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HVM remains part Mexican owned for now HVM remains part Mexican owned for nowDespite rumors that the HVM team might be sold and become a European team since it lost all its Mexican drivers, for now it will remain 51% Mexican owned.

Q. Keith Wiggins, do you still consider yourself a Mexican team? With Jourdain gone, Fernandez, Lavin, and Dominguez down to Forsythe, how will the series be seen in Mexico, do you think?

KEITH WIGGINS: Well, you know, unfortunately it's important that everybody does have their heroes, and clearly you follow your heroes, and it can generate interest. I'm sure Spain is a lot keener on Formula 1 at the moment.

That's a fact of life, is as one market is a bit quiet, the next one picks up. Mexico is obviously a fantastic place for their motorsport, their love of it, just the same as Brazil. Hopefully they will still follow the series because they still have the top Mexican driver in their series. They won't have four or five drivers, but there's always a cure for that, which is obviously to support them.

For us, we have a great affiliation. Of course, our major owner is Mexican. We still have that culture and still enjoy it, but we're all in a business so we don't forget that side of it or our support or our love of tequila. You know, things can change as time goes forward, but we have to get on with business.

Why Verstappen lost out on HVM ride Why Verstappen lost out on HVM ride
Q. Keith Wiggins, what happened with the Verstappen deal?

KEITH WIGGINS: Obviously, Jos was very popular, had a lot of support to come here. I think Champ Car was keen to have him. He certainly would have been another good driver. I remember him from the first time round, which reminds me I'm still continuing to get old. I remember Roberto Moreno first time around in Formula Ford, so I'm really old.

It's just a case of putting everything in place. Quite honestly, we were late in doing everything, so therefore when it is last minute, things can change pretty quickly. I mean, you can negotiate with drivers, and that may take you three or four months. We managed to condense everything into a couple of weeks, so things are going to change quickly. Ultimately, he would have loved to have done it, but we couldn't get the package to work and for everything to gel to everybody's satisfaction, let's put it that way.

Formula Nippon
Lyons wins opening round in Nippon series Lyons wins opening round in Nippon seriesRichard Lyons opened his defense of the Formula Nippon title with spectacular form today in Rd1 at Motegi Circuit. Starting from 5th position he progressively picked off the opposition car by car to take the lead just after the halfway point of the 62 lap race. Qualifying hadn’t gone to plan, with Richard having to start off the front row of the grid for the first time since Rd1 2004. This however did not deter him, as he was able to continue with consistent lap times and a one-stop strategy, out-pacing the other competitors, including those using a two-stop strategy. In the end Lyons won comfortably by over 4 seconds, giving him the lead of the 2005 Championship. Richards Quote: ‘Today has been very satisfying as a team we have been able to show that the work we have done over winter has really paid off. This was the first time that the DoCoMo Dandelion Team have had both cars on the podium, and I felt very proud as #1 Driver to have helped lead the team to its current position. In the race the car was perfect and I could feel from the start that as long as I bided my time I could win. Sure enough as the race went on our car seemed to get stronger compared to others around me, and made it easy for me to focus on just driving fast. I really enjoyed the race today and am looking forward to Rd 2 at Suzuka in two weeks time.’
Roberto Gonzalez: ’No Champ Car ride’ Roberto Gonzalez: ’No Champ Car ride’Roberto Gonzalez has put out a press release in Mexico stating that he will not be in a car for the Long Beach race because no Mexican sponsors stepped up to back him.  He is still trying to find money to at least run in Monterrey, Mexico.  Things are not looking good for Rodolfo Lavin as well.  Adrian Fernandez and Michel Jourdain are already gone from the series and Luis Diaz was plucked by Grand-Am.  With only one Mexican driver on the Champ Car grid, and no Mexican sponsors in the series buying ads on TV, Champ Car is faced with a crisis in Mexico, hence why it's possible no TV contract has been announced for Mexico.
Lofty promotions Lofty promotionsWith the 2005 season of the Champ Car World Series set to kick off next week with the world's fastest street race and beach party better know as the 31st Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Champ Car decided to get high - as in the pictured 500 foot high flying advertisement - and hit the beaches of southern California a week early.  Added to the sights and attractions of a Spring Break Saturday at the beaches in Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice, Hermosa Beach and Newport Beach was bit of good old fashioned, high-concept, high-altitude promoting from Champ Car. Spectacular new attractions such as drifting and freestyle motocross joining the 200 mph, 750-horsepower turbocharged Champ Cars on the streets of Long Beach and spectacular weather expected for next weekend's high speed beach party was all it took to get Champ Car, MediaWide Marketing and AdsThatFly.com of Long Beach in the air and in front of the crowds. "I'd love to take credit for the idea," says Peter Stark of MediaWide, "but I stole it from Jim Michaelian (President and CEO of The Grand Prix Association of Long Beach). Either way, there couldn't have been a better weekend here in southern California to go the beach and remind everybody about Long Beach. Plus you can't help like 100 mile per hour advertising for 200 mile per hour racing!"
Bristol TV Ratings Bristol TV RatingsFox's broadcast of Sunday's Food City 500 from Bristol Motor Speedway drew a 5.6 overnight rating from Nielsen Media Research and a 13 share from the nation's largest markets, today's Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Daily  reports. The rating represents a 7.9% increase from the overnight rating for the 2004 spring Bristol race, which was contested on the last weekend of March. The numbers match the overnight figures from the spring Texas Motor Speedway race of 2004, when it was run on the first weekend of April, although those Nielsen figures were reported to be incomplete because one market was not included. - NASCAR Scene Daily Newsletter
Wiggins: No Mexican sponsorship Wiggins: No Mexican sponsorshipFrom today's HVM press conference:
Q. Mr. Keith Wiggins, can you tell us what happened with the dream to have Mexican drivers?

KEITH WIGGINS: The dream? Well, we had a Mexican driver. Obviously, there was a firm plan to try and develop that into a two-car Mexican team. That was something that we worked on very hard. I think, ultimately what happened in reality was that there wasn't really enough interest or sponsorship opportunities in Mexico to make that happen. The reality is that it takes money to run and to operate. We weren't able to find that in Mexico..

St. Pete attendance drop St. Pete attendance dropDear AutoRacing1.com, Looking at this photo from 2003 it's clear the crowd for the IRL race yesterday, although good, was actually a decrease from what Champ Car had in 2003 so I don't understand what's all the fuss being made over the IRL race.  Shame on Champ Car for not returning to St. Petersburg.  Who was the genius who made that decision?  The IRL is so pitiful that when they do have fans in the grandstands everyone marvels at it.  Joe Pittera, Little Rock
Champ Car hires new Marketing Director Champ Car hires new Marketing DirectorUPDATE The official press release from our previous story - As the Champ Car World Series prepares for the kickoff of its 2005 racing season, it seems fitting that the series turns to someone that knows a thing or two about kickoffs to help build the future of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

The Champ Car World Series today announced the hiring of former NFL international executive Will Wilson to serve as Executive Vice-President of Sales & Marketing. In his new post, he will oversee all aspects of the series' sales and marketing efforts as Champ Car continues to position itself for a bright future.

"I'm thrilled to be joining Champ Car at such an exciting time in its development," Wilson said. "Strong U.S. heritage, international and domestic appeal, and a global business plan make Champ Car a compelling property with tremendous potential for business and fan growth. I look forward to helping align our business interests and being part of moving the organization to the next level."

Wilson, a 1989 graduate of Kenyon College, most recently served as Managing Director in charge of expanding the presence of the League throughout the region from 2001-2004. Under his leadership, the league enjoyed unprecedented success with a number of multinational entities entering partnerships with the league. Most recently, Wilson was heavily involved in the effort that will result in the NFL staging a regular-season in Mexico for the first time when Arizona and San Francisco play in October of 2005. Wilson began his career in NFL Europe, eventually ascending to the position of General Manager of the Scottish Claymores from 1998-2001.

"Will has a very strong background and a track record that is among the best in the business," said Champ Car President Dick Eidswick. "His addition is very important to us, especially considering his successful history in Mexico, which is a country that is vital to our continued growth."

03/23/05 Champ Car has hired William (Will) Wilson (right) the current Director General for the National Football League (NFL) in Mexico to be their new Executive Vice President of Marketing.  Wilson's extensive experience with marketing sports properties in the global market will serve Champ Car well, particularly his understanding of the Mexican market where he worked for the NFL as Director General-Mexico, and where Champ Car is up against NASCAR.  Wilson starts for Champ Car on April 4th and is in the process of moving his family from Mexico City to Indianapolis. Mark C.
F-18 flyovers at Long Beach F-18 flyovers at Long BeachTwo U.S. Navy F-18s from China Lake will be doing low-level flyovers during pre-race ceremonies for the racing action on Saturday and Sunday.
Industry News
New Watkins Glen grandstand New Watkins Glen grandstandSpring is here and you know what that means, that 'steel is in bloom' at Watkins Glen International and the outline for the new 42-row high FrontStretch Grandstand has been constructed. The aluminum decking will be put in place over the next several weeks.  "We are thrilled to finally see the framework of this new structure," stated Craig Rust, President of Watkins Glen International. "We have been looking forward to this season since we made the announcement about our capital improvements last spring. We can't wait for the season to get here."   The FrontStretch Grandstand replaces the Gray, Green, Yellow and Orange Grandstands and will rise twice as tall as the previous stand. Additional corporate suites will be added along the remainder of the front stretch heading toward the 'Ninety' for both the SIRIUS Satellite Radio at The Glen NASCAR Nextel Cup Series and Zippo 200 NASCAR Busch Series races August 11-14. The project will be completed before the NASCAR event weekend.
PKV Racing makes Dalziel Consultant PKV Racing makes Dalziel ConsultantPKV Racing has reached an agreement with Toyota Atlantic driver Ryan Dalziel to be a team consultant during the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series season. The agreement calls for Dalziel to be a part of PKV Racing in all aspects of the racing program. He will work with the engineering staff, debrief with the drivers and participate in the team's marketing and public relations efforts. At this time there are no plans for Dalziel to test or race during the 2005 season.

PKV Racing and Champ Car World Series owner, Kevin Kalkhoven said, "This is just one more example of how the Champ Car World Series ladder system can work to the benefit of both the teams and young drivers. I am very pleased that Ryan will be working with PKV Racing this year and I look forward to watching him grow as a driver with our team."

In explaining the decision to bring Dalziel on as a consultant PKV Racing General Manager, Jim McGee said, "Ryan tested with PKV Racing during the off-season and we were very pleased with his performance. We feel that Ryan has tremendous potential and should be a part of our team on a daily basis. This agreement allows us to further our relationship with an outstanding young driver while allowing Ryan to benefit by learning from two of the best drivers and one of the top engineering staffs in the Champ Car World Series."

Dalziel, 23, completed his third Atlantic season in 2004 by finishing as series runner-up for the second consecutive year. The native of Scotland is tied for 17th on the all-time win list with six and his eight career poles put him in a tie for 10th among all-time series leaders. He has also produced 19 podiums in 36 career Atlantic starts.

"I feel very fortunate to have the chance to consult with, and be a part of, the PKV Racing team," Dalziel said. "When a young driver is given the opportunity to learn from a manager like Jim McGee, championship drivers like Cristiano da Matta and Jimmy Vasser, plus work with one of the top engineering staffs, you don't have to think twice about saying yes. This is a tremendous opportunity for me and I look forward to taking full advantage of it," he concluded.

Dalziel’s duties with PKV Racing will commence with the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series season opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 8-10, on the streets of Long Beach, CA. The race will be televised live on NBC at 4:00 p.m. (ET).
Wirdheim gets best birthday present Wirdheim gets best birthday presentToday is Bjorn Wirdheim's birthday and he got the best birthday present possible by being officially announced as one of the drivers for the HVM Champ Car team.
Extolling the virtues of St. Pete Extolling the virtues of St. PeteThis TBO.com article says, They promised a race. What the promoters of Sunday's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg delivered was a race so monumentally successful it could change the complexion of open-wheel racing.  Sunday easily was the most successful day in St. Petersburg's nearly two-decade struggle to establish a downtown street race. In a broader context, it was one of the most important days in the 10- year history of the Indy Racing League.

The race not only will be back, but also it will be copied, packaged and dispersed throughout future IRL schedules. Sunday was a lightning bolt that could shock Indy car racing from the doldrums of low TV ratings and sagging attendance. It showed that the IRL needs to quit trying to emulate NASCAR and set itself apart by bringing some of its races to the heart of where people live.

So giddy was the IRL about Sunday's success that it practically admitted as much.

``What we saw today tells us this is a really good business model,'' said Ken Ungar, the IRL's senior vice president of business affairs. ``And it's something we have to incorporate into what we do overall. Will our series not be predominantly oval after this? That won't change. But I think you will see other street events added to the schedule after the success of today.''

Let's set Sunday's grand prix scene: full grandstands along the main straightaway (an Albert Whitted Airport runway), nearly full grandstands elsewhere around the 14-turn, 1.8-mile course, fans standing four and five deep in good viewing spots, a bustling hospitality area atop the parking garage adjacent to the Mahaffey Theater.

The IRL estimated Sunday's attendance at 45,000, and even if that was high, it wasn't off by a ridiculous amount. Barry Green, the workhorse of Andretti Green Promotions, said he hoped for 50,000 to 70,000 during the three-day weekend and ``we exceeded that.''

Renault Rome demo postponed Renault Rome demo postponedRenault F1 Team, Renault Italy and the City of Rome have decided to postpone the F1 Road show, initially scheduled to be held in Rome next Sunday, 10 April at the Circus Maximus, as a mark of sympathy and respect following the passing of the Pope. The event, planned as an opportunity to meet and celebrate Formula 1 and the Renault F1 Team, as well as seeing Roman native and resident Giancarlo Fisichella demonstrating his F1 car on the streets, has been postponed to Sunday 17 April, from 11:00 at the Circus Maximus.
Industry News
Wagoner assumes control of GM NA Wagoner assumes control of GM NAThree of General Motors Corp.'s top executives have seen their assignments pared back to more focused responsibilities, as Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner takes over day-to-day management of the struggling North American automotive business. GM announced the surprising moves Monday morning.

With Wagoner taking over North American operations, it frees up Vice Chairman Bob Lutz to concentrate on global product development and Group Vice President Gary Cowger to focus on global manufacturing and labor. Those two men had been responsible for GM North America, while they also oversaw their global disciplines.

Last month, GM said it expects to lose as much as $1 billion in the first quarter of the year, and cut its earnings expectation for the year by $1.7 billion. The company cited challenges in the massive and important North American market, such as lower prices, consumer tastes shifting from trucks to cars, which are less profitable, and overall lower production and sales. Detroit Free Press 

Champ Car launches new website Champ Car launches new websiteChamp Car has launched a new enhanced website as of today.  It can be found at the same address as before http://www.champcar.ws
Andretti and Green: Race exceeded our expectations Andretti and Green: Race exceeded our expectationsUPDATE A reader writes, I think Michael Andretti has found his true home in the IRL - League of Hypocrisy.  Before he even left Champ Car he was spewing negative comments about the series and he continued to after he had switched to that other series.  Now that the press is directing more and more negativity towards the IRL, he has a problem with this kind of talk?  Boo Hoo!!  I think he was wrong when he said, "They're just people who want to say something negative about the IRL and now they've been shut up."  If a balance is to be reached with all the negative comments he and others have made then the critics still have a lot left to say.  Ahhh karma!  It can be a beautiful thing! Joe Yack 

Another writes, "Those people were ignorant about the product that we have here," Michael said. "Had they been following they would have seen that these cars were good right away on a road course. They're just people who want to say something negative about the IRL and now they've been shut up. The show today was as good as I've ever seen in a street race. There was passing, there was excitement & we had everything this weekend and I think it will shut up a lot of our critics."

As an Indy car racing fan, Michael Andretti makes me sick. He acts like he is the one who all along had the answers for the IRL. The fact of the matter is that the fans who he is now saying have "been shut-up" are those who all along knew who had the right product - CART! Michael may have been the one who finally hit Tony George between the head with a 2 X 4 in order to show him the light, but Michael still has a lot to learn about public relations - knowledge he was severely lacking when he was a driver in CART. Here Michael had an opportunity to bring to the IRL some of the many fans who were lost after the so-called split occurred. Yet here he is again acting the prima donna. Mark McCauley, Hurst, TX

04/04/05 We were hoping for 50- to 70,000 over the three days and we exceeded our expectations," said Andretti Green Promotions partner Barry Green. "I think it's wonderful for open-wheel racing in this country. It's the kind of event we need to see more of, and the IRL seems to believe that, too."

"Dario and I rode around in the back of a truck on the parade lap and wondered what was the last time we had done this," said Kanaan, who put on an entertaining show on the way to second place. "It was almost three years since our last street race in CART and it felt great to hear the people screaming again. It felt like we were back in the old days and I think the IRL realizes that and hopefully there will be more events like this. We set the standard for a street race."

Andretti and his partners at Honda were the strongest proponents for the IndyCar Series' adoption of road racing and Michael has emerged as one of the few players in the industry capable of influencing IRL founder Tony George. After Sunday's race, Michael was asked if he would try to convince George to include more street racing events in the future.

"I'm hoping I don't have to say anything," Andretti replied. "I hope that this event would show this is the direction this series needs to go. I think [Tony] is sold on it. I think he knows we need to be at places like St. Petersburg and I'm sure you're going to see some in the future. That's why I felt it was so important to be here and to show what we can do. It couldn't have been any better for what's needed in this series right now."

Once a hero to CART fans, Michael has emerged as the new face of the IRL and on Sunday he wasn't shy about confronting critics who vilified him for switching sides in the American open-wheel war.

"Those people were ignorant about the product that we have here," Michael said. "Had they been following they would have seen that these cars were good right away on a road course. They're just people who want to say something negative about the IRL and now they've been shut up. The show today was as good as I've ever seen in a street race. There was passing, there was excitement & we had everything this weekend and I think it will shut up a lot of our critics."

Among those minds Michael needs to change is his father's. Mario Andretti has been an outspoken critic of George since the inception of the IRL and a selection of his typically candid opinions on the state of American open-wheel racing were published this week in the St. Petersburg Times. With Marco racing in the IPS support event, Sunday marked the first time that Mario attended an IndyCar Series race other than the Indianapolis 500.

"Dad being here this weekend was good and it was definitely nice for Marco to have him here," Michael said. "He was able to get a little look at what this is all about and I think he's starting to get a little more impressed with it." ESPN.com

Fill-in crew chief takes Harvick to victory Fill-in crew chief takes Harvick to victoryNothing was going to deny Kevin Harvick a trip to victory lane this weekend.  With Scott Miller filling in as crew chief while his regular crew chief was benched due to cheating, Harvick went from worst to first in the Food City 500, collecting his first win in over fifty races.  Miller’s spectacular day earned him the WYPALL® Wipers Crew Chief of the Race.

