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DATE News (chronologically)
04/15/10
track news

More improvements underway at The Glen
The sound of engines roaring can be heard throughout Watkins Glen International these days but instead of stock cars, sports cars, or open-wheel cars making the noise, the sources are dump trucks, cement trucks, and bulldozers.  Several projects are currently underway at multiple locations making The Soul of American Road Racing a very, very busy place.  The new construction includes two new RV dumping stations, expanding the walkway leading from Gate 2 to the East Tunnel, and changes to several turns that were previously announced in January 2010.

The decision to add the RV dumping stations and expand the walkway came largely from fan feedback.  WGI has long asked its fans to share their thoughts and opinions which has helped guide some of the improvements made throughout the legendary road course over the last several seasons.  This year fans will find one of the new RV dumping stations next to the bathrooms just outside the West Tunnel as they head towards Gate 6 and the other in the middle of Gate 7 camping.  The new stations are being built by Beaver Dams, NY-based R.L. Callahan Inc. and have already been attached to the sewer system with concrete foundations for each currently being poured.  Once the stations are finished they, along with the one located outside the East Tunnel that was completed in 2005, will provide fans with three options for clearing their RV storage tanks before the leave the facility following an event weekend. 

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04/15/10
tv news

Bill France Sr. special Friday night
As part of its programming support leading up to live and exclusive coverage of the inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on May 23 at noon ET, SPEED will air a series of specials honoring the first class if inductees. NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., will be featured in the first of the specials, set to premiere tomorrow night at 9:30 p.m. ET. Next week, SPEED will give fans a first look inside the NASCAR Hall of Fame with a one-hour special set to air April 21 at 9 p.m. ET. Below is a schedule for upcoming programs leading up to the historic doubleheader weekend that will highlight the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and NHOF opening/induction: 

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04/15/10
f1

Two Canadian GP fans can win race pit access
Octane Racing Group, promoter of the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix, is pleased to announce the launch of an exceptional and brand new promotional contest that will enable its two final contestants to live the "Ultimate F1 Experience". Two grandstand ticket holders to Round Seven of the Formula 1 World Championship, held Sunday June 13, will be able to watch the F1 race from the pit wall in one of the 12 Formula 1 teams control booths. The lucky two winners will be picked from 10 grandstand ticket holders who will beforehand have each won upgrades for two in the Paddock Club; a suite located atop the Formula 1 team garages. All grandstand ticket holders, who will have bought their grandstand tickets at the latest on May 16, will become eligible for the promotional contest awarded in collaboration with the Formula 1 authorities.

"For several months now, we have been working on ideas on how to offer our clientele a special gift for the 2010 Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix. As this is the 60th anniversary of the World Championship, the Formula 1 management had a real surprise for the promoters by offering to each access to the Paddock Club, and above all, a possibility for two spectators to be in the heat of the action during Sunday's race. There was no way we were not going to seize such an exceptional opportunity for a lucky group picked from our numerous and loyal fans," said François Dumontier, President of Octane Racing Group and Promoter of the event.

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04/15/10
f1

No Friday driving plans for Virgin's Soucek
(GMM)  Andy Soucek on Thursday admitted he is not likely to drive a Virgin during Friday practice sessions at grands prix any time soon. The 24-year-old Austrian-Spaniard and reigning F2 champion is the new British team's reserve driver in 2010.

He has been at all the grands prix so far this year, but admitted to Kleine Zeitung newspaper that it is "hard to be motivated" when he is not actually driving.

Soucek is however contracted to do some testing in the Cosworth powered car this year, even if there are currently no plans for him to join fellow testers Fairuz Fauzy (Lotus) and Paul di Resta (Force India) in getting Friday mileage.

He said: "Virgin currently have other problems than to be thinking about the third driver."

Comment
04/15/10
f1

Chinese GP: Thursday Press Conference
Drivers:
Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso)
Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
Michael Schumacher (Mercedes GP)
Adrian Sutil (Force India).

Q: Adrian, what was it like having your friend Lewis breathing down your neck in the last race for 20 laps or so?
Adrian Sutil:
It was not an easy race. At the beginning it all went right and we had a good pace, so I was quite comfortable with my position and then in the last 20 laps Lewis made a lot of pressure. He arrived really, really fast and he was on the soft tire. I just tried to do no mistakes and keep my line and concentrate to the end of the race. I knew it was going to be quite a long race and long laps for me with him pressing behind. But in the last couple of laps I had the feeling his tires were going off a little bit, so I could breathe a little bit more and I had a little gap, so it was still under control, but I know him and he fights until the end.

Q: I guess it does confirm that the team has taken quite a step forward this year?
AS:
Yes, we are doing really well I think. I am very happy that we improved so much over the winter. I had a good feeling over the winter. We did everything very efficiently and the work is still going on. That is not only the first three races where we were doing great. Of course we have our goals this season and we want to do even better. It is all set up well and we can improve this position in the next races.

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04/15/10
f1

Lola says no to F1
Lola announces today that it will not pursue an entry application for Formula One in 2011. Lola will continue to remain a technology supplier to Formula One via its Technical Centre and manufacturing facilities in Huntingdon. Several other key industries, including Aerospace, Motorsport, Automotive and Defense, will continue to be serviced by Lola’s commercially available technical capabilities.

Lola are also set for their largest entry at Le Mans for thirty years in June when at least nine Lola designed and built LMP cars race in the 24 Hours. The first race of the European sports car season last weekend saw Lola finish 2nd and 3rd overall at the Paul Ricard 8 Hours event.

Executive Chairman and owner, Martin Birrane said: “A 2010 entry under the cost capped and performance balanced criteria was perfect for Lola. We already have F1 standard facilities at our headquarters in Huntingdon. Sadly our well-developed 2010 F1 project, which included a significant wind tunnel program, had to be frozen in June 2009. The recently announced applications for 2011 has left us with insufficient time to prepare for what would be a quite different program.”

Lola Managing Director, Robin Brundle, added: “Lola looks forward to strengthening its working partnerships with existing F1 Teams and the rich variety of customers throughout the Lola portfolio”.

Comment
04/15/10
f1

Vettel hopes Red Bull to use 'F-duct' soon
(GMM)  Almost half of the field is expected to be running an 'F-duct' in Friday practice in China, but current pacesetters Red Bull will not be among them.

Alongside innovators McLaren, it emerged on Thursday that Sauber, Williams, Mercedes and Ferrari will be using similar driver-activated air inlet systems, to stall the downforce onto the rear wing, in Shanghai.

With its Mercedes engine already more powerful than the Renault, the device is giving McLaren a substantial straight line advantage over Red Bull.

Designer Adrian Newey has admitted to working on an F-duct for the RB6, and German Vettel said on Thursday that he hopes it is ready soon.

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04/15/10
f1

Drivers to discuss Hamilton 'weaving' in China
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton will find himself a major topic of the pre-event drivers' briefing in Shanghai.

After the Malaysian grand prix two weeks ago, Renault boss Eric Boullier was critical of FIA stewards' decision to merely warn the British driver for an incident during the Sepang race.

The 2008 world champion weaved several times on a straight while the Russian rookie Vitaly Petrov was following him closely and trying to pass.

