French racer Tristan Vautier, who dominated pre-season Star Mazda testing at Barber Motorsports Park during IndyCar spring training, put an exclamation point on that dominance with a pole-to-checkered run – building up a 33-second lead in the process – in Round 2 of the 2011 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Vautier, who won two Star Mazda races in 2010 and finished 5th in the championship, drove a flawless race in his #5 JDC Motorsports / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais Mazda, never giving up the lead or participating in any of the drama taking place in his rear view mirrors.
"We knew that the track was going to change a lot between the start of the race and the end, and that tires would be the key to the race," said Vautier. "The JDC team and my engineer Rick Cameron gave me a very good car, and it was my job to not slide it around and keep the tires as good as possible in case we needed them at the end of the race. But I got into a good rhythm and the car was very fast without trying too hard, so I just drove at a comfortable pace and was surprised to finish so far ahead. The next races are ovals, and I have a lot to learn about racing on them, but the team is working very well together and we all have confidence in each other, which is the most important thing."
Goncalvez has career day at Barber The fact Jorge Goncalvez has completed all the laps of the his rookie season in Firestone Indy Lights season isn't that impressive until you realize he's been racing his No. 4 Belardi Auto Racing car while recovering from a broken leg.
The Venezuelan teen broke his leg in a road car accident near his home in early March. He was back in a race car at the season-opener at St. Petersburg, but struggled for comfort in the car as he adapted his driving style to compensate for his injury.
But 10 days rest and further healing changed the young driver's performance, especially with his ability to left-foot brake. After qualifying 13th, Goncalvez worked his way through the field and got a huge break when Conor Daly and James Winslow came together on Lap 22.
Kanaan quickly makes up for lost time Tony Kanaan has slept on and swept up floors early in his motorsports career. He's known the capricious nature of the business, the ups (2004 IZOD IndyCar Series champion) and downs (not having a ride 10 days before the 2011 season opener).
He's appreciative of the opportunity with KV Racing Technology-Lotus, respectful of the competition and thrilled to be third in the championship standings after two events.
Kanaan, who recorded a third-place finish in the season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg two weeks ago, followed with another stirring run in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy. He gained 10 spots on Lap 1 (from 24th on the grid), remained unscathed during the tightly-contested 90 laps and brought home the No. 82 GEICO car in sixth place.
ALMS announces international TV distribution The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n announced today yet another important development to its ever-growing broadcast and digital distribution package. The addition of these outlets brings the estimated international programming for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n to more than 750 million households, believed to be the largest worldwide distribution of any motorsports series in the world with the exception of Formula One.
An extensive and impactful distribution agreement with ESPN International has been confirmed in yet another “platform development” in the Series’ new ESPN on ABC relationship. The ESPN international networks and joint ventures will deliver a dedicated one-hour ALMS race highlights program to more than 160 million homes in 150 countries around the world beginning with this weekend’s Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach.
IndyCar embarrassed itself on TV againUPDATE #2 Rumor has it that IndyCar may be learning their lesson (the hard way), and may not do double file restarts at Long Beach due to the track being tight. It would be a crashfest. Ditto for all street circuits. As stated below, IndyCar should only consider double file restarts for the ovals. But as we stated, if the outside groove is full of marbles (tire rubber) the driver on the outside will crowd the driver on the inside (to share the groove) to maintain traction and if the tires touch - start praying.
04/11/11 A reader adds, Dear AutoRacing1: The IndyCar series said it was adding more excitement for the fans with double-file restarts. What are they talking about? 90% of all the double-file restarts for yesterday's race ended up have contact and accidents, bringing out yet another full course yellow thus repeating the cycle each time....making the race VERY BORING for the fans with so many caution laps.
Why does IndyCar feel so compelled to always copy Nascar and their fake, gimmick-filled, fabricated racing? If IndyCar wants to copy another racing series, why not Formula 1? After all, F1 is the pinnacle of (open wheel) racing. Tony, Little Falls, NJ
Dear Tony, I think the double file restarts will work OK on the ovals (if the outside groove is not full of marbles) but so far it does not appear to work on the road courses. There was some good racing on Sunday, but the drivers eventually ran out of talent when it came to not touching each other. Cautions breed more cautions, especially with double file restarts. My only fear on the ovals is the high speed. Rubber Tire-to-Rubber Tire contact at those speeds could launch a car into the grandstands. If that happens no insurance company will insure an IndyCar oval race after that and they will have to run 100% road and street circuits. Mark C.
