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NASCAR popularity continues to decline in Mexico
Today's race was the fourth consecutive trip for the NASCAR Nationwide Series to Mexico City. Although the crowd was the weakest -- the announced attendance was 57,324 (did not look even close to that), nearly 15,000 fewer than last year and nearly 37,000 fewer than the first race, both NASCAR officials and those from race promoter OCESA said before the event they will begin negotiations for a sanction agreement for the series to return next year.  One can expect the sanction fee charged by NASCAR to be a bargain given the fans in Mexico seem to care very little about NASCAR meaning OCESA will lose their shirt if the sanction fee is too high.


Todt gets behind FIA chief Mosley
Jean Todt, Ferrari's former team principal, bucked the clamor for Max Mosley to resign with a staunch defense of the embattled FIA president.

His comments came as Mosley faces pressure from top manufacturers, ex-world champions and leading motoring organizations to step down after allegations that he paid for a Nazi-themed sex session.

But Todt, the son of a Polish Jew, refutes the News of the World's accusation that Mosley is anti-Semitic. Absolutely not," he said. "He's a true president. He knows his brief and is a great worker, reliable, very intelligent, a man of rare elegance. He's a true leader. I'm still amazed people concentrate on things which are nothing to do with his role."

Todt's views echoed Mosley's own contention in an interview published on Sunday that an 'eccentric' private life is not a reason to resign. Daily Mail


Busch wins third straight Nationwide race
Kyle Busch got on his radio and advised anyone who was listening that Scott Pruett would get dumped if he kept blocking Busch as they battled for the lead Sunday in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Corona Mexico 200 at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

Pruett didn’t need to hear those words. He already had been there, done that.

Having been tapped by teammate Juan Pablo Montoya battling for the lead last year, Pruett let Busch by with nine laps remaining and Busch sprinted to his third consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series victory.

A few laps before the pass for the win, Busch had been hammering hard on Pruett’s bumper.

“He was just blocking a little bit too much, I believe,” said Busch, who had never won a NASCAR race on a road course. “Now I understand why he got dumped last year. And if it came down to it, it was going to be again. He smoked the tires, and I was able to get by him.”

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Pizzonia turns fastest lap in Long Beach
Pos Driver Car # Lap Lap Time
1 A. Pizzonia 9 68 1:08.252
2 G. Rahal 6 52 1:08.279
3 E. Viso 33 78 1:08.284
4 F. Montagny 7 74 1:08.548
5 W. Power 8 75 1:08.661
6 R. Moreno 14 39 1:08.730
7 P. Tracy 3 57 1:08.771
8 N. Philippe 4 79 1:08.776
9 E. Bernoldi 36 68 1:08.815
10 M. Dominguez 96 79 1:08.820
11 F. Perera 34 72 1:08.945
12 O. Servia 5 76 1:08.950
13 J. Vasser 12 79 1:09.027
14 A. Tagliani 15 54 1:09.071
15 D. Martinez 37 72 1:09.257
16 A. Figge 29 55 1:09.338
17 B. Junqueira 18 48 1:09.760
18 J. Wilson 2 5 1:10.462
19 M. Moraes 19 5 1:11.072
20 J. Annala 10 29 1:11.673


Audi triumphs at Oschersleben as well
Second race, second triumph: the new Audi A4 DTM could not be beaten in its second race either. One week after the 1-2-3 exploit at Hockenheim, Timo Scheider and Martin Tomczyk clinched a commanding 1-2 victory for Audi at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben. By claiming the maiden victory of his DTM career, Scheider has taken the overall lead as well. Audi Sport Team Rosberg was another team which had a reason to rejoice: Markus Winkelhock in sixth place was the best driver of a car from last year and scored his first DTM points. His team colleague Mike Rockenfeller scored a points finish as well, in seventh place. Mattias Ekström scored a point despite the rear of his car was badly damaged at the start.


Oschersleben (D), 20 April, DTM round 2
1 Timo Scheider (GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM) 44 laps in 1h 06m 07.822s
2 Martin Tomczyk (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM) × 1.452s
3 Bruno Spengler (Mercedes) × 3.751s
4 Paul di Resta (Mercedes) × 4.698s
5 Jamie Green (Mercedes) × 6.044s
6 Markus Winkelhock (Playboy Audi A4 DTM) × 6.595s
7 Mike Rockenfeller (S line Audi A4 DTM) × 7.663s
8 Mattias Ekström (Red Bull Audi A4 DTM) × 11.765s
9 Alexandre Prémat (Audi Bank/Shell Helix Audi A4 DTM) × 12.929s
15 Oliver Jarvis (Best Buddies Audi A4 DTM) × 18.543s
16 Christijan Albers (Audi A4 DTM) × 22.621s
17 Katherine Legge (Audi A4 DTM) - 1 lap
19 Tom Kristensen (Audi A4 DTM) - 9 laps
Positions after 2 of 11 rounds: 1 Scheider, 18 points; 2 Tomczyk, 12; 3 Ekström, 11; 4 Spengler, 11; 5 Green, 7; 6 Kristensen, 6; ... 8 Winkelhock, 3; 9 Rockenfeller, 2.
Next race: Mugello (I), 4 May

tv news

Weekend USA TV Reminders UPDATE The TV schedule below has been updated to include the final Sunday and Monday broadcasts.

Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Nationwide Final Practice Mexico City 
4:00pm-6:00pm (L) ESPN2
6:00pm-6:30pm ESPN2
Chasing Baja
8:00pm-9:00pm SPEED
IndyCar Indy Japan 300 Motegi
12:00am-2:00am (L) ESPN2
Nationwide Qualifying Mexico City 
11:30am-1:00pm (L) ESPN2
ARCA RE/MAX Prairie Meadows 250 Iowa 
1:30pm-4:00pm (L) SPEED
IndyCar Replay Indy Japan 300 Motegi 
3:00pm-5:00pm (R) ESPN
Rolex Sports Car Series Mexico City 250
4:00pm-7:00pm (L) SPEED
IndyCar Replay Indy Japan 300 Motegi
11:00am-1:00pm (R) ESPN2
American Le Mans Series Tequila Patron at Long Beach Long Beach
12:30pm-2:30pm (4/19/08) ABC
NASCAR Nationwide Series Corona Mexico 200 Mexico City
1:30pm-2:00pm (L) -Pre-race
2:00pm-5:30pm (L) -Race ESPN
AMA Superbike Birmingham
3:00pm-4:00pm (4/19/08) -Day 1 SPEED
AMA Superbike Birmingham
5:00pm-6:00pm (SD) -Day 2 SPEED
Champ Car Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
5:30pm-7:30pm (SD) ESPN2
SPEED Report
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Confidential
8:00pm-9:00pm SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Danica Patrick (IndyCar)
Darrell Waltrip (NASCAR)
Paul Stoddart (Champ Car) 9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nationwide Replay Corona Mexico 200 Mexico City
12:30am-3:00am (R) ESPN2
IndyCar Replay Indy Japan 300 Motegi
9:00am-11:00am (R) ESPN Classic
Champ Car Replay Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Long Beach
11:00am-1:00pm (R) ESPN Classic

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

tv news

Paul Stoddart to be guest on Wind Tunnel UPDATE A reminder that Stoddart will appear tonight on Wind Tunnel.

04/16/08 Paul Stoddart, Champ Car team co-owner of Minardi Team USA, and previous Minardi F1 team owner, will be interviewed on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain this Sunday night, April 20.  Stoddart will share his views on the Champ Car/IRL unification, and recent events in Formula 1 rocked by the sex scandal involving FIA President Max Mosley.  Darrell Waltrip, Fox Sports and SPEED NASCAR Analyst, will also be a featured interview on Sunday's show.  Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain airs at 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm ET on SPEED.


Simona de Silvestro wins Atlantic race in LB
Simona de Silvestro (center) enjoys her first Atlantic win
Gail Miller/AutoRacing1
This Less than 24 hours after Atlantic Championship graduate Danica Patrick earned her first career Indy Racing League IndyCar Series victory in Japan, second-year Swiss driver Simona De Silvestro became the second woman in the 34-year history of the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda to win a race with her victory in the Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge of Long Beach.

