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TCGR to run Dixon and Wheldon in 500 TCGR to run Dixon and Wheldon in 500Following a win and a second place finish in the first two races of the IndyCar Series 2006 season, Target Chip Ganassi Racing is looking to continue its success in the coming weeks as it prepares for the 90th running of the prestigious Indianapolis 500 with drivers Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon.

Defending Indianapolis 500 winner and 2005 IndyCar Series Champion, Dan Wheldon will attempt to repeat last year’s feat with his new team aboard the no.10 Target Honda. Wheldon became the first Englishman in nearly 40-years to win in the Indianapolis 500. The previous winner from Great Britain was Graham Hill, who beat his Lotus teammate Jim Clark in 1966.

This will be Wheldon’s fourth run at the famed 2.5 mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He won last year’s Indy 500 from the 16th place starting position, started second and finished third in 2004 to follow up his rookie run in 2003 that started with a fifth place spot on the grid but ended with an accident for a 19th place finish.

Upon joining the Target team, Wheldon became the first driver to hold three major North America racing titles at one time by following up his 2005 Indianapolis 500 victory and IRL IndyCar Series Championship with the team’s Rolex 24 at Daytona win. He is also just the eighth driver to win both the Indianapolis 500 and the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

New Zealand’s Scott Dixon, 2003 IndyCar Series Champion and driver of the no.9 Target Honda, will also make his fourth appearance at the Indianapolis 500 on May 28th at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  He is the third driver from New Zealand to compete in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Fellow Kiwi Denis Hulme placed fourth in both the 1967 and ’68 Indy 500s, and was named the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year in 1967. Hulme competed in two more Indianapolis 500 races, the final one for New Zealand’s Bruce McLaren’s team in 1971. Another New Zealander, Graham McRae was also named Indy 500 Rookie of the Year in his only appearance in 1973.   zzzz

Last May, Dixon qualified 13th as the Target Team fielded a three car charge in search of victory at the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500-mile race, and through the early goings of the 200-lap contest positioned themselves safely in the top-20 by Lap 21. The team’s rookie driver, Australian Ryan Briscoe, recorded a top-10 finish in his maiden voyage while his Target teammates Scott Dixon and Darren Manning run for the crown were cut short within a 10-lap span just after the 100-lap mark. Dixon was credited with a 24th place finish.

In 2004, Dixon started 13th as well, but crossed the yard of bricks as the highest finishing Toyota with an eighth place finish. In 2003 on his way to the IndyCar Series title, Dixon qualified fourth as a rookie and led 15 laps. TCGR

Q and A with Target Chip Ganassi Racing Q and A with Target Chip Ganassi RacingFull transcript of the Target Chip Ganassi Racing media conference during today's Indy 500 Media Tour.  Guests were Chip Ganassi, Mike Hull, Scott Dixon, and Dan Wheldon.
IndyCar Series back on track at Indianapolis IndyCar Series back on track at IndianapolisEighteen IndyCar Series cars will test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on April 5 in preparation for the 90th Indianapolis 500.

Among the drivers and teams that will participate in the test are: Andretti Green Racing (Bryan Herta, Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti), Vision Racing (Tomas Scheckter and Ed Carpenter), Panther Racing (Vitor Meira), Marlboro Team Penske (Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish Jr.), Delphi Fernandez Racing (Scott Sharp), Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon), Rahal Letterman Racing (Danica Patrick, Buddy Rice and Jeff Simmons), Roth Racing (Marty Roth), Cheever Racing (Eddie Cheever) and Super Aguri Fernandez Racing (Kosuke Matsuura).

Veteran drivers Michael Andretti and Al Unser Jr. and rookies Marco Andretti and P.J. Chesson will not participate in the Open Test. They will all practice at the track during Rookie Orientation on May 7.

World of Outlaws to back Dodge in Indy Pro World of Outlaws to back Dodge in Indy ProThe World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series will co-sponsor Geoff Dodge's No. 33 Knoxville Fast Track to Indy car for the 2006 Indy Pro Series season. Dodge, the 2005 Knoxville Nationals Fast Track to Indy Rookie of the Year, earned a ride with the reigning Indy Pro Series championship team, Brian Stewart Racing, for all six of the oval track races in 2006.

The World of Outlaws is in its 29th season presenting championship-caliber winged sprint car events with 900-horsepower machines around the United States.

"We look forward to being a part of the continued connection between open-wheel racing on dirt and the Indy 500," said Shane Carson, Vice President of Race Operations for DIRT MotorSports, which owns and operates the World of Outlaws. "During the 29 years, a number of World of Outlaws racers have made it to Indy for the Indy Pro Series and the Indy 500, including Steve Kinser, Craig Dollansky and P.J. Chesson. At the same time, we have recognized the annual Knoxville Nationals as the premier sprint car race in the world." zzzz

Dodge, a 22-year-old Colorado Springs, Colo. native, finished seventh March 26 in his Indy Pro Series debut at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He finished 11th and 13th on April 1 and 2 on the streets of St. Petersburg, taking over for his ill teammate, Wade Cunningham.

Dodge's next Indy Pro Series event will take him to the hallowed grounds of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The series will test at the facility on April 27. The Freedom 100 will be contested May 26 - two days before the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Ticket Director also is co-sponsoring Dodge's car.

Disney film latest Long Beach race sponsor Disney film latest Long Beach race sponsor"CARS," a fast-paced comedy adventure set inside the world of cars from Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studio ("The Incredibles," "Finding Nemo," "Monsters, Inc.") has joined the sponsor family of the upcoming 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Directed by Academy Award-winning director John Lasseter, "CARS" tells the story of  "Lightning McQueen," a hot-shot rookie race driver driven to succeed, who discovers that life is about the journey, not the finish line, when he finds himself unexpectedly detoured in the sleepy Route 66 town of Radiator Springs. The film is scheduled to open June 9.

En route across the country to the big Piston Cup Championship in California to compete against two seasoned pros, McQueen gets to know the town's off-beat characters who help him realize that there are more important things than trophies, fame and sponsorship. zzzz

The all-star vocal cast includes free-wheeling performances by Owen Wilson, Newman/Haas Champ Car Racing team co-owner Paul Newman, Larry the Cable Guy and Bonnie Hunt, along with Cheech Marin, George Carlin, NASCAR racing legend Richard Petty, Michael Keaton, Tony Shalhoub and John Ratzenberger.

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

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

Penske, Panther and Cheever file Indy 500 entries Penske, Panther and Cheever file Indy 500 entriesThree teams with a winning pedigree - Marlboro Team Penske, Panther Racing and Cheever Racing - filed entries April 4 for the 90th Indianapolis 500.

Penske Racing, which has won a record 13 Indianapolis 500-Mile Races, filed three entries. Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and two-time IndyCar® Series champion Sam Hornish Jr. were named as drivers of two of the entries.

Panther Racing, which won the IndyCar Series title in 2001 and 2002, filed two entries. Vitor Meira was named as the driver of one entry.

Cheever Racing filed two entries. Eddie Cheever Jr., who won the 1998 Indianapolis 500 as an owner-driver, was named as the driver of one entry.

The 90th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Entries must be postmarked by midnight Wednesday, April 5. zzzz

Castroneves, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, will drive the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, with an identical backup entered. Rick Rinaman is the chief mechanic.

Castroneves has produced one of the most impressive early records in Indianapolis 500 history. He won his first two starts in the race, in 2001 and 2002, with Marlboro Team Penske. He finished runner-up to Penske teammate Gil de Ferran after winning the pole in 2003.

In total, Castroneves has finished in the top 10 in each of his five Indianapolis 500 starts.

Hornish, from Napoleon, Ohio, will drive the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, with an identical backup entered. Matt Jonsson is the chief mechanic.

Hornish will attempt to make his seventh career Indianapolis 500 start and his third in a row with the race's most successful team. His best finish was 14th in 2001 with Panther Racing, while he earned a career-best starting spot of second last year with Marlboro Team Penske.

No driver, number, car name or chassis were named for the third Marlboro Team Penske entry, which includes a backup car. Both the primary and backup will use Honda engines and Firestone tires.

Tim Cindric is the team president for Penske Racing, while Tom Wurtz is the team manager for the three Penske entries.

Meira, a native of Brasilia, Brazil, will drive the No. 4 Panther Dallara/Honda/Firestone for Panther Racing, with an identical backup entered. He will attempt to make his fourth Indianapolis 500 start. Meira's best finish of second came last year with Rahal Letterman Racing, as he led three laps. His best start was seventh, in 2004 and 2005.

No driver or car number was named for the second Panther Dallara/Honda/Firestone entry, which includes a backup entry.

Steve Ragan is the chief mechanic and Ron Catt the general manager for both Panther entries.

Cheever, a Phoenix native, will drive the No. 51 Cheever Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, with an identical backup entered. Craig McCain is the chief mechanic.

The entry marks a comeback at Indy for Cheever, who last competed in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" in 2002. He will attempt to make his 14th Indianapolis 500 start.

1990 Indianapolis 500 JPMorgan Chase Rookie of the Year Cheever has recorded six top-10 finishes at Indy, including his 1998 victory, while his best starting spot was second in 2002.

The team also entered the No. 52 Cheever Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone. No driver or chief mechanic was named.

Buddy Lindblom is the team manager for both Cheever entries. IMS

Q and A with Marlboro Team Penske Q and A with Marlboro Team PenskeFull transcript of the Marlboro Team Penske media conference during today's Indy 500 Media Tour.  Guests were Tim Cindric, Helio Castroneves, and Sam Hornish Jr.
Norbert Siedler is prepared for his series debut Norbert Siedler is prepared for his series debutThe 2006 Yokohama Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, featuring one of its strongest and most -talented driver line-up ever, kicks off with Sunday's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Norbert Siedler, 23, who will pilot the #10 BAR PALFINGER machine is entering his first season in the USA and looking forward to the challenging track on the Pacific coast with a good combination of fast and slow corners. “I'm really excited about the start of this season and my debut in the Champ Car Atlantic Series," said Siedler.

"My new team, Brooks Associates Racing, has done a lot of work over the winter and despite the little problems we had (during testing) at Fontana, we should be well prepared. For sure a podium finish in Long Beach would be very satisfying for me.” With 10 pole positions, 4 wins and finally the Formula 3000 championship title under his belt, Norbert is now rated as one of the title contenders in the Champ Car Atlantic Series, but the young Austrian knows, “…that we need to be consistent, always there at the finish and on the podium as often as possible. A championship is very long and this year the Atlantic series is extremely competitive as well.” Find more information on Norbert Siedler by visiting www.norbert-siedler.com ChampCar.ws

Q and A with Andretti Green Racing Q and A with Andretti Green RacingFull transcript of the Andretti Green Racing media conference during today's Indy 500 Media Tour.  Guests were Michael Andretti, Marco Andretti, Dario Franchitti, Bryan Herta, and Tony Kanaan.
Simmons to continue Dana’s legacy Simmons to continue Dana’s legacyINDIANAPOLIS - Jeff Simmons (right) said the best way to honor the life of Paul Dana is to drive hard and promote renewable energy. On April 5, he'll begin working to that end.

Rahal Letterman Racing announced April 4 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the selection of Simmons as driver of the No. 17 Team Ethanol Panoz/Honda/Firestone in the IndyCar® Series, beginning with the Indy Japan 300 on April 22 at Twin Ring Motegi and including the 90th Indianapolis 500 on May 28 at IMS. Simmons will succeed Dana, who lost his life in a practice accident March 26 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Simmons, 29, a native of East Granby, Conn., is one of the winningest drivers in Indy Pro Series history with seven wins, including a victory in the season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway. This past weekend on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., he finished second and fourth in two races in the Kenn Hardley Racing car.

In four Indy Pro Series seasons, Simmons twice finished as the championship runner-up, in 2003 and 2005. He also has made two IndyCar Series starts, including as a late entry with Mo Nunn Racing in the Indianapolis 500 in 2004. He finished 16th at Indy after starting 29th.

"These are not the circumstances that I would like this opportunity to come about, but Paul had the same dreams as me," Simmons said. "Like him, this is what I've worked so long for. I just want to do my very best to promote the cause that Paul worked so hard for and do the best job I can in the car for Team Ethanol."  zzzz

Team co-owner Bobby Rahal said when principals were forced to look for a driver to continue the program, Simmons was at the top of the list.

"Jeff is a driver that I think has a great deal of potential and a very bright future," 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Rahal said. "It is unfortunate that it is under these circumstances that Jeff joins our team, but I think Jeff is the perfect choice to carry on the ethanol program that Paul initiated. Jeff has paid his dues and worked his way up through the ladder system. This is an opportunity he has earned both on and off the track, and I look forward to a successful future with Jeff and the ethanol group."

Simmons will participate in an Open Test on April 5 at IMS to prepare for the 500-Mile Race and get acquainted with his crew.

"I am honored to have the opportunity to promote the message and need for the clean, renewable fuel ethanol and to become a member of Rahal Letterman Racing," Simmons said.

"The last two times (with Mo Nunn and Patrick) I was just right into the car and right onto the racetrack. It's going to be nice to have some time to prepare, and I'm looking forward to getting in the car and getting started. It is one of the most professional teams I could ever hope to be associated with, and I truly appreciate the faith that Bobby and the Team Ethanol sponsors have placed in me."

Team Ethanol is comprised of the Broin Companies, Fagen Inc., ICM and 25 other companies who have joined together in a voluntary industry-wide coalition that represents more than half of the industry. Ethanol is a high-octane, high-performance fuel that is clean burning, renewable and made in America. As a growing component of the United States gasoline supply, it delivers improved vehicle performance for all passenger cars and trucks while reducing emissions and improving air quality.

"Through Paul Dana's determination, ethanol became the performance fuel of choice for the Indy Racing League," said David Vander Griend, president and CEO of ICM. "The best tribute to his legacy is to continue promoting ethanol through racing. We are excited about the future of our new partnership with Jeff Simmons and Rahal Letterman Racing." IMS

Carpentier weighs in on merger Carpentier weighs in on mergerPatrick Carpentier has joined fellow open wheel racers in voicing his support for an IRL-Champ Car merger.

"All the drivers really want it. Everybody wants it," he tells autosport.com.

"For them [the organizers] they don't see it and they have a lot of money I guess, but they don't see what is happening down here and everybody is suffering. The TV, everything, has gone. When you try to sell sponsorship in the series the return isn't there anymore.

"You look at when I was racing Champ Car a few years back, it was so much fun it was unbelievable. The sponsorship and everything was there, but it keeps going down every year."

Ferrari and Honda open testing at Vallelunga Ferrari and Honda open testing at VallelungaFirst day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, working today at Vallelunga, on the outskirts of Rome.

The two Scuderia official test drivers, Luca Badoer and Marc Gene were in action today. The Italian driver used a 248 F1, working on development of the V8 engine and new components. His Spanish colleague was at the wheel of an F2004, fitted with a regulated power version of the V10 engine and began a Bridgestone tire development programme.

Badoer covered a total of 150 laps, setting a best time of 1’13”388. Gene did 113, the quickest in a time of 1’13”052.

Testing at this circuit continues tomorrow: Luca Badoer will be partnered on track by Michael Schumacher. Press release Ferrari

1. A. Davidson – Honda – 1’12”804 – 120 laps
2. M. Gene – Ferrari - 1’13”052 – 113 laps
3. J. Rossiter – Honda - 1’13”081 – 132 laps
4. L. Badoer – Ferrari – 1’13”388 – 150 laps

The Honda Racing F1 Team began a three-day test at the Vallelunga circuit in Italy this morning, the first of two tests scheduled before the next Grand Prix at Imola in two and a half weeks time.

Weather conditions are much improved since the team’s last visit to Vallelunga a fortnight ago, with ambient temperatures reaching 26˚C at lunchtime.

Anthony Davidson and James Rossiter began the test today concentrating on tire programmes looking at options for the forthcoming European races, alongside chassis set-up work.

Anthony completed 120 laps, setting the fastest time of the day – a 01:12.804 – with James completing a total of 132 laps.

Jenson Button will join the team tomorrow taking over from James. Source Honda Racing

Rahal announces Simmons to replace Dana Rahal announces Simmons to replace DanaBobby Rahal made the following statement at today's Indy 500 Press Conference regarding his newest driver.

"I apologize if I'm a little foggy today. I just got back in from China last night. My son was racing over there. So I'm a little not quite sure what time zone I'm on currently. But it is great to be with all of you and to be back here at the Speedway. I have to say I got kind of excited coming over today thinking about what a great year, great couple of years we've had the last several and looking forward to having another great one this May.

"We've obviously been through some real trials and tribulations already this year. We all know what happened at Homestead and what a terrible day that was for all of us and our team and racing and, in particular, Paul (Dana) and his family. And yet knowing Paul as we did, he was the kind of guy that was pretty no-nonsense about him, get on with life and get going. We intend to do that, and we've dedicated this year to Paul in our quest for the championship.

"And one of the - I think a great component for our team in order to bring that championship to us is that today I'm pleased to announce Jeff Simmons is going to drive the Ethanol No. 17 car for the remainder of the year. Jeff, of course, has been very successful in the Infiniti Pro Series and also has a pretty successful track record beyond that. We think that he's going to bring us a lot of value and contribute greatly to the overall performance of the team, and have no doubt that he'll be very competitive in his own right. So I am very, very pleased to introduce all of you to Jeff Simmons."  Full Transcript

NASCAR Martinsville Truck TV Rating NASCAR Martinsville Truck TV RatingThe Martinsville NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series scored a Nielsen Rating of 1.15 (760,000 Households), up 16 percent from 2005 (.99; 623,000 HH). It marked the third consecutive race where Nielsen Ratings were up from a year ago, with Fontana up 11 percent and Atlanta up 21 percent.
Speed World Challenge
Mowlem to miss Long Beach race Mowlem to miss Long Beach raceJohnny Mowlem’s exit from the Speed World GT Challenge second round, at St. Petersburg, Fla. was spectacular, if early. His car burst into flames during the recon lap, forcing the international racing veteran to trigger the in-car fire suppression system, park and bale out.

"It was hot in there - very, very hot,” Mowlem said. “I've never experienced heat like it. …there was suddenly a sound like a fierce wind and then flames just came shooting up around me. After that all I could see was orange. It was quite pretty actually! I hit the extinguisher which straight away seemed to calm the flames, (and the heat!), down a little and then I decided to vacate the vehicle rather quickly!”

"I've only got very minor burns on my forearm, caused by the netting over the side window melting - onto me. Fortunately, the marshals were very quick to the scene and did a great job of getting the fire out, and the car was only slightly damaged." zzzz

Mowlem had been due to start from the 7th row for the race, but had in fact qualified fastest in his (slower) session.

The next round of the championship for the team was due to be at Long Beach, California this coming weekend, but the Autosport Design Racing team have decided to miss the next round with a view to doing some solid testing and development in close association with Prodrive and Aston Martin Racing.

Johnny’s next event in the Aston Martin DBR9S will now be at Mid-Ohio in May.

In the meantime he will be contesting test and development work for the Le Mans 24 hour race in France with the ACEMCO GT1 Saleen team and also racing in the Grand American road racing series at Laguna Seca.

Q and A with Chitwood and Barnhart Q and A with Chitwood and BarnhartTwo races have already been held, of course, in the 2006 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series, one at Homestead Miami Speedway, the other in St. Petersburg, Florida. Two very exciting races, especially on the oval at Homestead, Miami. Was interested to hear Rusty Wallace's telecast last week concerning the Homestead, Miami race. He was like: "Wow, that was exciting. I had no idea that these guys raced that way." I realized that he has been very busy the past few years racing on Sunday but I wanted to tell him, "Well, that's the way these guys race on ovals all the time." So we look forward to one more race before the Indianapolis 500.

And to preview the month of May and the 90th running of the "500," first of all, we have the president and COO of the IRL, Brian Barnhart on the far end, and the COO and president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Joie Chitwood. Joie has some opening remarks. Please get your questions ready and we'll take them in just a moment. More.....

Industry News
BMW sales up 11 percent BMW sales up 11 percentThe BMW Group (BMW and MINI brands combined) reported year-to-date sales of 72,588 vehicles, an 11 percent increase over the 65,536 sold in the first quarter of 2005. The BMW Group also reported an increase of 17 percent in March sales, for 28,352 vehicles over the 24,276 vehicles reported in March 2005.

BMW Brand Reports Sales Year-to-date, sales of BMW brand vehicles were up 14 percent, as the company reported sales of 63,103 vehicles compared to 55,352 vehicles sold in first quarter of 2005.

March sales jumped 22 percent for a total of 24,501 vehicles compared to 20,149 reported last March.

BMW Automobile Sales rose 31 percent in March, to 18,966 versus 14,475 in the same month a year ago. First quarter sales were up 23 percent, to 49,884 automobiles compared to 40,427 in the first three months of 2005.

