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Haug continues to make excuses for sorry Mercedes team  Norbert Haug has labeled the season-opening Australian Grand Prix weekend as the most frustrating yet for Mercedes Grand Prix. The Stuttgart manufacturer, which rejoined Formula 1 as a factory outfit last season, witnessed Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg retiring within two laps of each other.

With Rosberg having been taken out of the action by Williams’ Rubens Barrichello, Schumacher was finally forced to pit and abandon his car on the 21st tour following first-lap contact with Jaime Alguersuari, also at Turn 3.

“This was the toughest weekend of our 20 races as Mercedes GP,” said Haug, Vice President for Mercedes-Benz Motorsport.  More ...

Massa defends his racing etiquette  
Felipe Massa
Felipe Massa says he had a "good fight" with Jenson Button in Australia, even if it did result in the Brit being rather upset with Ferrari.

Immediately after he ran off the track, Button told his team via his radio that Massa had "forced me off the circuit."

Later he told journalists: "He pushed me wide. I couldn't go around the corner anymore, so I cut it. I was in front before I entered the corner and then I didn't know what to do." More ...

track news
Bruton Smith and Frances solidify their controlling interests  
Bruton Smith, smiling all the way to the bank
The ownership structure and executive salaries for the two major NASCAR track ownership groups were recently filed as part of proxy statements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to the filings, little has changed in who owns what as the France family controls International Speedway Corp. and Bruton Smith controls Speedway Motorsports Inc. Both entities have slightly increased just how much control they have in the last year, however.

Smith owns 69.8 percent of SMI voting stock (worth an estimated $447 million), compared with 68.8 percent a year ago. That includes what Smith owns in his Sonic Financial Corporation, which owns 57 percent of the SMI stock. More ...

Remi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 Q&A  
A perfect start to the season for Renault Sport F1, with a pole position and win for the RS27 with partners Red Bull Racing. How did this race weekend go for the RSF1 team?
I think it went very smoothly and as planned for the team. We finished exactly on target, with a pole position and two out of the three podium positions with Red Bull Racing and Lotus Renault GP. The Renault RS27 engine performed very well and although it wasn’t easy throughout the weekend with the high level of competition, we achieved our aims and scored more points than any of the other engine manufacturers. It’s fair to say that everyone at Renault Sport F1 contributed to this result so thanks to all of them.

Sebastian Vettel won the race and Mark Webber also had a strong GP, coming home in fifth. Do you think Red Bull is looking as strong as last year already?
The Red Bull Renault partnership is very strong and is certainly building on the results of the previous years. Sebastian drove a perfect race and used the RS27 very well to easily win the first race of the year. Mark had a good race and it was unfortunate that he lost out in the last pit stop to Fernando. For sure there is more to come. If we look at the first race we know we are strong, but we know we will have to keep pushing on to stay ahead as the others will want to close that gap. There are a lot of competitive teams in the field today but all the elements are there for Red Bull to repeat this form in Malaysia. More ...

Quotes of the Week  Quotes of the Week after the IndyCar carnage in St. Petersburg:

"The problem is, they have so many cars bunched in such a tight space," runner-up Will Power said. " … I think this is just going to continue every race, and then it's just going to be people getting knocked out every single restart."

Series officials made the final restart rule decision, but race winner Dario Franchitti, who said Saturday that, "they consulted us about five minutes before they did it," pointed out Sunday that owners wanted the change, too.

"So there's probably a few of them sitting there scratching their heads just now looking at bills for lots and lots of carbon fiber and going, 'Why didn't I ever think of that?' " he said.

racing news
Driver helmet improvement as a result of Massa accident  
After Felipe Massa's accident in the summer of 2009, the FIA Institute has investigated various ways to improve protection in the frontal area and more particularly the visors of the helmets used in F1. The FIA Institute made various studies with the collaboration of the F1 helmets manufacturers. A series of tests were carried out in 2010 and the results were approved by the WMC on March 8, 2011. These lead to the introduction of a new device called "Visor Panel" with immediate effect. As of today, the use of the visor panel is highly recommended by the FIA and it should become mandatory at a later date.

Bell Racing is proud to have been the first helmet manufacturer in the world to introduce the new Visor Panel during the tests in Abu Dhabi as early as mid-November 2010 when Robert Kubica validated the design and the aerodynamic effect of the added part. Later on, 2011 racing drivers Vitaly Petrov, Sébastien Buemi, Jarno Trulli, Sergio Perez and Jérôme D'Ambrosio tested the part successfully in Barcelona. More ...

More on Jennifer Jo Cobb soap opera  UPDATE By now, you've certainly heard the story of Jennifer Jo Cobb, the driver who dramatically stormed away from her car just minutes before the Nationwide race at Bristol Motor Speedway because she was told that she would have to pull off the track just shortly after the race started to preserve the car.

That episode earned Cobb a ride with Rick Ware Racing for Saturday's Nationwide race at Auto Club Speedway. Cobb qualified 40th and on lap 20 she spun off of turn four towards the infield. The spin flattened her tires and her splitter dug into the grass but the damage was minimal.

