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DATE News (chronologically)
04/24/07
cc

Vasser living a content, peaceful life
Shortly before 10:30 a.m. Monday after Champ Car’s season-opening Vegas Grand Prix, Jim Vasser walked down the center of the Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 headed from Las Vegas to Sacramento.

We made eye contact, and he seemed headed to the empty aisle seat across from mine. If you sit there I’m going to talk (interview) to you,” I warned.

He sat anyway. Vasser and I go back to the early 90s, when his son Jimmy Vasser and I went to the 1992 Indianapolis 500. It was the first time for both of us.

Thanks to Jimmy’s dad, himself a legend among California car customizers — including winner of Most Beautiful Hot Rod in the early 1970s — Jimmy went karting while growing up in Morgan Hill.

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04/24/07
nascar

Gordon set to tie another Earnhardt record
TALLADEGA, Ala. – A week after matching Dale Earnhardt’s total of 76 NASCAR Cup Series wins, Jeff Gordon now hopes to tie one of The Intimidator’s records – most restrictor-plate victories – in this Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. Gordon, who paid tribute to Earnhardt following his victory at Phoenix by carrying a number “3" flag during his Victory Lap, is looking to capture his 11th career restrictor-plate win.

The driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet has six wins at Daytona International Speedway, including three Daytona 500 victories, and four wins at the 2.66-mile Alabama track. Along with those four wins, Gordon has posted 11 top-fives and 14 top-10's at Talladega but has never captured the pole position for a race here.

Earnhardt collected three wins at Daytona, including the 1998 Daytona 500 – a race that had eluded him for so many years. The seven-time Cup champion won 10 times at Talladega – eight times during the restrictor-plate era including win No. 76 in 2000.

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04/24/07
wsr

Estoril added to Renault series calendar
According to SportMotores.es, Estoril has been added to the 2007 World Series by Renault calendar to replace the cancelled Turkey race.  The race will be held the weekend of October 21st.

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04/24/07
cc

Minardi Team USA to appear on Discovery Channel
The Discovery Channel Series, “Hazard Pay” will appear this Wednesday, April 25, 2007 at 8:00pm EST featuring the Minardi Team USA, known last year as CTE Racing- HVM. 

Curt Doussett travels the country meeting the dedicated workers who put themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis. Last fall at Road America, Curt had the unique opportunity to be a member of the over-the-wall pit crew for Minardi Team USA. Curt was able to experience the high-pressure environment that crew members endure every race weekend. Curt took part in pit-stops changing wheels and re-fueling the racecar.  To confirm local listings, please visit http://dsc.discovery.com/fansites/hazard-pay/episode/episode.html

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04/24/07
nascar

Petty Has Seen It All at Talladega
This weekend, Kyle Petty and the #45 National Tire and Battery Dodge team will head to the high-banked, 2.66-mile Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for Sunday’s Aaron’s 499.  Talladega is the largest oval on which the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series competes.  

The switching between the “standard” Nextel Cup car and the Car of Tomorrow (COT) continues this weekend as the teams will be utilizing the “standard” car.  But, when the teams come back to Talladega for the second time, it will be with the COT. 

Sunday will mark Petty’s 794th career start as he continues to inch closer to the remarkable milestone of 800 career starts in the Nextel Cup Series.  This weekend will be Petty’s 51st start at Talladega and it is a track where he has had considerable success.  He has garnered four top-five and 17 top-ten finishes at the Alabama track.  Petty finished 18th in this event in 2006.

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04/24/07
f1

F1 TV rating highlights
F1 continues to dwarf NASCAR's popularity in all markets around the globe except the USA. Here are some highlights from Sports Business Journal. In just these small 5 countries F1's total viewers surpass NASCAR best ratings. Add up all the other countries around the world and you get the picture.

France
Average share of viewing audience across all three race programs has been in excess of 38 per cent. Despite the decreased audience for Bahrain, the race coverage still provided a 31 per cent audience share.

Spain
Tele5's coverage show increases for all three of the races so far in 2007. Bahrain GP yielded the highest live audience to date with an average of 5.2 million viewers (4.2 million - 2006), a peak of 6.7 million (5.6 million - 2006) which equated to an audience share of 57 per cent.

Germany
Formula One audiences have declined a little from last year because Michael Schumacher retired. RTL¹s F1 related programming accounted for 8 of the day¹s 10 largest audiences for sport.

England
As viewers begin to recognize the true potential of Lewis Hamilton, audiences for the live coverage of the Malaysian Grand prix leaped 27 per cent from 2006. Although the numbers were down slightly for Bahrain due to the fine weather an audience share of 39 per cent was 8 per cent higher than n 2006.

Italy
The Australian Grand Prix attracted an unprecedented 72 per cent share in live audience. For the Malaysian GP the audience share was 61 per cent equating to 5.8 million viewers, a million more viewers than 2006. For Bahrain 11.1 million viewers watched Ferrari take a second win of the season, this represents a larger audience than for any event in 2006 excluding the season finale in Brazil.

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04/24/07
cca

Ricci Robbed by Ruling
Houston, TX - Conquest Racing’s Giacomo Ricci finished eighth in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Houston Champ Car Atlantic powered by Mazda race after race officials mistakenly penalized the Italian two positions.

Teammate Matt Lee delivered the best weekend performance of his young Atlantic career with a fifth place qualifying effort and a strong race performance before a late race spin sent him back in the running order to finish seventeenth.
 
“It is tremendously frustrating for Giacomo to get this penalty,” said Conquest Racing team owner Eric Bachelart. “He had to bypass the chicane to avoid contact with another car, but he did not get any advantage from it. The officials admitted that to me but did not change the penalty, so I am also deeply frustrated by this.”
 
While the officiating was not what Bachelart was hoping to see, the performance of both his young Atlantics drivers certainly was as Ricci dealt maturely with the penalty to take his second Atlantic top-ten finish as Matt Lee put in his best performance of the season.

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04/24/07
cc

Halliday Takes Houston Finish in Stride
Houston, TX -Conquest Racing Champ Car rookie Matt Halliday scored the first finish of his Champ Car career in the 42 Below machine on Sunday in the Grand Prix of Houston.  The New Zealander was classified in fourteenth position at the checkered flag after losing time in the pits for repairs that were needed when an overly optimistic competitor crashed Halliday off course.
 
The Conquest Racing crew worked quickly to fix the suspension on the 42 Below machine, but Halliday lost several laps while on pit lane before rejoining the race. The 42 Below car was unable to match the pace it set in the early laps of the race, but Halliday hung on to bring the Conquest Racing entry to the checkered flag for his first Champ Car finish.

"I guess we got crashed into,” said a frustrated Halliday. “We were running at a good pace to start with and saving fuel and then Moreno came by me and tried passing on the inside. We hit and that was the end of the story for us. Moreno is an old man and he should know better.  The crew did a good job of getting everything fixed but we lost a lot of time and then I had to just cruise around. We just took it easy to get some points at the end.”
 
The Houston race weekend marked the last of three consecutive race weekends to open up the 2007 Champ Car season. Despite  working with a rookie driver and a brand new race car with the Panoz DP01, Conquest Racing proved to be up to the challenge and is looking forward to competing in more Champ Car races this season.
 
“I was happy with the first stint Matt had going but of course he got hit before he even got to his first pit stop and that obviously compromised our entire race,” said Bachelart. “He did a good job to just bring the car home at the end but it is a shame what happened because we could have capitalized on this race for more points.”

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04/24/07
f1

BMW Sauber announces official supplier
DuPont de Nemours is extending its partnership with the BMW Sauber F1 Team and will be supporting the team as an Official Supplier with immediate effect. DuPont became a Promotional Partner of the team in May 2006, since when it has worked in close collaboration with the BMW Sauber F1 Team on research and development.  BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen: "We are delighted with this extended involvement and with the research exchange we have enjoyed so far with DuPont. We will continue to steadily develop our strategic partnership."

"Through innovation and science, DuPont helps the BMW Sauber F1 Team keep their drivers and team safer, as well as increase the cars' looks and performance," says Ian Hudson, President DuPont Europe, Middle East and Africa.

"Highly visible applications - such as fire-resistant suits made out of DuPont Nomex®, or high-performance coatings and paints - and many other DuPont materials and applications used throughout the car demonstrate DuPont's position as a strong partner to the automotive industry. We are looking forward to extending our cooperation with the BMW Sauber F1 Team on many fronts in the future."

DuPont is a science-based enterprise. Founded in 1802, it has traditionally drawn on scientific research for long-term problem-solving that will improve the quality, safety and health of people's lives the world over. DuPont is active in more than 70 countries and offers a wide portfolio of innovative products and services for such sectors as agriculture, nutrition, electronics, communication, safety and protection, construction and housing, transport and clothing.  BMW Sauber

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04/24/07
f1

FIA moves to stop flexible floors
The FIA has increased the load-testing on the Formula 1 car floors, increasing the current 500 Newton test to 2000 Newtons. Teams are suspected of having floors that flex under full load thereby lowering the car and giving it a straight-line speed advantage. The higher load test will detect any possible flexing.

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04/24/07
a1gp

A1GP spinning its wheels, losing $200m+ a year
Philip Richards is the darling of the London hedge-fund circuit in large part because of the stratospheric financial returns realized from high-risk investments in nickel, copper and other natural-resource companies selling to Asia.

But in December, the RAB Capital PLC chief executive strayed into another unpredictable investment: auto racing. The RAB Special Situations fund paid $200 million to purchase an 80% stake in the A1GP racing series from one of its founding investors, Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Al Maktoum, the 30-year-old scion of Dubai's royal family.

A1GP -- in which largely unknown young drivers compete under their nation's flags in a series of 11 international events -- seemed like an ideal platform from which multinational advertisers could put their products and logos in front of the developing world's millions of budding consumers. High-profile global sponsors were all that were needed to turn the series into what RAB envisioned as "the World Cup of Motorsport." An initial public offering of shares in A1 Holdings Ltd. was slated for this month.