Miller led Harvick from the back of the pack not once, but twice.  On the morning of the race, the #29 Goodwrench crew found a leak in the power steering system and replaced a faulty pump.  For making a change to the car after it had been impounded, Harvick was sent to the back of the field for the start of the race.  On top of that, Harvick had to come in for an unscheduled pit stop after two of his lug nuts were left untightened, once again sending him to the tail end of the lead lap.  Despite the setbacks, Miller stuck with his game plan and inched Harvick back into the lead.   “The last pit stop was one of the biggest factors in our win,” said Miller after the race.  “We brought Kevin (Harvick) in when the leader stayed out.  The crew did an awesome job to get him out of the pits first.  That’s when our strategy fell into place.  He had fresh tires and that’s what he needed to take the lead and pull away.”

Drag racer, son, die in freak accident Drag racer, son, die in freak accidentA top female drag racer and her son were killed after her car went out of control and struck his support vehicle at Tulsa Raceway Park, police said Sunday.  Michelle "Shelly" Howard, 59, and Brian Howard, 36, were pronounced dead following the Saturday night accident, Sgt. Tim Bracken said. "When she started off, she lost control of the vehicle and somehow it went airborne, spun itself around and raced back up the speedway," Bracken said. Her car then hit the car her son was in.  "The estimated speed at the point of impact was 250 mph," Bracken said.  Capt. Steve Bayles said both vehicles came to rest in a drainage ditch area, about 150 feet from the point of impact. Howard and her son were thrown from their vehicles.
IRL is height of hypocrisy IRL is height of hypocrisyIt was such a surreal scene: Tony George giving the command for the Indy Racing League to start engines on one of those silly street circuits and the paid yakkers on radio and television extolling the virtues of this milestone day in the IRL.

To the enthusiastic crowd attending Sunday's inaugural Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, it certainly must have seemed like the Championship Auto Racing Teams' event here in 2003. Fast cars, frantic pit stops, late braking, a few accidents, lots of pretty women and sunny skies.  But, to those of us with a memory, it was the height of hypocrisy.

When the first car pulled onto this track last Friday, IRL founder George had officially embraced everything he supposedly detested about CART, now known as Champ Car.  Engine leases, foreign drivers, foreign manufacturers, venues outside North America and races on street circuits and road courses were considered evil back in 1995 when George divided open wheel racing in this country.

The all-oval track IRL was going to restore Americans and short-track racers to the cockpit, good old-fashioned ingenuity to building motors and reasonable costs to the bottom line.   And it did just that for a few seasons as guys like Buzz Calkins, Billy Boat, Tony Stewart, Jim Guthrie, Fred Treadway, Ron Hemelgarn, A.J. Foyt and the Pagan family were winning races and making money.

Of course those guys are now a distant memory -- kinda like George's original vision, as it were. Now, we've got Dan Wheldon, Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti, Helio Castroneves, Roger Penske, Chip Ganassi, Michael Andretti and Bobby Rahal. Honda and Toyota. Road races at Watkins Glen and Sonoma.  More at SPEEDTV.com

No change at DEI No change at DEIFor those who wondered if conditions at Dale Earnhardt Inc. were dire enough to swap the Nos. 15 and 8 crews and cars back to the original drivers--think again. "There will never be a flip back," says a DEI source, who adds that the 15 crew, formerly the No. 8, was disappointed with Earnhardt. "I don't think they would take him back. We said we would work with Michael (Waltrip) this year for us to get a young gun for next year. What's happened is fate, and we're going to make the most of it." Earnhardt echoed similar sentiments and reiterated his confidence in crew chief Pete Rondeau. "The way Pete has hung in there further constitutes my belief in him," he says. Earnhardt and Waltrip are 17th and 27th, respectively, in points. Sporting News
DC apologizes to JV DC apologizes to JVJacques Villeneuve has accepted David Coulthard's apology for punting him off near the end of the Bahrain GP and costing him one point for 8th place. "We were both fighting for eighth place and a valuable point, but he made a mistake and it took me out of the race," said Villeneuve on his official website. "It's really a shame, but he came to apologize and everything is okay now. That's racing."
Jordan team gets first top-10 Jordan team gets first top-10Tiago Monteiro managed to keep a cool head during the hottest contest of the season and Formula One history, on the Sakhir circuit today, in the sun-drenched Bahrain desert, where the mercury rose past 40°C. The Jordan driver brought home his team’s first top-ten finish of the season despite the heat, and a task made more difficult by the choice of soft Bridgestone tires, which were worn out almost to the cord by race’s end. [Editor's Note: Monteiro should have been disqualified then as the FIA mandates that the tires have a certain amount of the grooves remaining when they come off the car.]

Tiago Monteiro had already moved up one place on the starting grid, after Sunday's qualifying session where he dominated over his teammate Narain Karthikeyan by 0.715 seconds in combined qualifying times for both sessions. Tiago moved up another spot when the engine on Barrichello's Ferrari had to be changed before the race, forcing the Brazilian driver to take a ten-place penalty before the lights went out, releasing the twenty racers. Unfortunately, the move did not help Tiago, who was then forced to start on the sandy side of the Sakhir circuit, known for having less grip than the ideal path.

The entire team was tense at the start of the race, because everyone was worried the tires would not go the distance on a track superheated to over 50°C. Under these conditions, Tiago’s tenth-place finish was greeted with joy and received the celebration it deserved from the whole Jordan team. “It was a terrible race, the heat was scorching, and we had to work a great deal to adapt the car to the track conditions, all the while keeping in mind the objective of saving the tires,” Tiago announced, upon getting out of his car.

“I have never worked so hard with the steering wheel to save the car on the track, and the last twenty laps were very complicated, with the constant threat of skidding off the track at every turn. Still, we managed once again to reach our objectives and it felt good to see the people from Jordan and Bridgestone come to congratulate me once I had reached the finish line.”

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Haug - 'blah, blah, blah'
No new car 'regret' - Schu
Spaniard unfazed
Mr. E - still on top
F1 in mourning for Pope
'DC, pack a parachute'
Toyota fear F1 breakaway
Briscoe under fire
Kimi - 'I like a drink'
Bridgestone bear blame, again
'My fault' - wounded Webber
Alonso worried about Imola
McLaren to speed up change
De la Rosa too speedy?
Valiante stuns in first Grand-Am race Valiante stuns in first Grand-Am raceUPDATE A reader adds, Dear Autoracing1, I was at the Rolex Series race today and got to see Valiante in action.  I mean this when I say he made all of the other sports car legends look bad.  He took over the car and was just simply amazing.  I am a huge Champ Car fan and at one point didn't care one way or another if he made the series. After today, I am begging Eric Jensen to give him your seat! Ernest Barton 04/03/05 A good portion of Sunday's Grand-Am race at Fontana was led by Michael Valiante in the No. 19 Ten Motorsports car. Subbing for Memo Gidley who had a conflict with another race, Valiante took his place and promptly qualified the car higher than the team had ever qualified before. In the race he led and then pulled away from the powerful and far better funded Lexus team of Chip Ganassi until he had to pit and turn over the car to his teammate.  Poor pit strategy resulted in a 7th overall finish. Still not a bad result and Valiante did set the fastest lap of the race.

What's bad is that so far only Derrick Walker has given Valiante a shot at a Champ Car race - in Mexico City last year. With zero testing and never having seen the race track, he promptly ran the old Reynard faster than a good number of Lolas and his more experienced teammate. There has yet to be a Champ Car team owner willing to give the very talented young Canadian a chance with a full-time ride. Without sounding like a Michael Valiante cheerleader, here is a direct quote from his team manager in Toyota Atlantic to AutoRacing1 last year - "Michael's the best driver we have ever seen. If he doesn't get a chance in Champ Car, that will be akin to Michael Schumacher never being discovered." Mark C.

Attendance at St. Petersburg Attendance at St. PetersburgUPDATE #2 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Just a quick letter to suggest that Scott Goodyear and Dave Despain's guest tonight on Wind Tunnel, (sorry, I don't remember his name), must be smoking something strong if they believe there was actually 70,000 people in attendance in St. Pete today. That amount would be pushing it for the whole weekend let alone one day. As another reader wrote in earlier the aerial shots showed plenty of empty seats that could not be seen from ground view and the place only seats 23,000. Also, yet more proof that hardly anyone cares about the IRL, it took almost the entire Wind Tunnel show tonight before someone called in to comment on the race. Then again, I wouldn't expect anything less. Deke McTeer, Twin Lake, MI 04/03/05 Saturday's attendance in St. Petersburg was larger than the race day attendance at the IRL's Phoenix race.  It was a good turnout.  Today's Indy Star reports that there are approximately 23,000 seats for today's race, but a strong walk-up crowd could push attendance to more than 30,000. 04/02/05 A crowd of only about 10,000, admitted free of charge Friday, saw the IRL's first-ever practice session on a street course in St. Petersburg, Florida. A small Friday crowd by Champ Car standards, it's still better than the 50 or so the IRL gets on Fridays at oval track races.
Nobody cares Nobody caresA reader writes, I think Wind Tunnel Sunday night just said it best when they asked for people to call in and say what they think about the Imitation Racing League road racing.  Nobody called in because nobody was watching and nobody cares. Tim Fregeau, Plainfield, IL
Marco Andretti wins first IPS race Marco Andretti wins first IPS raceUPDATE A reader writes, Before you anoint Marco the next King of the World, keep in mind that at the recent Sebring Star Mazda race, Marco raced and finished mid-pack in a strong 40 car field. When he wins regularly in a competitive series, then maybe I will be convinced, but until then, best we reserve judgment. Hopefully Mario's influence will keep Marco in road racing so he can hone his talents, rather than wasting whatever talent he may have in the "no talent required" IRL. Name withheld, St. Petersburg, FL 04/03/05 Marco Andretti is a real talent.  We have long maintained that - winning championships at every level he has raced so far.  Today he once again proved we're right, winning the very first Infiniti Pro Series race he ever entered from pole. 

Marco Andretti, the 18-year old son of Michael Andretti and grandson of Mario Andretti, became the youngest race winner in the 10-year history of the Indy Racing League by capturing the checkers in Sunday's running of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Andretti, a high school senior who also became just the fourth driver to win in his Pro Series debut, had the #26 Andretti Green Racing Vonage Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone out front for 22 of the 40 laps. He started from the pole and led the first 12 laps before losing the lead to Wade Cunningham in the 10th of 14 turns on the 1.8-mile circuit. Andretti stalked Cunningham throughout the next 16 laps before setting up for the winning pass in Turn 3 on lap 31. Andretti waited until he and Cunningham approached a lapped car and then slipped past on the inside of the right-hand corner.

From there, Andretti stretched his lead to over two seconds before winning by 1.4181 seconds over Cunningham and Nick Bussell. Al Unser, also an 18-year old, third generation driver, and Arie Luyendyk Jr. finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

The win was especially gratifying for the entire Andretti family after suffering a personal loss yesterday. William Riehl, an 18-year old close friend of the family from Melbourne, Fla., was killed in an auto accident Saturday - news which reached the family just after the youngest Andretti claimed the pole for Sunday's event.

MARCO ANDRETTI:         "I don't think there is a way to describe the way this feels. I think it was the best thing that I could have done for Will (Riehl) and for everything that happened this weekend. We even lost the last session, so we kind of took a gamble. But, (race engineer) Tony (Cicale) really found it. There is no question this is the biggest race I've ever won because it is the biggest race I've ever competed in."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI:         "I'm just so proud of him and proud of the job he has done all weekend. He drove like a veteran. He was just so smart. He put pressure on when he needed to put pressure on and backed off when he needed to back off. With all the pressure and eyes that was on him and with Will dying yesterday, this was impressive. He drove like an old guy out there today."

Pos  Driver Diff Lap C/E/T Status
1  Marco Andretti (26)  40 D/I/F Running
2  Wade Cunningham (33) 1.4181 40 D/I/F Running
3  Nick Bussell (21) 2.2221 40 D/I/F Running
4  Al Unser (3) 4.1235 40 D/I/F Running
5  Arie Luyendyk Jr. (5) 29.1019 40 D/I/F Running
6  Travis Gregg (7) 35.0952 40 D/I/F Running
7  P.J. Chesson (36) 40.3833 40 D/I/F Running
8  Chris Festa (19) 1 lap 39 D/I/F Running
9  Marty Roth (4) 17.7052 39 D/I/F Running
10  Jay Drake (20) 13 laps 27 D/I/F Gear Box
11  Jon Herb (6) 22 laps 18 D/I/F Accident
12  Jeff Simmons (24) 39 laps 1 D/I/F Accident
13  Jaime Camara (1) 40 laps 0 D/I/F Accident

Pruett and Diaz win closest Grand-Am race Pruett and Diaz win closest Grand-Am raceDefending Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona Prototype co-champion Scott Pruett held off current Daytona Prototype co-points leader Max Angelelli by a series-record 0.096 seconds to take his first victory of the 2005 season in the Ferrari Maserati 400 at California Speedway.

Driving the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley, Pruett claimed the lead from Michael Valiante when the Canadian pitted for fuel, tires and to hand the No. 19 Ten Motorsports BMW Riley over to co-driver Michael McDowell on Lap 65 of the 86-lap race. Pruett’s ascension to the lead was remarkable as his No. 01 co-driver Luis Diaz encountered a power steering failure as he approached the green flag while starting from his first career pole position.

“I was a little bit nervous so I decided to be safe with the car, until we knew a little bit more about the problem,” Diaz said. “With the problems with the car, I decided to run a good pace and to bring the car to Scott in good shape, not risking too much in the first part of the race. I think that paid off.”

Despite the difficulties, Pruett had the advantage as the race neared its conclusion. Pruett’s car had plenty of fuel, while it wasn’t entirely clear whether or not Angelelli’s No. 10 SunTrust Racing Pontiac Riley—that was driven in the first stint by car owner Wayne Taylor—could make it to the end without another stop. Angelelli’s big break came on Lap 74, when Justin Pruskowski brought out the day’s final full-course yellow in the No. 5 Essex Racing Ford Crawford after spinning and stalling in Turn 10.

The two-lap caution period was enough to remove any doubts for Angelelli and set the table for an intense, 10-lap dash to the checkers. On the Lap 76 restart, Angelelli made quick work of the lapped cars between himself and Pruett, and closed-in, looking for his third-straight Rolex Series win. As they took the white flag, Pruett led Angelelli across the line by a half-second. However, as he approached the 21st and final turn on the 2.82-mile road circuit, Pruett was momentarily delayed by the No. 22 BMW GT car of Ian James, allowing Angelelli to get one final run.

Both Daytona Prototypes pulled back onto the oval portion of the Speedway, with Pruett on the bottom of the track, the BMW in the middle, and Angelelli rocketing around the outside. The Italian’s run came up just short and Pruett hung on for his first victory of the 2005 Rolex Series season. The margin of victory eclipsed the previous best of 0.870 seconds by Angelelli over Pruett at Virginia International Raceway last year.

Seen at St. Pete Seen at St. PeteUPDATE Photo added below for those who didn't believe us.  From the website on the banner - Today, a banner plane displaying the message “Bring Back Champ Car” was aloft for one hour before and during the ‘first-ever attempt at turning right’ by the IRL in St. Petersburg, FL. While we don’t think a banner plane will accomplish this, it’s a nice reminder message to IRL owner Tony George, and the message is; "Champ Car fans will not be dragged ‘kicking and screaming’ into becoming fans of his Indy Racing League."  Champ Car Fans believe Tony George should not run anything but the facility he inherited. Mr. George’s actions over the last 10 years have been reprehensible.

It should be noted that this was funded by true Champ Car Fans from Canada, Mexico, the United States, Germany, Holland, Norway, Ireland and Australia, and has been planned since November 2004.  This action is not affiliated in any way with the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered By Ford, or any of its fine sponsors or affiliates.  04/03/05 Seen flying over St. Petersburg today was a plane carrying a banner ad that read "Bring Back Champ Car."  Someone went to a lot of trouble for nothing.  Don't look for the IRL to give up St. Petersburg anytime soon.

Scanner Frequencies Scanner FrequenciesWe have updated our scanner frequency tables for 2005 for Champ Car , IRL, NASCAR and F1.  Links can be found on the appropriate main pages for each league above.
Forsythe’s IRL sponsorship Forsythe’s IRL sponsorshipA reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, At first I thought I was imagining things, but I couldn't help but notice the Forsythe banners hanging around the St. Pete/IRL course today. First, he lets NASCAR into Mexico, and now he's sponsoring IRL races?!  Has Jerry gone soft or is he just out to make money any way he can? Can you shed some light on the St. Pete banners?  Either way, he's doing Champ Car no favors in these cases. Dan Scherbarth, Mason, OH   Dear Dan, That Forsythe is this Forsythe company led by a Richard Forsythe.  Gerald Forsythe has no involvement.  They just happen to share the same last name.  Mark C.
IRL hits Home Run IRL hits Home RunUPDATE #3 There is speculation that Tony George will expand his Vision Racing team back to three cars to accommodate Tracy.  It was rumored that Vision Racing had eyed Tracy in the past but he stuck with Champ Car.  We have updated our 2008 IRL Silly Season page accordingly.

The Indy Star reports - "He wants to drive for Penske or Ganassi, and he wants me to talk to them for him," George said Thursday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where the Indy Racing League was testing.

After speaking with George on Thursday, Tracy called friend Jimmy Vasser, who will field a two-car IRL team with Kevin Kalkhoven. Oriol Servia has been designated for one car, and there is talk of the team swiping Will Power and his sponsor from Walker Racing.

Said Tracy: "Jimmy didn't say what he is doing with the other car, but it doesn't sound like he'll have one available."

Then there's the issue of money: Tracy is believed to want at least $1 million annually in salary.

"(Oval racing) is pretty dangerous, and I'm not going to drive for hamburgers and hot dogs," Tracy said.
George said he wouldn't pay Tracy's salary only to have him drive for another team, but he said he'd try to find a sponsor for the team.

"Since Chip doesn't want to pay me to run Alex, maybe I'll just ask him to run Paul," George said with a smile.

02/28/08 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with this announcement that Forsythe is only going to run an Atlantic program.  “I’m in shock and I’m very, very disappointed,” Tracy told SPEEDTV. 

“Right now, I need to quickly regroup, regain my composure and then start looking for another ride – and I mean in IndyCar. The team may be done, but I’m ready to go racing.”

“I got a call from Neil (Micklewright, president of Forsythe Racing) this morning and he said, ‘I’ve got some bad news for you,’” related Tracy from his home in Las Vegas.

“Neil said he’d been trying to get a hold of my manager but he was having a colonoscopy today. That’s ironic ‘cause that’s what I feel like I got.”