After starting from the front row for the first time in her Atlantic career, De Silvestro took the lead from polesitter Jonathan Bomarito on Lap 24 of what would be a 38-lap race when gearbox issues forced Bomarito into an off-course excursion in Turn 1 at the end of the Shoreline Drive straightaway. The race’s only full-course caution period for debris set the stage for second-place running Alan Sciuto to challenge for the lead on the restart, but De Silvestro pulled confidently away at the drop of the green flag and went on to win by 1.285 seconds.

Simona de Silvestro
Bob Heathcote/AutoRacing1
De Silvestro joins Katherine Legge as the only women to win races in Atlantic Championship competition. Legge owns a total of three Atlantic victories, the last of which came at San Jose on July 31, 2005. Legge also picked up her first career Atlantic win at Long Beach in 2005. In addition to it being De Silvestro’s first victory, it was also the first Atlantic win for Newman Wachs Racing, which came into the series in 2006.

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Theissen and Rampf have high hopes for Barcelona
BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen is more than pleased with his team's performance.

Over the first three rounds of this year's F1 season, the efforts of the BMW Sauber team resulted in a podium position at each Grand Prix so far, a fastest race lap, one pole position, and the lead of the constructors' championship – the latter being a historic first for the team.

"It was a textbook start to the season for our BMW Sauber F1 Team," Theissen proudly stated. "We're no longer the number three team, as last year, but over the first three races we have carved out our niche right up among the top three teams. The workforces in Munich and Hinwil are accordingly elated and fired up with incentive."

The three-week break between races was an opportunity to try out new components and configurations at the factory in addition to the four-day group test held on the Catalunya circuit, the same track which will serve for the Spanish Grand Prix next week-end.

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Q  A with Simona de Silvestro
Simona de Silvestro
After qualifying second for today's Atlantic Championship Series season opener, Swiss driver Simona de Silvestro was asked a question she's probably heard too many times to count: How does it feel to be the only woman in the series?

"It feels OK when you have good results," she answered, drawing laughs from most in the room. "You're kind of considered a race car driver (instead of a female race car driver). When you don't do so well, they say, `Oh, she's just a girl.'

"But if you're up front, you're just like everyone else."

De Silvestro is a native of Thun, Switzerland, about halfway between the French and Italian borders on the country's west side.

But she's lived in the U.S. for three years, first in Indianapolis while in the Formula BMW USA series and now in Chicago, where Newman Wachs Racing is headquartered.

"I really like it," she said of living in the U.S. "I enjoy it," De Silvestro, 19, said she always enjoys her trips home to see her parents but knows it's crucial to live and work with her team in the U.S. to develop a strong relationship.

"It's important to establish a friendship with the team," she said.

The biggest culture shock for de Silvestro is the sheer size of everything in American life compared to that of Europe.

"Everything is big, everything is huge," she said. "The food is huge.

"Switzerland is so small," she continued, "like Lake Michigan." Long Beach Press Telegram


Q and A with Nelson Piquet Jr.
Nelson Piquet Jr.
ING Renault F1 Team driver, Nelson Piquet Jr., reflects on the start of his Formula One career and talks about his life away from the track. The youngster has three Grands Prix on his tally, but has already made huge improvements.

Nelson, you have stepped up to become a race driver from test driver and have now done three races. How are you finding things so far?
"Racing in Formula 1 is what every driver dreams of. It was good to be a test driver last year, especially as I was able to get to know the team quite well and settle into a new environment, but as a racing driver I was born to race; this is what I was made for and so I am very happy to have this chance to race in Formula 1. The first three races have been interesting and I have learnt a great deal. I think we just need a bit more luck in the coming races and hopefully we can begin fighting for the points."

How has your life changed since becoming an F1 driver?
"There has not really been a massive change because I spent last year testing for the team and I have been around racing my whole life because my father was a racing driver. Also, I have been racing in Formula 3 and GP2 and so it is not as if I appeared from nowhere. For sure there are changes and my life has become a lot busier, but there was no big change."

Are there any areas where you feel you need to improve?
"I need to improve everywhere because I have only done three races in F1. It takes time to get fully comfortable with the car, and you can only do this by spending more time in the car. Already after three races I have made a big improvement and I feel more confident with the way I work and the feedback I can give the team. With time everything just gets easier and I expect this to be the case as the season unfolds."

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Mosley vows to quit in 2009
(GMM)  Max Mosley told a British newspaper on Sunday that he intends to "stay and fight" despite widespread calls for him to resign as FIA president.

The 68-year-old Englishman said he decided to give his first media interview since the News of the World sex scandal broke because of the "enormous publicity" generated by revelations of his allegedly Nazi-themed orgy with five prostitutes.

Mosley said he will not quit yet because at least "more than seven" motoring club presidents want him to stay.

"For every letter I've had from a club president saying 'I think you should step down' or 'I think you should consider your position', I've had seven, slightly more than seven, who said 'you've absolutely got to stay, don't give an inch', and 'this is the most outrageous invasion', and suggesting that there's more to this than meets the eye, which of course there may be," he said.

Mosley suggests many of the people who have criticized him are mostly the ones that do not agree that "eccentric sexual activity" is acceptable.

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Patrón Highcroft Acura wins LMP2 class
It was a sweet victory for Patrón Highcroft Racing tonight on the winding streets of the southern California shoreline.  David Brabham and Scott Sharp drove the #9 Acura ARX-01b flat out for the 1-hour, 40-minute challenge, and brought the team its first victory.  First in the LMP2 class, the team took third place overall.

  Brabham, who got in the #9 car with 45 minutes left in the challenge, fought his way through the ranks steadily throughout his stint.  With 20 minutes left, he passed Christian Fittipaldi in the #26 Andretti Green Acura and Adrian Fernandez in the #15 Lowe's Fernandez Acura, improving to fifth position. 

With less than five minutes to go, Brabs was in a fierce battle with Romain Dumas in the #7 Penske Porsche for the LMP2 class win.  Coming down the back straight in the final minute of the race, David saw an opening, took it, and passed Dumas, clinching the win.  On his way to the podium to celebrate, Brabs said, "Dumas and I went down the back straight and he moved to one side, moving straight in front of me.  I was just waiting for the right opportunity.  I knew I was quicker, so when I saw my chance, I just went for it.  He tried to protect his line, but I went to the inside.  It was just good racing and the Acura engine performed beautifully.   For the whole team to win for Duncan and Patrón is just fantastic.  We came back from fifth or sixth to win.  The team gave me a great car.  I could see we were stronger than the Penske Porsches.  I have to give huge credit to the team.  To go up against the Penske Porsches with their having been so dominant is just fantastic.  To cross the finish line first is a win on so many levels for the whole team, which put in a lot of work over the winter.  It is paying off in spades this season.  All in all, there is a huge difference when you win - you go to the next race knowing you can win, instead of just hoping."

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Racing News

Little holds off Skinner to win Pro-Celebrity race at Long Beach
Mike Skinner and Jamie Little
Gail Miller/AutoRacing1
It was a finish worthy of the Good 'Ol Boys!

Celebrity driver Jamie Little, a NASCAR pit reporter, held off pro driver Mike Skinner, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion, in a fender-rubbing duel on the final turn of the final lap and held on to win the 32nd Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race today.

Skinner, who led all qualifiers and, like all the pro drivers started 30 seconds behind the celebrities, moved up quickly through the field chasing Pixar Animation director/producer Brad Lewis, who started on the pole and led until the final lap.

Then, going into turn 9 of the final lap, Lewis lost control of his Scion tC and hit the tire barrier, opening the gates for the last-lap dramatics. Little crossed the line 0.324 seconds ahead of Skinner.

Daniel. Goddard from TV's "The Young and the Restless" finished third, more than three seconds behind Little.

The final results of the 32nd Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race:

1. Jamie Little, Celebrity
2. Mike Skinner, Pro
3. Daniel Goddard, Celebrity
4. William Fichtner, Celebrity
5. Tony Pedregon, Pro
6. Whit Bazemore, Pro
7. Drew Lachey, Celebrity
8. Marty Nothstein, Pro
9. Brad Lewis, Celebrity
10. Bud Gordon, Celebrity
11. Wilmer Valderamma, Celebrity
12. Craig Barto, Celebrity
13. Eric Dickerson, Celebrity
14. Raymond Cruz, Celebrity
15. Beccy Gordon, Pro
16. Sarena Traver, Pro
17. John Salley, Celebrity
18. Nancy Lieberman, Celebrity


Champ Car drivers pose for final photo
Gail Miller/AutoRacing1
The twenty drivers participating in this weekend's final Champ Car race being held in Long Beach, California took time to pose for this final photograph.


