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Harvick wins Kroger 250 At Martinsville Speedway
It’s been a pretty good week for Kevin Harvick at Martinsville Speedway and he’s still got another day to go.

Harvick captured the Kroger 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Saturday after winning the pole for both the Kroger 250 and the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Race on Friday.  A win in the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 would give him a perfect week at the historic half-mile

"It was a lot of fun for me, just for the fact that the thing was so dominant to drive," said Harvick, who is also the NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader. "I didn't really have to do a whole lot different -- I just drove my line every lap, and we were able to make our way through traffic when we needed to.

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Karam Wins Round 1 of USF2000 National Championship
Andretti Autosport's Sage Karam of Nazareth, Pa. dominated Saturday's Round 1 of the USF2000 National Championship presented by Cooper Tires and powered by Mazda, leading all 20 laps on the St. Petersburg street circuit to record a 13.970-second victory over Patrick McKenna of Dublin, Ireland, who drives for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing.

Drivers from five different teams were represented in the top five and drivers from nine different countries comprised the top nine as the revitalized series staged its first race.  The series, which is part of both the Indy Racing League's Road to Indy program and the MAZDASPEED Motorsports driver development program, will hold the second half of its first doubleheader of the year tomorrow at 8 a.m. as a preliminary race to the IZOD IndyCar Series headliner at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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St. Petersburg IndyCar Saturday Notebook
James Davison, who competed in Firestone Indy Lights Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in 2008 and 2009, is at St. Petersburg this weekend working as a driver coach for Rodrigo Barbosa in Firestone Indy Lights and Milka Duno in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Davison is recovering from internal injuries suffered in a snowboarding accident in February.

JAMES DAVISON: "I'm just trying to make the best of my off time."

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Hinchcliffe wins Indy Lights pole in St. Pete
In Firestone Indy Lights qualifying, James Hinchcliffe earned his first career pole in the series with a top lap of 1:06.3497, 97.664. Rookie J.K. Vernay will join him on the front row after posting a top lap of 1:06.4814, 97.471.

Qualifying Saturday for the Grand Prix of St Petersburg Firestone Indy Lights event on the 1.8-mile Streets of St Petersburg Street Circuit, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (2) James Hinchcliffe,  1:06.3497 (97.664)
2.  (7) JK Vernay,  1:06.4814 (97.471)
3.  (29) Sebastian Saavedra,  1:06.6555 (97.216)
4.  (17) Jan Heylen,  1:06.6848 (97.174)
5.  (27) Martin Plowman,  1:06.9131 (96.842)
6.  (77) James Winslow,  1:06.9307 (96.817)
7.  (26) Charlie Kimball,  1:06.9909 (96.730)
8.  (40) Jonathan Summerton,  1:07.2259 (96.391)
9.  (49) Philip Major,  1:07.2481 (96.360)
10.  (10) Gustavo Yacaman,  1:07.4998 (96.000)
11.  (22) Adrian Campos Jr,  1:07.5035 (95.995)
12.  (6) Junior Strous,  1:07.6581 (95.776)
13.  (11) Pippa Mann,  1:07.8843 (95.457)
14.  (28) Stefan Wilson,  1:08.3320 (94.831)
15.  (4) Carmen Jorda,  1:08.8798 (94.077)
16.  (18) Rodrigo Barbosa,  no time (no speed)

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Mears to sub for Hamlin if needed
Casey Mears was selected Saturday to sub for #11-Denny Hamlin while he recovers from ACL surgery. It's a deal that came together in just a few days, but one Mears knows could relaunch a fledgling Cup career after going 1-for-6 in making races with underfunded Keyed-Up Motorsports  a deal that ended with a DNQ Friday. "It's just an opportunity I couldn't pass up," he said. "It's one of those deals where I could just be sitting on the pit box if Denny feels pretty good, but if he doesn't it's just a great opportunity to possibly get in a good car." It's also a chance to pair with an organization that would one day like to expand to four teams. "You see him in passing, and it's hi, hello, but I've never really spoken with those guys," he said. "So it's an opportunity for me to just kind of get to know those guys a little bit, and you never know what the future holds." Hamlin had high praise for Mears in his press conference Saturday morning, calling him "the best option to get a good finish" of all the drivers available in case he falters. If Hamlin's pain is overwhelming, the plan would be to run to the first caution, then have Mears take over for as many races as possible until his recovery's complete. "I think it means a lot to think your peers think of you that way," he claimed. "I think that hopefully if I can get in there, I can do a good job for them, and keep them in the running for where they want to be." In the meantime, Mears' relationship with Keyed-Up is expected to continue once his subbing is complete. He claims owner Raymond Key will run in the interim, although no driver has been selected to sub for him in the #90 Chevy as of yet. "I still want to run with those guys some more," he said. "Hopefully, I can get through this year and get something going rolling positive for 2011." Frontstretch


Ford Racing extends partnership with John Force
The No. 1 team in drag racing will continue to wear the Blue Oval through at least the 2014 season.

Ford Racing announced today an extension of its partnership with John Force Racing that will keep the Castrol and Auto Club Force Mustangs wearing the Ford oval through the 2014 NHRA Full Throttle Funny Car season. The successful Ford-Force partnership has set the standard for a manufacturer-team relationship in drag racing, and has crossed over from just the competition side to include engine development, chassis development and safety programs for the sport of drag racing.

