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Free Thursday at Long Beach
If you've got a sick day in the bank, it might be a good idea to use it on Thursday, April 16 to attend the FREE day of racing and fun at the 35th  Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach!

At 11 a.m., racing greats Al Unser Jr. - a six-time winner on the streets of Long Beach - and Bobby Rahal will be inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame (Pine Ave. at the Convention Center), joining past inductees Phil Hill, Dan Gurney, Paul Newman, Carl Haas, Chris Pook and Brian Redman.

On the famed 1.97-mile racing circuit, the Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series cars will be turning hot practice laps at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., while the Lifestyle Expo in the Convention Center will be open from 3 to 6 p.m. No ticket is required for entry to the racetrack on Thursday.

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Faces in new places
An offseason that featured numerous drivers switching teams came to a climax in the final days leading up to the IndyCar Series 2009 season opener April 5 at St. Petersburg. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Darren Manning and Alex Tagliani used the final days before the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to solidify rides in the race.

Hunter-Reay, who courted and was courted by several teams throughout the offseason, locked up a fulltime ride with Vision Racing, while Manning and Tagliani secured rides for St. Petersburg with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Conquest Racing, respectively.

“I'm used to jumping in cars at the last minute, with the pressure on with no practice,” said Hunter-Reay, who drove for Rahal Letterman Racing since the midway point of 2007, earning Bombardier Learjet Rookie of the Year honors in 2007 and his first series victory in 2008. “That's what I did with Rahal in '07 and that worked out well.

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ALMS media day excerpts
Three American Le Mans Series drivers who figure to be key players in this weekend’s Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg were part of Media Day on Thursday in downtown St. Petersburg. They spoke on the second round of the season, being on the Florida coast and what else the event offers.

Patrick Long, Flying Lizard Motorsports
Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT2)
“St. Pete is a little of a home track, and I am excited to be here (Long lives in Bellaire, Fla). The American Le Mans Series is unique with the four classes of competition. Last year, I drove a prototype against these guys (referring to Acura’s Gil de Ferran and David Brabham). This year I am in a GT car. Overall, it should be a wild race.”

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Newman Wachs team launches Nuclear initiative in Florida
Newman Wachs Racing, The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), and Entergy Nuclear have teamed up once again for the 2009 Cooper Tires Presents the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.

NWR and NEI joined in 2008 with Entergy Nuclear in the “Nuclear. Clean Air Energy” public awareness program, designed to educate fans and consumers about the carbon-free production of electricity at 104 nuclear power plants across America.

The Nuclear Energy Institute is the policy organization of the nuclear energy and technologies industry and participates in both the national and global policy-making process. NEI’s objective is to ensure the formation of policies that promote the beneficial uses of nuclear energy and technologies in the United States and around the world. Entergy is the second largest owner and operator of U.S. nuclear energy plants, and this year was named one of the top 10 corporate citizens in the United States by Corporate Responsibility Officer magazine.

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Sirius XM Radio kicks off IndyCar coverage
SIRIUS XM Radio, the Official Satellite Radio Partner of the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body for the IndyCar® Series and Firestone Indy Lights, will offer live coverage of every 2009 IndyCar Series race nationwide to both XM subscribers and SIRIUS subscribers with the “Best of XM” programming package.  

SIRIUS XM will broadcast every IndyCar Series race live on XM channel 145 and on SIRIUS channel 211 as part of the “Best of XM” package, including the 93rd Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 24. The 2009 season opens with the Honda Grand Prix on the streets on St. Petersburg, Fla., on April 5 (2 p.m. ET). Motorsports fans will hear pre-race programming, including interviews and commentary, as well as live wheel-to-wheel action on the track.

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McLaren extends deal with broadcast sponsorship partner
Length of contract: 1 year
Annualized value: US$100,000
Overall value: US$100,000

Formula One giants McLaren Mercedes and wireless broadcasters Kangaroo TV have signed a one-year extension to their deal. Kangaroo TV's products have been described by Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone as, "as good as it gets." The terms of the contract will remain the same as the previous deal, with Kangaroo providing no cash but US$100,000 worth of equipment and services.