BMW Sports Activity Vehicle Sales - March sales of BMW Sports Activity Vehicles are off slightly, down 2 percent to 5,535 vehicles over the 5,674 sold last March. Year-to-date, sales of BMW Sports Activity Vehicles are down 11 percent, to 13,219 vehicles compared to the 14,925 sold in the first three months of 2005.

Track News
Interview with Lance Armstrong Interview with Lance ArmstrongAn interview with seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, who was named April 4 as the driver of the 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Pace Car for the 90th Indianapolis 500 on May 28.

Armstrong, 34, from Austin, Texas, retired from competitive cycling after winning a record seventh consecutive Tour de France in 2005. He now focuses on the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which provides the practical information and tools people living with cancer need to live strong.

Q: Your name will now not only be connected to the Tour but connected to the Indy 500. That's two very different world-class sporting events. How's it feel to add another medal to the chest?

LANCE ARMSTRONG: All I can say is that when we got the phone call to ask if I was interested in driving the Pace Car at Indy, it was a very short conversation. It was like: "Are you kidding? Of course." It is a huge honor and something that I am very excited to do. Hopefully I can not mess things up, if that's possible.

Q: There are a lot of big names associated with the Indianapolis 500. Even Colin Powell was a Pace Car driver. What's it like to be in that kind of company?

ARMSTRONG: It is arguably one of the most famous sporting events in the world, and every year there can only be one guy to drive the Pace Car. For me to be selected and asked to come, it is a huge honor. To have the role and to come a year after a great man like Colin Powell is a big honor. zzzz

Q: What else do you think your positive thoughts will be besides being nervous?

ARMSTRONG: It will be a rush driving around with 250,000 people there. In the opening laps is probably when they are the loudest they could be screaming for their favorite driver. You try to take all of that in. It will have been almost a year since I have heard that as a sportsman. It will be neat to get a little of that back.

Q: Talk about driving it (Corvette Z06) over. What are your initial impressions of the car?

ARMSTRONG: It is always interesting the first time you get in a car. Obviously, the speed and the handling of it is different, and the different details of it. I mean, having the speedometer in the front windshield was something that I've never experienced before, and that took some getting used to. The power was there, and every red light was a temptation.

Q: You drove a Z06 on the way over here. Which was easier to handle? Your bike or the Z06?

ARMSTRONG: I spent 20 years racing the bike professionally, so I've gotten used to that. Driving a high-powered vehicle like that is totally different. I'd have to pick the bike as easier to handle. It was a little tricky. I got three speeding tickets on the way over, so I'm looking at who to give those to so I get reimbursed.

Q: If we broke into your garage, would we find any Chevys?

ARMSTRONG: You would find a Suburban outside the garage. My main car is a Chevy Suburban. For me, it is great because I can throw all my bikes in. I can throw my kids in, and it makes it easier to get around town.

Q: Whether you're going wheel to wheel for 500 miles in an IndyCar or going wheel to wheel in 12 stages of the Tour de France, there are certain components of an athlete that make them successful. What do you think those are?

ARMSTRONG: I think when comparing cycling to other events like the Indy 500, sometimes in motorsports, people don't consider them to be athletes, but they are extremely fit. I know a lot of drivers that spend a lot of time on the bike and a lot of time in the gym, and I can tell you they are athletes.

Q: This is not only a great opportunity for you but for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Talk about how pleased you are to get additional exposure for your worldwide foundation.

ARMSTRONG: You know, all of these opportunities are great for us. They are great for me as an athlete. They are great for me as a philanthropist; they're great for the Foundation. It is just another opportunity to say, "Hey America, or to the world that cancer should be a national priority, a global priority." It (cancer) is something that I think we've grown accustomed to and used to, and that has to change in this country. This is another chance for me to stand up as a cancer survivor and say: "I'm here; I won seven Tours. I'm driving the Pace Car at Indy, and oh, by the way, this country has to do more for the fight on cancer."

Armstrong to pace Indy 500 field Armstrong to pace Indy 500 fieldINDIANAPOLIS - Two racing icons will unite when Lance Armstrong, seven-time Tour de France winner, drives the 2006 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Pace Car to lead the field to the start of the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 28, 2006.

For a record 17th time, a Chevy will pace the race, and it's the eighth time for a Corvette to be leading the pack.

Neither Armstrong nor the Corvette is a stranger to elite endurance racing. Armstrong won seven consecutive Tour de France titles, and the Corvette Z06 Pace Car he'll be driving is based on the C6.R Corvette racer that has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans four out of the past five years.

"We're proud that this year's Indianapolis 500 will showcase the new 505-horsepower Corvette Z06 and honored that it will be driven by another racing icon - Lance Armstrong," said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. "The 2006 Corvette Z06 is infused with technology from our own endurance racer - the four-time Le Mans winning C6.R Corvette race car - and having it play such a key role at this important event acknowledges the significance the vehicle has played in American culture for more than 50 years."   zzzz

As the No. 1-ranked cyclist in the world in 1996, Armstrong competed as a member of the U.S. Cycling Team in the Summer Olympic Games. While seemingly at the top of his game, he was literally forced off his bike because of cancer. He formed the Lance Armstrong Foundation within months of his diagnosis to help others with their cancer struggles.

Armstrong then staged an incredible comeback, winning his first Tour de France title in 1999. After seven consecutive victories, Armstrong retired following the 2005 race and continues to be a leader and activist on behalf of cancer survivors around the world. The Lance Armstrong Foundation has become among the most influential organizations of its kind and provides practical information and tools people need to battle cancer and live strong through education, advocacy, public health programs and research grants.

"The Hulman-George family and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway staff are honored that Lance Armstrong will pace the field for the start of 90th Running of the Indianapolis 500," said Joie Chitwood, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and chief operating officer. "Lance is a sports icon, and it's only fitting that he'll be driving another American icon on Race Day as he takes the wheel of the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. It's also gratifying to continue the long relationship between the Indianapolis 500 and Chevrolet with such an exciting, performance-bred vehicle as the Corvette Z06."

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been the site of many memorable events since the facility opened in 1909. Similarly, Chevrolet has a rich heritage in racing that dates to company co-founder and namesake Louis Chevrolet, a gifted engineer and talented race car driver who competed in the Indianapolis 500 four times.

The 2006 Corvette Z06 that will serve as the Indy 500 Pace Car is virtually identical to the models available today through local Chevrolet dealerships. Because the production Corvette is so racing-ready with 505 horsepower capable of 198 mph and a 0-60 mph time of 3.7 seconds, class-leading aerodynamics, a suspension that can handle 1.01 Gs in cornering situations and large 18-inch front and 19-inch rear wheels that are a foot wide in the rear, the only changes made to prepare it for this year's role were the addition of strobe lights and racing safety gear.

Like race cars, the duties of a Pace Car can be long and strenuous. During the last four Indy 500 races, for example, the Chevy pace vehicles led the field for a combined 186 laps (465 miles) of the total 800 race laps (2,000 miles). Even during green-flag race conditions, the Pace Cars patiently run at idle ready for action at a moment's notice.

With the Indianapolis 500 being such a classic American race during Memorial Day Weekend and with Chevy's "An American Revolution" campaign, the Corvette Z06 Pace Car features an Americana red, white and blue theme. It displays an abstract U.S. flag pattern with "Victory Red" and "Cobalt Blue" ribbons flowing across the car on a base of "Arctic White" with white stars flanking each side. The 2006 Indy 500 logo is on each door, and the Chevy red racing Bowtie appears at the top of the hood.

The race will be broadcast live May 28 by ABC Sports and the IMS Radio Network. The green flag drops at 1 p.m. (ET). Tickets are available for the 2006 Indianapolis 500. For information, log on to www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com or call the IMS office at (800) 822-INDY or (317) 492-6700.

Chevrolet has paced 16 previous Indianapolis 500 races, more than any other brand:


Corvette convertible

Corvette convertible

Corvette 50th Anniversary Edition

Monte Carlo



Camaro Z28



Camaro Z28




Bel Air


F1 testing this week F1 testing this weekAn extended break following the Australian Grand Prix means the Formula One teams now have two weeks in which to go testing ahead of the first round of the European season at Imola on April 23. And after Fernando Alonso’s and Renault’s dominant performance in Melbourne, they will be eager to make the most of the time available. 
On Tuesday at the Vallelunga track near Rome. Ferrari test drivers Luca Badoer and Marc Gene will be working on some major engine and aero upgrades which the team plan to debut at San Marino.  Honda will also be there, and Williams will have test driver Alex Wurz there.

For three days from Wednesday at the French circuit of Paul Ricard, will play host to Renault, McLaren, Toyota and BMW Sauber. Red Bull will also be there, with Toro Rosso expected to lend race driver Vitantonio Liuzzi for their sister team’s two-day program.

Track News
Indy 500 entrants to-date Indy 500 entrants to-date
Driver Entrant  Car# Team C/E/T Entry Date
Scott Sharp Delphi Fernandez Racing  8, 8T Delphi D*/H/F March 13

Kosuke Matsuura Super Aguri Fernandez Racing  55, 55T Panasonic ARTA D/H/F March 13

P.J. Chesson (R) Hemelgarn Racing  91, 91T Carmelo Hemelgarn Racing D/H/F March 15

Buddy Rice (W) Rahal Letterman Racing  15, 15T Rahal Letterman Racing Team Argent P/H/F March 23

Danica Patrick Rahal Letterman Racing  16, 16T Rahal Letterman Racing Team Argent P/H/F March 23

TBA Rahal Letterman Racing  17, 17T Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol P/H/F March 23

Marty Roth Roth Racing  25, 25T Roth Racing D/H/F March 27

Buddy Lazier (W) Dreyer & Reinbold Racing  5, 5T Dreyer & Reinbold Racing D/H/F March 30

Al Unser Jr. (W) Dreyer & Reinbold Racing  31, 31T Dreyer & Reinbold Racing D/H/F March 30

Felipe Giaffone A.J. Foyt Enterprises  14, 14T ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing D/H/F April 3

Larry Foyt A.J. Foyt Enterprises  41, 41T A.J. Foyt Racing P/H/F April 3

TBA A.J. Foyt Enterprises  48 A.J. Foyt Racing D/H/F April 3

TBA PDM Racing  18 TBA TBA/H/F April 3

Key: C/E/T-Chassis/engine/tire
D-Dallara; P-Panoz
*-- backup chassis is Panoz

(W)- Indianapolis 500 winner
(R)-Indianapolis 500 rookie
TBA-to be announced.

Former race winners (3): Buddy Lazier (1996), Buddy Rice (2004), Al Unser Jr. (1992, 1994).
Former pole winners (3): Scott Sharp (2001), Buddy Rice (2004), Al Unser Jr. (1994).
Rookies (1): P.J. Chesson.
U.S. born (7): P.J. Chesson, Larry Foyt, Buddy Lazier, Danica Patrick, Buddy Rice, Scott Sharp, Al Unser Jr.
Foreign born (3): Felipe Giaffone, Brazil; Marty Roth, Canada; Kosuke Matsuura, Japan.
Youngest: Danica Patrick, 24.
Oldest: Marty Roth, 47.
Most previous starts: Al Unser Jr., 17.
CARS (23)
Chassis: Dallara 14, Panoz 8, TBA 1.

Crown Royal to sponsor Long Beach race Crown Royal to sponsor Long Beach raceCrown Royal Special Reserve whisky will be the title sponsor of the inaugural Crown Royal Grand American Challenge of Long Beach on Saturday, April 8, part of the 32nd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend.

The company also is the presenting sponsor of the entire 2006 series, now called the “Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve,” and primary sponsor of the #39 Crown Royal Special Reserve/Cheever Racing Porsche Crawford co-driven by Christian Fittipaldi and team owner Eddie Cheever Jr. 

The Crown Royal Grand American Challenge of Long Beach marks the debut of the Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes at the famed seaside circuit. The race will be run in an exciting new format – a 90-minute “sprint” race with a minimum of one pit stop and driver change, and is expected to attract a field of 25-plus cars. zzzz

“Our brand has done many things in motorsports that no other spirits company has ever done before,” said Jim Lorenz, Brand Director, Crown Royal. “Being involved as title sponsor of the first-ever Grand American race at the famed Long Beach circuit is just the latest example of this, and gives the Special Reserve brand a prestigious platform to connect with passionate race fans and promote messages relating to responsible drinking.”

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

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

Rave reviews for St. Pete race Rave reviews for St. Pete raceUPDATE The weekend's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg was even bigger than last year's, Mayor Rick Baker said Monday, and race organizers have announced plans to return next year.  "Everything was about as good as we could have hoped," Baker said. "They sold out all the corporate suites.

"The weather was perfect. The crowds were very, very strong, and the race went smoothly. So it was a good day," he said.

Andretti Green Promotions LLC, owner and promoter of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, has not released attendance figures for the three-day spectacle, including Sunday's main event. Yet Baker said it was more than last year's estimated 65,000.

"What they have told me was that all three days, the attendance was significantly greater," the mayor said.

In a surprisingly early announcement, the Indy Racing League said during the weekend that the 2007 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be run April 1. TBO.com

04/03/06 Occasionally, there's a street race that works, and boy, does the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg seem like one that does.

Sunday's race was the second under Andretti Green Promotions management and Indy Racing League sanctioning. It was like the first, a glistening success.

It had most everything you could hope for from a street race - weather (sunny and 79 degrees), atmosphere, energy, good racing (as street racing goes) and fans. It even had a glamorous winner, Helio Castroneves, who replicated his Indianapolis 500 "Spiderman" fence climb at the far end of the main grandstands.

And the winner, like practically everyone else, gave the venue a thumbs-up.

"Incredible," Castroneves said, drunk on both his victory and the day's excitement. "I mean, we have to face it, this is the second-best event of the series."

The first, of course, would be the 90-year-old Indy 500.

Tony Kanaan, Indy racing's other ultra-personable Brazilian, couldn't stop raving.

"We could barely walk in the paddock, which sometimes it's tough for us, but that's good," he said of pedestrian traffic in street racing's version of the garages. "The fans, the support, it's the way racing should be," he said. "That's the way racing has always been. To me, if anyone wants an example of a race, this is it."

In Sunday's afterglow, Kevin Savoree of Andretti Green Race Promotions sounded like a man who's in this for the long haul.

"We had a mantra coming into this, and I'm a pretty focused guy, and the mantra was to sell tickets, sell suites, control costs and provide great entertainment," he said. "I think this weekend, we sold tickets, we sold seats, we provided great entertainment and we controlled costs.

"I feel very strongly that this event is going to become the premier event outside the Indianapolis 500, bar none. Bar anything. And maybe worldwide."  More at TBO.com 

[Editor's Note:  How ironic that the IRL folks now realize that the Champ Car model is the right model for Indy Car racing.  Related article]

Industry News
GM sales plummet GM sales plummetAfter giving cars away for the past couple of years at essentially no-profit margins (and taking huge losses as a result) GM now finds that most of its customers have new cars and won't need a new one for awhile.  Hence, General Motors Corp. posted a larger-than-expected sales decline in March, causing the automaker to lose nearly two percentage points of market share through the first three months of the year.

Nearly every percentage point of market share represents about 170,000 new vehicles annually, or enough to keep one assembly plant in operation.

While there were some positive signs in GM's numbers -- the automaker is getting consumers to pay more for its vehicles, and its newest vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Tahoe and Buick Lucerne, are selling well -- the overall results looked harsh.

GM's sales were off 14.4% in March.

Solution - GM should give away more cars "at-cost," suffer more huge losses, declare bankruptcy, and put itself out of its misery.  The headlines should read "World's largest automaker shuts doors after incompetent managers run GM into the ground."  And to think, they are paid millions of dollars to make such idiotic decisions.

Quote of the week Quote of the weekEither we succeed at this unification or we all (both series) are going to run out of jobs very soon” – Champ Car driver Sebastien Bourdais, on his feeling that the success of open-wheel racing in the USA rests on the merger of the IRL and Champ Car.
Champ Car Atlantic sponsorship grows Champ Car Atlantic sponsorship growsWith a series renovation bolstered by a sleek new competition package and its unique $2 million champion’s bonus, the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda has seen an influx of competitors and teams in 2006. But the infusion of life into North America’s top open-wheel development series isn’t just limited to the race track.

A number of new and active sponsors have entered the Atlantic Championship for 2006, joining the many returning businesses that lend support to the series, for one of the most anticipated seasons in the 33-year history of Atlantics.

The series itself welcomes a new partner this season with Mazda North American Operations signing on as both an engine supplier and Atlantic Championship sponsor. The Yokohama Tire Corporation also returns in ‘06 for its 18th season as a series sponsor.

Many of this season’s Atlantic teams have also opened up new doors with sponsorship opportunities. Sealy Posturepedic, the world’s leading bedding manufacturer, joins the Polestar Racing Group team for the upcoming season, serving as the primary sponsor on the entry driven by talented young American Alan Sciuto. Western Union, the global leader in money transfer services, also joins the Atlantic family as the primary sponsor on both of the Gelles Racing cars, lending support to rookie drivers Stephen Simpson and Robbie Pecorari.  zzzz

A well-established international brand and returning Atlantic team partner will be taking its sponsorship to a new level this season. Epson has enhanced its support and efforts with the Jensen Motorsport team and rookie driver Tim Bridgman. The team will now be known as Epson Team Jensen as one of the global leaders in imaging products takes a more active role in the squad, entering its ninth Atlantic season.

The Forsythe Championship Racing team returns to Atlantic competition in ’06 and the team brings along some new sponsors with its re-focused effort in the series. Joining longtime primary sponsor INDECK, one of the world’s leading suppliers of standardized steam power packages and components, are two new team partners. Emexis Integrated Solutions, a rising information technology system integration company, will sponsor Forsythe rookie racer James Hinchcliffe this season. Fuel maker Eneos also joins the Forsythe squad as a sponsor on its four-car Atlantic super team.

The Canary Fund, dedicated to developing a discovery platform for the early detection of cancer, enters the series as well.  The organization that also serves as one of the main sponsors of the San Jose Grand Prix will help sponsor Danilo Dirani’s entry with the defending Atlantic champion Condor Motorsports team in 2006.

Mi-Jack Conquest Racing expands from the Champ Car World Series to Atlantics this season and the team welcomes the Gehl Company, Champ Car World Series partner and makers of compact construction and agricultural equipment, to the fold as the sponsor for promising teen racer Graham Rahal. Another one of Champ Car’s top teams joins Atlantics with Team Australia entering the series. The team’s chief sponsor, Aussie Vineyards – one of Australia’s top wine merchants – also comes aboard this season supporting rookie drivers James Davison and Simon Pagenauld.

Accent Card, an international pre-paid debit card, joins the series as primary sponsor for the Transnet Racing entry piloted by Charles Hall. Miracle Sealants also is new to Atlantic in ’06 as the company that manufactures products for the marble, stone and tile industry will sponsor both the PR1 Motorsports cars driven by Mike Forest and Jonathan Bomarito.

Established series team sponsors are also elevating their commitment in 2006. The Room Store, Arizona’s largest volume furniture store, returns to sponsor owner/driver Dan Selznick this year and the business will also be the primary sponsor on the car driven by former Atlantic champion Alex Barron as he makes his return to the series. Pro Works, the longtime sponsor for Sierra Sierra Enterprises and one of Silicon Valley’s leading contract manufacturing companies, returns this season serving as the main sponsor for the entry driven by Brazilian rookie Raphael Matos.

Additional team and series sponsors for the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship are listed below:

Team sponsors
Bite Racing – Speedway Motors, Days Inn, Spinnakers
Brooks Associates Racing - Asfaltadora Maracay, Energy Freight, UP Racing, Palfinger, Sonax, Remus
Condor Motorsports - Funcional Card, M TEL, Perkons
Forsythe Championship Racing – Wirth Solar
Gelles Racing - Diamon-Fusion, USA Today
Mathiasen Motorsports – RLM Investments
McAtee Motorsports – UP Racing, All-American Racing, Pacific Sunset
NCDL TECH – DUC Housing Partners
Polestar Racing Group - PKV Racing, W.S. Deans
PR1 Motorsports – The Spirit of Edmonton, Dynacor
Team Australia – Location U, Cons. Gen. Vienne
Transnet Racing – OmniSource, Dixien, Australian Motorsport Foundation

Series Contingency Sponsors
Performance Friction
Impact Racing
Coast Fabrication

The Champ Car Atlantic Championship continues to be the premier open-wheel development series in North America. Beginning its 33rd season in 2006, the championship is noted for its long history of graduating its stars into Champ Car competition and has helped produce past Champ Car champions Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, Bobby Rahal, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve. 2005 Champ Car competitors Alex Tagliani, Andrew Ranger and Ronnie Bremer are also established Atlantic graduates along with 2004 Champ Car Rookie of the Year and 2003 Atlantic champ A.J. Allmendinger. Competing in newly-designed Swift 016.a chassis powered by a 2.3-liter Mazda-Cosworth engine riding on Yokohama ADVAN Racing Slicks, 2006 competitors will fight for the 12-race championship and the unique $2 million Champ Car series champion’s bonus. For more information on the Atlantic series, please visit www.champcaratlantic.comChamp Car

3 drivers added to GP Masters grid in Qatar 3 drivers added to GP Masters grid in Qatar(LONDON): The Grand Prix Masters World Series is today proud to announce the provisional driver entry list for the opening round at Qatar's Losail International Raceway on 29th April. In addition to the legendary names that graced the inaugural race event last November at Kyalami (South Africa), the series is delighted to announce the involvement of ex-Formula One racers Pierluigi Martini (Italian), Eric van de Poele (Belgium) and Alex Caffi (Italian) who will assume the role of Official Test & Safety Car driver for the series.