"You can grow businesses from small beginnings, and I think this does have global appeal," Mr. Richards says.

But the series has hit some serious speed bumps. It hasn't signed an international sponsor, the cost of holding its races is spiraling upward, some events have been canceled or are in danger of not being run again, and the IPO has been delayed.

Read more & Comment...
04/24/07
a1gp

GBR Looking To Break Records at A1GP Season Finale
London – A1 Team Great Britain is looking to make history at Brands Hatch this weekend, aiming to be the first team in the history A1GP to win a race on home soil. From 27 – 29 April, this exciting series that first hit the race tracks of the world at this famous Kent venue in September 2005 returns for the 2006/07 season finale, the RAB Capital A1GP Brands Hatch, Great Britain.

On that sunny weekend 21 events ago the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport made a dream debut. Over 70,000 people attended the action-packed weekend which saw A1 Team Brazil take the double and A1 Team Lebanon’s Khalil Beshir make a name for himself in a spectacular crash at Paddock Hill bend that is still the subject of conversation nearly two years on. However, it could have been so different for GBR driver Robbie Kerr as he was leading the Feature race when technical problems robbed him of a dream debut in the series.

‘Brands Hatch is the one we want two home wins at,’ said Kerr. ‘There is no way we are not going to be at the front at Brands Hatch. The car is getting better over the season. We have had a lot of bad luck so far, particularly in Australia and New Zealand where we were doing well in both races and we had a battery explode in one and a tire go in the other one. But this is the home race and I am really looking forward to having the home crowd support again. Hopefully we can have an even bigger crowd this year.’

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04/24/07
f1

F1 men found guilty of espionage
(GMM)  F1's long running Toyota espionage saga has ended with the two former Ferrari employees handed jail sentences.

Mauro Iacconi and Angelo Santini have been found guilty in a Modena court of stealing design information from Ferrari before switching to Toyota in 2002, according to Italian newspapers on Tuesday.

Their combined 25-month sentences were suspended, but both men will reportedly appeal.

The story first came to attention in 2003, when Toyota was accused of producing a car that was visibly very similar to the ultra-successful 2002 Ferrari single seater.

The men were fired, and Toyota officials including boss Ove Andersson, designer Gustav Brunner and aerodynamics chief Rene Hilhorst were all also implicated.  All five no longer work for Toyota.

Toyota consistently denied that the stolen information had been used for the 'TF103' car.

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04/24/07
f1

Latest F1 news in brief UPDATE Three new Hot News items added as noted below.

  • Mosley backs customer cars for 2008
  • No green light for night racing yet - FIA
  • Dennis reaffirms vow to step aside
  • Alonso insists no 'bad thoughts'
  • Prodrive F1 entry not for sale - Richards
  • Alonso has McLaren's 'total support' - Haug
  • Honda wind tunnel to blame - Barrichello New
  • F1 journalist back in court New
  • Albers' manager denies Winkelhock rumours New

Mosley backs customer cars for 2008
(GMM) Max Mosley has backed Spyker's decision to take its rivals to arbitration but says the controversial customer car issue will be clear-cut next year.

Although some team principals dispute the FIA president's confidence about the legitimacy of the incoming rule, Mosley insisted on Monday that running the same car as another team will be legal in 2008 and beyond.

"In 2007, there is a dispute about what the Concorde Agreement means and it is right and proper that if there is a dispute it should go to arbitration," Mosley, who earlier spoke alongside Michael Schumacher for the launch of the UN Global Road Safety Week, told Reuters in London.

"(But) in the end in 2008, it won't be a problem."

Mosley, 66, has consistently argued that there is not "enough money" in formula one to sustain twelve different constructors.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is currently working on a new definition for the term, which will outline different commercial benefits for 'constructors' and a mere 'entrant'.

But Mosley, the 'M' in the formula one constructor March which in the 1970s famously built and supplied customer cars, said: "You either have customer cars or you have people struggling at the back of the grid being lapped four times."

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04/24/07
nascar

Another open wheeler to NASCAR
Darrell Waltrip Motorsports officials say Josh Wise, the 2006 United States Auto Club National Sprint Car Series champion, will make his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut in Saturday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 at Kansas Speedway in the organization's No. 00 Toyota.  "Many drivers strive to be in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. I have waited what feels like forever to get into the truck and race," Wise said in a news release. "This is an outstanding opportunity for me and a big step in my career thanks to the support of Aaron's and the Waltrips."

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04/24/07
alms

Muller gets full-time ride
Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing has signed World Touring Car ace Dirk Müller to race their #31 Ferrari F430 GT for the remainder of the 2007 American Le Mans Series.  Muller was filling in for the injured Tomas Enge.

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04/24/07
motogp

No broken bones for Pedrosa
Spanish MotoGP rider Dani Pedrosa should be able to ride in the Chinese Grand Prix on May 6 after doctors said he had not fractured any bones in his crash at Istanbul on Sunday.  The 21-year-old Honda rider was involved in a collision with Kawasaki's Olivier Jacque, Yahama's Colin Edwards and Suzuki rider Chris Vermeulen on the opening lap of the Turkish Grand Prix.

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04/24/07
nascar

Said and No Fear Racing set for Talladega
Boris Said, who qualified sixth and placed 14th overall at the 2007 Daytona 500, will return to Nextel Cup Series action this weekend at the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. Driving for the Roush-Fenway No Fear Racing, Said, from Carlsbad, California, will guide the #60 No Fear Energy Ford Fusion. "We're real excited to be back racing again and I'm hoping we can carry the momentum we have from Daytona over to Talladega," offered Said while packing up his driving suits and helmets this morning. "Our number one goal at Talladega this weekend is to make the race. Just making a Nextel Cup races has become so hard now, that we'll be pleased to just make the show." No Fear Racing tam owner Mark Simo is also excited about the team's chances this weekend's Aaron's 499 at Talladega. "You enter every race hoping for the opportunity to be competitive," reasoned Simo. "We're hoping we can do well at Talladega. "With a limited schedule - the team will also compete at Infineon, the Pepsi 400, Watkins Glen and the Talladega October race - first we hope to start the weekend by qualifying, and then if that works out, we'll look for a reasonable result on race day. I can't imagine going to a race and not being competitive, but you have to realize that we're racing against the best guys in the world here. I guess you have to curb your enthusiasm and live in reality." No Fear Racing PR

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04/24/07
Industry News

Toyota Tops GM in 1Q Global Auto Sales
Toyota Motor Corp. became the world's top auto seller in the first three months of the year, passing rival General Motors Corp. for the first time, the Japanese automaker said Tuesday.  Toyota sold 2.348 million vehicles worldwide in the January-March quarter, company spokesman Satoshi Yamaguchi said, surpassing the 2.26 million vehicles that GM said it sold during the same period.

The results mark the first time Toyota has beat GM in global sales on a quarterly basis, he said.

While the figures represent only quarterly sales results, they foreshadow a tough challenge for GM as it fights to hold onto its title as world's top automaker—a claim usually staked on annual production figures.

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04/23/07
nascar

Gordon leads, but falls out of CORR race
Yesterday Robby Gordon flew out to Antelope Valley Fairgrounds to compete in the CORR (Championship Off-Road Racing) race. He was in the Baldwin Motorsports Monster Pro2 Truck. He was dominating the "Cup" race when he bent the left rear suspension. The race is going to be on NBC next weekend.

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04/23/07
irl

Bryant to sponsor Michael Andretti in 500
Bryant Heating & Cooling Systems today announced that it will sponsor Andretti Green Racing (AGR) driver Michael Andretti in the May 27 Indianapolis 500. Bryant Heating & Cooling will also be represented in the race by AGR driver Tony Kanaan, who the company is sponsoring this season. Bryant Heating & Cooling

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04/23/07
f1

Mosley doesn't rule out night Grand Prix
FIA President Max Mosley has said he would seriously consider a Formula 1 race under floodlights if there is a serious application from an organizing country. Hosting a Formula 1 race at night in Asia could boost European television audiences due to the time difference.

"We wouldn't sanction night racing for Formula One without a very careful investigation," Mosley told Reuters. "So far there hasn't been an application but if there is a serious attempt to run a night race then we will have a very careful look at it.

"We have a safety commission which looks specifically at these problems and they will probably come up with a number of recommendations and research to undertake before saying okay, because it would be a big step and we wouldn't want to make a mistake.

"One mustn't underestimate the logistics, the degree of lighting that will be necessary for really good television coverage, the cost, the complications and all the things that go with it," said Mosley. "But that's not really our problem, all we would be concerned about would be the safety aspect."

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04/23/07
woo

World of Outlaws loses title sponsors UPDATE 360 OTC returns as the primary sponsor of Johnny Benson's #23 Toyota for the second Truck Series race in a row this weekend at Kansas Speedway. Benson will join BDR teammate Tyler Walker in representing 360 OTC on the side of his #36 truck. This will be the second of 10 races this season with 360 OTC as the primary sponsor on Benson's truck, and is also Walker’s first attempt to race at the Kansas Speedway. BDR PR

04/23/07 World Racing Group announced today, effective immediately its national late model touring series will be known as the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, removing 360OTC as title sponsor. “We enthusiastically promoted the 360OTC brand and were delivering, and even over delivering, on our obligations in the partnership,” said World Racing Group CEO Tom Deery. “Unfortunately, Rockford-Montgomery Labs and its 360OTC brand were not able to live up to its responsibilities and obligations and we are effectively ending the sponsorship. WoO site.