02/28/08 Rumor has it that Gerald Forsythe is not sold on the idea of entering cars in the Indy Racing League and his partner, Dan Pettit may not be either.  If true, one wonders where Paul Tracy will end up.

02/28/08 Tony George and Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven, along with a number of racing officials, appeared at the news conference at the venue for the IndyCar series season opener March 29. A number of team owners and drivers from both series were also on hand.

Toronto's Paul Tracy was not among the group because he was filming a Speed Channel television show back in Las Vegas.

Tracy said he's still not sure if he'll be racing for Forsythe Racing in the new series as neither he or the team has been told one way or the other by owner Gerald Forsythe, co-owner of Champ Car, if they'll compete.

"I'm still in limbo," he said. "I'd be lying if I said I'm not concerned. I'm anxious. I'd like to compete and with Forsythe Racing."

Forsythe, who was not at yesterday's press conference, was said to be nursing a broken foot and not travelling. Toronto Star

[Editor's Note: Tracy has been downgraded from 'fact' to 'strong' on our 2008 IRL Silly Season page]

Kart Racer TV movie Kart Racer TV movieUPDATE Reminder that this show will air tonight. 03/31/05 Dear Autoracing1.com, I saw the trailer for this movie http://abcfamily.go.com/kartracer/, and thought it was an interesting new PR opportunity for the karting community. Tim Bogert, Charlotte, NC
Reminder - Da Matta on Wind Tunnel Reminder - Da Matta on Wind TunnelUPDATE Reminder that da Matta will appear tonight on Wind Tunnel. 04/01/05 2002 Champ Car World Series Champion Cristiano da Matta will join Dave Despain and noted NASCAR journalist Ben Blake on SPEED Channel's popular motorsport show Wind Tunnel this Sunday. Da Matta will make his return to the Champ Car grid in one week for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach after two years competing in Formula One. He joins three other champions in the fight to recapture the Vanderbilt Cup this season. In 2002, the vibrant Brazilian won seven races and seven poles en route to winning his first Champ Car championship. He carried Newman/Haas Racing to its fourth Champ Car title as he qualified in the first three rows in 15 of the 19 races that season. He mixed in four other podium finishes with his seven wins and led a series-high 619 laps. He returns in 2005 to challenge for a second title under the PKV Racing banner. Piloting the #21 PKV Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, he will be teaming up with 1996 Champ Car champion Jimmy Vasser. Da Matta will make a guest appearance on Wind Tunnel on Sunday, April 3 at 9 p.m. ET to discuss his return and aspirations for the upcoming season with his new team just before he heads out to Long Beach, California for the Champ Car season opener in Long Beach, California on April 10.
Rocketsports signs another German driver Rocketsports signs another German driverAfter signing German Timo Glock for his Champ Car team, Paul Gentilozzi has signed German Klaus Graf to drive one of his Jaguar Trans-Am cars.

German championship driver, Klaus Graf teams up with Rocketsports Racing and Jaguar to compete for the 2005 Trans-Am Series Driver Championship. The 15 year veteran of road racing will drive the No. 7 Jaguar R Performance XKR powered by the Rocketsports developed Jaguar AJ-V8 production based power plant.

The 33 year old German driver’s hold impressive credentials with two International driver’s championships, two Le Mans 24 hour starts, three seasons in the American Le Mans Series and one NASCAR Nextel Cup start. In addition to his racing activities, Graf is also a safety training instructor and test driver.

Graf is looking forward to the new opportunity the Trans-Am series offers. “I am glad to have this opportunity,” declared Graf. “With the past success of Rocketsports and Jaguar I feel we can achieve success quickly and my goal is to win the Trans-Am championship this year.”

Rocketsports Racing looks to three-peat with the 2005 Trans-Am driver’s championship. Winning seven times in 2004, Rocketsports reached their 52nd series win and their fifth championship. Appropriately, the team’s milestone 50th victory was the first for the four-valve Jaguar production based AJ-V8 engine.

Finding the caliber of driver to fill a seat that was once occupied by champions Scott Pruett and Tommy Kendall is a difficult task,” said Rocketsports owner Paul Gentilozzi. “There are certain expectations that Jaguar and myself put on drivers, Klaus surpasses those expectations. He is an experienced driver with the knowledge to deliver Jaguar their fifth manufacturer’s championship.”

Graf will join Rocketsports teammates Gentilozzi and Tomy Drissi on the starting grid of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach April 10th as the first German national to compete in the Trans-Am series in 17 years.

Some unknowns in today's IRL race Some unknowns in today's IRL raceToday's race is 100 laps in length, divided by at least three stops for fuel.  The problem is, this is the IRL's first street-course race and no team has run that long on a set of tires, much less tested the gearboxes and brakes under race conditions.  "Sure, it's a concern, because nobody knows what these cars are going to do," Scott Dixon said. "The longest anyone has gone at a time this weekend is six or seven laps, certainly no more than 10." Indy Star
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Trulli's Pope tribute
No 'box fear - Schu
Alonso wary of Schu-threat
Schu to wear 'amulet'
New 'box for Rubinho
Minardi's V10 'loophole'
Bridgestone better - rival
Ron's reply to rumor mill
DC can't 'hear' or 'see'?
Jacques' not worried
'Alonso can be champion'
Ferrari brace for busy break
Trulli - 'I won't win'
F1 now 'way too fast'?
Alonso tops Schumacher for final pole in Bahrain Alonso tops Schumacher for final pole in Bahrain
Fernando Alonso stamped his authority once again on second qualifying for the Bahrain Grand prix, but Michael Schumacher moved up to start from the front row.
As usual, second qualifying was all about the level of fuel load a team and driver chose. In the end Fernando Alonso and Renault proved as unchallengeable as in Malaysia as the Spaniard lapped in 3m 01.902s to maintain his pole position, and the disappointment was clear on Michael Schumacher’s face as his 3m 02.357s best was supplanted.

Nevertheless, the world champion moved up a place to join Alonso on the front row as he beat Jarno Trulli’s 3m 02.660s for Toyota. Nick Heidfeld kept his fourth slot with 3m 03.217s. Williams team mate Mark Webber moved up a place on 3m 03.262s, but the biggest mover (and therefore the man likely to be running one of the lightest fuel loads) was Ralf Schumacher who will start sixth for Toyota on 3m 03.271s after setting the third-fastest time of the session behind Alonso and brother Michael.

Pos Driver Team Time
 1. (20) Alonso Renault (M) 3:01.902
 2. (18) M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 3:02.357 + 0.455
 3. (19) Trulli Toyota (M) 3:02.660 + 0.758
 4. (17) Heidfeld Williams-BMW (M) 3:03.217 + 1.315
 5. (15) Webber Williams-BMW (M) 3:03.262 + 1.360
 6. (10) R.Schumacher Toyota (M) 3:03.271 + 1.369
 7. (13) Klien Red Bull-Cosworth (M) 3:03.369 + 1.467
 8. (12) de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 3:03.373 + 1.471
 9. (14) Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 3:03.524 + 1.622
10. (16) Fisichella Renault (M) 3:03.765 + 1.863
11. (9) Button BAR-Honda (M) 3:04.348 + 2.446
12. (11) Massa Sauber-Petronas (M) 3:05.202 + 3.300
13. (8) Sato BAR-Honda (M) 3:05.563 + 3.661
14. (7) Coulthard Red Bull-Cosworth (M) 3:05.844 + 3.942
15. (6) Barrichello Ferrari (B) 3:07.693 + 5.791
16. (5) Villeneuve Sauber-Petronas (M) 3:07.983 + 6.081
17. (3) Monteiro Jordan-Toyota (B) 3:09.428 + 7.526
18. (4) Karthikeyan Jordan-Toyota (B) 3:10.143 + 8.241
19. (2) Albers Minardi-Cosworth (B) 3:10.422 + 8.520
20. (1) Friesacher Minardi-Cosworth (B) 3:11.261 + 9.359

Childress to take more active role Childress to take more active roleChildress on the #29 box at Bristol: #29 team owner, Richard Childress is reasserting himself to the team. He will be on Kevin Harvick's pit box tomorrow for the Food City 500, helping interim crew chief Scott Miller, the first time Childress has been on a pit box for a race since the 2001 season. Richmond Times Dispatch
DEI at risk "Becoming Another Company" DEI at risk "Becoming Another Company"Dale Earnhardt Jr: DEI at risk "Becoming Another Company" But he does not want it to be the beginning of a decline in the team's status among the elite of NASCAR. In a way, that would be letting down his father, Dale Earnhardt, who began the team and brought it to prominence before he died in a crash at the Daytona 500 in 2001. Citing his father's values and views, Earnhardt Jr. said it is up to "all these people to maintain that vision and that direction. And if we don't and we let it fade and the importance of it and the greatness of it's gone, then it becomes just another company. ''We want people to remember the impact that he had on the sport, and we want the company to have the same impact." NY Times/DFW.com [Editor's Note: Not half the driver his father was, Jr. wants to ride the money gravy train built on the back of his father. If DEI goes the route of Petty Enterprises, i.e. an embarrassment to the family name, the fans will eventually lose interest.]
Former McClure Crew Chief Suing Former McClure Crew Chief SuingTim Brewer, former general manager and crew chief for Morgan-McClure Motorsports has retained counsel and is expected to file suit next week against his former employer. Brewer will bring suit against Morgan-McClure for breach of contract and wrongful termination and seek a "substantial sum" in compensation, according to a press release issued Friday by Conway Law Firm, P.L.L.C. The Conway Law Firm is based in Abingdon, Va., also home to Morgan-McClure Motorsports. The firm specializes in civil and criminal litigation, personal injury, medical malpractice, wrongful death, products liability, workers' compensation and collections. ThatsRacin
NASCAR Likely to be Called to Congress NASCAR Likely to be Called to CongressThe congressional panel that held high-profile hearings on steroids in Major League Baseball is broadening its investigation to virtually all sports, starting with the NFL.  The GOP chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Government Reform sent a letter Thursday to NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, asking that the league submit detailed information on its steroid testing policies and practices by the end of next week.  Similar letters will go out as early as Monday to the NBA, the NCAA, the National Hockey League, USA Track and Field, Major League Soccer and other leagues.  There's "a good chance" the inquiry will also include NASCAR, said Robert White, spokesman for committee chairman Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va. The State
TEXAS Frontstretch Sold Out TEXAS Frontstretch Sold OutIt took race fans a mere eight minutes Thursday morning to purchase the special allocation of 322 frontstretch grandstand tickets for the April 17 Samsung/RadioShack 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.  Texas Motor Speedway’s corporate partners returned the 322 tickets so that race fans would have the opportunity to purchase the prime seat locations. The tickets went on sale at 9 a.m. Central Time and were spoken for by 9:08 a.m. Central Time. “Race fans just can’t wait for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup stars to come to Texas,” Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said. “We appreciate our corporate friends that made these tickets available so that 322 of our fans would have the opportunity to watch the world’s greatest stock car drivers.”  For those fans still yearning to attend the April 14-17 race weekend, there still remain opportunities to secure a seat. A very limited amount of 2005 Texas Motor Speedway season tickets are still available. Season tickets offer fans the same frontstretch seat for the entire race season. TMS PR
Fittipaldi defends career-killing move Fittipaldi defends career-killing move[Editor's Note: In this article Christian Fittipaldi is defending his decision to leave CART, essentially destroying his racing career. Of course he doesn't say that but the facts speak for themselves.] Christian Fittipaldi, attempting to revive his racing career following an unsuccessful NASCAR stint, posted the fastest time among the Rolex Grand American Daytona Prototypes during Friday's practice session at California Speedway. The 35-year-old Brazilian, who made five Prototypes starts in 2004 including the season finale at Fontana, made the jump to NASCAR after a successful career in the CART Series. He said he did not regret his decision to seek a ride in NASCAR after the 2001 CART season. "If CART had not gone where it went, I would not have left and the same for some others,' said Fittipaldi. "I had to look at an alternate. NASCAR is definitely the series everybody wants to be in America. It's the most competitive and there are a healthy number of cars. NASCAR is maintaining, and is not going up as much as Grand Am is right now. The cars are relatively cheap to run, compared to Champ Car and IRL,' Fittipaldi said. "They still have technological gizmos in the car that make them fun to drive, makes them interesting." Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Gordon not sorry yet he chose Menard engines Gordon not sorry yet he chose Menard enginesRobby Gordon said he doesn't regret his decision to use engines built by John Menard this season, even though it has drastically hurt him in his bid to field his own race team. Gordon failed to qualify for Sunday's race at Bristol, the second of five races he'll miss this year. Although he got in on speed in the other three, his motors failed in all of them and he has yet to finish a race. Menard is a highly regarded open-wheel engine builder, but this is his first foray into full-time NASCAR motor construction. Gordon said he has 100 percent faith in Menard, who has been a longtime supporter of Gordon's racing endeavors. He said that the engine failure two weeks ago in Atlanta was unrelated to the first two blowups this season, and the team had a strong test session at Texas with no motor problems. NASCAR.com
Busch race canceled due to rain Busch race canceled due to rainThe Busch series Sharpie Professional 250 race at the Bristol Motor Speedway has been canceled due to rain.  Race officials have not yet announced their plans for the race - NASCAR do not generally stop events entirely, and as such it is likely that the race will be held over until Monday.
Diaz on pole in Fontana Diaz on pole in FontanaMexico’s Luis Diaz will have a birds-eye view of the starter’s stand when the green flag drops on his 14th career Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series race, as he placed the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley on the pole position for Sunday’s Ferrari Maserati 400 at California Speedway (SPEED Channel, Live, 4 p.m. ET).

It was the first career pole for Diaz in Rolex Series competition, but was the Rolex Series record 13th pole in 15 starts for the No. 01 machine. It is the second-consecutive pole for the No. 01 team at California Speedway, and the car was driven to the Daytona Prototype championship-clinching victory by Scott Pruett—Diaz’s current co-driver—and Max Papis last October. Diaz claimed the pole on his final timed lap of the session.

“I couldn’t get a good lap the first two laps, but then I started focusing myself,” Diaz said. “The car was very good. The team at Chip Ganassi did a great job setting up the car. It’s good to have this kind of position because behind me I have a lot of pressure with all these poles from great drivers like Max Papis and Scott Pruett, it was very important for me to get this pole after I couldn’t do it at Homestead. I think this is a good boost for me for the rest of the season. I’m just going to try to bring the car complete to the first stop. I think the first corner is going to be very tight on the first lap, so I hope just to bring the car in one piece to Scott and I think the car is going to be good for the rest of the race.”

For the second-consecutive Rolex Series race, the No. 77 Crown Royal Special Reserve Doran Racing Lexus Doran qualified second, this time in the hands of Italian Fabrizio Gollin. While teammate Matteo Bobbi did the honors in qualifying for the Grand Prix of Miami last month, Gollin equaled the performance with a best lap of 1:33.386 (108.710 mph). Due to an engine change, however, Bobbi and the No. 77 team were unable to capitalize on the qualifying performance and were forced to start from the rear of the Daytona Prototype grid. Barring a similar setback, the outside of the front row would represent the best starting position for the first-year drivers.

“It’s very important to have a lot of experience on the USA tracks because for me it’s a new series,” Gollin said. “It’s a new type of track and it is very strange to stay on the banking and a lot of the oval. It’s a new sensation but it’s a very good sensation. For me and Matteo, the biggest problem was to understand the car. It’s very important to learn with a good setup, but we learn a lot of things every race and we need a lot of experience. I know we are fast, but we want to work well with (team owner) Kevin (Doran). Kevin is a very great man, he has a lot of experience and he learns a lot from us. We want to do a very good race because at Homestead we made a mistake. This championship is a very great championship.”

Starting third will be German Jörg Bergmeister in the No. 66 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley on the strength of a best lap at 1:33.556 (108.513 mph). Co-driver Christian Fittipaldi was quickest in Friday’s practice session, and Bergmeister’s qualifying performance continues a strong weekend showing for the Krohn/TRG team.

Mike Borkowski took his second-straight top-four starting spot in the No. 6 Mears Motor Coach Pontiac Riley for Michael Shank Racing. Borkowski clocked a best lap at 1:33.740 (108.300 mph) to claim the outside of the second row for the Ferrari Maserati 400. He started third in the Grand Prix of Miami last month. Frenchman Stephan Gregoire rounded out the top five on the starting grid with a lap at 1:33.798 (108.233 mph) in the No. 09 Spirit of Daytona Racing Pontiac Crawford.

Returning for the first time to the California Speedway track where the creation of the team was first announced six months ago, Finlay/Ten Motorsports has scored its best-ever Daytona Prototype qualifying spot of the 2005 season so far.

In Saturday afternoon qualifying, Canadian Michael Valiante turned a lap of 1:33.962 sec./108.044 mph in the #19 Air Force Reserve/Make-A-Wish Foundation Riley BMW.  The effort was good for 7th place on the 46-car starting grid for tomorrow’s Ferrari Maserati 400 at California Speedway race.

Ferrari Maserati 400k qualifying results include position, (car number) and drivers with qualifying driver first, class, car, best lap time, best lap speed.
1. (01) Luis Diaz/Scott Pruett, DP, CompUSA Chip Ganassi Lexus Riley, 01:33.356, 108.745.
2. (77) Fabrizio Gollin/Matteo Bobbi, DP, Doran Racing Lexus Doran, 01:33.386, 108.710.
3. (66) Jorg Bergmeister/Christian Fittipaldi, DP, Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley, 01:33.556, 108.513.
4. (6) Mike Borkowski/Paul Mears Jr, DP, Michael Shank Racing Pontiac Riley, 01:33.740, 108.300.
5. (09) Stephan Gregoire/Doug Goad, DP, Spirit of Daytona Racing Pontiac Crawford, 01:33.798, 108.233.
6. (8) Burt Frisselle/Brian Frisselle, DP, Rx.com/ Synergy Racing BMW Doran, 01:33.909, 108.105.
7. (19) Michael Valiante/Michael McDowell, DP, Ten Motorsports BMW Riley, 01:33.962, 108.044.
8. (02) Cort Wagner/Stefan Johansson, DP, New Century Chip Ganassi Lexus Riley, 01:34.131, 107.850.
9. (54) Terry Borcheller/Ralf Kelleners, DP, Kodak - Bell Motorsports Pontiac Doran, 01:34.264, 107.698.
10. (20) Paul Edwards/Chris Dyson, DP, Howard - Boss Motorsports Pontiac Crawford, 01:34.354, 107.595.