Judge tosses out NASCAR lawsuit against Cessna A U.S. District Court judge has thrown out NASCAR’s lawsuit against Cessna over a July 10, 2007, plane crash that killed five people near Orlando.
Judge John Antoon II issued the ruling Friday, granting summary judgment in favor of Cessna, stating that any responsibility by Cessna for the crash expired after 12 years. The case was scheduled to go to trial next month. NASCAR can appeal Antoon’s decision to the 11th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.
The Cessna 310R involved in the crash was constructed in 1977 and co-piloted by Bruce Kennedy, husband of NASCAR Executive Vice President Lesa France Kennedy. Bruce Kennedy, his co-pilot and three others on the ground were killed in the fiery accident in Sanford, Fla. The pilots reported smoke in the cockpit and were attempting to make an emergency landing.
Kumho Tires helps set track record at Paul Ricard The revised Formula 3 Euro Series that comprises three rather than two races per meeting, got off to a flying start at the Circuit Paul Ricard on the weekend 1-3 April. Not only were the teams adjusting to the new format, but also to the brand new Kumho control tire that features a stiffer construction and softer tread compound than its predecessor. One thing was clear from the outset, the new covers were capable of quicker times, and by the end of the meeting Daniel Abt of the Signature team had lowered the Series’ lap record round Paul Ricard by a staggering 0.705 seconds.
Race one was won by the Mzzzucke Motorsport driver Nigel Melker, but the meeting was really dominated by Daniel Juncadella and Roberto Merhi of Prema Powerteam and Marco Wittmann – a team-mate of Daniel Abt. As a result, the leaderboard prior to the next meeting at the end of April at Hockenheim is:
2011 Formula Drift Long Beach Report Team Falken started the 2011 Formula Drift season the way it finished last year, with one of its factory drivers on top of the podium. Justin Pawlak, in just his second year with the tire manufacturer, took his inaugural first place at the Long Beach opening round, with Team Falken teammate Daijiro (“Dai”) Yoshihara in third.
Before a capacity crowd, Pawlak took the victory on board his 2011 Ford Mustang with a new engine built by Ford Racing and Roush-Yates and ran on Falken’s Azenis RT615K, as did all other Falken team members. Pawlak qualified 11th, while Yoshihara was second among the top 32, alerting the other competitors he was the driver to beat on the streets of Long Beach. While Defending Formula D Champion Vaughn Gittin, Jr., struggled in qualifying, he was an important part of the weekend, meeting and greeting his fans as well as supporting the rest of the Falken team in the main event. Among the Falken “inter-team competition,” Pawlak beat Darren McNamara in the top 16 round, and Justin went on to best Dai in the Top 4, completing a “One More Time.” Justin beat Matt Powers in the final, while Dai defeated 2009 Formula D Champion Chris Forsberg to earn third.
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Renews Partnership With LHI Dreyer & Reinbold Racing is excited to announce that they have renewed their partnership with LHI (Lawrence Holdings Inc.) formerly known as Alloy Metals. The Wallingford, Connecticut-based high temperature and specialty alloy distributor will continue their support of the team for the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season.
"Dreyer & Reinbold Racing is extremely happy to renew our relationship with LHI. We have grown together and certainly look forward to excelling on and off the track this year. We have worked hard to maintain a strong relationship with LHI and we couldn't be happier to have them commit to us again in 2011," commented Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Co-Owner, Robbie Buhl.
Red Bull quiet on KERS problems (GMM) Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were quiet when asked about Red Bull's only apparent Achilles heel.
The otherwise-dominant team did not use the energy recovery technology at all in Melbourne, while in Malaysia Webber encountered two failures while Vettel won in Sepang despite turning off his KERS as a precaution.
"For safety reasons we did not run it for part of the race on Sebastian's car," confirmed team consultant Helmut Marko to F1's official website.
Earlier, Vettel had to fiddle regularly with the brake balance aboard his RB7 as KERS was turned on and off, as the system stores energy under braking.
Barber's IndyCar race didn't need a lead change to be exciting It wasn't the best race of all time, but Sunday's Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama was the best race of all time that didn't include a leader change.