Speaking with the media in China on Thursday, F1 statesman Rubens Barrichello said he would have given the 25-year-old Briton a "bollocking" if Hamilton had tried the same moves during a wheel-to-wheel battle with him.

"It wasn't right," said the Brazilian, acknowledging that the McLaren driver is likely to argue that the moves were not made under braking.

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04/15/10
f1

Webber writes off Mercedes team
Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull have each claimed a victory this season while Mercedes GP's best result was a third-placed finish for Nico Rosberg at the Malaysian GP. Added to that, Merc have just one driver firing at the moment as Michael Schumacher struggles to get up to speed whereas Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull each have two drivers bringing in solid points.

The result is that Ferrari are leading the Drivers' and Constructors' Championship with McLaren and Red Bull hot on their heels. Merc are 32 points off the pace in the battle for the teams' title.

"Mercedes are doing completely okay but it's Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull who are the most consistent at the moment," Webber told Bild.

He added: "The fight is clearly between these three teams."

Comment
04/15/10
automotive

Ford becomes top-selling brand in Europe
Ford said today that sales of new cars and trucks in its 19 primary European countries increased 16.1% in March as it sold 192,500 vehicles, making it the best selling brand for the month.
The company’s sales increase also outpaced industry sales, which increased 11.5% in March compared with the same month last year.

Ford also said its market share increased to 10.4%, up 0.4 percentage points from last March, and marked the company’s highest share of industry sales since August 1998. Ford's sales gains were led by the Ford Fiesta subcompact car, which accounted for 35% of its total sales volume. Ford sold 68,000 Fiesta’s in March.

The Fiesta has been among the company’s bestselling vehicles since a redesigned version was introduced in the fall of 2008 and was the second-best selling car in Europe in 2009, behind the Volkswagen Golf. For Most of 2009, Ford was Europe's second-best selling brand behind Volkswagen.

Comment
04/15/10
f1

F1 to enjoy extended break after China
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso on Thursday tipped the F1 world to enjoy its rare extended break in the wake of Sunday's Chinese grand prix.

The first four rounds of this year's world championship have all taken place outside of Europe and within an intensive six-week period.

But after Shanghai, the F1 circus will enjoy two free weekends before re-congregating for the start of the European season in Spain.

"The drivers and the teams can charge their batteries before the European races start," said Ferrari's Alonso.  "We'll all benefit from that, that's for sure."

Comment
04/15/10
f1

Prodrive says no to F1 bid for 2011
(GMM)  Prodrive has not launched a new bid to enter formula one.

Thursday was the deadline for potential teams to register interest with the FIA for the 2011 selection process.

But despite Prodrive wanting to secure a grid spot in previous years, David Richards' company issued a statement saying it will instead concentrate on the world rally championship and sportscar racing.

He said the decision is basically due to finances.

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04/15/10
alms

Corvette Racing ready to rebound at LB
After beginning the 2010 American Le Mans Series with the longest event on the schedule, Corvette Racing will take on the shortest event on the ALMS calendar this weekend in the series' second round on the streets of Long Beach. After an uncharacteristic pit lane miscue and a series of mechanical glitches in the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Corvette Racing is determined to rebound in the 100-minute sprint race on Saturday, April 17.

Track time will be at a premium on the 1.986-mile, 11-turn temporary circuit. Friday begins with two hours of practice on a green track and ends with a short 30-minute practice session and qualifying. The ALMS drivers won't see the circuit again until they begin their reconnaissance laps before the 4:40 p.m. race start on Saturday.

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04/15/10
f1

Singapore GP early bird special
With only two weeks left for fans to benefit from early-bird savings for the 2010 FORMULA 1 SINGTEL SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX, Singapore GP is offering yet another reason to buy tickets before May 1st. Singapore GP has specially reserved for 25 lucky ticketholders the chance to win a pair of tickets to see their favorite FORMULA ONE drivers up-close at an exclusive Driver Autograph Session.

Fans who purchase or have already purchased their tickets during the early bird phase (1 March to 30 April) enjoy up to 17% savings on ticket prices sold in the regular phase, which starts on 1 May 2010.

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04/15/10
f1

Latest F1 news in brief
  • Drivers rug up at cold Shanghai
  • Montezemolo not willing to discuss Massa's contract
  • Kubica happy at Renault but wants title-winning car
  • Coulthard to be Red Bull reserve in China
  • Warwick, Mansell, Fittipaldi, Hill to be next F1 stewards
  • Grosjean eyes return to F1 in 2011
  • Willi Weber back in court
  • Tilke denies doubting Korea construction - Ecclestone

Drivers rug up at cold Shanghai
(GMM)  There was no sign of Wednesday's hail, but Shanghai remained grim and cold as F1 drivers and their engineers walked the 5.9km layout on Thursday.

After the oppressive heat and humidity of Malaysia, the sight of drivers rugged up in jumpers and coats, with collars pulled high and hands in pockets, resembled more a winter test than the forthcoming Chinese grand prix.

"It certainly doesn't feel like spring," said Fernando Alonso, while a Swiss reporter said the Chinese city was "like Zurich".

It seems the cold weather is not characteristic of China in mid-April, with Wednesday's 8 degrees apparently beaten only by a freezing Shanghai day back in 1873.

"The weather should be better for the race weekend but we'll need to be ready for anything," said Ferrari's Alonso.

The conditions are indeed expected to be better on Friday and Saturday, but there is a high chance of race-day rain.

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04/14/10
irl

One IndyCar design team to be at Long Beach
BAT Engineering’s Alan Mertens and Bruce Ashmore will return to Long Beach this weekend for the 36th running of the Toyota Grand Prix as the two continue conversations with drivers, teams, and owners about what the future of the IZOD IndyCar Series will look like. BAT Engineering has made a proposal to the Indy Racing League for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar design.

The BAT Engineering design, which has been formally accepted by the ICONIC board, brings safety, efficiency, and a focus on developing a new high-technology industry in the Indianapolis area to the forefront of the process.

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04/14/10
irl

IndyCar series takes over Hollywood Blvd.
Phillips Van Heusen and the IZOD IndyCar Series are taking the cars and the stars of the series to the hottest spot in LA.  For the entire day of Thursday April 14th they are closing down Hollywood Boulevard right in front of the famous Kodak Theater and next to Jimmy Kimmel’s studio.  Celebrity guests include Adrian Grenier, Jimmy Kimmel, Penny Marshall and Jason Statham among others.  Hideki Mutoh and the crew of the No. 06 Formula Dream/Panasonic team will compete in the pit stop contest that will take place from 6:00 – 7:45 p.m. PDT and Camp Freddy, an all-star band comprised of members who previously achieved fame with well-known groups, will be in concert at 7:45.

Nearly the entire field of IZOD IndyCar drivers will be on hand to hang out and sign autographs for fans. They are the guests of honor along with celebs like Adrian Grenier, Mark Wahlberg, Jason Statham and more. The night caps off with special performance by Camp Freddy, a creation of Dave Navarro and one of the hottest all-star rock bands in the country.

Can’t get to LA for this free event?? WATCH IT LIVE ONLINE! Visit www.racetotheparty.com for a USTREAM and more info on a cool new sweepstakes.