With less than four weeks remaining between now and the season-opener at the state-of-the-art Losail International Raceway, the organizers are busy undertaking testing and preparation work for the field of 15 race cars that will contest the first four- wheeled motor race ever held in Qatar. Ahead of the move to a brand new purpose-designed facility, the Grand Prix Masters World Series is making temporary shared use of a facility at Silverstone (Northamptonshire, UK) and it was from there that last week's nine car shakedown was successfully undertaken by the three new driver signings. zzzz

Bob Berridge, Head of Race Operations: "It's been an extremely busy time for us recently as we continue to push hard in preparation for our season opener in Qatar. Signing new drivers, new sponsors, new personnel and preparing for our up-and- coming move to a new facility are just a few examples of the behind-the-scenes activity we have all been preoccupied with recently. The most important thing right now, however, is the pre-event testing program and I am delighted to report a successful two-day test undertaken at Silverstone at the end of last week. Our three new driver signings shared between them a total of nine cars and between them accumulated around 500 miles of trouble-free mileage. It's been quite a while since Martini, van de Poele and Caffi hung up their F1 boots and to see them blasting around Silverstone last week in Grand Prix cars was quite something, especially considering how on the pace they were! They were all lapping within a few tenths of each other thereby reminding us yet again of how little raw speed any of our Masters have lost since their glory days in the sport. We will be undertaking more testing this week with six more chassis'."

Alex Caffi (Italy): "I actually tested for Grand Prix Masters last October at the first Silverstone test but I am too young to be eligible to race given the 45-years age limit. Too old, yes, but I never believed I'd see a day when I was considered 'too young' to race! Anyway, they say life begins at 40 right and here I am! I am delighted to be assuming testing duties alongside some of the greatest names in motorsport. I believe immensely in this series and the golden history of Grand Prix racing that it represents and did so well to re-create in Kyalami last year. I have now accumulated considerable test mileage in these cars and I cannot tell you how much fun they are to drive! The speed and grip on offer are on par with what many of these Masters won their world championships with and from speaking to my fellow drivers in the series, everyone is besotted by the machinery Grand Prix Masters have produced. All I have to now do is age by one more year before being in a position to race the machinery that I am so proud to test and develop for this outstanding new series."

Pierluigi Martini (Italy): "The Grand Prix Masters car is better than the last Formula One car I drove back in the mid 1990s! Last week at Silverstone was my first-ever outing in what many other drivers have described to me as a sensational racing car - and they're not wrong! I achieved around 60 laps in total but it was certainly enough to have me hooked and signed-up to the series. I have raced against many of these guys in the past including Mansell, Fittipaldi, Patrese and DeCesaris to name but a few and the camaraderie and team spirit amongst us all is ultimately the defining difference between Grand Prix Masters and anything else in motorsport. The rivalry and desire to beat each other, however, will be no different to yester-year, if not even greater this time round!"

Eric van de Poele (Belgium): "Signing up for the Grand Prix Masters World Series is the big present in life I never expected! I left Formula One in 1992 and while there were many other race series to keep busy with, nothing was ever as satisfying or as exhilarating as top level single seater racing. After leaving the sport, I tried my hand at sports car racing in North America and alongside Fermin Velez, we took Ferrari to victory at the 1995 12-hour endurance race at Sebring. I now run my own business in Belgium and never ever expected to find myself sitting in a 600bhp Grand Prix car like I was at Silverstone last week. My fellow countrymen will be more surprised than I am! Apart from the fabulous cars we have, the biggest incentive for me was the opportunity to work with and drive alongside these guys in what is a refreshing environment. Our series is not a technology war, political war or spending war as we see in F1 right now. We are therefore under no pressure apart from what we put onto ourselves. It is this personality-driven team spirit which the fans loved so much in Kyalami last year and what we hope to re- create at the fantastic circuits we will be gracing over the course of this year."


1. Rene Arnoux (France)
2. Eddie Cheever (USA)
3. Christian Danner (Germany)
4. Andrea de Cesaris (Italy)
5. Emerson Fittipaldi (Brazil)
6. Stefan Johansson (Sweden)
7. Jan Lammers (Netherlands)
8. Nigel Mansell (Britain)
9. Pierluigi Martini (Italy)
10. Eliseo Salazar (Chile)
11. Hans Stuck (Germany)
12. Riccardo Patrese (Italy)
13. Patrick Tambay (France)
14. Eric van de Poele (Belgium)
15. Derek Warwick (Britain)
Alex Caffi (Italy) Official Test and Safety Car driver

Australian GP fastest race laps Australian GP fastest race laps
Pos. No. Driver Team Fastest Lap
1 3 Kimi Räikkönen McLaren/Mercedes 1'26.045
2 1 Fernando Alonso Renault 1'26.189
3 5 M. Schumacher Ferrari 1'27.180
4 4 J.P. Montoya McLaren/Mercedes 1'27.464
5 2 G. Fisichella Renault 1'27.561
6 11 R. Barrichello Honda 1'27.690
7 16 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber/BMW 1'27.700
8 12 Jenson Button Honda 1'27.799
9 9 Mark Webber Williams/Cosworth 1'27.800
10 7 Ralf Schumacher Toyota 1'27.810
11 20 V. Liuzzi Toro Rosso/Cosworth 1'27.988
12 14 David Coulthard Red Bull/Ferrari 1'28.250
13 17 J. Villeneuve BMW Sauber/BMW 1'28.321
14 21 Scott Speed Toro Rosso/Cosworth 1'28.367
15 19 Christijan Albers Midland/Toyota 1'29.238
16 18 Tiago Monteiro Midland/Toyota 1'29.687
17 22 Takuma Sato Super Aguri/Honda 1'30.574
18 23 Yuji Ide Super Aguri/Honda 1'33.737
19 15 Christian Klien Red Bull/Ferrari 1'41.351
Only Kimi and Fernando were faster than Schu Only Kimi and Fernando were faster than SchuOn Sunday evening, before leaving the Albert Park paddock, Michael stopped by the garage once more to find the mechanics dismantling the wreck of his car. He shook their hands once more as a sign of encouragement after a weekend that no-one at Ferrari had expected. He then left for the hotel and headed that same evening for his home in Switzerland. "We miss our children. Corrina and I cannot wait to see them," he revealed.

Michael will have a week to get used to the new time zone, while the week after he will be testing for three days in Barcelona. Ferrari will also be on the track this week with the test drivers. Following the disappointing race in Melbourne, more work is needed: "Performances like that of this weekend are not our objective," declared Schumacher. "We have to work hard and prove that we are competitive in all conditions and not only in specific ones."

In any case, Michael is conscious that comparisons with last year are not pertinent: "This year is completely different. This time we are much more competitive and our all-round package is much better than it appears. However, in the course of this weekend we did not show this. zzzz
Thank God that in Formula 1 we base everything on figures and these show that if the tires had maintained their temperature, we could have stayed in the lead."

It is no fluke that Michael set the third fastest lap time during the race. Only Alonso and Raikkonen were quicker and even then these times were set towards the end of the race when the cars were lighter. In the previous laps and those after his pit stop, Michael was ahead of all the others and matching Alonso. "This is what gives us hope, that we are on the right track. Now we just have to sustain it in races," stated the seven-time World Champion.

For the European Grand Prix, that begin with Imola, the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro has many plans. "For Imola we will have improved aerodynamics and there will be modifications to the engine so things should go better," concluded Michael. "So, we will be preparing intensively over the next few weeks in view of the event." Source Ferrari

Like Father, Like Son Like Father, Like SonJuan Pablo Montoya and his adorable son Sebastian.  The kid looks right at home in the cockpit already.


Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Rossi taunts Alonso refusal
Schu under fire
Montoya roasts Kimi, McLaren
FIA's 22 teams nearly cracked
Hill eyes job as Brit GP boss
Rosberg told to qualify quicker
Williams still 'friends' with BMW
Todt adds voice to V10 quarrel
Ferrari to test Imola revamp
Oz track removes Schu bump
track news
LB race lands big Mexican rock band LB race lands big Mexican rock bandOrganizers of the Long Beach Grand Prix have confirmed that the most popular rock band in Mexico, "El Tri" will have a concert on Friday night of the race weekend. The band, led by Alex Lora, was formed in the 60s.  They have 24 records as "El Tri" and 15 as "Three Souls On My Mind."  They have sold more than 100 million records.
Bob Veith dies Bob Veith diesUPDATE Bob Veith, a veteran of 11 Indianapolis 500-Mile Races and the 1956 Rookie of the Year, died March 29 in a Santa Rosa, Calif., hospital. He was 81.

Veith, who drove in 54 National Championship races between 1955 and 1968 (right), was a steady campaigner who gained quite a reputation for being able to qualify for a race with very little practice time. He also gained quite a reputation for his ability to be able to "bring them home." Of 42 starts between 1955 and 1960, 29 resulted in a top-10 finish. Twelve of those were within the top six.

Of his 11 starts in the Indianapolis "500," six ended up with finishes in the first 12, topped by his Rookie of the Year run to seventh place in 1956 (left).

Unfortunately, what many felt was Veith's best shot at Indianapolis ended quickly, when, after starting fourth in 1958, he became entangled in the first-lap accident that took the life of Pat O'Connor. The following month, Veith was one of the Americans chosen to drive in the "Race of Two Worlds," a 500-mile race held in three segments at Monza, Italy. The fastest of all the Americans, he qualified second, and was third to Jim Rathmann and Jimmy Bryan in the first leg and then runner-up to Rathmann in the second. In August, he finished second to Rathmann in the Milwaukee 200.

In the 1964 "500," Veith ran third for several laps before dropping out, driving a rear-engine car A. J. Foyt had tried out in practice and turned down.

During the years he was attempting to establish himself in the Midwest, midget car driver Veith competed regularly in USAC sprint car races, ranking fourth in the 1956 Midwest point standings. Between 1955 and 1957, he had eight feature finishes of either second or third.

For more than a decade, Veith, an avid golfer and an occasional volunteer fireman, was a member of the highly effective Champion Spark Plug Company's Highway Safety program in which Indianapolis 500 race drivers would visit the nation's high schools in order to pass on safe driving habits to students.

While there will be no services, a celebration of life likely will take place later in the year. Veith is survived by his daughter, Christine. IMS

04/03/06 Bob Veith, popular USAC driver in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, died Wednesday evening, March 29, in Santa Rosa (CA) Sutter Hospital. He had been in failing health since his home off the Mendocino coast burned to the ground in 2003. There will be no services. A memorial may be planned for later in the year.
Veith, 81 years of age, was a standout on the midget, sprint and championship circuits, running his last Indianapolis 500 race in 1968. He was a member of the 100 MPH club as well as the Indianapolis 500 Old-timers Club (now the International Association of Indianapolis 500 Old Timers, Inc). For many years he was a member of the Champion Spark Plugs Safety Team, visiting high schools throughout the country to emphasize driver safety. He was also a volunteer fireman in his rural Ft. Bragg community.
Following the loss of his home, Bob lived with his only survivor, his daughter Christine. Condolences may be sent to her at veith61@comcast.net.
Tracy, Bourdais, Junqueira and Wilson interview Tracy, Bourdais, Junqueira and Wilson interviewChamp Car's biggest names, Paul Tracy, Sebastien Bourdais, Bruno Junqueira and Justin Wilson were guests on this week's Champ Car media conference. Transcript.
Australian GP emotional for Speed Australian GP emotional for SpeedFor American Scott Speed, the Australian Grand Prix was a variation of the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

Speed grabbed eighth place in the final seconds of the race. It was a glorious moment as he scored his first point in only his third Grand Prix start. Unfortunately for Speed, officials later penalized him for passing David Coulthard in a yellow-flag zone and demoted him to ninth place.

While it was a disappointing change of events for Speed, he still drove an outstanding race and avoided any trouble to earn his best finish yet in his rookie F1 season.

After the previous Grand Prix, in Malaysia, Speed, teammate Tonio Liuzzi and other members of the Toro Rosso team headed straight for Australia.

"We were planning on going to Cairns," Speed said, "but there was a typhoon there in the last weeks, so we went to Surfers Paradise." zzzz

Cairns is a town on the northeast coast of Australia that's a gateway to The Great Barrier Reef. Surfers Paradise is a beach resort town south of Cairns.

"Training was the main objective," Speed said. "I did a lot of cycling and a few days in the weight room. We also relaxed, did some surfing and tennis. It was the first time I had ever tried surfing, and it was a lot of fun. It was weird because I was better on the first day of surfing than the second one."

Speed had never seen Melbourne's Albert Park track that plays host to the Australian Grand Prix, but he had driven many laps on it with computer games before he got there.

He set the 17th quickest time March 31, which was the first day of practice.

"The out lap felt intimidating as it was very slippery out there," he said. "Then, after I saw Neel (Jani) go off, I thought 'Oh, man, this looks like a recipe for disaster.'

"So at first it was difficult to push hard enough to keep the temperature in the tires. So that was intense."

Qualifying on April 1 did not go as well as Speed had hoped. He set a lap time quick enough to make it through the first round of eliminations but crossed the start/finish line just after the session had ended. He lined up 19th for the race.

"I had a good start to the session even if as expected it was tough to warm up the tires," he said. "The second run was better still until I lost the car in Turn 14. We're not sure exactly what caused that; maybe it was down to the tire pressures we were running. Up to that point, I was on a lap that would have easily been good enough for 13th or 14th place. My final lap was also good enough for 14th, but I did it crossing the red light."

The Australian Grand Prix on April 2 was an incident-packed race, but Speed managed to avoid the accidents, spins and debris that caused other drivers to retire. In the closing stages of the race, he was in ninth place and fending off challenges from Coulthard in the Red Bull Ferrari. Speed was aiming for his first top-10 F1 finish.

"At the time we were ninth," he said, "and I was just thinking: 'Get a top 10, stay in front of David, just be smooth."

As the pair entered the finally corner, they encountered a massive cloud of smoke from the blown engine of Jenson Button's Honda. Button's retirement just yards from the finish line elevated Speed to eighth and Coulthard to ninth.

"I came out of the corner with David right behind me," Speed said, "and I saw a big cloud of smoke. I kept going flat out. There was oil on the track, and I got into a big slide but I was able to finish the race ahead of David. And the team told me I was eighth!"

The Scuderia Toro Rosso crew and Speed were ecstatic. He had scored the first point of his F1 career and the first point for the team.

"It is a dream come true!" Speed said after climbing out of his car. "The most emotional experience of my life was when I came into the impound area and my whole team was on the fence cheering like I won the race. The whole team went crazy.

"It was like a victory. I worked very hard to get into the position."

But then came the agony of defeat. Race officials determined that Speed had passed Coulthard when the yellow flags were waving for an accident by Liuzzi. They levied a 25-second penalty to Speed's overall race time, and that dropped him to ninth behind Coulthard. Stewards also fined Speed $5,000 for using abusive language toward another competitor during the post-race hearing.

"It was a surreal day, to say the least," Speed said. "This post-race incident will only increase our drive and focus to be serious point contenders during the remainder of the season."

While it was disappointing for Speed to lose the point, the good news is that he finished another Grand Prix and gained more valuable experience.

Speed's next race will be the San Marino Grand Prix on April 23. On July 2, he will compete in the United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. USGP

No. 19 has strong ties to Long Beach No. 19 has strong ties to Long BeachThe party at the beach is set to kick off for the Rolex Grand American Sports Car Series on Friday, April 7th .  Memo Gidley and Michael McDowell, drivers of the Playboy/Uniden/Palms sponsored Ford- powered Crawford machine, hope to be celebrating in victory lane by the end of the 90 minute contest on Saturday. Although Long Beach will mark a first for Michael McDowell and the Grand American Series, Memo Gidley, Steve Cameron and several members of the crew have plenty of experience racing on these city streets.

Memo Gidley has competed on the 1.968-mile temporary street circuit a total of three times, winning the Atlantic race in 1998 and leading his first ever champ car laps in 2000. “Long Beach has always been one of my favorite tracks,” explained Gidley.  “I have won in the Formula Atlantics on this track, and also led my first laps in a Ford powered Champ Car in 2000.  But the biggest thing that stands out is the fan support being that I’m from California.  It was most noticeable when I was out of a ride and spending the race weekend walking around the paddock.  The fans constantly stopped to talk to me and reminded me to keep working hard and good things would come.  Now I’m with a great team, have very supportive sponsors, Playboy/Uniden/Palms, and running in an awesome series - Grand American.  I’m looking forward to showing everyone what the No. 19 Ford- powered Crawford can do this weekend.”

Steve Cameron, the team manager and driver coach for this team, can also tell you from experience what it’s like to race on this circuit.  Cameron competed at Long Beach as a driver in 1992 and 1994, starting in the top-ten both times.  The ironic part of this story is that Memo Gidley was working as a mechanic for Jim Griffith at the time and actually wrenched on Cameron’s car. Although Cameron’s driving days are over, he still has his work cut out for him this weekend. 

The team’s second driver Michael McDowell will be making his Long Beach debut this weekend.  The young shoe from Phoenix, Arizona will be looking for Cameron’s advice and expertise as he takes to the tight street circuit for the first time on Friday. “Long Beach is such an exciting race,” said McDowell.  “It’s one of the biggest races in the United States and it’s awesome that we’re going to be racing the Daytona Prototype cars.  The course is very tight and the cars are so big that I think the fans are going to see the most exciting race of the year.  I’ve never raced at Long Beach but Steve Cameron and Memo Gidley have both logged several laps around the circuit so I think we should have an advantage especially given the limited amount of practice.”

Rolex Series practice begins on Friday, April 7 at 8:00 a.m., with qualifying taking place at 3:55 p.m.  The race is scheduled for a 4:00 p.m. start on Saturday, April 8 and Speed Channel will be broadcasting the event at 9:00 pm ET.  Be sure to check your local listings.

Talladega Nights Talladega NightsThe new NASCAR movie starring Will Ferrell, Talladega Nights, will be in Movie Theaters August 4th.  Click here to learn more about this movie.

NASCAR COT tested again NASCAR COT tested againFor the second straight week, NASCAR’s Car of Tomorrow tested on a short track as preparations continue for next season’s debut of a safer, more competitive and cost-efficient stock car. On Monday at Martinsville Speedway, #29-Kevin Harvick of the Richard Childress Racing team, along with NASCAR’s Brett Bodine, tested the new car. While early morning rain delayed the start of the test, the results were extremely positive. “We went through our normal aero changes here today, just to back up what the wind tunnel has been telling us, and were able to get some quality laps on the track,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president for competition. “The wing continues to give us positive results. It is going to provide the teams with a lot of advantages when it comes to competition. We’ll even get more evidence of that when we test the Car of Tomorrow next month at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.”

For Harvick, it was his first time driving the Car of Tomorrow and he was encouraged with his initial test run. “When you get in the driver’s seat, it feels like just another race car,” said Harvick. “We got a lot out of today’s test, because it helps us determine what kind of package we will need when we run the car next season. From everything I’ve heard about the wing, it should be a big help in helping the car behind you get some air on its nose. That seems to be what we’re fighting all the time; the aero push on the bigger race tracks.” Monday marked the second straight week for RCR to test its Car of Tomorrow, as #31-Jeff Burton participated in the session a week ago at Bristol. Harvick says that the RCR team has made a commitment to develop its Car of Tomorrow program. “We didn’t go to the Car of Tomorrow test at Daytona (held in January), so we came out of there saying that since we had a clean sheet of paper, we needed to work to get ahead of the game and come out of the gate strong with this car next season,” said Harvick. “Richard (Childress) has made a commitment to do that and we’ve assembled a team to take this car around and we should have a couple of more cars done by Charlotte.” The next NASCAR Car of Tomorrow test is scheduled for May 30-31 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord. NASCAR PR

Racing News
Cody Unser to receive Ford Award Cody Unser to receive Ford AwardCody Unser, daughter of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. and granddaughter of 4-time Indy 500 champion Al Unser Sr., will accept this year's President Gerald and Betty Ford People Helping People Award on Saturday, April 8, 2006 at the University of Southern California's McDonald Swim Stadium.