The company will continue to provide its wireless audiovisual entertainment systems to McLaren's guests at Grands Prix. Kangaroo has a separate contract with Formula One allowing it to broadcast the competition's live feeds through its systems.

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Spanish sponsor to leave Renault, F1
(GMM)  Renault sponsor Mutua Madrilena intends to quit formula one at the end of this season.

The Spanish newspaper Diario AS on Thursday said the Madrid-based insurance company, until now pledging an estimated 3.5 million euros per year to the French squad, will not apply to renew its contract beyond 2009.

The firm entered F1 with Renault in 2005, following Fernando Alonso to McLaren in 2007 and then returning with the Spanish driver to Renault last year.

Official Ignacio Garralda confirmed that Mutua Madrilena will not be sponsoring any F1 teams in 2010.


Virgin guarantees Brawn US$30 million for 2010 season
Length of contract: 1 year
Annualized value: US$30 million
Overall value: US$30 million

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group is poised to strike the most extraordinary sponsorship deal with the new Brawn GP Formula One team. It has exchanged heads of agreement whereby Virgin Group will guarantee the team US$30 million in sponsorship for 2010 in exchange for exclusive rights to the team's commercial income from any further sponsorship it can gather. 

It will also sponsor Brawn GP in 2009 for a nominal sum which will be additional income for a team which is already fully funded for 2009. It has an US$150 million budget provided by compensatory payments from Honda Motor Company and support from Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management company.

But the real meat of the deal is an arrangement whereby Virgin will guarantee the team sponsorship income of US$30 million for the 2010 season. The guaranteed income will give Virgin sole rights to sell space on the car to other sponsors. Anything Virgin receives over the US$30 million it will keep and book as profit. One insider said: "If it gets US$80 million, which it might, Virgin will keep US$50 million, it's a good deal." The deal has been negotiated by the team's commercial supremo David Butler and helped along the way by Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

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FIA press release on Hamilton decision
At the first hearing following the Australian Grand Prix the Stewards did not have the benefit of the radio exchanges between driver No 1 Lewis Hamilton and his Team Vodafone McLaren Mercedes nor did they have access to the comments to the Media given by Lewis Hamilton immediately after the end of the race.

From the video recordings available to the Stewards during the hearing it appeared that Jarno Trulli's car left the track and car No 1 moved into third place. It then appeared that Trulli overtook Hamilton to regain third place, which at the time was prohibited as it was during the Safety Car period.

During the hearing, held approximately one hour after the end of the race, the Stewards and the Race Director questioned Lewis Hamilton and his Team Manager David Ryan specifically about whether there had been an instruction given to Hamilton to allow Trulli to overtake. Both the driver and the Team Manager stated that no such instruction had been given. The Race Director specifically asked Hamilton whether he had consciously allowed Trulli to overtake. Hamilton insisted that he had not done so.

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Transcript of Hamilton Melbourne radio communication
Formula 1’s governing body the FIA has published the radio communication between reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton and his McLaren-Mercedes team that led to the British star being disqualified from third place in last weekend's 2009 curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The transcript reads as follows...

McLaren: OK Lewis, you should need to make sure your delta is positive over the safety car line. After the safety car line the delta doesn’t matter, but no overtaking. No overtaking.

Lewis Hamilton: The Toyota went off in a line at the second corner...is this OK?

McLaren: Understood, Lewis. We’ll confirm and get back to you.

LH: He was off the track. He went wide.

McLaren: Lewis, you need to allow the Toyota through. Allow the Toyota through now. 

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Malaysia: FIA Thursday press conference
Drivers: Sébastien Bourdais (Toro Rosso), Jenson Button (Brawn GP), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes), Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari), Nico Rosberg (Williams), Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)

Q: Sébastien, can I start with you first. Your feelings about Melbourne and perhaps also a late start for you to the season. What were your feelings there?
Sébastien Bourdais: Well, obviously like everybody knows we showed up in Melbourne with very little running of the car and it was kind of a test session for the first few days. Qualifying didn't go well obviously for me but then in the race as usual it was a pretty eventful one and we fuelled to the finish when the safety car happened and tried a gamble and you can't say it worked perfect but we still made up quite a bit of ground. It was good to kick off the season and to get things rolling and get both cars to the end of the race. I don't know if we will eventually keep that point we inherited but it doesn't matter. It is going to be a long season and both cars at the end will have a lot more development to come and hopefully we can improve our performance level.