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04/23/07
nascar

Ford wins Crew Chief of the Race Award
Prior to the start of the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, crew chief Mike Ford, Joe Gibbs Racing, was extremely confident after great practice sessions proved that his No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet had the best setup possible.  As crew chief, he had done all he could prior to the green flag to give his young star driver, Denny Hamlin, every shot at winning.  And it seemed his work had paid off, as Hamlin wasted no time in charging from his third place starting position to the lead after only 24 laps.  However, after Hamlin was caught speeding on pit road (lap 98), and was forced to make a pass-through penalty dropping him back to 31st, Ford tightened the belts, mustered his crew and set sights on working Hamlin back to the front.  An amazing effort between the crew chief, driver and team, propelled Hamlin through the field to register a hard fought third place finish.  For his great pre-race efforts and hard work all night on top of the pit box, Mike Ford won the WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Race.  

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04/23/07
cc

Champ Car F1x2 - Houston
HOUSTON, TEXAS – Over recent years, the Minardi two-seater team has played host to some high-profile passengers, but none could claim to be higher flying than Colonel Kevin Ford, who hitched a ride in a fast, but decidedly low-flying F1x2 car during pre-race activities at this weekend’s JagFlo Grand Prix of Houston, third round of the 2007 Champ Car World Series. Colonel Ford, a graduate of the United States Air Force Test Pilot School, and since 2000, a member of NASA’s Astronaut program, is due to command a Space Shuttle mission in early 2009. He will also work as CAPCOM, based at NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston, for the next Shuttle mission, STS 117, due to blast off from Cape Canaveral on June 8.

After his passenger ride, with regular Champ Car F1x2 driver, Zsolt Baumgartner, at the controls, Colonel Ford said, “It was a tremendous experience, and my overriding impression was of the continuing intensity of the experience. In that respect, it is a lot like certain aspects of space flight. The action during the five minutes we were on track was just non-stop. I can’t begin to imagine how the drivers are able to keep up the levels of concentration involved for an hour or two at a time. There is obviously also a huge sensation of speed, simply because you are going so fast and you’re so low to the ground. Car racing is just amazingly dynamic, and the skill level and professionalism of the drivers to do what they do is awesome.”

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04/23/07
irl

21 cars to start Kansas City race
Car Driver Car Name
2 Tomas Scheckter Vision Racing
3 Helio Castroneves Team Penske
4 Vitor Meira Delphi Panther
5 Sarah Fisher Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
6 Sam Hornish Jr. Team Penske
7 Danica Patrick Motorola
8 Scott Sharp Patron Sharp Rahal-Letterman Racing
9 Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Racing
10 Dan Wheldon Target Chip Ganassi Racing
11 Tony Kanaan Team 7-Eleven
14 Darren Manning ABC Supply Co./AJ Foyt Racing
15 Buddy Rice Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
17 Jeff Simmons Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol
20 Ed Carpenter Vision Racing
22 A.J. Foyt IV Vision Racing
23 Milka Duno (R) CITGO Racing
25 Marty Roth Roth Racing
26 Marco Andretti NYSE Group
27 Dario Franchitti Canadian Club
55 Kosuke Matsuura Panasonic Panther
98 Alex Barron CURB Records

Comment
04/23/07
cc
alms

Overheard in Houston - 3 UPDATE The attendance for this weekend's Grand Prix of Houston was announced as 168,259 over three days.  Seems a bit high to us but there were a  lot of people inside the track that simply were not visible on TV.  At times it was like the old days at Indy when you could hardly move your golf cart around.

04/22/07 Champ Car's logistic guru Billy Kamphausen was robbed at gunpoint this morning at 6:30 a.m. at a Houston gas station.  He is fine, but his wallet is a bit lighter.

Comment
04/23/07
cc

Cleveland GP airport in the news again
Advocates for improving access to Cleveland's lake shore have long suggested Burke Lakefront Airport could be closed and overflow traffic could move to other, smaller airports in the region.

But some airport experts suggest that it would make more sense to keep Burke and close Cuyahoga County Airport instead.

If the county airport were to replace Burke, it would probably need to add a runway, which would be difficult with neighborhoods that have grown around it in Willoughby Hills, Richmond Heights and Highland Heights.

If that were required, the outcry of neighbors would probably be even louder than what came out of Willoughby Hills recently when they learned one possibility of runway expansion was into that community.

It would be much easier, said former Burke Commissioner Mike Barth and others, to close Cuyahoga County Airport and let homes go up there, and move its operations to Burke, which already has the longer, wider runways.

Both airports could handle much more business. More at Cleveland Plain Dealer

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04/23/07
Racing News

Financial Times Top Brands
The Financial Times has today published the second annual Brandz Top 100 Most Powerful Brands ranking, compiled by the market research firm Millward Brown Optimor. This identifies the most powerful brands measured by their dollar value, based on both financial data and perceptions of the brand.

The interesting thing about the survey is that the tradition big brands - such as Coca-Cola, IBM and Microsoft - have all been eclipsed by Google, which the survey reckons to have a brand worth $66bn. General Electric is next with $61.8bn ahead of Microsoft $54.9bn and and Coca-Cola $44bn.

The others in the top 10 are China Mobile, Marlboro, Wal-Mart, Citi, IBM and Toyota.

Just outside the top 10 are McDonald's, Nokia, Bank of America, BMW and Hewlett Packard.

The interesting thing is that there are only a few Formula 1 sponsors in the top 100 with Vodafone (22nd), Intel (25th), Mercedes-Benz (29th), Honda (36th), Banco Santander (47th), ING (53rd), Accenture (62nd), FedEx (69th), Siemens (71th) and RBS (82nd). More at Grandprix.com

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04/23/07
nascar

Waltrip probe could be nearing end
NASCAR's investigation into the unidentified substance found in Michael Waltrip's car during pre-qualifying inspection for the Daytona 500 could be coming to an end.  Officials from Michael Waltrip Racing met with the governing body last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway and plan to meet again in about two weeks.

Comment
04/23/07
cc

Doornbos persists for another podium

Robert Doornbos was not going to be denied a podium finish.  But to get it, the rookie had to improve 10 spots from his 13th-place starting position in Sunday's Champ Car World Series Grand Prix of Houston at Reliant Park.

Doornbos got just what he wanted. He took third place and in the process earned his second podium finish of the season.

"We started with a really good one in Vegas, where we were competitive every session," Doornbos said. "To finish on the podium in your debut is great. In Long Beach (13th place), we had a mechanical problem, and that happens in racing.

"You just have to get yourself over it, and luckily there were only a few days in between that and the next race."

And fortunately for Doornbos, he had the car to overcome his poor qualifying mark.

Read more & Comment...

04/23/07
f1

Latest F1 news in brief
  • Spyker fire spells near-disaster
  • Ralf's career not in danger - manager
  • Annual German GP 'safe' - boss
  • Williams not yet targeting title tilt
  • Heidfeld 'optimistic' about new BMW contract
  • Kimi could be quicker - Peter Sauber
  • Klien looks on bright side of test seat
  • Renault 'frustrated' with engine rules

Spyker fire spells near-disaster
(GMM) F1 narrowly averted disaster at the Bahrain grand prix earlier this month.

We have learned that Spyker mechanics almost lost control of a fire that broke out near the back of the team's garage at the Sakhir circuit on the Saturday of qualifying.

Video footage of the incident shows mechanics scrambling to the scene with fire extinguishers, as huge flames licked dangerously around nearby compressed-air bottles.

Ralf's career not in danger - manager
(GMM) Ralf Schumacher and his manager have responded with defiance to speculation that the German driver could be out of Toyota and formula one at the end of 2007.

The 31-year-old has struggled to keep up with his teammate Jarno Trulli in the opening races of 2007, sparking gossip that the highly-paid winner of six grands prix will be left with precious few options to stay on the grid beyond this season.

"I can live with criticism but I'm not interested in irrelevant comments," Ralf replied. "There is no way it is going to make me nervous."

His manager Hans Mahr added: "If so-called experts who weren't even at the track assess the situation from a distance, they just lose credibility."

Mahr suggested that some of the criticism is motivated by an "agenda" to "confuse things" as negotiations about a new contract for Ralf prepare to begin.

"We agreed with Toyota quite some time ago that we would get together to talk about a (contract) extension towards the middle of the year. And we are sticking to this schedule," he insisted.

Read more & Comment...
04/23/07
f1

Malaysia GP contract not yet signed UPDATE (GMM) Organizers of the Malaysian grand prix have not yet signed a five-year contract extension with formula one officials, it has emerged.

We reported at the weekend that the event at Sepang will be a fixture of the annual calendar until at least 2015, due to the existence of a new agreement extending the current deal, which ends in 2010.

But the local newspaper Straits Times insists that the Malaysian government has not yet decided whether to sign the formula one document, which has been received by circuit chairman Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir.

"We have not signed it yet," he confirmed, explaining that the contract contains several new clauses, probably relating to necessary improvements to the circuit that was described recently as "shabby" by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

Relations between Malaysia and Ecclestone may also be strained due to the possibility of a grand prix in nearby Singapore; Sepang officials think the region should have only one race.

But Mokhzani insisted that the improvements will be made to the slightly outdated venue near Kuala Lumpur as soon as a new contract is signed.

04/22/07 (GMM) The Malaysian grand prix will be a fixture on the formula one calendar until at least 2015, after race organizers and Bernie Ecclestone penned a new contract.

The original contract, starting with the inaugural race at Sepang in 1999, was for seven years. The agreement was then extended for a further five years in 2006 to run until 2010.

The latest extension is for another five years, taking the event through to 2015; despite Malaysia's concerns about the bid of neighboring Singapore and F1 supremo Ecclestone's recent claim that the Hermann Tilke-penned circuit near Kuala Lumpur is starting to look "shabby".

Malaysian prime minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi attended this year's race, handing the winner's trophy to Fernando Alonso, and remarked that he wanted the event to stay in his country.