This award is funded by the Fords and presented annually to an individual who has been an active member of the community and who has given his/her time to a wide range of charitable organizations. It was first awarded to President Ford in 1988, and includes recipients football hero/actor Merlin Olsen, actress Betty White, jockey Bill Shoemaker (disabled in an automobile accident), former Olympian Rafer Johnson, Holly Robinson-Peete and Rodney Peete, and actors Kevin Sorbo and the late Christopher Reeve.

Unser is a freshman at the University of Redlands and founded the Cody Unser First Step Foundation (http://www.codysfirststep.org/), a global not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising research funds, public awareness and quality of life for those afflicted with all forms of spinal cord-related paralysis. The Foundation also address the cause, rehabilitation, prevention and cure for Transverse Myelitis, and freely affiliates with other medical, charitable and corporate entities to achieve these goals. Unser was affected by this rare, auto-immune disorder when she was 12 years old. zzzz

Since 1981, Swim With Mike has raised $6 million for 55 Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarships for students who have overcome life-challenging accidents or illnesses. The fund is the only one of its kind allowing students to pursue both undergraduate and graduate degrees at USC and, beginning three years ago, other college campuses.

Swim With Mike began as a fund-raiser, "Swim For Mike," to purchase a specially equipped van for three-time All-American USC swimmer, Mike Nyeholt, who became paralyzed in a motorcycle accident in 1981. At Nyeholt's suggestion, the excess monies raised that year were used to aid other athletes overcome paralyzing or physically disabling injuries or illnesses, and return to school. With the help of Nyeholt's teammate and now USC Associate Athletic Director Ron Orr, "Swim With Mike" was born the following year when Nyeholt returned to swim laps.

"Cody Unser is the youngest recipient of the People Helping People award," said Orr and Nyeholt. "She has helped raise thousands of dollars for research and awareness of Transverse Myelitis and has impacted the lives of people living with paralysis. She is a success story that the current and future recipients can relate and look up to."

On Sunday, Cody travels to Long Beach, CA, to attend older brother Al Unser III's season-opening race in the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, a support event at the 32nd Annual Grand Prix of Long Beach--to extend a tradition--of joining Al in placing a decal from the Cody Unser First Step Foundation on his race car. The occasion has become an ongoing event--a show of support, good luck, and mutual admiration between Cody and Al.

For more information or to support Cody's events please visit the Cody Unser First Step Foundation at http://www.cufsf.org/

Foyt, PDM file entries Foyt, PDM file entriesA.J. Foyt Enterprises, owned by four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt, filed three entries April 3 for the 90th Indianapolis 500.

Longtime Indianapolis 500 team PDM Racing also filed an entry for the race.

The 90th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 28 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Entries must be postmarked by midnight Wednesday, April 5.

Foyt Racing named veterans Felipe Giaffone and Larry Foyt as drivers of two of its three entries. zzzz

2001 IndyCar® Series Rookie of the Year Giaffone, a native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, will drive the No. 14 ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, with an identical backup entered. Craig Baranouski, who serves as the general manager for all three Foyt entries, is the chief mechanic.

Giaffone will attempt to make his sixth Indianapolis 500 start and his second in a row for Foyt. Last year, Giaffone provided the story of Bump Day when the legendary Foyt called Giaffone while he was shopping with his wife in an Indianapolis store, asking Giaffone to come to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that afternoon to qualify his car. Giaffone qualified 33rd with just 24 minutes remaining in Bump Day qualifying, finishing 15th on Race Day.

Giaffone's best year at Indianapolis came in 2002, when he qualified fourth and finished third.

Larry Foyt, a native of Houston, will drive the No. 41 A.J. Foyt Racing Panoz/Honda/Firestone. The backup car is a Dallara chassis. John Schaer is the chief mechanic.

Foyt has made his two prior Indy 500 starts in cars owned by his father, A.J. Foyt. His best start and finish were 22nd and 32nd, respectively, as a rookie in 2004.

No driver was named for the third Foyt entry, the No. 48 A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Baranouski is the chief mechanic for the entry, which does not have a backup.

PDM Racing entered the No. 18 Honda/Firestone car, with no backup entered. The chassis will be determined. Brad Brewer is the chief mechanic, with team owner Paul Diatlovich also serving as general manager. IMS

track news
Hill, Gurney to be honored Hill, Gurney to be honoredUPDATE #2 Further clarification on Gurney's F1 wins - he had 4 points paying F1 wins and three non-points paying race wins. So both answers are correct in some respects.

Dan Gurney Formula 1 (1959 - 1970)
 Grand Prix Events 88 Starts -
 3 Pole Positions
 - 4 Wins 15 additional podiums
(eight 2nd places, seven 3rd places)
133 Formula 1 World Championship points
1962 Grand Prix of France, Rouen - Porsche / Porsche Flat 8
1964 Grand Prix of France, Rouen - Brabham / C-Climax V8
1964 Grand Prix of Mexico, Mexico City - Brabham / C-Climax V8
1967 Grand Prix of Belgium, Spa - Eagle / Gurney Weslake V12

 Non-Championship F1 Events (1959 - 1970)
19 Starts - 2 Pole Positions - 3 Wins
1960 Ballarat, Australia - BRM / BRM 4 cyl.
1962 Solitude, Germany - Porsche / Porsche Flat 8
1967 Brands Hatch, England - Eagle / Gurney Weslake V 12

04/02/06 There was a mistake in the press release below. Dan Gurney only won four Grand Prix, not seven.

04/01/06 LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Motorsports great Phil Hill and Dan Gurney, one of the original founders of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, will be inducted as the first members of the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame.

Hosted by Long Beach Mayor Beverly O'Neill, the ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 6 at the Walk of Fame, located on South Pine Avenue in front of the Long Beach Convention Center.

Hill, one of America's motorsports icons, was the first American to win the F/One World Championship, in 1961. Gurney won races at virtually every racing level, including seven F/One races, and remains the only U. S citizen to win an F/One race in a car of his own construction.

"The Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame is an excellent way for the city to honor people who have made exceptional contributions to motorsports, especially here in Long Beach," said Jim Michaelian, CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. zzzz

"We're delighted that the induction ceremony will be part of our race week activities. It'll give visitors a chance to share in the history of this great sport and should be on every race fan's 'must-see' list when they visit Long Beach."

The Walk of Fame medallions will include renditions of the drivers' cars and their top achievements.

Top-4 Champ Car drivers endorse Champ Car/IRL merger Top-4 Champ Car drivers endorse Champ Car/IRL mergerWe posed the following question to the top-4 Champ Car drivers today on the rumored re-unification of Champ Car and the IRL.

Q.  How do you feel about the potential of unification, and what do other drivers that you know from Champ Car or IRL have to say about it? 

JUSTIN WILSON:  Well, obviously it's something that most people feel pretty strongly about and feel that really needs to happen for both series to grow again.  They've kind of been in difficult times over the last three years, and together they probably have the recognition to turn things around and make things stronger again.  That's really what everyone is hoping for and it's what everyone needs.  At this point just let them deal with the situation and the owners sort out what can be sorted out, if anything at all, and we'll just get on and do our job and try not to interrupt anything that could happen. 

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA:  For me I think there is nothing that the drivers can do, for sure that's a wish that every driver has for the last four or five years.  Everybody wants the two to get together and keep talking, conversation the last three years maybe.  But I'd say for me, I don't think about it, I just do my job because I can't do anything about it; it's not up to me, not up to the drivers, so we'll have to wait and see.  But for sure it would be much better for open wheel racing in North America if we got together.  I think 99 percent of the drivers agree on that. 

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS:  I think I completely agree with everything that has been said.  I'd just go a further step and say basically keep looking at the situation in open wheel racing right now, which is both series are struggling so bad financially, and the teams can't put programs together and the drivers aren't getting paid anymore and things like that.  If they don't try to make it happen, it will die.  I think it's very straightforward.  Either we succeed at this unification or we'll all be out of jobs very soon. 

PAUL TRACY:  Can I add in another thing?  I think like Bruno said, it's really not in the control of the teams or the drivers.  I think that a lot of people maybe from the ownership side, they like to add in their two cents for whatever reason of their own interests of what they want.  But I think what ultimately needs to happen, it's really down to Kevin and Jerry and Tony, and you really have to treat it like it's a marriage; it's got to be equitable for both, it's got to be equal for both, and you can't go into it saying we're going to have a pre nup set up and I'm going to get all of this and you're going to get that.  It can't be 60/40 or 80/20.  It's got to be fair for everybody.  I think that's the only way it's going to work.  I think that they're trying to make that happen.  There's a lot of outside influences of people trying to put their opinion on what they think it should be, but ultimately it's down to them. 

Champ Car announces improved international TV Champ Car announces improved international TVFans of the Champ Car World Series follow the series from every corner of the world, and in 2006 the series has put together a television package that allows all of those fans to watch the exploits of their favorite teams and drivers as they chase the prestigious Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford championship.

Champ Car will provide increased coverage of its races around the world in 2006, with a new international television package that brings race action to 170 countries via a number of respected broadcast partners. Eurosport will carry action from every stop on the Champ Car schedule to 57 countries in 15 different languages on its primary Eurosport channel. Ten of the 15 races will be shown live with the remaining races to receive same-day coverage. FOX Sports Latin America will carry live Champ Car events in Spanish throughout Latin America and the Caribbean while FOX Sports Middle East & Africa will service 60 countries with series coverage.

"As the Champ Car World Series becomes more of a destination for drivers from around the world, it is important that our television package allows all of our fans to be able to follow the series," said Champ Car President Steve Johnson. "Not only are we increasing the number of countries carrying our events, but we have also increased the amount of live coverage, which is something that our fans around the world have asked from us."

Canadian fans will have a new option for following the Champ Car World Series in 2006 as the entire 80-hour package on SPEED will be available in Canada for the first time. In addition, RDS will provide live and same-day coverage of the series for Canada's French-speaking population. Long-time partner Network Ten will carry Champ Car action to Australia fans each Monday evening along with news and features in its popular Sunday afternoon RPM magazine show.  zzzz 

Along with race and qualifying coverage, several other broadcast entities will keep fans up to date with the latest happenings in the Champ Car World Series via anthology shows such as Motors TV in Europe, AB Moteurs in France and world-wide shows such as Martini World Circuit. International news broadcasters will also be able to receive the latest footage from each Champ Car event through SNTV, which is a sports news service that provides video to more than 190 countries worldwide. The action from the 2006 season will also be made available to military personnel via the American Forces Network (AFN), which provides programming around the world.

In addition to the abovementioned television partners, Champ Car will continue to pursue further broadcast options in a number of countries both terrestrial and cable in order to bring all the action of the Champ Car World Series to fans around the world.

The 2006 Champ Car season gets underway this weekend with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which takes place April 7- 9. The first of the year's 15 races will get the green flag on Sunday, April 9 at 4 p.m. Eastern and can be seen live in the United States on NBC. Champ Car
Martinez returns to Atlantic Series Martinez returns to Atlantic SeriesMexican racer David Martinez and the US RaceTronics team hope the momentum they built at the end of the 2005 Atlantic season carries over to the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda in 2006.

Competing with the first-year team last season, Martinez emerged as one of the top rookies in the Atlantic field, posting five podium results to claim fifth in the final series standings. The talented 24-year-old racer from Monterrey, Mexico returns to the US RaceTronics squad this season looking to build on his success from '05. Martinez will race in the #4 entry for the California-based team

"I think we proved last year, especially at the end, that we're a pretty good team," said Martinez. "It's going to be a very tough field in Atlantics this year, but with our experience I think we can be up there fighting for wins and the championship this season." zzzz

After claiming the Mexican Formula Renault title in 2003, Martinez began to assert himself in US open-wheel racing. He scored a dramatic victory in front of his hometown fans in Monterrey, Mexico in the Barber Dodge Pro Series in '03 on his way to a fourth-place finish in the series championship. He competed in the Formula Renault V6 Eurocup in 2004 before making his 2005 Atlantic debut back at Monterrey with a third-place finish for US RaceTronics.

Despite competing in only 11 of 12 events for a rookie team last season, Martinez was one of Atlantics' most consistent performers, earning top-five results in seven starts. He came on strong toward the end of the year claiming podium results in three of his final four races and earning his first series pole position in Montreal at the season finale.

"We're really excited to have David back with us for this season," said Shane Seneviratne, owner of US RaceTronics. "The team had good success and good continuity at the end of last season and we want to build on that as we head into 2006."

Martinez returned to action for US RaceTronics recently, testing the new Mazda-Cosworth/Swift 016.a/Yokohama Atlantic car for the team at California Speedway. This weekend he will make his first start on the streets of Long Beach when the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic season gets underway at the annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 7-9. Champ Car
Long Beach gearing up for Grand Prix Long Beach gearing up for Grand PrixSome Long Beach Press Telegram articles on this weekend's Toyota GP of Long Beach:
Wheels in motion for GP week
Tracy holds nothing back
Pine Ave. Party Plans
Evernham nominated best ever Evernham nominated best everRay Evernham, who won three Cup Series championships in the 1990s as crew chief for Jeff Gordon, has been selected as NASCAR's top all-time crew chief in a vote by a national motorsports media contingent.

Evernham's selection was announced Friday at Martinsville Speedway, in conjunction with the announcement of the new DIRECTV Crew Chief of the Race contingency award for the Nextel Cup Series. The $5,600 per-race award will go into effect with Sunday's running of the DIRECTV 500 at Martinsville. It will be presented weekly to the crew chief whose team has the lowest combined start/finish numbers. A year-end award of $102,400 will also be presented to the crew chief with the most victories. (Eligibility is based on a team's participation in the DIRECTV Crew Chief of the Race contingency program.) zzzz

Evernham, heading a first-rate pit crew that became known as the "Rainbow Warriors" because of their brightly-colored uniforms, guided Gordon to Cup championships in 1995, '97 and '98. Evernham left the team late in the 1999 season to head Dodge's 2001 return to the series. He continues in that role, via his Evernham Motorsports operation, with drivers Kasey Kahne, Jeremy Mayfield and Scott Riggs.

"I'm blown away," Evernham said. "I've never thought of myself as anyone special. All I did was have a great team, a great driver and did my job the best I could. I thank the media for their recognition."

Evernham was one of 10 crew chiefs nominated for the all-time award. Over several days of voting, Evernham amassed a total of 1,187 points to edge eight-time Cup champion crew chief Dale Inman by only 24 (1,163) points. Leonard Wood, who is credited with helping to revolutionize the approach to pit stops in the 1960s, finished third with 1,079 points.

Media participating in the voting ranked the 10 nominated crew chiefs. A first-place ranking was worth 10 points, a second-place ranking nine points, etc. Evernham received 46 first-place votes, while Inman had 47 and Wood 19.

A1GP hands out season ending awards A1GP hands out season ending awardsA1 Grand Prix celebrated the end of its first season this evening (2 April) at a glittering ceremony at the Grand Hyatt in Shanghai's business district, the tallest hotel in the world. Teams, drivers and Chinese dignitaries gathered to watch as season long achievements were honored.

The most popular winners of the night were Stephen Simpson, the young South African who won 'Most Improved Driver', and A1 Team Mexico who won the 'Most Improved Team'. On winning the prestigious driver award, Stephen said ' I feel very honored to be presented with this award, this has been much more than a motor racing experience - I have loved my A1 racing and have learnt a great deal, but I have also made a lot of new friends and been to many new countries. Representing South Africa has been a privilege and a highlight of my life.'

There was more good news for A1 Team Netherlands who won three awards. This comes on top of the announcement last week that the first race of the 2006-07 season will be held at Zandvoort, Netherlands on 1 October 2006. Jos Verstappen collected the award for 'Most Spectacular Maneuver' after two courageous overtaking maneuvers at the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Durban, South Africa which led to his first win in A1GP. The team also won the award for 'Most Appealing Livery', which was voted for by votes cast on the A1GP web site, and the award for 'Most Devoted Fan Base'. zzzz

A1 Team South Africa also had a successful evening, taking home two more awards. Seat holder Tokyo Sexwale won the award for 'Most Supportive Franchisee' along with Colin Giltrap from A1 Team New Zealand and Emerson Fittipaldi from A1 Team Brazil. Dana Cooper collected the award for 'Best Presented Event' in recognition of the brilliant event put on for A1 Grand Prix's first street race in Durban, South Africa.

A1 Team France were there in force to be the first team to be awarded the World Cup of Motorsport. Alexandre Premat and Nicolas Lapierre, whose 13 wins up to the American race in Laguna Seca saw the title decided in the penultimate race weekend, were also presented with commemorative rings made from white gold with diamonds inset.

Sheikh Maktoum, Chairman of A1 Grand Prix said: 'Tonight is a celebration of all we have achieved in our first season. The teams, drivers and all involved in A1GP, have put on a magnificent show, which I know we will better in our second season. I want to congratulate A1 Team France and thank all those that have made this possible, just two years after A1GP was launched on 30 March 2004. Our thoughts and efforts now turn to the next season and the first race in the Netherlands on 1 October.'

Other winners of the evening;
Most Supportive Franchise - Colin Giltrap, Emerson Fittipaldi, Tokyo Sexwale
Best Supporting Organizer - Sentul, Indonesia
Best Event Promoter - A1 Team China, A1 Grand Prix of Nations, China
Best Presented Event - A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Durban, South Africa
Most Proficient Commercial Partner - A1 Grand Prix Productions
Most Devoted Fan Base - A1 Team Netherlands
Most Appealing Livery - A1 Team Netherlands
Team PR Excellence - A1 Team New Zealand
Best Presented Team - A1 Team Ireland
Most Improved A1 Team - A1 Team Mexico
Most Extensive Product testing - Khalil Beschir, A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Brands Hatch, Great Britain
Most Spectacular Maneuver - Jos Verstappen, A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Durban, South Africa
Most Improved Driver - Stephen Simpson

A faultless weekend for Renault A faultless weekend for RenaultPat Symonds

Pat, it seemed like a hectic weekend in Melbourne…
"It was a really hard one! We had rain during practice, cold temperatures that made it hard to get the tires working, and a race that was disrupted by a lot of incidents. In the midst of all that, we were able to show that our car has a great level of performance, so I am very pleased."

A word about Fernando’s race…
"A word? Faultless. He could run at the speed he needed to, when he wanted to. The safety car periods cost him and could have spoiled his rhythm, but he managed to establish good leads after each restart."

Fisico’s afternoon seemed trickier?
"He had a lot to deal with, yes. His problems began at the start when the car stalled. The safety car allowed him to close up the field, and he made good progress. In the middle of the race, he was complaining of a lot of understeer, but he managed to adjust the car to correct it. The clutch then failed after his second stop." zzzz

And what were the consequences?
"On a machine as sophisticated as a modern F1 car, all the systems look to protect the car from this kind of problem until you solve it – which costs performance. As soon as we did, Fisi caught Jenson very quickly, and put some pressure on him. On a circuit where overtaking is hard, you then have to hope for a mistake from the guy in front, or that he will push his equipment too hard. That’s what happened. It’s a shame for Jenson, but it was a victory in its own way for Fisico."

What about the tire performance today – the conditions seemed to suit Michelin?
"Michelin had another great victory yesterday. Their tires were perfectly adapted to the conditions, and showed consistent performance throughout. Thank you to everybody at Clermont for their hard work."

Finally, it almost seemed easy for Renault in Melbourne…
"It was far from it! There were a lot of things to manage with Giancarlo, and we were very pleased to get him home in such a strong position. We are looking good after three races – but there are fifteen to go. We are not getting excited, and we know that to be successful, we need to keep on developing the car and engine. Which is exactly what will be doing in the time between now and Imola." Source Renaultf1

Gotta love GPS systems in cars Gotta love GPS systems in carsCrooks get arrested all the time for stealing cars . . . it's practically a spectator sport in some parts of the US. So it was no surprise that Thomas Minks, 32, who has a history of jacking vehicles, was arrested for stealing yet another car. The difference this time was that Minks was on his way to court to face earlier charges . . . for stealing a car. To make things interesting, Minks apparently stole a car with a GPS system and cops were able to track him right to the courthouse parking lot where he was apprehended, but not before he allegedly tried to run over two officers and cops had to hit him with a stun gun. Miami Herald
Renault: Monday morning debrief Renault: Monday morning debriefAfter Alan Permane headed to the podium last time out in Malaysia, it was logical that when Fernando next took the flag, it would be his chassis race engineer Rod Nelson who climbed the steps to take the trophy.

So what was the experience like for Rod? "It was a bit dream-like to be honest, kind of a daze. I was… ‘relaxed’ I suppose!" One of the funniest moments in the race came when Rod and Fernando were talking on the radio during the final stint, and Fernando told his engineer that "I am really relaxed" as Kimi Raikkonen charged him down. Rod's answer? Cool as anything, "It's pretty chilled here on the pit-wall too mate!"