New Audi A4 DTM again in a class of its own
For the seventh time in a row, Audi starts from the pole position in the DTM. As at the Hockenheim season opener a week ago, the new Audi A4 DTM cars fielded by Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline were in a class of their own in qualifying at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben. Timo Scheider, Tom Kristensen and Martin Tomczyk clinched grid positions one to three for Audi. Youngster Oliver Jarvis in Audi Sport Team Phoenix’s A4 from last year in fourth position ensured that the first two rows on the grid are firmly in Audi’s hands on Sunday.

The pole position was again captured by the German Timo Scheider in the GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM. At Oschersleben, the 29-year-old set the fastest times in all practice sessions, in the qualifying he relegated his team-mate Tom Kristensen to second place on the grid by 132 thousandths of a second. Scheider kept his cool even when an incident occurred in the first qualifying session: while driving over the curbs the bonnet of his A4 loosened. Scheider had to start a second trial that saw him move to the front with a commanding lead.

Martin Tomczyk caused quite a bit of suspense as well. He only advanced to position three on the grid shortly before the end of qualifying. On Friday and in the morning’s free practice, Tomczyk had not been completely satisfied yet with the setup of his A4. But at the right moment, everything fit perfectly. Hockenheim winner Mattias Ekström, on the other hand, had to settle for eighth place. In the third section the Swede no longer managed to achieve his personal best time from the second session, which would have given him position three on the grid.

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Q and A with Colin Braun - Mexico City polesitter
Colin Braun
Getty Images for NASCAR
IN, CARL EDWARDS SAID YOU WERE THE MAN TO BEAT TOMORROW AND HAD GREAT THINGS TO SAY ABOUT YOUR COACHING OF HIM.  TELL US ABOUT THAT AND YOUR RUN TODAY. “First off, I really don’t think I’ve helped Carl too much.  We went and tested at VIR about a month ago.  Carl helped me out quite a bit, both Carl and Boris Said were there and those guys taught me a lot about road course racing and really helped get me up to speed in these cars.  I know, obviously, a little bit about road course racing, but certainly not like those guys do in these stock cars.  They helped me out quite a bit and really taught me a lot.  I’m really thankful for those guys to help me out.  Them helping me has started to dry-out a bit when we’re faster than them.  Those guys are great guys and I’ve learned a lot from them.  I don’t really think I’ve taught Carl anything, so if he wants to say that, that’s fine.  I’m not going to complain.  Our run today was really good. The whole 3M Ford Fusion team did a great job.  My crew chief Eddie Pardue worked on our car pretty hard last night and made a few little adjustments to it and obviously was a little bit faster today.  We ended up being second quickest overall [yesterday] and it was great to end up on the pole here.  Those guys worked their butts off and I’m really proud of that whole team. We had a good test at VIR and we ran through a whole bunch of changes, got here yesterday and ran through a whole other bunch of changes.  They’ve been working really hard and they definitely deserve to be on the pole here for how hard and for how much work those guys had put in.  I’m just proud to be up here with the Ford Fusion car – it’s awesome.” 

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Bomarito secures Atlantic pole in LB
Jonathan Bomarito
Gail Miller/AutoRacing1
While many of the names on the entry list changed places several times during the on-track sessions prior to Sunday’s Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season-opener at Long Beach, Jonathan Bomarito has been a fixture atop the time charts.

Bomarito continued that trend in Saturday’s final qualifying session and claimed the pole position for the Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge of Long Beach – Round 1 of the 11-race 2008 Atlantic Championship season. Driving the No. 26 RLM Investments/Discount Tire Centers/Stone Brewing entry in final qualifying for the first time as a member of Mathiasen Motorsports, Bomarito posted a best lap at 1:15.947 (93.286 mph) to score his second career Atlantic pole position. His first career Atlantic pole came at San Jose in 2007, and the Monterey, Calif. native went on to win that race. He is looking for a repeat performance of that this weekend.

“I hope so,” Bomarito said. “It’s a long race tomorrow. We’ve got a morning warm-up, where we just kind of make some systems checks and make sure everything is good, and do some practice starts. In a 50-minute race, a lot can happen. We’re constantly making progress with the car. I think we’re a little bit stronger in the morning than we are in the afternoon, so racing at 10 or so tomorrow morning will ply into our hands. Qualifying was tough today. I was P1 and went down to P5 at one point. You’re just constantly struggling. A lot of it depends on traffic and when you put on new tires. That was definitely an intense qualifying session.”

Starting a career-best second in the No. 34 Nuclear Clean Air Energy machine for Newman Wachs Racing is the only woman in the field, Simona De Silvestro. The native of Switzerland turned in a best qualifying lap at 1:16.089 (93.112 mph) to easily better her previous best Atlantic qualifying result of sixth at Mont-Tremblant last year. De Silvestro is entering her second Atlantic Championship season.

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Speed racer stars show up in Long Beach
Speed Racer stars pose with drivers
Gail Miller/AutoRacing1
Go Speed Racer! Go Yokohama Tire Corporation! That will be the rallying cry as Yokohama Tire announces plans to  promote its relationship with Warner Bros. Pictures’ upcoming live-action family film Speed Racer at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (April 19) and Grand Prix of Utah (May 18).  Yokohama’s ADVAN® tires were named the official tire of the movie and Mach 5 race car earlier this year.  The latest film by the Wachowski brothers and producer Joel Silver, creators of The Matrix trilogy, Speed Racer will open across North America in theatres and IMAX on May 9.

The Yokohama- and BP- sponsored Mazda LMP2 race car will feature Speed Racer movie logos as well as the famous letter “M” on the front. Drivers Ben Devlin and Gerardo Bonilla will each look the part, wearing specially-designed suits inspired by the movie.  The suits will have blue tops and white bottoms and feature Speed Racer logos.  The crew will also be in Speed Racer-designed shirts.

“This is a special opportunity to link Yokohama’s motorsports efforts with the promotion of a major motion picture like Speed Racer,” said Fred Koplin, YTC director of marketing communications. “Away from the racetrack, there is presence with a national television campaign (April 7 - May 10) and in-store promotions with Advantage Yokohama Associate Dealers.”

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Braun captures Nationwide Series pole in Mexico City
Colin Braun poses with his pole-winning 3M Ford Fusion.
Getty Images for NASCAR
19-year-old Colin Braun driving a Roush Fenway Racing Ford, backed up that assertion on Saturday afternoon, posting a lap of 102.756 mph to take the pole for Sunday’s Corona Mexico 200 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course in Mexico City.

Braun is a rookie in the Craftsman Truck Series, where he is 20th in points. But road-course racing is his true area of expertise, and the former Grand-Am driver could see his biggest spotlight yet in Mexico City.

“I just think he’s unbelievable,” Edwards said. “I believe he is the guy to beat [Sunday] in this race.”

Responded Braun: “I’m sure I’ll be getting an invoice in the mail from Boris and Carl here pretty soon to say those good things about me. I don’t know how much the pole pays, but I hope it’s enough to cover that.”



