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Stewart Claims First Talladega Win
Tony Stewart wins at Talladega
Polesitter Tony Stewart held off a last-lap challenge from Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Saturday to claim his first victory at Talladega Superspeedway in any series.

"Boys, we won at Talladega!" Stewart shouted as he crossed the finish line in the Aaron's 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race .302 second ahead of runner-up David Stremme. It was Stewart's third NASCAR Nationwide win of the season.

Bobby Hamilton Jr. ran third, Jason Leffler fourth and Mark Green fifth, as Earnhardt dropped to sixth after Stewart repelled his last-ditch run on the final lap.

"I didn't think leading was the place to be," said Stewart, who led Earnhardt to the line for a restart with two laps to go in the 117-lap event, after a caution for debris in Turn 4 had slowed the race on Lap 113. "I still don't think, even after winning the race, that being the leader there with two laps to go was the right place to be.

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Hornaday Conquers Kansas Speedway
Ron Hornaday Jr. won the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 in overpowering fashion Saturday at Kansas Speedway, starting from pole and leading 136 of 167 laps.

It was Hornaday's first win of the season and extended his all-time lead in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series to 34. He also took the lead in the points by 61 over Rick Crawford.

"This thing was just a rocket ship," Hornaday said. "It's a brand-new truck. You don't have trucks like that, it was awesome."

Hornaday surrendered the lead three times during yellow-flag pit stops and impressively drove the Kevin Harvick, Inc. Chevrolet back to the front in a few laps on each occasion. He was fourth following his final pit stop on Lap 108, regaining the lead in five laps and holding it for the final 55 around the 1.5-mile circuit.

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Valiante, Farnbacher Claim Rolex Series Poles at VIR
Michael Valiante was awarded his first career pole position when fast timer Memo Rojas' car failed post-qualifying inspection Saturday at Virginia International Raceway.

Valiante ran a lap of 1:43.329 in the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Dallara, and will start on the pole in Sunday¹s Bosch Engineering 250 at Virginia International Raceway, Round 4 of the 2008 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16.

The No. 01 TELMEX Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Lexus Riley of Rojas and Scott Pruett - the current Daytona Prototype point leaders - and the No. 99 GAINSCO Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley of fourth-fastest qualifier Jon Fogarty and Alex Gurney were found to have a wing measurement outside Grand-Am tolerances. Both cars will start Sunday's race from the back of the Daytona Prototype grid.

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Franchitti injured in Nationwide race
Dario Franchitti has fractured his left ankle in the Nationwide Series race at Talladega on Saturday and will not be able to race in Sunday's Sprint Cup race. David Stremme, former driver of the #40 Dodge for Ganassi Racing, has been asked to sub for Franchitti and got permission from Roger Penske and Rusty Wallace to start and run the race Sunday. PRN's Garage Pass. [Url:More detail in related article[/url]


Schu defends Mosley's right to privacy
(GMM) Former seven time world champion Michael Schumacher on Saturday defended Max Mosley's right to privacy amid the sex scandal.

The 39-year-old German, at Barcelona to watch qualifying from the Ferrari pitwall, has worked closely with the embattled FIA president in the past.

He said he has only known him as a "professional person" and condemned the now famous intrusion by a British tabloid newspaper into 68-year-old Briton Mosley's sex life.

"I really rate him very highly," Schumacher told reporters in Spain.

"I always thought that I didn't want people commenting about my private life, so there's no reason to get into other people's," he added.

"I don't have anything else to add," Schumacher insisted, when asked if he thought the scandal had damaged formula one's image.


Talladega Aaron's 499 ticket sales down
The sale of tickets for Sunday's Aaron's 499 are off about 8% to 10% from last year, Talladega Superspeedway President Rick Humphrey said Friday. That's pretty much in line with what other NASCAR tracks are seeing this season as record gas prices are forcing some fans to stay home. (Alabama Live)  Children age 11 and younger will be admitted free of charge with a ticketed adult in the general admission grandstands area for all of Saturday’s activities, including The Birmingham News Qualifying for the Aaron’s 499 Sprint Cup Series race and the Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race. Tickets are still available to the Aaron’s Dream Weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, which includes The Birmingham News Qualifying on Friday, the Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Saturday and the Aaron’s 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday. Tickets may be ordered by calling 1-877- Go2-DEGA or going to talladegasuperspeedway.com


Renault not ready for podium, Alonso warns
(GMM) Fernando Alonso on Saturday played down expectations that he might finish the Spanish grand prix on the podium.

The Spaniard delighted his local supporters at the Circuit de Catalunya by narrowly missing pole position, following a difficult start to the 2008 season with Renault.

But even though Alonso, 26, is fielding an improved R28 package at Barcelona, he all but confirmed paddock speculation that his front-row qualifying berth was achieved with the assistance of a light fuel load.

"We have seen a big improvement in the car," he said. "It is better than in the first races, no doubt."

His high grid position has raised the hopes of his supporters, but Alonso repeated that his goal for Sunday is simply to finish about seventh -- behind the six quicker Ferraris, BMWs and McLarens.

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british f3

Hartley Quickest in Red Flag Hit Qualifying
There was double joy for Carlin as Red Bull driver Brendon Hartley (#3 Carlin) took pole position for Round 4 after the qualifying session was finished early after two red flag incidents.  The New Zealander finished four hundredths of a second ahead of Round 3 pole sitter Marcus Ericsson (#8 Fortec), with Sergio Perez (#9 T Sport) heading up the second row with Round 1 winner Oliver Turvey (#17 Carlin).  Andy Meyrick  did the double, the Carlin driver securing the National Class pole in 12th overall, five places ahead of Salman Al Khalifa (#57 T Sport).

Jaime Alguersuari (#4 Carlin) made the early pace once the competitors had settled into a rhythm, with Andy Meyrick (#56 Carlin) once again mixing it with the International Class runners.  Michael Devaney (#13 Ultimate) came into the pits after just one lap and was wheeled into the pit garage with a suspected suspension problem.

After 10 minutes Alguersuari was still heading the time sheets, with Meyrick, Ericsson, Tandy, Arundel and Martin rounding out the top six. Sam Abay (#18 Carlin) then put in a 1m13.502 lap to take the provisional pole position, with Ericsson and Hartley moving in 2nd and 3rd respectively.  However three minutes later Hartley made his bid for the top spot, posting a 1m13.237 lap, 0.043 ahead of Ericsson, with Perez improving to post the 3rd fastest time with Atte Mustonen improving to 5th ahead of Sebastian Hohenthal.

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Parente wins GP2 debut
Alvaro Parente
Alvaro Parente won season opener GP2 race Saturday at Barcelona, winning the feature race for Super Nova on his GP2 debut.

The Renault World Series champion led from start to finish, taking control after poleman Pastor Maldonado stalled at the start.

Bruno Senna hounded Parente for most of the race but Parente just never made a mistake and clung on by half a second despite Senna trying everything he could to get by.  Andy Zuber was third.



Driver Team Gap
1. Alvaro Parente Super Nova 1:01:09.902
2. Bruno Senna iSport ×0.579
3. Andi Zuber Piquet Sports ×1.511
4. Giorgio Pantano Racing Engineering ×3.768
5. Romain Grosjean ART ×8.155
6. Vitaly Petrov Campos ×19.729
7. Sebastien Buemi Arden ×27.326
8. Kamui Kobayashi DAMS ×27.945
9. Karun Chandhok iSport ×30.394
10. Davide Valsecchi Durango ×34.573
11. Luca Filippi ART ×34.816
12. Pastor Maldonado Piquet Sports ×38.600
13. Alberto Valerio Durango ×42.489
14. Javier Villa Racing Engineering ×43.200
15. Diego Nunes DPR ×1:09.867
16. Giacomo Ricci DPR ×1:10.152
17. Paolo Nocera BCN ×1:08.749
18. Adrian Valles FMS ×1:08.778
Not classified
Driver Team Laps
Christian Bakkerud Super Nova 20 laps
Yelmer Buurman Arden 18 laps
Ben Hanley Campos 15 laps
Jerome D'Ambrosio DAMS 15 laps
Roldan Rodriguez FMS 4 laps
Ho-Pin Tung Trident 1 lap
Mike Conway Trident 0 laps
Milos Pavlovic BCN 0 laps


Schu vows legal action against 'Schumi III' reports
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has threatened to take legal action if any more press reports or photographs are published about his nine-year old son Mick.

It emerged last week that, entered anonymously under his mother's maiden name Betsch, Mick Schumacher recently made his racing debut at the wheel of a go-kart in Spain.