The reality, of course, was anything but – as the engineers covered every eventuality as the laps counted down. So what was Rod's opinion of Fernando's drive? "It was a very clean race, that just ran to plan for us. The strategy worked well, the tires were perfect, and he was happy with the balance from the first stint onwards." So what was in store for the plane ride of home? "I think I'm going to sleep with the trophy in my seat…" smiled Rod as he bid Melbourne goodbye. zzzz

Radio goo goo, radio ga ga, or radio blah blah?
What is it about the Renault F1 Team and Queen? After Fernando's rendition of ‘We Are The Champions' in China last year, 2006 has begun as something of a "radio blah blah" kind of year. Conversations about Renault after yesterday's race concentrated on a couple of radio snippets broadcast on television and the contrasting styles they appeared to show… One was Fernando's relaxation technique mentioned above, while the other came at mid-race when Alan Permane asked his driver to speed up.

So was that indicative of an under-performing Fisico, as the five-second message seemed to suggest, or a more complicated reality? Pat Symonds was unequivocal. "It was a great drive from Giancarlo," explained the Executive Director of Engineering. The Italian had stalled at the start of the race and fought his way through to the midfield by halfway through the race.

Pat picks up the story… "The car wasn't very well-balanced during the middle part of the race when we knew it was important for Fisi to make up ground, and he was complaining of a lot of understeer. We worked with him on the radio, and he adjusted the differential and traction control to get the car back in balance. Things were looking good then until after the second stop, chasing Jenson Button, when the clutch failed. On a machine as sophisticated as a modern F1 car, all the systems look to protect the car from this kind of problem – and also cost you performance – until you solve it. As soon as we did, Fisi caught Jenson very quickly, and put some pressure on him. On a circuit where overtaking is hard, you then have to hope for a mistake from the guy in front, or that he will push his equipment too hard. That's what happened. It's a shame for Jenson, but it was a victory in its own way for Fisico."

Playing the percentages
Last season, the Renault F1 Team was often described as playing the percentage game on its way to the world title. One year later, it is interesting to take a look at how the starts of the two seasons compare for Renault. After three races in 2005, the team had scored 36 points from a possible maximum of 54 – a scoring ratio of 67%.

In 2006, that figure is now 42 points from 54, or 77%. Fernando sits on a fantastic scoring ratio of 93%, but the real difference comes from Fisico. Second in the championship, on 14 points, he is the difference between the strength of the team's position in 2005 and 2006. He has had his share of problems to deal with, but a combination of speed and determination has put him in a very strong position as the circus heads to Europe.

Round and round and round
During the three-week break before Imola, the test team will once again take up the slack and start pounding the circuits of Europe as we test the latest tires and developments. The Renault F1 Team will be in action from 5 – 7 April at Paul Ricard with Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen, while Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo will be on duty at Barcelona from 12 – 14 April. Both tests will see three days of running with two examples of the R26, as the team continues to improve its performance ahead of what is sure to be a challenging, and closely-fought, opening round of the European season. Press release, Renault F1 Team

Rocketsports, Pizzonia complete final test Rocketsports, Pizzonia complete final testIt is that time again, the time to start yet another exciting race season and Rocketsports Racing has been in full swing preparing for the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season opener in Long Beach, California this coming weekend.

Thursday night, the brand-new High Tech Rocketsports trailer was loaded with the #8 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone and all its necessities, and headed for Long Beach.  However, it would be making a quick pit-stop in Houston, Texas to give newly signed driver for Long Beach, Antonio Pizzonia, a little more seat time before taking part of the festivities in Long Beach starting on Friday, April 7.

Rocketsports did not partake in the Champ Car open testing in Fontana this past week because of its own plans to run again at the Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land Road Course in Houston.  The team ran Pizzonia a few weeks ago for the first time on MSR Houston’s 2.4-mile permanent circuit.  During that time, Pizzonia demonstrated his driving skills and feedback were exactly what the team was looking for.  He was signed officially last week to compete with the team for the first race of the 15-event Champ Car season. zzzz

The team was eager to work with Pizzonia in the car one last time before heading to their first event of the season, just as eager as Pizzonia was to work with them.  The 25-year-old comes to the states to compete in the Champ Car World Series for the first time, making his debut in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, after being a test driver for Williams BMW in Formula One and racing in some events throughout the past three years.

Pizzonia, who made 19 F1 starts, made an impression in the German Grand Prix in 2004 driving for Williams BMW, where he started 14th and demonstrated he had what it took to be a competitive driver in the field by finishing seventh and earning his first points in F1.  The Brazilian demonstrated that same ability to Rocketsports during his first test with the team when he ran times that were comparable to past Champ Car championship drivers.

During the Saturday-only test, Pizzonia improved his previous best time of 71.7 seconds by posting a 71.2 (121.212 mph).  Completing 116 laps, Pizzonia put 286 more miles under his belt in a Champ Car.  The focus of the test was to continue to familiarize Pizzonia with the car.  The engineers and team made large changes to the car so that Pizzonia could feel them and give feedback, changes that would be similar to the changes they will be making during the race weekend.  Also, they practiced a lot of pit stops so that Pizzonia will be prepared to work with the team when it comes to race day and to ensure safe, quick stops when it really counts.

“I am very happy with logging another day of testing with Rocketsports,” said Pizzonia after climbing out of the car on Saturday.  “I am feeling more confident about the car, and I really enjoy working with the team.  They have been a big help to me as I get more and more familiar with the car.  I am really looking forward to next weekend and I think working together we have the potential for a good result.”

2005 Rookie-of-the-Year Timo Glock made his Champ Car debut last year in Long Beach with Rocketsports starting and finishing in the sixth spot and was the top rookie in the event.  Rocketsports brings another rookie to the Champ Car field this weekend and looks to match, if not improve, the results with Glock last season. 

The 32nd annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach kicks off this Friday on the streets of Long Beach, California.  Final qualifying for the event will take place Saturday, April 8, afternoon, which will determine the starting grid for the race on Sunday, April 9.  The green flag is scheduled to wave at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time.  The race can be seen live on NBC with coverage beginning at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time.  Be sure to check out the Champ Car season preview which will be aired on SPEED Channel Saturday before the race at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Rocketsports

Racing News
Hill nominated for BRDC Presidency Hill nominated for BRDC PresidencyDamon Hill has been put forward as a possible successor to current British Racing Drivers' Club president Sir Jackie Stewart, who stands down from the role at the club's AGM later this month.

Hill, the 1996 Formula One world champion, has been a member of the BRDC for some time and has now been proposed as a presidential candidate by Mike Knight and Jackie Oliver, two current members of the board. Stewart has already indicated his intention not to seek re-election as president at the AGM on 28 April.

According to a statement issued on behalf of the BRDC, Hill will receive the unanimous backing of the board, but will have to wait and see whether the membership is as supportive of his candidacy. If successful, he will become only the second F1 champion to hold the post, joining his predecessor, in the 78-year history of the organization, which has its base at Silverstone.

The democratic decision on electing a president lies with our membership, but I have no doubt that there will be popular support within the club for Damon to succeed Sir Jackie," board chairman Stuart Rolt said.

"As a Formula One world champion himself, he will take on the prestige that exists in the position of president of the BRDC, and as an ambassador for UK motorsport. Damon will also symbolize the passing on of the presidency to a younger generation, which will send out an encouraging message to our newer and younger club members, who must take up the reins of leadership in the future."

Drivers put names on top of helmet Drivers put names on top of helmetIn an effort to help TV viewers identify which car they were riding in from ESPN's on-board cameras, the IRL drivers ran Sunday's St. Petersburg race with their last names printed on the top of their helmets....certainly a good idea.  Champ Car and F1 would be smart to do likewise.
IRL's biggest names want more street races IRL's biggest names want more street racesFrom the back of a pickup truck during the parade lap on Sunday, St. Petersburg looked like a big-time street racing town to some guys who remember what they look like.

"We have to face it," race winner Helio Castroneves said, "this is the second biggest event of the (Indy Racing League) series. Obviously, the first one is Indianapolis, but it's because it's been there for so many years."

As Castroneves and Bryan Herta were musing how the throng attending reminded them of the salad days of the CART series, Tony Kanaan and Sam Hornish were having much the same conversation a few trucks ahead.

"Hornish is a kind of guy that never speaks, right? He turns to me and said, "Oh, we should have more races like that,' " Kanaan said. "I looked at him. I look around to see if somebody was around me, if he was talking to me or somebody else. That's a guy that came from ovals and was asking for some street course racing."

Kanaan said the difficulty negotiating the paddock and coach lot was worth the exposure for the league.

"Sometimes it's tough for us, but it's good," he said. "That's the way racing should be. That's the way racing always has been. To me, if anybody wants an example of a race, this is it."

No official crowd estimate was made. Andretti Green Promotions does not release figures, but vice president Kevin Savoree said he was very pleased. St. Petersburg Times.com

[Editor's Note: When Champ Car and the IRL merge these drivers will get their wish because Champ Car has many successful street and road courses.  It certainly beats the death and destruction we have seen on the ovals over the years.]

Legge wants her driving to do talking Legge wants her driving to do talkingThe Brit who won last year's Atlantic race at Long Beach, breaking a notable gender barrier, is now driving in the Champ Car race Sunday for PKV Racing, and looking forward to the day when gender is no longer an issue. 

"If you wouldn't mind," she said with a smile when asked if she'd like the media to lay off the issue, "(gender) has not been an issue in the industry for a long time, especially among my competitors and team members. But it's probably never going to be like that outside the industry in my lifetime, unfortunately. 

"I've never wanted to be a girl in the car. I've always wanted to be treated and respected as a driver, as one of them, and I've always tried to act like (her peers) and work hard to gain their respect. I think most women who have gone into racing have always wanted to be considered an equal and not as something else." Press Telegram

Waltrip, Tracy mend fences Waltrip, Tracy mend fencesThe Canadian driver who has 30 Champ Car wins in his career jumped into the NASCAR Busch series this year as a potential first step toward moving to stock cars next season. Tracy's move was initially derided by former NASCAR legend and current TV analyst Darrell Waltrip, who said that Tracy should stay and not waste his or anyone else's time, that it was too late for this kind of vehicle change.

It only took Tracy's first three races to convince Waltrip that he was wrong. Tracy may not have posted many high finishes, but he was ultra competitive and quickly picked up a lot of the NASCAR tricks of the trade.

"I had some help from Casey Mears because of his dad, Rick, and his respect and knowledge of open-wheel racing," Tracy said. "I picked things up pretty quickly. Mostly it was understanding the importance of drafting and being comfortable with racing in close quarters, which I enjoy."

Waltrip eventually reversed his position and praised Tracy's work in the Busch races. "Now I'm getting good praise from the TV guys, which is half the battle because they have a lot of influence," Tracy said. Press-Telegram

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Ferrari blame rules for '06 slip
Oz to regain calendar slot in '07
Honda defend snap decision to halt Button
Red Bull plays down two-team rift
Schu wants Oz 'bump' removed
Fisi denies racing slow in Oz
Schu rues bad tire choice
Alonso's 'kangaroo' wiggle
Horner says no to own 2008 team
Liuzzi, JV, fume after Oz bingle
'RB2' already sports Newey work
Schu stays out of V10 fight
Why mechanics like most women Why mechanics like most womenEven if you are a woman, you have to get a laugh out of this audio - Why Mechanics Like Most Women (This really happened....don't let it happen to you!) - More....
IRL renews with St. Pete IRL renews with St. PeteUPDATE Along with the announcement that the IRL will return to St. Petersburg for three more years comes an announcement by the City of St. Petersburg that there will be a major redevelopment of the airport and the waterfront in the area of the track as they work to make this circuit the Long Beach of the East. A new airport terminal is planned that will be part of the circuit.

Quotes from the press conference:

TONY GEORGE (IRL Founder and Chief Executive Officer): “I can't think of any place I'd rather be than in St. Petersburg the first week of April. We have great promoters in this event in Andretti Green Promotions. They've done a great job with the support in this fabulous community. A lot of the credit goes to Mayor Baker. We love to come down to St. Pete this time of year and do the things that we enjoy so much. In the past, we've wanted to wait and get everything together before we announced a schedule. I've always been a proponent to announce good news while it's still news." zzzz
KEVIN SAVOREE (Managing Director, Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg): "We've got something very special here. We have great partners. The IRL, Tony George and his team. We've been working with Brian Barnhart on how to build this thing, and one of the things we needed to emphasize was the date. We're proud today to announce that we'll be in the streets of St. Petersburg on April 1. This could not happen without the unwavering support of the Mayor, and many more like the league and their great team. This could not happen without the support of the city, and that's from top to bottom. Honda likes to talk about the power of dreams, and I think we all see that in days like today.”
RICK BAKER (Mayor of St. Petersburg, Fla.): “We are Indy fans in St. Petersburg. Our whole community has so much adopted this race. We believe in this series. I can't thank Tony George enough for coming here two years ago. It has been a huge success over the years. We have city council members here, and it's been a great effort to make this a successful event. As a city, it took us 120 years to get our first IndyCar Series race, and after last year, it only has taken us one year to secure our next. The gentlemen around me have come to an agreement, and I'm happy to announce we'll be back April 1. This is an annual event. We will be ready, and we're looking forward to another great race next year.”
JOHN MANDEL (Exec. VP, Automotive Operations, American Honda Motor Company): “We're very proud to be associated with this great event. If you look at the schedule, there are only two dates that have been announced, and that is Indianapolis and St. Pete. This has the potential to be a crown jewel on the Indy Racing League schedule. We love what the city and Andretti Green Promotions has done. We look forward to being here next year as the title sponsor.”

04/02/06 The IRL renewed its contract with St. Petersburg race officials for another three years.....thereby assuring it will remain on the calendar should there be a merger of the IRL and Champ Car.
Formula Nippon
Toyotas 1-2-3 at Toyota’s Fuji track Toyotas 1-2-3 at Toyota’s Fuji trackOfficial Race Results from Round 1 of the Formula Nippon Series at Fuji. Bjorn Wirdheim finished 4th in a Honda but the rest of the top-10 were dominated by Toyota powered cars.

Race 2 was cancelled due to heavy rain and Bjorn Wirdheim talks about it.

"I'm disappointed in not getting the opportunity to fight for a podium position today after qualifying so well. After the Warm-Up this morning I was feeling very confident with the wet conditions but the Race Officials took the right decision in not starting the race. There was simply too much water out there, and small rivers running across the track in several different places made it far too dangerous. I'm pleased we've had a good start to the year and our focus will now be on Round 2 that will take place at Suzuka in two weeks time."

Pos. Driver Time Team Engine
1. No.19 B. Treluyer 7'40.450 Impul Toyota
2. No.20 T. Matsuda 7'44.669 Impul Toyota
3. No.1 S. Motoyama 7'46.019 Arting Impul Toyota
4. No.40 B. Wirdheim 7'47.402 Dandelion Honda
5. No.33 R. Quintarelli 7'48.541 Inging Toyota
6. No.3 S. Yamamoto 7'50.721 Kondo Toyota
7. No.4 M. Yanagida 7'52.247 Kondo Toyota
8. No.36 A. Lotterer 7'53.950 Tom's Toyota
9. No.37 T.Tsuchya 7'57.230 Tom's Toyota
10. No.56 T. Kogure 7'57.795 Aguri Honda
11. No.31 L. Duval 8'00.092 Nakajima Honda
12. No.11 Y. Tachikawa 8'02.038 Cerumo Toyota
13. No.7 T. Kataoka 8'03.101 LeMans Toyota
14. No.34 N. Yokomizo 8'06.810 Inging Toyota
15. No.27 S. Mitsuyama 8'08.142 Direxiv Honda
16. No.55 T. Kaneishi 8'09.905 Aguri Honda
17. No.41 K. Hiranaka 8'11.727 Dandelion Honda
18. No.2 K. Hoshino 8'12.510 Arting Impul Toyota
19. No.32 H. Muto 8'13.799 Nakajima Honda
20. No.5 A. Michigami 8'15.512 5zigen Honda
21. No.6 R. Orime 8'16.953 5zigen Honda
22. No.8 T. Takagi 9'04.379 LeMans Toyota

Cooper Series drops Grand-Am, adds NASA Cooper Series drops Grand-Am, adds NASAThe burgeoning Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship has entered a new sanctioning agreement with the equally fast-emerging National Auto Sports Association for the 2006 season.

"We have enjoyed a successful association with Grand American Road Racing and we thoroughly appreciate their support," said Cooper Tires FF2000 Championship executive Sandy Shamlian. "Our series is experiencing a solid period of growth and we have to look after our participants. This new agreement allows us to build for the future and embrace a new breed of younger drivers, which simply would not have been possible in the past.

"NASA has made great strides at the grass-roots level of our sport and we’re excited about this new opportunity." zzzz

NASA was formed in 1991 and now has over 10,000 members nationwide. The organization’s roots grew out of High Performance Driving Experiences but now embrace a full complement of motorsports activities, including performance rallies, time trials and competitive race events. Headquartered in Richmond, Calif., NASA has 11 divisions within the United States. Membership is comprised of young professionals – with a median age of just 35 – who are enthusiastic about auto racing.

"We welcome the opportunity to sanction the Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship and look forward to having them as part of the NASA family," said NASA Executive Director Jerry Kunzman.

"This is a growth opportunity for us," added NASA’s National Competition Manager Bryan Cohn. "We like where the Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship is going and we look forward to the marketing exposure that comes from running with Champ Car World Series and American Le Mans Series."

The arrangement will ensure reduced costs for competitors, who will continue to benefit from a comprehensive insurance program. NASA’s current standard will allow drivers as young as 14 years of age to participate in the Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship, thereby providing a valuable stepping stone from karting to the first rung on the professional open-wheel ladder.

Registrations already are streaming in for the new season. Drivers from as far afield as Canada, England, Ireland and New Zealand will be on the grid to challenge a strong American contingent during the opening pair of races at Road Atlanta, in Braselton, Ga., May 11-13.

The Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship features modern, open-wheel race cars powered by either four-cylinder, double-overhead cam, fuel-injected 2.0-liter Ford Zetec engines, which produce around 160hp, or the older, slightly less powerful, carbureted 2.0-liter Ford "Pinto" engines which will be vying for Cooper Gold Cup honors. All cars employ "slick" (treadless) Cooper Zeon racing tires and are capable of speeds in excess of 140mph.

Formula Ford 2000 originated in England in 1974. Alumni include Formula 1 World Champions Ayrton Senna and Damon Hill; Champ Car World Series title-winners Jimmy Vasser and Paul Tracy; Indy Racing League champions Sam Hornish Jr. and Dan Wheldon; and 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice.

Matos 2 for 2 in St. Pete Matos 2 for 2 in St. PeteRaphael Matos completed a St. Petersburg sweep by winning his second Indy Pro Series of the weekend in the Indy Pro Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Results Sunday of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg - Race 2 IRL Indy Pro Series event April 02 at the 1.80-mile Streets of St. Petersburg, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any) and money earned:
1. (6) Raphael Matos, Dallara, 40, Running $22,159
2. (4) Jay Howard, Dallara, 40, Running $17,045
3. (10) Alex Lloyd, Dallara, 40, Running $13,636
4. (5) Jeff Simmons, Dallara, 40, Running $11,591
5. (2) Jonathan Klein, Dallara, 40, Running $11,250
6. (8) Bobby Wilson, Dallara, 40, Running $10,909
7. (7) Matthew Hamilton, Dallara, 40, Running $10,568
8. (1) Chris Festa, Dallara, 40, Running $10,227
9. (13) Jon Herb, Dallara, 40, Running $9,886
10. (3) Nick Bussell, Dallara, 39, Running $9,545
11. (9) Brett Van Blankers, Dallara, 39, Running $8,863
12. (14) Marty Roth, Dallara, 31, Running $8,182
13. (11) Geoff Dodge, Dallara, 19, Accident $7,841 1
4. (15) Rocco DeSimone, Dallara, 3, Gearbox $7,500
15. (12) Jaime Camara, Dallara, 1, Fire $7,329

Race Statistics
Winner's average speed: 85.316 mph
Time of race: 00:50:38.1317
Margin of victory: 5.7206 seconds
Cautions: 2 for 6 laps
Lead changes: 2 among 3 drivers
Lap leaders: Klein 1-3, Howard 4-7, Matos 8-40.
Point standings: Simmons 122, Howard 113, Matos 105, Bussell 92, Wilson 82, Klein 75, Hamilton 68, Herb 67, Festa 67, Van Blankers 65.


