work for 200 laps around here."

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified eighth): "The Target team has given me a really good race car and we’ve worked on that all weekend long. We had just a bit too much downforce for qualifying. We’re not too worried about it because you don’t get points for qualifying. We know we’ve got a strong package and I’m looking forward to defending my win here and start the season off on the right foot."

FELIPE GIAFFONE (No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified 10th): "We actually were better than we expected. This morning, I was very happy with it. We were running by ourselves, and we were doing some decent speeds. We made a slight change for the weather and the car’s right there. I just pushed a little bit on the second lap and that was a shame. I’m very happy. I was expecting to finish in the top 10, but not start there."
Yoong teams with Lammers at Le Mans Yoong teams with Lammers at Le MansAlex Yoong will be driving in the Le Mans Series with Jan Lammers, the A1 Team Netherlands seat holder during the A1GP off season 2006. The first Le Mans series race is in Istanbul, Turkey 7, 8, 9 April 2006, the week immediately following the final A1 Grand Prix of Nations in Shanghai, China and from Turkey the Le Mans Series goes to Belgium (May 12-14), Germany (July 14-16), UK (August 25-27) and Italy (September 22-24).

In June, the series arrives at the small French town of Le Mans itself, where the silence of the French countryside will be shattered for the week of intense activities culminating in the Le Mans 24 hour race, the world’s biggest, oldest and most prestigious race attended by some 200,000 spectators, 2,500 members of the world’s media and watched by a TV audience of around 200,000,000. The “who’s who” of the business world of motorsport and the automotive industry attend this event.

Lammers is one of the most versatile racers of the modern era having driven everything from sports cars to Indy cars, most forms of single seaters, as well as touring cars and rally cars. His impressive career spans more than 3 decades including, uniquely, 2 stints in Formula 1 some ten years apart. He has competed in Le Mans sportscars for many years winning at Le Mans itself in 1988 and putting up impressive fights against the all-powerful manufacturer teams ever since. zzzz 

He and Yoong have spent the last 6 months getting to know each other in the A1 paddock, and Lammers believes that Yoong is an ideal partner for the 2006 Le Mans Series season.

Lammers recalled, "One of the pleasures of this first A1GP season is that it really has brought people together through the A1GP “nation vs. nation” concept. One of the people that I have met and have been very impressed with is Alex Yoong and we are looking forward to working with him over the coming months.”

Yoong says of the opportunity… “I have always wanted to drive the Le Mans 24 hours and to be able to do it do it for the first time with such a well known and respected personality and driver such as Jan Lammers is an excellent opportunity. It has been a pleasure and a challenge to race against his team in A1GP and I look forward to racing with him through out the summer months.”

Jack Cunningham, Team Principal, A1 Team Malaysia comments… “This announcement perfectly illustrates our long-term strategy to be competing in A1GP in the winter months and then to have a significant presence in sports cars and long distance races in the summer months. Our strategy is to work with some of our commercial and technical partners in motorsports environments throughout the calendar year in a way that is complimentary to our A1GP programme. This is a key part of our long term plan for the promotion of Malaysian brands for 2007 and beyond, as well as forming part of the build up to the second season of A1GP starting in September 2006.”

The funding for the project will be generated via a unique sponsor concept developed by RFH displaying a car that is covered in soccer balls!

Each ball or part of a ball can be bought for anything from € 100 up to € 5,000 depending on the location and whether it is a full ball or a part of it. High exposure ball locations cost € 5,000 and regular positions are € 2,500. The smaller pieces that are left on the car are ideal for the fans. Half a ball is half the price, a quarter ball is a quarter of the price and so on. This way the team can accommodate everyone and have a blend of sponsors.

Jan Lammers, “Basically the car will be covered with ‘enthusiasm’ as we learned from the great late Enzo Ferrari that ‘Nothing beats enthusiasm’. When I learned that the start of the Le Mans race was postponed by one hour to accommodate the end of a World Cup soccer match I realized the influence of World Cup soccer. I wondered ‘How will we get in the sports papers’? Well if you can’t fight them, join them…… So here we are.”