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RCR Transporter Driver Passes Away Suddenly
Michael “Sweats” Lance, 42, of Advance, N.C., died Wed., April 1, 2009, at his residence. Lance was born October 27, 1966, in High Point, N.C., and worked for Richard Childress Racing as a transporter driver for the No. 33 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team.  He had been a member of the NASCAR community for some time, previously working for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and Joe Gibbs Racing. Lance is survived by his wife, Debbie Boose, and step-children Brandon and Bailey Boose. Funeral plans are incomplete.


Jay Howard will pilot the No. 37 Team PBIR car
Palm Beach International Raceway today announced that Jay Howard will pilot the No. 37 Team PBIR Firestone Indy Lights car.

“It is a great honor to have Jay Howard driving our car. He is an extremely talented driver and brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the team,” states Ron Dixon, PBIR President. Howard joins driver Charlie Kimball who will be racing the No. 35 team car.

Twenty-eight year old Howard already holds three championship titles as the Indy Lights Champion (2006), F2000 Champion (2005) and U.K.F. Renault 2000 Champion (2003).  He moved from Basildon, England to the United States in 2005 winning Rookie of the Year honors the same year. Howard, who began karting at age 7, now resides in Palm Beach, Florida where he runs a kart team as well as the go-kart track at PBIR.

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Update on LeMans Asian Series
With just a month to go to the final closing date for entries and 7 months before the start of the 2009 Asian Le Mans Series, the ACO is a hive of activity. The first entrants have been confirmed and the aim of having 30 cars on the grid at Okayama and Shanghai looks well on the way to being achieved.
The first event counting for the 2009 Asian Le Mans Series already has all the trappings of success. So far 24 cars have been confirmed with some of the big names in endurance as the prototypes include 1 Peugeot, 2 Pescarolo-Judds, 2 Courage-Orecas in LM P1 and 2 Pescarolo-Mazdas and 1 Porsche RS Spyder in LM P2 among others. In GT1, Corvette, Aston Martin, Lamborghini and Saleen are among the entries, and in GT2, Porsche, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Ford.

The field is going to be a rich and varied one, as the major Le Mans Series teams will make the journey to Japan and China. To them will be added around 10 Asian teams including entrants from the Japanese GT Championship.

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Ralf to replace Lauda in Malaysia
(GMM)  Niki Lauda will this weekend sit out a second consecutive grand prix.

The triple world champion could not attend the Melbourne season opener after damaging his hip in a fall whilst walking his dogs.

His replacement as an expert pundit for German television RTL this weekend in Malaysia will be Ralf Schumacher, the veteran of 182 grands prix who last raced for Toyota in 2006.


McLaren will not appeal Hamilton exclusion
(GMM)  McLaren on Thursday night announced it will not appeal the decision to disqualify Lewis Hamilton from the Australian grand prix.

At Sepang on Thursday, a reconvened stewards inquiry found that the reigning world champion and his team offered the FIA officials "deliberately misleading" evidence at Albert Park last Sunday.

F1's governing body had reopened the case after a "new element" - believed to be radio traffic between the McLaren driver and his pitwall at the time of the incident - came to light regarding the Jarno Trulli safety car incident.

A statement issued by McLaren on Thursday night said: "The team mistakenly believed that the radio transmissions had been reviewed by the FIA (last) Sunday ... and consequently did not believe it was necessary to discuss them with the stewards on that date.

"Nonetheless, the (team) now regrets that it did not do so, accepts the stewards' decision and will not appeal."

Jarno Trulli, whose originally confiscated podium finish has now been reinstated, told the press in Malaysia that he is happy with the stewards' new decision.

"I have always been honest and this time it pays off," the Toyota driver said.