Will Power was hardly ever touched as he led every lap of the race at Barber Motorsports Park. Normally, that's a prescription for disastrous reviews and lousy TV ratings.
If a NASCAR race ended with Jimmie Johnson leading every lap the howls of outrage from fans and journalists would be deafening.
But this race, at a track where passing is at a premium, didn't need a pass for the lead to provide excitement. The rest of the field provided plenty of passes, spins, wrecks, smashed chassis and hurt feelings.
Button again expects a lot of passing in China Jenson Button predicts a sizeable amount of overtaking for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, not least after what was witnessed in Malaysia on Sunday. The 2009 World Champion, who won in Shanghai last year, is also looking to improve on McLaren’s two podium finishes of 2011 so far.
“Along the massive back straight, even without DRS, I still think there’ll be plenty of opportunity for overtaking – especially if we see the same sort of close racing as we witnessed in Malaysia,” Button commented on Monday.
“If that’s where they (F1 governing body the FIA) put the DRS zone for the race, then I think we’ll see some spectacular passing – and possibly even re-passing – down that back straight.
“Off the back of two successive podium finishes for the team, we’re not only hopeful of maintaining our finishing record, but of improving it too.
"We’ve made no secret of our desire to take the fight to Red Bull and we’re fully aware that stronger opposition will make it harder for them to have a smooth and uninterrupted weekend.”
United Autosports Legends of Motorsports historic cars
Some of the most prominent names in motorsport, from the world of open-wheel and sports car racing, will compete in Legends of Motorsports events this year. Ex-Formula One Grand Prix drivers Mark Blundell (GB), Eddie Cheever (USA) and Stefan Johansson (SE) plus two-time Indianapolis 500 race winner Arie Luyendyk (NED) will contest selected Bobby Rahal signature events during the year.
United Autosports will provide a stunning “stable” of machinery for former 24 Hours of Le Mans race winners Blundell and Johansson plus Indy 500 race victors Cheever and Luyendyk. Blundell, Cheever and Johansson raced for the Anglo-American team in Europe last year, an association they and Luyendyk continue in the 24 Hours of Spa (BEL) alongside United Autosports Chairman & Co-Owner Zak Brown.
United Autosports’ recently refurbished ex-Michael Schumacher 1992 Benetton B191
They will showcase their incredible talent and vast experience behind the wheel of such legendary racecars as the 1969 Lola T163 (Can Am), 1979 McLaren M28 (F1), 1992 Benetton B191 (F1), 1991 Penske PC20 (IndyCar) and the Porsche 962 among others in the three-event series staged at the Barber Motorsports Park (USA) on May 20-22, Mont-Tremblant (Can) on July 8-10 and the Sebring Raceway (USA) on December 2-4.
The ultra-experienced quartet having made their names in the uppermost echelons of racing boasting over 300 Formula One starts, six Indy 500 wins, five IndyCar Championships and numerous open-wheel and sports car victories, join three-time IndyCar Champion and Indianapolis 500 race winner Rahal and other “historic” racing participants at these venues along with Just Marketing Inc.’s Founder & CEO, Zak Brown, who is co-owner of the Legends of Motorsports program with Rahal.
“The drivers joining us at the Legends of Motorsports events are some of the best drivers to have competed in open-wheel racing,” confirmed 1986 Indy 500 race winner Rahal. “The Legends of Motorsports events are the only place you will see drivers of this caliber go wheel-to-wheel racing in cars such as the Penske PC 20 IndyCar and the Benetton B191B Formula 1 car. It is going to be fantastic.”
A full calendar of events will await historic racing fans during the participating weekends including Legends Autograph Sessions, Fan Forums, free paddock access where fans can see these historic cars and racing legends up close and non-stop racing activity. Tickets and event information are available at www.legendsofmotorsports.com
About Legends of Motorsports
Legends of Motorsports is a premium race series owned by Historic Motorsports Productions LLC (‘HMP’). Specifically, Legends of Motorsports is an annual series of premium historic racing events and related lifestyle experiences staged at historic North American venues. Based in Zionsville, Indiana, HMP’s principal owners are racers and businessmen Bobby Rahal, Peter Stoneberg and Zak Brown. Additional equity investors in HMP include Spire Capital Partners and Just Marketing International, which provides comprehensive strategy, marketing, public relations, and event logistics services to the venue.