Jack Cunningham says… “Details of a specific Malaysia sponsor programme will be announced in April where balls will be available to Malaysian companies and to be shared by individuals. First of all, though, our focus is on Alex carrying out a testing programme with Jan early next week at the famous Paul Ricard Circuit in the south of France and then our final event of the A1 Grand Prix of Nations 2005/6 series in Shanghai, where Proton sponsored A1 Team Malaysia will be putting all their efforts into beating A1 Team Netherlands!”

Jay Howard wins pole in his first oval race Jay Howard wins pole in his first oval raceAutoRacing1.com has been calling him the possible next Ayrton Senna and so far Jay Howard has not proven us wrong, dominating in every category of racing he has tried.  Drivers he has raced against told us he's demoralizing.

This weekend he starts his very first oval race.  Never drove an oval before.  Never raced at Homestead before.  So what does he do?  He takes pole position in his very first go.  However, this is 100% throttle racing, so we don't view this as a true testament of his ability.  That won't come until the series hits the road courses.

Keep your eye on this guy, he's going to be a force to be reckoned with when he debuts in the merged IRL/Champ Car series in 2007.

Pos Driver Diff Best Time Best Speed
1 Jay Howard (7) ... 28.6512 186.589
2 Jonathan Klein (27) 0.0039 28.6551 186.564
3 Jaime Camara (11) 0.0992 28.7504 185.945
4 Wade Cunningham (1) 0.1253 28.7765 185.777
5 Marty Roth (4) 0.1266 28.7778 185.768
6 Chris Festa (51) 0.1419 28.7931 185.669
7 Jeff Simmons (24) 0.1435 28.7947 185.659
8 Nick Bussell (52) 0.3535 29.0047 184.315
9 Arie Luyendyk Jr (25) 0.4224 29.0736 183.878
10 Geoff Dodge (33) 0.4762 29.1274 183.539
11 Bobby Wilson (9) 0.5284 29.1796 183.210
12 Brett Van Blankers (3) 0.5648 29.2160 182.982
13 Jon Herb (6) 0.6608 29.3120 182.383
14 Matthew Hamilton (2) 0.9537 29.6049 180.578
15 Mishael Abbott (8) 0.9555 29.6067 180.567
16 Travis Gregg (41) 0.9572 29.6084 180.557

Forsythe Racing wraps up Atlantics test Forsythe Racing wraps up Atlantics test
Busch leads final Happy Hour at Bristol Busch leads final Happy Hour at Bristol
Rank Car# Driver Time (sec) Speed (MPH)
1 2 Kurt Busch 15.497 123.818
2 24 Jeff Gordon 15.538 123.491
3 43 Bobby Labonte 15.539 123.483
4 88 Dale Jarrett 15.540 123.475
5 5 Kyle Busch 15.541 123.467
6 66 Jeff Green 15.548 123.411
7 21 Ken Schrader 15.553 123.372
8 10 Scott Riggs 15.565 123.277
9 11 Denny Hamlin # 15.568 123.253
10 12 Ryan Newman 15.582 123.142
11 29 Kevin Harvick 15.586 123.110
12 20 Tony Stewart 15.596 123.032
13 01 Joe Nemechek 15.597 123.024
14 6 Mark Martin 15.610 122.921
15 38 Elliott Sadler 15.626 122.795
16 17 Matt Kenseth 15.632 122.748
17 07 Clint Bowyer # 15.633 122.740
18 7 Robby Gordon 15.634 122.733
19 16 Greg Biffle 15.637 122.709
20 42 Casey Mears 15.641 122.678 zzzz
21 40 David Stremme # 15.651 122.599
22 4 Scott Wimmer 15.658 122.544
23 9 Kasey Kahne 15.661 122.521
24 31 Jeff Burton 15.662 122.513
25 1 Martin Truex Jr. # 15.671 122.443
26 45 Kyle Petty 15.675 122.411
27 41 Reed Sorenson # 15.677 122.396
28 18 J.J. Yeley # 15.678 122.388
29 26 Jamie McMurray 15.686 122.326
30 19 Jeremy Mayfield 15.701 122.209
31 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 15.702 122.201
32 48 Jimmie Johnson 15.705 122.178
33 99 Carl Edwards 15.718 122.077
34 55 Michael Waltrip 15.735 121.945
35 25 Brian Vickers 15.744 121.875
36 32 Travis Kvapil 15.770 121.674
37 14 Sterling Marlin 15.774 121.643
38 95 Stanton Barrett 15.793 121.497
39 22 Dave Blaney 15.808 121.382
40 61 Kevin Lepage 15.904 120.649
41 96 Terry Labonte 15.982 120.060
42 00 Hermie Sadler 16.316 117.602
43 49 Brent Sherman # 16.322 117.559
Ducati’s Capirossi and Gibernau 1-2 in Jerez Ducati’s Capirossi and Gibernau 1-2 in JerezLoris Capirossi and Sete Gibernau will start tomorrow’s season opening Grand Prix as the top two on the grid, whilst reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi will surprisingly start from the third row in ninth. The Ducati riders continued their excellent preseason form, which included their topping the timesheets nearly two weeks ago at the Jerez circuit, Capirossi putting in a fastest lap of 1'39.064 to take the pole position. The Italian’s team-mate Sete Gibernau will be looking to take the win at his home circuit, after last year’s unforgettable final lap drama. Kawasaki’s Shinya Nakano, so impressive at the final test, completed an all-Bridgestone top three on his boss Harald Eckl’s birthday.