19 laps later -- and 11 laps after she received the Lucky Dog on the next caution -- Cobb was out of the race. The official reason on the NASCAR score sheet? Handling, a common reason for retirement listed by many cars that start-and-park, the exact practice that Cobb protested at Bristol. (If you're new to NASCAR, starting and parking is a practice of qualifying for a race and pulling off of the track in the early laps to save money on tires, engine wear and crew costs, among other things.) More ...

IndyCar embarrassed itself on network TV  UPDATE Another reader writes, Regarding all the accidents that will probably occur this year due to the double wide restarts, perhaps IndyCar should start putting the car numbers on the undertray of the cars so they can be identified faster when they flip! Janice Mathers, Austin, Texas

03/28/11 Dear AutoRacing1.com, You have probably received hundreds of e-mails about the double file restarts. Let me ask you this- In 2007, Tony Cotman inserted standing starts for all of Champ Car's races. There were two pre-season tests that year, one at Sebring, the other at Laguna Seca. I attended the Laguna Seca test and I remember anywhere from 8-12 cars practicing standing starts at the end of each day for a good 30-45 minutes, making several attempts at them. Some drivers had never done them before, so it would make sense to have some dry runs before having the first race of the year.

Did Brian Barnhart, Kevin Blanch, and the rest of the intelligent IndyCar officials think to practice the double file restarts (bunching together, the acceleration line, and a tight first corner which is what most road and street circuits have) at the Barber test prior to St. Pete yesterday? The opening 15 laps were an embarrassment to the entire series. This was one of their ESPN/ABC races, where they get better ratings than on Versus, and that is how they start the season!? It was amateur hour at its finest. And these are the fastest and best drivers in the world? What a poor representation by the series when they can't start the season without taking out 5-7 cars, where 4 of them might have factored into the race. NASCAR can start their season without incident as can F1 cars, which are far more superior than the current Dallara. Another black eye for IndyCar which is a real shame, considering this is the most positive the off-season has been in a number of years. Brandon Stevens

Dear Brandon, I am not aware that they did any practice because it was felt all races begin double file so the drivers have had plenty of practice.  However, historically on the street and road circuits the starts have been problematic, both for IndyCar as well as Champ Car.  St. Pete in particular has almost always had an accident in the first corner.  Why?  Because with a rolling start the drivers behind have a bigger head of steam than the drivers in the front and come barreling into the first corner only to find that what they thought was a hole is no longer there.  It is the main reason why AR1.com campaigned so hard for standing starts in Champ Car.  And guess what?  It worked - the standing starts were not only a hit with fans, they cut down on first corner accidents because all cars started at the same speed - zero, and hence arrived at the first corner at a slower speed (less chance of a mistake) and there was less speed differential between the front of the grid and the back.

So historically double file rolling starts result in accidents at the first corner.  So what did IndyCar do?  They basically said "let's do double file restarts too."  In essence they said let's see if what does not work for starts might somehow work for restarts.  Not.  As you read on these very pages when the rule was announced, double file restarts on street and road circuits is going to result in a lot of carnage.  And it did.  We would reserve them for oval tracks only. 

Since, under Tony Cotman, the new IndyCar is being designed to do standing starts, and if you told me they would do both starts and restarts from a standstill, then, and only then will double file restarts work for non-oval races.  Mark C.

Auto Club Speedway Draws More Than 85,000 For Lone Cup Race  The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 drew "more than 70,000 customers in the grandstand Sunday, as well as an estimated 15,000 more in the suites and the infield campground," according to Jim Alexander of the Riverside PRESS-ENTERPRISE. More ...
Both Dreyer & Reinbold drivers suffer similar fate  INDYCAR director of medical services Dr. Michael Olinger said that Dreyer & Reinbold drivers Justin Wilson and Ana Beatriz suffered hand injuries during the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Beatriz will have surgery Tuesday, March 29 on her fractured scaphoid bone (wrist), which was incurred during the fifth lap in Turn 5 when the car made contact with the No. 38 car driven by Graham Rahal. The Brazilian soldiered through the race as she advanced six positions and brought the car home in 14th place. More ...

ALMS hides hard numbers on Sebring broadcast viewership  
The near-record raceweek crowd was not the only one watching the 59th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida. On the strength of a new multi-faceted broadcast and digital package with ABC and ESPN, the first round of the 2011 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n set an all-time viewership record for the event. The number of households and viewers watching America’s oldest sports car race on ABC, ESPN2 and ESPN3.com was more than three times the next-highest total which occurred during the 2009 season. More ...
Port of Long Beach Returns To Sponsor Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach  The Port of Long Beach and the sport of auto racing have something special in common.

In 1911 – the same year Ray Harroun won the inaugural Indianapolis 500 – the first ship docked at the Port with a load of redwood lumber from Northern California and was unloaded by hand onto mule-drawn wagons!

The Port’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2011 includes its sponsorship of the 37th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which will feature the cars and stars of the IZOD Indy Car Series….the same cars that will race in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 100th Anniversary race May 29. “It’s a unique tie-in, and another reason to celebrate how important the continuing support of the Port of Long Beach has been to us,” said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach.  More ...