Marco's father comments on reinstatement Marco's father comments on reinstatement"Obviously, we're pleased with Roger Bailey's decision to overturn Marco's disqualification. We knew from the first time we heard there was an issue with the car that Marco had gained no advantage during the qualifying session and that nothing had been done intentionally by the team. At the end of the day, the correct decision was made and we appreciate the fact that the League stuck with their process, heard our protest and did the right thing." Michael Andretti
IRL qualifying speeds IRL qualifying speedsA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1,
2005 IRL qualifying
1  Bryan Herta (7)  1:02.5096 103.664mph
2  Helio Castroneves (3) 1:02.6933 103.360mph
3  Tony Kanaan (11) 0.4693 1:02.9789 102.892mph
2003 Champ Car qualifying
1 S. Bourdais  2Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone  1:00.928  106.710mph
2 P. Tracy  3Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone  1:01.476  105.758mph
3 A. Fernandez  51XFord-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone  1:01.749  105.291mph
It's not till 12th place that you get  a similar time
12   Alex Tagliani  1:02.523 103.987mph
This was on a somewhat longer course with sharper turns. The IRL has modified this track so as to have the times appear closer to Champ Car's and not seem embarrassing. And let's not forget they had tire warmers, Champ Car does not.  I suggest this would be a 4-5 second difference in time on the exact same course. Brian Defreese
Andretti wins protest, retains IPS pole Andretti wins protest, retains IPS poleUPDATE #2 In qualifying for the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Marco Andretti became the youngest pole winner in series history with a lap of 1:09.3253, 93.472 mph, in the No. 26 Vonage Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone.

Andretti, the son of Michael Andretti and grandson of Mario Andretti, was moved to the rear of the field after an aerodynamic violation was found during a post-qualifying inspection, but was restored to the pole after it was determined by Menards Infiniti Pro Series Executive Director Roger Bailey that the spec variation did not improve performance and was unintentional.

Andretti became youngest pole winner in series history at 18 years and 20 days. A.J. Foyt IV was the previous youngest at 18 years, 44 days.

Jeff Simmons will start second with a time of 69.3862 seconds, 93.390 mph. Rookie Wade Cunningham will start third in the No. 33 Visit New Zealand entry after turning a qualifying lap in 69.9854 seconds, 92.591 mph.

04/02/05 A revised starting lineup for the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is attached. After hearing a protest from Andretti Green Racing, Roger Bailey, the executive director of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series, has reinstated the pole position to driver Marco Andretti for Sunday's Menards Infiniti Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

It was determined by Bailey that the spec variation did not improve performance and was unintentional.  Bailey stated that he has reinstated the pole position after hearing subsequent interviews and doing further due diligence.   Andretti Green Racing was initially penalized for an aerodynamic infraction and placed in the last position of the final starting field.  The team will be penalized a yet to be determined fine and/or points.

1. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Infiniti, 93.472 mph
2. (24) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Infiniti, 93.390 mph
3. (33) Wade Cunningham, Dallara-Infiniti, 92.591 mph
4. (21) Nick Bussell, Dallara-Infiniti, 92.135 mph
5. (1) Jaime Camara, Dallara-Infiniti, 92.043 mph
6. (19) Chris Festa, Dallara-Infiniti, 91.662 mph
7. (3) Al Unser, Dallara-Infiniti, 89.956 mph
8. (5) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Dallara-Infiniti, 89.338 mph
9. (7) Travis Gregg, Dallara-Infiniti, 88.932 mph
10. (20) Jay Drake, Dallara-Infiniti, 88.530 mph
11. (4) Marty Roth, Dallara-Infiniti, 88.279 mph
12. (36) P.J. Chesson, Dallara-Infiniti, 74.235 mph
13. (6) Jon Herb, Dallara-Infiniti, no speed

04/02/05 Qualifying Saturday for the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series event on the 1.8-mile St. Petersburg Street Course, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine and speed.  Note the large spread in times for a "spec" series, indicating the low quality of driving talent. 

1. (24) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Infiniti, 69.3862s 93.390 mph
2. (33) Wade Cunningham, Dallara-Infiniti, 69.9854s 92.591 mph
3. (21) Nick Bussell, Dallara-Infiniti, 70.3319s 92.135 mph
4. (1) Jaime Camara, Dallara-Infiniti, 70.4015s 92.043 mph
5. (19) Chris Festa, Dallara-Infiniti, 70.6947s 91.662 mph
6. (3) Al Unser, Dallara-Infiniti, 72.0353s 89.956 mph
7. (5) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Dallara-Infiniti, 72.5334s 89.338 mph
8. (7) Travis Gregg, Dallara-Infiniti, 72.8648s 88.932 mph
9. (20) Jay Drake, Dallara-Infiniti, 73.1955s 88.530 mph
10. (4) Marty Roth, Dallara-Infiniti, 73.4036s 88.279 mph
11. (36) P.J. Chesson, Dallara-Infiniti, 74.235s 74.235 mph
12. (6) Jon Herb, Dallara-Infiniti, no speed
13. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Infiniti, no speed*
*Andretti's team was caught cheating and Marco was moved to the back of the field for not passing post-qualifying technical inspection

Spy shot of Walker Racing Spy shot of Walker RacingHere is a spy shot of the Walker Racing team and their new Australian colors just before they loaded up the trucks for Long Beach.

Bryan Herta wins pole in St. Pete Bryan Herta wins pole in St. PeteBryan Herta has won the pole position for the IRL's first ever street race in St. Petersburg, Florida.  More to follow...
Pos  Driver Diff Time Speed Lap C/E/T Status
1  Bryan Herta (7)  1:2.5096 103.664 5 D/H/F Pit
2  Helio Castroneves (3) 0.1837 1:2.6933 103.360 4 D/T/F Pit
3  Tony Kanaan (11) 0.4693 1:2.9789 102.892 8 D/H/F Pit
4  Dario Franchitti (27) 0.5288 1:3.0384 102.794 1 D/H/F Pit
5  Tomas Enge (2) 0.7554 1:3.2650 102.426 1 D/C/F Pit
6  Sam Hornish Jr. (6) 0.9419 1:3.4515 102.125 1 D/T/F Pit
7  Kosuke Matsuura (55) 1.2468 1:3.7564 101.637 1 P/H/F Pit
8  Tomas Scheckter (4) 1.3086 1:3.8182 101.538 1 D/C/F Pit
9  Dan Wheldon (26) 1.4440 1:3.9536 101.323 1 D/H/F Pit
10  Ryan Briscoe (33T) 1.6051 1:4.1147 101.069 1 P/T/F Pit
11  Scott Dixon (9) 1.6929 1:4.2025 100.931 1 P/T/F Pit
12  Vitor Meira (17) 1.7825 1:4.2921 100.790 1 P/H/F Pit
13  Alex Barron (51) 1.7955 1:4.3051 100.770 1 D/T/F Pit
14  Patrick Carpentier (83) 1.9534 1:4.4630 100.523 1 D/T/F Pit
15  Danica Patrick (16) 2.1403 1:4.6499 100.232 1 P/H/F Pit
16  Darren Manning (10) 2.2469 1:4.7565 100.067 1 P/T/F Pit
17  Buddy Rice (15) 2.6854 1:5.1950 99.394 1 P/H/F Pit
18  Roger Yasukawa (24) 3.2728 1:5.7824 98.507 1 D/H/F Pit
19  Ed Carpenter (20) 5.4259 1:7.9355 95.385 1 D/T/F Pit
Hard work pays off for Ferrari Hard work pays off for FerrariAt the end of a very closely contested qualifying session, which proves that the performance levels of the top teams is very similar this season, Michael Schumacher recorded his best qualifying of the year so far, posting the third fastest time, behind the two men who occupied the front row in Malaysia a fortnight ago, Fernando Alonso (Renault) and Jarno Trulli (Toyota.)

The world champion and his Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro engineers had worked hard all weekend to improve their understanding of the F2005, which is still in its infancy in development terms and with each passing session they made good progress, particularly thanks to the efforts of Bridgestone on the tire front. “All the work to bring the new car to Bahrain has paid off,” commented a satisfied Michael.

Team-mate Rubens Barrichello is currently fifteenth fastest, but given the circumstances surrounding the Brazilian’s weekend, technical director Ross Brawn described his efforts as “fantastic.” After being sidelined with a gearbox problem on Friday morning, the team traced the problem to a faulty bearing. This was rectified, but concerned about reliability, the team decided that Barrichello would not take part in the final 90 minutes of free practice this morning to ensure that he could complete his one flying lap and set a qualifying time.

A new gearbox is arriving from Italy tonight. Tomorrow morning, once the cars are released from parc ferme at 8h30 local time, the FIA technical staff will come to the Ferrari garage to confirm that the new gearbox is built to an identical specification to the old one and will then authorize the fitment of the new ‘box. The Ferrari mechanics are well practiced at carrying out this change and the whole operation should be completed in one hour, allowing plenty of time to get Barrichello’s car ready for final qualifying, which begins at 10h30 local time.

Given that this afternoon’s lap times were all very close – the top nine drivers were all within the same second – it should be possible for Barrichello to make up some places, especially if the Scuderia strategists decide to put him on an aggressive strategy in terms of starting the qualifying and therefore the race with a fairly light fuel load.

Completing the top six behind Schumacher are Nick Heidfeld (Williams-BMW,) Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault) and Mark Webber (Williams-BMW.) Both Minardi drivers required engine changes this weekend, but as they are currently the slowest two in the field, a ten place penalty on the grid will not make much difference to them.

Today, temperatures were higher than on Friday, reach 44 Celsius and an even hotter day is predicted for tomorrow. While final qualifying will take place in the relative cool of mid-morning, the race itself will be a very tough proposition for man and machine. Ferrari

Fittipaldi fastest in practice Fittipaldi fastest in practiceChristian Fittipaldi, attempting to revive his racing career following an unsuccessful NASCAR stint, posted the fastest time among the Rolex Grand American Daytona Prototypes during Friday's practice session at California Speedway.   Fittipaldi, who won the CART Marlboro 500 at the Fontana track in 2000, ignored the winds that canceled Thursday's practice to turn in a lap of 1 minute, 34.248 seconds at 107.751 mph in the morning session for Sunday's Ferrari Maserati 400. Defending series champion Scott Pruett had the fastest time in the afternoon session at 1:34.625, 107.267 mph.

The Prototypes will qualify this afternoon for the 89-lap race around the 21-turn, 2.88-mile road course just prior to the Grand-Am Cup 200. The 71-lap Grand-Am Cup, with a three-hour time limit, will start at 2:45 p.m.

"The car was really good,' said Fittipaldi, driving the Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley. "It's easy to drive. I think we have a good shot at the pole.

"But I would rather exchange the pole for a win on Sunday.'

Junqueira smashes Sebring track record Junqueira smashes Sebring track recordNewman/Haas driver Bruno Junqueira ended his off-season testing in style, prior to the Champ Car World Series opening, the Long Beach GP, on April 10th. Last Wednesday and Thursday, Junqueira became the first Champ Car driver to test at Sebring's main layout, long 3.7 miles (5.95 kilometers). More than adjust his Lola/Cosworth to bumpy circuits such as Cleveland and Monterrey (Mexico), Junqueira ended the testing as the first driver also to break the 130 mph average at Florida's racetrack.

On the best of his 167 laps - a huge distance of almost 1,000 kilometers on which he made many setup experiences - Bruno registered 1min-41.20 (131.62 mph - Previous record of 3.7-mile Sebring track was 125.50 mph by Juan Fangio in 1993 with the huge Horsepower turbo Toyota). Happy with the results, he will have only four days in Miami, where he lives, before his arrival in Long Beach. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, he will have a hectic media schedule, as well as meetings with Newman/Haas engineers, prior to on-track activity.

"I'm very happy with our testing in Sebring. On the very first laps, I tried to be more cautious, so to adapt to the lots of bumps. On the second day, I was much more comfortable in the car and tried to attack a bit more. We managed to complete good series of laps and it helped us a lot to fine-tune our setup." brunojunqueira.com

Castroneves again fastest in St. Pete Castroneves again fastest in St. Pete It’s another day and another set of challenges for Helio Castroneves and 20 other IndyCar Series drivers preparing for the inaugural Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

A storm front that moved through the central part of the state overnight washed a layer of rubber off the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street course along scenic Tampa Bay. But the skies cleared by mid-morning and the forecast for qualifying (2:30 p.m. EST Webcast on indycar.com) is for sunshine and temperatures in the mid-70s.

Practice times April 1 improved noticeably in the split afternoon sessions after drivers got acclimated with the course and rubber was scrubbed onto the streets and airport runway that serves as the long frontstretch.

“Typical of a street course, the track gets quicker with every lap we do as there is more rubber on the track,” said Dario Franchitti, who was second quick April 1 in the No. 27 ArcaEx Dallara/Honda/Firestone at 1 minute, 3.7508 seconds (101.646 mph). “There are still a couple areas I can make up time on. It’s an interesting, technical course to drive.”

Castroneves was fastest overall (1:03.0836; 102.721 mph) in the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Toyota/Firestone and will decide single-lap qualifying order. The top six will return for a 10-minute European-style session designed to give each driver the opportunity to better his/her qualifying time and set the first three rows for the 100-lap race April 3.

He also was quickest overall from the two 30-minute practice sessions April 2 (1:02.7589; 103.252). Andretti Green Racing's Dan Wheldon was second (1:03.3091; 102.355) and Bryan Herta third (1:03.3571; 102.277). Tomas Scheckter (1:03.5089; 102.033) was fourth.

“It’s really competitive,” Castroneves said. “We’ll actually be racing because we’ll finish one qualifying and hopefully go right into another, and then we have the race. It’s going to be extremely exciting.”

Pos  Car  Driver  Chassis-Engine  Time  Gap  To 1st  Speed 
1.  3  Helio Castroneves  Dallara-Toyota  1:02.759      103.252 
2.  26  Dan Wheldon  Dallara-Honda  1:03.309  0.550  0.550  102.355 
3.  7  Bryan Herta  Dallara-Honda  1:03.357  0.048  0.598  102.277 
4.  4  Tomas Scheckter  Dallara-Chevrolet  1:03.509  0.152  0.750  102.033 
5.  10  Darren Manning  Panoz-Toyota  1:03.518  0.009  0.759  102.018 
6.  11  Tony Kanaan  Dallara-Honda  1:03.578  0.060  0.819  101.922 
7.  27  Dario Franchitti  Dallara-Honda  1:03.664  0.086  0.905  101.784 
8.  51  Alex Barron  Dallara-Toyota  1:03.729  0.065  0.970  101.681 
9.  83  Patrick Carpentier  Dallara-Toyota  1:03.855  0.126  1.096  101.481 
10.  55  Kosuke Matsuura  Panoz-Honda  1:03.863  0.008  1.104  101.467 
11.  33T  Ryan Briscoe  Panoz-Toyota  1:03.875  0.012  1.116  101.448 
12.  9  Scott Dixon  Panoz-Toyota  1:03.981  0.106  1.222  101.280 
13.  2  Tomas Enge  Dallara-Chevrolet  1:04.153  0.172  1.394  101.009 
14.  16  Danica Patrick  Panoz-Honda  1:04.370  0.217  1.611  100.667 
15.  6  Sam Hornish Jr.  Dallara-Toyota  1:04.396  0.026  1.637  100.628 
16.  15  Buddy Rice  Panoz-Honda  1:04.621  0.225  1.862  100.277 
17.  8  Scott Sharp  Panoz-Honda  1:04.695  0.074  1.936  100.163 
18.  24  Roger Yasukawa  Dallara-Honda  1:05.225  0.530  2.466  99.349 
19.  17  Vitor Meira  Panoz-Honda  1:05.286  0.061  2.527  99.256 
20.  14  A.J. Foyt IV  Dallara-Toyota  1:07.635  2.349  4.876  95.808 
21.  20  Ed Carpenter  Dallara-Toyota  1:07.862  0.227  5.103  95.489

Villeneuve is as slow as he feels Villeneuve is as slow as he feelsJacques Villeneuve is feeling slow but his F1 future with Sauber is not in danger his manager Craig Pollock has said. "He is feeling slow but is pragmatic," Pollock told Autosport. "The car isn't fast enough and he hasn't had any real time in it to get it set up but he has this weekend and he's hoping to get the best set-up out of the car. Then it's up to the team to improve the car's speed."

"Jacques would always be happier if the car was faster but it's not," Pollock added. "I don't think the team is happy about that and he isn't happy but they've got to work together. We've been in this sort of situation before and we know what we're dealing with."

Villeneuve has been under fire from critics after two lackluster performances in Australia and Malaysia. Pollock rubbished reports Villeneuve could be replaced at Sauber before his contract is out saying, "It's all stupidity in reality. Performance clauses do not exist in the contract. Contracts are as firm as anything but in Formula One they can be as firm as you want but there are always ways around them."

McQueen’s son chooses racing over acting McQueen’s son chooses racing over actingChad McQueen tried balancing his father Steve's two passions, racing and acting. Two years ago, the need for speed won out.  "I didn't find acting fun anymore," said McQueen, whose films include "The Karate Kid." "So I decided to give racing a total commitment, and I'm giving everything I have to be successful in the Grand-Am series. I'm training very hard, which at my age is very important. I take this as my last opportunity, and I'm very lucky to have it.

Chad McQueen, 44, will drive a Ford-powered Crawford sports car in this weekend's Grand American 400-kilometer race at California Speedway. He will share the ride with Dominic Cicero II, an American who has been racing Formula Renaults in Europe.  "We're a new team, we won't be threatening the Ganassi cars on Sunday, but we could be running with the top five," McQueen told the Los Angeles Times for Tuesday's editions.

One of McQueen's goals is to drive in the Le Mans 24-hour race, which was the focus of his father's 1971 film of the same name. He had a ride lined up two years ago before he broke his left leg in a motocross race.  "I've got more screws in it than a hardware store," he said of his leg. "Le Mans is on the to-do list, no doubt about it."  [Editor's Note:  Psst, quick, someone tell him he's racing in the wrong series (Grand-Am) if he wants to race at LeMans.] AP Story

DEI troubles run deep DEI troubles run deep"We are not competitive like we want to be," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said before qualifying 19th for the Food City 500 on Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

"We're not performing as good as we want to be," Earnhardt Jr. said. "That's all right there in front of you in the numbers."

Much of the blame has fallen on the shoulders of Rondeau, Waltrip's former crew chief who took over the Earnhardt Jr. team this year in place of Tony Eury Sr., Earnhardt Jr.'s uncle. The switch was made to ease the tension that had built between Earnhardt Jr. and his cousin, the car chief Tony Eury Jr., as well as to bolster Waltrip's team.

"He's had to put up with some terrible stuff so far, some people been pretty mean to him," Earnhardt Jr. said in defense of Rondeau. "I wouldn't change a soul on the team that I'm with now. But there's a couple of areas in the company itself that we need to improve. We could be stronger, you know."

"I don't see as much ingenuity as I guess I would like to see from the company," he said.