Honda will occupy the entire second row of the grid, with official factory riders Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa ahead of satellite riders Toni Elias and Marco Melandri. Kawasaki’s young rookie Randy de Puniet will start from eighth, despite being part of a large group involved in a crash caused by Alex Hofmann’s bike. De Puniet, Rossi, Nakano, Kenny Roberts Jr and Elias all had an early problem with the oil left on the track from the German’s bike, causing a large incident which affected the session. zzzz

Rossi, fastest yesterday in free practice, will start from ninth in his quest for a sixth consecutive opening-race victory. The Italian’s third row start places him alongside team-mate Colin Edwards, who completes the top ten.

Suzuki were unable to continue their good run of results during the session, but will hope to push for high finishes with Chris Vermeulen and John Hopkins starting from eleventh and Hopkins twelfth.

QP - MotoGP
       Rider               Nation Team Motorcycle Time Lap Total Gap Top Speed
1 65 Loris CAPIROSSI ITA Ducati Marlboro Team DUCATI 1'39.064 25 25 287.9
2 15 Sete GIBERNAU SPA Ducati Marlboro Team DUCATI 1'39.285 24 28 0.221 0.221 287.9
3 56 Shinya NAKANO JPN Kawasaki Racing Team KAWASAKI 1'39.526 24 25 0.462 0.241 283.2
4 69 Nicky HAYDEN USA Repsol Honda Team HONDA 1'39.666 24 28 0.602 0.140 287.0
5 26 Dani PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team HONDA 1'39.734 24 26 0.670 0.068 287.2
6 24 Toni ELIAS SPA Fortuna Honda HONDA 1'39.875 17 22 0.811 0.141 287.6
7 33 Marco MELANDRI ITA Fortuna Honda HONDA 1'39.932 24 24 0.868 0.057 286.1
8 17 Randy DE PUNIET FRA Kawasaki Racing Team KAWASAKI 1'40.146 19 19 1.082 0.214 279.6
9 46 Valentino ROSSI ITA Camel Yamaha Team YAMAHA 1'40.160 27 28 1.096 0.014 283.4
10 5 Colin EDWARDS USA Camel Yamaha Team YAMAHA 1'40.181 18 23 1.117 0.021 285.2
11 71 Chris VERMEULEN AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP SUZUKI 1'40.215 24 25 1.151 0.034 279.6
12 21 John HOPKINS USA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP SUZUKI 1'40.340 17 24 1.276 0.125 285.3
13 10 Kenny ROBERTS USA Team Roberts KR211V 1'40.497 22 23 1.433 0.157 278.9
14 7 Carlos CHECA SPA Tech 3 Yamaha YAMAHA 1'40.851 27 27 1.787 0.354 282.2
15 27 Casey STONER AUS Honda LCR HONDA 1'40.982 20 21 1.918 0.131 285.3
16 6 Makoto TAMADA JPN Konica Minolta Honda HONDA 1'41.119 23 24 2.055 0.137 286.3
17 30 Jose Luis CARDOSO SPA MotoGP DUCATI 1'41.749 16 19 2.685 0.630 276.3
18 77 James ELLISON GBR Tech 3 Yamaha YAMAHA 1'42.267 16 23 3.203 0.518 278.0
19 66 Alex HOFMANN GER Pramac d'Antín MotoGP DUCATI 1'42.341 11 11 3.277 0.074 275.9

Bridgestone previews Melbourne Bridgestone previews MelbourneAfter two thrilling races in Bahrain and Malaysia from which several Bridgestone runners have come away with points, Bridgestone Motorsport now heads down under to Melbourne for next weekend's Australian Grand Prix. Placed third on the calendar this year due to the Commonwealth Games taking place in Australia's "Garden City", Melbourne's stop-and-go circuit is still expected to provide plenty of thrills and excitement.

