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HVM rookies tackle Milwaukee Mile HVM rookies tackle Milwaukee MileHVM, the defending Time Warner 250 champions,  returned to The Milwaukee Mile this week for the first time since they dominated at the track last season, earning their first pole position and leading all 250 laps.  Tuesday marked the first time HVM’s new drivers, Bjorn Wirdheim and Ronnie Bremer had ever driven a Champ Car on an oval and for Wirdheim, the first time he had ever driven on an oval period. 

Ronnie Bremer has some oval experience under his belt; he finished second at The Mile in 2003 while competing in the Toyota Atlantic Series.  He wasted no time adjusting to the extra 500 horsepower; he was up to speed immediately on one of America’s most challenging oval circuits.  Completing 70 laps, Bremer was the fastest rookie of the day, setting the fourth fastest time on Tuesday, when he ran a 21.054 second lap.  Bremer was completing his final run of the day, he had set the second quickest time, just one tenth of a second behind former Champion Paul Tracy when he experienced under steer at the exit of turn one. Bremer gently lifted off the throttle he then experienced hard over steer and it sent him to the wall, the side of this #55 Lola made contact with the wall at the entry of turn two.   He was fine but unfortunately his test would end early as the car was beyond repair at the racetrack.  Despite the unfortunate premature end to his test, Bremer’s pace and ability have proven he will be a contender for race victories throughout his rookie season.

Oval circuits and racing in the United States seem to go hand in hand, which is why HVM’s Bjorn Wirdheim made his oval track debut on Tuesday.  The 2003 F3000 Champion and 2004 Jaguar F1 test driver is racing in an American series for the first time of his career this season.  The closest thing to oval driving he has ever experienced was driving the Jaguar F1 car on a portion of the front straight of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway while preparing for the US Grand Prix in 2004!  Eager to learn and prepared to excel, Wirdheim spent Tuesday, learning the circuit and the process of not only driving on the oval, but driving at over 170 mph with 15 other cars around him and a concrete wall just off to the right side of the car.  Wirdheim completed 145 miles on Tuesday, but his time was not only spent in the car, he made a couple of trips up to the spotter’s tower where he observed the lines used by the “oval veterans” and was coached by HVM veteran spotter Bob Hatch.  Wirdheim put his tools to use on Wednesday, he made several long “full tank” runs, ran in traffic, practiced pit stops and impressed his team being the fastest rookie and set the sixth fastest time on Wednesday, in just his second day on an oval.  Wirdheim left the test prepared and confident.  He and his HVM crew anticipate a great race when he returns with the defending race winning car at the Time Warner Cable 250 presented by US Bank, June 4th at 12:00pm.

Ronnie Bremer, #55 HVM/Ford-Cosworth/Lola
Laps Completed: 70
Best Time: 21.054 seconds (4th quick)
Ronnie on the test: “I had a very productive test. Obviously it didn’t end the way I intended it to, but we accomplished a lot and found a lot of speed.  I am very comfortable with the car and as always the HVM crew was very professional and helpful.  I prefer the deep breaking of the road and street circuits but the ovals are exciting because it shows you what the car can do in terms of speed and handling.  The difference between the Atlantic car and the Champ Car is very obvious on the oval especially because of the horsepower, the laps are about four seconds quicker in a Champ Car over the mile, you can really feel the power of the Cosworth.  I definitely have a very good car and I am really looking forward to returning for the Time Warner Cable 250 next month.”

Bjorn Wirdheim, #4 HVM/Ford-Cosworth/Lola
Laps Completed: 280
Best Time/Speed Tuesday: 22.157 seconds
Best Time/Speed Wednesday: 20.007 seconds (6th quick)

Bjorn on the test: “Driving on the ovals was certainly a different experience, but it was pretty close to what I expected.  It gives me a lot of confidence to know that I have the race winning car.  I wouldn’t want to experience an unstable car with those walls so close.  I spent a lot of time yesterday learning and getting experience.  Today I was able to apply everything from yesterday and by the end of the test today, I felt very comfortable and confident on the oval at speed, and in traffic so I am pleased with the outcome of the test.  My engineer, Will Phillips gave me a good car, this test was the perfect opportunity for me to run on the oval for the first time.  The things that surprised me most about the ovals are the cornering speeds and the fact that the margins and the adjustments are so small.  I am really looking forward to the race; I think it will be a lot of fun.  The team did a great job; I will return to the race shop and spend the next couple of weeks preparing for my first race in Mexico, which I am really looking forward to.”