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04/14/10
irl

Safefreight Technology Named Official Mobile Security Provider To IRL
Safefreight Technology will serve as the official mobile security supplier of the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body of the IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights.

The Indy Racing League will utilize Safefreight's Smartfleet system on all league transporters and trailers protecting these critical race assets during the season. Safefreight's technology will offer the Indy Racing League far more than just security monitoring. Built into the system provided by the company is GPS vehicle tracking, trailer monitoring, vehicle diagnostics monitoring and other functionality that will enable the Indy Racing League to more efficiently utilize their fleet of vehicles with an objective of reducing carbon emissions. The gains in efficiency directly tie back to the league's focus on becoming more environmentally friendly.

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04/14/10
racing news

Vasser aims for win in Toyota Pro Celebrity race
Jimmy Vasser
Between IZOD IndyCar Series practice and qualifications April 17 for the 36th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, KV Racing Technology crew members will attempt to catch of few minutes of Jimmy Vasser on the 1.9-mile temporary street circuit.

The team co-owner will compete in the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. He's among the pros (the pro actually) entered.

"It's great fun to be out there racing, throwing cars around on the track," said Vasser, who won at Long Beach in his Atlantic series debut in 1991. "I'm just really excited. Next to Indianapolis, Long Beach to my heart is the No. 1 race of the year. I've had so many great races there. I figured I had my last race at Long Beach in 2008 and now low and behold I'm back again a celebrity race. I can't get Long Beach out of my blood."

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04/14/10
track news

Speedway Hall of Fame Museum wins dispute with driver
A former race car driver has lost his lawsuit to force the return of a car displayed at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.

The car is a Porsche 935 K3 in which Reginald "Don" Whittington, his brother and Klaus Ludwig won the 1979 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Whittington claimed he only loaned the car to the museum when he handed it over in the early 1980s. The foundation that runs the museum argued it was donated.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago decided in favor of the museum Tuesday, ruling that Whittington didn't have sufficient documentation.

The court says the lesson is that "an unwritten contract isn't worth the paper it isn't written on." Indy Star

Comment
04/14/10
f1

Alonso says Ferrari should do well in Shanghai
"I'm confident about the work we're doing." His retirement in the Malaysian GP does not worry Fernando Alonso - he's ready to play a leading role with Ferrari in the Chinese GP on Sunday. "I was at the track for a few hours and I spoke at length with my engineers. We reviewed the situation and analyzed in detail both the data from Malaysia and the F10's development program. We have made a few changes to the aerodynamics for this race which should be a step forward in terms of performance," said Alonso on his blog on Ferrari's official website. "I expect our main rivals will also have made some improvements, so right now it's impossible to say where we stand compared with the others: we will only find that out on Saturday afternoon in qualifying. We have shown that we are competitive on all the types of circuits we've raced on so far, both in the races and in the February testing, and there's no reason why that shouldn't be the case in China as well. The Shanghai circuit is very interesting. There are all kinds of corners and a long straight that ends in a very tight right-hand corner: under heavy braking like that there have always been plenty of passing maneuvers."

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04/14/10
alms
irl

Thunder will roll on Thursday in Long Beach UPDATE Pit stop contests featuring IZOD IndyCar
Series stars Danica Patrick and Ryan Hunter-Reay will highlight Tecate’s “Thursday Thunder”on Pine Avenue in downtown Long Beach, kicking off the official celebrations for the 36th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend.

04/13/10
ALMS Thursday Thunder
No need for an umbrella.

The thunder scheduled for Thursday night is simply signaling the start of the race weekend … and the return of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n to the streets of Long Beach.

During the annual Thunder on Pine event – set to begin on Pine Avenue in downtown Long Beach at 6:30 p.m. – two of the Series’ best-known names will be in action. From the GT class, the crew of Corvette Racing’s No. 4 Corvette C6.R will be in action for the masses lining the sidewalk, complete with tire changes and driver switches – Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin will have the honors.

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04/14/10
nassprint

Kahne to swtich to Hendrick for 2012
Kasey Kahne
Beginning with the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, Kasey Kahne will drive the No. 5 Chevrolets of Hendrick Motorsports after signing a long-term contract with the organization.

Mark Martin, 51, the current driver of Hendrick Motorsports' No. 5 team, will complete the 2010 and 2011 seasons. When Kahne takes over in 2012, he will join teammates Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Hendrick's four-car stable.

"In Kasey, we saw an opportunity to cement a big piece of our future," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "He possesses incredible talent and a tremendous dedication to his craft, and we know he'll be a great fit within our company.

"Kasey has earned the respect of his future teammates by the way he's handled himself on and off the racetrack, and we know he'll be a contributor to the success of Hendrick Motorsports for many years to come. To have someone of his caliber join our team is an unbelievable opportunity for us."

Kahne, who turned 30 on April 10, is an 11-time Sprint Cup race winner. Now in the midst of his seventh full-time season at NASCAR's elite level, the Enumclaw, Wash., native also has earned 16 pole positions, 43 top-five finishes and 79 top-10s on the tour.

"I have a comfort level with Mr. Hendrick, my future teammates and the culture of the organization," said Kahne, whose contract with Hendrick Motorsports will run through the 2015 Sprint Cup season. "For me, it's the right fit on every level, and I think it gives me a great chance to win races and compete for championships.

"Determining the next step in my career has been an important process, and I'm excited and relieved to have the decision made and announced. Now it's my responsibility to put all of my energy into winning races and having a successful 2010 with my current team and our sponsors."

Although 2012 and beyond has been solidified, Kahne is not scheduled to drive a Hendrick Motorsports entry in 2011 due to NASCAR's four-car limit. While who he will race for has not yet been determined, Kahne intends to drive a full Sprint Cup Series schedule next season.

"If this opportunity was going to happen, I knew having some unanswered questions would be part of the scenario at this stage," Kahne acknowledged. "Hendrick Motorsports has a commitment to Mark Martin that they want to fulfill, and that's important. It's part of what attracts me to the team."

Comment
04/14/10
gp3

Christiansen tops final GP3 test session
The checkered flag has dropped on the final pre-season test at Barcelona, and in a last minute push MW Arden has snatched the top spot from ART Grand Prix.

So far the test at Circuit de Catalunya has been dominated by ART’s Esteban Gutierrez, but the final session threw up a few changes at the top. Danish driver Michael Christensen posted the quickest time of the afternoon 1:37.716 for MW Arden, just five hundredths of a second ahead of second place man Gutierrez. Continuing his strong running this week was Renger van der Zande in third spot for RSC Mucke Motorsport with a time of 1:37.913, and snapping at his heels, just one tenths behind, was Carlin driver Dean Smith. Fifth was the second MW Arden car of Miki Monras just 0.008 of a second behind Smith with a time of 1:37.926.

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04/14/10
irl

New memoir by Penske Racing's Don Miller
A lot of books claim they'll tell you what it's really like to be a huge success in auto racing, a valued decision maker, somebody who really makes things happen instead of talking about it. This book is different. Don Miller went from racing on the streets, literally, to being a guy who stood shoulder to shoulder with Roger Penske for over 30 years, building the Penske racing empire. 