Bridgestone is expecting its teams to keep building on the progress they have made so far this season using their new style tires which have been developed specifically for the 2006 regulations which now include a return to tire changes and a new qualifying format. Michael Schumacher currently lies second in the drivers' standings with eleven points while fellow Bridgestone runner Felipe Massa has four points, local hero Mark Webber three points, Nico Rosberg two points and Ralf Schumacher one point. Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro is second in the constructors' standings.

Hiroshi Yasukawa, Director of Motorsport, said: "Traditionally the first race on the calendar, the Australian Grand Prix is a favorite of the F1 community and we are looking forward to returning to Melbourne, albeit later in the year than normal. Australia is an important market for Bridgestone and we are hoping to give our guests and supporters some exciting racing and good results. We are pleased that WilliamsF1 driver Mark Webber will be launching the FIA-Bridgestone Think Before You Drive campaign in Melbourne on Wednesday 29 March. As a popular role model, we hope that Mark's support for this safety campaign will help people hear about and understand the importance of the campaign's key messages: checking the tread depth and pressure of tires, wearing a seatbelt, using a child seat and checking head rests." zzzz

Tires for Australia - 5.303km
The 2006 tire regulations permit each driver seven sets of dry tires, four sets of wet weather tires and three sets of extreme wet weather tires. Combined with the increased number of teams running with Bridgestone in 2006, approximately 1,200 Bridgestone Potenza Formula One tires are being sent from the Technical Centre in Kodaira City, Tokyo, to Australia's Albert Park Circuit.

Melbourne Preview with Hisao Suganuma Bridgestone Motorsport Technical Manager, said: "We arrive in Australia several weeks later than normal and one of the main considerations therefore is the weather. Melbourne's climate is traditionally unstable at GP time but we do expect cooler conditions than normal. We have been pleased with the way our new range of tires for 2006 has been providing consistently good performances in the opening races and so the majority of the Bridgestone shod teams have chosen a combination of previously raced and new tire specifications for the Australian Grand Prix.

We anticipate that the medium to soft compound range of these tires will be competitive in the expected cool conditions and on the relatively smooth track surface. We also expect our tires will cope well with the graining that often occurs while running on the Albert Park track. So far this season we have had two exciting races in which several Bridgestone runners have picked up points so we are looking for a strong performance in Melbourne." Bridgestone

McLaren puts miles in Mercedes engine McLaren puts miles in Mercedes engineTeam McLaren Mercedes concluded an intensive four day test at the Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track today, in a session affected by damp conditions. Running for Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett did not get underway until after the lunch break at the French track, with Pedro taking to the track at 13:07 and Gary four minutes later, as the overnight rain that had left the track wet began to dry out.

The focus for Pedro was chassis developments for the MP4-21, with Gary working alongside Pedro on the same program at the wheel of the interim MP4-20. Pedro covered 370km over 98 laps and set a fastest time of 1m05.381, which put him second on the timesheets. Gary completed 61 laps and 230km as he put in a time of 1m05.709.

The test began for the team on Tuesday, which was also affected by bad weather. Heavy rain overnight and continuous drizzle during the day made track conditions difficult. The team took the decision that Gary would take not part in the day, as his focus was on Michelin development work and the wet circuit would not have provided any meaningful feedback. zzzz

Pedro was conducting a shakedown with the fourth chassis of the MP4-21, and was able to complete the initial systems checks over a few short runs in the morning before covering more significant mileage during the afternoon on intermediate tires. This saw the Spaniard put in 637km over 155 laps of the track, which was in the 4.11km 2E SC configuration.