Team Manager, Vince Kremer: “We are very pleased with the performance of both drivers over the test; they continue to impress us with their speed, their adaptability to the oval, their feedback and their professionalism.  We accomplished everything we set out for and the crew did a fantastic job, the cars ran flawlessly.” HVM (Photos courtesy Champ Car/LAT)

Spanish GP - New surface, new challenge Spanish GP - New surface, new challenge

Among the thousands of Spanish Ferrari fans supporting their favorite team at the Circuit de Catalunya this weekend, one of them will be watching from inside the Ferrari garage. Marc Gene joined Luca Badoer as a Scuderia test driver this year and for him this will be a special weekend.

Spain has been slow to pick up on F1, with rallying and motorbikes proving more popular, but this year’s race is expected to draw a capacity crowd. “F1 has reached a status in Spain that no one thought possible and the last race in Imola drew as big an audience in Spain as one of the top football matches,” comments Gene. “It is very impressive and it all started in 1999 and 2000, when De La Rosa and myself became the first Spanish F1 drivers after a break of around a decade. Since then it has increased in popularity year after year. This year’s race is a sell-out, although they could have sold a lot more tickets and people here have been talking about little else except the grand prix for the past week.”

Barcelona has been the most popular F1 venue for winter testing, but the teams got a shock this year as resurfacing completely changed the grip level which was always very high, because of the abrasive surface. “The new surface has reduced the bumps and it was also meant to make the track less tough for the rear tires,” explains Gene. “But the front tires suffer a lot here with fast long right hand corners. Worrying about the front tires is a new concept in F1, because here it was always specifically the left rear that took a lot of punishment and generally in F1, it was always the rears that suffered.
Every track has different characteristics and already this year we have seen some drivers in trouble with tires towards the end of the race, but I do not expect Barcelona to be much different to any of the other races so far this year.”

When it comes to tires, the Spanish tester knows his subject, as much of his work since joining the Scuderia has centered on tire testing. “This is the first time I have worked on developing tires with Bridgestone, even though I worked with them when I raced for Minardi and even going back to go-karts,” he recalls. “But now, I am working very closely with their technical department and it has been very interesting because they have a different way of working and they have a very close relationship with Ferrari. As far as the tire development is concerned, we know that some drivers may have slightly different driving styles, but we know that a tire that is good for Luca (Badoer) or myself, is also going to be good for the two race drivers. With other parts such as set-up or traction control, you might have to take the race drivers’ preferences into consideration when making a technical choice during testing.”

So, after a few months in the job, how does Gene assess his team? “Ferrari has a different approach to other teams I worked with. Ferrari is unique in many ways, but from a driver’s point of view, the thing that has impressed me most is the way information flows. All the departments really work together and that translates to the whole team. When we win, the whole team wins and when we lose everyone loses. It is the most compact team in F1. Information also flows between we four drivers. It is very good and I have never experienced that before. The other thing I have realized is just how important Ferrari is as a brand and that puts greater emphasis on my work with the media. News about Ferrari goes round the world in an instant. It is a unique experience and one I would recommend to any driver! Only when you are inside the team do you realize how special it is.”

The hardest part of any test driver’s job is the fact that he does not get to race. “I accept my situation and I don’t fight it,” says a philosophical Gene. “I just try and do my job to the best of my ability and honestly, I do not think much about not racing. Barcelona will be the exception to that rule, as I will be racing, but in the Trofeo Maserati which takes place on the same weekend in Barcelona, but it’s not the same as F1 of course! I have raced in F1 here in 1999 and 2000 and the most lasting memory is of all the Spanish flags in the grandstand and the reception I got on the parade lap going onto the grid. It is a special feeling seeing so many people from your own country supporting you.”

This year, all that support will be directed at Renault’s Fernando Alonso, so as a loyal Spaniard, will Gene be cheering for his fellow countryman. “Oh no!” he laughs. “My heart is red now! All I can want is what is best for Ferrari and I know many Spaniards who think the same way, because Ferrari tifosi are fans regardless of who is driving. I’ve got nothing against Fernando and of course he is a great driver, but I only want a Ferrari driver to win this weekend.”