1 16 Colin Braun Ford 3M 102.756 88.217 Leader
2 40 Scott Pruett Dodge Fastenal 102.651 88.307 -0.090
3 60 Carl Edwards Ford Scotts Water Smart 102.506 88.432 -0.215
4 59 Marcos Ambrose Ford Kingsford Hickory Charcoal 102.312 88.600 -0.383
5 25 Boris Said Ford No Fear / Team Smithfield / Advance Auto Parts 102.075 88.805 -0.588
6 20 Kyle Busch Toyota Doosan Infracore 101.922 88.939 -0.722
7 9 Patrick Carpentier* Dodge Auto Value 101.775 89.067 -0.850
8 2 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet BB&T 101.749 89.090 -0.873
9 111 Jason Keller Chevrolet America's Incredible Pizza Company 101.716 89.119 -0.902
10 186 Antonio Perez Dodge Telmex / Chivas Racing 101.669 89.160 -0.943
11 12 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Penske Truck Rental 101.560 89.256 -1.039
12 66 Steve Wallace Chevrolet Atreus Homes & Communities 101.520 89.291 -1.074
13 27 Brad Coleman Ford Carino's Italian Grill 101.470 89.335 -1.118
14 17 Erik Darnell Ford CitiFinancial 101.395 89.401 -1.184
15 33 Ron Hornaday Chevrolet RoadLoans.com 101.374 89.419 -1.202
16 22 Ruben Pardo Dodge Bombardier Learjet / Telcel 101.297 89.487 -1.270
17 64 Max Papis Chevrolet Atreus Homes & Communities 101.272 89.509 -1.292
18 47 Kelly Bires Ford Clorox 101.271 89.510 -1.293
19 7 Mike Wallace Toyota GEICO 101.214 89.561 -1.344
20 32 Michel Jourdain Jr. Toyota Visit Durango / Visit Mexico 101.093 89.668 -1.451
21 29 Scott Wimmer Chevrolet Holiday Inn / Holiday Inn Express 100.962 89.784 -1.567
22 37 Rafael Martinez Ford Scotiabank Inverlat / Canel's 100.820 89.911 -1.694
23 6 David Ragan Ford Discount Tire 100.820 89.911 -1.694
24 1 Mike Bliss Chevrolet Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 100.765 89.960 -1.743
25 41 Kyle Krisiloff Dodge Polaroid 100.717 90.003 -1.786
26 28 Kenny Wallace Chevrolet Reel Deal "Card Games" on Phantom EFX 100.353 90.329 -2.112
27 24 Brian Simo Chevrolet Hefty 100.285 90.390 -2.173
28 88 Brad Keselowski Chevrolet U.S. Navy 100.214 90.454 -2.237
29 184 Jose Luis Ramirez Dodge The Perfect Game / Rayere 100.183 90.482 -2.265
30 81 D.J. Kennington Dodge MC2 Energy Drink / NPPL 100.171 90.493 -2.276
31 90 Chris Cook Chevrolet Drifting Mexico 100.106 90.552 -2.335
32 5 David Green Chevrolet Lowe's 100.015 90.634 -2.417
33 99 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 99.953 90.691 -2.474
34 109 Kevin O'Connell Chevrolet Gen'l Environmental Mgmt / Taleo Grill 99.795 90.834 -2.617
35 30 Stanton Barrett Chevrolet NOS Energy Drink / 4caring.org 99.790 90.839 -2.622
36 38 Jason Leffler Toyota Great Clips 99.758 90.868 -2.651
37 198 Alex Garcia Chevrolet Dixien / OmniSource Corp. 99.367 91.225 -3.008
38 331 Kenny Hendrick Chevrolet INTERUSH / GrandStay.net 98.866 91.688 -3.471
39 01 Kertus Davis Chevrolet RaceGirl 98.050 92.451 -4.234
40 52 Scott Gaylord Ford Means Racing 97.855 92.635 -4.418
41 4 Landon Cassill* Chevrolet Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 97.770 92.716 -4.499
42 161 Kevin Lepage Ford Specialty Racing 97.621 92.857 -4.640
43 91 Larry Gunselman Chevrolet MSRP Motorsports 97.555 92.920 -4.703
Did Not Qualify
44 05 Brett Rowe Chevrolet 31-W Insulation / CertainTeed - - -
45 89 Morgan Shepherd Dodge Victory In Jesus - - -
46 149 Derrike Cope Chevrolet Jay Robinson Inc. - - -


Drissi breaks back in Long Beach crash UPDATE Tomy Drissi, of Hollywood, Calif., will be out the remainder of the SCCA Pro Racing Long Beach SPEED GT Presented by Applied Computer Solutions weekend, and possibly longer, after sustaining a fractured lower vertebrae in a practice crash on Friday.

Drissi's No. 15 What Happens In Vegas - The Movie Chevrolet Corvette reportedly experienced a stuck throttle as it entered Turn Two on the 1.968-mile street circuit. The car skipped over the fountain curbs, cleaned out the landscaping and then struck the tire wall. The impact broke the concrete barrier the tire wall protected.

Following the incident, Drissi was transported to St. Mary's Hospital in Long Beach, where he remained overnight for tests and observation. Drissi's American Le Mans Series team, Autocon Racing, reported that he would be released Saturday and fitted with a back brace for up to six weeks. Drissi was also to have driven in this afternoon's ALMS race.

Drissi has considerable experience at Long Beach and scored his lone Trans-Am Series win at the circuit in 2000.

Sunday's Round Two race is scheduled to make its standing start at 4 p.m. (PDT) and will air on SPEED Wednesday, April 30 at noon (EDT), 9 a.m. (PDT).

McMurray will step into the Autocon Creation-Judd
Bob Heathcote/AutoRacing1
When the phone rang Friday night in Phoenix, Chris McMurry was expecting to get an update on the progress of the Autocon Motorsports Creation-Judd at the Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach. As it turns out, the call from team owner Mike Lewis served a completely different purpose.

“I got a call from Mike yesterday and thought he was calling me to tell me how things were going but he said I had better get a plane ticket,” said McMurry, who now finds himself replacing Tomy Drissi in the Autocon entry for today’s race. Drissi was injured Friday in World Challenge practice and remains at a local hospital with a lower back injury.

“I got in about 11 last night and got about five or six hours of sleep,” McMurry added. “I drove last year in the Lola. This car should be better with the heavier weight and bigger tires plus we won't have to worry with the turbo so that will help. The track temp felt like it was 30 or 40 degrees. The team told me I went off at about the same spot as Tomy did yesterday. I think he will be released later today.”

Because of the driver substitution and the fact that McMurry did not turn a lap at Long Beach this weekend before Saturday, he and Lewis will start from the rear of the grid. The car had qualified 14th overall.


Audis quickest in ALMS warm-up
Audi Sport North America’s two Audi R10 TDIs held the top two spots in Saturday morning’s warm-up for the Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach. Marco Werner, winner of the most recent round on the streets of St. Petersburg with Lucas Luhr, went quickest in the 15-minute session at 1:15.331 (94.049 mph).

Werner was followed by Emanuele Pirro in the diesel prototype he will share with Frank Biela. The Italian turned in a time of 1:15.581 (93.738 mph).

The cold track temperature – 61 degrees – kept times down as did a short red flag period when Gerardo Bonilla’s B-K Motorsports Lola-Mazda MZR-R went off at Turn 6 after being hit from behind by Scott Sharp in the Patr¢n Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01b.

Adrian Fernandez went quickest in LMP2 and was third overall in the Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura. His time of 1:15.757 (93.520 mph) in the car he will share with Luis Diaz was less than 0.1 seconds ahead of Timo Bernhard in the pole-sitting No. 7 Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder that he is sharing with Romain Dumas.

Just as it did in Friday’s qualifying, Flying Lizard Motorsports sat first and second in GT2. Johannes van Overbeek put the pole-sitting No. 46 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR out front at 1:21.581 (86.672 mph). He will split time with fast qualifier Patrick Pilet.

Next was Jörg Bergmeister in the No. 45 Lizard Porsche with a lap of 1:21.743 (86.672 mph) in the car he will share with Wolf Henzler. The first of the Ferrari F430 GTs was third in class with Dominik Farnbacher in the Tafel Racing entry at 1:22.082 (86.314 mph). Farnbacher and Dirk Mueller won in class at St. Petersburg two weeks ago.


Webber accuses Mosley of damaging F1
(GMM) Mark Webber, the active formula one race driver for Red Bull Racing, has openly charged the Max Mosley sex scandal with bringing the sport into disrepute.

"Whether we like it or not, all of us in F1 are role models, and F1 simply cannot have scandals of this type," the Australian wrote in his column for BBC Sport.

Of the very few drivers to have commented on the affair, Webber's criticism of Mosley is easily the most unfavourable, but he refused to say whether he thought the embattled FIA president should step down.

"He's in a very, very influential position and it's a very important role that he has," he said of the 67-year-old Briton, who will face a confidence vote at the FIA meeting on June 3.

"It makes it difficult when any of these sorts of scandals are involved, when they become public. It will be more challenging for him to do his role," Webber added.

"Because F1 is so high profile, we are always very sensitive to not bringing it into (disrepute) because of the amount of people involved in it."


Heidfeld sees abolition of TC as positive development
In the 2008 Formula One season, all cars have the same electronics, which also means that the traction control had to be omitted. BMW Sauber F1 Team driver Nick Heidfeld is coping well without it, and describes what it has changed on and off the track.

Nick is one of the drivers, for whom it is nothing new to drive without traction control: in his early years in Formula One, the German had to put his faith in the sensitivity of his foot. For this reason, Nick is pleased that the technical regulations have been modified.