"We have had a really positive test this week at Paul Ricard, with reliable running on all four days. This has enabled us to put significant mileage onto chassis 4 of MP4-21 and the Mercedes-Benz V8 engine, as we worked through the various development programs with the car,’ Pedro said. “There have been a few problems with the weather on Tuesday and this morning, but it did not affect my program too badly, as I was able to continue putting in the miles. My total kilometres for the week is 2,207, and I was able to complete two Grands Prix distances on each of the first three days."

From Wednesday onwards the track layout changed to the 3.8km 3E SC, and the weather for the Wednesday and Thursday was dry and bright. This allowed both Pedro and Gary to complete long distances as they concluded the tire selection process for the San Marino Grand Prix with Michelin during the two days. This saw both drivers complete series of short and long runs to evaluate the different compounds. Pedro's morning session ended with six one-lappers as the Spaniard simulated qualifying on the different Michelins as part of the program.

"It was good to get back to testing this week at Ricard, obviously it was a shame that I was not able to get on track on Tuesday, but my program with Michelin was focused on dry running, which was not possible due to the wet weather conditions,” added Gary. “We had a couple of positive days on Wednesday and Thursday and completed the tire selection process for Imola. Today my focus was chassis development and we had some strong running in the afternoon when the track dried out."

At the end of play on Thursday, Pedro's running for the week saw him reach a total of 1,837km over three consecutive days using one Mercedes-Benz V8 engine for the whole distance. His engine was changed at the end of the day, to allow the unit to return to Brixworth. McLaren

Penske duo fastest in practice 3 Penske duo fastest in practice 3Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr. stamped themselves as pole favorites later this afternoon by leading practice 3 for the IndyCars in Homestead Saturday morning. Scott Dixon and Tomas Scheckter were 3rd and 4th.

Pos Driver Name Best Time Best Speed Best Lap Total Laps
1 Helio Castroneves (3) 24.5736 217.551 26 28
2 Sam Hornish Jr. (6) 24.5859 217.442 13 15
3 Scott Dixon (9) 24.7264 216.206 28 30
4 Tomas Scheckter (2) 24.7431 216.060 21 24
5 Dario Franchitti (27) 24.7694 215.831 25 27
6 Buddy Rice (15) 24.8157 215.428 16 29
7 Danica Patrick (16) 24.8742 214.921 22 28
8 Paul Dana (17) 24.8886 214.797 17 23
9 Dan Wheldon (10) 24.8891 214.793 6 21
10 Eddie Cheever Jr. (51) 24.9090 214.621 40 42
11 Tony Kanaan (11) 24.9152 214.568 41 42
12 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 24.9392 214.361 27 28
13 Marco Andretti (26) 24.9475 214.290 32 34
14 Bryan Herta (7) 24.9485 214.281 6 29
15 Scott Sharp (8) 24.9550 214.226 29 31
16 Ed Carpenter (20) 24.9873 213.949 24 25
17 Felipe Giaffone (14) 24.9912 213.915 28 28
18 Buddy Lazier (5) 25.0987 212.999 26 35
19 Vitor Meira (4T) 25.1801 212.311 16 22
20 P.J. Chesson (91) 25.2938 211.356 31

Steve Wallace to run 7 ARCA races Steve Wallace to run 7 ARCA racesRWI Racing is pleased to announce the addition of the Hantz Group and Nu South Lemonade, a subsidiary of United Beverage Group, LLC to their roster of sponsors. Nu South Lemonade and Hantz Group will don Steve Wallace’s No. 61 entry in the ARCA/REMAX Series in 2006.

“We feel honored to be a part of a program with so much history behind it and we look forward to playing a key role in Steven’s career as he makes his way to Nextel Cup,” said John Hantz, CEO of the Hantz Group.

Wallace is slated to run seven ARCA/REMAX races this season, including Nashville (April 15), Kentucky (May 13), Michigan (June 16 and August 10), Gateway (July 28), Talladega (October 6) and Iowa (October 15).

“RWI Racing is excited about the marketing partnership with the Hantz Group and Nu South Lemonade,” said John Paysor, Vice President of Marketing and Sponsorships, Rusty Wallace, Inc. “The NASCAR audience and the Nu South market are a perfect fit, and through this relationship, we hope to bring brand awareness to their products.”