Legends of Motorsports Co-Owner Zak Brown (seated in ex-John Watson Formula One 1979 McLaren M28) with Stefan Johansson
Created in 2009, United Autosports is co-owned by American Zak Brown and Briton Richard Dean, both successful entrepreneurs and international race car drivers. The unique Anglo-American racing team fields GT3 class Audi R8 LMS sports cars from its United Kingdom headquarters in Leeds. It also races a fleet of “Legends of Motorsports” historic racing cars from its US facility in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 2011, the team competes in full-seasons of FIA GT3 European Championship, Avon Tires British GT Championship and the “Legends of Motorsports” series. It will additionally contest selected GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series events, the 24 Hours of Spa (Belgium) and Macau GT Cup race (China).Comment
McLaren pushed Red Bull hard for pole position in Malaysia and then Jenson Button kept Sebastian Vettel honest in the race. Team principal Martin Whitmarsh is not daunted by five Red Bull wins in the last six races and hopes to carry the fight to Christian Horner's squad in China, as Tony Dodgins heard.
Q: Tires swung things away from Lewis but were you almost on par with Red Bull?
We're quite close but I'd like to be closer still or ahead. In qualifying we were close and in Lewis's second stint he made headway on Sebastian and in the last stint Jenson made headway. How much did Sebastian have left in the tank? I don't know, but if we look at qualifying we had the ability to be on pole and we had the ability to chase hard in the race. For Lewis it was a disappointing afternoon: getting behind Nick at the start, who did a great job attacking around the outside. He lost that time, then had a good second and third stint but the fourth stint was difficult.
Roush Fenway Racing's Trevor Bayne was treated and released Sunday from Carolina Medical Center University Hospital in Charlotte after a reaction from an apparent insect bite on his left elbow that the 20-year old driver suffered last week while at home.
"Trevor has been treated and released from the hospital and is fine to continue with his daily activities - including driving a race car," said Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark. "Doctors are still waiting for the test results to determine for sure what caused the reaction, but Trevor has been treated, is at home and he is doing fine."
Pole sitter Victor Garcia led all 40 laps to win the Firestone Indy Lights race at Barber Motorsports Park.
Driving the No. 22 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling car, he led Andretti Autosport driver Stefan Wilson across the finish line by 0.3125 of a second. Peter Dempsey finished third and Jorge Goncalvez, who started 14th, was fourth.
Results Sunday of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Firestone Indy Lights event on the 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, laps completed and reason out (if any):
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Barber IndyCar Notebook - Day 2UPDATE Series officials have put cones out on the track 200, 300 and 400 feet from the start/finish line in order to help IZOD IndyCar Series drivers evaluate the various location for the restart zone for Sunday's race. IndyCar officials will determine the restart zone based on the drivers' recommendation on a potential restart zone for the race. The zone will be announced in Sunday morning's driver meeting.
04/09/11 The talk in the paddock this weekend is mostly talking about the double file restarts. The track and promoter here are very dedicated and on top of the game. Tons of improvements over last year. They go around asking people what they think...very impressive.
They have trams that shuttle people around the track, taking surveys. Overheard locals on the tram saying they really like this because its a different environment than a NASCAR race. They said the crowd here has "more class" and everything about the racing seems close up and real.
New leaders for FOTA Martin Whitmarsh and Eric Boullier, have been elected as the new Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Formula One Teams’ Association (FOTA). The decision was confirmed following the group’s first meeting of the year at Sepang this weekend.
Also verified was Red Bull’s Christian Horner in the role of Chairman of the Sporting Regulations Working Group. Ferrari Technical Director Aldo Costa was named as Chairman of the Technical Regulations Working Group.
FOTA meets to discuss costs Formula 1 teams are holding more discussions in Malaysia on how to cut costs in the expensive sport so that the smaller teams can better compete.
McLaren principal and Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) chairman Martin Whitmarsh said wealthy teams like his own must recognize the importance of keeping the smaller teams.
"F1 needs it," Whitmarsh told Autosport. "You don't have to go too far down the pit lane to know that unless we can continue to go down the path of controlling and reducing costs in F1 there will be problems ... if we don't do it then we won't have people to race against."