Tequila Patr¢n will return as title sponsor
Tequila Patr¢n will return as title sponsor for Round Three of the 2009 American Le Mans Series at Long Beach, Calif. In addition, the Series announced Tequila Patr¢n as the exclusive "Official Spirit of the American Le Mans Series". For the second year in a row, the April 18 event will be named The Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach.

“Welcoming Tequila Patr¢n back as the title sponsor of our Long Beach round for the second straight year marks a significant reunion, one that proved last year to be a very successful collaboration,” said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. “Tequila Patr¢n has become a benchmark example of a marketing partner that aggressively activates its involvement on and off the track. Southern California is arguably the most important market for all of the American Le Mans Series’ stakeholders, and Tequila Patr¢n’s investment at Long Beach will enable all involved to benefit from the unparalleled atmosphere and major market impact associated with this world-class event.”

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Trulli: "I have always been honest"
A pleased Jarno Trulli claimed he had received the justice he deserved when leaving race control at Sepang on Thursday. The Toyota driver lost the third place and six points he scored in Australia last weekend following an incident involving McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, for which the English team has now been disqualified and Trulli's own penalty lifted, repositioning him to the podium spot.

"I am happy because I just wanted some justice, and I got it," Trulli said. "I am happy for myself and for the team, and have to thank the FIA because it's not very often that they reconsider something; it must have been really hard for them, but they had the common sense to really try and understand what was going on. I have been always honest and it has paid off."

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Superleague Formula joins BRDC Membership
The exclusive British Racing Driver’s (BRDC) has added the Superleague Formula and the Speedcar Series to its list of championship that qualify towards its elite membership entry criteria.

From 2009 both will be added to the list of top flight championships with successful applicants able to join highly respected names, such as Sir Jackie Stewart OBE, Sir Stirling Moss OBE and current Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton MBE. The current BRDC Club President is former Formula 1 World Champion Damon Hill OBE.

The BRDC was formed in 1928 with the aim of promoting the interests of British motor sport. The Club, which is only open to drivers from Great Britain and the Commonwealth, has only 811 members and also owns and promotes meetings at Silverstone circuit in Great Britain.

Any driver who has competed in either the Superleague Formula or the Speedcar Series can use that championship year towards the three seasons that are required before a membership application can be made.

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Stewards to explain Vettel's penalty
Sebastian Vettel is to meet the FIA stewards again in Malaysia to discuss why he was given a ten place grid penalty for his clash with Robert Kubica in Melbourne.

Red Bull Racing has not appealed against the punishment, but team boss Christian Horner has revealed that the FIA's Alan Donnelly wants to explain the stewards' reasoning to the young German.

Vettel was trying to defend second place from Kubica with three laps to go in Australia when they collided.

"I think Alan Donnelly's asked to have a chat with Sebastian to go through the rationale behind the penalty," Horner told journalists at Sepang on Thursday.

"I thought the penalty was harsh. It was very much a racing incident. Sebastian was defending his line.


Alonso: Reiterates Brawn "nearly unreachable"
Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso believes Brawn GP could secure a runaway title win in both championships this year unless the FIA act against the team's controversial rear diffuser.

The Spaniard says the pace currently being shown by Jenson Button and team-mate Rubens Barrichello is "nearly unreachable" for the rest of the grid and is adamant that it is not simply a case of the other teams' copying the design should their latest appeal fail.

“We’ll have to see what the FIA decide,” Alonso said, quoted by the Daily Express, speaking about the FIA Court of Appeal hearing. “If Brawn are allowed to race with it, they have a bit of an advantage and all teams will try to copy that idea.

“But it’s difficult because you have to work on the whole car. It’s not just a case of adding the diffuser and suddenly the car is a second quicker.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Favorites Brawn prepare for challenges
  • Sponsors dash to join Brawn livery
  • Buemi expects Toro Rosso to struggle in Malaysia
  • Vettel believes Sepang penalty not fair
  • Hamilton, Alonso criticisms not justified - de la Rosa
  • Ecclestone to make 2009 debut in Malaysia
  • 2009 is Heidfeld's last chance in F1 - Stuck
  • Don't compare Brawn with Force India - Mallya
  • Kubica undecided over KERS at Sepang
  • Alonso leaves Sepang track with ear infection
  • Body strips Donington of racing license

Brawn team expected to lead the way again in Sepang
Favorites Brawn prepare for challenges
(GMM)  On the basis of the Mercedes-powered BGP001's performance in Australia, Brawn is the overwhelming favorite to repeat victory at Sepang this weekend.