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Power wins pole in St. Pete
Setting a new qualifying record, Penske driver Will Power has won the pole position for Sunday's Honda GP of St. Peters burg. Tony Kanaan was 2nd followed by Scott Dixon, Justin Wilson, Helio Castroneves and Marco Andretti. More to follow on Home Page.


Bernard under the gun to make decision on new car by June
Today we asked Randy Bernard whether or not June was doable to make a decision on the new IndyCar in order to have it out by the 2012 season.  He had this to say:

"The goal is to have a Request for Proposal (RFP) go out to the chassis manufacturers in about two weeks and give them a month to respond with a written and oral proposal to the advisory committee.  I am hoping that sometime in the middle of May we will sit down with each of them and then take a couple of weeks to digest all the information. There may also be other team owners and interested parties that will want to have input, but we will want a decision from the advisory committee in very early June.  I do not want to be the ultimate decider.  I do not want anyone to think that it was insider type of deal."

As to why he chose Gen. William Looney to lead the committee, Bernard's response was, "He is highly respected.  One his commands was modernizing the US Air Force aircraft.  Think about that, that is what we are trying to do, modernizing our car.  Speed, safety, technology, there are so many similarities, that is why I chose him.

"We need a new car but can the owners afford a new car.  Do we really need a new car at this point, except maybe it is a perception that we do.  As I said we have some momentum right now.  We have 24 cars here and I am told we will have 28 cars at Kansas.  40 to 45 cars are expected at Indy.  Can you imagine if we come out with this new car and then a few weeks later a few teams have to drop out because they cannot afford it, that would be a major negative impact for us.  The committee will have to look at that.  They may come back and say we have to wait until 2013" 


Power again on top in St. Pete practice 3
Pos Driver/Team No. Time Behind Gap
1 Will Power Team Penske 12 01:02.1206 --.---- --.----
2 E.J. Viso KV Racing Technology 8 01:02.3615 0.2409 0.2409
3 Ryan Briscoe Team Penske 6 01:02.5244 0.4038 0.1629
4 Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 22 01:02.5750 0.4544 0.0506
5 Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Racing 9 01:02.5923 0.4717 0.0173
6 Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 24 01:02.7343 0.6137 0.1420
7 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport 37 01:02.7936 0.6730 0.0593
8 Helio Castroneves Team Penske 3 01:02.8278 0.7072 0.0342
9 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport 26 01:02.8729 0.7523 0.0451
10 Dario Franchitti Target Chip Ganassi Racing 10 01:02.9231 0.8025 0.0502
11 Tony Kanaan Andretti Autosport 11 01:03.0325 0.9119 0.1094
12 Mario Romancini Conquest Racing 34 01:03.0746 0.9540 0.0421
13 Danica Patrick Andretti Autosport 7 01:03.1053 0.9847 0.0307
14 Hideki Mutoh Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing 06 01:03.1527 1.0321 0.0474
15 Dan Wheldon Panther Racing 4 01:03.1686 1.0480 0.0159
16 Alex Tagliani FAZZT Race Team 77 01:03.1857 1.0651 0.0171
17 Takuma Sato KV Racing Technology 5 01:03.2683 1.1477 0.0826
18 Graham Rahal Sarah Fisher Racing 67 01:03.2741 1.1535 0.0058
19 Vitor Meira A.J. Foyt Enterprises 14 01:03.3557 1.2351 0.0816
20 Raphael Matos de Ferran Luczo Dragon Racing 2 01:03.4015 1.2809 0.0458
21 Simona De Silvestro Team Stargate Worlds/HVM 78 01:03.7917 1.6711 0.3902
22 Mario Moraes KV Racing Technology 32 01:03.8429 1.7223 0.0512
23 Alex Lloyd Dale Coyne Racing 19 01:04.6201 2.4995 0.7772
24 Milka Duno Dale Coyne Racing 18 01:09.9729 7.8523 5.3528


Daly wins Star Mazda pole
American racer Conor Daly reprised his top-of-the-time-sheets performance from final practice on Friday and took the pole position in Saturday morning qualifying for Sunday's inaugural Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear race at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.  His lap of 1:10.352 (92.108) around the 1.8-mile, 14-turn St. Pete street circuit in the #22 Juncos Racing / INDECK / College Network / Merchant Services Ltd. / Tom Lange Co. Mazda now stands as the official Star Mazda track record and he will start from the inside of the front row. 

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Even more Saturday news briefs from Melbourne
(GMM) Photographers captured the scene immediately after qualifying when Michael Schumacher stooped to engage in conversation in parc ferme with Fernando Alonso, before the Ferrari driver had even got out of his red cockpit. The German later admitted he had also visited Charlie Whiting to complain about being blocked not only by Alonso but also McLaren's Lewis Hamilton. Pedro de la Rosa was reprimanded by stewards for impeding in practice, and Tonio Liuzzi said after qualifying that de la Rosa and Nico Hulkenberg didn't "seem to be able to use their rear view mirrors". De la Rosa told the media that F1 mirrors are located too far from the driver.


Sebastian Vettel's 1.23.9 pole on Saturday was the fastest ever timed lap of the Albert Park circuit since formula one arrived in Melbourne in 1996. The previous record - a 1.24.1 - was set with a Ferrari by Schumacher in 2004.