"It's very early," the defending Cup champion, Kurt Busch, said. "You have to give it a good 10 races to see who your characters are going to be when it comes down to crunch time to get into the chase.  We'd like to be in there in the top 10, and we're going to try hard to get there," he said. "If we don't, it might not be the end of the world."

Industry News
FBI opens probe of Delphi FBI opens probe of DelphiUPDATE Delphi Corp. says it does not believe the company itself is the focus of a federal investigation into the auto supplier's accounting errors, leading legal experts to believe the target of the probe must be people who work at or used to work at the company.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Justice, FBI and U.S. postal inspectors are looking into the Delphi accounting irregularities, the company says. If Delphi is not the target, as the company insists, then it is likely the investigation centers on the people who oversaw Delphi's financial books.

"Companies will hang their former people or former executives out there so the company can cut their losses in these matters," said Bloomfield Hills attorney James Burdick, who handles many white-collar crime defense cases.

"A company like Delphi will sever their ties and tell the federal government 'He's the guy to blame,' in return for the government agreeing not to prosecute the company or prosecuting in such a way as to not impact the company," Burdick said Friday. Detroit Free Press

04/01/05 The FBI has begun investigating accounting errors at Delphi Corp., the world's largest auto supplier. Delphi has said that it improperly accounted for $237 million in cash payments for warranty claims to its former parent, General Motors Corp., in 2000. The accounting errors led to the resignations of Delphi's chief financial officer and controller. The investigation is in the early stages and was begun after the SEC made a criminal referral to the fraud section of the U.S. Department of Justice, Dawn Clenney, a spokeswoman for the FBI's Detroit office told The Detroit News for a story in Friday's editions.

Troy-based Delphi said last week it had improperly accounted for $237 million in cash payments made to GM. Delphi said the accounting errors caused it to overstate pretax income by about $61 million in 2001. The company has been investigating improper accounting transactions dating back to 1999.
UPS teams up with Bristol and TMS UPS teams up with Bristol and TMSUPS announced that it has entered into a new partnership with Speedway Motorsports, Inc., (SMI) to become an exclusive track sponsor of Bristol Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. This new partnership is introduced on the heels of an earlier announcement in regards to UPS’s new relationships with California Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway and Richmond International Raceway. The addition of Bristol and Texas to the UPS family of race tracks that has also included Daytona International Speedway since 2001 provides UPS with a presence at a variety of geographic locations visited by the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Beyond branding presence at the tracks, UPS will coordinate both outbound and inbound shipments, including ticket packages and merchandise for vendor concessions. UPS Racing
Still no decision on '06 series name Still no decision on '06 series nameIt may have taken more than a year, but most NASCAR race fans have gotten used to the name change that took place at the beginning of 2004 when Nextel took over as the NASCAR Cup Series' primary sponsor. But, don't start getting too used to the Nextel Cup logo because thanks to the impending merger of Nextel and Sprint, next season race fans will have to try to remember a brand new sponsorship name and logo. Corporate leaders from Nextel and Sprint are currently sitting behind closed doors trying to decide - among other things - what to call NASCAR's premier touring division in 2006. As a result of the merger, which is expected to be concluded toward the end of 2005, the new combined company will inherit the remaining eight years as the primary sponsor of NASCAR's Cup division. Nextel Director of Corporate Communications Mike Mooney said Thursday the merger won't have anything but a positive effect on NASCAR Nextel Cup racing, except for causing fans to have to get used to a new sponsorship name for the second time in three years. "The Sprint folks are very supportive and enthusiastic of the NASCAR program, and in fact Sprint was a primary sponsor of Petty Enterprises for a number of years, so they understand the value of NASCAR," Mooney said. "Right now there are a lot of people doing brand studies on the name, but there hasn't been anything formally announced. There won't be any new name for the series in 2005, but I would imagine the new name in 2006 will reflect where the new company is heading". Kingsport Times-News
Industry News
XM adds 540,000 new subscribers in 1st Qtr. XM adds 540,000 new subscribers in 1st Qtr.XM Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: XMSR - News), the nation's leading provider of satellite radio, today announced it added more than 540,000 new net subscribers during the first quarter of 2005 for a total of 3.77 million subscribers. This subscriber gain represents a 68 percent increase in new net subscribers compared to the first quarter of 2004, when XM recorded 321,675 new net subscribers.

"This was the best first quarter in the history of XM. Millions of consumers are choosing XM because of our outstanding programming, including unprecedented coverage of Major League Baseball and the most commercial-free music in satellite radio, as well as breakthrough products like the Delphi MyFi XM2go radio, the first portable, hand-held satellite radio," said Hugh Panero, President and CEO of XM Satellite Radio.

XM Satellite Radio is America's number one satellite radio service with 3.77 million subscribers. Broadcasting live daily from studios in Washington, DC, New York City and Nashville, XM offers more than 150 digital radio channels of choice from coast to coast: 67 commercial-free music channels, featuring hip hop to opera, classical to country, bluegrass to blues; 64 channels of premier sports, news, talk, comedy, children's and entertainment programming; and 21 channels of the most advanced traffic and weather information for major metropolitan areas nationwide. XM Satellite Radio is the satellite radio leader in sports programming, offering thousands of live sporting events every year. XM is the official satellite radio network for Major League Baseball, NASCAR, the Indy Racing League, the PGA TOUR, and the college sports conferences ACC, Pac-10, and Big Ten. XM was named Best Radio Service at the 2004 Billboard Digital Entertainment Awards.

XM is the leader in satellite-delivered entertainment and data services for the automobile market through partnerships with General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Nissan, and Volkswagen/Audi. XM is available in more than 120 different vehicle models for 2005. XM also is available in Avis, National, and Alamo rental cars. XM is the exclusive in-flight entertainment service for AirTran Airways, and will soon be available on JetBlue flights. Consumers can experience XM over the Internet through XM Radio Online at http://listen.xmradio.com. For more information about XM hardware, programming and partnerships, please visit http://www.xmradio.com

Ex-CART drivers dominate IRL Ex-CART drivers dominate IRLEx-CART drivers dominated the first day of practice on a road course for the IRL. The fastest "IRL" driver, Sam Hornish, was a full 1.4 seconds slower - pretty much status quo from the old CART days which saw all the wankers in the series make the first jump over to the IRL. All the ex-CART drivers expressed joy with being back on a street circuit. Although the lap times of the IRL cars were similar to the Champ Car times from two years ago it is hard to make comparisons. Tires have changed and the track corners are slightly changed so the cars can now carry more speed through the turns. The IRL cars also have traction control whereas the Champ Cars do not and did not back in 2003. The track is also a bit shorter than it was in 2003. Still, the times are in the ballpark giving (within tenths of a second) Champ Car a bit of egg on their face.

As we have said, Champ Car needs to establish its place in the world order of things. The current car is far too heavy and far too slow allowing the IRL to marginalize the Champ Car product by producing a comparable "street-festival" event (as they now call it to copy Champ Car's words) and putting themselves in direct comparison to a "Crapwagon" as Paul Tracy called them. We shall see what Champ Car does with its new 2007 car. Will it be just another heavy overweight "Crapwagon" or will they put the overweight beast on a diet so it doesn't embarrass itself in the world marketplace vs. F1.

Champ Car preview show to air Champ Car preview show to airUPDATE #2 Reminder - this show will air today at 3:30 PM EST. 04/01/05 Added to the right is an advertisement for the Preview Show. 03/31/05 Champ Car fans will get their first look at the cars and stars that will compete for the 2005 Vanderbilt Cup as SPEED Channel airs the Champ Car 2005 Series Preview Show.

The 30-minute show will air at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday April 2 and will feature many of the teams and drivers that will take to the streets of Long Beach in the April 10 season opener, which can be seen live on NBC. The fast-paced program takes viewers behind the scenes for the inside scoop on what the 2005 season will hold, what the changes are, who made improvements and where the surprises will come from. In addition, the show will feature opinions from noted racing journalists Robin Miller and Gordon Kirby on who the early favorites are for the 2005 title.

“I’m sure the show will spark some controversy among the fans, as Robin and Gordon really spoke their minds,” said preview producer John Orfanopoulos. “This kind of hard-hitting, no-holds-barred insider view makes great, thought-provoking and entertaining television.”

Produced by Traveling Light Media and shot at preseason testing in Fontana and Sebring, the show will bring fans up to speed in preparation for the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season opener to come the following week.

“We have seen a number of changes and exciting new additions to the Champ Car lineup as we head into the 2005 season,” said Champ Car President Dick Eidswick. “We have the deepest lineup of driver talent that we have had in a long time and we think that this show is a great way to get the fans ramped up for a great season of Champ Car racing.”

The Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season kicks off Sunday, April 10, live on NBC with race coverage beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern Time.

Horner happy for Wirdheim Horner happy for WirdheimChristian Horner, the manager of Bjorn Wirdheim and now Formula One Red Bull Racing boss, told Autosport-Atlas "I think Champ Car is a good opportunity for Wirdheim. He needs to go racing, that was always his strength and it sounds like it is a respectable team in HVM. Hopefully it will give him the opportunity to demonstrate the ability he showed at Arden. I think their first race is pretty soon, so it doesn't give him much time to prepare," said Horner, who is in Bahrain for the third F1 Grand Prix of the year. "But I think he will get on with it and do a decent job."
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Bahrain changed?
Mercedes, Honda, roast FIA
Another tire supplier?
Rubens' gearbox en route
No podium repeat - Trulli
Red Bull's 'problem' - DC
'No problem with JV' - Sauber

No Ferr-ight for Fernando
Rubens' not running
Klien snubbed earring ban
'Foolproof' on April 1
Stewart under siege
Why would Montoya 'lie'?
Mosley to 'split' FIA top job
New deal on cards - BMW
How to get lost in Bahrain
Button still bruising
Kimi-drunk tale 'untrue'
Schuey and Webber top Saturday practice Schuey and Webber top Saturday practiceMichael Schumacher set the pace in his new Ferrari in the first practice session on Saturday morning (Practice 3) in Bahrain.  However, later on in Practice session 4 Mark Webber set the fastest lap of the practice session with a lap of 1m29.527s, which is 0.6sec under Michael Schumacher's pole time from last year. The BMW Williams driver was one of nine drivers who went faster than Schumacher's pole from 12 months ago.  Results
Jensen Motorsports makes two key hires Jensen Motorsports makes two key hiresEric Jensen is close to announcing who his driver will be for his new Champ Car team.  Meanwhile he has made two key hires.  Russell Cameron who was the original Team Manager for PKV Racing will assume that role for Jensen.  Adam Schaechter, Nelson Philippe's Mi-Jack Conquest Racing engineer last year, and who has worked with drivers including Alex Zanardi, Tony Kanaan, and Alex Tagliani, will assume the role of Race Engineer for Jensen.  The team transporter should leave Indy on Monday for Long Beach  with a 1-day test planned on the way, possibly at Firebird or the Fontana road course.
Industry News
Mercedes issues huge racall Mercedes issues huge racallDaimlerChrysler AG said it is recalling about 1.3 million Mercedes-Benz cars worldwide to fix problems with their alternators and batteries.  The German-U.S. automaker Thursday said it will check the voltage regulator in the alternator on six- and eight-cylinder models and replace the regulator if needed.   It said it would install battery control software on the E-class and CLS-class models built from January 2002 to January 2005. The company also said the braking system on the E, SL and CLS-class cars made since June 2001 would be updated.  The company is notifying its customers in writing of the recall.  Robert Bosch products are at issue in this recall. 
George: Fair game or unfair target? George: Fair game or unfair target?This St. Petersburg Times interview and analysis of Tony George is a fair assessment of the sport of Indy Car racing and the criticism heaped upon Tony George. We're one of his biggest critics and we agree with Mario Andretti that Tony could have done so much good for the sport had he gone about dealing with CART in a different way instead of going off and creating the IRL in an effort to become the Bill France of Open Wheel Racing - the head honcho. He tried to kill off CART on numerous occasions. There's no doubt it was a power play on his part. We predict he'll try to buy Long Beach from Dover as well. He hasn't given up.

He had a vision and we and many others didn't agree with it. We still don't and history has shown we were correct. Tony has had to morph the IRL into everything CART was, including now road racing. Proven wrong, he still won't do the right thing and move aside so that perhaps the sport can become one again someday. Tony doesn't have to be King. He needs to look after the Indy 500 and, if he didn't own the series, could own and run as many teams as he wants to in the league. That alone brings significant influence. Promote other races. Build a few grandiose road courses. There are so many things Tony George can do to help the sport of open wheel racing. Running the league isn't one of them. Large corporations change Presidents all the time. If one isn't working, the board replaces him. Tony has tried, spent a lot of money. But at the end of the day the company (the sport) is far worse off than it was in 1995 when he started all this - TV ratings are way down, attendance is down and sponsorship is down. There is far too much animosity toward the current leader, and that's bad for the entire sport. It's time for a new leader. Will Tony George's ego allow him to do what's right? Mark C.

Interview with Tony George Interview with Tony GeorgeThe Indy Racing League's controversial president talks about going street racing through St. Petersburg, the league's first 10 years, and his proudest accomplishment. More....
Bourdais still miffed at F1 snub Bourdais still miffed at F1 snubIt's been five months since the conclusion of the Champ Car World Series season. But that has not kept 2004 champion Sebastien Bourdais out of a race car. Heading into next weekend's season-opening Long Beach Grand Prix, the 25-year-old Frenchman, who now lives in St. Petersburg's Fla., raced the Baja 1000 with Rhys Millen, ran in the International Race of Champions in Paris, raced in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, finished last in the IROC series opener in Daytona, ran in the 12 Hours of Sebring and had only two whole days of testing in his Newman-Haas Champ Car.

One place Bourdais did not venture was into a Formula One car. For a driver who won the 2002 European F3000 series title a stepping stone to Formula One it left him baffled and perplexed.

"I was expecting something from Formula One,' Bourdais (right) admits. "I was kind of down because I did not get a test from (the) Williams (team) because they were looking for two drivers. I know where I compare to the guys they picked. To not even get a chance to show what I could do was not very good for me mentally. It was not the first time Formula One has refused me.'

He tested for Arrows in the summer of 2002 and was later given a contract, but the team folded shortly thereafter. He also tested for Renault in December of that year with no results.

Bourdais says he understands the situations, but he is still unhappy with the outcome. "They know they can find a driver somewhat better than another,' he said. "Either you bring money or you pay. Right now, there's no in between. The manufacturers don't need (you to bring) money. The other teams, it's all about money. It's a pretty difficult time for a guy like me with his own results.'

"Right now, I'm having a pretty good time here,' he says. "I am winning races and with a great race team. It's a pretty long term program. So, I cannot really complain. To win a professional championship is always something big. It is a major point in my career.'  "If anything happens in Formula One and it's very interesting, of course I'm going to be interested. If it does not happen, then you can always say there was a lot of people who never made it to Formula One who deserved a chance more than I did.'   So, for right now, he'll be in running in Champ Car's biggest event of the season: Sunday's Long Beach Grand Prix. "We have good communication,' he says of his team. "I'm comfortable with what we gave.' Excerpts from San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Childress still seething, wants rules change Childress still seething, wants rules changeStill seething over the punishment Kevin Harvick's team received for cheating last month, car owner Richard Childress called on NASCAR to overhaul its penalty process and stop taking points away from drivers. "They've got to come up with a way to penalize the owners, take my car, do something," Childress said Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway. "But you need to leave the drivers' points alone. That's a stick (NASCAR) can hold over your head, but it's not a fair stick."
IRL to use tire warmers IRL to use tire warmersThe IRL teams will be allowed to use tire warmers for qualifying Saturday for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, a first.
Stoked about Champ Car Stoked about Champ CarA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, With the announcement of Timo Glock and Bjorn Wirdheim to the 2005 Champ Car grid the level of talent is something to talk about again. While they are not the only talented drivers they sure do help to make things interesting. Now we need Michael Valiante to land a ride with Jensen and Jos Verstappen in the other HVM seat and I'll be totally stoked. Get it done Champ Car. Joe Bollock, Portland, Or.
Bahrain Friday Press Conference Bahrain Friday Press ConferenceENGINE SUPPLIERS: Mattia BINOTTO (Ferrari), Denis CHEVRIER (Renault), Mario ILLIEN (Mercedes), Otmar SZAFNAUER (Honda)
TIRE MANUFACTURERS: Pierre DUPASQUIER (Michelin), Hiroshi YASUKAWA (Bridgestone) Transcript
Friday Bahrain team-by-team summary Friday Bahrain team-by-team summary
McLaren: Fastest of all -- stand-in 'third' man, Alex Wurz. And JPM's replacement, Pedro de la Rosa, is quicker than Mr. Raikkonen. ''It's very hot out there,'' said Finland's Kimi.

Sauber: He's quicker only than a Jordan and Minardi or two, but Jacques Villeneuve said his Sauber 'feels much better' than in Malaysia. Felipe Massa, quicker, towed the line that the C24 is 'much stronger' than a fortnight ago.

Renault: The benchmark team demonstrated a sense of humor in their press release, but don't be fooled -- the R25's quick, carbon cup holder or not. ''I have no worries,'' said Fernando Alonso, while Giancarlo Fisichella's 7th. ''I had some oversteer today,'' said the visibly hot Roman.

BAR-Honda: The fever is gone, but not Takuma Sato's problems -- a faulty gearbox in the morning, and a costly afternoon spin. ''It's not been a good start,'' said the Japanese. Jenson Button's ninth.

Ferrari: Maranello's new F2005 got up and running; and conked out in the afternoon for Rubens Barrichello. ''Due to a lack of parts,'' said Ross Brawn, ''we'll have to fix the gearbox (rather than replace it).'' Michael Schumacher ended session two in fifth.

Toyota: Jarno Trulli's car is ok -- he just kept it in the garage in the morning. When it ran, the Italian was pretty quick. ''I'm not overly happy with the balance,'' he cautioned, but no-one - in the sand - really was. Ralf Schumacher's further back, and 'third' man Ricardo Zonta - morning quickest - ground to an afternoon halt.

Minardi: Paul Stoddart confirmed that Sunday's GP 'should be the last' for the well-used 2004 contender. Patrick Friesacher left Christijan Albers at the bottom of the timesheet.

Red Bull: Christian Klien, 22, got the best of David Coulthard on Friday. ''Lap time doesn't mean too much,'' stressed the veteran Scot, although Klien admitted the RB1 car is not as quick as in Australia and Malaysia.

Williams: Buried in the midfield. ''I'm not happy with the balance,'' said Nick Heidfeld, albeit quicker than Mark Webber. ''We have to find more pace,'' the latter Australian urged.

Jordan: India's Narain Karthikeyan steered fastest of the yellow trio. ''I'm pretty happy with the few small new parts we've added to the car,'' he said, although a half-decent Bridgestone tire no doubt helped. In both sessions, at least two of the three Jordans were quicker than Villeneuve.