Wilson, Beatriz medical update  INDYCAR director of medical services Dr. Michael Olinger said that Dreyer & Reinbold drivers Justin Wilson and Ana Beatriz suffered hand injuries during the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Beatriz will have surgery March 29 on her fractured scaphoid bone (wrist). Beatriz completed the race in the No. 24 Ipiranga/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car, advancing six positions from her starting spot to finish 14th.

Wilson, driver of the No. 22 TransSystems/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car, has a small fracture of a wrist bone and will be fitted with a special carbon fiber brace, according to Olinger. Wilson started sixth and finished 10th.

Dempsey draws rave reviews in debut  Irish rookie Peter Dempsey didn't win his Firestone Indy Lights debut, but he came away with a well-earned podium finish at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg season opener.

The Irishman had qualified fifth after suffering minor damage to his car in qualifying but quickly made up for it in the race; he surged past four cars on the first turn of the first lap of the race in a well-calculated move and went on the lead the next 11 laps of the 45-lap event.

After a hard-fought race, Dempsey brought his No. 36 Pulse/Microbiology International car home to a solid third-place finish.

"This was a dream start to my Firestone Indy Lights season," said Dempsey. "I have had so little seat time not just in the Firestone Indy Lights car but in any car over the past year and a half. We were really just going into the weekend hoping to finish in the top-five positions at best. After the first two practice sessions, we realized we had a competitive car that could possibly fight for a podium finish. Unfortunately, I made a small mistake in qualifying, which cost us a front-row start. I told the guys before the race that I would make up for it and aim to be leading by the end of lap one. Somehow, I managed to be leading by the end of corner one. It was great to lead my first Firestone Indy Lights race from the get-go, and to feel the pressure of the three guys behind me was a great experience." More ...

De Silvestro serves notice of streets of St. Pete  Slowly navigating the sea of post-race revelers on her green and white scooter on the way to an unscheduled news conference, Simona de Silvestro smiled as wide as the Alps and waved occasionally to acknowledge the applause and congratulatory shouts.

Additional praise for her entertaining duel with veteran Tony Kanaan and subsequent career-best fourth-place finish was heaped on upon her arrival at the Mahaffey Theatre as fans mingled under the late-day canopy of shade.

With such affirmation, she entered the theater. For a few minutes, the stage was hers.

Spectators stood and cheered during the spirited battle for third place in the closing laps of the seventh Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. De Silvestro, who started 17th in the No. 78 Nuclear Clean Energy/HVM Racing car, ran as high as second to eventual race winner Dario Franchitti following a Lap 13 restart. Running fourth after her final service stop, de Silvestro rode the gearbox of Kanaan's No. 82 GEICO KV Racing Technology-Lotus entry into the corners of the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit but couldn't overtake the 2004 series champion. More ...

racing news
David E. Davis dies  UPDATE You can read a touching tribute about David E. Davis Jr. on AutoWeek

David E. Davis Jr.
David E. Davis, journalist ,author, magazine founder, advertising executive, raconteur and friend passed away Sunday, March 27th at age 80 after a complicated operation which he faced with courage and confidence.

With his  passing the world of automotive journalism has lost one of its great  legendary characters.  During his long productive life in the fast lane of cars and motorsports he made his mark in many fields, for me he will forever be the man who took over Car and Driver magazine in the early 60s and made it into a world-class irreverent journal of note. He launched  the tongue in cheek  "Gurney for President"  campaign in 1964 which was an enormous success with  American motorsports fans  and is but one example  of David's many fabulous PR  ideas born out of enthusiasm and love for our sport at a time when the sport and we were young. He was a giant in his field and we will miss him. Dan Gurney

Risky Renault exhaust pays dividends  Renault boss Eric Boullier believes Vitaly Petrov's podium finish at the Australian Grand Prix is proof that the R31's pioneering exhaust layout has paid off.

Renault stole the headlines at the opening winter test at Valencia when it became apparent that the car's exhausts were exiting from the front of the sidepods rather than the conventional position at the rear. The idea is to energize the flow of air under the car's floor with hot gases, helping to feed the diffuser and create more downforce.

At the time the team admitted it was a risky development due to the potential for overheating issues and Boullier admitted it was a "relief" to see it work at the first race. More ...

Q and A with Vitaly Petrov  
Vitaly Petrov
Vitaly Petrov shares his thoughts after achieving his first top-three result in Australia and becoming the first Russian to visit the F1 podium...

Q: Vitaly, congratulations: your first Formula One podium in your 20th grand prix start. Tell us how you are feeling right now?
VP: I feel ecstatic. It was a great feeling to be standing on the podium in front of my team, especially knowing what we have all been through over the winter with some very difficult moments. It shows that all the hard work and effort was worth it and I have to say thanks to everyone for giving me such a great car. I feel really good and I know we can have a great season.