Until now, Miller has never told the story of his astounding life in motorsports. Coastal 181 is proud to publish Miller's memoir, his detailed, unflinchingly honest accounting of the skill and dedication needed to stay out front in one of the world's most competitive sports. Miller is a guy who has done pretty much everything one person can accomplish in the business of racing and the world of really fast cars. A Chicago hot rodder, he developed into a professional drag racer, racing official, hard parts distributor, mechanic and fabricator, and the top salesman of performance engines in America.

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04/14/10
irl

Lola IndyCar Chassis image updates
The Lola B12-00 IndyCar
The Lola B12-01 IndyLights Car
Today, Lola released their latest updated images for their common-tubbed IndyCar and IndyLights chassis for consideration by the newly announced chassis selection committee. The most original aspect of this design is the common tub and parts with the IndyLights series.

However, it seems to us that you could do this with any chassis.

The Lola looks like a Lola. Much like each iteration of the Corvette, though different from the one before, still somehow looks like a Corvette, the Lola has a certain style to its shape. We would like to see some more photo-realistic renderings of the car to get a better idea of it's form.

The chassis debate seems to be a two-tiered discussion. The first thing to decide is to "Delta" or not. Then, it would be between the other chassis companies for selection of a more conventional design with individual enhancements to increase the competitiveness of the series, and enhance mid-corner aero issues. many of these designs seem to have some interesting answers. For sure, the committee is not faced with an easy task, and the future of IndyCar could hinge on their ultimate selection.

Comment
04/14/10
f1

Shell Ferrari contract officially signed
This morning a 5-year renewal of the partnership between Shell and Ferrari has been signed. The news had been anticipated some days before on the occasion of the 450th Formula 1 GP, held in Malaysia, where the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro single-seaters used Shell lubricants and petrol.

Today Ferrari Chairman Luca di Montezemolo and Mark Williams, Shell Executive Vice President, officially signed the contract to renew the historical and technological relationship between the two companies, as both men underlined.

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04/14/10
nassprint

Newman to visit with high school students
Ryan Newman
Ryan Newman, winner of last week's Sprint Cup race in Phoenix, will spend part of Friday morning at the Texas Motor Speedway hospitality area interacting with approximately 500 high-school students from the Dallas/Forth Worth area. 

Newman, who will drive the No. 39 Army ROTC Chevrolet (Reserve Officers' Training Corps) in Sunday's Samsung Mobile 500 Sprint Cup race, will initially coach a high school team in a relay format competition comprised of three challenges -- mission, mental and physical.

Following the Army School Challenge, Newman -- a Purdue University engineering graduate -- will join other panel members at “Strength For The Future,” a unique education program for high school students presented by the U.S. Army. 

The Army School Challenge competition and the "Strength For The Future" education program will take place from 9:40 - 10:30 a.m.

Comment
04/14/10
f1

Schu still 'serious competitor' for 2010 title - Alonso
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso on Wednesday said he expects Michael Schumacher to be back up to full speed before long.

With the seven time world champion outpaced so far by his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg and 26 points behind the 24-year-old, some have written off Schumacher's ability to impress on his return to the sport.

But Alonso, who now drives for Ferrari, having beaten the 41-year-old to the last two championships of his original career in 2005 and 2006, is sure the German is still as competitive as before.

"He is still the Michael Schumacher that we know," the Spaniard told Germany's Sport Bild magazine, published on Wednesday.

"I respect him in the same way I did three years ago and am sure that he will show his true qualities when the car is better," Alonso, 28, added.

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04/14/10
irl

Indy's new qualifying explained
An exciting new qualifying format  for the Indianapolis 500, featuring a 90-minute "shootout" in which the nine fastest cars make a dramatic, late-day run for the pole, will debut Saturday, May 22 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

A substantial increase in prize money also will be offered to the pole winner, with money also awarded to the other two front-row qualifiers. IZOD IndyCar Series points also will be awarded after qualifying to all 33 drivers who earn a spot in the starting field.

"This new format for Indianapolis 500 qualifying will deliver even more action and intensity for fans," said Jeff Belskus, president and chief executive officer of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation. "Drivers will go all out during the first session on Pole Day to get a chance to make a run for the pole. Then they'll need to dig even deeper to find the speed for the pole in the last 90 minutes. Plus there still will be plenty of spots up for grabs on Bump Day, with all of the dramatic, last-minute bumping that generations of fans have loved about Indy.

"This is going to be a fantastic weekend of qualifying. I can't wait to see it unfold."

The top 24 spots in the 33-car field will be available through traditional four-lap attempts from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (ET) on Pole Day. Each car will have up to three attempts during that time.

The times of the top nine drivers from the first segment of qualifying will be erased at 4 p.m., with all of those competitors guaranteed to start no worse than ninth in "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" on Sunday, May 30.

"The Fast Nine" then will be required to make at least one four-lap qualifying attempt between 4:30-6 p.m., with one additional, optional attempt if time permits. Each driver's best run during the 90-minute session will set their position within the top nine spots on the starting grid.

If inclement weather prevents the 90-minute shootout for the "Fast Nine," their times from the opening session will determine starting positions.

The winner of the PEAK Performance Pole Award presented by AutoZone will earn $175,000, an increase of $75,000 from 2009. The second-fastest qualifier will earn $75,000, with the final front-row starter earning $50,000.

In a departure from the other 16 IZOD IndyCar Series races, in which the PEAK Performance Pole Award winner earns one bonus point, all 33 starting drivers will receive championship points. The pole winner will receive 15 points, with the other front-row starters earning 13 and 12 points, respectively. Drivers in Rows 2 and 3 will receive, in descending order, between 11 and six points. Positions 10-24 receive four bonus points, and 25-33 earn three points.

"The rewards of the qualifying format help to make the Indianapolis 500 the most important race on the IZOD IndyCar Series schedule," said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and racing operations for the sanctioning Indy Racing League. "Teams and drivers in the shootout will have to make a decision after their initial run in the 'Fast Nine' segment whether they want to attempt to move up on the grid with a final attempt. Not only would they potentially have a higher starting position, but they would accumulate more bonus points that could come into play later in the season in the driver championship."

On Bump Day, Sunday, May 23, the final nine spots in the field will be earned through traditional four-lap qualifying from noon-6 p.m. Bumping will begin once 33 cars have qualified.

Comment
04/14/10
f1

Mercedes not out of the running yet - Brawn
Ross Brawn
(GMM)  Ross Brawn on Wednesday contradicted reports that Mercedes may already be out of the hunt for the 2010 world championship.

In the Australian press this week, Mark Webber said it is now just Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren who will fight one another for the title.

The 33-year-old said that going into this weekend in Shanghai, "clearly it's (down to) three teams already".

"Mercedes are doing ok but it's Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull who are the most consistent at the moment in terms of pace," added Webber.

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04/14/10
f1

McLaren’s F-duct could be crucial advantage in China
Felipe Massa has suggested that the McLaren F-duct system, which ’stall’s the rear wing and creates a straight line speed advantage, may well be a crucial factor in this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.