But former seven time world champion Schumacher, who watched qualifying for the Spanish grand prix from the Ferrari pitwall at Barcelona, pleaded on Saturday: "Let our kids be kids.  Do not make headlines out of them.

"It is not his fault that he has a famous father."

The 39-year-old pointed out that German laws help to protect children's privacy, and indeed the latest photographs in the major newspaper Bild depict young Mick with a blurred face.

Schumacher warned: "We are prepared to take legal action against anyone who publishes pictures or articles."


Renault confirms Alonso on light load
Renault’s Pat Symonds confirmed to ITV Sport that Fernando Alonso’s shock front row qualifying slot was aided by a low-fuel strategy.

The Spaniard produced the qualifying surprise of the season so far as he just missed out on pole position to Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen at Barcelona.

And although the team has made clear progress with its vastly upgraded R28 car in Spain, confirmed by Nelson Piquet Jr’s first top 10 grid slot, Renault’s engineering chief told Steve Rider after qualifying that Alonso had been fuelled lighter in Q3.

“Well obviously there is some strategy involved,” he told Steve. But I’m really pleased to see the proof of the work that we have been doing over the last few months and to see Nelson up there in the top 10, it is his first time there and it proves it is a team effort.

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Ex-Champ Car driver Bourdais smokes Vettel again
While Toro Rosso Ferrari counts down the days before they can run the new 2008 chassis, ex-Champ Car driver Sebastien Bourdais put in a good performance today in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix and once again smoked his highly acclaimed teammate Sebastian Vettel who came up through the European ranks.

The Frenchman made it relatively easily into the second round of qualifying after setting the 13th fastest time but his final qualifying lap saw him lock his rear brakes and he had to be content with 16th on the grid.

Sebastian Vettel had a tougher time of it and was unable to progress into the second phase of qualifying and starts 18th.

Sebastien Bourdais
“Yesterday I said that if everything went our way it would be possible to get into Q2. Obviously, I was quite happy to be thirteenth in Q1 because it really wasn’t the greatest lap, as I had quite a lot of traffic in front of me. Unfortunately, the track conditions kept improving and we were running out of adjustments to dial out the understeer in Q2. It was a bit frustrating, because it felt as though the car had some more in it. Then, on my last run I aborted the lap because I had a moment, which was down to the fact we tried something different to try and get rid of the understeer, but it did not give us grip and it upset the balance.”

Sebastian Vettel
“I was always struggling a bit in the first sector of the lap. Towards the end of Q1, I was reasonably well placed, but I did not feel confident with the car as I had no feeling for it in that first sector. It seemed as though the car wasn’t ready and it was sliding around a lot. As we know, it’s tight in the midfield and I missed out by not very much, because the rest of my lap was okay. Sebastien made it comfortably into Q2 so there is something we need to work on. The race will hopefully be a different story, after just not having the pace in qualifying.”

Giorgio Ascanelli
“It was worth coming to Spain just to see Alonso’s qualifying lap! As for us, the cars have run reliably so far and in performance terms we did what we could with what we had.”


Super Aguri absent from teams' meeting
(GMM)  Reports that all teams met for a bosses meeting in Barcelona on Saturday morning were incorrect -- conspicuously absent was Aguri Suzuki or any representatives of the struggling Japanese team.

The Leafield based team is only able to compete at this weekend's Spanish grand prix with a final handout from Honda.

Some unkind observers at the circuit have playfully marveled that, so strapped for cash is Super Aguri, that it has oddly had to alter its cars' usual livery this weekend in order to cut down on red paint.

In interviews on Friday, Suzuki would not confirm that his team will be able to race in the forthcoming Turkish grand prix, revealing that talks next week are crucial to the team's uncertain future.

Another bad sign was his absence from the teams' meeting with Bernie Ecclestone in the Toyota motor home, as details such as next year's KERS introduction were discussed.

"Those who came, came, and those who didn't, didn't," Force India chief Colin Kolles said bluntly.

"Everyone was invited."

Briefly discussed at the end of the meeting was the plight of embattled FIA president Max Mosley, but three teams - Ferrari, Red Bull and Toro Rosso - vetoed a proposal to issue a joint statement asking for the 68-year-old Briton to step down.

British F3

Ericsson Takes Croft Pole Ahead of Perez
Marcus Ericsson (#8 Fortec) took his maiden British F3 pole position at his third attempt.  The joint championship leader posted a time of 1m12.733, 0.134 seconds ahead of National Class Champion Sergio Perez (#9 T Sport) and 0.204 second ahead of  teammate Sebastian Hohenthal (#7 Fortec).  Andy Meyrick (#56 Carlin) kept his 100% record by taking his third National Class pole in three races ahead of Steven Guerrero (#53 T Sport).

A damp track caused a bit of head scratching in the pitlane prior to the 30-minute qualifying session for Round 3 of the 2008 British F3 International Series, with many of the teams electing to start the session on Avon wets. Once the session got underway it soon became clear that the correct choice was slicks and the drivers on wets came in to change their rubber.

In the first five minutes the grid was decidedly topsy turvy with National Class championship leader Andy Meyrick appearing at the top of the time sheets and many of the top 10 positions being filled by other National Class contenders.  However Sergio Perez soon got things back to normal, posting a 1:14.583, which was soon bettered by Walter Grubmuller and Max Chilton.  However Meyrick was still setting competitive times and with the session 10 minutes old the Carlin driver was on the front row of the provisional grid.

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Kevin Harvick Inc. implementing drug testing
Kevin Harvick Inc. has implemented a different type of testing the past couple of weeks. The racing team has started a random drug testing program since recent revelations that former Nationwide and Craftsman Trucks driver Aaron Fike had used heroin on some race days. "The whole company will be tested within the next week," Harvick said. "We've got most of them done. We haven't had any failures yet, so that's a good thing." An outside company was hired to administer the tests, and he said all the drivers and crew chiefs volunteered to go to the drug-testing facility. Harvick is hoping NASCAR will adopt a similar policy to help keep the sport clean. He initially approached officials pushing that idea last season. NASCAR's substance abuse policy is based on "reasonable suspicion" and allows drug tests anytime. Associated Press


Champ Car and IRL finding merger is working
On Friday afternoon, Terry Angstadt leaned back in his chair at Kansas Speedway, smiled, joked and laughed.

It’s Angstadt’s job, as president of the commercial development arm of the IndyCar series, to sell his open-wheel racing series. His target audience is corporate America and, through a trickle-down effect, race fans.

These days, Angstadt is relaxed. At one point, he folded his hands together, grinned and expressed his sentiments in four words:

“This is our time.”

For the first time since the mid-1990s, very good things are happening when it comes to North American open-wheel racing. Things are looking up at the tracks, in the media and in the Indy Racing League offices on 16th Street in Indianapolis.

And good things are happening where it may count most — in the minds of racing fans.

IndyCar driver Tony Kanaan made that discovery on the weekend of the season-opening race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He said the crowds were so large that he had to start building extra time into his trips to the bathroom because it was taking longer to get there.

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Edwards joins ranks of drivers eyeing new rides for '09
Carl Edwards
Carl Edwards, whose contract with Roush Fenway Racing expires at the end of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup season and one of the most sought after free agents in the Sprint Cup garage, offered a small clue concerning his timetable for completing a deal.

“For me, personally, just out of respect to everyone and sponsors, and the teams and the way we do business, for me it’s always my mission to get that stuff out of the way and get it done as early as I can," the driver of the No. 99 Ford said Friday at Talladega Superspeedway. "That’s how I’ve always tried to do it. ... I’m working really hard to get my stuff, just because I think it’s fair to get it done early, and once I get it done I’ll let everyone know what I’ve done."

Edwards, Roush Fenway teammate Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Inc.’s Martin Truex and Penske Racing's Ryan Newman are among the sport's biggest names yet to finalize plans for the 2009 season and beyond. Another big-name driver, two-time series champion Tony Stewart, said on Thursday he might leave Joe Gibbs Racing for an ownership role in another team next year, though his contract with JGR presently runs through the end of the 2009 season.

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GM gives Wagoner 40% pay boost
General Motors Corp. boosted CEO Rick Wagoner's total compensation by 40 percent to $14.4 million in 2007, a year in which the automaker lost money for a third straight year but also slashed costs and brokered a historic labor deal with the United Auto Workers union.

Wagoner's salary of $1.56 million last year was 22 percent higher than the $1.28 million the No. 1 U.S. automaker paid him in 2006, the company reported Friday.

It was still less than the $2.2 million Wagoner, 55, made before taking a voluntary pay cut in 2006. He will earn $2.2 million in salary this year. By comparison, Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Alan Mulally earned about $22 million in overall compensation last year.