Comment
04/22/07
racing news

Quotes of the week
KEVIN KALKHOVEN, co-owner, Champ Car World Series
In regard to talk that there is dissention in the management of Champ Car, Kalkhoven said "We all spend many hours of every day discussing issues related to Champ Car.  I think it is safe to say that we are in agreement 98% of the time.  In every business there are always going to be discussions and not everyone always agrees.  However, we are very much cooperating with one another."  When asked about the new Panoz DP01 car not being reliable, Kalkhoven replied "Bulls&%#.  We have had very few mechanical issues in the races."  With regard to the lack of American drivers Kalkhoven commented, "We have invested so much in our Atlantics program to cultivate young Americans like Graham Rahal and Jonathan Bomarito.  You do it from the grassroots up.  That way it will work long term.  I am very proud of what we are doing in this regard."  When asked how much longer the current owners were willing to support Champ Car, especially since they are businessmen who are used to making profits on their investments, Kalkhoven replied "How long is my life?"

Read more & Comment...
04/22/07
British F3

Asmer Triumphs as Greg Mansell Scores First Podium
Marko Asmer (#7 Hitech Racing Dallara F307 Mercedes pictured right) took his second win in three races in a lights to flag victory but he had to fight off a last lap challenge from Stephen Jelley (#1 Raikkonen Robertson Racing Dallara F307 Mercedes). The Mansell name returned to the British Formula 3 podium for the first time since 1979 with Greg Mansell (#50 Fortec Motorsport Dallara F307 Mercedes) finishing in third ahead of his rapid Fortec teammate Sebastian Hohenthal (#5 Fortec Motorsport Dallara F307 Mercedes).

In the National Class Michael Meadows (#55 Master Motorsport Dallara F304 Mugen Honda) came under some early pressure from Sergio Perez (#31 T Sort Dallara F304 Mugen Honda) but pulled away from the Mexican in the latter half of the race. Alistair Jackson (#35 Raikkonen Robertson Racing Dallara F304 Mugen Honda) was a new face on the podium after a three way battle with 'Frankie' Cheng (#39 Performance Racing Dallara F304 Mugen Honda) and Alex Waters (#34 Promatecme Dallara F304 Mugen Honda).

RACE
At the green flag it was Asmer who led the 31 car field away with Jelley slotting in behind the Estonian and Greg Mansell holding onto his 3rd spot on the grid as they rounded Redgate corner for the first time. Sebastian Hohenthal made a good start, moving up two places to get ahead of Jonathan Kennard and Niall Breen, the Irishman also dropping behind Maro Engel and Esteban Guerrieri, who was up from 13th on the grid.

As the cars completed the opening lap Asmer had a 1 second lead over Jelley but the Safety Car was deployed after Leo Mansell and Sean Petterson ended up in the gravel at Coppice.

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04/22/07
dtm

Audi scores double win at Hockenheim
With a double victory at Hockenheim, Audi managed a successful start to the 2007 DTM season. 101,000 spectators (throughout the weekend) witnessed an impressive début of the evolution Audi A4 DTM that was the quickest car on all three days of the event. The Swede Mattias Ekström celebrated his tenth victory in the DTM with a flawless race and perfect strategy of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline. Martin Tomczyk (Germany) bumped Mercedes driver Bruno Spengler from second place on the last lap to complete Audi’s triumph.
 
For Audi, this was the first success on the current track layout of the German Grand Prix circuit and the first victory at Hockenheim in exactly five years. The double victory might even have turned into a triple exploit of the Audi A4 DTM cars if it had not been for Bruno Spengler hitting Timo Schneider’s car after a driving mistake. The newcomer to Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline thus dropped to ninth place after the crash in which he was not at fault, deprived of the reward for the perfect race he had driven up to that point. Spengler later received a 50-second penalty for his action.
 
The round at Hockenheim was overshadowed by a serious accident on the opening lap, which involved Audi drivers Tom Kristensen (Denmark), Alexandre Prémat (France) and Adam Carroll (Great Britain). After slight contact with another car, Kristensen had spun at the entrance to the "Parabolica” and was then "torpedoed”” at high speed by several vehicles running behind him. While Carroll sustained no injuries in the accident at all, Kristensen and Prémat required medical attention at the site of the crash. Both drivers were subsequently taken to the trackside Medical Center, and later to hospitals for thorough medical examinations.

Comment
04/22/07
dtm

Kristensen, Premat hospitalized after smash UPDATE The round at Hockenheim was overshadowed by a serious accident on the opening lap, which involved Audi drivers Tom Kristensen (Denmark), Alexandre Prémat (France) and Adam Carroll (Great Britain). After slight contact with another car, Kristensen had spun at the entrance to the "Parabolica” and was then "torpedoed”” at high speed by several vehicles running behind him. While Carroll sustained no injuries in the accident at all, Kristensen and Prémat required medical attention at the site of the crash. Both drivers were subsequently taken to the trackside Medical Center, and later to hospitals for thorough medical examinations.
 
Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen was found to have merely suffered bruises, while Alexandre Prémat sustained a rupture of a lumbar vertebrae, which, according to doctors, will not result in any permanent damage, though. Nevertheless, the Frenchman will not be able to compete for several weeks.
 
Both Audi drivers owe the fact that the accident did not lead to any more serious consequences to the extremely high safety standard of the Audi A4 DTM. The safety cells of both cars remained intact. The frontal impact suffered by Alexandre Prémat occurred at 158 kph.


04/22/07 Tom Kristensen and Alexandre Premat have been taken to hospital after a big accident on the first lap of the opening DTM round at Hockenheim Sunday. The accident involved four cars. Kristensen came together with teammate Timo Scheider at the Parabolica, spinning on the track and being collected at high-speed by Premat.

While Susie Stoddart and Adam Carroll escaped unharmed, both Kristensen and Premat were taken to hospital for precautionary exams.

“I could see something had happened in front of me and all of a sudden I was in a cloud of smoke and everything was black,” said Adam Carroll. “I tried to move away from the smoke and get some vision and then I hit someone hard. I don't know who.

“I got out and spoke to Alex (Premat) and switched off his car which was still running. I am fine but my car definitely is not – that will be a big job to fix it.”

Mattias Ekstrom won the restarted race beating Martin Tomczyk and polesitter Bruno Spengler.

Comment
04/22/07
cca

Houston: Matos holds off Skerlong to win again
Second-year Atlantic racer Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) is a much better race car driver than a baseball player but he completed a remarkable triple play Sunday, winning his third consecutive race to open the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.

After scoring wins at Las Vegas and Long Beach to start the season, Matos made it three victories in three weeks as he led all 43 laps at JAGFlo Speedway at Reliant Park Sunday afternoon. The 25-year-old Brazilian rising star also claimed a piece of Atlantic history as he became the first driver in 17 years to capture the first three events of a series season. Mark Dismore won five straight races to open the 1990 campaign as he went on to score the Atlantic Pacific Division title in the last year that Atlantics featured split divisions.

Matos didn’t have an easy drive to the landmark victory. Starting from the pole, the native of Belo Horizonte, Brazil had a decent launch to the standing start on the 10-turn, 1.683-mile street circuit as he held the lead through the treacherous Turn 1. American Carl Skerlong (#24 King Taco/USRT) of the US RaceTronics team produced a fantastic start, however, making a daring move to outside in the first turn to jet from fourth into second place.

After the lone caution flag of the race – caused by an opening-lap accident involving Ryan Lewis (#15 NCPI/Deans Knight/Wasteco) of Walker Racing and Genoa Racing’s Richard Heistand (#37 Eola Capital Investments) in Turn 3 – Matos enjoyed a good re-start at the green flag, keeping Skerlong in his rear-view mirror.

Read more & Comment...

04/22/07
cc

Bourdais tops morning warm-up in Houston
Pos Driver # Team Lap Time Behind Leader
1 S. Bourdais 1 Newman/ Haas/ Lanigan Racing 58.823 
2 S. Pagenaud 15 Team Australia 58.999 0.176
3 B. Junqueira 19 Dale Coyne Racing 59.066 0.243
4 G. Rahal 2 Newman/ Haas/ Lanigan Racing 59.505 0.682
5 O. Servia 3 Forsythe Championship Racing 59.713 0.890
6 N. Jani 21 PKV Racing 59.792 0.969
7 R. Dalziel 28 Pacific Coast Motorsports 1:00.016 1.193
8 R. Doornbos 14 Minardi Team USA 1:00.048 1.225
9 T. Gommendy 22 PKV Racing 1:00.089 1.266
10 A. Tagliani 8 RSPORTS 1:00.158 1.335
11 M. Dominguez 7 Forsythe Championship Racing 1:00.233 1.410
12 W. Power 5 Team Australia 1:00.404 1.581
13 J. Wilson 9 RSPORTS 1:00.566 1.743
14 M. Halliday 42 Conquest Racing 1:00.743 1.920
15 K. Legge 11 Dale Coyne Racing 1:00.877 2.054
16 D. Clarke 4 Minardi Team USA 1:00.949 2.126
17 R. Moreno 29 Pacific Coast Motorsports 1:01.238 2.415