The Shanghai track features the longest straight on the calendar, between turns 13 and 14, as well as a long pit straight which Massa believes could benefit his rivals Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.

“It’s a nice circuit to drive and the extremely long straight leading into a tight corner means there is a real possibility to overtake. However, we will need to be careful on that straight this year, because we have seen that the McLaren in particular has a very high top speed, so in case of a close battle with them we will have to be careful and ready to defend position,” said the Brazilian.

Lewis Hamilton said that he was looking forward to being able to overtake at the Shanghai track.

“Overtaking is possible at this circuit, particularly at the end of the long back straight, so I’m pretty confident we’ll have another competitive weekend,” he said. Formula1.net

Comment
04/14/10
IRL

Long Beach paper pans IndyCar
Ed Note: This seems like a pretty critical article about IndyCar in the Long Beach paper. All are very good points and facts however.

If you were to convert the power rankings or standings for IndyCar Racing into something more familiar, like Major League Baseball, they might look like this:

1. New York Yankees, 2. Boston Red Sox, 3. Kansas City Royals, 4. Kansas City Royals, 5. Kansas City Royals, 6. Kansas City Royals, 7. Kansas City Royals, 8. Kansas City Royals, 9. Kansas City Royals, 10. Kansas City Royals, 11. Kansas City Royals, 12. Kansas City Royals.

No disrespect meant for K.C. It's a great town for BBQ and the Blues; baseball, not so much.

The only balance of power you'll find at Sunday's Long Beach Grand Prix is when Will Power is seated comfortably in his car.

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04/14/10
f1

Ecclestone, Todt, want Bridgestone to stay in F1 UPDATE (GMM)  An official of the Japanese tire supplier on Tuesday said he would like to see Bridgestone stay in formula one.

Hiroshi Yamada is the development boss for Bridgestone's MotoGP program.

He told Motosprint that while the marque is pulling out of F1, Bridgestone will probably stay in MotoGP beyond the end of its current contract at the end of 2011.

"Obviously we'd have more money to spend (on MotoGP), because the F1 budget is very high, but in my opinion we should stay in F1 too, because our image would lose a lot otherwise," said Yamada.

Michelin is touted to re-enter F1 in Bridgestone's wake next year, but the French marque wants at least one other supplier to compete with, as well as a move from 13-inch to 18-inch wheel rims in 2011.

McLaren's engineering director Paddy Lowe confirmed this week that the teams would back Michelin's push for low-profile wheels.

"Yes.  I think all the teams have agreed that if Michelin would supply that as a condition then we would support that," he said.



03/12/10 (GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has vowed to try to convince Bridgestone to remain in formula one beyond 2010.

The Japanese marque has already decided to cease being the official tire supplier.

"We could certainly find a replacement," F1 chief executive Ecclestone told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, "but I hope that they will rethink their decision.

"We are working on it," the Briton added.

FIA president Jean Todt admitted in an interview with the New York Times that Bridgestone's decision to join the carmaker exodus was "a shock".

But the Frenchman said Bridgestone decided to quit because F1 is not seen to regard "sustainability, environment and climate change" as important.

"So, will they change their mind in light of what we are trying to implement?  I don't know," added Todt.

Comment
04/14/10
f1

Teams would support move to low profile tires
F1 tires have very high sidewalls.  They always have.  A move to low profile tires would be break from tradition.  GP2 has the same high sidewalls to prepare a driver for the 'feel' as the high sidewalls flex much more than a low profile tire, but they give the driver better feedback
French tire manufacturer, Michelin, have indicated that they would seriously consider a return to the Formula One series so long as they were just one of the tire suppliers involved and not the only one. One other suggestion they have put forward is a switch to low profile tires, increasing from a 15inch wheel to an 18 inch.

So just how much extra work, and expenses, would it take for the teams to accommodate Michelin’s request to switch to the new dimensions in 2011? McLaren’s Paddy Lowe explained to Autosport that the switch is not as simple as it may initially seem....

“Michelin are talking to the FIA, FOTA and FOM about a return to F1 for 2011-2013 and 18 inch wheels would be a requirement on their part. Principally they feel that those size wheels would be more contemporary in terms of appearance and technology. For us, it depends how we manage it as to how big a problem it could become,” he explained.

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04/14/10
automotive

Ford gains U.S. market share as fast as in '77
The last time Ford was gaining U.S. market share as fast as it is now, Mark Fields, the company's president of the Americas, was learning to drive.

Fields, 49, said Tuesday that the company's market share rose 2.7 percentage points from January through March, Ford's sharpest increase in a three-month period since the fourth quarter of 1977.

Back then, the Ford Grenada was popular and the company had just launched a redesigned Ford Thunderbird. For the family, Ford offered the Ford LTD II and the wood-paneled Ford Country Squire.

Now, the Ford Fusion midsize sedan and the company's F-Series pickups are top sellers.

Read more & Comment...
04/14/10
Track News

Video: Patrick Dempsey on racing at Long Beach


Comment
04/14/10
nassprint

Petty Motorsports in default of $90 million loan UPDATE #2 Richard Petty Motorsports, the NASCAR team owned by George Gillett, has been in default on a roughly $90 million loan since at least February but expects to soon restructure the obligation, sources said last week. The default on the debt underscores the harm NASCAR suffered from the economic collapse of late 2008 and, in particular, the impact of contraction among Detroit's Big Three automakers on race teams. Gillett, who last year sold the Montreal Canadiens and still owns half of Liverpool FC, lost Chrysler's backing of his race team when that company filed for bankruptcy protection. Ford is now supporting the four-car team. Gillett declined to comment on specifics of the restructuring because of the ongoing creditor talks, but he emphasized the default is technical in nature, meaning that he did not miss a payment but, rather, failed to meet terms of at least one covenant. Loans commonly have covenants that might, for example, require the borrower to sustain a certain level of cash flow. Prior to the economic troubles of late 2008, lenders were relatively lenient with these kinds of defaults, but they since have become more stringent and less forgiving. One finance source, who requested anonymity because of knowledge of the deal, denied Gillett's characterization, insisting the default was payment-related. Sports Business Journal / Fox News

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04/14/10
racing news

SFI and Impact Racing settle case
Impact Racing, LLC and SFI Foundation, Inc., in the litigation pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, have agreed that:

1. Impact Racing, LLC has provided sworn testimony that, upon review and investigation, no counterfeit SFI Conformance Labels have been used on Impact Racing products during the production years of 2009 and 2010.

2. Impact Racing, LLC has provided sworn testimony that, upon review and investigation, all Impact Racing products manufactured and sold during the production years 2009 and 2010 meet SFI specifications.

3. Based upon this sworn testimony, the decertification against Impact Racing products for the production years 2009 and 2010 is lifted. The decertification of the production years prior to 2009 and 2010 remains in effect. The parties will continue to work cooperatively in an effort to resolve the issues relating to decertification in these years.

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04/14/10
f1

F1 people dodging Twitter ban in China
(GMM)  F1's new obsession with Twitter might have to take a backseat role in China this weekend.

Particularly over the pre-season period, many F1 figures - including drivers, bosses, team PR departments, media members and insiders - tapped into the power and popularity of the growing microblogging phenomenon.