Wallace tops Bristol practice Wallace tops Bristol practiceCasting wary eyes toward an ominous sky, Nextel Cup drivers took to the .533-mile concrete bullring at Bristol Motor Speedway about midday Friday for a two-hour practice.  With rain forecast for the afternoon, qualifying remains iffy -- and should the field for the Food City 500 be set by owners' points, Friday's practice is the only time the series' cars will be on the track until race day.  Rusty Wallace's No. 2 Dodge was the fastest of the 49 cars in practice. He turned in a fast lap of 127.191, and he was one of only two drivers to top the 127-mph barrier. Jeff Gordon was second fastest (127.090), followed by Jeremy Mayfield (126.813), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (126.403) and rookies Kyle Busch (126.195) and Travis Kvapil (125.955).  "I've won here nine times," Wallace said after practice. "Ten [wins] sounds good." NASCAR
Quotes from St. Petersburg Quotes from St. PetersburgWould the ART GP2 team,  champions in two of the three GP championships consider moving up to F1 and take the 12th and final slot that Prodrive failed to fill.  Team owners Frederic Vasseur and Nicolas Todt, were asked whether or not they were planning on making the move up to Formula One anytime in the future. 

“When you are a professional tennis player, you inevitably want to play on the central court at Roland Garros one day! Those that say otherwise are liars,” Vasseur told F1 Racing France in their last issue. “As an individual, you need to match with a profile to move up into F1. Perhaps I have it, but I have spent the past ten years working on ASM and ART Grand Prix and I do not intend to throw it all away.”

“It would be necessary to join F1 under the cover of a B team, which does not depend on me but on the FIA rules and financing. The long term project is to continue to win... and the idea is to duplicate our know-how into building cars. We massively invested on the technical side, and the logical continuation would be to be our own superintendent on our projects. That could happen with an involvement in endurance or in DTM; we are doing more and more engineering, we took part in the development of the World Series by Renault for instance; we are trying to develop an engineering service with the aim to set up an engineering department that would be as powerful as possible.”

“To turn ART Grand Prix into an F1 team would be a beautiful project, it is very easy to say, but making it real would be much more difficult” the Frenchman told F1 Racing France.

“With 130 people you could start to think about an F1 team, by sub-contracting many things. But there is also the financial aspect, you simply can’t ignore it. All the more that our goals would not be to just make up the numbers. To turn ART Grand Prix into an F1 team would not be an evolution, but a true metamorphosis. It is possible to do this because we have the capacities to reach that point, but you need a clear picture of such a project for a minimum of four years, which would have to be either a manufacturer team, or a B team either to be able to count on robust partners that would engage themselves on the long term.”

Cunningham leads IPS timesheet Cunningham leads IPS timesheetRookie Wade Cunningham turned the fastest lap among the teams preparing for Menards Infiniti Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.  Cunningham, the driver of the No. 33 Visit New Zealand Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone, recorded a lap of 1:09.5125, 93.221 mph on the 1.8-mile street circuit. Jeff Simmons and Marco Andretti were second and third, respectively.
Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed
1. 33 Wade Cunningham D/I/F 93.221 mph
2. 24 Jeff Simmons D/I/F 93.192 mph
3. 26 Marco Andretti D/I/F 92.596 mph
4. 3 Al Unser D/I/F 92.577 mph
5. 1 Jaime Camara D/I/F 92.214 mph

Marco Andretti, #26 Vonage Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone:   "We tried a bunch of things today, and found out a lot about what we need and a lot about what we don't need. That makes you feel more confident because otherwise you have things in the back of your head and you wonder whether they'll work or not. They've done a great job with the track, but I think it will still be tough to pass because all of our cars are so equal. The key to the race is going to be to qualify up front."

Castroneves tops Practice 2 at St. Petersburg Castroneves tops Practice 2 at St. PetersburgTwo-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves led the opening day of preparations for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the first-ever non-oval IRL IndyCar® Series event.  Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Toyota-powered Dallara, recorded a lap of 1 minute, 3.0836 seconds, 102.721 mph on the 1.8-mile temporary street circuit and earned the right to determine the qualifying order for Saturday's Marlboro Pole Qualifying.  Andretti Green Racing teammates Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan, the reigning IndyCar Series champion, were second and third, respectively, in their Honda-powered Dallaras.  Marlboro Pole Qualifying for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. (EST) on April 2.
Pos  Car  Driver  Chassis-Engine  Time  Gap  To 1st  Speed 
1.  3  Helio Castroneves  Dallara-Toyota  1:03.084      102.721 
2.  27  Dario Franchitti  Dallara-Honda  1:03.813  0.729  0.729  101.547 
3.  11  Tony Kanaan  Dallara-Honda  1:03.851  0.038  0.767  101.487 
4.  7  Bryan Herta  Dallara-Honda  1:04.069  0.218  0.985  101.141 
5.  9  Scott Dixon  Panoz-Toyota  1:04.075  0.006  0.991  101.131 
6.  51  Alex Barron  Dallara-Toyota  1:04.215  0.140  1.131  100.911 
7.  6  Sam Hornish Jr.  Dallara-Toyota  1:04.522  0.307  1.438  100.430 
8.  4  Tomas Scheckter  Dallara-Chevrolet  1:04.611  0.089  1.527  100.292 
9.  17  Vitor Meira  Panoz-Honda  1:04.688  0.077  1.604  100.173 
10.  55  Kosuke Matsuura  Panoz-Honda  1:04.694  0.006  1.610  100.164 
11.  16  Danica Patrick  Panoz-Honda  1:04.776  0.082  1.692  100.037 
12.  10  Darren Manning  Panoz-Toyota  1:04.888  0.112  1.804  99.865 
13.  2  Tomas Enge  Dallara-Chevrolet  1:04.906  0.018  1.822  99.836 
14.  26  Dan Wheldon  Dallara-Honda  1:04.985  0.079  1.901  99.715 
15.  15  Buddy Rice  Panoz-Honda  1:05.190  0.205  2.106  99.402 
16.  8  Scott Sharp  Panoz-Honda  1:05.671  0.481  2.587  98.674 
17.  20  Ed Carpenter  Dallara-Toyota  1:08.035  2.364  4.951  95.246 
18.  14  A.J. Foyt IV  Dallara-Toyota  1:08.371  0.336  5.287  94.777
Castroneves tops Practice 1 at St. Petersburg Castroneves tops Practice 1 at St. Petersburg
Pos  Car  Driver  Chassis-Engine  Time  Gap  To 1st  Speed 
1.  3  Helio Castroneves  Dallara-Toyota  1:03.831      101.518 
2.  27  Dario Franchitti  Dallara-Honda  1:04.170  0.339  0.339  100.982 
3.  11  Tony Kanaan  Dallara-Honda  1:04.260  0.090  0.429  100.840 
4.  17  Vitor Meira  Panoz-Honda  1:04.271  0.011  0.440  100.822 
5.  7  Bryan Herta  Dallara-Honda  1:04.275  0.004  0.444  100.817 
6.  8  Scott Sharp  Panoz-Honda  1:04.843  0.568  1.012  99.933 
7.  2  Tomas Enge  Dallara-Chevrolet  1:04.869  0.026  1.038  99.894 
8.  10  Darren Manning  Panoz-Toyota  1:04.895  0.026  1.064  99.854 
9.  6  Sam Hornish Jr.  Dallara-Toyota  1:04.941  0.046  1.110  99.782 
10.  55  Kosuke Matsuura  Panoz-Honda  1:05.016  0.075  1.185  99.668 
11.  26  Dan Wheldon  Dallara-Honda  1:05.022  0.006  1.191  99.659 
12.  9  Scott Dixon  Panoz-Toyota  1:05.130  0.108  1.299  99.493 
13.  33  Ryan Briscoe  Panoz-Toyota  1:05.232  0.102  1.401  99.338 
14.  4  Tomas Scheckter  Dallara-Chevrolet  1:05.378  0.146  1.547  99.116 
15.  51  Alex Barron  Dallara-Toyota  1:05.526  0.148  1.695  98.892 
16.  15  Buddy Rice  Panoz-Honda  1:05.726  0.200  1.895  98.591 
17.  16  Danica Patrick  Panoz-Honda  1:05.761  0.035  1.930  98.539 
18.  24  Roger Yasukawa  Dallara-Honda  1:06.203  0.442  2.372  97.881 
19.  83  Patrick Carpentier  Dallara-Toyota  1:07.347  1.144  3.516  96.218 
20.  14  A.J. Foyt IV  Dallara-Toyota  1:08.480  1.133  4.649  94.626 
21.  20  Ed Carpenter  Dallara-Toyota  1:09.107  0.627  5.276  93.767
Rocketsports targets success with Glock Rocketsports targets success with GlockRocketsports Racing announced today that it has signed a deal with former Formula One driver Timo Glock to drive the team’s second entry for the 2005 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season. The young German driver will pilot the No. 8 DHL Global Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone starting at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 8-10.

The 23 year old was the first driver to graduate to Formula One through the Deutsche Post’s "Speed Academy”. Glock started his driving career at the age of 15, winning several karting championships before moving to and winning two championships in the BMW Formula ADAC Series. In 2002 and 2003, Glock competed in the International German Formula 3 Championship and International Formula 3 Euro Series respectively.

Recognized as one of the most promising young German drivers by Formula One team owner Eddie Jordan, Glock landed a permanent test driver position with Jordan in 2004. While in Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix, circumstances moved Glock from Friday test driver to Sunday race driver.  He was one of the few drivers in Formula One to score points during his debut when he finished seventh.

Glock looked toward Champ Car after Jordan sold the F1 team at the end of 2004. “I decide right away to look at Champ Car,” said Glock. “With the class of drivers in the series, the 2005 championship will be extremely competitive and portray it as the world-class series that it is.

After our first test I was impressed with the strength of the Rocketsports crew and my engineer, David Watson. After Fontana I came to enjoy working with the crew and Paul. Paul is a crazy team boss and a driver, so he understands me as a driver and that helps create a competitive team.”

The Rocketsports organization expanded its efforts to Champ Car in 2003 after nearly 20 years in sports car racing and four championships. In 2004, Rocketsports grew to a two car effort and captured their first professional open-wheel victory in round eight of the Champ Car World Series at Road America.

Gentilozzi echoed the thoughts of Jordan. “Timo is a very technical driver,” described Gentilozzi. “He knows what to expect with each change of the car and provides extensive input. We had very successful tests in Fontana and Sebring and feel Timo will play a role in taking us to victory circle.”

The Rocketsports duo of Glock and Ryan Hunter-Reay combines rookie and veteran talent for the upcoming season.  This pairing, along with a dynamic crew under the direction of team manager Phil Howard, expects to put Rocketsports solidly into the 2005 championship battle. Glock is also a favorite to win the coveted Rookie of the Year Title.

San Jose announces track change San Jose announces track changeOpen-wheeled racecars will speed over the streets of downtown San José, passing by the Tech Museum, San José Convention Center, and Cesar Chavez Plaza in a new course in the inaugural San José Grand Prix at the end of July that was officially announced today by Mayor Ron Gonzales and Don Listwin, founder of Canary Fund. Standing in Cesar Chavez Plaza next to a Champ Car World Series racecar, the mayor said, “The San José Grand Prix will bring world-class racing excitement to our streets, and it will bring San José to the attention of millions of people across the nation and around the world.

“This new race course (see photo right - note Chicane has moved by 1-block) in the heart of our downtown will proudly show our city’s best face to television audiences in more than a hundred nations, and revenues generated by the event will bring real economic benefit to our community and local businesses.”

The racecourse originally planned by the San José Grand Prix was going to be centered at the HP Arena west of downtown San José. Race organizers proposed the course change to provide a longer race track, longer pit lane and increased paddock space that can grow with the Champ Car Series as well as offer a better experience for race fans at the event. “With this new course, we expect the San José Grand Prix will become one of the best races on the international Champ Car World Series circuit over the next ten years,” said Don Listwin.

The San José Grand Prix weekend of July 29 -31 is part of a week of activities which will include concerts and family events, and is expected to draw more than 100,000 fans to downtown San José. (Bob Singleton, pictured right) The San José City Council is scheduled to consider the new route at its meeting on Tuesday, April 12.

The San José Grand Prix, which supports Canary Fund, is produced by Canary Fund Enterprises. The Canary Fund, founded by Don Listwin, is dedicated to medical research for the early detection of cancer. For information about the San Jose Grand Prix and tickets for the events and races during the week, go to http://www.sanjosegrandprix.com.
Hispanic fans get Radio for Long Beach Hispanic fans get Radio for Long BeachHispanic Champ Car fans are a large part of the success of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, attending race events and supporting drivers in large numbers at many of the stops along the Champ Car calendar.

Now the Hispanic fans will have a chance to follow all the action of the season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach via Spanish-language radio broadcast thanks to an agreement between Champ Car and Radiovisa Network.

The agreement calls for as many as five of this year’s events to be carried live on Radiovisa, which includes 16 stations covering many of the top media markets in the United States. The weekend coverage includes a live broadcast of Saturday’s qualifying beginning at 2 p.m. Pacific Time along the live flag-to-flag coverage of Sunday’s race.

“The Toyota Grand Prix draws thousands of Hispanics to Long Beach each year,” said Ray De La Garza, COO of Radiovisa Corporation. “Champ Car racing is a huge sporting event in the Hispanic community and we’re thrilled to make it even more accessible to the broader U.S. Hispanic population. We hope for this to be only the first of many Champ Car races we can bring to our listeners.”

“We are pleased to have Radiovisa as part of our broadcast team and we look forward to a great response from our Hispanic fans,” said Champ Car President Dick Eidswick. “We have taken many steps this year to increase our presence in the Hispanic community and we believe that having our events on radio will play a strong role in that.”

A list of the individual stations on the Radiovisa network follow:
Los Angeles – KMXE, 830 AM
Phoenix – KMIA, 710 AM
San Diego – XRCN, 1470 AM
Riverside, CA – KMXE, 830 AM
El Paso, TX – KXVE, 1150 AM
Washington D.C. – WPWC, 1480 AM
Denver – KMXA, 1090 AM
Fresno, CA – KOOR, 790 AM
Las Vegas – KRLV, 1340 AM
Albuquerque – KRZY, 1450 AM
Monterey, CA – KMEO, 540 AM
Oxnard, CA – KUNX, 1590 AM S
tockton, CA – KCVR, 1570 AM
Modesto, CA – KCVR, 98.7 FM
Merced, CA – KTIQ, 1660 AM
Amarillo, TX – KZIP, 1310 AM
[Editor's Note: No radio coverage of Champ Car in Miami/South Florida? They only have the largest Cuban and Brazilian population in the US there. When will they learn that there are more than just Mexicans who speak Spanish in the US?]

Wurz leads practice 2 in Bahrain Wurz leads practice 2 in BahrainP. No Driver Team - Engine Tyres Times Ave/Gaps
1. 35 WURZ McLaren Mercedes M 1'30"695 215.020 Km/h
2. 5 ALONSO Renault M 1'31"969 + 0'01"274
3. 37 LIUZZI RedBull Cosworth M 1'32"319 + 0'01"624
4. 10 DE LA ROSA McLaren Mercedes M 1'32"333 + 0'01"638
5. 1 M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari B 1'32"431 + 0'01"736
6. 16 TRULLI Toyota M 1'32"595 + 0'01"900
7. 6 FISICHELLA Renault M 1'32"708 + 0'02"013
8. 9 RAIKKONEN McLaren Mercedes M 1'32"988 + 0'02"293
9. 3 BUTTON BAR Honda M 1'33"037 + 0'02"342
10. 17 R.SCHUMACHER Toyota M 1'33"077 + 0'02"382
11. 8 HEIDFELD Williams BMW M 1'33"152 + 0'02"457
12. 4 SATO BAR Honda M 1'33"205 + 0'02"510
13. 15 KLIEN RedBull Cosworth M 1'33"436 + 0'02"741
14. 38 ZONTA Toyota M 1'33"443 + 0'02"748
15. 7 WEBBER Williams BMW M 1'33"563 + 0'02"868
16. 14 COULTHARD RedBull Cosworth M 1'33"708 + 0'03"013
17. 12 MASSA Sauber Petronas M 1'33"726 + 0'03"031
18. 19 KARTHIKEYAN Jordan Toyota B 1'33"981 + 0'03"286
19. 39 DOORNBOS Jordan Toyota B 1'34"222 + 0'03"527
20. 11 VILLENEUVE Sauber Petronas M 1'34"300 + 0'03"605
21. 18 MONTEIRO Jordan Toyota B 1'34"727 + 0'04"032
22. 20 FRIESACHER Minardi Cosworth B 1'35"325 + 0'04"630
23. 21 ALBERS Minardi Cosworth B 1'36"094 + 0'05"399
Despite some controversy, Champ Car is turning around Despite some controversy, Champ Car is turning aroundThis Globe and Mail article says, Things are looking up for the embattled Champ Car World Series, as it enters its second season under new management following a near-fatal bankruptcy in 2003. It's been an incredible ride for the series over the past 18 months but as it moves forward under the ownership of Open Wheel Racing Series partners Kevin Kalkhoven, Gerald Forsythe, and Paul Gentilozzi, Champ Car continues to strengthen on almost a daily basis. The series isn't on solid ground yet and it hasn't been easy, but the new owners made it clear from Day 1 that the turnaround plan would take years, not months. And they've delivered results, although at times they've come at the last minute.

As little as two weeks ago, getting enough cars to the grid for the season opener next weekend in Long Beach seemed to be a long shot at best. With a number of announcements over the past two weeks, it is possible that the series will arrive for its first race next weekend with as many as 20 cars. It also hasn't been without controversy, with Canadian driver Alex Tagliani signing a last-minute deal to race for Walker Racing after a public feud with former Rocketsports Racing boss Gentilozzi. Tagliani claimed he had a handshake three-year contract extension with the team, while Gentilozzi said the agreement depended upon the driver bringing some sponsor cash to the table.

While Tagliani may struggle with his new team, the continuing feud with his old employer might just help sell a few tickets. Everyone hopes 18-year-old phenomenon Andrew Ranger will also help get fans in the stands when he lines up on the grid with Mi-Jack Conquest Racing in next weekend's season opener. Ranger is not only quick, he's friendly and so far unaffected by his meteoric rise to Champ Car after one year in Fran-Am and another in Toyota Atlantic.

Paul Tracy will also return and the West Hill, Ont., veteran has been making noises about taking back his title from Sebastien Bourdais. Tracy backed up his threats by consistently finishing near the top of the timesheets in preseason testing. Toronto's Eric Jensen is expected to introduce his driver and sponsor for his one-car team today. Strong rumors put Burnaby, B.C., driver Michael Valiante in the cockpit of an all-Canadian team.