Q: The car looked competitive right from the start of the weekend...
VP: It's true. All weekend was pretty good for us and the new parts we brought here worked well. It was the moment when we finally got some answers on where we stand compared to the others. The car was quick, there were no problems at all, and the team did everything perfectly. We can be proud of our result today. Also, we did not get this result thanks to a crazy race : there's been no safety car, no shunt, no rain. We got this podium on pure merit. After all the criticism I got last year, it's great to set the record straight. More ...

Another American to have a go at GP3  
Gabby Chaves
American rising star Gabby Chaves has taken another step towards a career in Formula One, announcing he will join the Addax Team in the upcoming 2011 GP3 Series. As part of the highly-rated driver development series, the reigning Italian Formula 3 Championship Rookie of the Year will race at every European Grand Prix track bar one this season, showcasing his speed and skill in front of all the F1 squads.

Since first getting the wheel of a kart, Chaves has had one dream…to one day become the next U.S.A racer to compete at the upper echelon of motorsports…Formula One. With that in mind, the teenager from Florida has signed with the Addax Team to race in the GP3 Series. Chaves, building on a highly-successful inaugural European race campaign – winning Italia F3 Rookie of the Year award – joins the renowned junior formula car squad having already impressed in both private and official series testing. In joining Addax, the former Formula BMW Americas champion plans to advance up to the GP2 Series ranks with the highly-regarded team and follow in the footsteps of former Addax racers Sergio Perez, Vitaly Petrov and Lucas Degrassi into Formula One. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief - Monday  
  • Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull was dominant
    Red Bull to use KERS in Malaysia
  • Horner jokes after Mercedes' Melbourne struggle
  • Boss criticizes FIA after Button penalty
  • Sauber's Perez stuns paddock with one-stop race
  • FIA flags wing system tweak after China
  • Tire lettering colors hard to see in Aus - Hembery
  • 107pc rule to keep slow cars 'out' in 2011 - Whiting
  • Dominant Vettel paced himself in Aus - Marko
  • Ferrari has a lot of work ahead More ...
St. Petersburg attendance up  
The St. Pete GP had a healthy crowd
The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg showcased the highest level of skill and competition starting the season with strong attendance, indicating the importance of racing in the City of St. Petersburg. After more than five months off, drivers, teams and fans returned to the track for a weekend of speed and excitement.

“This was a wonderful start for the 2011 series,” Tim Ramsberger, Vice President and General Manager of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. “It was fun, full of action, exactly what IndyCar is all about. It’s always a challenge to be the first race of the season, but it’s very satisfying the way we were able to put everything together.” More ...

Danica penalized on last lap  Danica Patrick, who drove four races in NASCAR’s second-tier series before resuming her full-time IndyCar career today in St. Petersburg, Florida, was penalized one spot on the final lap for making “avoidable contact” with JR Hildebrand.
St. Petersburg GP: Sunday Notebook  
Vinny LeCavalier
Vinny LeCavalier may be used to the coolest game on earth, but he says riding in the Indy Racing Experience two-seater may be scarier.

LeCavalier, the captain of the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning and grand marshal of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, took a hot lap with racing legend Mario Andretti prior to Sunday's race.

"I've driven some cars before, but that's definitely a different ballgame," said LeCavalier, who also traded a Lightning jersey for one of Alex Tagliani's racing suits. "I couldn't believe how fast it was, especially since I wasn't driving and I didn't know where we were going. It was a great experience." More ...

Racing News
Cars 2 to be released in June  "Cars 2" is a computer animated 3-D film that is a sequel to the critically acclaimed 2006 film "Cars." Once again the film is being produced by Pixar Animation Studios with film distribution by Walt Disney Pictures.

Director John Lasseter returned to work on the sequel along with co-director Brad Lewis. The film has a scheduled U.S. release date of June 24th.

Jeff Gordon plays the role of Jeff Gorvette in the movie and is rubbing elbows with some impressive cast mates. The film stars Owen Wilson, Larry The Cable Guy, Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer. (See our related Feature Article)

Opening ceremony IndyCar plane crash a precursor to race  A small plane has crashed while participating in the opening ceremony for IndyCar's season opener in St. Petersburg and it was a precursor to the year to come in IndyCar.  With it's new double-file restarts you are going to see a lot of wrecked race cars this year (tire-to-tire contact is a receipt for disaster) in IndyCar.  And that's just the way today's race started out - four caution flags in the first 15 laps.  Start writing checks, big checks, for the repair bills!

City officials say a T-28 Warbird reported mechanical difficulties then crashed into the water off Albert Witted Airport as it attempted a landing Sunday afternoon.

The pilot and a passenger were rescued and treated for minor injuries.

Officials are working on containing a small fuel spill caused by the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.

Newgarden wins St. Pete Indy Lights opener  Josef Newgarden, who started third in the No. 11 Robo-Pong/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, led teammate Conor Daly across the finish line by 0.8552 of a second to win in his Firestone Indy Lights debut.

Peter Dempsey, who started fifth but jump to the point for the first 11 laps in the No. Pulse/O2 Racing car, finished third and David Ostella advanced seven positions to finish fourth in the No. 16 Global Precast Team Jensen entry. More ...