Comment
04/22/07
cca

Skerlong fastest in Atlantic warm-up
Pos Driver Car# Team Lap Time Behind Leader
1 Carl Skerlong 24 US RaceTronics 1:05.382 0.000
2 James Hinchcliffe 9 Sierra Sierra Enterprises 1:05.496 0.114
3 Raphael Matos 6 Sierra Sierra Enterprises 1:05.657 0.275
4 Alan Sciuto 20 Alan Sciuto Racing 1:05.797 0.415
5 J.R. Hildebrand 36 Newman Wachs Racing 1:05.872 0.490
6 Jonathan Bomarito 23 PR1 Motorsports 1:05.917 0.535
7 Giacomo Ricci 18 Conquest Racing 1:05.999 0.617
8 Ronnie Bremer 12 Polestar Racing Group 1:06.127 0.745
9 Justin Sofio 26 Mathiasen Motorsports 1:06.353 0.971
10 Robert Wickens 3 Red Bull Team Forsythe 1:06.388 1.006
11 Adrian Carrio 17 Genoa Racing 1:06.529 1.147
12 Matt Lee 44 Conquest Racing 1:06.626 1.244
13 Luis Mussi 30 Gelles Racing 1:06.702 1.320
14 Ryan Lewis 15 Walker Racing 1:06.801 1.419
15 John Edwards 7 Red Bull Team Forsythe 1:06.822 1.440
16 Simona De Silvestro 5 Walker Racing 1:06.843 1.461
17 David Garza 4 US RaceTronics 1:06.903 1.521
18 Franck Perera 11 Condor Motorsports 1:07.013 1.631
19 Brian Thienes 19 Condor Motorsports 1:07.210 1.828
20 Joe D'Agostino 10 Brooks Associates Racing 1:07.228 1.846
21 Richard Heistand 37 Genoa Racing 1:07.489 2.107
22 Tom Sutherland 2 Jensen MotorSport 1:07.619 2.237
23 Mike Forest 32 PR1 Motorsports 1:07.645 2.263
24 Tengyi Jiang 8 Brooks Associates Racing 1:07.797 2.415
25 Adrien Herberts 45 Paladin Motorsports 1:07.951 2.569
26 Frankie Muniz 13 Jensen MotorSport 1:10.352 4.970
27 Bret MacDonald 21 Polestar Racing Group 1:11.446 6.064
28 Junior Strous 16 Condor Motorsports

Comment
04/22/07
motogp

Stoner dominates in Turkey
Casey Stoner took an easy victory for Ducati at Istanbul Park Sunday by eight seconds over Toni Elias.  Loris Capirossi beat Alex Barros, Marco Melandri and John Hopkins in a close battle for third.

Results
1 Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 42min 2.850 secs
2 Toni Elias SPA Gresini Honda (B) 42min 9.057 secs
3 Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 42min 10.952 secs
4 Alex Barros BRA Pramac d'Antin MotoGP (B) 42min 10.985 secs
5 Marco Melandri ITA Gresini Honda (B) 42min 11.139 secs
6 John Hopkins USA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 42min 13.036 secs
7 Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda Team (M) 42min 13.089 secs
8 Randy de Puniet FRA Kawasaki Racing Team (B) 42min 17.584 secs
9 Alex Hofmann GER Pramac d'Antin MotoGP (B) 42min 18.892 secs
10 Valentino Rossi ITA Fiat Yamaha Team (M) 42min 21.849 secs
11 Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 42min 29.099 secs
12 Carlos Checa SPA Honda LCR (M) 42min 32.396 secs
13 Shinya Nakano JPN Konica Minolta Honda (M) 42min 39.772 secs
14 Makoto Tamada JPN Dunlop Tech 3 Yamaha (D) 42min 41.390 secs
15 Sylvain Guintoli FRA Dunlop Tech 3 Yamaha (D) 42min 42.187 secs
16 Kenny Roberts USA Team Roberts (M) 43min 12.186 secs

DNF:
Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team (M)
Colin Edwards USA Fiat Yamaha Team (M)
Olivier Jacque FRA Kawasaki Racing Team (B)

Comment
04/22/07
f1

F16 beats Albers F1 car
More than 10,000 fans, guests and media crowded around the Royal Netherlands Air Force base, Volkel, in the south of Holland, to catch a glimpse of the thrilling race between the Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One Team F8-VII and an RNLAF F16 fighter plane.

The event, named 'Full Throttle', saw Dutch driver Christijan Albers race his Formula 1 challenger side by side against Captain Ralph Aarts' state of the art combat plane down the base's main runway.

Christijan looked to have the advantage over the first 300m as he accelerated away from the line, but over the final 700m the F16 just pulled ahead to win the tight race by only two car lengths. Reaching a speed of 450kph by the end of the straight, the F16 completed the course in just 15.5secs. Following his narrow victory, Ralph performed a spectacular flying display over the air base.

Read more & Comment...
04/22/07
nascar

Decision on 'car of tomorrow' timetable coming
NASCAR chairman Brian France told The Associated Press on Saturday that the decision on whether or not to run the Car of Tomorrow in the full Cup schedule in 2008 will be made this summer instead of 2009. “In June or July, we’re going to take a hard look at it,” France said.  “It’s really up to the teams. They approved this timetable and it will be up to them if we change it.”

Comment
04/22/07
nascar

TRD and Waltrip team starting from scratch
Toyota officials knew the company’s first season in Nextel Cup would be tough, but never dreamed it would be this difficult. “We certainly didn’t expect all seven cars to make every race, but we didn’t really think it would be this bad,” said Jim Aust, president of Toyota Racing Development. “Here at Phoenix, we figured we wouldn’t get seven in, but we thought it would be five, not three.”

Before Saturday’s race, Aust (pictured right) said Toyota was working on a project with one of its new teams, Michael Waltrip Racing, to rebuild a car from scratch and try to improve the overall performance. “We’ve been working on this project for about three weeks,” Aust said. “We took apart the car and weighed every part then put it back together. We’re looking at every bolt. We’ll take the car to the wind tunnel and, once we see we’ve got something better, we’ll get it to all of our teams.” Aust said Toyota Racing Development in California also is working hard on improving the Cup engine. “I think we’ll see some real improvement by Charlotte (in May),” he said. Associated Press / Thats Racin

Comment
04/22/07
f1

Kubica will bounce back - Sauber
(GMM)  Robert Kubica will bounce back from his difficult start to the 2007 season. That is the belief of the BMW-Sauber team's founder, former principal and current consultant Peter Sauber, who said the rookie Pole is tough enough to cope with the situation.

The Swiss said Kubica is struggling at the moment with the handling of the F1.07 car, which in the hands of teammate Nick Heidfeld has established Hinwil-based BMW-Sauber as the third quickest outfit on the 2007 grid.

"Robert is not going to give up," Sauber told the Swiss newspaper 'Blick'.  "He is mentally much too strong for that.

"During the course of his career he has learned the heights and the depths of motor sport -- he knows how to deal with it."

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04/22/07
irl

Wheldon takes over IRL point lead
From a second place starting position on the grid, Target Chip Ganassi Racing No.10 Honda Dallara led the most laps (126) and scored a runner-up finish by 0.4828 of a second to race-winner Tony Kanaan at the Japan Indy 300. The second place finish combined with three extra points for leading the most laps gives Dan Wheldon the points lead (118) in the IndyCar Series Championship.

Comment
04/22/07
alms

O'Connell and Magnussen break through with first win
Jan Magnussen and Johnny O'Connell teamed up to win their first race together since 1999 as the pair drove their No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R to their first victory of the season tonight in the Lone Star Grand Prix. Racing on the rough and rugged 1.7-mile JAGFlo Speedway at Reliant Park temporary street circuit was like riding a mechanical bull, but Magnussen and O'Connell held on throughout the two-hour and 45-minute race to stake their claim to the GT1 winner's circle.
 
(With both speed and good fortune on their side, Magnussen and O'Connell completed 138 laps and finished 50 seconds ahead of Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta in the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R. O'Connell notched his 26th career ALMS victory, putting him third on the series' all-time winners list. Magnussen tallied his 12th ALMS win, becoming only the second driver to score at least one victory in every year since the series' inception in 1999.
Magnussen joined O'Connell as a full-season driver for Corvette Racing at the start of the 2007 season. Their last victory together was in an LMP1 prototype at Mosport International Raceway in 1999.

"It's a super great feeling to win tonight!" Magnussen exclaimed. "Johnny did a fantastic job in his stints and opened up a gap. He did all the hard work and made it easier for me when I got in the car. I'm glad to be back winning with Johnny, and I hope we're starting a string of wins."

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04/22/07
nascar

Fitz crewman released from hospital
Fitz Motorsports tire carrier Jason Miller was released from the hospital Saturday morning after being hit by the car of J.J. Yeley during the Bashas' Supermarkets 200 Friday night at Phoenix International Raceway, the team said in a statement.

Miller severely bruised his midsection and abdomen, and also bruised his spleen. He remained at the hospital overnight in case there was internal bleeding.  There was no internal bleeding found and he returned home Saturday to North Carolina.

Comment
04/22/07
cc

Gore slams Bourdais
The following is a statement from Team Australia Co-Owner Craig Gore (pictured right with Kevin Kalkhoven) in response to post-qualifying comments by Sebastien Bourdais from this weekend's Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston.

Bourdais originally qualified on pole for the event but was later stripped of his fastest lap for blocking Team Australia driver Will Power as the Australian aimed to better Bourdais' time. Power will start the event pole position in the #5 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01 ahead of RSPORTS driver Justin Wilson and Bourdais.

CRAIG GORE - TEAM AUSTRALIA CO-OWNER

"Firstly, if Sebastien is the kind of guy that admits when he has done something wrong then he will admit that he blew a fuse at Surfers Paradise last year," said Gore.

"I think Sebastien should pay some more respect to Derrick Walker. At the very least, he should at least call him Mr. Walker, rather than just 'Walker'.

"He's obviously a little hot-headed at the moment and it seems that Will has seriously rattled his cage." Team Australia PR

Comment
04/22/07
starmazda

Dane Cameron Wins Houston Mazda Race
Auto racing is an extremely complicated endeavor, and the rarest thing in all of racing is for a weekend to go entirely ‘according to plan.’  When it does, it invariably marks that unique combination of a great team and driver operating together in ‘the zone’… and that’s how it was with Dane Cameron and the JDC Motorsports team today in Houston’s 1.69-mile Reliant Park street circuit.

Starting from the pole, Cameron led every lap, building up a lead of as much as seven seconds, before having it all taken away by numerous full-course yellows during the race.  He crosses the finish line 0.786 sec. ahead of 2nd-place finisher Daniel Di Leo in a 55-minute event that ended under yellow.