Schumacher aside, the only driver on the 2010 grid who is not a current member of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association is Force India's Adrian Sutil, who was a member in 2009. It is believed that all of the new drivers this year - Vitaly Petrov, Kamui Kobayashi, Nico Hulkenberg, Lucas di Grassi, Karun Chandhok and Bruno Senna - have signed up.


As for the "both cars" remark, it is believed he is referring to Mark Webber's smoky moment at the start of the 2010 season opener.


More Saturday news briefs from Melbourne
(GMM)  Timo Glock, who qualified 21st at Albert Park, is likely to start Sunday's Australian GP from the rear of the grid due to an unscheduled gearbox change.  It also emerges that, in addition to the 'small fuel tank' story, the Virgin car is struggling to run with relatively low levels of fuel, with Glock telling German media that he had to carry 25 kilograms of fuel effectively as ballast in qualifying due to the pick-up problem.


According to a Mercedes team member, it is likely to rain on Sunday for round two of the 2010 world championship.  But Ferrari engineer Chris Dyer, an Australian, added: "At the moment, the weather forecast is dry for the race, but we saw both yesterday and today that there is a real chance of short showers."


Sauber's Pedro de la Rosa was reprimanded by stewards, including Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen, after Saturday practice at Albert Park.  A statement said the Spanish veteran impeded another driver.


Massa cannot keep pace with faster teammate
Felipe Massa never threatened the front row of the Australian Grand Prix grid as he did in Bahrain, easily out-qualified by Ferrari teammate Fernando Alonso on his way to fifth place in Melbourne on Saturday.  Alonso also beat Massa in the race in Bahrain by drop kicking him on lap 1 and never looking back.

Although several drivers qualified in the same grid positions at Albert Park as at Sakhir two weeks ago, Massa was three places further back and will share the third row with Nico Rosberg's Mercedes after suffering issues with tire adhesion.

"Not the qualifying I was expecting, going into this Grand Prix," the Paulista admitted. "Ever since the temperature dropped, I have always struggled to find the best way of getting the tires up to temperature while yesterday morning, for example - when it was hotter - the situation was much better.

"With today's temperatures I had no grip, which is not particularly encouraging - let's hope it's a bit warmer tomorrow.

"In Free Practice 3 I really found it difficult but, come the end of qualifying, I still managed to get a reasonable result. It's definitely not ideal in terms of looking for a win but, all the same, I will try and bring home a good number of points."


Without Alonso, McLaren drivers struggle
Reigning World Champion Jenson Button is sure that McLaren is currently extracting the utmost from its MP4-25. Although teammate Lewis Hamilton suffered a difficult qualifying session at Albert Park on his way to 11th, last year's winner lines up on Row 2 alongside the Ferrari of championship leader Fernando Alonso. Having ended third free practice sixth, Button improved to fourth in qualifying but is disappointed to have not enjoyed a stronger running pace. It's clear that without Fernando Alonso there to tell the McLaren engineers what the car needs to improve, Hamilton and Button are like a ship without a paddle, clueless on how to get to the top.

"We had quite a difficult day," Jenson told the BBC. "For some reason there was less grip today than yesterday. In qualifying our pace was not good enough, if you look at the pace that the boys managed to drive at the front.

"During my last run the balance of the car was not as good as earlier in qualifying, so that was a little frustrating - I maybe lost a tenth because of that but I wouldn't have been higher up on the grid. We are currently getting the maximum we can from the car."


Groundwork for Long Beach Grand Prix nears its finish
Around the fountain in Long Beach
It's 25 days until the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach roars into town, and infrastructure preparations have shifted into high gear.  The 1.968 mile, temporary road course winds its way around the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center and The Pike. Concrete barriers are in place and grandstands are being built along south Pine Avenue, Seaside Way, Shoreline Drive and Aquarium Way.

Ticket prices for the three-day event are unchanged for the third consecutive year, running from $25 for a Friday general admission ticket to $125 for a three-day pass, which includes Saturday reserved seating in the grandstand upper levels.

Tickets already are selling well, and more than 170,000 spectators are expected to attend the Grand Prix, which is on track with last year's attendance, said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach.

Eighty-six percent of attendees reside in Southern California, while the remaining 14 percent travel here from the Central Valley, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Phoenix, Michaelian said.

For out-of-towners looking for lodging and restaurants, the Grand Prix's official Web site www.gplb.com has an in-depth list of dining and accommodations under "The Track" link.  Press Telegram


Domenicali: The car is the problem
Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali says Formula 1's teams are to discuss ways they can improve racing for 2011.  The season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix was widely criticized for a lack of overtaking, with many blaming new rules for producing a disappointing show.  But Domenicali says the cars are to blame and the issue will be discussed at the Malaysian GP next weekend.

"It is a problem that the teams and (governing body) the FIA need to solve now," the Italian said.

The Bahrain GP, which was won by Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, had very few overtaking opportunities, with many critics wondering if the new refueling ban and tire regulations had a negative impact.

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Charlie Glotzbach talks about Bristol wreck
Thursday, March 25 on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, host Claire B. Lang spoke with Charlie Glotzbach, who was injured in a wreck with Larry Pearson in the Showdown charity race at Bristol Motor Speedway last weekend. Glotzbach was released from the hospital on Wednesday.