Most of the rise in Wagoner's overall compensation was due to an increase in the value of his pension and incentive plan payments, GM said in a proxy statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.


Honda's fourth-quarter profit plummets 86 percent
Honda's net profit in the January-March quarter plunged 86 percent compared with the same period a year ago because of a one-time corporate tax levied on its Chinese joint venture, the Japanese carmaker said Friday.  But Japan's second-biggest automaker still reported a record profit for the fiscal year just ended on booming overseas sales.

Honda Motor Co.'s profit for the fourth fiscal quarter totaled 25.4 billion yen ($244.2 million), down from 176 billion yen the same period the previous year.

Quarterly sales edged down 1 percent to 3.056 trillion yen ($29.4 billion) from 3.088 trillion yen.

Honda wasn't upbeat about coming months, as fears grow about an unfavorable yen-dollar exchange rate that could cut into the overseas profits of giant Japanese exporters. Also adding to the pessimism are concerns about the North American market, where the credit crisis could crimp sales.


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STR new car decision due next week
(GMM)  Toro Rosso will decide at the end of next week whether it can go ahead with the planned debut of its 2008 car, the STR3.

Sebastian Vettel said earlier this week that the debut, scheduled for the Turkish grand prix, might have to be further delayed following teammate Sebastien Bourdais' crash at the recent Barcelona test.

"It will be the end of next week before we know if we have enough parts to go for Istanbul," team boss Franz Tost is quoted as saying by Auto Motor und Sport.


Heidfeld leads practice 3 - Spain
Nick Heidfeld put his BMW atop the final practice session timesheets Saturday morning.  The German leapt from 19th position to first when he switched to the softer Bridgestone tires for his final run.

David Coulthard took second for Red Bull, ahead of Renault's Fernando Alonso in front of his Spanish fans.

Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen were only ninth and 13th in the Ferraris, while McLaren teammates Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen ended the morning 11th and 15th respectively, both teams testing on heavier fuel loads.



Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:21.269 × 0.000 19
2. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:21.465 × 0.196 16
3. Alonso Renault 1:21.599 × 0.330 16
4. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:21.717 × 0.448 23
5. Trulli Toyota 1:21.771 × 0.502 21
6. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:21.942 × 0.673 19
7. Piquet Renault 1:21.992 × 0.723 18
8. Button Honda 1:22.060 × 0.791 17
9. Massa Ferrari 1:22.075 × 0.806 16
10. Glock Toyota 1:22.081 × 0.812 23
11. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.094 × 0.825 15
12. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:22.174 × 0.905 19
13. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:22.176 × 0.907 18
14. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:22.189 × 0.920 16
15. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.220 × 0.951 16
16. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:22.292 × 1.023 20
17. Barrichello Honda 1:22.350 × 1.081 17
18. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:22.466 × 1.197 22
19. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:22.689 × 1.420 21
20. Sato Super Aguri-Honda 1:23.726 × 2.457 16
21. Davidson Super Aguri-Honda 1:23.921 × 2.652 15
22. Webber Red Bull-Renault No Tome N/A 2


Long Beach ALMS TV rating UPDATE The final TV rating for the ALMS Long Beach race was a 0.8/2 share.

04/21/08 The overnight TV rating for the tape delayed Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series race at Long Beach on ABC was a 0.9.


Full Throttle replaces POWERade as NHRA title sponsor
In the world of heads-up professional drag racing, perhaps nothing exemplifies the dog-eat-dog nature of the sport better than words, “Go Full Throttle or Go Home!”

Beginning in 2009, that's exactly how NHRA's top professional series will be branded, as Coca-Cola North America's Full Throttle energy drink succeeds POWERade as the title sponsor of NHRA's premier professional drag racing series. It's the first major sports marketing play for the beverage company's lead energy drink.

The association between NHRA and Coca-Cola North America, with support from Coca-Cola Enterprises, includes a two-year partnership extension through the 2013 season, representing one of the longest running series sponsorships in motorsports. The new series will be called the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.

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Piquet not convinced of Danica Patrick ability
Three time world driving champion Nelson Piquet thinks Danica Patrick is just a pretty face who lucked into a win with fuel strategy on a 100% throttle track
(GMM) Former triple world champion Nelson Piquet is unconvinced that female racer Danica Patrick has what it takes to switch to formula one.

American Patrick, 26, secured her breakthrough win in the IndyCar series last weekend, amid suggestions that F1 should seize the opportunity now that the world of premier single seater racing seems to have identified a top woman driver.

But Piquet, who was badly injured when he attempted the Indianapolis 500 in the nineties, told the Spanish newspaper Diario AS that he is not convinced of Patrick's credentials.

"In the IRL I do not see anything -- no brakes, no corners, no nothing," he said.


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Let Red Bull race four cars - Mateschitz
  • Piquet Snr backs Mosley amid sex scandal
  • Official 'delighted' Mosley skipped Spain GP
  • Scott Speed wins stock car race
  • Boss tells Hamilton to focus on himself
  • Hamilton missing Alonso input - Adrian Campos
  • Briatore wants KERS delayed until 2010

Let Red Bull race four cars - Mateschitz
(GMM) Red Bull magnate Dietrich Mateschitz has proposed that each formula one team be allowed to field four cars per grand prix in the near future.

The Austrian billionaire has openly put his 50 per cent share in junior outfit Toro Rosso up for sale, as formula one prepares to no longer condone 'customer cars' from 2010.

But in an effort to maintain the same number of Red Bull-branded cars on the grid, Mateschitz told an Austrian newspaper that an alternative would be to simply allow four RBRs to be entered at each race.

"My proposal is to allow four cars per team," he said.

"If the regulations mean Toro Rosso can no longer utilize Red Bull technologies, then it makes no sense," he is quoted as saying by Salzburger Nachrichten.

"We can not build a second Milton Keynes in Faenza," Mateschitz added.

Piquet Snr backs Mosley amid sex scandal
(GMM) Max Mosley has found a rare ally in the form of former triple world champion Nelson Piquet.

Brazilian Piquet, the 55-year-old father of the rookie that races this year for Renault, suggested to the Spanish newspaper AS that the sex scandal is a storm in a teacup.

"I am very upset with him," Piquet laughed at Barcelona. "Very upset, because he didn't invite anyone to his party.

"Is there no-one in formula one who has ever had a sex party?" he mischievously wondered.

The farce of Mosley's waning grip on his FIA presidency, however, continued on Friday evening, when the 68-year-old said he understood why Israel uninvited him to the country following his meeting with sports minister Galeb Majadle at the Jordan Rally.

"I look forward to resuming contact with him when the News of the World's deliberate and calculated lies have been comprehensively refuted," he is quoted as saying in an official statement.

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racing news

Soaring grain prices starts a backlash against BioFuels
The campaign against climate change could be set back by the global food crisis, as foreign populations turn against measures to use foodstuffs as substitutes for fossil fuels.

With prices for rice, wheat, and corn soaring, food-related unrest has broken out in places such as Haiti, Indonesia, and Afghanistan. Several countries have blocked the export of grain. There is even talk that governments could fall if they cannot bring food costs down.

One factor being blamed for the price hikes is the use of government subsidies to promote the use of corn for ethanol production. An estimated 30% of America’s corn crop now goes to fuel, not food.

“I don’t think anybody knows precisely how much ethanol contributes to the run-up in food prices, but the contribution is clearly substantial,” a professor of applied economics and law at the University of Minnesota, C. Ford Runge, said. A study by a Washington think tank, the International Food Policy Research Institute, indicated that between a quarter and a third of the recent hike in commodities prices is attributable to biofuels.

Last year, Mr. Runge and a colleague, Benjamin Senauer, wrote an article in Foreign Affairs, “How Biofuels Could Starve the Poor.”

“We were criticized for being alarmist at the time,” Mr. Runge said. “I think our views, looking back a year, were probably too conservative.”

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Stewart wins Nationwide pole
Tony Stewart won the pole for Saturday's Aaron's 312 Nationwide Series race.  Stewart's lap of 185.308 mph earned him his second pole of the Nationwide Series season. The other came in the season-opening race at Daytona, which he won. Stewart also won the following week at California.

"It was four times scarier than the lap at Daytona qualifying. I told Dave Rogers [crew chief] that I was scared to hold it wide open, but I was able to do that and luckily we got on the pole," Stewart said jokingly. "I'm just kidding, it was easy -- you guys all know and you've done this long enough to know that the wrong guy is in here talking about it right now. It should be Dave Rogers or the crew guys.  The hardest thing we have to do as drivers here [Friday] is shift three times and that's literally the hardest thing we have to do."