Hunter-Reay OK after crash Hunter-Reay OK after crashAnother unlucky day for Rocketsports Racing in Milwaukee as they ended a two-day test this afternoon with Ryan Hunter-Reay surviving a familiar crash on the one-mile oval.  Just as his teammate, Timo Glock, did the day before, the young American lost control of the car when the back end went loose, causing him to back into the wall.  After the contact was made, he stated on the radio that he was ok.  He was taken to the local hospital to undergo precautionary tests, which he cleared and was released without injury.  The team was preparing for Round Three of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford and Champ Car veteran Hunter-Reay was looking solid posting quick laps just before the incident occurred.  Hunter-Reay is the defending race winner after a dominant performance in 2004 that saw him break a Champ Car single-event record leading all 250 laps from the pole. Rocketsports  See related news item on oval track carnage
ALMS teaming with Armed Forces Network ALMS teaming with Armed Forces NetworkAs Memorial Day approaches, many families will be thinking about the loved ones they have serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. Pictures, care packages and the occasional letter often have the ability to re-energize the country's men and women in uniform. And if they happen to be fans of sports car racing, military personnel still can catch the action of the American Le Mans Series throughout 2005.

For the third year in a row, the Armed Forces Network is distributing broadcasts of ALMS events. More than 850,000 Department of Defense military and civilian employees and their families stationed in 176 countries and on 180 U.S. Navy ships at sea can watch and listen to ALMS races.

"The Armed Forces Network graciously thanks the American Le Mans Series for providing our men and women in uniform stationed overseas with race coverage for the 2005 season," said Jeff White, Director of the Department of Defense's AFN Broadcast Center.

"The ALMS on AFN is a tremendous morale booster for our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines serving in harm's way," White added. "The most deserving audience in the world are our troops in remote and hostile locations defending our way of life against terrorism, and providing humanitarian support to those in need."

In agreements with the American Le Mans Series, CBS, SPEED Channel and Greenlight Television, the AFN Broadcast Center plans to provide a combination of live and tape delayed distribution of the 2005 ALMS events via its AFN/sports and AFN/prime channels, along with the U.S. Navy's DTS television service.

"We have enjoyed providing our men and women in uniform the opportunity to experience ALMS racing stationed so far from home," said Dr. Donald E. Panoz, founder of the American Le Mans Series.

"The AFN audience is as diversified as the ALMS' fan base, and just like stateside fans our guys and gals in camouflage look forward to the speed and excitement of the ALMS," said Tim Mattox, Chief of Sports for the AFN Broadcast Center. "The popularity of the ALMS continues to expand within our Armed Forces."

The next ALMS race is the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio, set for noon EDT May 22 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. CBS Sports will broadcast the event from 1 to 3 p.m. EDT, and live coverage will be available on American Le Mans Series Radio at www.americanlemans.com.

Cut testing to 10 days says Bernie Cut testing to 10 days says BernieFormula One should cut testing to just 10 days during the season with far more done on race Fridays, according to Bernie Ecclestone.  "My proposal is that you can do 10 days of testing during the season and run on (race) Friday morning for five or six hours," Ecclestone said on Wednesday at a luncheon to promote the French GP.  "Or if you want to do more than 10 days, then you can't test on Friday. We could put that through in the Formula One commission." Reuters
Industry News
Kerkorian offers to buy stake in GM Kerkorian offers to buy stake in GMKirk Kerkorian's Tracinda Corp. is offering to pay about $870 million for a nearly 5 percent stake in General Motors Corp. in a deal that would boost the billionaire investor's stake in the world's biggest automaker to nearly 9 percent. The announcement drove struggling GM's shares more than 12 percent higher in morning trading.  Tracinda said in a statement before the market opened Wednesday it was offering to buy up to 28 million shares, or 4.95 percent , of GM stock for $31 a share in cash, an 11.6 percent premium over GM's closing stock price Tuesday.   It said the proposed purchase was for investment purposes only.  GM shares jumped $3.45, or 12.4 percent, to $31.25 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. In recent weeks, they have dropped below $25 to levels not seen in more than a decade. AP Report
Industry News
Andretti and Muldowney to be inducted Andretti and Muldowney to be inductedThe USA Automotive Hall of Fame inductees for 2005 include racing drivers Mario Andretti and Shirley Muldowney, John Dunlop, pioneer of the world’s first pneumatic tire, and Alexander Winton, who pioneered the mass production of automobiles and beat Henry Ford in a race on a Detroit-area horse track in 1901.   Inductions are in Dearborn, Mich., Oct. 11th.
Vickers posts fastest lap, then crashes Vickers posts fastest lap, then crashesLowe's Motor Speedway's renovated racing surface continued to receive rave reviews Tuesday night as 22 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams prepared for the May 21 NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge and the May 29 Coca-Cola 600. With teams focusing on long runs and race set-ups, several drivers consistently posted laps in the mid-180 mph range, just shy of Ryan Newman's 188-mph track record. Brian Vickers was fastest on the unofficial stopwatches with a lap at 186.130 mph in the No. 25 GMAC/ditech.com Chevrolet fielded by Hendrick Motorsports, but his night ended against the outside wall.