Both Coyne cars crash in final warm-up  
Sebastien Bourdais was not able to start the St. Petersburg GP after this morning warm-up crash
This is a day Dale Coyne probably wished he had stayed in bed.  Dale Coyne Racing's rookie, James Jakes, and four-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais both had big crashes in morning warm-up here at St. Pete.

The 23-year-old Briton ran wide on the exit of the fast Turn 3 section, tearing most of the left side off of his Dallara-Honda.

Bourdais, after reportedly suffering an exploding brake disc, crashed in the Turn 11/12 complex and the car also caught fire, causing even more damage. More ...

Video: Massive V8 Supercar crash  Whilst all the F1 drivers stayed of the wall today at Albert Park, Aussie V8 Supercars made a mess of it .....see the video section of our iPhone app.
Alonso:  Vettel 'on another planet'  Fernando Alonso conceded that race winner Sebastian Vettel was in a league of his own at the Australian Grand Prix, but said he was by no means writing off the title.

Alonso started from fifth on the grid, only to lose four positions in the first corner and spend the rest of the race slicing through the field on a three-stop strategy. He admitted that he would not have been able to match Vettel in any circumstances, but believes the Ferrari fared better than it did in qualifying on Saturday.

"Once again today, Vettel seemed to be on another planet, while the others were a bit closer, not to the extent they were on Friday, but at least not as far off as in qualifying yesterday," he said. "We are in the right zone for us to be able to win a title, but definitely not if we keep finishing third or fourth. We have to improve, we know that, but it's still too early to make any predictions." More ...

How to stop the Chip and Roger show  We have been asked numerous times how do you stop the Penske and Ganassi show in IndyCar because for many fans they are tired of their domination and voting by switching the channel.  Well certainly they are both great teams with great drivers and the financial resources to dominate for a very long time.

And this problem is not unique to IndyCar as we see similar domination by certain teams in NASCAR, F1, and ALMS. What racing series must do is similar to what many stick and ball sports do, give the last place teams first draft pick so-to-speak to give them a chance to pull themselves up. 

But there is no draft in racing. More ...
Latest F1 news in brief - Sunday  
  • Marko to watch Buemi race 'with interest'
  • Rivals eye Red Bull's KERS, flex, dominance
  • F1 'laughing' at struggling HRT - reports
  • Vettel buys custom motorbike to celebrate title
  • Relief but 'no joy' after Virgin survived 107pc rule
  • Button wants permission for Japan charity visit
  • Webber had chassis problem in Australia - Marko
  • Red Bull will use KERS at some tracks - Marko More ...
Q and A with Kyle Busch on stealing Fontana race  
Were you okay taking two tires on the last pit stop?
“I was good with it man.  I thought that was a great way to win the race.  These guys do such a great job.  I can’t thank Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) enough -- he won the race today.  We stole this one -- it wasn’t ours.  We were a third, fourth- place car -- fourth-place on the shorter runs and a third-place car on the long runs.  I don’t know why we had such a problem today getting going.  This Z-Line Designs Toyota Camry really came to life there late in the runs.  I can’t thank Toyota enough, NOS Energy Drink, Nationwide Insurance, Gillette, and the fans.  It’s cool to come out here.  I love California -- I love the west coast.  This is a cool win for us.” More ...
TV News
Sunday on Wind Tunnel  
Featured Interview IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Winner
Expert Analyst Steve Matchett (SPEED Formula One Anchor)
Expert Analyst Randy Pemberton (SPEED NASCAR Analyst)

This Week’s Line-up
Featured Interview  Nicky Hayden (2006 MotoGP World Champion)
Featured Interview Jason Line (NHRA Pro Stock Points Leader)
Featured Interview IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Winner
Expert Analyst  Steve Matchett (SPEED Formula One Anchor)
Expert Analyst  Randy Pemberton (SPEED NASCAR Analyst)

St. Petersburg GP: Saturday Notebook  Davey Hamilton will compete in three races with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing with HP as the primary sponsor of the No. 21 car.

Hamilton will attempt to qualify for his 10th Indianapolis 500, and compete at Texas Motor Speedway and the IZOD INDYCAR World Championships at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October. He partnered with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing for the 2009 Indianapolis 500.

"It's good to be back with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing," said Hamilton, who . "We had a great relationship in the past, and after a brief absence it's nice to be back with the team and to have HP with us as well. I have high hopes for the three races and I'm very excited about the possibilities."

HP also will serve as a season-long associate sponsor on the No. 22 entry with Justin Wilson. More ...

Connor De Phillippi Wins Star Mazda St. Pete  Connor De Phillippi, the California racer who won the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear season finale from the pole at Road Atlanta, scored his second victory in a row – six months later – winning Round 1 of the 2011 season at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in the Team Pelfrey / Justice Brothers Products / Trademark Garage Floors Mazda.