RAPHAEL MATOS (No. 41 Guthrie Racing/Car Crafters, winner Race #2): "It's been like a dream come true for me. Everything was perfect this race. Unfortunately, I made some mistakes yesterday, especially on the restart. Today, I had everything sorted out. I was able to study a little bit on what Jay Howard would do on the restart. So I tried different lines on every restart and I was able to get into position to win again. "

JAY HOWARD (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon/Sam Schmidt Mtrspts, finished second): "First start yesterday, I had a great start. Second start yesterday, I was really surprised. He (Raphael Matos) didn't learn from his mistake in the first one. Three times they learn, or whatever the saying is. He did finally learn from it, and he managed to get ahead. He was fast. But my team has done a great job this weekend. Even with a full course yellow with one or two laps to go, I would have been struggling. I'm pleased, so I have to say thanks to everyone again. We'll see what's next in Indianapolis. zzzz

ALEX LLOYD (No. 26 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, finished third): "Well, it was a good race. I had nothing to lose. Yesterday was disappointing because we qualified well, had a quick (spin), and that was pretty much it for the race. The boys did a few adjustments to the car today, and it was very good. Going through the first half of the race, it was great. I managed to work my way through the field. I had a good run. After that it was just difficult. Jay (Howard) had a little more speed than me, but I think there was a bit more wing. When your running that close to someone that long, it's very tough. We had Jeff Simmons behind me at the end. It's difficult being in the middle. You want to attack, but at the same time, you have to defend. I'm very happy to be on the podium. It's great for the team. This is our first run together, we only met last weekend. Hopefully we can be together the rest of the season, stay on the podium and get a few wins."

JEFF SIMMONS (No. 24 Kenn Hardley Racing, finished fourth): "My car was much better on the longer runs. I think we were maybe as quick as the leader, definitely quicker than the guys ahead of us on the longer runs. I'm just sorry for Kenn Hardley Racing. I wanted to give them a better finish today. Not being on the podium is a disappointment."

JONATHAN KLEIN (No. 27 Klein Tools, finished fifth): "We were looking to finish the race, get experience, get points, take advantage of certain situations, like Wade (Cunningham) being out. And we wanted maximize points, so I didn't want to do anything stupid or go for something that would be an iffy move just for one position and risk taking myself out of the race. I drove conservatively today. I didn't drive to aggressively. The car was pretty decent, but all in all, I didn't have the car to keep up with (Jeff) Simmons and the top three guys after tires came in. The car was great on cold tires, so we were good on the restarts and could keep up with those guys pretty good. But, two races in two days, all four corners (still) on the car, and we got points finishing in the top five both days, so we're pretty happy." (About race weekend): "This weekend was a lot of fun. This is my first street race, and Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Andretti Green Racing crews did an excellent job getting me a good car to hang onto for all 40 laps." IRL

A weekend Ferrari would prefer to forget A weekend Ferrari would prefer to forgetFor the Ferrari team, things went even worse than in Malaysia. Both drivers were struggling hard with the tires and the Bridgestones have very distinct characteristics. Both drivers ended up with a car broken down into pieces. In total, it was a weekend to forget for the Scuderia. Tires are not the only problem though, as also their engine was down in revs compared to the other important teams.

Jean Todt: "It was a weekend to forget. Going home without points is a very bitter feeling, given that we had all we needed to succeed. Felipe paid a high price for yesterday's qualifying, getting caught up in the sort of situation that typically happens towards the back of the pack at the start. After a first part to the race which was difficult as it was hard to get the tires up to temperature, Michael went on the attack to try and move up the order. Unfortunately, he lost control of the car after clipping a curb which unbalanced the car and ended up in the wall. This big disappointment does not alter our targets, but it does make them harder to reach. Now we want to show with results that we have what it takes to get back on top, starting when we race at home in Imola."

Michael Schumacher: "I was pushing to the maximum to try and close on Jenson and pass him. Probably he had some problems as he was not very quick. I tucked in behind him and unexpectedly I got some heavy understeer and finished on the grass. I had to push, because that's the part of the track where it's possible to pass. Today, our main problem was keeping the tires up to temperature, especially in the first part of the race and also because there were a few safety car periods. We had chosen this compound specifically for the race, and once they reached the right operating temperature, they were going well, as was obvious after the pit stop. At first, it was difficult to drive, as after locking the wheels a few times the tires were completely finished. It's clear we have a lot of work to do." zzzz

Felipe Massa: "Not much to say. At the first turn, I had Klien on my left and Speed on my right. Christian touched me, which spun me around and to the right, then I hit Rosberg and ended up in the barrier. There was nothing I could do as I was basically a passenger in my car. I am very unhappy because I am sure I could have had a good race. It's been a weekend to forget. Now we must turn the page and work to be as well prepared as possible for Imola."

Ross Brawn: "It was a bad day. In the first stint of the race, Michael could not push the way he wanted as he struggled to get the tires up to temperature, which was also partly down to the many safety car periods. Then, in the second part, it was clear that he could maintain a good pace. A shame about the accident which meant a good result was not possible. Now we have work to do, with significant developments to be tried on the car in the coming weeks." Ferrari

Chip is not Cheap Chip is not CheapChip Ganassi says speculation that he gave defending IRL champion Dan Wheldon a huge raise to leave Andretti Green Racing is false.

"I've been accused of throwing a lot of money at him, and I can tell you that wasn't it," Ganassi said during a wide-ranging interview last week. "I think it was a situation where he was ready for a change, and we happened to be there at the right time and place. (Ganassi, right, with Dan Wheldon in Victory Circle in Homestead last weekend - photo courtesy of Honda)

"In fact, the negotiations were so easy, I was thinking it was too easy - that it wasn't going to happen."

About Michael Andretti's claim that Ganassi has promised Wheldon a ride in NASCAR, Ganassi would only say that there is no specific agreement.

"He's a racer; he just wants to race," he said. "I'm sure if he has an interest in it, we'll be able to help him along with it. [But] his focus is here." TBO.com

[Editor's Note: As we understand it Wheldon left AGR as a matter of principle - he felt he deserved to be paid at least as much as other drivers on the team since he was the one doing all  the winning.  Word is that Franchitti was getting more money than Wheldon and when AGR would not pay Wheldon as much he walked.]

Foyt, like Barnes doesn’t want merger Foyt, like Barnes doesn’t want mergerTwo IRL team owners who have the most to lose should there be an IRL/Champ Car merger are AJ Foyt and John Barnes, both of whom would lose their Tony George backing in a merger scenario because the series would have plenty of cars to fill the grid and would not need these two field filler team owners.

And of course it was Foyt (pictured right, courtesy of Honda) who many blame for the split in open wheel racing in the first place. A complete loser in CART, many say it was his chance to be competitive in a series with other teams who could not win in CART and it was he who strongly urged Tony George to start the IRL.

Foyt, who usually sticks his foot in his mouth when he opens it, had this to say to TBO.com - Most people in the Indy Racing League paddock agree that unification with rival Champ Car is virtually a necessity for the viability of open-wheel racing.

But there is a dissenter: the famous and famously candid A.J. Foyt.

"I don't see how the IRL even needs 'em," the IRL team owner and driving legend said Saturday before qualifying for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. "I don't see what they bring to the plate, except that we can all say, 'We're one series now. We've got all the top names over here now.' "

IRL founder Tony George said that he and Champ Car Series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven have had talks about bringing the two series together and it's at least conceivable that could happen as early as next season.

Foyt doesn't put much stock in that. However, he insisted he tries to stay "neutral" out of respect for George and the Hulman George family that owns the storied Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"What's coming up? Indy. And every year before the Indy 500 this stuff picks up," Foyt said. "The press has been talking about them doing this [reconciling] before Indy every year.

"I don't think it's going to happen. You've got certain people over there [Champ Car] as bullheaded as some of us are over here. Besides, what do they have to offer?

"They're in completely different equipment with a whole different format. One way or another, it's going to cost one group of teams a lot of money to switch." [Editor's Note: Of course Foyt is wrong as usual - all the teams from both leagues would have to buy new equipment next year (new car) - so the costs would be equal on both sides]

"I'd quit racing before I'd go to that [Champ Car] concept." [Editor's Note: Many feel that would be the best thing that could happen to open wheel racing at this point.  As it turns out, his team is still a backmarker/field-filler in the IRL and many feel its time to put AJ out to pasture - he's an obstructionist looking out for his own self-interests.] 

Foyt's feelings don't surprise George, who smiled and said "A.J. is A.J." when asked about his most loyal supporter. [Editor's Note: Sounds like Tony George has finally figured out that AJ is open wheel racing's own worst enemy - anyone with half a brain says the merger has to happen.]

Carpenter lucky to be alive Carpenter lucky to be aliveThis St. Petersburg Times article talks about Ed Carpenter's crash last Sunday in Homestead that ultimately resulted in the death of Paul Dana. If not for Carpenter losing control all by himself and spinning down into the path of Dana after first impacting the wall, Dana would still be alive today. Carpenter escaped with only some minor bruising and remembers everything about the accident.

His accident. Sliding down the track. Turning the wheel to find nothing worked. Watching his teammate go past. Spinning around to where he could no longer see traffic.

Then, not being able to breathe.

"Anyone who's had the wind knocked out of them knows," he said. "You're trying to take a breath, looking for air. Your brain is telling your mouth and lungs what to do, but they don't listen. I remember that feeling of panic and then I remember waking up."

Dana did not.

Industry News
Delphi shocker Delphi shockerDelphi Corp. chief executive Steve Miller, who had preached the need to bring union labor costs under control, unveiled a drastic restructuring plan Friday that shook the auto industry and set the stage for a tense showdown with the UAW and Delphi's other unions.

The company, in a filing in bankruptcy court in New York, outlined plans to shed 25 of its 33 U.S. plants by January 2008 while cutting 23,000 workers -- including 10,000 in Michigan. Plants in Flint, Adrian, Coopersville, Saginaw and Orion were on the hit list.

Beyond the U.S. hourly jobs Delphi plans to cut, it also targeted another 8,500 salaried jobs worldwide.  More at Detroit Free Press

Bruno’s road to recovery goes thru LB Bruno’s road to recovery goes thru LBFor Bruno Junqueira, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 9 not only marks the first race of the season, it's the first test of his racing skills since he was seriously hurt in a crash last May.

Junqueira, 29, in recent years had been the second-best driver in the Champ Car World Series and one of its most consistent performers, taking the runner-up spot in the points standings in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

He was leading the points race early last year when he and Newman/Haas Racing teammate Sebastien Bourdais crossed over to the Indy Racing League to compete in the Indianapolis 500.

After qualifying 12th and leading two laps in the race, Junqueira was trying to pass the lapped car of A.J. Foyt IV when they collided. Junqueira suffered a concussion, broke two vertebrae and needed four hours of surgery to repair the damage.

The Brazil native, who now lives in Miami, was done racing for the year. Bourdais went on to win his second consecutive Champ Car title while Junqueira recuperated.

Junqueira, who has no memory of the crash, said the time off served him well.

"I really worked hard to get back, not just back in the car, but back in my life, back in good shape to live," he said before taking practice laps at the California Speedway in Fontana earlier this week.

"I had a lot of time to think about my life," he said. "I thought about how much I like racing, but also about all the important aspects of life as well. I kind of became a better person."  More at LA Times

Jim Beam PSA commercial Jim Beam PSA commercialJim Beam bourbon announced the launch of its 2006 Public Service Announcement (PSA) to raise awareness of the company's drink smart social responsibility platform. Through drink smart, the company reminds consumers of the basic principles for making responsible decisions concerning alcohol: 1) if you're under 21, don't drink; 2) if you're of legal purchase age and choose to drink, do so in moderation; 3) and never drive drunk. The television PSA, featuring NASCAR Nextel Cup driver and owner Robby Gordon of Robby Gordon Motorsports and Indy Racing League (IRL) driver and co-owner Michael Andretti of Andretti Green Racing, reinforces the drink smart messages and the importance of making smart decisions about alcohol. Using a victory lane backdrop, both Gordon and Andretti reinforce the Jim Beam drink smart messages of making smart choices "on and off the track."

"As professional racecar drivers and team owners, Michael and I are in a great position to encourage fans to make the right decisions when it comes to consuming alcohol responsibly," said Gordon. "We're very committed to helping spread the drink smart messages." For more information on drink smart, please visit www.drinksmart.com. Jim Beam is a primary sponsor of the #7 Chevy driven by team owner Robby Gordon of Robby Gordon Motorsports for a designated number of races in the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series season. Jim Beam is an associate sponsor for an additional number of races. In addition to the Jim Beam logo, the company's drink smart logo is displayed on the car and Gordon's firesuit to communicate the importance of responsible drinking. Jim Beam PR

Final A1GP group driver photo Final A1GP group driver photoBack row (L-R): Enrico Toccacelo (ITA) A1 Team Italy, Sebastian Stahl (GER) A1 Team Germany, Patrick Carpentier (CAN) A1 Team Canada, Alex Yoong (MAL) A1 Team Malaysia, Darren Manning (GBR) A1 Team Great Britain, Graham Rahal (LIB) A1 Team Lebanon, Gavin Cronje (RSA) A1 Team South Africa , Phil Giebler (USA) Team USA, Christian Fittipaldi (BRA) A1 Team Brazil. Middle row (L-R): Mathias Lauda (AUT) A1 Team Austria, Matt Halliday (NZL) A1 Team New Zealand, Salvador Duran (MEX) A1 Team Mexico, Ryan Briscoe (AUS) A1 Team Australia, Jos Verstappen (NED) A1 Team Netherlands, Jeroen Bleekemolen (NDL) A1 Team Netherlands, Tomas Enge (CZE) A1 Team Czech Republic. Front row (L-R): Ananda Mikola (INA) A1 Team Indonesia, Cesar Campanico (POR) A1 Team Portugal, Giorgio Mondini (SUI) A1 Team Switzerland, Nicolas Lapierre (FRA) A1 Team France, Alexandre Premat (FRA) A1 Team France, Tengyi Jiang (CHN) A1 Team China, Michael Devaney (IRE) A1 Team Ireland, Stephen Simpson (RSA) A1 Team South Africa, Adam Khan (PAK) A1 Team Pakistan.
Australia gets its date back Australia gets its date backThe Australian Grand Prix will be the opening race of the Formula One calendar in 2007, organizers stated on Sunday, thereby returning it to its place on the calendar after being moved from its traditional place as season-opener to third this year to accommodate the Commonwealth Games that were held in Melbourne from March 15-26.

"It will revert to the first race in the future," Victoria state Premier Steve Bracks told reporters at the Albert Park circuit Sunday. "It's in our contract."

Speed docked 25 seconds, loses point, $$ Speed docked 25 seconds, loses point, $$The Stewards of the Meeting summoned David Coulthard and Scott Speed to go through what happened after Tonio Liuzzi's accident on lap 38 of the Australian GP. They ruled that Scott overtook David under the yellow flags and penalized him by 25 seconds.

Photo right, As Jenson Button's Honda explodes in a cloud of smoke at the finish, Scott Speed just beats David Coulthard across the line for 8th, a place he would later lose. Photo courtesy Red Bull

Speed lost his single championship point. He was also fined an additional $5,000 for use of foul language in the meeting with the race Stewards in a heated exchange with David Coulthard.

In the post-race hearing Speed thought that David and his team had launched a protest against him, and during the discussion reportedly told the Scot to '**** off.'

Right, Scott Speed's jubilation for scoring his first championship point was short-lived.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner insisted that he had not made a complaint.

"Obviously there was a racing incident and both drivers were called in front of the stewards," he said. "The stewards have deemed that Scott overtook under yellows, and gets a penalty that promotes David. It's ironic that it's between drivers who are in sister teams, but there was no protest from this team.

"It was purely a racing incident that the stewards have dealt with. I'm sure they're going to score more points. They looked very competitive today. It was also ironic that it was Tonio's accident with Villeneuve that caused the yellow flags. You could never dream up a scenario like that…"

Yoong wins sprint race for Malaysia Yoong wins sprint race for MalaysiaShanghai - A1 Team Malaysia's Alex Yoong converted his first pole position into the team's first race win after a dominant performance in the Sprint race at the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Shanghai Circuit, China, taking his spot at the head of the grid for the following Feature race.

Series leaders, France put pressure on from the start, trying everything possible to pass Great Britain and Malaysia ahead of them. From the approach to turn one, Premat slipped the tricolor car between Malaysia and Britain trying to edge ahead through turns one and two but the grid leaders held their positions and France fell back to its third place starting position out of turn three. It was the start of an unusually bad race for the French who may have laid claim to the Series title but were still under attack from the rest of the field throughout the race. zzzz
As the field crossed the start/finish line into the second lap, Malaysia was building its lead on Great Britain, with Mexico shortly behind having overtaken France at the end of the first lap. Italy brought up the rear after an earlier spin and continued to battle with China whose second driver, Ma Qinghua defended well in front of his home crowd. A collision between Switzerland and Canada saw retirements from both, while A1 Team Austria at seventeenth across the line, completed the 100,000th race mile for the A1 engine, demonstrating its reliability having nearly completed the first season without a single engine failure.

While an incident between Lebanon and Austria saw both teams retire from the rear of the field, the major battles continued at the front. A1 Team Ireland's number two, Michael Devaney, racing for only the second time this season, used his last PowerBoost on the approach to turn one stealing fourth place from France on lap five.

Just one lap later and France was once again the victim of an overtaking move, this time by the Netherlands' Jos Verstappen, who also cleared a path for Indonesia to follow through. Determined to maintain his position, France's Alexandre Premat defended hard but the Czech Republic with Tomas Enge behind the wheel fought its way past a few laps later.

While France and the Czech Republic contested sixth place, Indonesia kept the pressure on the Netherlands ahead of them for fifth. Verstappen's vast race experience did not make the defense of his position an easy task and the dogged determination of Ananda Mikola eventually paid off. As technical problems brought an early end to the Dutch race, Indonesia was the first to head past before the orange car of Verstappen slowed on the track eventually pulling into the pits at the end of lap 11.

As the grid headed into lap 12, the battle focused on second and third place Great Britain and Mexico as Salvador Duran intensified the pressure on newcomer Darren Manning. Manning held his nerve to the flag, holding off double winner at the previous race in Laguna Seca to take second place with Salvador Duran less than a second behind.

Winning his first race in A1 Grand Prix, Malaysia's Alex Yoong said: 'The car was good, we knew the temperature was rising, and were worried about the condition of the tires. Fortunately after the start I was able to conserve the tires and still able to push at the end.

Commenting on the trend of drivers winning the Sprint and Feature races, Alex said 'I really like that trend! Hopefully I will be able to repeat it. But it will be very competitive in the main race. The pit stops will be crucial and it will be really important to look after the car.'

Finishing second in his first race in A1 Grand Prix, Darren Manning was pleased to secure A1 Team Great Britain's third place in the standings. 'This was obviously the main goal for the team, and it has been a great weekend. I think I have acclimatized myself now. I didn't have the pace of Alex in the race, but I managed to fend off France and the charging Salvador. I'm not really used to this two race thing! The second race will be more like I'm used to, a long race with strategy and pit stops, so I think past experience will help me.'
Salvador Duran battled hard to pass Darren Manning, right up to the last lap. 'It was really difficult to pass, we were managing to do similar times, but we had different set ups on the cars, so we were faster on different parts of the track. I did try really hard one time to get past, but when that didn't work, I knew I was done, as I had no more PowerBoosts left. Hopefully the next race will be different.'

A1 Team Driver Time
1 Malaysia Alex Yoong 28.17.807
2 Great Britain Darren Manning 28.27.648
3 Mexico Salvador Duran 28.28.224
4 Ireland Michael Devaney 28.31.712
5 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 28.36.978
6 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 28.38.622
7 France Alexandre Premat 28.43.148
8 New Zealand Matt Halliday 28.43.546
9 Australia Ryan Briscoe 28.44.477
10 Brazil Christian Fittipaldi 28.52.550
11 South Africa Stephen Simpson 28.51.661
12 Pakistan Adam Khan 28.52.011
13 Portugal Cesar Campanico 28.54.155
14 USA Phil Giebler 28.55.382
15 Germany Sebastian Stahl 28.59.296
16 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 29.02.699
17 China Ma Qinghua 29.18.770
18 Lebanon Graham Rahal 14 laps
19 Netherlands Jos Verstappen 12 laps
20 Austria Mathias Lauda 5 laps
21 Canada Patrick Carpentier 1 lap
22 Switzerland Giorgio Mondini 1 lap

TV News
Edwards to appear on Fox 24 Edwards to appear on Fox 24UPDATE Reminder that this show will air Monday.

02/07/06 Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, traveled to Chatsworth, Calif. to appear in his first role in a primetime drama.  Edwards, who was in town to promote the upcoming race at California Speedway on February 26, took part in the filming of FOX's hit show "24" that is set to air Monday, April 3 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT).  This wasn't Edwards' first foray into acting as he made a guest appearance as himself on the hit soap opera "The Guiding Light" back in October of 2005.