Victor Garcia wins Indy Lights pole at Barber Victor Garcia's quick out lap after a brief full-course caution late in qualifications caught the 21-year-old Spaniard -- and the rest of the Firestone Indy Lights field -- by surprise.
Garcia toured the 2.38-mile, 17-turn natural-terrain course in 1 minute, 17.279 seconds, jumping from fourth on the time sheet to first with 40 seconds remaining in the 40-minute all-car session. That's where he remained in the No. 22 TMR-Xtreme Coil Drilling car to claim his first Sunoco Pole Award.
Esteban Guerrieri, who rose to the top with 18 minutes left and looked to be the pole winner for the second consecutive race with a best lap of 1:17.3080, will start second in the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car.
Alonso says Ferrari needs major overhaul Fernando Alonso was not happy after qualifying almost a full second off pole position in Malaysia on Saturday. Despite being the fifth-quickest car on the Sepang starting grid Ferrari is essentially out to lunch.
“We weren’t quick enough in Australia and we are not here in Malaysia either, at least not enough to fight for pole position,” the Champion of 2005 and 2006 said after qualifying.
“From what we have seen over these two races, there are two teams who have worked better than us over the winter and clearly we have to make some progress in terms of performance and there is no secret about that.
Malaysia GP Practice 3: Hamilton breaks Red Bull domination
Lewis Hamilton (1:36.340) set the quickest time in the final free practice session ahead of qualifying for the Malaysian Grand Prix, lapping half a second quicker than the fastest Red Bull Racing time from Friday.
Mark Webber's Red Bull (1:36.630) was second quickest, marginally faster than Jenson Button (1:36.762) in the second McLaren. Nick Heidfeld's Renault (1:37.115) lapped six hundredths quicker than Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull (1:37.115).
Video: Forbes Magazine interviews IndyCar's New Boss Randy Bernard looks to make the racing league as successful as he made Professional Bull Riding. He states his goal is to bring at least two more engine manufacturers into IndyCar Racing, in addition to Honda, Chevy and Lotus who have already committed.
Barber IndyCar Hot Topics - Friday Brian BarnhartOn Double File Restarts "The whole thing's a learning process for everyone involved," said Brian Barnhart regarding double file restarts. "It's a pretty radical change from how things have happened and have been done for over a decade.
"To some extent, you're trying to shove a square pin into a round hole. You're going to have to adapt and improvise."
"The things we're looking at are where the restart line is, what the speed is, where we start forming them up into the double-file formation, how we communicate to them the information," Barnhart said.
Barber IndyCar Notebook - Day 1 The IZOD IndyCar Series will compete in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, a 90-lap race at 2:45 p.m. Sunday. The Firestone Indy Lights will compete in the Grand Prix of Alabama, a 45-lap race at Noon Sunday. Both races will be televised live by VERSUS. The Star Mazda Championship- part of the Mazda Road the Indy ladder system - is also racing this weekend. Star Mazda will race at 1:45 a.m. Sunday.
Drivers will have 20 uses of the Honda overtake assist -an ECU software alteration - available for the race. It is activated by the driver via a button on the steering wheel and provides an extra 200 RPM (about 10 horsepower) to the Honda Indy V-8 engine. Parameters are updated before each race weekend to meet the circuit layout.
Each use will have a15-second duration, and there's a 10-second recharge period between uses. One overtake assist push will be available for the race day warm-up session.
Peter Dempsey was the quickest of 15 Firestone Indy Lights drivers at Barber Motorsports Park in practice for the 40-lap race April 10 with a best lap of 1 minute, 18.8609 seconds in the No. 36 Pulse/02 Racing car.
PETER DEMPSEY (No. 36 Pulse/O2 Racing Technology): "Practice today went really well. The track has changed a lot since testing here in March. This made practice a lot trickier than everyone was expecting. For some reason we were running about three seconds slower on our pace than we did at the open test earlier in the year. Unfortunately, I locked up a tire and we had no other choice but to put on a new set of tires at the end of the session. We put on the new tires and I was hoping that would make us quick. I posted the fastest lap of the day just slightly faster than Anders Krohn. I think the wet session is going to help us this afternoon since it won't give anyone more track time. This allows us more time to work on the car and get ready for qualifying and hopefully put it on the front row again. This is the first time I have been at the top of the time sheet after practice, so I am proud to give the 02 Racing Technology team a top speed. We have a good car going in the Pulse / 02 Racing entry and we will work hard overnight to make some adjustments and get ready for tomorrow. It feels like the car is right where I want it so I just need to pull it all together in qualifying and hope that is enough to earn the pole position."