Starting from the inside of the second row, De Phillippi kept his cool through a multi-lap full-course yellow on the first lap of the race, and on the second lap of the re-start, passed pole-sitter Martin Scuncio's #60 Juncos Racing / Fuerza Chile Mazda for the lead… a position he held until he crossed the finish line with a two second margin in hand.  Finishing 3rd was French racer Tristan Vautier in the #5 JDC Motorsports / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais Mazda; Vautier dominated pre-season testing and was the quickest driver in the first practice session at St. Pete, but his team missed the setup by just a hair and he was content, relatively, to take home 3rd-place points. More ...

Spencer Pigot Leads from Flag to Flag in St. Petersburg  Spencer Pigot scored an accomplished maiden victory in just his third start in the Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda, leading from flag to flag this afternoon on the challenging 1.8-mile street circuit in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Pigot, 17, from Windermere, Fla., held onto his pole advantage in the #8 Team MAZDSPEED/Skip Barber Andretti Autosport Van Diemen and was never headed in the 21-lap race. He garnered two additional championship points for winning the pole yesterday and leading most laps this afternoon, but was denied a maximum score by Finnish teenager Petri Suvanto (#3 Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing), who pushed Pigot every inch of the way and earned the bonus point for posting the fastest lap of the race.

A first-corner incident unfortunately sidelined four potential contenders, including former series leader Luke Ellery, who had qualified seventh, and outside front row qualifier – and JDC MotorSports teammate – Juan Piedrahita. Pabst Racing Services’ Tonis Kasemets and Timmy Megenbier (Sick Tea Racing) also were eliminated. More ...

Video: Sutil's spin in Melbourne  Adrian Sutil’s crazy spin during qualifying of the Australian grand prix 2011 , the season opener.

AJ Foyt to miss St. Pete race after heart procedure  Larry Foyt will be calling the shots this weekend for the ABC Supply team at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg while his father A.J. Foyt recovers from a procedure to insert a stent in a main artery Friday.

Doctors had discovered a more than 95 percent blockage in the artery after an angiogram was performed on Monday.

“It was touch and go according to Dr. Civitello,” Foyt said last evening after the procedure. “They had a full surgical team on board with the surgeon (Dr. O.H. Frazier, an internationally renowned heart surgeon who trained under Dr. Denton Cooley) who did my wife Lucy’s triple bypass, prepared to do a bypass if the stent didn’t work. Their challenge was that they had to go through several stents first to get to the blockage and then get the artery opened enough to take the stent. I watched on the machine while they did it. After what seemed an awful long time, my doctor stepped back and said ‘We got it A.J.’ I can’t tell you how happy and relieved I was. I think he was too.” More ...

Guerrieri nips Daly for Indy Lights pole  Esteban Guerrieri became the eighth driver -- and first since Graham Rahal in 2006 -- to earn the Sunoco Pole Award in their debut race with a quick lap of 1 minute, 7.6903 seconds on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn St. Petersburg street course for the Firestone Indy Lights race.

Guerrieri, driving the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, jumped to the top on the final green flag lap of the 45-minute session. He leapfrogged Conor Daly, who rose to P1 (1:07.9338) in the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car with 13 minutes remaining and further improved his lap time (1:07.7009).

Josef Newgarden completed a 1-2-3 for Sam Schmidt Motorsports with a best lap of 1:07.8731. He'll be joined on the second row by Stefan Wilson (1:07.9582) in the No. 5 Andretti Autosport car. It's the fourth 1-2-3 start for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. More ...

Chilean Rookie Scuncio on St. Pete Star Mazda Pole  On the final lap of qualifying, and by the thinnest of margins, Chilean rookie Martin Scuncio took the pole position for the 4:10 pm start of today's Round 1 of the 2011 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.  His lap of 1:10.921 (91.369 mph) in the #60 Juncos Racing / Fuerza Chile Mazda was just .053 of a second quicker than local hero and St. Petersburg College student Nick Andries, who, on the previous lap, turned a 1:10.974 (91.201 mph) in the Team Pelfrey / Lithionics Battery / GS610 Brake Fluid / Trademark Garage Floors Mazda. 

Needless to say, you could hear the collective groan from the Team Pelfrey crew when Scuncio posted his fast lap, as, to that point, it was to be a canary-yellow, all-Pelfrey front row with Californian Connor De Phillippi turning a 1:11.238 (90.963 mph) in the Team Pelfrey / Justice Brothers Products / Trademark Garage Floors Mazda.  Instead, he will start on the inside of the second row, leaving Scuncio in a 'Pelfrey sandwich' that might have tactical implications in the first couple of corners after the green.  More ...

Scuncio tops Star Mazda Friday St. Pete Test  While the overall wind continues to blow from the same direction that was set in three days of Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear testing during IndyCar spring training at Barber Motorsports Park, the breezes are starting to shift.  For the first time since Session 2 on Day 1 of the Barber test, Chilean racer Martin Scuncio bested French driver Tristan Vautier – and since he turned the 1:11.413 (90.740 mph) lap in his #60 Juncos Racing / Fuerza Chile Mazda during the final practice session before tomorrow morning's qualifying, he stands as the quickest driver of the day… an distinction wildly applauded by his Juncos Racing team when the final number came up on the timing screens. More ...
Spanish TV to sponsor Servia  UPDATE #2 Added photo of Servia's new livery below.  Also, we hear all the races will be broadcast live on Telemundo.  On the surface one would think that Versus would have a problem with that but since Comcast owns both Telemundo and Versus, the deal can happen.