But the Malaysian event boasts several features that contrast starkly with that of the season opener, and not all of them bode well for the newly-rebranded Brackley based team.

"It's probably going to be wet, isn't it?" said Melbourne winner Jenson Button in Kuala Lumpur, where it has rained already this week.

"That's a pity in a way.  I'd rather it was dry because although Rubens and I are both good in the wet, we haven't driven this car in those conditions yet," he added.

Also, the Brawn car does not feature a KERS system, the power-boost technology that is expected to be more of an advantage than at Albert Park on Malaysia's long straights.

The pitstops last Sunday also revealed that the former Honda crew, having sat out most of the winter, is slightly rusty.

Team boss Ross Brawn also admitted to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport that he is concerned about reliability, with Button and Rubens Barrichello's cars needing to feature the same gearbox this weekend as was raced in Melbourne.

Referring to the transmission, which after the switch from Honda to Mercedes power for 2009 had to be tweaked, he said: "For the moment that is our Achilles heel.

"We are not yet over that mountain," he added.

Brawn also spoke about his team's lack of winter pitstop practice.

"During our seven days of testing only twice did we have the opportunity to practice pitstops," he said.

Button is also concerned about the Melbourne pace of the team's rivals, including Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel, who seemed to peg the Briton's pace throughout most of the 58 laps.

"His pace was a surprise," the Englishman admitted.

And Brawn is expecting the other teams, including powerful rivals like Ferrari and McLaren, to make big and rapid steps forward in the next races.

"Right now we've a long way to go and people will progress very rapidly this year," he said, amid premature speculation about the outcome of the world championship.

Brawn said at least three significant development steps for the BGP001 this season are planned, the first to be rolled out for May's Spanish grand prix.

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Hamilton excluded from Melbourne results UPDATE (GMM)  Stewards on Thursday declared that Lewis Hamilton and McLaren offered "deliberately misleading" evidence that resulted in Jarno Trulli losing his podium in a post-race inquiry last Sunday in Australia.

The reconvened investigation in Malaysia resulted in Hamilton, the reigning world champion, being excluded from the results of the 2009 season opener.

The FIA reopened the case after a "new element" - believed to be radio traffic between the McLaren driver and his pitwall at the time of the incident - came to light.

Lewis Hamilton found guilty
A statement issued by the stewards on Thursday evening confirmed that 24-year-old Hamilton and his team "acted in a manner prejudicial to the conduct of the event by providing evidence deliberately misleading to the stewards".

The stewards said the conduct was in breach of the International Sporting Code.

Toyota's Trulli, originally demoted to twelfth place having stood on the Albert Park podium, has had his third place result reinstated.

04/02/09 (GMM)  Thursday's reconvened stewards inquiry regarding the Jarno Trulli/Lewis Hamilton safety car incident in Melbourne has resulted in the reigning world champion being excluded from the results of the 2009 season opener.

The FIA reconvened the investigation at Sepang on Thursday, after a "new element" in the case - believed to be radio traffic between the McLaren driver and his pitwall at the time of the incident - came to light.

More to follow.

British F3

British F3 to visit Portugal
The Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series is to visit Portugal for the first time in its history, it is announced today (1 Apr). The championship will make its call to the new Autodr¢mo Internacional do Algarve, near Portimão, in mid-September.

The Portuguese races will replace those previously scheduled for the Bucharest street track in August. A late date switch of the latter event proved too inconvenient, as Alistair Spence, from series promoter SRO Motorsports Group, explains: "The original Bucharest date was ideal for us, but the Romanian event organizers had to bring it forward and it became logistically difficult for the teams. We were happy to explore other opportunities and we are more than delighted with the outcome."

Two British F3 races - rounds 17 and 18 of the 20-event calendar - are scheduled for the 2.9-mile Algarve track; they will support rounds of the FIA GT3 Championship.