"I enjoy having gone back to controlling the car with my foot", says Heidfeld. "It's crucial when exiting corners: you need a great deal of sensitivity to accelerate optimally out of the turns. For the established Formula One drivers this requires an adjustment, whereas the youngsters just coming from Formula 3 or GP2 have never driven with traction control."

However, it is not only a challenge for the drivers. Engineers and technicians are also faced with new challenges: "Another aspect is the tire development, which has to keep in step with the electronic adjustment because increased slip takes a different and higher toll on the rubber", says Nick. "That's an incredibly complex matter and demands a great deal of engineering work. Banning traction control is just one aspect, after all, though one I very much welcome."  Source BMW Sauber


Whitmarsh and Haug preview the Spanish Grand Prix
Formula 1 racing arrives in Europe for the first time in 2008 as the 11 teams arrive at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya for the Spanish Grand Prix. The 2008 race is the 40th Formula 1 event to be staged in Spain, with 37 Spanish Grands Prix and two European events taking place to date. McLaren has won the Spanish round on eight occasions including four times with Mercedes-Benz.

The first motor sport event in Spain, the "Copa Catalunya" road race over 27,885kms, was staged in the Barcelona area in 1908. The Spanish Grand Prix appeared on the World Championship calendar for the first time in 1951. However, it was not until 1969 that a Grand Prix race was staged regularly in this country. Five circuits have hosted the race, Circuit de Catalunya, Jarama, Jerez, Montjuich and Pedrables.

The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-23 has completed a total of 6,680kms of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya prior to the 2008 race.

Martin Whitmarsh:
Many people see the Barcelona race as a benchmark for the level of competitiveness for the rest of the season, why is this and how do you think the MP4-23 will fair?
“The Spanish Grand Prix sees us entering the European season and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, along with all the other teams, will be in Barcelona with significant upgrade packages on the cars. The cars remain relatively consistent over the course of the fly away races and this race weekend is the first opportunity to understand how we have moved forward with performance and developed the MP4-23 in comparison with our primary competitors. We are confident that we have improved the performance of the car, but this week’s test was not an accurate indicator of performance, so we will need to wait for the race to establish how the MP4-23 will fair. 

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NASCAR Phoenix TV rating flat
Phoenix TV ratings share match 2007: Fox's broadcast of last Saturday night's Subway Fresh Fit 500 Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway earned a final Nielsen Media Research rating of 4.4 and an 8 market share, Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Daily reports. The rating matches the 4.4 Fox earned last year, but the market share dropped from a 9 in 2007 to an 8 in 2008.


Long Beach could be last IndyCar race for Tracy
Paul Tracy in his familiar No. 3 on Friday
Bob Heathcote/AutoRacing1
It all started right here at Long Beach 18 years ago for Paul Tracy when he started his Champ Car career driving for Dale Coyne.  Two years after that he won his first Champ Car race here as well and since has won it three additional times.  Tracy has accomplished a lot during his career as a Champ Car driver - he has 31 victories, 74 podiums and 25 poles in 261 starts prior to this weekend.

But as is the case with many Champ Car drivers, he does not have ride in the unified Indy Racing League, which in late February absorbed Champ Car.

Sunday's main event at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is therefore the Champ Car swan song and it may also be Tracy's swan song because his Forsythe Pettit Racing team is not transitioning over to the IndyCar circuit and both sides are working to terminate their contract.

Tracy did not even know if he was going to race here until the past couple of days as he and his team hammered out negotiations for this event.  So the fact that Tracy is a bit rusty is understandable.

"It feels good to be back in the car, obviously, qualifying," Tracy said. "Today didn't go as well as we wanted it to. It was basically mostly on me. I made a lot of mistakes in qualifying, just couldn't put the lap together.

"And then when I did on the last lap, I made a huge mistake in the second-to-last corner and I lost all the time we had.

"Ifs and buts, we should have been about third quickest instead of eighth. So I'm a little bit frustrated. But it's nice to be back in the car and kind of mixed emotions. I don't know where my career is leading me from here."

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Motegi IndyCar race postponed
Crews try in vain to stop the weepers
Dana Garrett/IRL
For the first time in its six-year history as an IndyCar Series event, rain and track surface moisture have forced a one-day postponement of the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300 at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan.  The 200-lap race is now scheduled to run in its entirety starting at 11a.m. local time Sunday (10 p.m. Saturday EDT).

Nearly continuous rain on Friday forced the cancellation of all of Friday's on-track sessions, including qualifying. The starting lineup for Saturday's Bridgestone Indy Japan 300 then was set according to team entrant points gained in the first two races this year.

An all-day rain Saturday soaked the track and the soil under the track
Dana Garrett/IRL
The only previous postponement in Motegi's 10-year history took place in 2000, when showers on Saturday forced the race to run on Sunday, an event won by Michael Andretti.

Although the rain came to a halt early this morning, the moisture-soaked ground under the track forced water to the surface of the 1.5-mile oval, creating persistent "weepers" is several locations.  Series and track workers labored throughout the day attempting to drain the water, but IndyCar officials were finally forced to postpone the race at 3 p.m. local time.

Weather forecasts call for generally improving conditions through Sunday, but a chance of rain remains in the morning hours.

Brian Barnhart, president of the competition and operations divisions of the sanctioning Indy Racing League and the race's chief steward, twice consulted drivers regarding the safety of the racing surface before asking Mutoh and Roger Yasukawa to address the crowd.

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Bomarito Takes Provisional Atlantic  Pole
American racer Jonathan Bomarito put the wraps on an eventful off season in fine fashion on Friday at the Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge of Long Beach by taking the provisional pole position for Sunday’s 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season-opener.

Bomarito posted a best lap at 1:16.830 (92.214 mph) in the No. 26 RLM Investments/Discount Tire Centers/Stone Brewing machine, nearly three-tenths of a second quicker than his closest competitor, to secure a front-row starting spot for Sunday’s 25th Atlantic race on the streets of Long Beach. It will be Bomarito’s first Atlantic start with Mathiasen Motorsports, which he joined just prior to the final preseason test session at MSR Houston—which he also led—last month. The Monterey, Calif. native is looking for the second pole position of his Atlantic career this weekend.

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Long Beach: Montagny fastest in Champ Car practice 2
French rookie Franck Montagny showed just how good he is by topping the final practice session before Friday's provisional Champ Car pole qualifying at Long Beach.



Driver # Team Lap Time Behind Leader Behind Previous
1 F. Montagny 7 Forsythe Pettit Racing 1:08.599
2 J. Wilson 2 Newman/ Haas/ Lanigan Racing 1:08.640 0.041
3 G. Rahal 6 Newman/ Haas/ Lanigan Racing 1:08.899 0.300 0.259
4 O. Servia 5 KV Racing Technology 1:08.928 0.329 0.029
5 A. Figge 29 Pacific Coast Motorsports 1:09.132 0.533 0.204
6 J. Vasser 12 KV Racing Technology 1:09.162 0.563 0.030
7 E. Bernoldi 36 Conquest Racing 1:09.169 0.570 0.007
8 R. Moreno 14 Minardi / HVM 1:09.280 0.681 0.111
9 A. Tagliani 15 Walker Racing 1:09.290 0.691 0.010
10 M. Dominguez 96 Pacific Coast Motorsports 1:09.304 0.705 0.014
11 W. Power 8 KV Racing Technology 1:09.501 0.902 0.197
12 F. Perera 34 Conquest Racing 1:09.624 1.025 0.123
13 E. Viso 33 PDVSA HVM Racing 1:09.635 1.036 0.011
14 M. Moraes 19 Dale Coyne Racing 1:09.667 1.068 0.032
15 D. Martinez 37 Forsythe Pettit Racing 1:09.783 1.184 0.116
16 P. Tracy 3 Forsythe Pettit Racing 1:09.949 1.350 0.166
17 A. Pizzonia 9 Rocketsports Racing 1:10.454 1.855 0.505
18 B. Junqueira 18 Dale Coyne Racing 1:10.614 2.015 0.160
19 J. Annala 10 Rocketsports Racing 1:14.259 5.660 3.645


ALMS extends with Long Beach
Scott Atherton
ALMS President Scott Atherton and Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach head honcho Jim Michaelian announced a 5-year extension to their deal to race on the streets of Long Beach with Indy Cars. ALMS will remain the feature event on Saturday and Indy Car on Sunday.  The ALMS race will remain a sprint race because of the lack of time in the busy weekend schedule and the fact it is hard to get fans to stay for a long, say 6-hour, endurance event. 