Charlie Glotzbach: "That's the hardest hit that I've ever taken, and that was the first ride to the hospital from a race. I mean, all the walls I've hit, and wrecked, and I never got hurt. That was the first time I ever got hurt. So it had to be a hard, hard hit."

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Latest F1 news in brief - 2
  • Alonso - 'no idea' if he can beat Bulls
  • Virgin - other teams may have fuel tank problems
  • Whitmarsh suggests Red Bull ride-height system illegal
  • Williams targets China debut for own F-duct

Alonso - 'no idea' if he can beat Bulls
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso on Saturday shed no light on suggestions he might be able to challenge the Red Bulls for victory at Albert Park.

As in Bahrain two weeks ago, the Ferrari driver has qualified third, but the cars ahead of him on the Melbourne grid are both on-form Red Bulls led by back-to-back pole sitter Sebastian Vettel.

Asked if Ferrari's race pace might give him the edge on Sunday evening, the Spaniard answered: "No idea", but he did admit that beating the Renault powered cars "was a difficult thing to do here".

Local hero Webber, 33, was visibly disappointed with second on the grid, as he crassly likened the eight-hundredth gap to his young German teammate as a "bee's d**k".

After his brush with the police on Friday night, Lewis Hamilton was half a second slower than his McLaren teammate and missed the cut for the top ten.

His team boss Martin Whitmarsh told the BBC that the 'hoon' story had been "blown out of proportion" by the media, admitting that Hamilton "will be disappointed with his performance".

With a better showing than in Bahrain was Michael Schumacher, who despite still trailing his teammate Nico Rosberg said Melbourne has been "a little bit more fun" than his comeback event.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Saturday news briefs from Melbourne
  • Branson's 'Virgin won't go all the way' - headline
  • Underdog Mercedes has less manpower than rivals
  • Vettel, Massa, step into GPDA roles
  • Mutua Madrilena set for F1 return with Alonso
  • McLaren's Whitmarsh favors radical rule changes
  • Sydney admits push to take GP from Melbourne

Saturday news briefs from Melbourne
(GMM)  Mark Webber thrilled a big crowd of his countrymen at Albert Park on Saturday afternoon by setting the quickest time in the pre-qualifying practice session.  His Red Bull set more than one lap good enough for the top spot, two tenths ahead of Fernando Alonso's Ferrari as well as Michael Schumacher.


Melbourne's weather conditions are cooler, windier and darker than on Friday, and a forecast on the TV monitor in the media centre said showers are possible on Saturday for the time of qualifying.

John Travolta with Australian Mark Webber

Hollywood actor John Travolta, who is an ambassador for the race's title sponsor Qantas, arrived at Albert Park just before Saturday's practice session.  Travolta, who will wave the checkered flag late on Sunday, has his own 707 jet in the airline's 1960s livery.


With Saturday's paddock abuzz with news of Lewis Hamilton's brush with the local police, and the British media unsure whether to lambast or defend the 25-year-old, Mark Webber cheekily advised the 2008 world champion to take some driving tips "from Tiger Woods".  But Australian GP organizer Ron Walker defended Hamilton: "He spends a lot of his time talking to young people about road safety.  I think he can be forgiven for this indiscretion."


Nico Hulkenberg was fined EUR1800 for exceeding the pitlane speed limit by 8.6kph in Saturday's practice session.

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Slow on street circuits, Danica Patrick badmouths them
Danica Patrick is in her sixth season of IndyCar racing and has only a month of NASCAR experience, but as the IRL adds more street-course racing to its schedule, that decision could play a role in Patrick's future in racing.

"I don't think it's the greatest place for us to display excitement for the fans," Patrick said after a practice session Friday. "I just think we aren't as exciting as we could be on the road courses."

St. Petersburg was the first street race in IndyCar series history in 2005. The sixth edition of the local race is Sunday with action on the track beginning Friday. This year's 17-race schedule includes nine non-oval races.

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St. Petersburg GP Friday Notebook
St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster will wave the green flag to start the sixth Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Foster, 46, a longtime local attorney, was elected in 2009 to lead Florida's fourth-largest city. He succeeded Rick Baker, a former Indianapolis resident, who was instrumental in bringing the IZOD IndyCar Series race to the city streets.

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Australian GP - Friday - Press Conference
Ross BRAWN (Mercedes)
Stefano DOMENICALI (Ferrari)
Christian HORNER (Red Bull)
Martin WHITMARSH (McLaren).


Q. A question for you all. Was the result in Bahrain pretty much what you expected or were there some surprises?

Martin WHITMARSH: We didn't think we were going to be that slow. That was a surprise.

Q. But you still finished in the top three.

MW: Yes, we still finished. I think you would have expected the four teams represented here certainly to be at the top and they appear to be. Ferrari and Red Bull look very quick. Other than that I don't think there were any great surprises.

Q. But in the correct order?

MW: Well, not from my viewpoint, but it was good for Ferrari. They have obviously done a good job and Red Bull were very quick in qualifying, startlingly quick. I think we underperformed fairly severely in qualifying. We were a little bit more respectable in the race.

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Rain washes out Cup qualifying, grid set on points
Without turning a single qualifying lap Kevin Harvick captured the pole for two races at Martinsville Speedway Friday afternoon.