During testing last week in Sebring, Fla., the series announced an agreement to stage a 2006 race in Beijing, China. Champ Car and the Beijing Auto and Motor Sports Association will now work together to decide upon a promoter and final location for the event. The Beijing race will join this year's new Asian event in Seoul, South Korea, as the series expands to the burgeoning Pacific Rim as planned. With a number of countries chomping at the bit to get their products in U.S. markets, the series sees Asia as a huge source of flush sponsors. Next on the list is a race in Japan, with Sapporo heading the list of candidates to get a race in 2007.

The Asian expansion was part of the plan Champ Car laid out in Sebring last week during one of the final test sessions prior to the 2005 season. The series hopes to use the move east to help raise the number of races from 14 this year to as many as 19 in 2007. South American cities Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro are targets for the 2006 calendar as Champ Car also looks to South America for new markets and sponsors. Despite the moves to new regions, the business plan calls for a continued North American focus, with at least half the races in the United States, as well as three in Canada (Toronto and Edmonton in July and Montreal in August) and two in Mexico.

The U.S. races will continue to migrate to larger urban centers, such as San Jose, Calif., which joins the schedule this year. Poorly attended Laguna Seca and Elkhart Lake were dropped for 2005. Other cities on Champ Car's radar include Chicago, Houston, New York, and Philadelphia. No new Canadian cities are in the expansion plans so far. The series' future success brightened with the purchase of Cosworth Engineering by Forsythe and Kalkhoven late last year, which guaranteed a steady supply of engines to the teams. Fans wanting to get a sneak peek at a few of the drivers might want to head to Wayne Gretzky's restaurant this afternoon where 2003 Champ Car World Series champion Paul Tracy of Forsythe Racing will be on hand to help launch ticket sales for this year's Molson Indy Toronto. The event will also feature last year's champion Sebastien Bourdais of Newman/Haas, 1996 series champion and PKV Racing co-owner/driver Jimmy Vasser, and Ranger.
Rahal team files three entries Rahal team files three entriesDefending race champion Rahal Letterman Racing filed three entries March 31 for the 89th Indianapolis 500, including one for 2004 winner Buddy Rice. Fernandez Racing also filed two entries.
Answers elusive for open-wheel woes Answers elusive for open-wheel woesUPDATE #3
Q. An update on where you're at right now as far as the contract negotiations go.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: We're basically where we've been over the past couple weeks. Not much has changed. Unfortunately, I know you guys want to know more than that, and I want to tell you more than that, but there's not more to tell. Whenever we get the information, when I have what I have, know what I know, believe me, I won't hold it out for long. Really nothing to report at this time.

Q. It's been the main story around you. Has it served as a distraction at all?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: No, it's not a distraction at all because really there's nothing been going on. I get worried really that it's being run into the ground. When we find out what we want to do and we decide what to do, how it goes down, what the plan is, we will tell the press. We'll be ready to tell the press. We'll be happy to make those announcements. I get worried that the story is just going to become stale, old, it's going to wear people out. They're going to get tired of hearing it. One of my favorite shows is Around the Horn on ESPN. They were talking about it on there. I know it's getting old when Around the Horn is debating whether it's getting old 'cause they were debating whether it was an old story, we were hearing too much about it, whatever.

Q. I know you don't want to talk about the contract. I'm not asking you to belie any confidences. Would you say it's fair to say now or all along that this has been, how we can get a deal done, not whether we can get a deal done? Has it progressed at all in that direction or has it ever been anything different than that?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: It's not been "if" at all. We've both worked together and it's all been positive. We've just made an agreement between ourselves to try not to talk about it in the media or insinuate anything until we're ready to release the details. Both sides have made that agreement. We had to make it a little bit firmer obviously after this weekend.

Q. Dale, with all due respect to what you already said about your contract this morning, can you at least say whether you're hopeful or confident of staying with DEI?
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yeah, I am. I'm pretty excited that things are going to be fine, things are going to work out with our negotiations. From NASCAR teleconference Transcript

04/21/07 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' today. No formal proposal that would give Dale Earnhardt Jr. 51 percent ownership of Dale Earnhardt Inc. has been made, Kelley Earnhardt Elledge said Friday morning.

Elledge, the lead negotiator for her brother in talks about a new contract with the Nextel Cup team, said that she and Max Siegel, the president of global operations for DEI, have discussed a number of ideas but that no formal proposals have been made.

“All conversations have been between Max and myself in the past few weeks discussing various ideas and alternatives understanding that Teresa (Earnhardt, the seven-time champion's widow) is not willing to give up 51% of DEI for nothing,” Elledge said. ThatsRacin

04/20/07 Meanwhile, Earnhardt said an online report that he has been offered ownership in DEI is "news to me."  After qualifying, he was asked about the story that he has been offered 51 percent ownership of the company started by his late father.  "I don't know anything about that," Junior said, raising his eyebrows. "As far as I know, there's been nothing new in the last week or more."

04/19/07 The Dale Earnhardt Jr. / DEI contract negotiations continue and the influence of ace negotiator Max Siegel may be bearing success. One contact told MaxChevy's Glen Grissom on the down-low that the 51% (or majority ownership) that Dale Jr. requires to stay with DEI has essentially been negotiated – agreed to by Teresa Earnhardt. But that she, in turn, is requesting that an independent, impartial review board be set up within DEI that would take into consideration and review any major operational changes that Dale Jr. would want to take place – acting like a board of directors it seems to MaxChevy's Glen Grissom, with Dale Jr. basically reporting to it. So far, this has been balked at – but stranger management structures have survived in the business world. All parties say they want to have the contract resolved by May, so with April half-over, it’s crunch time. MaxChevy.com
FIA to be restructured FIA to be restructuredThe FIA is set to undergo major restructuring of how the organization works. The FIA Senate proposed to an Extraordinary General Assembly of the federation that the statutes be amended to create a system under which a president is elected with his team rather than being elected and then choosing a team after the election. The aim is for candidates to have their "ministers" who will be responsible for individual areas of the sport. The reality of this is that the incumbent is bound to be favored as he will have a team of experienced people and it makes more sense for the general assembly to elect those with experience.

The proposal did not go through unopposed as there was what appeared to be a concerted attempt to turn the issue into a vote of confidence in Max Mosley. This seems to have failed with a vote of 99 delegates against 27. The new system will thus come into effect for the elections in October. The fact that there was an opposition move and it failed is good news for Max Mosley as it gives the impression that the FIA is a democratic organization, a rather better situation than a unanimous agreement which would have given a very different image. Grandprix.com

Zonta leads opening practice in Bahrain Zonta leads opening practice in BahrainRicardo Zonta set the pace in the opening practice session ahead of Sunday’s 57-lap Bahrain Grand Prix. The Toyota test driver dominated the 60-minute practice session recording a best lap of 1:31.449, over six-tenths faster than nearest rival Michael Schumacher in the new 2005 Ferrari.
Pos No Driver Team Time
1 38 Ricardo Zonta  Toyota 1:31.449
2 1 Michael Schumacher  Ferrari 1:32.120
3 37 Vitantonio Liuzzi  Red Bull Racing 1:32.509
4 35 Alexander Wurz  McLaren-Mercedes 1:33.106
5 2 Rubens Barrichello  Ferrari 1:33.111
6 10 Pedro de la Rosa  McLaren-Mercedes 1:33.270
7 7 Mark Webber  Williams-BMW 1:33.427
8 9 Kimi Räikkönen  McLaren-Mercedes 1:33.836
9 3 Jenson Button  BAR-Honda 1:34.002
10 8 Nick Heidfeld  Williams-BMW 1:34.722
11 15 Christian Klien  Red Bull Racing 1:34.722
12 12 Felipe Massa  Sauber-Petronas 1:34.875
13 14 David Coulthard  Red Bull Racing 1:34.984
14 39 Robert Doornbos  Jordan-Toyota 1:35.432
15 19 Narain Karthikeyan  Jordan-Toyota 1:35.766
16 18 Tiago Monteiro  Jordan-Toyota 1:36.534
17 11 Jacques Villeneuve  Sauber-Petronas 1:37.112
18 21 Christijan Albers  Minardi-Cosworth 1:37.778
19 20 Patrick Friesacher   Minardi-Cosworth 1:38.603
20 4 Takuma Sato  BAR-Honda
21 6 Giancarlo Fisichella  Renault
22 5 Fernando Alonso  Renault
23 16 Jarno Trulli  Toyota
24 17 Ralf Schumacher  Toyota
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Alonso overawed
Toyota not ready to win
Williams wanted Michelin man
Ferrari face further defeat
F1 reacts to jewelry ban
Kimi legless again?
Toyota to side with Ferrari?
JB on road back to Grove?
'Wurz'-case scenario
DC defends injured Montoya
Webber injury 'better'
Glock to America
Spaniard feeling 'pressure'?
Red slump 'good for F1'
De la Rosa 'relaxed'
Bahrain's boiling
'Renault still a Schu-beater'
7-Eleven deal includes AOL 7-Eleven deal includes AOLIt looks like the IRL has done a similar activation deal with AOL that Champ Car has done.  The March 28th edition of Sports Business Journal reports that IndyCar Series team sponsor 7-Eleven will launch an activation campaign next month that will be featured in all 5,700-plus stores nationwide, the largest consumer activation campaign in the history of the Indy Racing League.  Brands that will participate in the program include AOL, Coca-Cola and Miller Lite and protein bar competitors Hershey and Nestlé.

In addition to displaying Tony Kanaan car cutouts, banners and posters in-store, 7-Eleven and its suppliers will team up with the IRL to feature series- and team-branded products in every 7-Eleven store starting in April. The 7-Eleven products — disposable cameras, die-cast cars, lighters and hats — will carry the IndyCar Series logo and/or feature Kanaan on the product with a reference to his 2004 IRL championship.
Images of driver Tony Kanaan and his car will be in the chain’s 5,700 stores nationwide.  7-Eleven is entering its third year as team sponsor for Andretti Green Racing and has a licensing agreement with the league.

Suppliers that will also take part in the program are AOL, Hershey Foods, Pringles, Planters, PowerBar, Miller Lite, Coca-Cola, Kraft, Arizona Beverages and Energizer.

“There is an opportunity for their partners to see a spike in sales and for our brand to play a part in that,” said Ken Unger, vice president of business affairs for the IRL.

Kevin Gardner, director of marketing communications for 7-Eleven, said the program, which will run in April and May, will be accompanied by show-car appearances at stores in race markets and product sampling at tracks.  Gardner would not reveal how much the company was spending for the promotion. He said there were no specific media campaigns planned around the program.

The AOL Prepaid Internet Card, Hershey’s Payday bar, Planters 12-ounce cocktail peanuts and PowerBar Triple Threat will all use graphics on point-of-purchase and for display opportunities. Miller Lite, Coke, Powerade, Nestlé Water, Kraft’s Fruit2O and Arizona Tea will feature IRL-designed cans or bottles.  Pringles, which will have graphics of Kanaan included on point-of-purchase displays, also will stamp chips with driver or IRL trivia questions.  [Editor's Note:  The IRL comes up with some pretty good marketing schemes.  Now if they can just figure out a way to turn that into increased (instead of decreased) race attendance and TV ratings.]

Industry News
Mullison promoted by AMS Mullison promoted by AMSDave Mullison has been promoted to Director of Advertising and Promotion, Atlanta Motor Speedway President and General Manager Ed Clark announced today.  Mullison, an employee at Atlanta Motor Speedway since 1999, has served as Marketing Communication Manager for the past six years. He will continue primarily in that role, managing all aspects of advertising and event promotions, as well as the AMS website.  A native of Frederick, Md., Mullison will work closely with the new Director of Marketing, Marcy Scott, who begins April 11.
St. Pete seats far from sold out St. Pete seats far from sold outSt. Petersburg's 30,000 grandstand seats are far from sold out for this weekend's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.  Still promoter Barry Green stands by his estimate of 60,000 people, we assume he means 3-day total.  By the time the Honda Grand Prix completes three days of racing along city streets, promoter Barry Green will be looking for a magic number: 60,000.  That's how many people he hopes will attend the open-wheel race festivities that begin Friday and end Sunday on a temporary track near the downtown waterfront reports the St. Petersburg Times.  The race is expected to attract a wide range of people - from crazed auto racing fans with intimate knowledge of chassis components to well-heeled corporate sponsors aboard triple-decker yachts.  "They really do come from all walks of life," said Ken Ungar, senior vice president of business affairs for the Indy Racing League. "This is not only a race but very much a festival-type event."  On Wednesday, as workers finished last minute touches to the 1.8-mile circuit, Green, a first-time promoter and former race team owner, stood by his 60,000 estimate.  "I would be surprised if it's anything less," said Green.  The 60,000 total will be about 1/3 of what Champ Car will get for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, but still the IRL likes to call this race The Long Beach of The East.
IRL invents road racing IRL invents road racingA reader writes, After reading the IRL press releases, I was wondering, has any other racing series ever considered this road racing thing before? It all seems so brand new and different.   5 seconds slow a lap. How embarrassing. As we would say on the soccer pitch, “unhitch the plow!” J. Allen
New caution light warning system for the IRL New caution light warning system for the IRLUPDATE A reader writes, Their press release reeks of the sort of glib half-truth we have come to expect from the IRL. Yech. It makes me feel all slimy going to St. Pete and working their race this weekend.  They're going to remotely control little lights to save the corner workers from 'leaning out over the track' (we don't).  If they intend to come into road racing with this slick glib 'we know best' crap, they'll have the same worker turnout problems at their road courses as they do spectator turnouts at their ovals. --Anonymous 03/31/05 When conditions call for a yellow caution flag during a road- or street-course race, Delphi Corporation (NYSE: DPH) has a high-tech answer – the Local Caution System, the next in a line of breakthrough motorsports safety products by Delphi. The new system will debut at this weekend’s Indy Racing League (IRL) event in St. Petersburg, Fla., April 3. Indy Racing League (IRL) drivers already have a series of yellow lights flashing on ovals -- but on road Courses, they rely on corner workers who lean into the track and wave warning flags to help warn drivers of hazards. The new system uses wireless technology to help remove corner workers from harm’s way. With Delphi’s new system, yellow caution lights can be placed at intervals around the track and controlled by wireless remote control. The control, enabled by Futaba’s Industrial Radio Control System®, allows track officials to remotely operate the system at one or several locations on the track. Even in the event of loss of power at a track, the Local Caution System is powered by back-up systems and will still help warn drivers of upcoming hazards. “Visibility of the caution light, along with having it in the same place at every corner, will consistently help warn drivers of potential hazards,” said Brian Barnhart, president and chief operating officer, IRL. “Warning a driver of a hazard by using a remote controlled system is not only great for the drivers, but takes corner workers out of immediate danger from leaning over into the track and warning drivers to slow down.” “Drivers who helped us test the Local Caution System say the best part of the system is consistency,” said Dave Brown, track safety coordinator, IRL. “They tell us a light in the same place on every turn is easier to see and react to than a flag which at some points is hard to see. Safety is our number one priority – and this is another Delphi innovation that continues the company’s commitment to safety in Motorsports.”
Bahrain GP: Thursday Press Conferences Bahrain GP: Thursday Press ConferencesUPDATE Second part of this Thursday's FIA press conference from Bahrain, with two drivers: Fernando Alonso (Renault) - Jarno Trulli (Toyota) and two Team Principals: Flavio Briatore (Renault) - John Howett (Toyota). Transcript Part II 03/31/05 Bahrain GP: Thursday Press Conference with Fernando Alonso and Flavio Briatore. Transcript
New San Jose track announcement New San Jose track announcementSan Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales and Don Listwin, founder of the Canary Fund, will officially announce on Friday morning the new route of the upcoming San Jose Grand Prix in the heart of Downtown San Jose.  The new course will loop around the San Jose McEnery Convention Center, the Tech Museum, and Almaden Avenue.  See our Rumors Page for all the details of the new circuit.
ALMS announces new key hires ALMS announces new key hiresThe growth of the American Le Mans Series is not only reflected in its TV ratings, attendance and sponsorships. Its staff is growing as well. The ALMS recently named Shelly Cates, Ryan Smith and Dan Boyd to three new staff positions.

Cates has joined the ALMS as Senior Manager of Promotions in January. Her primary responsibilities include developing and implementing race markets as well as national promotional activities on behalf of the series, its events and promoters. She also handles the development, implementation and management of ALMS fan-related activities, as well as pre- and post-race ceremonies and logistics. The Ohio native most recently spent several years as Director of Promoter Operations of CART and management roles with Forsythe Racing and Tasman Motorsports Group. She earned a B.S. in Business Management from California State University – Long Beach. She also has a degree in Fashion Merchandising.

Smith recently joined the ALMS as Web Editor/Media Relations Manager. He handles writing and editing for www.americanlemans.com and www.imsaracing.net. He also works with other ALMS media and communications staff members in assisting and contacting national, regional and local media outlets. Prior to joining the series, he worked for eight years with The Times in Gainesville, Ga., where he was a reporter and editor in both the news and sports departments. Smith is a 2001 graduate of the University of Georgia's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications, where he specialized in newspapers.

Boyd is the official photographer of the ALMS. A veteran photojournalist with extensive open-wheel and sports car racing experience, he conducts photo meetings and will implement photo servicing programs on behalf of the series to benefit international and domestic media, as well as ALMS sponsors and clients. The former official photographer for CART holds a master's degree from Ball State in Fine Arts and Photography.

IMSA also recently added a name to its ranks. Kirt Wightman was named Series Manager of the IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge presented by Michelin.

Industry News
Firestone announces sponsor deal with PPIR Firestone announces sponsor deal with PPIRBridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT) announced today that it has signed a new sponsorship agreement with Pikes Peak International Raceway (PPIR). Under the agreement the Firestone brand will serve as the official tire of PPIR for the Indy Racing League's Honda Indy 225 IndyCar Series race on Aug. 21.
Trans-Am TV broadcast team, schedule announced Trans-Am TV broadcast team, schedule announcedEach 2005 Trans-Am Series race during the 2005 season will air in one-hour time slots on SPEED's midday and afternoon Saturday and Sunday schedules. 2005 Trans-Am television coverage begins Sunday, April 17 at 1:30 p.m. ET with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The broadcasts, which will run on a one-week, tape-delayed basis, will be anchored by veteran play-by-play announcer Rick Benjamin and color commentator Derek Daly. Pit reporting duties will be handled by Jon Beekhuis and Calvin Fish.

Respected sports production company Molson Sports & Entertainment will produce the 2005 broadcasts. Molson Sports & Entertainment has produced the world feed for the Champ Car World Series events in Canada in recent seasons, providing coverage from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. The company has also produced events for National Hockey League games, the Stanley Cup Championship Series, World Championship Boxing, Major League Baseball, Triple A Baseball, National Lacrosse League, CFL Football, Arena Football, North American Soccer League, CPGA Golf, Men's and Women's Professional Tennis, Major Junior Hockey League, Offshore Powerboat Racing and Equestrian events.