But the Chinese government has banned and blocked many forms of social media on the internet, extending to Twitter in late 2009.

However, it seems there are ways to dodge China's Twitter ban.  Having expressing dismay at the ban, HRT driver Karun Chandhok was greeted at Shanghai airport this week by three "very sweet fans" who told him the tricks.

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04/14/10
f1

Senna to race fresh Cosworth engine in China
(GMM)  Bruno Senna will have a fresh Cosworth engine fitted to his HRT car for qualifying and the race in China this weekend.

Brazil's Globo reports that the change will be made as a precaution, after the 26-year-old rookie finished the recent Malaysian grand prix with very little fuel left in the tank.

"That is not good for the engine," said the Brazilian, "so we will use it (the Sepang engine) only in free practice in Friday."

Another new feature of his F110 single seater in Shanghai is a new fuel tank with different compartments, after the development was run only on Karun Chandhok's sister car two weeks ago.

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04/14/10
f1

Rain and hail in Shanghai on Wednesday
(GMM)  It is raining heavily and even hailing on Wednesday as the F1 paddock begins to fill ahead of the Chinese grand prix weekend.

With official proceedings set to kick off at the Shanghai circuit on Thursday, more rain and cold conditions are expected.

The good news is that sunnier, drier and warmer weather is forecast for the first two days of track action on Friday and Saturday.

But the forecast is for a more inclement Sunday, even though the highest chance of race-day rain is for the morning.

Comment
04/14/10
f1

McLaren initiated Mercedes split - Dennis
(GMM)  McLaren initiated its split with former works partner and major shareholder Mercedes, according to Ron Dennis.

The 62-year-old chairman of the Woking based company now heads McLaren's own production road car division, and Mercedes' Norbert Haug said recently that the project "was not our way and we found an amicable solution".

Dennis said the reason for the split was McLaren's wish to be independent, after years of pressure from Mercedes to relinquish control.

"We initiated it (the split), we wanted to be independent," he said in an interview with Arabian Business.  "This wasn't something which we weren't party to."

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04/13/10
f1

Stewart says not to underestimate Schumacher
Jackie Stewart says 40-year old Schumacher may be up against most talented F1 field ever
Sir Jackie Stewart is not in a rush to write off Michael Schumacher - but believes a world title may be out of the German's reach this season.

After three years out of F1, Schumacher returned this season with Mercedes GP but, after three races, is still not up to speed.

The seven-time world champ has failed to shine, scoring just nine points with his best finish being sixth at the season-opening Bahrain GP.

Stewart, though, insists it's still too early to judge Schumacher, who he believes has lost none of the talent that carried him to an unprecedented seven World titles.

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04/13/10
automotive

Tata ignores flaming Nanos at its peril
Two years ago at the Detroit auto show, the most talked about car wasn’t even there. The Tata Nano sent shockwaves through the auto world, kind of like a bedbug would in a Trump Hotel.

The pocket-sized car from India raised eyebrows as well as concerns. A tiny, bare-bones vehicle, it promised to revolutionize emerging nations just discovering the car as a vehicle for the masses, rather than just for the wealthy. Its modest equipment — a two-cylinder engine, one windshield wiper, no sun visors, no air conditioning, no passenger-side rear-view mirror, no radio and no air bags — was matched by its modest price: around $2,500 (U.S.). North American critics instantly declared it would never meet safety standards and comfort requirements for the biggest road hogs in the world. They were missing the point; it was never intended to.

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04/13/10
nastruck

NASCAR catches another drug user
Ryan Sebek, a crewman for the Ryan Hackett Racing team in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, has been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR for violating the sanctioning body’s substance abuse policy, NASCAR announced in a statement Tuesday.

Sebek is the 16th crewman suspended since the implementation of random drug testing at the start of the 2009 season.

Comment
04/13/10
nnw

Earnhardt team replaces Kelly Bires with McMurray UPDATE Richard Petty Motorsports announced that driver Kasey Kahne has informed the team he will not renew his contract at the conclusion of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Kahne, driver the #9 Budweiser Ford Fusion, has been with RPM since entering NASCAR's premier series in 2004. "Kasey is a very talented driver and I have enjoyed watching him race. We all wish him nothing but the best and hope he succeeds in anything he chooses to do," said team owner Richard Petty. "Drivers like Kasey Kahne are the very reason we got into this sport. Kasey has helped us get to where we are today," George Gillett, owner of Richard Petty Motorsports said. "We wish him well in his future however we have the rest of this season to race together and we're looking forward to a successful remainder of the year." RPM

04/13/10 JR Motorsports has released driver Kelly Bires from his contract and will replace him with Jamie McMurray for at least nine of the remaining Nationwide Series races this year, the team announced Tuesday.

The 25-year-old Bires had a seventh-place finish at Auto Club Speedway in California in the second Nationwide race of the season but has not had a finish better than 12th since then. He did not lead a lap in the five events he competed in this year in JRM’s No. 88 car.

“We are extremely appreciative of Kelly Bires and wish him the best,” JRM co-owner Kelley Earnhardt said in a news release. “Internally, it was evident the chemistry that is imperative for us to succeed in this highly competitive industry was simply not there.

“That is the fault of no one person. We owe it to our fans and sponsors to make necessary adjustments in an effort to put our best product on the track, and we’ll continue evaluating our progress until we are confident that our full potential is being reached.”

Comment
04/13/10
irl

Video Highlights of Alabama GP IndyCar race


Comment
04/13/10
nassprint

Keselowski goes road course testing
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski completed a one-day test session on Tuesday at Infineon Raceway in preparation for the Toyota/Save Mart 350, June 18-20.

Keselowski (No. 12 Penske Dodge) completed 50 laps around the 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course in a late-model stock car provided by a Northern California-based raced team. It was Keselowski’s first time on the serpentine circuit.

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04/13/10
gp3

Esteban Gutierrez dominates GP3 testing in Barcelona Tuesday
Esteban Gutierrez
Mexican driver Esteban Gutierrez, backed by the talented French team ART Grand Prix, dominated both sessions of the first day of training at the circuit of Catalunya, having recorded a best lap time of 1:37.850 in the 11th lap of the 15 he did this morning. Gutierrez was almost seven tenths faster than Renger Van Der Zander for Mucke, who was second fastest.

In the afternoon session, interrupted by several red flags brought out by other drivers, Esteban stayed P1 for most of the session, and recorded the best lap time (on lap 42 of 43) of the day with 1:37.480, at an average speed of 171.9 kmh.

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04/13/10
alms

David Brabham, teaching kids to win
David Brabham
Racers Who Care spokesracer, David Brabham, will share with troubled kids his personal Quick Tips on Winning in Life, at Los Angeles' Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services Center, on April 15, 2010.  The young audience members will be psychologically and emotionally impaired children and teens.

One of the world’s leading sportscar racers, 2009 was a dream season for David in which he took outright victory in the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours and was crowned the American Le Mans Series LMP1 champion.  Considered a legend of the ALMS, as the only driver in Series history to capture pole positions and wins in the GT1, GT2, LMP1 and LMP2 categories, Brabham competes for Highcroft Racing in the newly combined ALMS LMP class in 2010.