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04/22/07
alms

Herta had Houston crowd on feet
Bryan Herta (shown right in 2nd behind Porsche and ahead of the Audi) had the large crowd at the Lone Star Grand Prix on its feet Saturday evening in a wild finish on the JAGFlo Speedway road course around the famed Astrodome and beautiful Reliant Stadium.

The California driver just missed taking the No. 26 XM Satellite Radio Acura ARX-01a sports car to the overall victory on the tight 1.7-mile, 10-turn track many drivers called one of the roughest circuits on the 12-race American Le Mans Series tour. Herta came from 27 seconds behind to close within .450 seconds at the checkered flag and take second overall to the No. 7 Penske Porsche driven by Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas.

Marino Franchitti, Dario's younger brother, started the race in the fifth position in No. 26 Acura and fought through some heavy traffic to hand over the Andretti Green Racing machine to Herta on lap 58. Herta quickly diced his way to the front of the field and raced wheel-to-wheel with both Penske Porsches and the No. 1 Audi driven by Rinaldo Capelli.

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04/22/07
nascar

Gordon ties Earnhardt in career wins
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – As a four-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion, Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) owns no shortage of career milestones.

The latest occurred today – a victory in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway that tied him with seven-time series champion Dale Earnhardt for sixth place on NASCAR’s all-time win list.

Gordon’s 76th career win came in his 481st career start. Aside from series titles in 1995, ’97, ’98 and 2001, Gordon also has 59 Budweiser poles, 219 top-five and 294 top-10 finishes. His to-date career winnings total is in excess of $84 million. Today’s win is Gordon’s first at Phoenix International Speedway.

Read more & Comment...
04/22/07
f1

Bernie called ’stupid’ for buying Turkey track
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone says he was branded "stupid" by his superiors and advisors after signing up to take charge of the Turkish grand prix venue near Istanbul.

The F1 supremo, at the scene of his new acquisition's hosting of MotoGP this weekend, has secured the future of the fledgling race until 2021, but he admitted that his superiors baulked at the terms of the 80-page contract, which is rumored to have cost Ecclestone between (US) $140m and $190 million.

"This is not a profitable investment for me, it is honestly the worst deal I have ever been in," said the 76-year-old, who is the chief executive of formula one's commercial rights holder.

He told the morning newspaper Sabah: "My board of directors thought I am a stupid businessman after checking the agreement.

"So if you ask why we are still in, I would say that Istanbul Park is the best race course in the world; that I believe in Istanbul and that it will bring advantages in the long term."

Ecclestone refused to divulge the financial details of the deal, but evocatively insisted that it is "lucrative" for Istanbul's Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber of Commerce's chairman Murat Yalcinas admitted that the circuit and the Turkish GP has so far lost "millions of dollars".

Comment
04/21/07
cc

Overheard in Houston - 2

Graham Rahal blamed his mediocre qualifying result in Houston Saturday on being blocked twice by other drivers. (He discussed this in video to the right)

The Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing rookie had been third-quickest Friday but ended only sixth fastest after running into similar traffic problems as most of his rivals.

"It was difficult to get a lap out there and, frankly, on the lap that I did have, which would have probably put us third, both Will [Power] and Robert [Doornbos] blocked me, so that was it. It's just disappointing because they weren't on good laps, so they should have gotten out of the way. Instead, they decided to ruin mine."

Despite his obvious frustration, Rahal remained confident that he has a good race car.

"I think we've got a good race car, and we can drive around most of the guys that are in front of us," he said, "Honestly, Seb [Bourdais] is the only one who I think has got a much better race car than we do. We were very consistent in the pre-quals - everybody ran new tires and we ran old tires and were third. The car felt really good doing those speeds, so I think we're looking pretty good."

On a separate topic we overheard one person say that the back injuries to Paul Tracy and Alex Figge may be as a result of the driver sitting a bit more upright in the Panoz versus the Lola.  Certainly the more upright a driver sits the more horizontal load the relatively flimsy (long and slender) spine has to absorb as most of the crashes result is high g forces in the horizontal direction where the spine is the weakest.  This may also have been a flaw in the Panoz IRL car, which saw a lot of drivers suffer back injuries.

Comment
04/21/07
cc

Overheard in Houston - 1
During the ALMS race the grandstands were at least 50% full and the fans saw one heck of a good finish.....Alex Figge said that it's the bumps in the Houston track that were hurting his back. If it had been a smooth track he probably would have raced.......There is still no permanent replacement for the departed Eric Mauk (PR for Champ Car) yet......Word is that the shifting on the cars is getting more reliable and faster. Initially the engineers went conservative with the software on up-shifts but now the gearbox is shifting as fast or faster than a driver could do it with the old sequential shifter in the Lola.....Some drivers like Tristan Gommendy predict it will be a long race tomorrow and he's worried about the strength in his arms because he has been sick all week. However Sebastian Bourdais does not agree. "I don't know if I would agree on the physical aspect of the track. I think it's hard because you don't breathe a lot, but if on the cardio side you're doing good, I think you're actually having quite an easy time because the steering effort isn't that high and the Gs obviously aren't that high. So it's for sure going to be a little warm and it's the first time we race in these conditions since last year. So it's been a while. But, you know, we'll see. It all depends also how the race unfolds, if there are yellows and everything. But, no, I think we should be -- I'm pretty on top of things physically, so we should have a good day tomorrow." Justin Wilson did not agree with Bourdais because of the bumps and 90-degree heat. “I think Sebastien is putting on a pretty brave face,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a long, tough race. I don’t know who Sebastien thinks he’s kidding.”

Comment
04/21/07
cc

Bourdais stripped of Houston pole UPDATE #2 Also penalized was Alex Tagliani, who re-entered the track in an unsafe fashion after “missing” the Turn Two chicane during the session much like Paul Tracy did to Tagliani at San Jose last year.

“The penalty against Sebastien was due to interference between the No. 1 and No. 5 (Will Power) car,” said Tony Cotman, Champ Car race director and vice president of operations. “The No. 1 car was running slowly through a segment of the track. The No. 5 car was up to speed and had to slow down because of the No. 1 car, in my opinion.

“The No. 1 car let the No. 9 car (Justin Wilson) and the No. 3 car (Oriol Servia) by, then went back on line as car No. 5 arrived,” Cotman continued. “In those segments the No. 1 car was off the pace by around 2.5 seconds. If it was a matter of two or three tenths of a second, that would be one thing. But when it’s 2.5 seconds you need to be considerate of the other drivers. It’s a judgment call on my part, but it’s a judgment call in which I used judgment, video replays and data records.”

04/21/07 Champ Car officials took away Sebastien Bourdais’ fastest lap time in final qualifying after ruling that he interfered in a qualifying lap of Team Australia driver Will Power. His second fastest lap time earned him a second place starting spot on the grid for the Grand Prix of Houston. We hear that Tagliani pulled out in front of Neel Jani and he may lose his fast lap too.....

Sebastien Bourdais, No. 1 McDonald’s Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone: “I think I am the kind of guy that admits when I have done something wrong and I do not think this is the case. The only reason why Walker protested is because they saw the potential that they could nail us, not because they were quicker because they were slow on that lap. It would not have changed the outcome whether I interfered on that lap, tried to or tried to get out of the way or anything. They don’t care about that. It’s just like a payback that goes on and on and on. If they can nail us they are just going to nail us. They protested and Champ Car ruled in their favor but the truth is the only reason they protested is because they could nail us. That lap would not have changed the outcome of qualifying.”

Brian Lisles, General Manager of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing: “Qualifying on street courses is always difficult, there is always a lot of traffic. In final qualifying Sebastien had at least three laps that should have been three or four tenths quicker than his pole position lap but he ran into traffic and had to back off. It’s really most unfortunate but Champ Car has decided to take away Sebastien’s fastest lap. For instance, not only did Sebastien lose at least two or three better laps than the one he managed to get in but Graham was held up on his last lap by a couple of cars on the last couple of corners and we’re sure that lap was much quicker than he took his grid position with.”

04/21/07 Sebastien Bourdais has been stripped of his pole position in Houston due to blocking. His fastest lap was taken away and this moves Will Power up to pole position. We will have more details shortly......

Comment
04/21/07
Announcement

Auto play of videos UPDATE #4 A reader writes, I am running the latest Macintosh operating system and the latest Safari browser and the videos are working fine (playing when I click to start them not playing automatically). Richard Wunsch

04/21/07 It has been suggested that an install of Windows Media® Components for QuickTime, by Flip4Mac™ may solve the problem Mac users are having with our video features automatically playing in your browser when they should not. PC users are having no such problem. You can download Windows Media® Components for QuickTime here. Although we do not have a lot of Mac users, we continue to search for a way to fix this issue for you so you can enjoy our added video feature to AutoRacing1.com. The files are in .wmv (Windows Media) format so make sure your browser has the right plug-in for that.

04/20/07 It appears Mac users with Safari as their browser are having this issue with auto play. You can download the Firefox browser here. Firefox is a very popular browser.

04/20/07 For Mac users - Since Microsoft no longer supports Window Media Player for the Mac, your computer may use the Flip4Mac plug-in that opens Windows Media using QuickTime. We have made some changes on our end. Let us know if it helped. Also, you may have an auto play setting in QuickTime that can be set to off. We also recommend that Mac users download the Firefox browser for Mac and use that instead of the Safari browser.

04/20/07 A few of you have written to say that the videos we are now making available to you on AutoRacing1.com automatically play when you visit the page. Let us assure you that all videos have the auto play feature set to zero or 'false.' The videos do not auto play in Internet Explorer (version 6 and higher) and Mozilla Firefox (version 1.5 and higher) on the PCs we have tested. If they are auto playing on your PC or Mac it must be due to a setting in your browser or in another piece of software (such as QuickTime) on your computer that is causing this.