Persistent rain showers washed out time trials for both the Kroger 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race and the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500. Harvick was awarded the pole for both events by virtue of NASCAR’S points system.

“Obviously this is the place where if you’re going to have that happen (qualifying washed out) and start up front, this is the place you want to do it,” said Harvick, who is atop the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points . “But this is a good place to have that happen and I’m looking forward to both races.”

For the first time this season for either series, lineups were set according to the respective series' rulebooks. So Harvick will lead the 43-car field for the Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 to the green flag on Sunday.

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Conor Daly fastest in Star Mazda P2 at St. Pete
Conor Daly
Bringing to mind the old saying about cream always rising to the top, American Conor Daly jumped to the top of the time sheets in the Friday afternoon practice session for the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.  He wasn't the first driver to break into the 1:10s – that honor went to French racer Tristan Vautier, winner of last weekend's season-opener at Sebring – but Daly, the son of racing legend Derek Daly, laid down a best-of-session lap of 1:10.656 (91.712 mph) in his #22 Juncos Racing / INDECK / College Network / Merchant Services Ltd. / Tom Lange Co. Mazda.  Daly won from the pole at New Jersey last season, and finished 3rd in the championship.  Vautier, also second-quick in the morning session on a damp track, was just .120-sec behind with a lap of 1:10.776 (91.556 mph) in the #38 Andersen Racing / Moulin TP / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais Mazda.

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tv news

Wind Tunnel Sunday
Featured Interview  Jeff Burton (Veteran Sprint CUP Driver, Richard Childress Racing) Veteran Sprint CUP driver, Jeff Burton, will be a featured interview on Wind Tunnel this Sunday March 28th. After a year in which no Richard Childress Racing car made the Chase for the Sprint CUP, all three RCR drivers currently find themselves in the top 12 with Kevin Harvick having led the points the past 4 weeks.

We’ll talk to Jeff about this apparent turnaround and get his thoughts on NASCAR going back to the rear spoiler which returns to CUP competition this week in Martinsville.

Featured Interviews  Humpy Wheeler (Former President and GM, Charlotte Motor Speedway) Andrew Smith (2009 Humpy’s Heroes Champion) Former Charlotte Motor Speedway president, Humpy Wheeler, will also be a guest on Wind Tunnel this Sunday. We’ll talk to Humpy about his new book and get the latest on his driver competition, Humpy’s Heroes.

This Week’s Races

Sprint CUP and Camping World Trucks in Martinsville
Formula 1 in Australia
IndyCar in St. Petersburg, FL
NHRA in Charlotte for the 4-Wide Nationals
AMA Supercross in Jacksonville, FL
AMA Superbike in Fontana, CA
World Superbike in Portugal


Delayed: Cup qualifying
Rain brought an early end to the final Truck practice at Martinsville and has delayed Cup qualifying. It's still raining but NASCAR is optimistic the cars will hit the track.

Ryan Newman, the pole winner here at Martinsville Speedway last fall, set the fast lap among NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Friday in the day’s lone practice session for Sunday’s Goody’s 500.

Newman (Stewart-Haas Racing) turned a quick lap of 96.934 mph to edge Mark Martin (Hendrick Motorsports) at 96.852 mph.

Marcos Ambrose (JTG Daugherty Racing), Jeff Gordon (Hendrick) and Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing) rounded out the top five.


Power tops opening IndyCar practice in St. Petersburg
Rank No Name Laps Gap Diff Best Lap Best Lap Time
1 12 Will Power 15 --.---- --.---- 11 1:03.6471
2 10 Dario Franchitti 18 0.0032 0.0032 11 1:03.6503
3 6 Ryan Briscoe 12 0.1332 0.1364 7 1:03.7836
4 3 Helio Castroneves 16 0.0375 0.1739 11 1:03.8211
5 06 Hideki Mutoh 26 0.1896 0.3635 26 1:04.0107
6 11 Tony Kanaan 16 0.0636 0.4271 10 1:04.0742
7 9 Scott Dixon 19 0.0802 0.5073 17 1:04.1544
8 37 Ryan Hunter-Reay 16 0.0777 0.5850 9 1:04.2322
9 22 Justin Wilson 16 0.2618 0.8468 12 1:04.4940
10 5 Takuma Sato 29 0.1670 1.0138 28 1:04.6610
11 67 Graham Rahal 25 0.0744 1.0882 18 1:04.7353
12 26 Marco Andretti 25 0.0185 1.1067 13 1:04.7539
13 77 Alex Tagliani 13 0.0311 1.1378 10 1:04.7849
14 4 Dan Wheldon 18 0.0581 1.1959 14 1:04.8431
15 24 Mike Conway 20 0.1374 1.3333 6 1:04.9805
16 19 Alex Lloyd 18 0.0345 1.3678 12 1:05.0150
17 7 Danica Patrick 20 0.1616 1.5294 20 1:05.1765
18 14 Vitor Meira 25 0.0000 1.5294 10 1:05.1765
19 8 EJ Viso 7 0.0172 1.5466 7 1:05.1937
20 34 Mario Romancini 21 0.0493 1.5959 19 1:05.2430
21 2 Raphael Matos 16 0.0572 1.6531 8 1:05.3002
22 78 Simona de Silvestro 23 0.1213 1.7744 18 1:05.4215
23 32 Mario Moraes 23 0.1695 1.9439 13 1:05.5910
24 18 Milka Duno 31 6.1539 8.0978 30 1:11.7450