Mike Bliss will start second after his lap of 185.061. He will try to continue his two-race streak of strong runs after joining owner James Finch in the No. 1 Chevrolet three races ago.  Jason Leffler will start third, followed by Dario Franchitti and Brad Keselowski.  Points leader Clint Bowyer will start sixth.



1 20 Tony Stewart Toyota 185.308 51.676
2 1 Mike Bliss Chevrolet 185.061 51.745
3 38 Jason Leffler Toyota 184.979 51.768
4 40 Dario Franchitti* Dodge 184.833 51.809
5 88 Brad Keselowski Chevrolet 184.448 51.917
6 2 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 184.352 51.944
7 5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 184.303 51.958
8 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 184.264 51.969
9 33 Cale Gale* Chevrolet 184.211 51.984
10 32 Denny Hamlin Toyota 184.211 51.984
11 60 Carl Edwards Ford 184.147 52.002
12 9 Patrick Carpentier* Dodge 183.850 52.086
13 21 Stephen Leicht Chevrolet 183.624 52.150
14 41 Kyle Krisiloff Dodge 183.318 52.237
15 16 Greg Biffle Ford 183.301 52.242
16 27 Brad Coleman Ford 183.287 52.246
17 81 D.J. Kennington Dodge 183.245 52.258
18 47 Kelly Bires Ford 183.217 52.266
19 29 Scott Wimmer Chevrolet 183.021 52.322
20 7 Mike Wallace Toyota 182.982 52.333
21 6 David Ragan Ford 182.602 52.442
22 275 Johnny Sauter Chevrolet 182.567 52.452
23 01 Kertus Davis Chevrolet 182.556 52.455
24 64 David Stremme Chevrolet 182.220 52.552
25 66 Steve Wallace Chevrolet 182.012 52.612
26 170 Mark Green Chevrolet 181.728 52.694
27 99 David Reutimann Toyota 181.598 52.732
28 28 Kenny Wallace Chevrolet 181.494 52.762
29 24 Eric McClure Chevrolet 181.381 52.795
30 59 Marcos Ambrose Ford 181.302 52.818
31 0 Dwayne Leik Chevrolet 181.281 52.824
32 22 Reed Sorenson Dodge 181.268 52.828
33 89 Morgan Shepherd Dodge 180.891 52.938
34 91 Larry Gunselman Chevrolet 180.850 52.950
35 111 Jason Keller Chevrolet 180.836 52.954
36 25 Bobby Hamilton Jr. Ford 180.816 52.960
37 4 Robert Richardson, II Chevrolet 180.404 53.081
38 161 Kevin Lepage Ford 180.146 53.157
39 52 Donnie Neuenberger Chevrolet 179.622 53.312
40 05 Brett Rowe Chevrolet 179.423 53.371
41 90 Johnny Chapman Chevrolet 178.790 53.560
42 157 Justin Ashburn Dodge 174.962 54.732
43 84 Mike Harmon Chevrolet - -


Patrick's win creating buzz in NASCAR garages
Danica Patrick is a big topic in NASCAR garages again.  The renewed buzz at Talladega Superspeedway stems from Patrick’s first IndyCar Series win, with NASCAR drivers and team owner Jack Roush discussing the daunting challenges of a move from open-wheel racing for anyone, male or female.

Patrick’s win Sunday in Japan made her the first woman to win a major open-wheel race.

“It’s not clear because she won an open-wheel race that it would be a straightforward thing for her to step into a stock car,” said Roush, adding that officials with Roush Fenway Racing had spoken to Patrick in Phoenix before her win as well as last year. “Quite to the contrary, I think she’d have to get comfortable with it and the people around her would have to get comfortable with it.”

Likewise, Sprint Cup points leader Jeff Burton talks about the potential challenges for any such move, regardless of gender. He has little doubt that a woman can succeed in NASCAR and was “really impressed” with Patrick’s win.

“I think it’s a harder transition to go from an open-wheel type car to this than people think,” Burton said. “I don’t know if she can do it or not. Ask (Juan Pablo) Montoya how hard this is. I’m not saying we’re better drivers. What I’m saying is it takes different stuff, a different driving style, to run well in these cars.”

Kevin Harvick had a similar sentiment.

“It’d be interesting to see how she’d do here,” he said. “I think this is a much more competitive garage than what they have over there. I think it would be a little tougher road to hoe than what she has there.”  AP Article


Scott Speed wins ARCA race
Scott Speed
ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Scott Speed, with an assist from the Aaron's Lucky Dog, won the Kansas Lottery $150 Grand Friday afternoon at Kansas Speedway.

Speed, in the No. 2 Red Bull Toyota, battled back from a lap down, blew by rookie Jesse Smith on a late-race restart with six laps remaining, and then kept Roush Fenway Racing's Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. at bay to claim his career-first victory in his fifth career series start.

Speed, who led 21 laps total, went a lap down early on while he was leading when he had to come down pit road under green to refasten his window net, which had fallen down.

"I don't let things that I can't control affect me while I'm driving," said Speed. "Obviously, something like a window net I can't control. I just got really aggressive after that happened so that we could be in a position to earn the Lucky Dog. Once we got that, I pushed real hard to make up a lot of positions."

Speed was in position to get the Aaron's Lucky Dog award during a lap 54 caution period, which put the Formula One veteran back in the lead-lap mix.

"It's certainly great to win a race; it's been awhile. The goal is to be successful in Cup, so if we are learning a lot here, that's great. Every lap I make on a racetrack is beneficial. This is why I am pushing so hard; because it's beneficial."

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Q and A with F1 Technical Directors
Pat Symonds (Renault), Sam Michael (Williams), Adrian Newey (Red Bull), Willy Rampf (BMW), Aldo Costa (Ferrari).

Q. A question to all of you, the 2009 car. Can you tell us how important you feel that car is going to be? How advanced you are already and what are the significant points about it?

Pat Symonds: I am not quite sure what you mean by important. Every car is important every year. It is very interesting as it's the first big change we have had for a long while. I am sure everyone knows it is a big change to the aerodynamics and it's a replacement of grooved tires with slick tires which in turn means using different weight distributions and all sorts of things.

It is a very interesting challenge. It's, I guess, quite a difficult one. We do need to start on it early and we have started on it early. I am sure we are all the same. Obviously we have had models in the wind tunnel even though we are still discussing the finer details of the aerodynamic rules. It is a good project. I hope and believe that it will improve overtaking which is one of the main reasons for kicking it all off, so let's see what we get.

Sam Michael: I think the rules are quite different, especially aerodynamically for a start and getting rid of all of the majority of the appendages on the car - barge-boards, flip-ups, chimney. Physically from the outside the cars are going to look quite different with a very wide front wing and narrow rear wing.

The target which came from the TWG which was to improve overtaking and it remains to be seen how much impact we will have on that. It will definitely have some impact and that will be good. That combined with big tires and a big increase in tire grip. As Pat said everyone has started their wind tunnel programs and also CFD programs.

It is quite a difficult balance this year to balance how much you develop the current car, the 2008 car, and how much you develop the 09. Normally even if you have reasonable rule changes from one year to another they are not as fundamental as this one, so you can continue developing the car right to the last race and the bits you develop on that car can be carried over to next year's car but it almost doesn't apply now.

If you are still developing you car at the last race it will get thrown in the bin at the end of this season. It is probably harder for the three teams fighting for the championship, but it is equally hard for the teams that are fighting I would say to be the best of the rest at the moment, that fourth spot. There are three or four teams that are capable of running in that position and it is going to increase the pressure on them as well. We are all going to be doing that balancing act throughout the season.

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tv news

NASCAR Now to broadcast live from Dale Earnhardt Day
ESPN’s “NASCAR Now” will broadcast a special one-hour show live from Dale Earnhardt Inc. on Tuesday, April 29 from 6-7 p.m. (EST). The show will highlight Tuesday’s annual Dale Earnhardt Day event that honors the birthday of the seven-time NASCAR Champion and serves as a major benefit for the Dale Earnhardt Foundation.

The show will be on hand for the event, which runs from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. and will feature a variety of activities and displays for the entire family, and will originate live from the location at 6 p.m.

There will be an official ceremony at 3 p.m. with ESPN’s Dr. Jerry Punch serving as the event’s official emcee. In addition, Dale Earnhardt drivers will be on hand to sign autographs at different times during the event.

In addition to ESPN, Tanner in the Morning of Charlotte, N.C.’s WSOC-FM 103.7 will host a live radio broadcast from 6-10 a.m., Sirius Satellite Radio will be on hand in the afternoon and Primetime with the Packman from Charlotte’s WFNZ-AM 610 will broadcast live from the event from 3-7 p.m.