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4 less cars for IndyCar opener in St. Pete UPDATE Darren Manning brings this weekend's car count to 22 now that Ryan Hunter-Reay has been officially confirmed to Vision Racing. Tomas Scheckter had hoped to make it 23, but he said today that his deal with Team 3G will not begin until the second race of the season, April 19 in Long Beach, Calif.

Car Driver Hometown Car Name Entrant
2 Raphael Matos (R) Belo Horizonte, Brazil Luczo Dragon Racing Luczo Dragon Racing
3 Will Power Toowoomba, Australia Team Penske Team Penske
4 Dan Wheldon Emberton, England National Guard Panther Racing Panther Racing
5 Mario Moraes Sao Paulo, Brazil KV Racing /Votorantim KV Racing Technology
6 Ryan Briscoe Sydney, Australia Team Penske Team Penske
7 Danica Patrick Roscoe, Ill. Motorola Andretti Green Racing
9 Scott Dixon Auckland, NZ Target Chip Ganassi Racing Target Chip Ganassi Racing
10 Dario Franchitti Edinburgh, Scotland AirWick Target Chip Ganassi Racing
11 Tony Kanaan Salvador, Brazil Team 7-Eleven Andretti Green Racing
13 E.J. Viso Caracas, Venezuela PDVSA HVM Racing HVM Racing
14 Vitor Meira Brasilia, Brazil ABC Supply Co. AJ Foyt Racing A.J. Foyt Enterprises
19 Justin Wilson Sheffield, England Sonny’s Bar-B-Q Dale Coyne Racing
20 Ed Carpenter Indianapolis Menards/Vision Racing Vision Racing
21 Ryan Hunter-Reay Boca Raton, Florida Vision Racing Vision Racing
23 Darren Manning North Yorkshire, England Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
24 Mike Conway (R) Bromley, England Dad’s Root Beer Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
26 Marco Andretti Nazareth, Pa. Andretti Green Andretti Green Racing
27 Hideki Mutoh Tokyo Formula Dream Andretti Green Racing
34 Alex Tagliani Lachenaie, Quebec Conquest Racing Conquest Racing
98 Stanton Barrett (R) Bishop, Calif. CURB/Agajanian/Team 3G CURB/Agajanian/Team 3G
02 Graham Rahal New Albany, Ohio McDonald’s Racing Team NHL Racing
06 Robert Doornbos(R) Rotterdam, Netherlands Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing NHL Racing


FIA summons Hamilton to new stewards inquiry
(GMM)  F1's governing body has reconvened the stewards inquiry into an incident behind the safety car in Melbourne last Sunday.

The FIA has recalled the stewards of the Albert Park event to a new hearing in Malaysia, after a "new element" of the case involving Jarno Trulli and Lewis Hamilton came to light.

We reported on Wednesday that the case may be reopened due to concerns world champion Hamilton misled the stewards about whether or not he let the Toyota pass.

It is believed the 'new element' is radio traffic between the 24-year-old Briton and the McLaren pitwall, and other empirical evidence that contradicts his statements to the stewards.

"The FIA really got it wrong in that decision," Trulli, who was demoted from third to twelfth place in the original investigation, told the New Straits Times in Malaysia.

"We have all the evidence, including Hamilton's admission, that I did not overtake him.  He let me pass," he added.

The new stewards inquiry will take place on Thursday afternoon at 1pm.


New qualifying format set for St. Petersburg
At most tracks the Firestone Indy Lights races, starting position doesn't matter as much as finishing position. On the streets of St. Petersburg, starting positions often plays a big role in where a car finishes, placing premium on qualifying sessions.

With that in mind, a new street course qualifying format will greet Firestone Indy Lights teams when preparations for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg begin on April 3.

Teams will be split into two groups with the fastest overall time determining the race's polesitter. The fastest car from the non pole-winning group will occupy the other front-row starting spot with the remainder of the polesitter's group occupying the odd positions, while the outside polesitter's group will make up the even positions.