Video: Rahal and Fisher in St. Pete


Anders Krohn tops opening Star Mazda practice
Familiar names topped the time sheet the first time ever that the cars and drivers of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear took to the streets at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix.  Leading the list was Anders Krohn, pole-sitter for the Sebring season-opener last weekend.  His lap of 1:11.798 (90.253 mph) in the #47 Andersen Racing / Norse Cutting & Abandonment / Trallfa / Colosseum Mazda sets a bar that is likely to be raised later today during the afternoon session from 4:00 – 4:40 pm.  Second on the sheet, just .014-sec. behind, was Sebring race winner Tristan Vautier, who turned a lap of 1:11.812 (90.236 mph) in his #38 Andersen Racing / Moulin TP / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais Mazda.  And rounding out the top-3 was Venezuelan Jorge Goncalvez, who qualified 7th and finished 2nd at Sebring in the #9 Team Apex / Wabash Capital Investments Mazda.  He turned a lap of 1:12.329 (89.591 mph) around the 1.8-mile, 14-turn course.

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IndyCar practice No. 1 underway
AR1.com is live from St. Petersburg, Florida where the first IndyCar practice session is underway under partly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-70s.  Early leaders part way through the session are as follows..... but times are going down every lap.


No Name Laps Gap Diff Best Lap Time
1 11 Tony Kanaan 6 --.---- --.---- 1:04.3007
2 10 Dario Franchitti 7 0.1110 0.1110 1:04.4116
3 22 Justin Wilson 8 0.1051 0.2161 1:04.5168
4 9 Scott Dixon 5 0.0800 0.2961 1:04.5968
5 26 Marco Andretti 12 0.2597 0.5558 1:04.8564
6 12 Will Power 4 0.0604 0.6162 1:04.9168
7 24 Mike Conway 8 0.0636 0.6798 1:04.9805
8 37 Ryan Hunter-Reay 5 0.0253 0.7051 1:05.0057
9 67 Graham Rahal 12 0.0526 0.7577 1:05.0584
10 14 Vitor Meira 12 0.1182 0.8759 1:05.1765
11 06 Hideki Mutoh 12 0.0442 0.9201 1:05.2207
12 2 Raphael Matos 8 0.0795 0.9996 1:05.3002
13 4 Dan Wheldon 8 0.0142 1.0138 1:05.3144
14 19 Alex Lloyd 9 0.1194 1.1332 1:05.4338
15 5 Takuma Sato 14 0.1282 1.2614 1:05.5621
16 32 Mario Moraes 13 0.0290 1.2904 1:05.5910
17 6 Ryan Briscoe 3 0.0783 1.3687 1:05.6693
18 7 Danica Patrick 6 0.7728 2.1415 1:06.4422
19 78 Simona de Silvestro 11 0.2057 2.3472 1:06.6479
20 34 Mario Romancini 7 0.1175 2.4647 1:06.7654
21 3 Helio Castroneves 4 0.3593 2.8240 1:07.1247
22 77 Alex Tagliani 3 4.3932 7.2172 1:11.5178
23 18 Milka Duno 17 2.0038 9.2210 1:13.5216
24 8 EJ Viso 0 0.0000 0.0000 0:00.0000

track news

Photos of Silverstone modifications


Peter Sauber says F-duct not copied from McLaren
(GMM)  Adrian Newey has expressed surprise at how quickly Sauber was able to implement an 'F-duct' solution without breaking F1's chassis homologation rules.

Just two weeks after the air duct system was cleared to race on McLaren's 2010 car in Bahrain, a similar version was tested aboard Sauber's C29 car on Friday morning in Melbourne.

As it happened, the Swiss team had a troublesome day with unrelated wing and technical problems, and so the system - activated by the Sauber drivers' hand and knee - will not reappear on the car until practice in Malaysia in a week.

But with Sauber now one of the smallest and least-sponsored teams in pitlane, Red Bull's designer Newey is amazed the system has been implemented in mere days.

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Police charge Hamilton after Melbourne burnouts
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton was on Friday night charged by local police after he was caught doing smoky burnouts and 'fish-tailing' in a Mercedes road car near the Albert Park circuit.

At 9.15pm in St Kilda, within sight of the turn 13 section of the formula one circuit, the 2008 world champion was pulled over by a Victorian Police divisional van.

We reported earlier on Friday that the 25-year-old McLaren driver's company car this weekend is a silver 2010 E500 saloon.

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Even more Friday news briefs from Melbourne
(GMM) The two McLarens were first and second in Friday's rain-affected final practice session, but team boss Martin Whitmarsh vowed to not "get carried away" by the performance. But Lewis Hamilton told reporters: "It (the car) feels better than probably it has ever felt here at this track."


Sauber removed the McLaren-style 'F-duct' from its C29 car after the first Friday morning practice session in Melbourne. "It's not an easy system to get working properly," said Pedro de la Rosa, who revealed that the plan is to have the innovation up and running "in the next few races". The Swiss team also said Kamui Kobayashi's second front wing problem on Friday was the result of "damage earlier to the wing".