He will be in Southern California to compete in round two of the ALMS at  Long Beach on April 16-17.  Born in England, raised in Australia, and a long-time resident of Henley-on-Thames, England, David is the youngest son of Sir Jack Brabham, Formula One World Champion in 1959, 1960 and 1966: the first driver to win an F1 title in a car of his own construction (’66) and to be knighted for services to British motorsport. David’s brothers, Geoff and Gary Brabham, are successful racers in their own right.

David’s double 2009 Le Mans and ALMS titles sealed an important year for the entire Brabham family, as Sir Jack celebrated the 50th anniversary of his first F1 World title in 1959.

Racer Quick Tips presentations center on key universal truths RWC calls Quick Tips on Winning in Life, applicable to all children and teens regardless of age, cultural background, or life  experience:  find something to do in life that you really love, study, learn the art of teamwork, find a mentor, take the long view, be flexible with your dreams and goals, avoid the path of least resistance, and more.

Comment
04/13/10
alms

Calling all fans: get on the grid at LBGP
Fans on ALMS Grid
Fancy yourself as a video producer? Then the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patr¢n has something just for you! Get on the pre-race grid Saturday and mingle with Series VIPs and guests just before the start of the Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach.

So how do you win? It’s simple. Head over to Thursday night’s “Thunder on Pine” event starting at 6:45 p.m. on Pine Avenue between Broadway and 4th Street. And be sure to take your camera…that’s the key! The fan who takes the best video and posts it on the Series’ Facebook Wall (http://facebook.com/ALMS.official) will - along with a friend - win a spot on Saturday’s pre-race grid along with a flag autographed by every Series driver at Long Beach. Event passes will be provided if needed, as well.

Comment
04/13/10
irl

IRL announces IndyCar selection committee
The Indy Racing League announced today appointments to its ICONIC (Innovative, Competitive, Open-Wheel, New, Industry-Relevant, Cost-Effective) IZOD IndyCar Series Advisory Committee.

The advisory committee, tasked with reviewing, researching and recommending a future IZOD IndyCar Series chassis and engine platform to the Indy Racing League, will feature the following industry representatives:

Read more & Comment...
04/13/10
f1

Reliability hitch on runway as Vettel jets to China
(GMM)  After his reliability problems aboard Red Bull's RB6 so far in 2010, Sebastian Vettel's Chinese grand prix got off to a shaky start on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old German was safely aboard an Airbus A340 on a runway at Zurich Airport, bound for Shanghai, when the pilots abandoned takeoff due to a fault in one of the four engines.

The plane and its passengers, including the photographer Mark Sutton and many members of the Swiss-based Sauber team, were returned to the gate for a more than four-hour delay.

Vettel, who won the most recent grand prix in Malaysia, is third in the world championship standings, just two points behind the leader Felipe Massa.

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04/13/10
nassprint

Kenseth’s Crew Claims Tissot Pit Road Award
Matt Kenseth’s over-the-wall crew captured the Tissot Pit Road Precision Award in Saturday’s (April 10) Subway Fresh Fit 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway.

The quick stops by the No. 17 crew helped Kenseth attain a sixth-place finish at the one-mile oval.
Kenseth’s Crown Royal Black Ford spent the least amount of time on pit road – 289.915 seconds – during the 375-lap race, which was the longest Sprint Cup event in track history. Race winner Ryan Newman’s No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet was second (295.547) and Mark Martin’s No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet was third (302.847).

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04/13/10
fiagt

Nissan increases commitment to FIA GT1
SRO Motorsports Group (SRO), promoters of the new FIA GT1 World Championship, have signed Nissan as the official car supplier of the FIA GT1 World Championship for the inaugural 2010 season.

The deal also includes an option for 2011. Nissan will supply four cars to SRO per event, with one of Nissan's high performance cars becoming the official safety car at each event.

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04/13/10
irl

Raybestos IndyCar promotion announced
The Raybestos Speed Into Savings consumer rebate promotion and the automotive service provider sweepstakes have been launched to celebrate Raybestos Brakes status as The Preferred Street/Road Course Brake Pads if the IZOD IndyCar Series.

Running form April 15 to June 30, consumers can earn up to $35 dollars in cash card rebates by registering their purchase of qualifying Raybestos Brakes along with proof of purchase.

All qualifying registrations, postmarked and received by July 7, 2010, are eligible.

In addition to the consumer rebate, Raybestos is offering participating Auto Service Providers a chance to earn a $50 dollar cash card by simply registering the Installation of 50 qualifying Raybestos brake parts.

All qualifying entries received by July 7, 2010 are eligible.

Plus, early bird entries postmarked and received at Raybestos headquarters. by May 31, 2010 will be automatically entered in a draw to win one of five regional trips for two to the "Streets of Toronto" Indy Race on July 18, 2010.

Each prize includes:

A trip for two (winner and one guest) to Toronto for the "Streets of Toronto" Izod IndyCar Series race. Approximate Retail Value $2,800.

The trip includes round trip coach class airfare for winner and one guest from a major commercial airport near winner’s residence to Toronto, up to three nights hotel accommodations near the venue (one room, double occupancy), ground transportation allowance while in Toronto, and two credentials to the Izod IndyCar Series race including pit passes and hospitality.

A promotional kit is free to ASP's through a participating Raybestos parts stores.

Comment
04/13/10
irl
alms

Even Long Beach gives out some free tickets
A three-day, reserved seating ticket to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach can cost up to $125, but for some major businesses or well-connected individuals, those seats are free.

City, port and tourism officials say that the economic impact of the Grand Prix goes far beyond the few days that the nationally recognized race is in town - it gives the city an opportunity to market itself, to put its best face forward and to attract new business.

With that in mind, the city of Long Beach receives and gives out 250 tickets a year as part of its contract with the Grand Prix, while the Port of Long Beach this year is getting two pit row suites that each include 30 passes, an open bar and other amenities as part of its $155,000 sponsorship of the event.

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04/13/10
lmes

Neel Jani's Paul Ricard race Blog
Neel Jani is racing for the Rebellion Racing team in this year’s Le Mans Series and Le Mans 24 Hours. The Swiss racer will team up with Nico Prost and Marco Andretti at La Sarthe in June in the teams Lola-Rebellion LMP1.

Last weekend Neel was in action for the Rebellion Racing team at the season opening Paul Ricard 8 Hours race. Here he tells lola-group.com how his weekend fortunes faired.

“I think the positives we can take out of the Paul Ricard event are that we found some really good pace during the race itself. We did quite a few changes for the race on the set up and suddenly we were really confident in our Lola-Rebellion. We were struggling a bit on Friday and Saturday with oversteer and then some understeer. We never understood why we never felt the car like this in testing but we finally got back to the good set-up and again we were pretty quick as the race went on.

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04/13/10
f1

A lap around Shanghai with Robert Kubica
"The track in Shanghai is an impressive place. There's an amazing infrastructure, big buildings, and lots of space, although it's not really something you are aware of when driving the car.

"As a circuit it's quite technical because you need a car that works well in slow and quick corners. Good straight-line speed is also important, along with braking stability. It's therefore difficult to find the ideal set-up and you have to make a compromise with the aerodynamic balance. Most cars usually prefer to run with more downforce and sacrifice speed on the straights.