Cosworth: The fix is in Cosworth: The fix is inCosworth has implemented an engine update for the defect that caused Nico Rosberg's dramatic engine failure in the Malaysian Grand Prix. Rosberg saw his hopes go up in a cloud of white smoke just a few laps into the race on his two weekend old engine. This week Williams has been testing at Valencia where its engine partner Cosworth has ironed out the problem. The Cosworth CA2006 Series 3 test specification engine ran for three days in Valencia," said Simon Corbyn, head of F1 race engineering, Cosworth. "Our objective was to accumulate track running on a number of new components as part of our on-going engine development program. This engine also included a change specifically targeted at addressing Nico's Malaysia race failure and this update has been implemented for Melbourne."
FAA now into Hendrick plane crash lawsuits FAA now into Hendrick plane crash lawsuitsHendrick Motorsports, facing three negligence lawsuits resulting from an Oct. 24, 2004, plane crash near Martinsville (Va.) Airport, contends in court documents that its liability, if any, should be transferred to air traffic controllers. Dianne Dorton, widow of Hendrick engine builder Randy Dorton, and Tracy Lathram, widow of Tony Stewart pilot Scott Lathram, filed separate lawsuits in December in North Carolina Superior Court against Hendrick Motorsports. Linda Turner, widow of former Hendrick Motorsports general manager Jeff Turner, filed a lawsuit earlier this month in North Carolina against the team. Linda Turner also has filed a federal lawsuit in Greensboro, N.C., against the Federal Aviation Administration over the actions of air traffic controllers. All of the lawsuits ask for an unspecified amount of damages. While denying their claims of negligence in the Dorton and Lathram cases, Hendrick Motorsports uses many similar arguments as Turner's complaint against the FAA. Hendrick Motorsports' complaint names air traffic controllers Brian Park, William Thomson Jr. and Jerry Wilson. Hendrick Motorsports alleges that the air traffic controllers failed to properly monitor the aircraft and respond when they should have known the plane was in danger of missing the approach at Martinsville Airport. The National Transportation Safety Board has blamed errors of the pilots as the probable cause of the crash, which killed both pilots and eight others, including four family members of team owner Rick Hendrick. The NTSB report on the crash states that once the plane was cleared for approach and was approved to change its radio frequency away from the controllers' frequency that the "controller no longer had responsibility for the flight." Hendrick's filing also states that Dorton's complaint should be handled as a workers compensation claim. NASCAR Daily Scene
Theissen says needed more time for V8s Theissen says needed more time for V8sBMW’s Mario Theissen says that the large number of engine failures in the opening races of the 2006 season are a consequence of the change from V10s to V8s being rushed in.

Almost a quarter of the field received grid penalties for engine changes in Malaysia, and there were also several failures in the race.

The decision to make V8s mandatory in Formula 1 was ratified at the end of 2004.

According to Theissen, that was too late.

“The high number of engine changes made by the teams so far is evidence that the development time allowed for the new V8 powerplants was simply too short,” he said.

“We are now working all-out on reliability.”

Heikki Kovalainen again on top Heikki Kovalainen again on topRenault test driver Heikki Kovalainen once again topped the times at Paul Ricard, as the four-day F1 test session came to an end Friday.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Kovalainen Renault (M) 1:05.287 92
 2. De la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:05.381 98
 3. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) 1:05.626 192
 4. Paffett McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:05.709 61
 5. Zonta Toyota (B) 1:06.949 133
 6. Panis Toyota (B) 1:07.851 109

TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday USA TV reminders for Sunday

Courtesy of TVRacer.com
12:00am-12:30am SPEED
Inside Drag Racing
11:00am-11:30am ESPN2
NASCAR RaceDay Bristol
11:00am-1:00pm (L) SPEED
NHRA 2Day 
11:30am-12:00pm ESPN2
NASCAR Nextel Cup  Bristol
1:30pm-6:00pm (L) FOX
MotoGP 250 Spain
2:00pm-3:00pm (SDD) SPEED
MotoGP World Championship  Spain
3:00pm-4:00pm (SDD) SPEED
IRL Homestead-Miami, FL
3:30pm-6:00pm (L) ABC
AMA Supercross Detroit
6:00pm-7:00pm -250cc SPEED
Speed News  
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Victory Lane Bristol
8:00pm-9:00pm (SDD) SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED
Jim Michaelian (Grand Prix Association of Long Beach)
Eddie Gossage (Texas Motor Speedway) 

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

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