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Force is game for 4-wide drags
On the eve of the NHRA’s inaugural 4-Wide Nationals at Bruton Smith’s ZMax Dragway, drag racing icon John Force told his team that this week’s four-lane competition isn’t rocket science.  The thing to remember, said the 14-time champion, is that just because everything’s different, doesn’t mean anything’s changed.

As strange as that may sound, it contains a profound truth, which is that no matter how advanced the technology, no matter how many opponents are lined up on either side, no matter what the configuration of the Christmas Tree starting system, the basic premise remains the same and that is to get one’s car to the finish line ahead of all the others.

Over 35 years, Force has done that better than anyone in history, getting to the finish line first 1,047 times, which is one of the reasons the 60-year-old legend has been installed as the pre-race favorite in a suddenly resurgent Castrol GTX High Mileage Ford Mustang that celebrates his 25-year association with BP/Castrol.

Force also gets a nod for being part of last fall’s four-wide experiment at ZMax in which he lost out to then teammate Mike Neff, who now is part of the 127-time tour winners’ mechanical brain trust along with Hall of Fame crew chiefs Austin Coil and
Bernie Fedderly.

Throw in Force’s penchant for winning the sport’s big events (the 50th Anniversary NHRA Nationals, the 50th annual Kragen O’Reilly Winternationals, the inaugural Winston Showdown in which Funny Cars and Top Fuel dragsters competed against one another) and his new willingness to embrace change and 4-Wide has “Force” written all over it.


Former champion Rigon returns to Superleague Formula
Davide Rigon will return to Superleague Formula by Sonangol this season with Belgian side RSC Anderlecht in a bid to reclaim the crown he won two years ago.

The Italian was the series’ very first champion back in 2008 when he steered Chinese club Beijing Guoan to the title, before moving to Olympiacos for the first three races of last season.

Anderlecht meanwhile have proven one of the most consistent performers in Superleague Formula over the past two seasons after finishing sixth and fourth overall in the league standings, Yelmer Buurman claiming the club’s first victory at the final round in Jarama last year.

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Logano prefers an Audi
No. 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Joey Logano drove an Audi R8 to both days of the Charlotte open test this week.  We guess they don't pay him enough to drive a Toyota.


More Friday news briefs from Melbourne
(GMM)  Intermittent rain affected the second 90 minutes of practice at Albert Park late on Friday afternoon.  In front of 68,000 Australians, the two McLarens were quickest ahead of Mark Webber and Michael Schumacher, but Ferrari - who did not have a car higher than 15th - said the rain made the real pace "difficult to assess".


Flavio Briatore has told Italian car magazine Quattroruote that he is still managing F1 drivers Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber.


Ferrari's F1 race drivers are easy to spot when not at Albert Park this weekend -- they are both using the striking $330,000 Maserati Quattroporte Sport GT S as their company cars in Melbourne.  Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher each have a Mercedes C63 AMG at their disposal, Lewis Hamilton is driving an E500 saloon, and Bernie Ecclestone is getting about in a Mercedes S350.

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Hamilton tops wet practice 2 in Melbourne
Lewis Hamilton
The McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button topped the timesheets on the second session of Friday practice for the Australian Grand Prix, but again the session was largely meaningless because the track was wet for a portion of the session.

After the warm morning session, the afternoon was much cooler in Melbourne - and, with just seconds to go before the green light, the rain came down. A couple of cars made it out on dry tires but within a lap the track was too wet to continue.

The first shower was brief and, as the track dried out, cars were back out on slicks again after 20 minutes, only for the rain to return ten minutes later. This time the shower persisted, meaning the teams were limited to wet running until the very end of the session.

Home favorite Mark Webber’s Red Bull took third place in the last few minutes, just ahead of Michael Schumacher who moved up to fourth on the drying line. The rest of the times were all set early on.


Pos Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:25.801 +0.000 13
2. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:26.076 +0.275 16
3. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:26.248 +0.447 22
4. Schumacher Mercedes 1:26.511 +0.710 16
5. Petrov Renault 1:26.732 +0.931 26
6. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:26.832 +1.031 29
7. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:26.834 +1.033 22
8. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:26.835 +1.034 17
9. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:26.904 +1.103 25
10. Rosberg Mercedes 1:26.956 +1.155 22
11. Kubica Renault 1:27.108 +1.307 28
12. de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1:27.108 +1.307 25
13. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:27.455 +1.654 23
14. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:27.545 +1.744 25
15. Alonso Ferrari 1:29.025 +3.224 20
16. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:29.134 +3.333 19
17. Massa Ferrari 1:29.591 +3.790 21
18. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:29.860 +4.059 15
19. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:30.510 +4.709 43
20. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:30.695 +4.894 17
21. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:32.117 +6.316 9
22. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth - - 2
23. Chandhok HRT-Cosworth - - 1
24. Senna HRT-Cosworth - - 0


Kubica tops practice 1 in Melbourne
Robert Kubica
Robert Kubica’s Renault set pace in the first session of practice for the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne that was pretty much a track cleaning session.

As usual it’s far too early to draw any conclusions so the fact Kubica was on top is completely meaningless.

Nico Rosberg was 2nd fastest time, again ahead of teammate Michael Schumacher who was 12th. The seven-time world champion nonetheless looked much happier.