Molson Sports & Entertainment's production team will be headed by Director of Broadcast Operations Claude Briere, who will work closely with Senior Manager of Broadcast Operations Jim Wilkes.

"Trans-Am on SPEED is a great for Trans-Am racing," said Trans-Am Executive Director John Clagett. "SPEED Channel is known for its excellent coverage of motorsports and is America's leading source for racing programming. To have Trans-Am races slotted in the coveted weekend time slots is a big step forward.

"We're also pleased to welcome back Rick Benjamin, Derek Daly, Jon Beekhuis and Calvin Fish," added Clagett. "All four have a long history of respected motorsports television journalism and have done a great job in the past, calling Trans-Am races. Combining this all-star broadcast team with SPEED Channel's long history of motorsports coverage and Molson Sports & Entertainment's expertise assures top-flight television coverage for 2005."

Along with the Long Beach event, Sunday air dates include the second through seventh races of the tour: Portland International Raceway, June 26 at 12:30 p.m.; Cleveland Grand Prix at 3 p.m. on July 3; Molson Indy Toronto, 12:30 p.m. on July 17; Edmonton, July 24, 12:30 p.m.; and San Jose, Aug. 7, 12:30 p.m. Sunday coverage will conclude on Aug. 28 at 3 p.m. with coverage from the 36th consecutive Trans-Am race at Road America. Saturday air dates are: Round 7 from the Grand Prix of Denver on Aug. 20 at 1 p.m.; and the Molson Indy Montreal, Sept. 3 at 1 p.m. The Series plans to add a 10th date to the schedule, which will be announced soon. All times and dates are subject to change. Please check local listings.

Firestone To Sponsor "Fast Six Qualifying" Session Firestone To Sponsor "Fast Six Qualifying" SessionAs part of its unique and entertaining road course qualifying procedure the IndyCar Series has teamed up with Firestone to present the "Firestone Fast Six Qualifying" session.

At the conclusion of single-lap qualifying, there will a 10-minute break for adjustments, then the "Firestone Fast Six Qualifying" featuring the fastest six cars will participate in a 10-minute, European-style session designed to give each car the opportunity to better its qualifying time. Cars will be spaced in 10 to 15-second gaps on the 1.8-mile temporary street circuit.

The six teams involved in "Firestone Fast Six qualifying" will receive an extra set of Firestone Firehawk race tires for use during the 10-minute European-style qualifying session to decide the first three rows for each race.

"We're excited that Firestone has embraced our innovative road-course qualifying format," said Ken Ungar, senior vice president, business affairs for the Indy Racing League. "Firestone Fast Six qualifying will add the drama and all-out competition that makes up the IndyCar Series."

"The Firestone Fast Six qualifying session is quite special and will add a lot of excitement to the race weekend," said Al Speyer, executive director of Firestone Racing. "Considering Firestone's position as the Official Tire at St. Petersburg, our 'Buy 4 Take 2' Firehawk tire sales and race ticket promotion, event hospitality and the Firestone Corner being the first right hand turn in the history of IRL racing, it is obvious the importance Firestone places on this event and market.

"Unique to the Firestone Fast Six qualifying, each driver will get an extra set of  Firehawk's  just for this session and using those tires to their maximum advantage will be a key factor in determining who starts up front. It's going to be very interesting for the teams, fans and Firestone."

Industry News
PIR unveils lighting system PIR unveils lighting systemWith a flip of a light switch, night turned into day Tuesday at Phoenix International Raceway.  A new $5 million lighting system was officially unveiled at the 1-mile oval, and five NASCAR drivers were around to witness the transformation. None, however, made it onto the track, as their testing was completed during the day.  "The lighting won't be an issue at all," Jamie McMurray said. "You can see better at night at all of these racetracks vs. the day because you don't have the (sun's) glare."  Iowa-based Musco Lighting installed the permanent lighting system, and project manager Mark Flesner said company officials have given PIR the go-ahead for its April 23 NASCAR Nextel Cup race, which is tentatively scheduled to begin between 4:55 p.m. and 5:20 p.m., and end about 8:30. "It's race ready," Flesner said.
Woman killed at Joe Gibbs Construction site Woman killed at Joe Gibbs Construction siteA woman was killed Wednesday afternoon while helping finish construction on an addition to a race team's facility. Authorities were called about 2:30pm/et about an injury at Joe Gibbs Racing on Reese Boulevard in the Huntersville Business Park, about 15 miles north of uptown Charlotte. The woman, whose identity was being withheld until authorities notify her family, died on the scene. Although officials with the company and the police released few details, preliminary reports suggested a joist had struck the woman, said Juan Santos, a N.C. Department of Labor spokesman. The woman worked for the general contractor at the site, not the race company, according to a statement released by Joe Gibbs Racing. Officials with Precision Walls Inc. declined to comment as they left the site, while officials from Shelco Inc., the general contractor, could not be reached. Huntersville police and state officials are still investigating the incident. Charlotte Observer
Texas NASCAR testing Texas NASCAR testingTesting: Eight NASCAR teams maintained the beehive of activity at "The Great American Speedway" Tuesday and Wednesday preparing for the upcoming Samsung/RadioShack 500 race week. The flurry of testing activity marks the second straight week NASCAR teams trekked to Texas in search of speed. Drivers putting their NEXTEL Cup machinery through the paces were Bill Elliott, 16-time NASCAR Cup Series Most Popular Driver; Kasey Kahne, 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Raybestos Rookie of the Year; Boris Said and Robby Gordon. Busch Series teams included defending champion Martin Truex Jr.; 2003 O'Reilly 300 winner Joe Nemechek; Paul Menard and Brandon Miller. Wednesday's speeds: NEXTEL Cup: Elliott, 188.416 mph; Said, 187.500 mph; Kahne, 186.657 mph. Busch: Nemechek, 185.886 mph; Menard, 182.432 mph, Truex and Miller, no speed reported. Miller was uninjured after late afternoon contact with the turn four wall. Tuesday's speeds: NEXTEL Cup: Gordon, 189.474 mph; Kahne, 186.981 mph; Said, 186.207 mph; Elliott, 185.440 mph. Busch: Truex, 185.249 mph; Nemechek, 184.300 mph; Miller, 183.175 mph; Menard, 182.432 mph. Kahne was not injured after making contact with the second turn wall in the morning. More Texas Samsung Radio Shack Information at http://www.texasmotorspeedway.com Texas Motor Speedway PR
No Smoking at Bristol No Smoking at BristolBristol Motor Speedway, the state's largest sports facility (160,000 seats), has announced starting with this weekend's races it will be smoke-free. Smoking will be banned from all indoor portions of the track, including the private luxury suites that surround the giant facility. Smokers will be required to go outside the track or on the open-air concourse level. Tennessean
Earnhardt, Jr. Tests in Martinsville and Optimistic Earnhardt, Jr. Tests in Martinsville and OptimisticDuring a test at Martinsville Speedway Tuesday, Earnhardt said part of the problems with his team can be traced to the rule changes mandated by NASCAR this season and the inability of his team to adapt quickly. The popularity of Dale Jr. continues to grow despite his current struggles. This week, Earnhardt’s face adorns the cover of Speedway Illustrated along with the splashy premier edition of "Racing Fan." Martin Truex, Jr., a championship-winning driver for Earnhardt’s Chance 2 Motorsports team in the Busch Series, said the attitude of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. team members remains upbeat despite the recent struggles. "Their spirits are staying high," Truex said. "They realize that it’s going to take a little bit of time to get their stuff straightened out. They just started working together.  "Junior’s actually been pretty happy the way his cars have been running. They just haven’t seemed to be good at the start of the races." TriCities
Ferrari pin Sakhir hopes on the F2005 Ferrari pin Sakhir hopes on the F2005Ferrari head to the Bahrain Grand Prix armed with two new F2005s that the team hope will help them close the gap to the front running Renault squad.

Ferrari were left red-faced following the Malaysian Grand Prix when Michael Schumacher was fortunate to finish in seventh position and Rubens Barrichello retired his Bridgestone-shod F2004 M simply out of grip.

Since then the team has regrouped and tested the F2005 at Mugello with both race drivers testing the new machine for the first time and the team found the car fast enough to risk bringing two cars to this weekend's Grand Prix.

12-month ago Ferrari dominated the inaugural Sakhir event with Schumacher and Barrichello crossing the line first and second nearly half a minute ahead of its nearest rival. A repeat performance is unlikely this weekend, but the team expect to be much more competitive this weekend than they were in Malaysia.

Michael Schumacher “Based on last year’s experience, we know that the track is not at all bad. Some points are difficult to judge and so it helps to know the track to be able to find the right racing line. The circuit also puts the brakes and tires under stress and it will probably be very hot. Considering all of this, I think that it is really useful having the new car."

"We will finally race the F2005 this weekend and I have to admit that I can’t wait to get onto the track with it. We have tested the new car a lot and it has made a good impression on us. Still, we expect another tough battle in Bahrain."

“During last week’s tests I noticed that there is a really intense atmosphere in this team. The first two negative results have stimulated us even more. We are all motivated and primed to go. We will, little by little, be working our way back to the top; have no fear of that."
Rubens Barrichello “The new car is quicker. It is particularly amazing to drive through the high speed corners. It is better on the braking and in almost every area. At Mugello, my first impressions were really positive and the car brought a smile to my face. With the F2005 we can really fight the opposition.”

“We were very competitive in Bahrain last year, winning the race by half a lap, so we should have a much better race there than we did in Malaysia. You only have to look at how we performed in Melbourne, which was a very good weekend for us from start to finish."

“It is not an easy circuit for overtaking as the surface is very slippery off the racing line. It is a busy track with a mix of tight and high-speed corners. Last year, I enjoyed it very much. It is very unique and fun. Last year on Sunday morning we could not even see the circuit because of a sand storm and that was certainly a new experience! It has its own character and the country has a different culture to what we are used to, which is always interesting.” Ferrari

Engineering the F2005 Engineering the F2005After Rubens Barrichello and then Michael Schumacher had their first drives in the F2005 at Mugello last week, Ferrari took the decision to bring two of the new cars to this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix. While each driver will have an F2005 as a race car, the spare will be one of the F2004 M, used in the season’s first two races.

It is not just the drivers who have to adapt to dealing with a new car. The mechanics, for whom working on the F2004 became second nature last season, now have to adapt to the differences of the new single seater. In order to make the transition as easy as possible, the race team mechanics were responsible for the initial F2005 build program, which was planned to give them experience with the car and they were involved in the first assembly up until the moment of its first shakedown test at Fiorano. This ensured they know the base points of the car, although certain items have changed since then.

“For Malaysia, we actually left two members of the race team at home and brought two of the test team here,” explained Race and Test Technical Manager Nigel Stepney. “This gives the test guys experience of working at a race which will be useful if we need some extra people in the future and also gives the race team people some extra experience with the new car. The chief mechanic from the race team attended several early tests with F2005 so that he has a good working knowledge of the car. Therefore, now that we are introducing the new car there will be less surprises.”
Input from the mechanics goes all the way back to the car’s design stage. “Items on the old car that maybe gave us some problems or were difficult to work on are immediately modified for the new car and that is already happening from the 2005 car to the one for 2006 so it is a continuous process of evolution,” reveals Stepney. “Obviously the mechanics would like their working life to be as easy as possible, but of course you have to take performance into consideration and the philosophy and design of the cars. F1 machines are not the easiest cars to work on. The main thing when you assemble a car for the first time is to try and pick up as many problems as possible as early as possible. Over the past years we have been very meticulous in this area and that pays off, because the F2005 was able to run for 300 KMS on its first day of testing. It is very satisfying for the people involved not just in the race team but in all departments as it shows how we have improved procedures, technology and the way we work."

“Nowadays with CAD CAM design technology, the car is built on a computer in 3D and you can see the fitting problems straight away and the design office actually draws up any special tools needed to get to awkward fixings or nuts and bolts, for example around the exhausts.”

The hardest area on any car to work on is the fuel system because of its complexity within the fuel cell. “But these days, we do very little repair work at the track,” says Stepney. “We tend to operate by changing entire assemblies as this is quicker. All the components are so enclosed these days. For example, you can’t change the spark plugs without taking the floor and the exhausts off, because of the design concept of the car. Essentially, there is no point compromising performance to make the car easier to work on.”

Apart from the challenge of working with the new car, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, along with all the other teams, will also have to deal with one feature unique to the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain: the sand, which attacks every component on the car, including the engine.

“Last year, for the first Bahrain race, we saw a lot of stone damage to parts such as turning vanes and the leading edge of the floor where the stones get thrown up by the wheels," recalls Stepney. “It was wearing away the carbon. Last year, we made modifications to make the car more robust and this year they were incorporated in the design stage."

“Last year, we reacted very well in Bahrain and we won because we were the better prepared team in those conditions. We ended up working through the night on Friday, because with the parc ferme rules we could not have done anything on Saturday night. It involved the whole team, from the tire men to the engine and gearbox guys working together, modifying brake ducts and repairing floors. It is one of our advantages that we have a group of people that can all work together. When they finish on the engine and gearbox they could help us with these extra tasks. We put stone guards on the radiator exits, because the rear tires were throwing up stones onto the back face of the radiators and the small sand particles were damaging the radiator cores.”

The combination of introducing the new car and preparing for the difficult track conditions in Bahrain, will present the Scuderia with a heavy workload. But Stepney is convinced the team can take it all in its stride. Ferrari

Forest looks to wrap up Pacific F2000 crown Forest looks to wrap up Pacific F2000 crownMike Forest has taken this year’s Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Mickey Thompson Tires/Cooper Tire series by storm, winning all four races in his PR1 Motorsports Mygale SJ04.  In addition to taking a commanding lead in the point standings for the 12-race season, the 23-year-old from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, also has put himself in a strong position to clinch the West Coast-based series’ "Spring Cup" which will be awarded to the driver who accumulates most points from the first six races, culminating in a pair of events this weekend at the combined oval/road course at Phoenix International Raceway.  "That would be a nice bonus," says Forest. "Our goal this year is to win the overall championship, but if we can get two more wins this weekend and wrap up the Spring Cup, that will give us good momentum as we head into the mid-season break."

(Photo right - Mike Forest (8), J.R. Hildebrand (66) and Tim Harris (20) race wheel to wheel on the combined oval/road course at California Speedway in the opening round of the 2005 Pacific F2000 Championship) The Spring Cup is a unique concept introduced this year by series promoter Les Phillips as a means of injecting a little extra interest for the drivers.  "It’s worked well," says Phillips, who also serves as general manager of Buttonwillow Raceway Park, situated near Bakersfield, California. "The Spring Cup hasn’t necessarily drawn any more participants this year, but I think it will have an impact next year because people on the East Coast are beginning to realize this is a good series, and hopefully they will get their teams finalized a little bit sooner and be able to come and join us."

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
FIA call for April summit
Sauber accept some blame
No scarlet 'panic' - Ferrari
Australia and racing
Ferrari 'bold' - Bridgestone
F1 'jewelry' banned - FIA
Red Bull suggest Sauber loan
'I can win again' - Fisi
A1 'not serious' - Ecclestone
'Baby' Alonso is F1 tip
Williams' new rear
Wurz for Imola?
Tire 'delight'
Fisi to burn rubber in Rome
JPM's title dream ended?
Atlantic teams kick off 2-day test Atlantic teams kick off 2-day testWith the start of the 2005 Toyota Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama season just over a week away, several teams are providing a sneak preview of the close competition expected on track this season with a two-day series test session.

A total of six drivers and four Atlantic teams took to the track at Arizona’s Firebird East road course just outside of Phoenix on Wednesday. Under sunny skies and 80-degree temperatures, the roar of Toyota engines came to life on the 1.244-mile circuit as the competitors made their final preparations before the ’05 season lidlifter next week at the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Brazilian rookie Fernando Rees (right) posted the unofficial quick lap of the day in the yellow #10 Brooks Associates Racing machine when he was clocked at 53.4 seconds. Rees ran 76 laps throughout the course of the day and the former European road racer was happy with what he got out of the car.

“I thought the day went really well,” said Rees. “Without even considering our lap time, every change that we made in the car felt right. We kept getting better and better and we were consistent on all of our lap times. We tried to test some different things and even though this is a completely different type of course, I think we found some things that we can use in Long Beach.”

British racing phenom Katherine Legge turned 97 laps today in only her second day of Toyota Atlantic testing. Legge proved to be fast in her #12 PKV Racing entry for Polestar Racing Group, recording an unofficial top lap of 54.3 seconds.

“I was getting a feel for the car and we spent some time working on the setup,” said Legge, the 24-year-old Atlantic rookie. “We still have some things to work on, but I thought it was a really successful day overall.”

Fellow first-year pilot Andreas Wirth did not have a successful day on track. The talented German driver fought several mechanical gremlins and managed to complete only 22 laps on course. The 2004 Formula BMW USA champion still owned a respectable time, despite never really finding his rhythm due to his car’s troubles. Competing in the #8 car for the Tucson-based Brooks Associates Racing squad, Wirth posted an unofficial fast lap of 54.5 seconds.

Promising young Canadian racer Antoine Bessette put in a lot of work in his orange #3 entry for Polestar. The Quebec rookie had an unofficial top time of 54.71 seconds as he turned 121 laps in his first test with his new team.

Veteran Dan Selznick of The Room Store team, based in Arizona, ran in the morning session as he prepared for next week’s season opener. Newcomer Lee Atkins of Atkins Racing got his first taste of Atlantic competition logging nearly 160 miles during the day as he prepares to make his series debut in the C2 class on the streets of Long Beach.

The teams will complete the two-day test session with another full day of track activity on Thursday. The 32nd season of the Toyota Atlantic Championship will get the green flag next weekend at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 8-10. SPEED Channel’s tape-delayed coverage of the race will air on Saturday, April 16 at 2 p.m. ET.

Ferrari Maserati To Sponsor Grand American race Ferrari Maserati To Sponsor Grand American raceOfficials from California Speedway and Ferrari Maserati North America Inc., today announced that the legendary automaker will be the title sponsor of this weekend’s Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series 400-kilometer event at the Speedway on Sunday, April 3 (SPEED Channel, Live, 4 p.m. ET).  The Ferrari Maserati 400 is the main event during the Rolex Series weekend at California Speedway on April 1-3, 2005.  California Speedway Vice President of Marketing and Sales Roger Curtis made the announcement.  “California Speedway is very excited to have Ferrari Maserati join us during the Grand American weekend,” Curtis said. “With Ferrari and Maserati’s historical role in the sports car culture as well as their numerous wins throughout the world of motorsports, this new relationship is an ideal fit for Southern California and the Grand American weekend.”
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