"First I have to thank California Speedway for setting this up, this is a lot of fun," said Edwards.  "I definitely think acting is something I'd like to do more of.  I had such a blast being on the set of '24'.  Everyone was just awesome.  Jon (Cassar), the director, and Kiefer (Sutherland) have been great to work with, really everyone is just so nice and really made me feel at home.  The best part was they gave me a line to read.  The cameras started to roll and as I was walking over to shake the other character's hand I realized my palms were a little sweaty which doesn't happen very often."

Edwards arrived early to the set for a behind-the-scenes tour.  After some makeup, a wardrobe fitting and meeting with director Jon Cassar, Edwards was ready to break a leg.  As he walked across the set and delivered his line, Edwards looked like a pro and it didn't go unnoticed.  Even though actor Kiefer Sutherland, who plays Jack Bauer on the hit show, wasn't in the scene with Edwards, he still critiqued his performance. zzzz

"I watched a couple takes and he was moving faster than our average extra," said Sutherland.  "Our teamsters right now are so excited about having Carl here it's unbelievable.  Most of our guys come all the way from Georgia, Oklahoma, Kentucky and are huge NASCAR fans, so they've been waiting for this day for a while.  I would have loved to have done a scene with him and we still might someday."

When asked if he would like to try his hand at Edwards' profession, Sutherland replied, "My line of work is inherently less dangerous than his.  Yeah, I wouldn't mind taking one (a race car) for a spin but I certainly wouldn't even get it to half the speed those guys do racing."

"I think Kiefer would do pretty good in a race car," Edwards continued. "I invited him out to the race at California in a few weeks to get a behind-the-scenes look at what we do.  I know I was in awe of everything that it takes to put together a production like '24.'  I would love to return the invitation and allow him to come into our world.  I even told him he could talk to me on our team radios, which I think sparked his interest."

Fans can catch Edwards in action as the NASCAR Nextel Cup season gets underway this month with the Daytona 500 on February 19.  Edwards and the Office Depot team will make a return trip to California Speedway for the Auto Club 500 on Sunday, February 26, which airs live on FOX (check your local listings for start times).  After a full day of racing, fans can tune in to FOX's hit show "24" on Mondays at 9/8c.

About "24"
Created by Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran, "24" retains its unpredictable and unique format in the fifth season.  Each episode covers one hour of real time, and the season's entire story takes place in one heart-stopping day, with viewers following characters as they experience an unforgettable day while facing extraordinary circumstances.   "24" is a production of Real Time Productions and Imagine Television in association with 20th Century Fox Television.  For more information on "24" go to www.fox.com/24/

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Rubens' double-whammy
F1 won't stay slow for long - Gascoyne
Renault play down driver spat
Red Bull play down Liuzzi test
Melbourne wants new five-year deal
Renault is 'class' of 2006 - Gascoyne
Button pans Honda problem
Gutted Webber points finger at team
Klien unhurt after Oz shunt
'08 puzzle coming together
Schu laments 'stupid' shunt
Speed could lose maiden point
Flav and Fernando to stick together
BMW fix to wait until Nurburgring
No rain for Oz race No rain for Oz race(GMMf1NET) The rain should stay away for today's Australian grand prix in cloudy and sunny Melbourne.

Patches of grey cloud can be seen above the chilly Albert Park circuit on the morning of race day, but blue sky is also a feature as forecasts agree that showers are not too likely.
No penalty for Massa No penalty for MassaA poor starting position aside, Felipe Massa has escaped penalty after his engine emerged unscathed from his qualifying crash in Melbourne.

A repaired car - but the same V8 engine - was presented to stewards early on Sunday morning, according to a paddock source.

''It seems that bad luck is happening to us at the beginning of the season,'' said the Brazilian, who admitted that he 'lost' his Ferrari in the quick chicane.
Indy Pro Race 2 lineup Indy Pro Race 2 lineupThe top 6 from Saturday's race 1 are inverted for Sunday's race 2.

SP Car Driver Entrant
1 41 Chris Festa Cheever Racing
2 26 R Jonathan Klein Andretti Green Racing
3 24 Nick Bussell Cheever Racing
4 7 R Jay Howard Sam Schmidt Motorsports
5 27 Jeff Simmons Kenn Hardley Racing
6 11 R Raphael Matos Guthrie Racing
7 52 R Matthew Hamilton Dave McMillan Racing
8 51 R Bobby Wilson Michael Crawford Motorsports
9 3 R Brett Van Blankers Brian Stewart Racing
10 9 R Alex Lloyd AFS Racing
11 2 R Geoff Dodge Brian Stewart Racing
12 6 Jaime Camara Andretti Green Racing
13 4 Jon Herb Playa Del Racing
14 8 Marty Roth Roth Racing
15 1 R Rocco DeSimone Michael Crawford Motorsports

Matos wins IndyPro race Matos wins IndyPro racePolesitter Raphael Matos from Brazil won today's IRL Indy Pro race in St. Petersburg, FL after a stirring duel with Jeff Simmons and Jay Howard.

Results Saturday of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg IRL Indy Pro Series event April 01 at the 1.8-mile Streets of St. Petersburg, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, laps completed and reason out (if any) and money earned: 
1. (1) Raphael Matos, 40, Running $23,159
2. (3) Jeff Simmons, 40, Running $17,045
3. (4) Jay Howard, 40, Running $13,636
4. (7) Nick Bussell, 40, Running $11,591
5. (5) Jonathan Klein, 40, Running $11,250
6. (8) Chris Festa, 40, Running $10,909
7. (11) Matthew Hamilton, 40, Running $10,568
8. (10) Bobby Wilson, 40, Running $10,227
9. (9) Brett Van Blankers, 39, Running $9,886
10. (2) Alex Lloyd, 38, Running $9,545
11. (15) Geoff Dodge, 32, Running $8,663
12. (6) Jaime Camara, 30, Running $8,182
13. (12) Jon Herb, 18, Gearbox $7,841
14. (13) Marty Roth, 18, Accident $7,500
15. (14) Rocco DeSimone, 0, Fuel Pump, $7,329
16. (16) Arie Luyendyk Jr, Did Not Start, $7,159       

Race Statistics      
Winner's average speed: 83.065 mph      
Time of race: 52 minutes, 0.4498 seconds
Margin of victory: 0.5075 of a second      
Cautions: 2 caution flags for 7 laps      
Lead changes: 4 among 3 drivers      
Lap leaders: Matos 1-25, Howard 26-29, Matos 30-36, Simmons 37, Matos 38-40.      
Point standings: Simmons 90, Howard 73, Bussell 72, Wilson 54, Matos 53, Luyendyk 46, Van Blankers 46, Dodge 45, Klein 45, Herb 45.

Gigliotti on the SCCA SPEED GT Pole Gigliotti on the SCCA SPEED GT PoleST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Lou Gigliotti, of Dallas, Texas, will start from the pole for today’s SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT race, part of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg after posting Saturday afternoon’s quick time of 1:17.796 (83.294 mph) in his No. 28 LG Pro Long Tube Headers Chevrolet Corvette C6.  Defending race winner Tommy Archer, of Duluth, Minn., will start second

Gigliotti wasted no time in taking the top spot on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course, setting a new SPEED GT qualifying record on his first flying lap.  The pole is the 24th of Gigliotti’s career and the first since Gigliotti started and finished first at Infineon Raceway last season.

“I’m still a low-bucks effort and we practice on the tires we ran in the last race,” Gigliotti said of his Toyo Tires.  “We warm up and put new ones on and the first lap is so fast. If you have the trust in them, they really fly.

“I flat-spotted my right front tire. I was practicing late-braking in to one. I hit a bump and the right front locked. I pumped it and got the tire just to hook close to the apex—not even there, but close. After that I just started driving hard. I went down the back straight and my lap predictor was just solid black in the good side.”  zzzz

While he was the fastest for one lap, Gigliotti, who has seven race wins on street and other temporary courses in his racing career, said that finishing first at the end of this afternoon’s 33-lap, 59.4-mile race would take a much different strategy.

“I’ve always like street courses,” Gigliotti said. “One thing I’m not sure of is doing 33 laps here. We will have to be running 1:20s and 21s in order to make it 33 laps because of the heat. When that’s an issue, I always run really hard for the first 15 percent of the race and settle into a pace. Then, in the last 15 percent, it’s time to go hard again to the finish.”

Archer, who was third on the St. Petersburg grid in 2005 before darting to the front on the opening lap en route to the victory, will start on the outside of the first row after posting a 1:18.390 (82.664 mph) in his No. 5 c3controls/Autohaus Dodge Viper SRT. 

Rookie Lawson Aschenbach, of Gaithersburg, Md., will make his St. Petersburg race debut on the second row, where he’ll start third after running a time of 1:18.390 (82.456 mph) in the No. 66 AXA Financial Porsche 911 GT3. 

Team Cadillac driver Johnny O’Connell, of Flowery Branch, Ga., will start fourth in the No. 16 XM/Mobil 1/Motorola/On Star Cadillac CTS-V, and Leighton Reese, of Minnetonka, Minn., will begin fifth in the No. 6 Banner Engineering Chevrolet Corvette C6.

The SCCA Pro Racing SPEED GT race is set to begin at 4:45 p.m. (EST).  The race will be broadcast Sunday, April 2, at 3 p.m. (EDT). 

To follow the action live, visit www.world-challenge.com, and click on the SCCA Pit Board to view the race via Live Timing and Scoring Presented by SRT and minute-by-minute session notes.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Starting lineup for Sunday's SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT race, part of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg at St. Petersburg Temporary Circuit, with position, car number in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, fastest lap time, and speed in miles per hour.

1,(28), Lou Gigliotti, Dallas, Texas, Chevrolet Corvette C6, 1:17.796, 83.294.
2,(5), Tommy Archer, Duluth, Minn., Dodge SRT Viper, 1:18.390, 82.663.
3,(66), Lawson Aschenbach(R), Gaithersburg, Md., Porsche 911 GT3, 1:18.587, 82.456.
4,(16), Johnny O'Connell, Flowery Branch, Ga., Cadillac CTS-V, 1:18.791, 82.242.
5,(6), Leighton Reese, Minnetonka, Minn., Chevrolet Corvette C6, 1:18.916, 82.112.
6,(1), Andy Pilgrim, Boca Raton, Fla., Cadillac CTS-V, 1:19.105, 81.916.
7,(64), Ricardo Imery(R), Caracas, Venezuela, Porsche 911 GT3, 1:19.652, 81.353.
8,(14), James Sofronas, Newport Beach, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3, 1:19.684, 81.321.
9,(87), Doug Peterson(R), Bonita Springs, Fla., Chevrolet Corvette C6, 1:20.039, 80.960.
10,(13), Bob Woodhouse, Blair, Neb., Dodge Viper, 1:20.085, 80.914.
11,(51), Lenny Diller, Garden City, N.Y., Dodge Viper, 1:20.384, 80.613.
12,(17), Rob Foster(R), Phoenix, Ariz., Dodge Viper, 1:20.891, 80.107.
13,(31), Sonny Whelen, Old Saybrook, Conn., Chevrolet Corvette C6, 1:20.955, 80.044.
14,(44), Johnny Mowlem, Charvil Berkshire, England, Aston Martin DB9, 1:21.650, 79.363.
15,(23), Bob Miller, Sykesville, Md., Porsche 911 Cup, 1:22.048, 78.978.
16,(34), Tony Gaples, Libertyville, Ill., Chevrolet Corvette C6, 1:22.128, 78.901.
17,(96), Skip Sauls(R), Longmont, Colo., Dodge Viper, 1:22.248, 78.786.
18,(40), Greg Weirick(R), Malibu, Calif., Chevrolet Corvette C6, 1:22.424, 78.617.
19,(43), Tom Papadopoulos, East Hills, N.Y., Aston Martin DB9, 1:22.557, 78.491.
20,(26), Claudio Burtin, Atlanta, Ga., Chevrolet Corvette C6, 1:22.748, 78.310.
21,(02), Adel Elsayed, Boonton Twp, N.J., Dodge Viper, 1:23.133, 77.947.
22,(32), Ed Braswell(R), Key West, Fla., Chevrolet Corvette C5, 1:25.663, 75.645.
23,(69), Igor Sushko(R), Kiev UKR,   , Nissan Skyline GT-R, 1:26.434, 74.970.
24,(42), Mark LoPilato, Granbury, Texas, Porsche 911 Turbo, 4:09.638, 25.957.
25,(76), John Bourassa, Jupiter Island, Fla., Porsche 911 Turbo, no time.
26,(82), Mike McCann, N. Canton, Ohio, Dodge Viper, no time.
27,(98), Derek Burseth(R), Bartlett, Ill., Dodge Viper, no time.

Final preseason test for Forsythe Racing Final preseason test for Forsythe RacingFONTANA, California – With the opening event of the 2006 Champ Car season looming just a week away, Forsythe Championship Racing’s Paul Tracy and Mario Dominguez completed their final preseason preparations this week “across town” on the infield road course at California Speedway in Fontana, California as many of the teams and drivers participated in the open test.  The 32nd running of the legendary Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach takes place April 7-9 as Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, but this week the focus was putting the finishing touches on car setup and team operations leading into what looks to be one of the most competitive seasons in Champ Car history.

Team Manager Phil LePan
“This was another very productive test for us, focusing on some new aerodynamic pieces and suspension combinations with different approaches for the differential and the dampers.  We shook down the primary cars for Long Beach which can save us a lot of time during the first practice session since we’ll be able to put in some quality laps right off the transporter instead of a bunch of installation laps.  It was also a good opportunity for the crew to work on coordination and teamwork, and particularly a chance for Mario to get to work some more with his new engineer Michael Cannon.  The test was trouble free except for a bit of high winds at the end of both days, but we accomplished exactly what we wanted.”  zzzz

Paul Tracy, #3 INDECK Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone/Lola
“It was overall a good test.  We were able to get through our test plan and had no issues throughout the two days.  As usual the Ford-Cosworth was bulletproof and the Bridgestones were grippy and predictable.  We were working mostly on our Long Beach car and not trying to put a Fontana qualifying lap together, so we’re confident the car will be good for Long Beach.”  

Tracy ended up with the fifth-quickest time of the two-day test with a final session lap of 52.425s.

Mario Dominguez, #7 INDECK Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone/Lola
“I’m very happy with the test.  We were able to evaluate a lot of things that the engineers developed over the winter.  We learned a lot and we’re ready for Long Beach!  One of the best things about the last two days is that I got more time to work with (Engineer) Michael Cannon so we could get reacquainted with each other.  The communication is very good so I’m excited about our prospects for the season.”

Dominguez set the seventh-fastest time of the test with a second day effort at 52.798s

The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is anticipating another huge throng of fans for the 32nd running of the storied street race, April 7-9.  Sunday’s race will be televised LIVE on NBC beginning at 1pm local/PT (4pm ET - check your local listings).  For more information, visit the official home of the Champ Car World Series at http://www.champcar.ws. Forsythe Racing

Franchitti fastest in single-lap quals Franchitti fastest in single-lap qualsDario Franchitti turned the fastest lap in single lap qualifications in St. Petersburg Saturday afternoon for Sunday's Honda Indy 200.  Next up is the Firestone Fast 6 to determine the pole.

Pos Driver Diff Best Time
1 Dario Franchitti (27) ... 1:2.5314
2 Tony Kanaan (11) 0.1464 1:2.6778
3 Sam Hornish Jr (6) 0.1996 1:2.7310
4 Scott Dixon (9) 0.2433 1:2.7747
5 Helio Castroneves (3) 0.2742 1:2.8056
6 Bryan Herta (7) 0.6380 1:3.1694
7 Buddy Rice (15) 1.0334 1:3.5648
8 Tomas Scheckter (2) 1.1829 1:3.7143
9 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 1.2719 1:3.8033
10 Marco Andretti (26) 1.3539 1:3.8853
11 Roberto Moreno (20) 1.4141 1:3.9455
12 Vitor Meira (4) 1.4892 1:4.0206
13 Dan Wheldon (10) 1.4953 1:4.0267
14 Danica Patrick (16) 1.9122 1:4.4436
15 Scott Sharp (8) 2.3274 1:4.8588
16 Felipe Giaffone (14) 2.8531 1:5.3845
17 Eddie Cheever Jr (51) 3.0161 1:5.5475
18 Buddy Lazier (5) 3.7111 1:6.2425
19 PJ Chesson (91) 6.2952 1:8.8266

Industry News
Cooper Tire to sell in China Cooper Tire to sell in ChinaSHANGHAI, China, -- Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (NYSE:CTB) today announced its debut in the China market with the introduction of the Cooper brand soon to be available in China. The announcement was made at Cooper Tire's "Pit Stop China" press conference in conjunction with the A1 Grand Prix race which takes place on Sunday in Shanghai. Cooper Tire is the official tire for the A1 Grand Prix, which is also known as the World Cup of Motorsports. Thomas A. Dattilo, Chairman, President and CEO of Cooper Tire & Rubber Company said, "We are excited to introduce our brand into the Chinese market. We have great respect and high expectations for China and this country will be very important to our future plans."

Cooper Tire is one of the global leaders in the replacement tire industry, being the fourth largest manufacturer in North America and the eighth largest worldwide. Its manufacturing and technical facilities are spread across three continents: North America, Europe and now Asia. Dattilo also said that while the company already had broad sales and distribution networks covering much of the world, Cooper is busy designing a complete line of Cooper brand tires designed especially for the Chinese market. The lines will be tested in a few markets during 2006 with a full launch in early 2007. zzzz

Cooper Tire recently acquired majority ownership of Shandong Chengshan Tire Company, China's third largest domestic producer. With technology support from Cooper's technical centers around the world, this facility will produce premium Cooper-branded tires for the Chinese market. Cooper also has a plant under construction as part of a joint venture with Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. Ltd. That plant is located in Jiangsu Province. Production is expected to begin in the third quarter 2006 with annual capacity of 10-12 million radial passenger and light truck tires for export to Cooper customers in North America and Europe.

Cooper covers a huge spread of the tire market, from ultra-high performance sports cars to family sedans, SUV and 4x4, vans and trucks to superbikes, as well as special tires such as winter tires and tires used on the race track. Cooper also has a strong motorsports heritage and a special racing arm, Cooper Tire Motorsports. The Cooper A1 slick tire is specially designed for A1 GP and can cope with up to 550 bhp and full-throttle acceleration. In addition to A1, Cooper also provides tires for drag racing, road racing, off-road racing and motorcycle racing as well as trackside support for racers at more than 200 venues each year.

"We believe the A1 Grand Prix event is a great opportunity to launch our brand in China as we showcase our product and technology on the track," Dattilo continued, "Cooper is the perfect global brand for the A1 Grand Prix, as we are dynamic, innovative and international as is this unique series. We look forward to growing in the Chinese consumer market and with this new sport together over the coming years. We wish this weekend's A1 Shanghai Grand Prix the best success!"

The press conference was attended by journalists representing business, auto enthusiasts and lifestyle media as well as government officials, suppliers and customers.

Hamilton tops final test session Hamilton tops final test sessionLewis Hamilton finished this afternoon's session at the top of the timesheets, but nobody could get close to Franck Perera's stunning morning time. ART Grand Prix's Lewis Hamilton finished this afternoon's final testing session at the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, as the quickest driver with a lap of 1:23.510. Lewis' best was almost a second slower than Franck Perera's overall best time of 1:22.467, set this morning, as many drivers and teams concentrated on long runs in preparation for the first race of the season next week in Valencia.

Second quickest this afternoon was Piquet Sports driver Nelson Piquet Jr, with Tristan Gommendy third for iSport International to top off a promising test for the rookie. Clivio Piccione finished fourth for DPR Direxiv in their most competitive outing of the year so far, as Felix Porteiro also had one of his best sessions of the year to finish fifth for Campos Racing. Sergio Hernandez was another driver whose fortunes turned round this afternoon as the Durango pilot steered himself to the sixth fastest time. zzzz

Michael Ammermuller completed a solid test for Arden International in seventh with Super Nova International's Jose Maria Lopez again featuring in the top ten in eighth. Olivier Pla's ninth place saw both DPR Direxiv's in the top ten for the first time, while Alex Premat rounded out the top 10 for ART Grand Prix.