"With 28 cars entered for our races, we felt like this was the fairest way for everyone to have a chance to compete for pole," said Tony Cotman, vice president of competition for the Indy Racing League, sanctioning body of Firestone Indy Lights and the series' race director. "This format mimics the system used by IndyCar Series where we've seen that splitting the field increases the opportunities for a clean lap in qualifying."


New procedure for post race inspection of Sprint Cup engines
In a move that should be more cost-saving to the industry and help enhance the inspection process, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will begin conducting its post-race engine tear-down at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C.

“Along with cost savings, this will provide our officials and teams with the means to analyze the engines in a more controlled setting,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “We have been moving towards doing this in the past, and as the stakes continue to rise in our sport, we believe it’s the most effective way of doing things.”

As part of its post-race inspection, NASCAR typically tears down the engines of the event’s top-two finishers, in addition to a random car. The height and weight measurements, in addition to the shock and gear inspections, will still take place at the track following the race. Post-race inspection of the engines at the R&D Center will remain open for observation as it did at the race track. Should any violations be discovered during the tear-down process, forthcoming penalties will be handled just as they have before through the NASCAR competition department.


IndyCar Weekly Teleconference Transcript
About the speakers: IndyCar Series drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay, Darren Manning and Alex Tagliani, and Conquest Racing owner Eric Bachelart discussed recently signed deals for the 2009 season. Bob Jenkins, Jeff Goldberg and Terry Angstadt discussed the first season of IndyCar Series coverage on VERSUS.

VERSUS: Bob Jenkins, Jeff Goldberg and Terry Angstadt

·        VERSUS is in its first year of a 10-year agreement to be the exclusive cable television home of the IndyCar Series.

·        The network will air more than 130 hours of programming in 2009, including 12 live races, one-hour preview shows prior to each of those races, and three-hour race re-airs following those races.

·        The network debuted its coverage with a series of one-hour shows in March.

·        Jenkins will call the play-by-play during races with Jon Beekhuis and Robbie Buhl providing analysis in the booth, and Jack Arute, Robbie Floyd and Lindy Thackston providing analysis from pit lane.

·        Goldberg is the vice president of programming for VERSUS.

·        Angstadt is the president of the commercial division of the Indy Racing League.

Ryan Hunter-Reay

·        28-year-old entering his third season in the IndyCar Series and his first with Vision Racing

·        Will be teammates with Ed Carpenter, marking the first time Hunter-Reay will have a full-time teammate since 2004

·        Earned Bombardier Learjet Rookie of the Year honors in 2007 after debuting midway through the season

·        Won his first series race at Watkins Glen in 2008

·        Won Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year honors in 2008 with a sixth-place finish

·        Recorded 10 top-10 finishes in 2008

·        Has made 23 career starts, recording one victory and 13 top-10 finishes

Conquest Racing: Eric Bachelart and Alex Tagliani

·        Conquest Racing owner Eric Bachelart announced that Alex Tagliani will drive the team’s No. 34 entry at St. Petersburg in a partnership with Northlands of Edmonton

·        Conquest fielded two cars last year in its first season in the IndyCar Series since 2002

·        Team had a best finish of fifth last year with Enrique Bernoldi at St. Petersburg

·        Tagliani drove in the final three races of the season with Conquest in 2008, finishing 12th at Chicagoland and fourth in the non-points race at Surfers Paradise

·        Tagliani is a 36-year-old veteran of eight seasons in Champ Car where he recorded one victory and 32 top-five finishes

Darren Manning

·        33-year-old veteran of four seasons in the IndyCar Series

·        Signed to drive the No. 23 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car at St. Petersburg

·        Has made three starts at St. Petersburg, leading three laps in 2005 and qualifying fifth in 2007

·        Finished a career-best second at Watkins Glen last year

·        Competed for Target Chip Ganassi Racing in 2004-05 and A.J. Foyt Racing in 2007-08

·        Has made 58 career starts, recording seven top-five finishes and 25 top-10s

We have several guests joining us this afternoon as we prepare to open the 2009 season this weekend in St. Petersburg. Joining us in a few minutes will be Ryan Hunter‑Reay, Eric Bachelart and Alex Tagliani and also Darren Manning. Ryan signed with Vision Racing to drive the No. 21 car this season while Alex was announced earlier today as the driver of the No. 34 Conquest Racing car for the event in St. Petersburg, and Darren will be driving the No. 23 Dreyer & Reinbold car for the race at St. Petersburg.