Oriol Servia's new sponsor, Telemundo
03/26/11 Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) announced today that the Telemundo Communications Group, a leading producer of high quality content for Hispanics in the U.S. and audiences around the world, has developed a marketing collaboration with the team’s No. 02 car entry with driver Oriol Servia for the 2011 IZOD INDYCAR Series season. The partnership reunites Servia with NHR, one of the most successful teams in the history of open-wheel racing and links them with Telemundo, a division of NBC Universal.

“Our clients are always asking us for new opportunities to reach the Hispanic consumer. Now Telemundo Station Group can offer a new and unique branding opportunity in a sport that has international appeal just like our soccer and boxing properties,” said Jose Jimenez, Account Manager of Telemundo National Sales Office, Miami. More ...

Overzealous fan in garage breaks Webber's air box  
Mark Webber
An overzealous fan yesterday came within 30 minutes of ruining formula one star Mark Webber's home grand prix, when a garage intrusion led to a vital aerodynamic component being broken less than an hour before qualifying.

Webber's garage was sent into a mad panic when the fan eluded staff on a VIP garage tour to get a closer look at the multimillion-dollar Red Bull Renault and broke the air box - the top of the vehicle and engine cover - when leaning on the car for a photo. More ...

St. Pete GP: Power tops practice 3  
Rank No Driver Time Speed Behind
1 12 Power, Will 01:02.7 103.322 --.----
2 27 Conway, Mike 01:03.1 102.758 0.344
3 3 Castroneves, Helio 01:03.2 102.587 0.4492
4 6 Briscoe, Ryan 01:03.2 102.549 0.4724
5 2 Servia, Oriol 01:03.3 102.372 0.582
6 9 Dixon, Scott 01:03.3 102.337 0.6037
7 82 Kanaan, Tony 01:03.4 102.21 0.6821
8 38 Rahal, Graham 01:03.6 101.954 0.8411
9 22 Wilson, Justin 01:03.6 101.912 0.8675
10 5 Sato, Takuma 01:03.6 101.894 0.8786
11 34 Saavedra, Sebastian (R) 01:03.6575 101.795 0.9408
12 77 Tagliani, Alex 01:03.7 101.773 0.9543
13 17 Matos, Raphael 01:03.7 101.77 0.9564
14 28 Hunter-Reay, Ryan 01:03.7 101.742 0.9736
15 26 Andretti, Marco 01:03.8 101.643 1.0358
16 14 Meira, Vitor 01:03.8 101.605 1.0594
17 7 Patrick, Danica 01:03.9 101.451 1.1564
18 59 Viso, EJ 01:04.0 101.185 1.3245
19 83 Kimball, Charlie (R) 01:04.1 101.118 1.367
20 4 Hildebrand, JR (R) 01:04.2 100.915 1.4957
21 78 de Silvestro, Simona 01:04.3 100.781 1.5811
22 18 Jakes, James (R) 01:04.3 100.774 1.5854
23 19 Bourdais, Sebastien 01:04.4 100.681 1.6449
24 24 Beatriz, Ana (R) 01:04.5 100.483 1.7715
25 10 Franchitti, Dario 01:05.0 99.662 2.3028
HP to sponsor Hamilton for 3 races  Dreyer & Reinbold Racing announced today that it has added HP as the primary sponsor of the No.21 car that will campaign racing veteran Davey Hamilton.  The Idaho native will pilot the team's third entry for three IZOD IndyCar Series races this season including the 100th Anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, the Texas Motor Speedway event and the season finale in Las Vegas. HP will also serve as a season-long associate-level sponsor on the No. 22 DRR entry with Justin Wilson in the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series.

"We are excited to be partnering with HP and Davey Hamilton again on this program for three events, as well with Justin Wilson on the No. 22.  This is just another example of how Dreyer & Reinbold Racing continues to grow.  Our off-season improvements with research and development and our investments commercially will hopefully help us achieve significant results all year," said Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Co-Owner, Dennis Reinbold.  "Not only will fans see the HP brand on the track, our team and HP are committed to a strategic technology and engineering alliance as well," added Reinbold. More ...

Pick Up truck Tailgates join hubcaps as easy target for thieves  Hold on to your tailgates, pickup owners. Fast-acting, stealthy thieves are swiping them across Metro Detroit. It's a seemingly small crime flying under the radar of police and insurance companies as victims often avoid reporting the thefts to avoid paying deductibles and higher insurance rates.

Worse, by looking to unscrupulous body shop owners and online sites such as Craigslist to unload their wares, authorities say tailgate thieves are employing a black market to rip off even more parts.

Terry Hibdon lost a gate to thieves, and his brother Ron sells anti-theft devices at Lake Orion Truck Accessories. More ...