Pirelli expects three-stops Sunday Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembery feels three-stops will be the way to go during Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix.
"Everybody has faced extremely tough conditions during the first day of running in Malaysia," he said. "Luckily our tires have performed faultlessly so far, but of course the real work lies ahead of us as the drivers put their cars into qualifying and race trim.
"Today, the drivers tried out the evolution of our hard tires and their response was generally favorable, although we need to be careful that we don't end up with tires that are too conservative."
Wind Tunnel Sunday Featured Interview Kyle Busch (Sprint CUP Title Contender)
Featured Interview Sebastien Bourdais (4-time Champ Car World Series Champion) After dominating Champ Car for 4 years while driving for Paul Newman, Sebastien Bourdais returns to American open-wheel racing behind the wheel of a Dale Coyne IndyCar for 2011. The IndyCar road and street races supplement his current schedule as a factory driver for Peugeot’s sports car program with whom he’s claimed two 2nd place finishes in the 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as being the top qualifier in last year’s event.
This Week’s Races CUP and Nationwide in Texas Formula 1 in Malaysia IndyCar and Rolex Series in Birmingham, AL AMA Supercross in St. Louis
Power tops wet opening IndyCar practice at Barber Will Power was quickest in the opening practice session for this weekend's IndyCar event at Barber Motorsports Park.
The Australian Penske driver only completed five laps of the Alabama track before rain hit, but managed to set a 1m12.750s to beat St Petersburg winner and reigning champion Dario Franchitti (Ganassi) to the top spot.
The modified BMW Z4 GT3 completes test run The modified BMW Z4 GT3 has survived its baptism of fire: the GT customer sports car proved itself in a series of intensive tests in recent weeks. The goal of the latest modifications was primarily to improve aerodynamic efficiency in order to ensure the car's competitiveness in the many, hard-fought GT3 classes.
The BMW Z4 GT3, which was launched in March 2010, achieved its greatest success to date in January 2011. Claudia Hürtgen (DE), BMW works driver Augusto Farfus (BR), Tommy Milner (US) and Edward Sandstorm (SE) won the Dubai 24 Hours for Team Schubert. This was the first outright victory for the BMW Z4 GT3 at a marathon race of this scale, having already proven its potential with wins in its debut season in the FIA GT3 European Championship.
Foyt named Rolex 24 Grand Marshal Legendary racer A.J. Foyt will serve as the Grand Marshal for the historic 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the prestigious season-opening event to the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16. The event is scheduled for Jan. 28-29, 2012.
"The 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona is a significant milestone in the history of international motorsports, and it's appropriate to have a legend of the caliber of A.J. Foyt as Grand Marshal," said GRAND-AM President Tom Bledsoe. "Foyt is one of the rare athletes whose name becomes synonymous with their sport, and he made his mark at the Rolex 24 among his many legendary achievements.
Texas House OKs 85-mph speed limit Rocker Sammy Hagar, who once sang "I Can't Drive 55," might want to move to Texas. The California-born singer may be able to drive 85 miles per hour in the Lone Star State if a measure approved by the Texas House becomes law.
The proposal would allow the Texas Department of Transportation to establish a speed limit not to exceed 85 miles per hour on a part of a state highway system, as long as engineering and safety studies determine the higher speed limit is appropriate.
The measure is a provision of a bill that would eliminate funding for an unpopular toll road project. There is a similar proposal in the Senate.
NASCAR TV Ratings for MartinsvilleUPDATE The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 from Martinsville was the most-viewed sports telecast last weekend behind the men's Final Four. The race's final 4.4 rating and 7.229 million viewers are down from a 4.6 rating and 7.373 million viewers in '09. Last year's race was rained out and run on a Monday. Through six races, Fox is averaging a 5.8 rating and 10.082 million viewers. While that rating is flat compared to the comparable five races at this point last season, viewership is up 4%.