From here, the GP2 series moves straight to Valencia for the final test session of the year on April 5-6. Friday April 7 sees the official 2006 GP2 series launch, and on Saturday April 8, the 2006 season begins for real with qualifying and Race 1 of our first event of the year, at Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Valencia.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1 Lewis Hamilton ART GRAND PRIX 1'23.510 28
2 Nelson Piquet Jr. PIQUET SPORTS 1'23.611 25
3 Tristan Gommendy ISPORT INTERNATIONAL 1'23.732 28
4 Clivio Piccione DPR DIREXIV 1'23.882 49
5 Felix Porteiro CAMPOS RACING 1'24.016 32
6 Sergio Hernandez DURANGO 1'24.281 27
7 Michael Ammermuller ARDEN INTERNATIONAL 1'24.448 42
9 Olivier Pla DPR DIREXIV 1'24.549 34
10 Alexandre Premat ART GRAND PRIX 1'24.552 19
11 Nicolas Lapierre ARDEN INTERNATIONAL 1'24.666 35
12 Javier Villa RACING ENGINEERING 1'25.043 25
13 Timo Glock BCN COMPETICION 1'25.064 35
14 Adam Carroll RACING ENGINEERING 1'25.127 30
15 Lucas Di Grassi DURANGO 1'25.320 40
16 Gianmaria Bruni TRIDENT RACING 1'25.357 21
17 Fairuz Fauzy SUPER NOVA INTERNATIONAL 1'25.384 35
18 Hiroki Yoshimoto BCN COMPETICION 1'25.865 32
19 Ernesto Viso ISPORT INTERNATIONAL 1'25.982 23
20 Luca Filippi FMS INTERNATIONAL 1'26.004 30
21 Franck Perera DAMS 1'26.059 38
22 Ferdinando Monfardini DAMS 1'26.097 45
23 Adrian Valles CAMPOS RACING 1'26.184 38
24 Alexandre Negrao PIQUET SPORTS 1'26.197 32
25 Jason Tahinci FMS INTERNATIONAL 1'27.944 38
26 Andreas Zuber TRIDENT RACING no time 0

Franchitti tops Saturday practice Franchitti tops Saturday practiceNote: It's clear PJ Chesson is completely out of his league.  Six seconds off of top time officially classifies him as a moving chicane.  He didn't fare any better on Friday either.  He should stick to ovals as Matos is faster than him and he's in an IndyPro car.
Rank Car Driver C/E/T Time Speed Best Lap Total Laps
1 27 Franchitti, Dario D/H/F 01: 02.1850 104.205 6 12
2 3 Castroneves, Helio D/H/F 01: 02.3470 103.934 9 13
3 9 Dixon, Scott P/H/F 01: 02.5307 103.629 10 14
4 11 Kanaan, Tony D/H/F 01: 02.5690 103.566 7 14
5 7 Herta, Bryan D/H/F 01: 02.6561 103.422 9 9
6 6 Hornish Jr, Sam D/H/F 01: 02.9671 102.911 11 13
7 10 Wheldon, Dan P/H/F 01: 02.9748 102.898 13 15
8 15 Rice, Buddy P/H/F 01: 02.9930 102.869 13 14
9 20 Moreno, Roberto D/H/F 01: 03.0622 102.756 12 15
10 55 Matsuura, Kosuke D/H/F 01: 03.0719 102.740 11 13
11 4 Meira, Vitor D/H/F 01: 03.1567 102.602 4 13
12 26 Andretti, Marco D/H/F 01: 03.7930 101.579 12 13
13 2 Scheckter, Tomas D/H/F 01: 03.8406 101.503 4 7
14 16 Patrick, Danica P/H/F 01: 03.8919 101.421 14 15
15 8 Sharp, Scott P/H/F 01: 03.9105 101.392 13 14
16 51 Cheever Jr, Eddie D/H/F 01: 04.2403 100.871 14 16
17 14 Giaffone, Felipe D/H/F 01: 04.5165 100.439 10 12
18 5 Lazier, Buddy D/H/F 01: 05.3567 99.148 14 16
19 91 Chesson, PJ D/H/F 01: 08.1800 95.043 12 16
Matos secures Indy Pro pole Matos secures Indy Pro poleMuch like last year, when Marco Andretti started from the pole in his Indy Pro Series debut, Raphael Matos will lead the field to the green flag today in the first of two races (live Timing and Scoring at 3:30 p.m. EST) on the streets of St. Petersburg.

Matos, the 2005 Star Mazda series champion who is driving the No. 41 Guthrie Racing/Car Crafters car, claimed the top starting position with a quick lap of 1 minute, 7.1409 seconds (96.513 mph) during two European-style qualifying sessions on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn circuit. Nine drivers bettered the track record set by Andretti (1:09.3253) last year.

Matos will be joined on the front row by Alex Lloyd, the 2003 McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year award winner. Lloyd, driving the No. 26 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc. car, posted a best lap of 1:07.3754 (96.178 mph).

On the second row will be Jeff Simmons (1:07.4955), the winner of the season opener March 26 on the Homestead-Miami Speedway oval, and Jay Howard (1:07.5996) in the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car. Last year, Simmons joined Andretti on the front row.

Pos Driver Diff Best Time
1 Raphael Matos (41) ... 1:7.1409
2 Alex Lloyd (26) 0.2345 1:7.3754
3 Jeff Simmons (24) 0.3546 1:7.4955
4 Jay Howard (7) 0.4587 1:7.5996
5 Jonathan Klein (27) 0.8340 1:7.9749
6 Jaime Camara (11) 1.2901 1:8.4310
7 Nick Bussell (52) 1.5758 1:8.7167
8 Chris Festa (51) 1.6162 1:8.7571
9 Brett Van Blankers (3) 1.8065 1:8.9474
10 Matthew Hamilton (2) 2.4001 1:9.5410
11 Jon Herb (6) 2.7654 1:9.9063
12 Marty Roth (4) 3.3094 1:10.4503
13 Geoff Dodge (1) 5.9624 1:13.1033
14 Bobby Wilson (9) 0.0000 -0.0001

Villeneuve movie expected in cinemas by 2007 Villeneuve movie expected in cinemas by 2007Production company 'Capri Films' plans to produce a movie about the life of Gilles Villeneuve, father of BMW Sauber F1 Team driver Jacques Villeneuve, who was killed in an accident in 1982 in Belgium.

On the one hand, the film will deal with the Formula One career of Gilles Villeneuve, on the other, it will also feature Jacques' on his way to winning the 1997 Formula One World Championship. It will be based on a book written by Gerald Donaldson. Production of the US$30-million project is supposed to begin this year, with Jacques being involved as an advisor.

In the past, his manager, Craig Pollock, had been contacted several times by persons interested in producing a film about the Villeneuve family. And while Jacques rejected all previous offer, he agreed this time. Pollock says: "This was different - Jacques will have his say." The film, which will be produced by Gabriella Martinelli, is expected to hit the cinemas in 2007. BMW Sauber F1

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

Courtesy of TVRacer.com
*1:30am-3:00am SPEED
(*1/2 hour show. End time adjusted for Daylight Savings time.  Daylight Savings Time begins at 2:00 am, move clocks forward 1 hour if your state observes DST)
NASCAR Performance  
8:00am-8:30am SPEED
Inside Drag Racing  
11:00am-11:30am ESPN2
NASCAR RaceDay Martinsville
11:00am-12:30pm (L) SPEED
NHRA 2Day Baytown, TX
11:30am-12:00pm ESPN2
American Dragster  
12:00pm-12:30pm ESPN2
Formula 1 Replay Australia
12:30pm-3:00pm (R) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Martinsville
1:30pm-6:00pm (L) FOX
Speed World Challenge St. Petersburg, FL
3:00pm-4:00pm -GT
4:00pm-5:00pm -Touring (SDD) SPEED
A1GP China
3:00pm-5:00pm (SDD) OLN
IRL St. Petersburg, FL
3:30pm-6:00pm (L)  ESPN
NHRA Baytown, TX
4:00pm-7:00pm (SDD) ESPN2
AMA Supercross 125cc Detroit
5:00pm-6:00pm SPEED
AMA Supercross 250cc Houston
6:00pm-7:00pm SPEED
Speed News Sunday  
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Victory Lane Martinsville
8:00pm-9:00pm (SDD) SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Robby Gordon (NASCAR, Off-road)  
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED 

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

Formula Nippon
Toyota to start 1-2-3 in Fuji Toyota to start 1-2-3 in FujiAt Toyota's Mt. Fuji, Japan track, Toyota powered cars with start 1-2-3 for Sunday's opening round of the 2006 Formula Nippon race. The fastest Honda powered car is Bjorn Wirdheim in 4th.

Qualifying 1 and 2 Combined Results

Pos. Driver Best Laptime Team Engine
1. No.19 B. Treluyer 1:26:265 Impul Toyota
2. No.20 T. Matsuda 1:26:288 Impul Toyota
3. No.1 S. Motoyama 1:26:583 Arting Impul Toyota
4. No.40 B. Wirdheim 1:26:671 Dandelion Honda
5. No.33 R. Quintarelli 1:26:687 Inging Toyota
6. No.3 S. Yamamoto 1:26:849 Kondo Toyota
7. No.4 M. Yanagida 1:26:922 Kondo Toyota
8. No.36 A. Lotterer 1:26:957 Tom's Toyota
9. No.37 T.Tsuchya 1:26:980 Tom's Toyota
10. No.56 T. Kogure 1:26:992 Aguri Honda
11. No.31 L. Duval 1:27:048 Nakajima Honda
12. No.11 Y. Tachikawa 1:27:090 Cerumo Toyota
13. No.7 T. Kataoka 1:27:106 LeMans Toyota
14. No.8 T. Takagi 1:27:119 LeMans Toyota
15. No.34 N. Yokomizo 1:27:165 Inging Toyota
16. No.27 S. Mitsuyama 1:27:186 Direxiv Honda
17. No.55 T. Kaneishi 1:27:189 Aguri Honda
18. No.41 K. Hiranaka 1:27:358 Dandelion Honda
19. No.2 K. Hoshino 1:27:370 Arting Impul Toyota
20. No.32 H. Muto 1:27:500 Nakajima Honda
21. No.6 R. Orime 1:27:810 5zigen Honda
22. No.5 A. Michigami 1:27:955 5zigen Honda

81,500 for Saturday 81,500 for SaturdayUPDATE A crowd of 81,500 saw Jenson Button claim pole position for Honda in Sunday's 2006 FORMULA 1(TM) Foster's Australian Grand Prix.

03/31/06 It was announced that slightly over 71,000 fans enjoyed two hours of Formula 1 free practice at the 5.303-km Melbourne track in Albert Park.

Senna wins 2nd straight Senna wins 2nd straightA scorching final lap from Brazilian Bruno Senna (right) has guaranteed him a second successive victory in the DODO Formula 3 category at the 2006 F1 Foster’s Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

Senna led from the word go, but it took a quality finish from the 22-year-old to guarantee that New South Welshman James Winslow would remain in second position.

Third was Victorian Tim Macrow, to make it the same 1-2-3 as yesterday’s race two.

"I was pretty pleased with that," said Senna (right). "I wasn’t expecting all this success at Albert Park, but I think there are a few more (Formula 1) people paying attention to me than at the start of the weekend.

"All I had in my head was to push as hard as possible. I drove as fast as I could – that’s how I won."  zzzz

In what was hardly a surprise, the opening to today’s race saw some ‘action’ at Turn One, with an over-exuberant Leanne Tander brushing Tim Macrow, who in turn transferred some knock-on effects to Michael Trimble.

The triumvirate all made it safely back onto the prepared surface, with Macrow working his way back into an excellent third.

"The race was very eventful to say the least," said Macrow. "I got squeezed out at the start, but the safety car helped bunch the field up, but I was happy to get back to third."

Meanwhile, Trimble was seventh, behind Tim Berryman, Laurent Lepage and Stephen Borness. Tander completed the six-lapper in eighth.

The final DODO Formula 3 race will be held at 9.50am on Sunday.

Honda celebrating in Melbourne Honda celebrating in MelbourneHonda is celebrating in Melbourne today after Jenson Button delivered the team’s first pole position of the 2006 season at the end of a tumultuous qualifying session for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix.

Button was “shaking with excitement” after snatching pole in the most frenzied session yet under the new knock-out system. Two red flags and a sudden shower had made the track action even more frantic than usual and Jenson delivered a flying lap when it mattered most to achieve the third pole of his career.

There were a few surprise exits early in the session as the red flags wreaked havoc. Unfortunately Rubens Barrichello was one such casualty after the first session was restarted and the entire field attempted to set a flying lap in the closing minutes. A frustrated Barrichello, who had been having a good weekend up until that point, was unable to achieve a clean lap unhindered by traffic and qualified a disappointing 17th. zzzz

Jenson Button
“It’s a fantastic feeling to be on pole here after such a manic qualifying session for everybody. With two red flags and the rain shower half way through, it was very difficult to stay calm and get our thoughts together. That’s exactly what we did though and I’m so thrilled for the team. This is a very special moment for everyone in Honda as it’s the first pole since they returned to works team status. I know all eyes will be on us for tomorrow but we didn’t get much running done in race trim today. We know we’re quick over a lap but we will only know how competitive we really are when we leave the grid tomorrow. All we can do now is give it our very best shot, aim for a faultless race and make the most of every situation.”

Rubens Barrichello
“I’m obviously very disappointed with how qualifying went for me today because everything was running much more smoothly for us and the team have done a good job all weekend. At the end of the day, I just lost out to traffic after the restart in the first session. We have a tough mountain to climb tomorrow but we’ll see what we can do to challenge for points nonetheless.”

Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director
"We are absolutely delighted that Jenson is on pole for the first time this season. Both car and engine were working well as a result of some changes we made overnight and he pulled out all the stops to produced a fantastic lap. However, all three sessions were nerve-wracking to say the least and at no point did we feel entirely comfortable with our position. It all started with the red flag in the first session, which unfortunately caught Rubens out on his new tire run. Subsequently, his best lap was ruined by traffic and he ran out of time."

"Disappointing, but we know he has the pace to have a good race tomorrow. The excitement continued with yet another red flag prior to Jenson setting a time at all, but thankfully he was able to get a clear enough gap before it started sprinkling in the dying minutes of the session. That weather uncertainty pushed us into setting a lap time early in the third session, and once it was clear that there was no longer the threat of rain, we focused on getting Jenson into clear air for his last new tires. The rest is history! Obviously this is the best possible position to be in going into the race but let’s see what tomorrow brings!"

Shuhei Nakamoto, HRD Engineering Director
“Well done to Jenson for an excellent qualifying session. He reeled off some consistently quick laps before putting in a fantastic effort for his pole position. Rubens was unlucky to get stuck behind a slower car in the first qualifying session but still has every chance of a good race tomorrow. Both engines have been fine, and we’re excited about tomorrow’s race.” Source Honda

Montoya blames himself for missed pole Montoya blames himself for missed poleKimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya will start tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix from fourth and fifth on the grid.

Montoya in particular was disappointed not to be starting higher up the grid, but a mistake late in the final session saw him spin at turn five and then his final lap was not good enough to move him up the field.

The team remain fairly confident that they can challenge for the win on Sunday afternoon.

Kimi Raikkonen
"My qualifying today was OK but not perfect. I think we could have gone quicker if we had managed to get everything working, but the changing weather conditions made things a bit more of a challenge. The race tomorrow should be exciting, and I think we are in with a good chance. It should be possible for us to get our package to work perfectly, so we will see what happens. I'm looking forward to it that is for sure."

Juan Pablo Montoya
"I'm quite disappointed as I think we could have been on the front row if I hadn't messed it up when I was on the new tires. I came into Turn Five a bit too aggressively, hit the curb and lost it, and that was it.
However the car feels great and I know we have a strong strategy for the race, but I have just made things a bit more difficult for myself, but we will see what happens tomorrow."

Ron Dennis
"Considering our race strategy we can be quite pleased with the outcome of qualifying. The variable track conditions throughout today made things more of a challenge but the team coped very well adapting to the changing weather. As one can imagine we are looking forward to the race tomorrow. "

Norbert Haug
"I think we have quite a good basis with Kimi's fourth and Juan Pablo's fifth places. The front row was possible taking into account that Juan Pablo was fastest after the first two sectors and Kimi is a little bit less than two tenths from the front row. However we think we are in good shape for the race." Source McLaren Mercedes

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Monteiro's bad back 'ok'
Aguri target 'MF1' scalp
Rosberg's run comes unstuck in Oz
Kubica will be 'ready' in late '06
Race hots up for Aussie honors
Alonso responds to Schu's wobbly praise
Trulli has the 'flu
Brusque Schu rues 'slow' Ferrari
Yoong gives Malaysian team first pole Yoong gives Malaysian team first poleShanghai – A1 Team Malaysia snatched their first pole position for the final Sprint race of the 2005/06 A1 Grand Prix season this afternoon after the flag had dropped in the last of the four Qualifying sessions. A1 Team Great Britain’s Darren Manning, who led from the word go, was denied the opportunity to head up the grid in his first A1GP race by Malaysia’s Alex Yoong. While Manning still recorded the fastest lap of Qualifying (1.51.832), Yoong pushed his aggregate time ahead of A1 Teams France and Great Britain, with a 1.51.846 flying lap after leaving the pits in the last few minutes of the session.

Darren Manning, making his debut for A1 Team Great Britain, praised the A1GP Qualifying system for the excitement that it added to the day. ‘I thought it was all over after I was quickest in the first session but this qualifying system is different, it isn’t over until the last car crosses the line. It’s a really good result for A1 Team Great Britain. I made a small mistake just before the back straight, and lost too much speed. The back straight is very long and I lost a lot of time. Without that I think I would have been even closer to Alex. I have little experience as to how the Series is run, but we are doing ok, and I will be going out to win the race tomorrow.’ zzzz

First time A1GP pole sitter Alex Yoong, was pleased with his performance: ‘Today was really good, the car was brilliant, we made a couple of small improvements from yesterday. It’s a great day for A1 Team Malaysia. The team is brand new, and was only put together for A1GP, it has been a big effort for a lot of people. This will mean a lot to the people in Malaysia, which, like China, does not have a motorsport background.’ 

Alex Premat took to the track for the first time today, after his team mate, Nicolas Lapierre drove yesterday’s practice sessions. ‘Just before Qualifying I managed to do a few laps during third practice. So I had to learn the set up of the car and the circuit quickly. I made a few mistakes, but for tomorrow I think it will be perfect.’ 

With three official practice sessions and four 15 minute Qualifying sessions completed over two days, not a single red flag has been seen all weekend. There have been a few spins including a matching pair from A1 Teams Australia and USA on turn one in the first Qualifying session and another from A1 Team New Zealand in Q3, but they each managed to get themselves back on track for the subsequent sessions.

 A1 Team Driver Aggregate Time
1 Malaysia Alex Yoong 3.43.700
2 Great Britain Darren Manning 3.43.888
3 France Alexandre Premat 3.44.392
4 Mexico Salvador Duran 3.44.560
5 Indonesia Ananda Mikola 3.44.656
6 Ireland Michael Devaney 3.44.724
7 Netherlands Jos Verstappen 3.45.206
8 Czech Republic Tomas Enge 3.45.554
9 Australia Ryan Briscoe 3.45.683
10 Switzerland Giorgio Mondini 3.45.965
11 Canada Patrick Carpentier 3.46.254
12 South Africa Stephen Simpson 3.46.430
13 New Zealand Matt Halliday 3.46.455
14 Pakistan Adam Khan 3.46.458
15 China Tengyi Jiang 3.46.543
16 Brazil Christian Fittipaldi 3.46.737
17 Italy Enrico Toccacelo 3.46.864
18 Portugal Cesar Campanico 3.47.489
19 USA Phil Giebler 3.47.565
20 Lebanon Graham Rahal 3.47.714
21 Austria Mathias Lauda 3.48.036
22 Germany Sebastian Stahl 3.49.171

Home racers A1 Team China and Series leaders A1 Team France are both taking advantage of a unique rule which allows teams to change drivers between Qualifying and each of the two races. A1 Team China will run with Ma Qinghua in the Sprint race and Tengyi Jiang in the Feature race while A1 Team France will run Alexandre Premat for the Sprint and Nicolas Lapierre for the Feature race. All other A1 Teams will keep their Qualifying driver behind the wheel for both races.

The Sprint race will be contested over 50 miles lasting up to 30 minutes in duration. With a rolling start at 13.30 local time, tomorrow’s race will be run over 15 laps of the Shanghai circuit. The outcome of the race determines the grid positions for the Feature race which will start at 15.00 local time with a standing start. The Feature race will be run over 100 miles (30 laps) lasting up to 60 minutes in duration. A1GP

Goodyear to test again Goodyear to test againGoodyear officials confirmed Thursday that it will conduct another tire test at Lowe's Motor Speedway next Tuesday, a week after a two-day test on the newly resurfaced 1.5-mile oval. Rick Heinrich, project manager for Goodyear, said Wednesday that the tires showed a little more wear than Goodyear would have liked, but that could be expected as Goodyear attempts to create a compound that will work on the track. Lowe's Motor Speedway underwent a $3.5 million repaving job after tire problems plagued races there last season. Track president H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler said it is too early to predict whether tire wear will be an issue during the May races. All of the Nextel Cup teams are scheduled to test May 1-3 and then Busch Series teams will test May 8-10. "It's going to be a challenge, and I'm not sure that we really are going to know exactly what we've got as far as the track is concerned until we have all of the cars come in here in early May," Wheeler said. "We have no idea right now about a second groove because everybody is staying down low." NASCAR Daily Scene
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