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De Ferran signs Pagenaud
Gil de Ferran announced Friday in Long Beach that Simon Pagenaud would team with him to drive the 4th Acura entry in the ALMS series. The two time ChampCar Champion and Indy 500 winner said he was disappointed that the team could not debut here this weekend, but they will debut in Salt Lake City. Testing has already begun at Sebring, de Ferran's first time in a car in 4 years. The first major sponsor for the team will be Panasonic. De Ferran said he had a lot of candidates for the ride but he felt Pagenaud was a driver the team could grow with. He was intelligent and very committed, and Walker Racing had a lot of good things to say about him - important factors in his decision. There are currently no plans in place to expand this team to a 2-car effort.  See feature article on Home page for more details.


Mexico City just a one-off for Fernandez
Adrian Fernandez isn’t planning on making the full-time switch from open wheel to stock cars any time soon. But that's not to say the American Le Mans Series driver doesn't understand why so many of his open-wheel counterparts have recently made the move to NASCAR.

“Unfortunately in the last few years, open-wheel racing … it's just been bad for open-wheel racers and young drivers that always dream about being in IndyCars,” said Fernandez, who is making a cameo start for JR Motorsports in Sunday’s Nationwide Series race in Mexico City. “So really a lot of these drivers, they didn't start their careers like most of the NASCAR drivers did, in Sprint cars, Super Modified cars, all the type of cars that will allow you a better platform before you jump into NASCAR.

“So a lot of these drivers, you know, like Dario [Franchitti] and Sam Hornish, other drivers like Patrick Carpentier, that run with us for so many years, basically they are looking into their future.  If I was in their shoes, I probably would have done the same.”

Though Fernandez enjoys running the annual event in his hometown of Mexico City for what is now the Nationwide Series – Sunday will mark his fourth straight start in the race that debuted in 2005 – don’t expect him to be the next in a line of open-wheel drivers to turn to NASCAR. “I'm in a different stage,” Fernandez said. “I had the opportunity to do that with Lowe's and Hendrick at some stage, but I'm 45 now.  I want to enjoy more my family.  I'm working under different circumstances.  But if I had their age, I was in their time, I definitely would have done the same.

“NASCAR right now puts you a better future, more growth with sponsorships and everything.  So it's definitely the place to be right now." Scenedaily.com


Nuclear Clean Energy sponsors Newman Wachs and De Silvestro
Newman Wachs Racing (NWR) is launching their “Nuclear Clean Air Energy” marketing program with the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) this weekend at the Cooper Tires presents the Atlantic Championship powered by Mazda 2008 Season in Long Beach, California.

The #34 car will be driven by Simona De Silvestro, one of Switzerland’s top young racers and the newly enlisted driver to the team. She made history by becoming the first woman to ever earn a podium result at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2006 at the US Grand Prix. This is her second season with the Atlantic Championship Series.

NWR’s #34 car is dedicated to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI)'s current campaign statement. The objective is to ensure formation of public policy to promote the beneficial uses of nuclear energy. NEI will encourage a collection of public and private organizations united under the promotion of the technological advancement of nuclear power to aid in additional support.

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Long Beach: Wilson leads opening Champ Car practice
Justin Wilson
Gail Miller/AutoRacing1

Justin Wilson turned the fastest lap in opening practice for Sunday's last-ever Champ Car race being help this weekend in Long Beach, California.  Wilson was driving the McDonald’s car for NHLR and he beat Walker Racing's Alex Tagliani by a scant 0.10 seconds.  Will Power, now driving for KV Racing was third ahead of Mario Dominguez and Oriol Servia.

Morning Practice Results


Driver # Team Lap Time Behind Leader Behind Previous
1 J. Wilson 2 Newman/ Haas/ Lanigan Racing 1:08.286
2 A. Tagliani 15 Walker Racing 1:08.386 0.100
3 W. Power 8 KV Racing Technology 1:08.435 0.149 0.049
4 M. Dominguez 96 Pacific Coast Motorsports 1:08.568 0.282 0.133
5 O. Servia 5 KV Racing Technology 1:08.602 0.316 0.034
6 P. Tracy 3 Forsythe Pettit Racing 1:08.633 0.347 0.031
7 F. Montagny 7 Forsythe Pettit Racing 1:09.086 0.800 0.453
8 A. Pizzonia 9 Rocketsports Racing 1:09.228 0.942 0.142
9 F. Perera 34 Conquest Racing 1:09.415 1.129 0.187
10 A. Figge 29 Pacific Coast Motorsports 1:09.507 1.221 0.092
11 D. Martinez 37 Forsythe Pettit Racing 1:09.522 1.236 0.015
12 E. Bernoldi 36 Conquest Racing 1:09.530 1.244 0.008
13 G. Rahal 6 Newman/ Haas/ Lanigan Racing 1:09.544 1.258 0.014
14 B. Junqueira 18 Dale Coyne Racing 1:09.592 1.306 0.048
15 J. Vasser 12 KV Racing Technology 1:09.660 1.374 0.068
16 N. Philippe 4 Minardi / HVM 1:10.151 1.865 0.491
17 R. Moreno 14 Minardi / HVM 1:10.532 2.246 0.381
18 M. Moraes 19 Dale Coyne Racing 1:10.992 2.706 0.460
19 E. Viso 33 PDVSA HVM Racing 1:11.065 2.779 0.073
20 J. Annala 10 Rocketsports Racing 1:13.051 4.765 1.986


Hinchcliffe to Pilot Pace Car in Champ Car Finale
James Hinchcliffe
Canada’s James Hinchcliffe has been given the honor of driving the Pace Car for the Champ Car World Series finale taking place this weekend at the ‘34th Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach’, in California, Friday 18th – Sunday 20th April.

The 21-year-old Toronto-resident, who will also compete in Long Beach in the opening round of the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, has been selected to drive Champ Car’s Mazda RX8 Pace Car as the series makes its final outing following the unification with the Indy Racing League earlier this year.

With a field of 20 cars expected for Sunday’s sprint around the illustrious 1.968-mile temporary street circuit, Hinchcliffe is relishing his surprise duty in addition to his Atlantic commitments racing the #3 INDECK Swift Mazda-Cosworth for Forsythe Pettit Racing on Sunday morning.

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Long Beach: Diaz puts Acura on top in Saturday practice
Luis Diaz came out flying in the first official practice session for the Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach by taking the top spot in the 40-minute session Friday morning. The Lowe’s Fernandez Acura ARX-01b turned in a time of 1:12.239 (98.074 mph) around the 1.968-mile, 11-turn street circuit in Long Beach.

Diaz handled all the duties with teammate Adrian Fernandez in Mexico preparing for another race this weekend. Acura held the top two spots with Christian Fittipaldi second overall and in LMP2 at 1:12.531 (97.680 mph). He will drive the Andretti Green Racing Acura with Bryan Herta, who began on pole position last year with Dario Franchitti.

The weekend is shaping up to be close and extremely competitive. The first seven cars in the overall standings were within 0.707 seconds.

Marco Werner first in LMP1 and third overall in the more powerful but heavier No. 2 Audi R10 TDI at 1:12.579 (97.615 mph). He and Lucas Luhr were overall winners two weeks ago at the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg.

Penske Racing’s two Porsche RS Spyders were fourth and fifth overall (third and fourth in LMP2). Next was the second Audi R10 TDI of Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro.

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Seen in Long Beach - 1
Friday dawned sunny and warm in Long Beach (fairly typical for this time of year) with thousands of people pouring in as the morning progresses.......Out on pit lane the No. 10 Rocketsports car for Finnish rookie J. Annala is dark blue with Pulp Management Agency as the sponsor.  And it appears like dark blue is in this weekend with all three Forsythe cars painted dark blue with InDeck sponsorship.  Tracy is in the No. car, Montagny in the No. 7 car and Martinez in the No. 37 (3 plus 7)...........Graham Rahal's car still carries Hole in the Wall branding and is painted black, just like his IndyCar......Tagliani's car is carry sponsorship from www.cecwheels.com ..........Nothing new on the Cosworth front - 60 seconds of push-to-pass boost raising HP to 800 from a base of 750.