First we'll start off with Bob Jenkins, Jeff Goldberg and Terry Angstadt to talk about the debut of the IndyCar Series on VERSUS. Good afternoon, gentlemen.

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track news

Dover rewards McGlynn for selling less tickets
Dover Motorsports Chief Executive Officer Denis McGlynn earned 16 percent more in 2008 than he did in 2007 after seeing a drop in compensation of 3 percent in the previous year, according to the company’s proxy statement filed Monday.  This despite lower ticket sales at Dover in 2008, at least for the NASCAR end of the business.  Perhaps horse racing did well.

McGlynn’s total compensation in 2008 was $464,504, compared with $400,203 in 2007 and $414,313 in 2006, according to the company proxy statement filed Monday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. McGlynn also is compensated by the gaming arm of the company.


All US sales plummet in March UPDATE Automakers reported drastically lower sales number for February compared with last year, with General Motors Corp. reporting a drop of nearly 53 percent and Ford Motor Co. falling 48 percent.

Ford projected the U.S. annual sales rate may be below 10 million units for the first half of the year.

Ford car sales dropped 40.8 percent and car-based crossovers were down 35.0 percent. Trucks and SUVs fared far worse, off 54.0 percent and 71.4 percent, respectively.

GM blamed a 75 percent reduction in fleet sales for its February sales drop of 52.9 percent compared with a year ago. The breakout: car sales were half of what they were a year ago while truck sales fell 55.1 percent.

Chrysler LLC, which has seen declines of more the 50 percent the last two months saw its February sales drop 44 percent compared to a year ago.

A further sign of the dire times, Toyota Motor Corp. reported its February sales were down 39.8 percent. The Toyota brand fell 40.0 percent with trucks dragging down the figure the most. The luxury Lexus division was off by 38.4 percent from the year-ago month.

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Conquest picks up Tagliani for St. Pete & LB UPDATE Alex Tagliani isn’t thinking about any podium finish this weekend; he’s just happy he’ll even be racing in the opening event of the IndyCar Series. He’ll be driving Conquest Racing’s No. 34 car thanks to the sponsorship agreement reached with Northlands and the Rexall Edmonton Indy.

Alex Tagliani
The agreement, formally announced on Wednesday, will see Tagliani drive in the first races of the series — this weekend in St. Petersburg, Fla., and the following weekend in Long Beach, Calif. Any races after that — other than the Rexall Edmonton Indy July 24-26 — will be dependent on his ability to perform in the first two events and to attract enough additional sponsorship to get a ride for the rest of the 17-race IndyCar schedule.

The 36-year-old Tagliani said there are additional sponsors who are close to signing up and that racing the next two weekends “is to give us the extra time we need to close some upcoming deals for the rest of the season.”

Drivers normally need between $4 million and $5 million in sponsorship to secure a ride in IndyCar although Tagliani said there are some programs, like IndyCar’s Winners Circle, that reduce the costs so that “with three to four million you’re definitely in a car for the whole season.”

Neither he nor Northlands officials would talk figures when it came to their agreement.

“I can’t talk about specific investments,” said Mike Burton, director of major events for Northlands that last year sponsored Toronto driver Paul Tracy (at a reported cost of $250,000) for the Edmonton event. “We did a lot of due diligence to ensure this was something that was going to be a wise investment for us. We really believe we’re going to get excellent return on our investment.

“We are projecting we will probably still have a $1.5 million deficit after this year and we think that’s pretty good when you consider the economic impact (to the area) is in the $80-million range.”

Tagliani, who had one victory and 14 podium finishes in his seven-year Champ Car career, said it’s “difficult to explain the ins and out of the program . . . mostly what we want is to make Alberta and the Edmonton race benefit from this package.”

Burton said Northlands sees a huge upside in having Tagliani race in Edmonton and other IndyCar events, noting the Indy Racing League suggests there’s a worldwide audience of some 350 million homes in more than 180 countries for their events.

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