04/04/11 NASCAR on FOX posted a 3.9/9 for Sprint Cup racing from Martinsville. Last year's Martinsville race was rained out. Yesterday's 3.9/9 is down -5% compared to the 4.1/9 the Martinsville race earned two years ago. Yesterday's race averaged a 9 share most of the way, then popped to an 11 share at 5pm as it appeared that Dale Earnhardt Jr. would snap a winless streak of nearly 100 races, but Kevin Harvick passed Earnhardt in the final five laps to take the checkered flag in another of his patented hard-charging finishes. The fact that last year's race was rained out has a big impact on this year's season-to-date comparison because a mediocre Martinsville rating is now being factored into this year's average but not last year's. As a result FOX's advantage over 2010 is now just +2% on an average rating basis (5.1/11 vs. 5.0/10). A second way of measuring this season would be to look at total rating points, a metric that doesn't penalize FOX for last year's rainout. Total viewing of NASCAR is up +22% this year (30.7 gross rating points vs. 25.1 a year ago).
Sepang weather update There is a high chance that rain will affect either qualifying or the race, if not both, in Malaysia this weekend. Both sessions will begin at 4pm local time, with rain having fallen on the venue at the same time over the last few days.
According to local forecasts it will be Mostly Cloudy. High: 93 °F. Wind SSW 3 mph. 60% chance of precipitation.
Tim Cindric named one of America’s top mechanical engineers Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology alumnus and Indianapolis native Tim Cindric, president of Penske Performance Inc., has been named one of America’s top mechanical engineers by Inventors Digest magazine.
Cindric was one of six mechanical engineers whose career achievements were featured in the April issue’s Modern Marvels section (www.inventorsdigest.com/archives/6131). The group was chosen based on peer recognition, societal impact of their work and commitment to the craft.
A 1990 Rose-Hulman mechanical engineering graduate, Cindric has managed Penske’s racing operations, including NASCAR and IZOD IndyCar Series teams, since 2005. During that time Penske’s Indy car program has won 54 races, including five Indianapolis 500 victories and a record-tying three straight wins from 2001-03, and nine NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories, featuring the 2008 Daytona 500.
Three drivers too slow at Sepang Three drivers missed the 107 percent cut in Malaysia on Friday, although it has to be noted that circumstances will vary by qualifying on Saturday. Q1 begins at 4pm local time (BST +7).
Mark Webber’s leading Friday afternoon time of 1:36.876 results in a 107 percent cutoff of 1:43.657, outside of which would have been Vitantonio Liuzzi of Hispania, Heikki Kovalainen of Lotus and Jerome d’Ambrosio of Virgin, although the latter two were both stuck in their garages with problems for much (all, in the Belgian’s case) of the second session.
What should be noted is that Narain Karthikeyan was inside the barrier for HRT, raising hope for his team’s first qualification of the season. The 107 percent rule, which returns in 2011 for the first time since 2002, applies only in Q1.
Red Bull to decide on KERS for Sepang usage (GMM) Red Bull was on Friday evening due to decide about using KERS for the rest of the Malaysian grand prix weekend.
After heading both practice sessions at Sepang, with his teammate Sebastian Vettel having dominated in Australia two weeks ago, Mark Webber said the team had tested with both cars running the energy-recovery technology on the opening day at Sepang.
"Whether we run it on Sunday or not, we will decide in the next 24 hours," said the Australian after practice.
Sauber slow in slow corners Sauber finished Friday 14th and 15th quickest in Malaysia, with Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez two and a half full seconds off the leading lap time registered by Red Bull’s Mark Webber.
“The degradation is higher and the warm up is no issue at all, as you would imagine,” Technical Director James Key explained.
“In the afternoon we just worked through the tire programs and a race run for each driver on tires. I think we need to look carefully at the data this evening because we are losing about three tenths in the first couple of corners and a little bit of time in the middle sector.
“The balance of the car in low speeds is not ideal for the drivers, so we will look at that overnight and look forward to running in free practice three with a better balanced car.”
Mercedes-Benz.tv: Formula One TV Commercial 'Decision' Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg once again appear together in a Mercedes-Benz video clip. In a humorous discussion, a man and his pregnant wife try to decide which MERCEDES GP PETRONAS F1 driver should take them to the hospital.
German luxury car makers report strong sales German luxury car makers have had a strong first quarter for sales, setting new records on the back of soaring demand in emerging markets, with China in the lead. BMW, the world's leading premium auto manufacturer, said on Friday that first quarter group sales rose an annualized 21.3 percent to 382,758 BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce vehicles, its best result ever for the three-month period.