For more information on the event, visit: www.daleearnhardtinc.com.


Smaller Restrictor Plate at Talladega
For the third time in the past four Talladega Cup races, crew chiefs will deal with a new size for the four holes on the restrictor plates required at the track by NASCAR. Sunday's holes will be 15/16ths of an inch in diameter, 1/32nd of an inch smaller than the holes for the fall race, the first plate race for the Car of Tomorrow. The change will cut about 25 horsepower. In last's year spring race and the 2006 fall race, the holes were 7/8ths of an inch in diameter. The holes were enlarged for the Car of Tomorrow because the taller, boxier vehicle required more horsepower to go the same speed as the old ride. Two years ago, the holes were 57/64ths of an inch, but NASCAR cut the size because of the faster speeds produced by Talladega's smooth new pavement. The restrictor plate reduces the flow of air into the engine's carburetor. NASCAR has required the plates at its races at Talladega and Daytona to slow the cars at the giant, high-banked tracks. Alabama Live


Q and A with Danica Patrick at Kansas Speedway
Danica Patrick in Kansas
Ron McQueeney/IRL
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Danica Patrick, winner of last week's Indy Japan 300 in Motegi, Japan. It's been a whirlwind since we left you. You flew out of Japan a few hours earlier than was originally planned, and now here we are back in the comfort of a racetrack at a place where you won a pole a few years back.

DANICA PATRICK: Yeah, first pole here.

THE MODERATOR: Tell us about your week and what you're looking for here in Kansas this week.

DANICA PATRICK: Yeah, it was an exciting week. It was a lot of fun. You know, I never mind doing a lot of those live shows and talking to people like David Letterman. It's not a bad gig.

But we wanted to make the most of this event for everybody, for the team, for the sponsors, like Motorola, and for just the league and everybody. You know, this is something that had a lot of avenues of benefits.

I went and worked my butt off for a week. I feel pretty good, though. I think that everything happens for a reason, and if this would have come three years ago on the heels of Indy or something like that, you know, maybe I wouldn't have been so calm and prepared, prepared all around, from my standpoint and from the media and publicity standpoint. I try and find reason for everything. It was a good week.

But I'm excited to be in Kansas. Hopefully we get some practice in so we can get ourselves a good race car, and you're only as good as your last race, so I'm starting from scratch here.

THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.

Q. Danica, after all this week, and as you've said, you enjoyed it, but are you really looking forward to getting back in the race car?

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Harvick tops Sprint Cup practice at Talladega
Kevin Harvick drove his Chevy to lap of 195.936 MPH to top both practice sessions Friday at Talladega for Sunday's Aaron's 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup race.  He was followed closely by the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas of Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart.  These speeds were with the aide of the draft.  The afternoon speeds dropped to the 192 MPH range with no draft.

Top Speeds Friday at Talladega


1 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 195.936 48.873 Leader
2 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Freight 195.720 48.927 -0.054
3 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot 194.090 49.338 -0.465
4 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot 194.078 49.341 -0.468
5 12 Ryan Newman Dodge Alltel 194.011 49.358 -0.485
6 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 193.921 49.381 -0.508
7 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 193.901 49.386 -0.513
8 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 193.874 49.393 -0.520
9 01 Regan Smith* Chevrolet DEI / Principal Financial Group 193.682 49.442 -0.569
10 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet DIRECTV 193.372 49.521 -0.648
11 38 David Gilliland Ford FreeCreditReport.com 193.357 49.525 -0.652
12 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet CARQUEST / Kellogg's 193.131 49.583 -0.710
13 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's Most Colorful Fan 193.064 49.600 -0.727
14 6 David Ragan Ford AAA Travel 193.010 49.614 -0.741
15 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 192.874 49.649 -0.776
16 66 Scott Riggs Chevrolet State Water Heaters 192.746 49.682 -0.809
17 44 David Reutimann Toyota UPS / 134th Kentucky Derby 192.719 49.689 -0.816
18 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 192.630 49.712 -0.839
19 7 P.J. Jones Dodge RVs.com 192.599 49.720 -0.847
20 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker 192.599 49.720 -0.847
21 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Wrigley's Juicy Fruit 192.502 49.745 -0.872
22 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 192.452 49.758 -0.885
23 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Pepsi / DuPont 192.382 49.776 -0.903
24 77 Sam Hornish Jr.* Dodge Mobil 1 192.281 49.802 -0.929
25 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet Turtle Wax / Menards 192.270 49.805 -0.932
26 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Polaroid 192.050 49.862 -0.989
27 00 Michael McDowell* Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 191.908 49.899 -1.026
28 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet AMP Energy / National Guard 191.900 49.901 -1.028
29 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal 191.877 49.907 -1.034
30 16 Greg Biffle Ford American Red Cross / 3M 191.650 49.966 -1.093
31 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT 191.543 49.994 -1.121
32 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Garmin 191.340 50.047 -1.174
33 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS 191.306 50.056 -1.183
34 8 Aric Almirola Chevrolet U.S. Army 191.084 50.114 -1.241
35 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet National Day of Prayer / Furniture Row 186.572 51.326 -2.453
36 84 A.J. Allmendinger Toyota Red Bull 186.343 51.389 -2.516
37 40 Dario Franchitti* Dodge TUMS Quik Pak 186.057 51.468 -2.595
38 28 Travis Kvapil Ford Northern Tool × Equipment 185.917 51.507 -2.634
39 70 Ken Schrader Chevrolet Hunt Brothers Pizza 185.902 51.511 -2.638
40 45 Kyle Petty Dodge Marathon / Wells Fargo / PVA 185.438 51.640 -2.767
41 21 Jon Wood Ford Little Debbie Honey Buns 185.018 51.757 -2.884
42 10 Patrick Carpentier* Dodge LifeLock 184.958 51.774 -2.901
43 96 J.J. Yeley Toyota DLP HDTV 184.901 51.790 -2.917
44 109 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 184.897 51.791 -2.918
45 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 184.769 51.827 -2.954
46 34 John Andretti Chevrolet Taco Bell 182.237 52.547 -3.674


Why is bar set so low for Danica?
This CBSSports.com article says, Why do we set the bar so low for women in sports? The world's top female tennis player, Billie Jean King, beats a 55-year-old male has-been named Bobby Riggs in 1973, and it's a huge day for women's rights? I get the timing of the whole thing. It was different in the early 1970s. Men were men and women were somewhere in the background baking us cookies. We were sexist pigs back then, and nobody played the sexist pig better than Riggs. But King was at the top of her game. Riggs was an old man. Beating him wasn't the most she could do. It was the least.

Decades have passed, but we're still condescending when it comes to women in sports. A high school senior named Candace Parker enters the (boys) slam dunk competition at the 2004 McDonald's All-American Game, gently pushes the ball through the rim, and wins the event. J.R. Smith practically sat on the basket for a few of his dunks, but Parker won because, well, she won because she was a girl. And don't tell me I'm being sexist, because I'm not. The judges were being sexist for symbolically patting Parker on her pretty little head and telling her, my, what a sweet thing she is. At least Danica Patrick competed with men on a level playing field when she won the Indy Japan 300 on Sunday in Motegi, Japan. Patrick played the exact same sport as everyone else, was held to the same standards, and won. What she did was more impressive, from a sports standpoint, than King's tennis win over a washed-up Riggs or Parker's condescending dunk "victory."

But this was not all that impressive. Not if you look with the jaded eyes of neutrality, which very few of you undoubtedly possess. Then again, maybe I don't possess those eyes either. Not on Danica Patrick. She has rubbed me the wrong way for years, including her ridiculous marketing choices, like when she stares seductively into the camera to hawk antifreeze or pretends to peel down her racing suit and makes beaver jokes -- I'm not making that up -- for GoDaddy.com. Patrick has bugged me for a while, and I'll tell you exactly when it started: It started in July 2006 when she said she was considering a move to NASCAR. No problem there. But then she smugly wondered how high those TV ratings would be. Big problem there. At the time, Patrick was 10th on the Indy Racing League -- 10th out of the 15 drivers who raced every week. She was a non-factor on her B-list racing circuit. And she's wondering about the ratings for her NASCAR debut? Hey, sweetheart, try qualifying for a NASCAR event. Then we'll talk ratings.

If you're wondering why I'm wrapping a wet blanket around what Mike Freeman is foolishly calling a warm and snuggly story, that's the biggest reason: the IRL is not real racing. Not real good racing, anyway. It's not the best car circuit in this country -- that would be NASCAR -- and it's not even the best open-wheel series in the world. That would be Formula One.