Dickies Expands its RCR Partnership
Dickies®, the leading global workwear brand, and Richard Childress Racing (RCR), are expanding their partnership to include an associate sponsorship position on the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil team with driver Kevin Harvick in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Dickies and RCR began their partnership in 2006 as the official provider of work apparel for RCR. The opportunity to increase their involvement into team partnership with RCR was the next logical step in a successful relationship.

“Dickies has been part of the NASCAR family since 2001. The company’s sponsorship of the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway is an important part of our marketing efforts and a perfect fit with the Dickies brand, said Jon Ragsdale, vice president of marketing and  Business Development for Dickies. “This year we are expanding our NASCAR portfolio by becoming an associate sponsor on the No. 29 car driven by Kevin Harvick. Harvick and team owner Richard Childress are perfect embodiments of the hard-working men and women that wear Dickies products and we look forward to seeing Dickies in victory lane.”

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Long and Murry team up for Synergy with Oil Heat America.com
Oil Heat America.com has joined Synergy Racing to sponsor the No. 80 Oil Heat America.com Porsche GT3 for round four of the Rolex Sports Car Series season at Virginia International Raceway. The team is also pleased to announce the driver line-up for the entry, as Patrick Long of Belleair, Fla., and David Murry of Cumming, Ga. will pair for the Bosh Engineering 250 at VIR on April 27.

Synergy Racing has high hopes for the new partnership and the Bosch 250 race outing, and figures to have a home-field advantage with the team’s headquarters located on the grounds at VIR.

“Synergy Racing is tremendously excited to not only have Oil Heat America.com as a partner for this race, but also to be fielding a car with such proven Porsche aces in it for our home event,” said Synergy Racing team principal Cole Scrogham. “We have a lot of experience with both Pat and David, but they have never raced as teammates before so this is a really special opportunity, and we expect to have a competitive outing with these guys.”

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Barrichello encouraged by Honda updates
Rubens Barrichello is hopeful he can end his and Honda's win and point drought in Spain next week after being “encouraged” by Honda’s RA108 updates in testing.

"We had a very busy and successful test this week,” he said.

“We ran our new aero upgrade for the first time and I'm encouraged by the performance.

“I felt a definite improvement, although the windy conditions made it difficult to quantify how much.

“We covered some good mileage and a lot of test items, particularly on Thursday when I completed 140 laps.

“Overall I have good reason to be positive for the Spanish Grand Prix and I hope that we can get into the points there."

Barrichello made a rare appearance at the head of the timesheet on his second day in the car after trying out the 2009-spec slick tires.

“On Wednesday, I had a good day evaluating the slick tires and we were able to make some improvements to our set-up,” he added.

“It was nice to finish at the top of the timesheet, although it does not have too great a significance when only half of the field were running slicks.”


Manager denies Hartley F1 race seat possible
(GMM)  Rising Red Bull-backed youngster Brendon Hartley is not yet knocking on the door of a formula one race seat, his manager insists.

After giving Toro Rosso's 2008 car its debut shakedown recently, and conducting a Red Bull demonstration in Saudi Arabia in March, some reports suggested that the 18-year-old from New Zealand might be high on the list to replace Red Bull Racing-bound Sebastian Vettel at the Italian team next year.

But although admitting that Hartley is heading in the right direction, his manager, mentor and countryman Peter Johnston insists that the first step is to secure the British F3 title.

"In the near future, a F1 drive is not possible," he told the news agency NZPA.

"He has to do very well this year and then move on to GP2.  He is doing some component testing for Toro Rosso but that is all it is.

"If he does good this year, he could become a full time test driver with Toro Rosso next year," Johnston added.


Castroneves on Motegi pole as qualifications rained out UPDATE Weather forecasts call for generally improving conditions on race day, but a chance of rain remains.

Helio Castroneves
04/17/08 Helio Castroneves didn't have to do anything to earn the pole for the Indy Japan 300. That was taken care of during the first two IndyCar Series races of the season.

Castroneves will lead the field to the green flag on the 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval based on being the entrant points front-runner after qualifications for the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award were rained out.

It's the third year in a row that he'll start from the pole in the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone in the 200-lap race. Under similar weather circumstances in '06, Castroneves was awarded the pole based on entrant points. He led 184 laps en route to the 6.3-second victory over Dan Wheldon.  See feature article on Home Page for more details.


Dodge NASCAR program finds itself on the ropes
As darkness fell on the Great American Race this February, no one at Dodge was planning to turn out the lights anytime soon. Ryan Newman had just snagged his first Daytona 500 win for Roger Penske, one of six Dodges to finish in the top eight spots. With the perfect 1-2 punch of Newman and Kurt Busch, the manufacturer had made a statement the Charger was a force to be reckoned with in 2008.

Or so it seemed.

Turning the calendar page from February to April, it's a whole different story for a 12-car program in turmoil. It's clear that not all makes are created equal in NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow world -- and no one knows this cold reality better than Dodge. At Daytona, Chargers combined to lead 23 of 200 laps; in the seven races since, they've led just 48 of 3,000. During that span, the cars have collected just one top five finish and, even then, Newman's fourth-place run at Texas was clouded amidst the scrutiny of a post-race inspection failure. With just two Chargers currently in Chase contention -- Kasey Kahne and Newman are hanging on in 11th and 12th, respectively -- a promising season has quickly unraveled as the manufacturer finds itself a distant fourth in the standings behind Chevy, Ford, and Toyota.

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Cementing their legacies
Mario Andretti lifts a checkered flag to unveil his marker during the 2008 Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame Induction ceremony Thursday. Andretti, who won the Long Beach Grand Prix in 1977, 1984, 1985 and 1987, told the crowd that returning to Long Beach "is like coming back home."
Diandra Jay/LB Telegram Staff Photographer
The man synonymous with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach - Mario Andretti - is now a permanent part of the community.

Andretti, who drove in the very first Grand Prix in 1975 and won the race four times, was inducted into the Long Beach Motorsports Walk of Fame on Thursday, along with Parnelli Jones and Gary Gabelich.

All three had medallions listing their accomplishments and an image of their car permanently embedded in Long Beach concrete along the Walk of Fame on South Pine Avenue in front of the Convention Center. They were honored in an hour-long induction ceremony attended by city dignitaries, family members and racing fans.

"(Coming to Long Beach) is like coming back home," said Andretti, who won in Long Beach in 1977, 1984, 1985 and 1987. "I don't know anywhere on this planet I feel more welcome than Long Beach."

In the mid-1970s, once-popular street races were on the wane, and Andretti said he wasn't confident race founder Chris Pook's idea for a street course in Long Beach would work.

"I thought it would never fly," he said. "But I could see it would have a chance when I saw how the city of Long Beach got behind it. The city fathers saw this as a tremendous opportunity to bring this city to the attention of the world.

"Look at this town now," he continued. "This city is a destination." 

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L.B. officials demand removal of giant Patron tequila sign UPDATE The 11-story Patr¢n Tequila banner on the side of the Villa Riviera condominiums went down Thursday morning as fast as a shot of ... well, you know.  The City Prosecutor's Office had sent a letter Tuesday to the Villa Riviera Condominium Association informing the organization that the banner must be removed because the city hadn't issued a permit for it.

If the sign hadn't been removed in a timely manner, condominium association officials could have faced fines and possible jail time, the letter stated.  Mike Ondeck, spokesman for Leonard and Co. Inc., the outdoor advertising company that facilitated securing an advertiser and placing the banner on the building, said he didn't apply for a permit before putting the ad up Sunday. City officials first contacted him Monday, saying the banner violated Long Beach Municipal Code.

Ondeck said he asked if he could apply for a permit.

"At first he said no, it's too big, it doesn't comply with our sign code," Ondeck said of the code enforcement officer with whom he had spoken.

City municipal code says promotional banners "shall not exceed one square foot of banner area for each linear foot of building street frontage and shall not exceed 100 square feet, whichever is less."

The Patr¢n banner clearly exceeded the 100-square-foot limit. LB Press Telegram

04/17/08 The city of Long Beach can't handle its tequila. At least, not an 11-story Patron Tequila advertisement that city officials say was placed illegally on the west side of the historic Villa Riviera condominiums.

The city prosecutor's office sent a letter Tuesday to six Villa Riviera Condominium Association board members and residents that says the advertising banner is a public nuisance because it was placed without the appropriate permits and must be taken down.