McLaren baffled amid Red Bull 'start-KERS' talk  
Whitmarsh baffled at Red Bull's pace without KERS
(GMM)  Martin Whitmarsh on Saturday admitted he was baffled after it emerged Red Bull had not used KERS in qualifying. It is believed the dominant reigning champions may be using an innovative super-compact energy-recovery system that is charged in the pits only for the run to the first corner in grands prix.

The RB7 would theoretically not then benefit from the horse power boost during qualifying and the races, but be able to run lighter and with a better brake-balance than those teams utilizing full race-spec KERS systems.

Told that pole sitter Sebastian Vettel and his teammate Mark Webber did not use KERS on their qualifying hot-laps, McLaren team boss Whitmarsh answered: "I see no logical reason why.

"It makes no sense," he told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport. "But, actually, we don't really know what's going on in the garage next to ours."

Latest F1 news in brief - Saturday  UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • Norbert Haug
    Engine makers not backing Ecclestone's 2013 opposition
  • Red Bull 'still way ahead' - Haug
  • Brawn leaves board but remains team boss
  • Pirelli's tire wear defense 'a bluff' - Panis
  • Vettel's pace mystifies even Horner New
  • Alonso not happy with gap to Vettel New
  • Schumacher not happy with Mercedes pace New
  • KERS problem slowed Heidfeld New  More ...
Roush Fenway has no plans to put Bayne in All-Star Race  Roush Fenway President Steve Newmark is optimistic regarding the promise of his Nationwide Series racers Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse. He's watched both youngsters mature over the past year. Despite Bayne's uncertainty regarding a sponsored ride in the All-Star race, Newmark says there are no current plans to provide their driver with a car. "It's not anything we've had discussions about," Newmark said. "We're focused on having Trevor run in Nationwide and try to compete with he and Ricky to win the championship. We're hopeful that the Wood Brothers will figure out a way to get Trevor in the All-Star race, but we haven't had any discussions about putting him in any of our vehicles." Fox Sports
TRG switching manufacturers  UPDATE Team owner Kevin Buckler confirmed that starting at Texas Motor Speedway his TRG Motorsports Sprint Cup Team will run Ford Fusions supplied by Roush Fenway Racing with engines provided by Roush/Yates Engines. "We are excited to be partnering with Roush Fenway and getting some new equipment in the TRG Motorsports stable," said Kevin Buckler, team owner. "It has been a long few years in figuring out our best options to succeed in NASCAR and we have a golden opportunity to really improve our performance with some shiny new equipment and some technical support. The Fords are on a roll right now and Roush Fenway does it right. A partnership with them and with Roush/Yates Engines will be an outstanding package for our team. We are confident that fielding Ford Fusions will add to the success of our organization and the competitiveness of our performance on the race track." TRG Motorsport's move to Ford follows a three-year campaign in which the team fielded Chevy. "Chevy, RCR and ECR have been great partners for our team and on behalf of TRG Motorsports, I'd like to thank everyone at GM Racing for their dedication and support," Buckler said. TRG PR More ...
Stewards say no to HRT 107pc rule exemption  (GMM)  HRT applied for an exemption from the 107 pc qualifying rule in Australia but it was thrown out by FIA stewards.

"Our times were not good enough, but given the number of laps we've done this weekend, we probably are not so bad," said the team's Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan.

But the stewards, including former grand prix winner Johnny Herbert, did not agree that "exceptional circumstances" explained the Spanish team's lack of pace.

The grid will therefore feature 22, and not 24, cars for Sunday's Melbourne race.

"The car is capable of running a lot quicker than today," insisted team boss Colin Kolles.  "We'll be back stronger than ever in Malaysia."

Added Italian driver Vitantonio Liuzzi: "The rules are the rules.  Now we're focused on the next race."

Rivals daunted by dominant Vettel pole  (GMM)  Sebastian Vettel on Saturday kicked off his title defense with a dominant run to pole position in Melbourne.

"What did he do, a (1 minute) 23-5?  Ah, yes," McLaren's Jenson Button, fourth on the grid and 1.2 seconds slower, answered when asked if the German's performance is daunting given that his KERS unit failed during Q3.

Even more daunted, however, is Mark Webber, whose deficit to his Red Bull teammate is almost nine tenths.

"I'm a bit mystified with the gap to Seb, to be honest," said the disappointed Australian. More ...

Australia GP: Vettel tops practice 3  Red Bull gave its rivals a taste of things to come this year at the hands of Adrian Newey's latest creation after dominating the third free practice session for the Australian Grand Prix - with world champion Sebastian Vettel heading teammate Mark Webber.

Vettel set a 1m24.507s lap in the final minutes of the session on the soft Pirellis. But to underscore his dominance, the German's fastest time on the harder prime tire - set 15 minutes earlier - was also quicker than anyone else could manage all session long.

HRT remained the laughing stock of the paddock,  They finally managed to get Narain Karthikeyan on track, but he completed five laps, 17s off the pace.  His teammate did not fare much better.  Vitantonio Liuzzi was forced to stop his car on the out-lap. More ...

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