So what is the IRL? It's a training ground for decent drivers who hope to be good enough to race somewhere important some day. Sam Hornish Jr. won the IRL season championship in 2001, '02 and '06. Dario Franchitti won the IRL title in 2007. That's the best the IRL has to offer -- or had to offer. Both left the IRL for NASCAR, where they are overmatched. In 17 career NASCAR starts, neither has finished in the top 10. Hornish has broken into the top 20 once in 10 tries. Franchitti? Never. Patrick Carpentier, another dominant open-wheel racer in this country, can't break into the top 10 of a NACAR race, either.

The IRL is the junior varsity of racing, is what I'm saying. Danica Patrick finally won herself a JV race, and that's good for her, and it's a neat story. The first woman to do anything -- the first man to do anything, too -- is always cool. But let's not take this too far, OK? Winning in the IRL isn't a matter of talent. It's a matter of time. Race 50 times, as Patrick has done in the IRL, and you're bound to win eventually, especially when you have the best car and support team money can buy, as Patrick does.

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Stewart speaks about rumors
Tony Stewart has several different offers to leave Joe Gibbs Racing, and he is considering every option - including ones that could make him the owner of his own NASCAR team. "We've got multiple offers on the table right now, and there's a couple in particular that really have caught our interest," Stewart told reporters Thursday after Nationwide Series practice at Talladega Superspeedway. "We haven't made a 100% decision yet on what we're going to do, but we're going to look at all the options. And the options are exciting, all the way around." Stewart's deal with JGR runs through 2009, and he said last summer he was interested in signing an extension with the team he's driven for since 1998. But contract talks moved slowly, with Stewart saying in January he was in no rush to get a deal done. Stewart said Thursday he has not ruled out staying with JGR, but when he began negotiating a new contract, other teams approached him with new opportunities.

The same thing happened back in 2003, when Stewart was able to leverage several deals - including one from Chip Ganassi - to secure a more lucrative contract with Gibbs. "A wise person told me it never cost a dime to listen, so right now we're all ears," Stewart said of the latest offers. "Right now it's just a matter of figuring out what we want to do, and being smart. We've had a great run at Joe Gibbs Racing. It doesn't mean it's over. We're just going to look at everything that's out there." Stewart said Thursday he has informed Gibbs officials of his offers, and there were discussions of potentially leaving the team early depending on what deal he agreed to. But he said "a couple offers" included ownership, and the thought of running his own team excited him. Stewart said he has not discussed owning a portion of JGR with owner Joe Gibbs. "Right now we've not asked to be released out of our contract," he said. "They know there are other offers on the table and we've said, `What if this is the case? And what if this is presented to us? Is there a possibility we could be released from our contract early?' But we have not asked to be released from our contract." Cary Agajanian, who represents Stewart through the Motorsports Management Int. agency, cited the sensitivity of contract talks in declining to comment. "His contract is through 2009 with Joe Gibbs Racing," said Agajanian, "that's about all we know, and all we can say." Associated Press


Maldonado storms to pole position
Pastor Maldonado underlined this morning's strong performance by Piquet Sports after dominating today's qualifying session at the Circuit de Catalunya, claiming tomorrow's pole position ahead of Alvaro Parente and teammate Andreas Zuber. 

The Colombian driver was fast throughout the thirty minute session, constantly improving on his own laptimes to finish with a best time of 1:27.547, 0.158 seconds ahead of Parente and a full six tenths ahead of his third placed teammate. The session took place under clear blue skies, with the temperature only slightly down from this morning's hot free practice session. 

Right from the start the Piquet pair were swapping fastest laps as they tried to outdo each other and claim the first pole position of the new season: Romain Grosjean, Luca Filippi and Giorgio Pantano were all in the mix, but comparatively they seemed to be working much harder to get there. Nine minutes into the session Sébastien Buemi had a big accident: coming into turn eight at speed he was caught out by a slower car on the racing line and had to swerve onto the grass in avoidance, which threw his car across the track and backwards into the wall, the Swiss driver just a passenger as all his good work was lost in an instant, with the red flags brought out as he looked for a lift back to the pits.

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Israel retracts Mosley invitation
(GMM)  Beleaguered Max Mosley has been embarrassingly uninvited to Israel, as the sex scandal continues to hinder his ability to effectively operate as FIA president.

We reported earlier on Friday that, on the scene of the Jordan Rally, he had lined up a visit to Israel to discuss motor racing with the country's sports minister Galeb Majadle.

An official government statement, however, subsequently retracted the invitation, saying Majadle had not been aware of the lurid accusations when he met with Mosley in Jordan.

"Once the scandal was brought to the minister's attention, he has requested to withdraw immediately any official invitation to Mosley until the matter is reviewed more thoroughly once back in Israel," the statement read.


Hayden to ride around IMS oval on Indy 500 race day
2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden will ride on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval shortly before the start of the 92nd Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 25, demonstrating to a huge crowd the exciting MotoGP machinery that will compete at IMS for the first time in September.

Hayden, from Owensboro, Ky., and the rest of the elite MotoGP field will race in the inaugural Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Sunday, Sept. 14 on the new 2.620-mile road course at IMS.

Approximately one hour before the start of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," Hayden will ride around the famous 2.5-mile IMS oval aboard the 2007 Repsol Honda RC212V/Michelin on which he competed in the 2008 season-opening Grand Prix of Qatar on March 9. The Indianapolis 500 is the world's largest single-day spectator sporting event.

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Hamilton incident 'not racism' - official
(GMM)  The boss of motor racing in Spain has denied that Barcelona was the scene of racism against Lewis Hamilton at the February winter test.

F1's governing body on Thursday launched the 'EveryRace' campaign - renamed from the intended 'Racing Against Racism' - as a direct response to the group of spectators who abused Lewis Hamilton.

But Carlos Gracia, president of the Real Federacion Espanola de Automoviliso (RFEDA), is adamant that Spain should not be portrayed as a racist country.

"I wouldn't even call it a scandal, I would call it four or five yobs," he told PA Sport at the Circuit de Catalunya, referring to the Fernando Alonso fans who painted their faces black and wore t-shirts bearing the words 'Hamilton's family' in February.

"I don't even think it was racism," Gracia added.

"They did not at any time mean to offend Hamilton.  It was carnival at the time."

He also accused the press of worsening the scandal.


Button vows to calm Coulthard rift
(GMM)  Jenson Button has vowed to clear the air with British compatriot and friend David Coulthard after their falling out over a collision in the recent Bahrain grand prix.

Scot Coulthard, who drives for Red Bull, hit out at Honda's Button for blaming him for their coming together at Sakhir to the media, but later apologizing over the phone for messing up the overtaking move.

"I'll talk to him and clear the air," Button, 28, is quoted as saying at Barcelona by PA Sport.

He explained his initial comments about the Bahrain crash as the result of "adrenaline pumping" immediately after getting out of his car.

"But the basic views were the same -- he went out and came back to block when I didn't expect him to," Button said.

"It's in the past now.  We can get over something like that.  We've been racing for years together."

Button agrees with Coulthard that the veteran Scot should not be portrayed by the press as a 'crasher', despite another recent collision this season with Felipe Massa.

"It was just one of those things, it's happened so let's put it behind us and carry on," he explained.


Mosley to attend Monaco GP next month
(GMM)  Max Mosley will attend the Monaco grand prix late next month, it emerged on Friday.

The embattled FIA president is this weekend in Jordan for the Kingdom's inaugural world rally, in a visit that is being interpreted by some as a low-key return to official duties in the wake of the highly publicized sex scandal.

The famous Monte Carlo race is to take place between May 22-25; just days before Mosley will face a vote of confidence at the FIA senate on June 3.

The 68-year-old on Friday is quoted as saying that he will attend Monaco, as he did last year, because he lives there.

"I was only in Spa (last year) because of the McLaren business.  I never had any intentions of going to Barcelona because I had nothing to do there," Mosley is quoted as saying in Jordan by The Times.

The Briton also hit out at media reports that he was "snubbed" by the King of Jordan on his visit this week.

"I was never supposed to meet him.  It was never in the program, so how can that be a snub?" he said.


Massa: "Slick tires - like going to Disneyland!"
For the first time this year, Felipe Massa met the media in the more spacious and organized surroundings of the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro media unit in the paddock, as this and all the other team vehicles are now back in action for the European races.