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04/21/07
cc
alms

Houston attendance observation
The paddock and infield at Houston today is as busy as the LBGP.  There are wall-to wall-people here.  The stands don't show it but the place is full of things for people to do in the midway and if we had to make a guess we would say there is an honest 25K to 28K people here and the ALMS race hasn't even started yet.

Comment
04/21/07
irl
cc

No end in sight for IndyCar-Champ Car rift
HOUSTON, Texas -- Allow us for a moment to imagine how things should be. Three-time champion Sebastien Bourdais, trying to earn an unprecedented fourth consecutive Champ Car title, would test his amazing road-racing skills against Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon this weekend in the Houston Grand Prix.

Or, if you prefer, oval-racing master Sam Hornish Jr. and IndyCar Series star Dan Wheldon would see how they fare against Bourdais and Will Power in the Indy Japan 300 on the super-fast track at Motegi.

And wouldn't it be fun to compare Britain's Katherine Legge to Danica Patrick?

Or how about young stars in the making, with the famous last names -- Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal -- carrying on their family legacy against each other?

It's a Xanadu for American open-wheel racing fans, but we can't see it. This is not a perfect world. Far from it.

Champ Car and the Indy Racing League remain separate and competing series, as they have been for more than a decade.

"This split has been going on forever," Bourdais said Friday. "But we all know there's only room for one series when we have two. We need to be one, but those are things I don't have control over, so I've stopped worrying about it."

In April 2006, there were encouraging signs that the rival leagues finally would come together in some fashion. Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven and IRL founder Tony George were talking and trying to find a solution.

Kalkhoven said at the '06 Houston event that he was optimistic something would work out. One year later, the two leagues are far apart again. A merger of any kind isn't even on the radar screen.

What happened? "You have two people [George and Kalkhoven] who don't want to give up their 51 percent [ownership] for decision-making," said Rahal, who is clearly wise beyond his 18 years. "And you've got Tony, who in my opinion is a little bit caught in the mind-set that his series is OK." More at ESPN.com

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04/21/07
cca

Matos and Hinchcliffe top Houston quals
Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda series leader Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) continues to raise the bar at this weekend’s Fast Trac 100 at the Grand Prix of Houston (tape-delayed broadcast on ESPN2 at 5:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 26).

The Sierra Sierra Enterprises second-year Atlantic racer maintained his dominance on the 1.683-mile JAGFlo Speedway circuit at Reliant Park on Saturday as he earned his second pole position of the young season and the sixth of his career. Matos shined bright under the sunny Texas skies as he blazed a top lap of 1:04.520 (93.906 mph) for a new Atlantic record at the street circuit constructed around the Reliant Center.

After leading the opening-round of qualifying by nearly seven-tenths-of-a-second, the 28-car Atlantic field closed the gap ever so slightly on Matos as the 25-year-old native of Belo Horizonte, Brazil led his closest competition by nearly five-tenths-of-a-second in Saturday’s final qualifying. Scoring a championship point for the pole, Matos now has 67 points on the season and he leads second-place Robert Wickens (#3 Red Bull/INDECK) by 13 markers entering Sunday's race.

Read more & Comment...
04/21/07
nascar

Chevy happy with R07 engine
Chevrolet engineers are happy with the way the new R07 engines looked after racing last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.

Five cars had the new engine, with Denny Hamlin's ninth-place finish the best among them. One Hendrick Motorsports engine and four Joe Gibbs Racing engines were in cars for the event. None of them had a failure nor the fuel pump issues that had stymied some teams working with the new pump configuration.

"Everything looked really good," said GM Racing's Jim Covey, who oversees the Chevrolet NASCAR engine development and has been in contact with the teams this week after they have examined the engines. "We're very happy with it. We're very comfortable. ... We got through the first race, and I don't think they have any doubts."

There is no specific date for all of the teams to use the new engine, which is expected to have more durability and slightly more horsepower.

"They're very competitive with the [old] SB2 today," Covey said. "They're able to take it at their own pace."  Scenedaily.com

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04/21/07
alms

Audis top race day warm-up
Audi returned to the top of the timing sheet Saturday morning in a 30-minute warm-up for the American Le Mans Series’ Lone Star Grand Prix with Rinaldo Capello showing the way in the No. 1 Audi R10 TDI he will share with Allan McNish. Capello’s time of 1:03.075 was 0.377 seconds ahead of teammate Emanuele Pirro in the other diesel-powered prototype.

The lead Audi will start from the outside front row in this afternoon’s race as McNish was beaten out by Highcroft Racing’s David Brabham in an LMP2 Acura ARX. Andretti Green Racing also is fielding an Acura ARX, which Marino Franchitti put on the point in P2 with a lap of 1:03.585 that put him third overall.

Franchitti was 0.209 seconds better than Timo Bernhard in the first of Penske Motorsports’ Porsche RS Spyders. The pole-sitting Highcroft Acura was next at 1:03.971 at the hands of Stefan Johansson.

Johnny O’Connell put the No. 3 Corvette C6.R on top of GT1 for the first time this weekend with a lap of 1:06.901. He was 0.179 seconds ahead of Oliver Gavin in the sister Corvette Racing entry.

For the third straight session, the Ferrari F430 GT of Houston-based Risi Competizione led the way in GT2. Mika Salo’s time of 1:10.135 put him 0.045 seconds ahead of Wolf Henzler in Tafel Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Flying Lizard Motorsports’ lead Porsche of Jörg Bergmeister and Johannes van Overbeek was third at 1:10.554.

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04/21/07
alms

Houston front-runner stats
The best of the best will start from pole position in each of the American Le Mans Series’ four sports car classes later this afternoon in Houston for the Lone Star Grand Prix. The four drivers, led by overall fast qualifier David Brabham, have fashioned bodies of work that place them among the American Le Mans Series elite.

The numbers are quite impressive. Brabham, Allan McNish, Olivier Beretta and Mika Salo have made a combined 176 starts in the nine-year history of the American Le Mans Series. The quartet also has collected 66 wins, 117 podium finishes and 39 class pole positions between them.

They also have combined for 168 career starts in Formula 1 with Salo competing in 111 races with two podiums, both coming in the 1999 season (second at the 1999 German Grand Prix and third at Monza).

Here’s the breakdown of class career statistics in the American Le Mans Series:

David Brabham: 64 starts, 12 wins, 33 podium finishes and 7 poles (at least one in four different classes)
Allan McNish: 33 starts, 17 wins, 25 podium finishes and nine poles
Olivier Beretta: 59 starts, 31 wins (career leader), 52 podiums and 20 poles (career leader)
Mika Salo: 10 starts, six wins, seven podium finishes and three poles.

The Lone Star Grand Prix at Houston’s JAGFlo Speedway at Reliant Park is set for 5:30 p.m. CDT on Saturday, April 21. The race will be broadcast on CBS Sports at 1 p.m. EDT on Sunday, April 29. International coverage will be available on MotorsTV, SPEED Latin America and 7TV in Russia. American Le Mans Radio and IMSA’s Live Timing and Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.

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04/21/07
cc

Nothing broken on Figge
MRI results determined Alex Figge has a mid-thoracic compression, there are no fractures.  Figge was involved in a late race incident at the Toyota Grand of Long Beach last weekend.  Residual pain from the compression combined with the bumpy surface of the Houston racing circuit, resulted in Figge’s withdrawal at the Grand Prix of Houston this weekend.  He will return to the cockpit for testing at Portland International Raceway in two weeks time.  Pacific Coast Motorsports has three tests scheduled prior to the next race on the Champ Car schedule, the G.I. Joe’s Grand Prix of Portland, June 8-10.

Roberto “Pupo” Moreno has taken over the driving duties for Figge and the #29 Imperial Capital Bank Champ Car this weekend.  The “Super Sub” is a consultant for PCM, working as a driver coach and engineering liaison.  In addition, Moreno completed nearly 2500 miles developing the DP01 chassis prior to its official induction to the series.

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04/21/07
cc

Teammates 1-2 in morning practice
Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing teammates Sebastien Bourdais and Graham Rahal were 1-2 in morning Champ Car practice in Houston Saturday.  Justin Wilson moved up to third quick ahead of Team Australia teammates Will Power and Simon Pagenaud.

Pos Driver # Team Lap Time Behind Leader
1 S. Bourdais 1 Newman/ Haas/ Lanigan Racing 58.224 
2 G. Rahal 2 Newman/ Haas/ Lanigan Racing 58.566 0.342
3 J. Wilson 9 RSPORTS 58.677 0.453
4 W. Power 5 Team Australia 58.741 0.517
5 S. Pagenaud 15 Team Australia 58.841 0.617
6 D. Clarke 4 Minardi Team USA 58.875 0.651
7 O. Servia 3 Forsythe Championship Racing 58.876 0.652
8 A. Tagliani 8 RSPORTS 59.078 0.854
9 B. Junqueira 19 Dale Coyne Racing 59.114 0.890
10 N. Jani 21 PKV Racing 59.239 1.015
11 T. Gommendy 22 PKV Racing 59.252 1.028
12 M. Dominguez 7 Forsythe Championship Racing 59.295 1.071
13 R. Doornbos 14 Minardi Team USA 59.424 1.200
14 R. Dalziel 28 Pacific Coast Motorsports 59.607 1.383
15 M. Halliday 42 Conquest Racing 59.786 1.562
16 K. Legge 11 Dale Coyne Racing 1:00.370 2.146
17 R. Moreno 29 Minardi Team USA 1:00.645 2.421

Comment
04/21/07
dtm

Spengler on pole! Paul di Resta impresses in third
A dream start into the new DTM season. In bright sunshine and in front of packed grandstands, the 20 drivers staged a fascinating battle in the fight for the first pole position of the year. With 1:34.369 minutes, Canadian Mercedes-Benz-driver Bruno Spengler (pictured right) secured himself first place on the grid for tomorrow’s race (ARD live from 13.45 h) after three shoot-out sessions.