"The start of the lap is a real technical challenge because it's basically a full circle. I find it tricky because it's such a long corner, which gets tighter, and you cannot see the apex. The length of the corner makes it one of transition where you are bit on the brakes and a bit on the throttle so that you carry as much speed as possible. You also get a lot of understeer, which makes it easy to run wide and can put you offline for turn two.

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04/13/10
gp3

GP3 back on track for final pre-season test
The GP3 Series was back on track today in Barcelona for the start of the final official pre-season test. After rain yesterday and overnight the teams arrived at Circuit de Catalunya to a damp track this morning. With temperatures hovering around 14 degrees the track was slow to dry and it was Daniel Morad who was first to brave the conditions for Status Grand Prix. For the next three hours a total of 414 laps were completed, with the session marred by a number of red flags as the young drivers adjusted to their first damp GP3 Series test.

Comment
04/13/10
f1

McLaren stops new suspension development
McLaren has stopped work on an advanced suspension unit following the FIA's clarification that any system that regulates a car's ride height during parc ferme conditions is illegal.
The team's engineering director Paddy Lowe told a Vodafone McLaren phone-in that McLaren had been late to the table in coming up with a system that some other teams are suspected of having already implemented on their cars this year.

However, he confirmed that no further work would be carried out on the system and that last week's ruling does not affect the MP4-25s raced by world champion Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.

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04/13/10
f1

F1 costs are falling
Although Formula One teams appear to be working more frantically than ever to improve their cars on a race-by-race basis, McLaren's engineering director Paddy Lowe has insisted that efforts behind the scenes to cut costs are just as strenuous.

Last summer, the sport was almost ripped apart by a stand-off that developed between the FIA and teams over the governing body's attempts to impose a budget cap. Following the threat of the Formula One Teams' Association to launch a breakaway series, however, a contract was eventually agreed to bring costs down to 'early 1990s levels' by 2011.

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04/13/10
irl

Best and worst of Alabama GP

A good crowd was on hand Sunday
Best crowd: With warm, sunny weather, fans packed the grandstands and covered the hillsides at Barber Motorsports Park, easily making it the largest crowd to see a race at Barber. Sunday’s crowd was estimated at 53,555.

Best season turnaround: Marco Andretti has not won an Indy race since 2005 and seemed to be snake-bit this season after a hard crash to open the race in Brazil and after colliding with a teammate at St. Petersburg. But he put himself in position to win at Barber and brought home a solid fifth place.

Best medical care: The last time Dario Franchitti raced in Alabama was at Talladega Superspeedway when he was T-boned during a NASCAR Nationwide race in 2008. That sent him to the hospital with a broken ankle. When he was here in February for the Indy test session he also wrecked and had to be treated at the Barber care center. The doctor in the care center asked Franchitti if he recognized him. "I said, ‘No,’" Franchitti said, "And he said, ‘I was the guy that looked after you after your Talladega crash.’"

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04/13/10
racing news

Takuma Sato to push iRacing
IndyCar driver Takuma Sato
Interush Inc. is pleased to announce that Takuma Sato, the renowned Japanese Race Car Driver, will team-up with INTERUSH in the marketing of the iRacing.com Racing Simulations online program to Japanese race fans and aspiring race drivers throughout Asia and North America.

Takuma Sato is one of Japan's most accomplished and respected professional race car drivers who in 2010 crossed over from the International Formula One Series to drive in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Japanese race fans around the world will follow Takuma Sato's progress as he masters the unique handling characteristics and demands of the IndyCar that boasts a top speed even faster than Formula One, at an incredible 240 mph (386 kph).

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04/13/10
irl

Indy 500 contrived pole position rules panned
A sport needs to be exciting on its own merits to truly be a long-term profit-making business prospect. That’s why the NFL is so successful. Yes, league officials occasionally tweak the rules, but more out of fairness and competitive balance than just as a way to drum up fan fervor.

NFL games are exciting because you get to see some of the biggest men on the face of the planet running at break-neck speeds often on a collision course. That’s the nature of the game and it sells.

That brings us to the IndyCar Series. It’s no secret that the open-wheel series is doing everything it can to catch peoples’ attention. I would say they’re trying to draw fans’ attention, but series officials’ efforts are much broader.

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04/13/10
autogp

Renamed Open Wheel Series kicks off in 12 days
A new ride-buyer series will soon begin in Europe called Auto GP.  Auto GP, formerly known as both Euro Formula 3000 and Euroseries 3000, is a European formula racing series.

The series started in 1999 as Italian Formula 3000, organized by Pierluigi Corbari and using old Lola chassis with Zytek engines. The teams used the Lola T96/50 in the first two years. At the beginning nearly all races were held in Italy, but very quickly the series expanded and had venues in different European countries.

It became European Formula 3000 in 2001, when the FIA-run Formula 3000 series became "International". The next three years (2001-2003) saw the Lola B99/50 in use. For 2004, Superfund became the series' title sponsor, planning to use a new car with a new set of regulations, named Formula Superfund, but the funding was pulled before the 2005 season got under way.

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04/13/10
f1

Rain forecast for Chinese GP weekend
(GMM)  After inclement weather spiced up the recent Australian and Malaysian grands prix, more rain is expected in the region of this weekend's Chinese round near Shanghai.

In the wake of the Bahrain season opener, whose processional race was blamed on the new refuelling ban, rain in both Melbourne and Sepang was credited for the much more exciting races.

This weekend, the formula one circus is at the Shanghai circuit in the Jiading district, about a half-hour drive from the city centre.

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04/13/10
f1

No fresh engine for Alonso in China
Fernando Alonso
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso will not use a fourth fresh engine at this weekend's fourth round of the 2010 world championship.

With the Spaniard already onto his third engine in Malaysia two weekends ago - when he retired from the race with engine failure - it had been reported that he would be halfway into his full season's allocation ahead of the Chinese grand prix.

Each driver may use only eight engines for the entire 19-race season, with grid penalties applying once a ninth is fitted.

Alonso, 28, had his first V8 changed due to overheating after Bahrain qualifying, meaning that 2.4 liter unit can only now be used in free practice sessions.

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04/13/10
f1

Briatore admits no 'guilt' as crashgate ends, can return UPDATE (GMM)  Despite the FIA agreeing to end its push to have a lifetime ban re-imposed, Flavio Briatore insists he is not guilty of race-fixing.

F1's governing body on Monday announced that, after talks with the sacked Renault boss as well as 'crashgate' co-conspirator Pat Symonds, a settlement has been reached to end the scandal.

The FIA said the duo "expressed their regrets and presented their apologies", in return for all legal action being dropped and the bans being effective only until 2013.

Flavio Briatore admits no guilt
But Briatore, who turned 60 on Monday, later clarified that his regret and apology was not an admission of "personal guilt".

The Italian's statement, issued by his lawyers, also insisted that the settlement was not a recognition that the FIA's verdict about Nelson Piquet Jr's deliberate Singapore crash being true was "well-founded".

"No further comment will be made by Flavio Briatore, who wishes to put behind him this matter and focus on his plans for the future," added the statement.

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