If the banner isn't removed immediately, misdemeanor charges could be filed against the property owners, according to the letter, which was made available Wednesday to the Press-Telegram.

The banner was put up Sunday in preparation for the annual Grand Prix this weekend, according to Ana Maria McGuan, finance secretary for the Villa Riviera, which is located at 800 E. Ocean Blvd. The banner is visible from the oceanfront streets of the Grand Prix race course, where about 180,000 people are expected to view the event.

McGuan said the Villa Riviera board was approached earlier this year by outdoor advertising firm Leonard and Co. Inc. about hanging an advertisement on the scaffolding already in place as part of a renovation of the 1929 condominium building. The company handled all of the details of securing an advertiser and placing the banner, McGuan said.

"The association has no responsibility for the permit or how the situation is handled," McGuan said. "The association is just as shocked as the city that permits have not been pulled, so at the moment we're trying to get to the bottom of what's going on." More at Long Beach Press Telegram


Q and A with Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton
The McLaren Formula One team has been hard at work at the Barcelona circuit in Spain this week, preparing for the upcoming fourth round of the 2008 championship as well as putting the 2009 slick tires through their paces. Both drivers took part in the session over the course of the session with Lewis Hamilton on duty at the start of the week.

During a break, Lewis spoke to the team’s official website about some of the new developments they are working on and his thoughts on being back in Europe….

There are a lot of new components in the aerodynamic package of the MP4-23, what are your initial impressions of these?
There was a few, we have definitely made some steps forward. I think at this test everyone is doing something different, some teams are running slick tires, some are running groove. We are just focusing on the job, the car is feeling better and I feel a more comfortable in it.

You are now in Europe, how are you feeling after the first three races?
It is great to be back in Europe, this is when it really starts getting busy, you are closer to home, closer to the team, it is a great feeling.

Have you learnt anything over the first three races, especially with some of the mistakes you have done?
Yes, for sure, you learn something at every race even if you win. I think we have come along way and looking to the next race I feel very, very confident we can do a better job.


Bridgestone satisfied after busy test with slicks
Bridgestone Motorsport, the Official Tire Supplier to the FIA Formula One World Championship, has completed its second major 2009 specification slick tire test as well as a preparatory test for next week’s Gran Premio de Espana Telefonica at the Circuit de Catalunya near Barcelona, Spain.

Ten teams were present over the four days of testing from 14-17 April where Bridgestone’s hard and medium compound 2008 specification dry grooved tires were supplied to teams as well as three compounds of 2009 specification developmental slick tires.

Mixed conditions greeted teams with moderate winds affecting running on the first three days and rain falling on the circuit during the final day of the test, meaning that the Bridgestone Potenza wet weather tires also came into use.

Tire performance of the 2008 specification tires was good with no reported issues as teams finalized their set-ups and tested new parts at this circuit, with which they have a great deal of familiarity as they extensively test there.

Bridgestone supplied nine sets of 2009 specification slick tires per team, enabling both Bridgestone and the teams to accumulate knowledge of these tires. The teams also ran cars to next year’s regulations, which include excluding the use of tire warmers. This was the second test of slick tires, following on from the test in Jerez in December last year.

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Mosley aiming to fight confidence vote
Max Mosley
There are clear signs emerging that FIA President Max Mosley is not intending to disappear gracefully at the FIA General Assembly in June, despite the fact that clubs which represent more than 60% of the FIA membership have either requested or demanded his resignation.

Mosley's actions suggest that he feels that he can convince FIA delegates that the key point is not that he damaged the FIA reputation, but rather that he was the victim of an invasion of his privacy, and possibly even a plot to remove him from office.

Mosley continues to try to get the video footage of his activities banned. This failed in Britain, although he did receive a fairly supportive judgment. He is now applying for a ban in France. If successful this will create a "paper trail" of legal judgments that Mosley will no doubt try to use to support his arguments and that it all has nothing to do with his ability to run the sport.

The inconvenient fact remains that if there was a trap, he still fell into it and by doing so raised questions about his judgment and his suitability to hold the position.

The fact that he has since refused to resign has done enormous damage to the image of the FIA and mobilized a number of clubs against him.

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Shakedown for Ferrari on April 23
On Wednesday, April 23, the Scuderia Ferrari will perform a shakedown of the two cars that will be used by Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend. The shakedown will take place at the Fiorano track in Italy.  Whether the team tests any further refinements to their cars remains to be seen.


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Honda backs 2009 tire blanket ban
(GMM)  The formula one team Honda has backed next year's proposed banning of tire warming blankets.

Active race and test drivers have recently flagged the ban, set to coincide with the return of slick tires in 2009, as a safety concern, after the initial development compounds offered by Bridgestone proved difficult to get up to speed on the test tracks.

But Honda's engineering chief Steve Clark played down the issue at the end of the four day group test this week at Barcelona.

"Running here in warmer conditions, we had no issues with warming the tires up without blankets," he said.

"We are looking forward to the challenge of running the cars next year without tire warmers and reduced downforce.

"It should be interesting," he added.

Mosley wants sex video banned in France
(GMM)  After failing to get the notorious News of the World sex video banned in the London High Court, embattled FIA president Max Mosley has now lodged the same complaint in the French jurisdiction.

The 68-year-old on Thursday filed legal proceedings in Paris, the home of the governing body, to prevent the offending video from being accessed via the internet on French territory.

Mosley also wants paper copies of the British tabloid newspaper seized in France, and 25,000 euros in damages for each offence, the news agency Reuters said after sighting the legal filings.

His lawyer, Philippe Ouakrat, said the video is a "violation of his right to respect for his private life", according to the French news agency AFP.

A judge will examine the case on Friday, with a ruling expected either late in the day or early next week.

In terms of privacy, the French legal system is among the most protective that exists, according to information obtained from the Embassy of France in the United States.

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Long Beach: Thursday ALMS Notebook
It’s easy to see why Andretti Green Racing may have been disappointed with last year’s final result in the American Le Mans Series’ first visit to Long Beach. After qualifying on the overall pole position, leading 39 of the first 46 laps and posting the race’s fastest lap, the rookie Acura team finished sixth overall and in LMP2.

Early in the week of the Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach, the AGR squad appears as if it will find itself right back in the hunt for overall and class honors Saturday. Bryan Herta was quickest in the first of two test sessions Thursday, and the No. 26 Acura ARX-01b finished third overall and in class at the end of the day.

“The car mechanically isn’t very different from last year’s,” said Herta, who will team with Christian Fittipaldi. “A lot of the information we gained here last year is helping a lot. The car is really good on street circuits to begin with.”

Before he said anything, Herta expressed his gratitude for Thursday’s test session, a first in the history of the Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend. In 2007, teams has a single 45-minute session on Friday morning before qualifying in the afternoon.

“I really do appreciate the track officials and the Series finding more time for us to practice,” he said. “I really think it will be a huge benefit and we’ll have a better race for it.”

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Penske team fastest overall on Thursday
The first Thursday afternoon test in the history of the Long Beach street circuit has set the stage for what looks to be a close and competitive race for the Tequila Patr¢n American Le Mans Series at Long Beach. Penske Racing’s No. 6 Porsche RS Spyder let a trio of LMP2 cars to the top of the timing charts after nearly two hours of testing around the famed venue.

American factory driver Patrick Long’s time of 1:12.986 (97.071 mph) was quickest in preparation for the third round of the 2008 season. Long is teaming with Sascha Maassen, who finished second overall and in class at Long Beach last season with Ryan Briscoe. The top six cars at the end of the session was within 0.765 seconds of each other.

Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz were second overall, just 0.113 seconds behind Maassen, in the Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b, the best of the Acura contingent. Third was Andretti Green Racing at 1:13.261 (96.706 mph); Bryan Herta and Christian Fittipaldi will share duties in the Acura ARX-01b.

Marco Werner was fastest in LMP1 and fourth overall in Audi Sport North America’s No. 2 Audi R10 TDI. Werner toured the track in 1:13.388 (96.539 mph), two weeks after winning overall at St. Petersburg with Lucas Luhr. The second Audi of Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro was second in class but eighth overall at 1:14.586 (94.988 mph).

Johnny O’Connell went fastest in GT1 in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C6.R that he will share with Jan Magnussen. O’Connell’s 1:17.524 (91.388 mph) was 0.605 seconds ahead of the No. 4 sister Corvette of Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin, defending race winners in class.

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