German Martin Tomczyk (Audi A4 DTM) followed in second place.0.077 seconds down. The champion of the 2006 Formula 3 Euro Series, Paul di Resta from Scotland, finished in an impressive third place. In his first-ever DTM qualifying, the 21-year old newcomer put his AMG Mercedes C-Class from 2005 on the second row of the grid. For the first time in DTM history, a two-year old car made it into the final qualifying heat.

“Especially in the first qualifying of the season, being quickest is always something very special, as before that, nobody really knows where we are”, the pole sitter from the Hockenheimring said. For 23-year old Spengler (right), it was the third pole position for the DTM, for his employer, Mercedes-Benz, it was the 92nd. The 2004 DTM champion, Mattias Ekström (Audi), will be starting from fourth place on Sunday. Lining up behind him on the third grid row are his fellow Audi drivers Tom Kristensen from Denmark and German Timo Scheider. Crowd favorite Mika Häkkinen ended up in seventh place with his AMG Mercedes C-Class.

Read more & Comment...
04/21/07
cca

Matos tops Saturday AM practice
Continuing to call upon his speed seemingly whenever he wants, Sierra Sierra Enterprises driver Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) scored the top time in Saturday morning practice at the Fast Trac 100 at the Grand Prix of Houston (tape-delayed broadcast on ESPN2 at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 26.

After getting nearly seven-tenths-of-a-second clear of the field on Friday while claiming the provisional pole for the third round of the Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, Matos produced the top time again in the day's first practice. The 25-year-old Brazilian circled the track in 1:04.993 (93.222 mph) and emerged as the only driver to break the one-minute-five-second mark.

Matos actually faced a tough battle for the top lap throughout the scheduled 45-minute morning practice as his Sierra Sierra teammate James Hinchcliffe (#9 NOCO/ProWorks) also owned the top time for a good portion of the session. "Hinch" wound up second on the leaderboard as he checked in with a lap of 1:05.176 (92.961 mph).

Read more & Comment...
04/21/07
motogp

Rossi takes pole in Turkey
Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session for the third race in the 2007 MotoGP World Championship took place at Istanbul Park under clear, sunny skies in comfortable temperatures, with Valentino Rossi taking pole for tomorrow’s race.

With virtually no wind or humidity and the track completely dried out after some slippery conditions yesterday, The Doctor secured his second pole of the season with a 1’52.795 lap - a second and a half quicker than his best time in free practice and just 0.461s off Sete Gibernau’s circuit best lap, set on 990cc machinery in 2005.

As he attempts to win back the title he lost last year to Nicky Hayden, Rossi will be looking to extend his current points lead at the top of the World Championship with a win in Sunday’s race on one of the few MotoGP tracks where he has not yet tasted victory.

The five-time former World Champion’s team-mate Colin Edwards was just 0.149s behind the Italian to give Fiat Yamaha an impressive one-two at the head of the grid. The Yamaha team clearly found a good set-up after another inconsistent Friday for the Texan Tornado.

Read more & Comment...
04/21/07
cc

Moreno gets the call
Roberto Moreno will take over the driving duties for Alex Figge this weekend in Houston.  Figge is recuperating from an incident in the final laps of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach last weekend.  He received an MRI late yesterday afternoon, the results will be determined this morning.  

“Of course we are very disappointed Alex is unable to drive this weekend, but we are confident Roberto is a great choice to represent Imperial Capital Bank in the #29,” commented team director, Tyler Tadevic.  He continued, “He’s already been a great asset to the team, working closely with Ryan and Alex and our engineers, so he was of course our first choice in our continued development as a new team, with the new car.  Roberto has excelled in the substitute driver role many times in the past and I am confident he will do well this weekend.”  

Roberto Moreno joined the PCM squad prior to the start of the 2007 season. With his years of racing experience, in addition the thousands of miles of testing the new DP01; Moreno has been a key player in PCM’s strong debut in the Champ Car World Series.  He is a driver coach and engineering liaison for rookie drivers Alex Figge, Ryan Dalziel and the PCM team.

  “I am thrilled to get back in the DP01 and represent Imperial Capital Bank.  It has been a pleasure to work with Pacific Coast Motorsports on the development side and this opportunity will enhance my role in the team in continued development.  It’s been six months since the testing so this morning may be a little rusty.  This is only temporary, Alex will be back in the car very soon, but until then we will continue this development project together.  I appreciate the opportunity PCM and Tom Figge are giving me, if someone has to replace Alex, I am pleased they have chosen me to do it.   This team is very special, they will accomplish a lot and I am proud to be part of it.”  

Today’s schedule for the Grand Prix of Houston features practice and final qualifying for the Champ Car World Series.  The race kicks off tomorrow, Sunday, April 22nd at 2:00 Central and will air live on ESPN.

Comment
04/21/07
cc

Rahal could make history
Graham Rahal has a chance to make history. Born Jan. 4, 1989, should he win he will be the youngest driver by nearly two years to win a Champ Car race. Same thing with a podium finish — which he seems poised to accomplish any race now. Should his qualifying time hold up for Sunday, according to Champ Car, he’ll apparently be the youngest driver ever to qualify that far up the grid by almost four years.

Rahal is still introspective about his performance and his potential.

“(Third) is a good step for me. We felt we should have been higher up in Las Vegas and Long Beach. We want to win races. Whatever race, it’s important to do well. We want to win a couple of races.

“It makes me feel better to be stepping out of the shadow. When things like this happen,” he said as he points toward the press table where he was just sitting. “There’s always pressure in with it. But I’ve tried to put it behind me. You always think you can. You always want to.”

Comment
04/21/07
cc

Senior Prom is overrated
That’s what Graham Rahal, a senior at Columbus, Ohio’s New Albany High School, says anyway.

Rahal, son of Champ Car great and former Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal, set third-fastest time at Friday’s provisional pole qualifying session for the Grand Prix of Houston at Reliant Park Friday. It was his best qualifying effort yet, in this third race of his first year of top-rung American open-wheel racing.

Rahal’s 58.998-second at 102.695-mph lap puts him behind series points leader Will Power, who took second in the first qualifying session Friday with a time of 58.908 at 102.852 mph; and two spots behind his teammate, three-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais, who posted a 58.376 at 103.789 mph.

The 18-year-old is delighted with his results. But he keeps having to answer the question: What about the prom?

“Everybody’s asking me about prom,” he said after the first session leading to Sunday’s Grand Prix ended. “It is prom weekend, but I’d rather be here doing this,” he grinned. “You don’t need to see (me dance).”

Read more & Comment...
04/21/07
irl

Indy Japan 300 post-race notebook
Ikuo Shimizu, president of Mobilityland, which operates Suzuka Circuit and Twin Ring Motegi, announced his retirement effective July 1, 2007 at a sponsor's party on Saturday night at Twin Ring Hotel. Under Shimizu's leadership, Twin Ring Motegi was a two-time winner of the Indy Racing League's promoter of the year award.

Indy Japan 300 winner Tony Kanaan and his wife Daniele are expecting their first child, a boy that they will name Leonardo.

"By the ultrasound, we can see his nose is as big as mine, so it's my son," said Kanaan

Dan Wheldon lost radio communication with his team during the race, a mistake he said cost him during the race.

"But it was just a little bit unfortunate we lost radio communication pretty early on.  We were being very conservative with the time that we had to pit.  Perhaps some improvements we could have made with the car over the duration of the race.  I think that was basically what really hindered us.  Not so much the fact that we didn't have the radio, but just the time that we had to pit because of that.

Read more & Comment...
04/21/07
irl

Another perfect weekend for Honda
Robert Clarke (President, Honda Performance Development) was quite happy with another Honda win in Saturday's Indy Japan 300 and another perfect weekend in terms of reliability for Honda's engines.

"Another perfect weekend for Honda, with 100 per cent reliability throughout the weekend.  I think it was a very good race for the fans.  The changing weather conditions over the course of the weekend made it challenging for the teams.  There was a lot of passing and other action on the track, and the various fuel strategies at the end made it tactically interesting as well.  The job doesn't get any easier for us, as we will be racing in Kansas next weekend and then on to Indianapolis for the 'Month of May', but I believe we are very well prepared once again."

Comment
04/21/07
nascar

Bowyer holds off Kenseth for Busch win at Phoenix
Clint Bowyer held off Matt Kenseth over the final six laps and took the checkered flag under caution in Friday night's NASCAR Busch Series Bashas' Supermarkets 200, as J.J. Yeley and Jon Wood crashed in Turn 2 on the last lap at Phoenix International Raceway.

Jeff Burton, Bowyer's Richard Childress Racing teammate, finished third, followed by Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards, who extended his points lead over 10th-place finisher Dave Blaney to 424 points.

Burton made a run at Kenseth three laps from the finish as Kenseth overdrove Turn 1, and that allowed Bowyer to pull away slightly. Bowyer led four times for 120 laps.

"When I saw that green car (Kenseth's Ford) off my bumper, that was when it got a lot more comfortable," said Bowyer, who posted his first Busch win of the season and the fourth of his career. "Man, that thing was just way too close there for a long time -- he was just so great there on the restarts."

Read more & Comment...
04/21/07
cc

Matt Halliday talks about Champ Car progress

New Zealand native Matt Halliday is a rookie this year in the Champ Car World Series.  Friday in Houston he talks about slowly getting used to Champ Car and gaining more confidence.

Comment
04/21/07
irl

Kosuke Matsuura crashes
Japanese favorite Kosuke Matsuura lost control in Turn 2 of the first lap and made contact with the SAFER barrier of the Honda Indy 300 in Motegi, Japan.  He was unhurt.

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