In March alone, the group posted sales of 165,842 for a 12-month gain of 17 percent to surpass its previous monthly record in December 2007.
Sales director Ian Robertson said that "2011 got off to an excellent start for the BMW group ... thanks to our attractive model range and healthy auto markets in many parts of the world."
Sales of BMW brand cars gained 14.6 percent to 134,892 in March and 20.8 percent to 321,175 for the first three months of the year.
Alonso seems already resigned that this year's Ferrari a dog
Fernando Alonso doesn't expect to be fighting for pole at Sepang after struggling in Friday's practice sessions.
The Spaniard was ninth quickest on Friday morning, over three seconds down on Mark Webber's P1 time. He was a bit faster in the afternoon session, 1.707s off the Red Bull driver's pace and still 9th.
"We'll see tomorrow where we are, but we weren't too fast today and we are not expecting miracles for tomorrow," said the Spaniard.
"We know it will be a difficult qualifying, a difficult weekend and we will try our best to be as close as possible to the leaders so in the race, with the start, the tire wear, the strategy, the possibility of rain, we can take any opportunity to be on the podium, which is still the target every weekend.
Raikkonen interested in running Cup races Kimi Raikkonen is testing well in NASCAR. So good, in fact, that he is already matching lap times with Kyle Busch, the owner of the truck the Formula One world champion will race. Raikkonen did more testing Thursday in Rockingham, N.C., after two days earlier this week at Gresham Motorsports Park in Georgia attended by Busch. All this comes less than a week after Raikkonen signed with Kyle Busch Motorsports to make his NASCAR debut next month in a Trucks Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"The test went really well at Gresham. Kimi is a race car driver, so he does know how to drive race cars and drive them well," Busch said Thursday. "I got to see it firsthand, and then got to get in the truck myself and run some laps just to kind of see where I compared to where he was at on tires and stuff, and we ran identical lap times. So he's right there, he knows what he's doing." Busch said
Raikkonen has also expressed interest in running Sprint Cup and Nationwide races, but Busch said will be re-evaluated after the first race in the truck. "As far as the Nationwide and Cup stuff goes, we haven't had any discussions on that," Busch said. "He has asked after the truck debut in Charlotte, which is what our first focus is, kind of evaluating and seeing where he's at and how he feels and what he wants to do." Associated Press/ESPN.com
Pirelli warns drivers against wet tire gamble (GMM) Pirelli has warned drivers not to risk keeping full wet tires on their cars at Sepang while they wait to switch to slicks.
With rain likely to play a role this weekend, the official tire supplier's chief Paul Hembery said drivers should switch immediately to intermediates as soon as the track is no longer very wet.
Previously, with F1's departed official supplier Bridgestone, drivers could try to make their wet tires work on a drying track and thereby avoid making an extra pitstop before changing to slicks.
"I don't believe they will be able to do rain (tires)-to-slick, because the rain tire is very much a rain tire and doesn't operate well on drying tracks and will blister very quickly," he is quoted by AP.
Malaysian GP Practice 2: Webber still on top, but barely
Mark Webber remained fastest in the second practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix but not by the landslide we saw in Practice 1. In fact the McLaren's looked every bit as fast. The Red Bulls finished 1st and 4th with the two McLaren's 2nd and 3rd.
The top four drivers were covered by less than 0.250s, as Webber's 1m36.876s - on Pirelli's Option - proved to be the quickest lap of the day.
Michael Schumacher was fifth fastest for Mercedes ahead of Felipe Massa's Ferrari.
Vautier on pole for Star Mazda In this afternoon's Star Mazda Championship qualifying session for Round 2 of the 2011 season at the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, it was French racer Tristan Vautier who proved once again he is the master at 'shaving the barber' with a pole-winning lap of 1:21.166 (102.013 mph) in his #5 JDC Motorsports / Cecibon / Circuit du Laquais Mazda. Starting alongside Vautier on the front row will be Brazilian driver J.V. Horto, who was just 2/10ths slower in his #18 Juncos Racing / Programa Leilões Mazda with a lap of 1:21.366 (101.762 mph). Vautier dominated Star Mazda pre-season testing at Barber with the quick time in five of six sessions over three days.
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