The championship is looking very close this year and the Brazilian was first asked about which teams he regarded as the strongest opposition. "As usual, our rivals will be the same as we have seen throughout the start of this championship, which means McLaren and BMW. As for the other teams it is difficult to say what progress they have made. It is never easy to understand exactly what goes on at test sessions, but the test here at this circuit last week was particularly difficult to evaluate, given that sometimes the weather played a part and at other times, people were running slick tires. So the lap times meant very little, but I believe those other two teams will be the main threat as usual." Asked about his first drive on F1 tires without grooves, Felipe seemed very enthusiastic. "Driving the car in 2008 configuration, with much more downforce than we will have next year, on slick tires, was like going to Disneyland! It was incredible. I have to say it is much nicer to drive the car on slicks." 

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Barcelona Practice 2: Renault steps up its game
Kimi Raikkonen remained on top in the second Friday practice session in Barcelona Friday, with the two Renaults very close behind, but on soft tires.  With hometown hero Fernando Alonso just 0.097s out of first place the Spaniards on hand very excited, it meant the new upgrades for Renault may be working.

The top runners concentrated on heavier fuel loads for much of the afternoon, and Raikkonen's time was a full 1.3 seconds slower than he had managed this morning when he was also fastest.

His Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa was fifth fastest, while the two McLarens of Hamilton and Kovalainen were only 11th and 16th.



Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:21.935 0.000 38
2. Piquet Renault 1:22.019 × 0.084 38
3. Alonso Renault 1:22.032 × 0.097 26
4. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:22.172 × 0.237 35
5. Massa Ferrari 1:22.229 × 0.294 32
6. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:22.238 × 0.303 36
7. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:22.266 × 0.331 33
8. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:22.289 × 0.354 30
9. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:22.383 × 0.448 38
10. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:22.548 × 0.613 38
11. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.685 × 0.750 33
12. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:22.788 × 0.853 38
13. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:23.130 × 1.195 40
14. Trulli Toyota 1:23.224 × 1.289 34
15. Button Honda 1:23.263 × 1.328 34
16. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.264 × 1.329 8
17. Barrichello Honda 1:23.415 × 1.480 31
18. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:23.661 × 1.726 35
19. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:23.684 × 1.749 37
20. Glock Toyota 1:23.883 × 1.948 40
21. Sato Super Aguri-Honda 1:25.110 × 3.175 30
22. Davidson Super Aguri-Honda 1:25.163 × 3.228 31


Camara replaces Perera at Conquest, renews sponsor agreement UPDATE A shocked reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Holy smokes.  One of the best drivers on the track just lost his ride. Perera for that kid?

Perera, never been in a Champ Car, fastest in day one, top of the charts every time on the track.

Long Beach - qualifies third.

St. Pete - seemed to struggle, but so did the team in general.

Homestead - outqualifies all of the Champ Car guys, gets punked by Servia (with plenty of oval experience) at the start and brings the car home behind only Servia and way ahead of the others.

This ride-buying is the downfall of open wheel racing in the USA. Why not boot Bernoldi?

I hope someone in IRL picks him up. This kid will win races. Lots of them. Nobody has been that quick that soon except Bourdais. Montagny doesn’t really count because he has had a ton of F1 experience. Perera’s loss is a travesty. Scotty Lambert

04/24/08 Conquest Racing announced today that they have signed Jaime Camara for the remainder of the season to drive their #34 entry as well as an extension to their sponsorship program with current partner Sangari. Camara will start his duties with the team at this weekend’s Road Runner Turbo 300 at Kansas Speedway.

Camara, a native of Goiania, Brazil, comes into Conquest Racing with loads of oval experience after having competed for three seasons in Firestone Indy Lights and racking up testing miles in Andretti Green Racing’s IndyCar Series car last year.

Camara finished fifth overall in his Firestone Indy Lights rookie season in 2005 for Sam Schmidt Motorsports recording three pole positions and two victories including the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In 2006, he drove for Andretti Green Racing’s Firestone Indy Lights team capturing his third victory and establishing a Firestone Indy Lights record by qualifying in the top 10 in 18 consecutive races.

Last season saw Camara record seven top-five finishes including thirds at Indianapolis (oval and road course) and Nashville aboard the Andretti Green/AFS Racing machine. The 27-year-old also earned the Most Improved Driver award for improving the most positions throughout the season and established another series record with 42 consecutive starts.

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ALMS sees a slight uptick in popularity
In an era where television ratings and attendance at many sporting events are showing declines, the American Le Mans Series is moving the needle appreciably.  Any way you cut it or count it, attendance and television viewing for the Series is up significantly.

Attendance at American Le Mans Series first three rounds is averaging more than 106,000 per race while television viewers increased more than four and a half fold.  The attendance mark is a 3.2 percent increase over the same period last year. Reported estimated attendances this season are Sebring 170,000; St. Petersburg 45,000; and Long Beach 105,000.  Sunday attendances for the IRL races at St. Petersburg and Long Beach are not taken into account.

Last season, SPEED telecast the first three races of the year to more than 156,000 television viewers per race.  This season, two of the American Le Mans Series races have been on ABC, while the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring remained on SPEED.  The two network telecasts have shown a 37 percent increase over network telecasts last season, while Sebring's viewership increased 14 percent, giving the Series an average of more than 710,333 viewers per race for the three telecasts, a four and one-half times increase from 2007.

Last weekend's Tequila Patron American Le Mans Series at Long Beach telecast on ABC generated an 0.8 ABC rating, the Series' highest rated network show since a similar 0.8 CBS rating at Lime Rock in 2006.


Q and A with Pedro de la Rosa
Pedro de la Rosa
He may not be racing in front of his home fans here at the Barcelona circuit this coming weekend, but that doesn’t mean that McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa is an important member of the Woking based squad. Here he speaks of his duties as third driver….

Pedro, how much has your role changed this year? Are you still doing pretty much what you have always been doing?

My role is pretty much unchanged. Obviously, we are very limited on mileage during the testing season and we have to maximize every mile we do and every set of tires. From that point of view it hasn’t changed at all.

So perhaps you can describe what that is.

It is the normal work that a test driver needs to do. First of all you have to be at every grand prix as a reserve driver and that’s why I am here. Secondly at the test sessions I am testing anything that is required by the team, backing all that work up in the simulation facilities at Woking and being of any help for the team. It is very similar to before but basically doing less kilometers at the track and spending more time in the simulator, so it is great fun.

You are not frustrated at not racing?

Yes, of course it is frustrating not racing. I have to be realistic as I am at that point of my career where I don’t have many more years left. Not because of me but because of the other people’s perception unfortunately. Every year that goes by it is just getting closer to a point where I won’t be able to race again. I am aware of that. I am a realistic person and I am just hoping that something happens for me.

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Goodyear swings to profit in 1Q
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co . swung to a profit in the first quarter by focusing on higher-priced tires and international markets. The results from the biggest U.S.-based tiremaker beat Wall Street expectations and its shares rose nearly 3 percent in premarket trading.

Akron-based Goodyear , the world's third largest tiremaker, said Friday it earned $147 million, or 60 cents per share, in the quarter that ended March 31. It lost $174 million, or 96 cents per share, in the same period in 2007.

Sales rose to $4.94 billion in the quarter from $4.5 billion a year ago.

Excluding various one-time items in the latest quarter, Goodyear earned 67 cents per share from continuing operations.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson  Financial expected Goodyear to post earnings of 47 cents per share. Such estimates usually exclude special items.


'09 Corvette has 638 horses, reaches 205 mph
The 2009 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1's supercharged V-8 officially produces 638-horsepower, General Motors Corp. executives announced today. GM completed SAE certification of the ZR1's 6.2-liter LS9 engine and released the results at midnight.

The final tally: 638 horses and 604-pound-feet torque and blistering top speed of 205 mph.

The ZR1 will be built at the Bowling Green Assembly Plant in Kentucky, home to the regular Corvette and Z06.

The LS9 engine will be hand built at GM's Performance Build Center in Wixom.

With a 0-60 time besting the Corvette Z06's 3.7 seconds, the ZR1 enters supercar territory with its power and quickness.

Final numbers have not been released.  See related article


Monday was deadline for Kentucky Speedway to appeal lawsuit UPDATE Kentucky Speedway met the deadline to file a “proof” brief in its appeal of a federal judge’s decision to dismiss the track’s antitrust lawsuit against NASCAR and International Speedway Corp.  Lawyers representing Kentucky Speedway had until Monday to file the paperwork with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. NASCAR and ISC now have until June 25 to file their initial response to the speedway’s brief. Final briefs are due Aug. 11.

The sides also filed a joint motion Monday to seal the briefs. That motion is awaiting a ruling.