Pos Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Kubica Renault 1:26.927 + 0.000 22
2. Rosberg Mercedes 1:27.126 + 0.199 18
3. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.482 + 0.555 22
4. Massa Ferrari 1:27.511 + 0.584 18
5. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:27.686 + 0.759 23
6. Alonso Ferrari 1:27.747 + 0.820 21
7. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.793 + 0.866 22
8. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:28.014 + 1.087 21
9. Petrov Renault 1:28.114 + 1.187 25
10. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:28.192 + 1.265 18
11. di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:28.537 + 1.610 25
12. Schumacher Mercedes 1:28.550 + 1.623 19
13. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:28.572 + 1.645 21
14. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:28.683 + 1.756 22
15. de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1:29.465 + 2.538 13
16. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:29.712 + 2.785 18
17. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:30.249 + 3.322 26
18. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:31.588 + 4.661 5
19. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:31.652 + 4.725 13
20. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:31.654 + 4.727 26
21. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:32.831 + 5.904 25
22. Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1:33.401 + 6.474 24
23. Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:34.251 + 7.324 19
24. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:34.924 + 7.998 8


Friday news briefs from Melbourne
(GMM)  It was meant to be a demonstration of the sporting prowess of the Clio 200, but Renault's Robert Kubica burned out the road car's clutch on Thursday at the Sandown Raceway outside Melbourne.  Luckily, a (albeit unbranded) spare car was on standby, as the Polish driver admitted he is not used to driving a manual gearbox.


The pitlane speed limit for qualifying and the race has been reduced from 100kph to just 60kph in Melbourne.


Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg has admitted he has to watch what he says now that Michael Schumacher is his F1 teammate.  "I can't afford bad headlines against one of the best of all time who has a huge following," said the 24-year-old.  But as for actually sharing a garage with the great 41-year-old, Rosberg added: "I'd heard so many bad things about being his teammate, but it's been really good until now."

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Virgin confirms 2010 car fuel tank too small
(GMM)  Virgin has confirmed reports that the FIA has given the British team approval to fit a new fuel tank in the VR-01 car.

German reports late on Thursday said that, despite the homologation of F1 chassis this year, technical boss Nick Wirth made the application because the current tank will not carry enough fuel for the whole race distance.

Wirth did not admit that the current tank is definitely too small, but did say its size is "marginal".

"We are pleased that the FIA has granted us this permission," he said in Melbourne, adding that the revised car should be introduced in the early European season in May.

The substantial chassis modification, with the fuel tank size to increase by an expected 15-20 liters, will require it to pass new FIA crash tests.


Ecclestone predicts long second career for Schu
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone does not expect Michael Schumacher to re-enter retirement at the end of his new three-year Mercedes contract.

After spending the 2007, 2008 and 2009 seasons on the sidelines in the wake of his ultra-successful first career, the 41-year-old decided to return to the sport this season.

He has signed a three-year deal, and the German indicated in Melbourne on Thursday that he will return to his retirement when that period is over.

When explaining why he has not rejoined the Grand Prix Drivers' Association, Schumacher said: "I'm not here for the long-term future, only for a limited time, (so) I don't think I should get involved."

But Ecclestone, F1's chief executive, thinks Schumacher will change his mind.

"I think his new career will be long, maybe even ten years," said the 79-year-old Briton in an interview with Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport.

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Heidfeld takes over as GPDA chairman
(GMM)  Nick Heidfeld is the new chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA).

With Pedro de la Rosa wanting to step back now that he has rejoined the grid after several years as a test driver, the safety-oriented body met in the Albert Park paddock and voted in Heidfeld.

German Heidfeld, 32, is a veteran of 169 grands prix, and this year is spending the year as Mercedes' reserve driver after failing to secure a race seat.

The news was confirmed and endorsed by Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen to the Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat.


Renault not taking blame for Vettel problem
(GMM)  A broken spark plug was the "symptom, not the cause" of the problem aboard Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull in Bahrain two weeks ago.

That is the information of a spokesman for the team's engine supplier Renault, according to the Cologne publication Express.

Vettel, 22, said on Thursday that the problem had been traced to a broken tip at the top of a Champion spark plug fitted to his V8 engine.

But Renault's engine technical boss Ron White also said the actual cause of the problem remains "a mystery".


Rain at start of second Friday F1 practice
(GMM)  A rain shower disrupted the start of the second 90-minute practice session late on Friday afternoon.

The rain was not heavy but nonetheless significant, resulting in the cars waiting in their pit garages for better weather.

"No point in running now, the track is neither fully wet nor ok for slicks," said Ferrari.

Also on Twitter, Lotus' Mike Gascoyne added: "Looks like more rain coming."

Meanwhile, Renault's Vitaly Petrov was fined EUR7000 after breaking the 60kph speed limit in first practice by a whopping 34.6kph.


Broken front wings for Kobayashi in practice
(GMM)  Sauber had a disastrous start to its Australian grand prix on Friday, with two wings at the front of Kamui Kobayashi's C29 breaking in the first practice session.

In warm and sunny weather at the Albert Park circuit, the Japanese rookie was to blame for the first breakage and red flag, when he ran over the curb at the fast turn 11 and hit the corner cone.

But later, with a spare fitted, the wing appeared to break on its own in the middle of the supports as he approached the braking zone for turn 3.

Concerned FIA official Jo Bauer visited the Swiss team's garage for an explanation, but it is said that Sauber team members are not sure what caused the problems.

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