Kentucky Speedway notified the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Jan. 11 that it wanted to challenge U.S. District Court Judge William Bertelsman’s decision Jan. 7 to dismiss the track’s antitrust suit against NASCAR and ISC. Cincinnati.com

04/22/08 The Kentucky Speedway has one more chance to appeal an anti-trust lawsuit. Lawyers for the Speedway had until Monday to appeal a federal judge's decision to dismiss their anti-trust lawsuit against NASCAR. Speedway directors said the organization was illegally keeping the track off the lucrative Nextel Cup Circuit. At the time of the lawsuit dismissal, the attorney for the Speedway said he planned to appeal. wlwt.com


Barcelona Practice 1: Ferraris 1-2
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen led a Ferrari 1-2 in the opening practice session for Sunday's Spanish GP in Barcelona.  The defending World Champion barely beat his teammate Felipe Massa but was a full 1/2 second up on Lewis Hamilton in third and 0.9 up on Robert Kubica in 4th.



Driver Team Time Gap
1 1 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1'20.649
2 2 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1'20.699 0.050
3 22 Lewis Hamilton McLaren Mercedes 1'21.192 0.543
4 4 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1'21.568 0.919
5 23 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren Mercedes 1'21.758 1.109
6 5 Fernando Alonso Renault F1 1'21.933 1.284
7 6 Nelsinho Piquet Renault F1 1'21.936 1.287
8 9 David Coulthard Red Bull 1'22.118 1.469
9 3 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1'22.278 1.629
10 16 Jenson Button Honda F1 1'22.632 1.983
11 12 Timo Glock Toyota F1 1'23.002 2.353
12 7 Nico Rosberg Williams F1 1'23.003 2.354
13 10 Mark Webber Red Bull 1'23.015 2.366
14 11 Jarno Trulli Toyota F1 1'23.141 2.492
15 8 Kazuki Nakajima Williams F1 1'23.153 2.504
16 20 Adrian Sutil Force India 1'23.156 2.507
17 21 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India 1'23.196 2.547
18 17 Rubens Barrichello Honda F1 1'23.353 2.704
19 14 Sebastien Bourdais Toro Rosso 1'23.952 3.303
20 15 Sebastian Vettel Toro Rosso 1'24.082 3.433
21 18 Takuma Sato Super Aguri 1'24.278 3.629
22 19 Anthony Davidson Super Aguri 1'25.068 4.419


Force India teams with Vectrix
As part of its environmental policy and endeavors to reduce its carbon footprint, the Force India Formula One Team is delighted to announce a partnership with Vectrix UK Ltd, the producers of the world's first high-performance, zero emission, electric motorcycle.

Vectrix will supply the team with two Force India-branded electric maxi-scooters to use at races, tests and at its Silverstone factory. The pioneering bikes run exclusively on battery power, which is recharged by plugging the onboard charger into any standard electrical outlet. Fully-charged, each bike has a range of up to 68 miles, making the Vectrix the 'greenest' way to get around. With each bike having an acceleration of 0-50 in 6.8 seconds and top speed of 62mph, the team won't be compromising on performance either.

Dr Vijay Mallya, chairman and managing director of Force India, commented, 'As a Formula One racing team we are well aware of our responsibility to off-set our carbon emissions from Grands Prix, testing and travelling around the globe and the Vectrix bikes are a practical and innovative way to continue our policies. They're a great product; versatile, fast and cheap to run, they will be a very welcome addition to the team on events.'

Alex Bamberg, managing director of Vectrix UK said, "We are very excited to be partnering Force India and supporting their efforts to reduce their carbon output. From the outset they are demonstrating their commitment to minimize the environmental effect of the team by using the zero emission Vectrix. And as a consumer product available to all, whether driving to work or around an F1 race circuit we can all participate in the global race against climate change."

As the first company to design, develop, assemble and sell high performance, zero emission, two-wheel electric vehicles, Vectrix has incorporated several leading-edge patented technologies to give the lowest environmental impact of any comparable vehicle, car or motorcycle, according to the European Union's Cleaner Drive rating. The bikes are now a unique solution to the chronic problems of vehicle emissions, urban congestion and high fuel costs and the maxi-scooter is just the start. Its unique engineering platform and research team will allow Vectrix to develop a broad product range to respond to growing consumer and corporate demand for carbon neutral vehicles and the urgent need to de-carbonize road transport worldwide.


Bruce Willis tipped for role in Schu film
(GMM)  American actor Bruce Willis is tipped to play legendary F1 commentator Murray Walker in the Hollywood adaptation of Michael Schumacher's life story.

The British tabloid Daily Star said 53-year-old Willis - famous for starring in Die Hard, Pulp Fiction and The Sixth Sense - would make a "very convincing Walker if he put on a pair of specs".

84-year-old Walker, who semi-retired in 2001, was among Schumacher's biggest admirers, covering from the commentary booth the German's rise to formula one in 1991 through four of his record seven titles.

"Bruce Willis would certainly do Murray justice," Schumacher's agent, Willi Weber, confirmed.


TMS set to unveil IndyCar race billboard UPDATE Below are the Billboards TMS is planning to use:

Danica Patrick in SI Swimsuit issue
04/24/08 Texas Motor Speedway’s billboard campaign for the upcoming Bombardier Learjet 550k IndyCar Series race will be unveiled Monday in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and will feature a bikini-clad Danica Patrick and two-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves.

The “Reason #7: Danica!” billboard celebrates Patrick, who is coming off her first career IndyCar Series win in Motegi, Japan this past weekend, and the reason tagline is accompanied by a waist-up image of her in a bikini top from the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition shoot earlier this year.

Dancing with the Stars winner Castroneves
“Reason #3: Tango at 220!” features Castroneves and plays off his off-season triumph in the “Dancing with the Stars” competition. Each driver will be displayed on three billboards in the Metroplex. Patrick’s billboards will be at the intersections of the North Dallas Tollway/Beltline; Loop 820/377 and I-35E/College Avenue while Castroneves’ will be at I-30/Beltline; I-30/Haskell and LBJ/Church Road.

“In keeping with our ‘Reasons’ campaign, we used Indy car’s two most marketable figures to promote the Bombardier Learjet 550,” TMS President Eddie Gossage said.

“We focused on two of the off-season’s most visible achievements for them and the series – Danica in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and Helio winning ‘Dancing with the Stars’ – and played off that. They may not be as controversial as ‘Reason #88: Step-Mom,’ but they are creative.” Texas Motor Speedway also will have a presence in Indianapolis during the month of May and the Indianapolis 500, with a billboard to be unveiled Monday at I-465 and Crawfordsville Road regarding Indy car traditions.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Mosley fights on with Jordan Rally visit
  • Piquet attends Barcelona tribute for father
  • F1's Spaniards 'not aware' of anti-racism campaign
  • STR still hoping for new car debut in Turkey
  • Hill wants 'reasonable' Brit GP contract
  • I'm a good teammate, Alonso insists
  • Glock not worried about tire blanket ban
  • Ecclestone inspects Valencia street circuit
  • Super Aguri to contest Spanish GP weekend

Mosley fights on with Jordan Rally visit
(GMM)  Max Mosley's visit to the Jordan Rally this week is not running as smoothly as he perhaps would have hoped.

Despite the Spanish grand prix at Barcelona also taking place this weekend, the embattled FIA president accepted an invitation from the organizers of the inaugural Jordan event to mark his first public outing since the sex scandal broke.

It had already emerged, however, that the Kingdom's King Abdullah II would not be officially receiving the beleaguered Briton.

The British newspaper The Independent, meanwhile, reports that many rally team members have been instructed to avoid Mosley, 68, if they spot him at the event.

It is also believed that a royal dinner on Wednesday evening was so poorly attended because Mosley was a guest.

He plans to meet with teams and bosses on Friday, but one told the Daily Mail that he considers Mosley's visit to be a political ploy: "I do not like our sport being held hostage."

The FIA president's next move could be a visit to Israel, after an invitation from sports minister Galeb Majadle.

"Mosley will see the invitation from a country so obviously sensitive to anti-Semitism as proof that he can discharge his role as FIA president," the Daily Mail said.

"Others will see it as empty posturing ahead of (the) FIA's vote over his conduct, scheduled for June 3," it added.

Piquet attends Barcelona tribute for father
(GMM)  Renault driver Nelson Piquet has attended the opening of a tribute to his famous father at the Barcelona circuit.

The plaque is to honor the achievements of Nelson Piquet Snr, the Brazilian triple world champion and winner of 23 grands prix, who did not attend the event despite an invitation by organizers of the Spanish grand prix.

It is one of many tributes to former and current racing champions along the 'Avenue of Champions' at the Montmelo venue.

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