"The changes have definitely given the track more grip," Vickers said early in the evening. "I don't know if I would say that it's smoother. It's still pretty rough, but that's not always a bad thing. I like it. I think it's going to be fast."

With just one minute left in the session, a flat right-front tire sent Vickers' Chevrolet into the turn-two wall. The car was heavily damaged, but the 21-year-old Thomasville, N.C., native was not injured. It looks as if Bobby Labonte's luck may finally be taking a turn for the better as the 1995 Coca-Cola 600 winner recorded the second fastest lap at 185.592 mph in the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet. Jeff Gordon joined his Hendrick Motorsports teammate in the top three on the unofficial speed chart with a lap at 185.554 mph in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet.

"I ran a lap almost as fast as I qualified here last race in race trim, so it's a lot faster," said Gordon. "I think the corners are great, definitely the smoothest I've ever seen this place. They've certainly found something that works very well. I think it's going to be really good, and the track is really fast right now.

"It's changed things for sure. It's not like a totally different race track, but you can run some different lines. You can really arc the corners a lot more because you can carry a lot more speed in and through the corners," Gordon added. "I know some guys are running a higher line. I prefer to run a little bit lower, but right now with the speeds increased the way they are I'm sort of forced to run a little bit higher."

Veteran Mark Martin, a 13-time winner in various divisions at Lowe's Motor Speedway was fourth on the unofficial stopwatches at 185.554 mph in the No. 6 Viagra Ford. "This was the greatest place in the world, and it's still pretty good, but I don't think they should have ground it," said Martin. "It's going to be interesting to see what happens during a race."

Jeremy Mayfield rounded out the top-five speeds at 185.312 mph in the No. 19 Dodge Dealers Dodge. The only other incidents during the six-hour testing session came just before the dinner break when Casey Mears hit the wall in turn two and Dale Jarrett bounced off the SAFER barrier in turns three and four on the same lap. Both were able to drive to the garage area and Mears was able to continue testing. Jarrett, however, was finished for the evening. 

1. Brian Vickers, 25, 186.130;
2. Bobby Labonte, 18, 185.592;
3. Jeff Gordon, 24, 185.554;
4. Mark Martin, 6, 185.491;
5. Jeremy Mayfield, 19, 185.312;
6. Casey Mears, 41, 185.039;
7. Joe Nemechek 01, 184.982;
8. Kyle Busch, 5, 184.603;
9. Martin Truex Jr., 1, 184.300;
10. Kevin Harvick, 29, 184.281.

NASCAR catches and fines 'Truck' Series cheaters NASCAR catches and fines 'Truck' Series cheatersNASCAR Craftsman Truck Series owner Michael J. Gaughan has been fined $1,500 while crew chiefs Doug George and Doug Howe have been fined $500 for rule violations that occurred during last weekend’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Gateway International Raceway, NASCAR officials announced today.

Gaughan, owner of the No. 77 Dodge driven by Brendan Gaughan, violated Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and Section 12-4-Q, determination by NASCAR officials that the truck, truck parts, components and/or equipment used in the event don’t conform to NASCAR rules - unapproved carburetor booster stems.

George, crew chief of the No. 20 Chevrolet driven by Ken Weaver, violated Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and Section 12-4-Q, determination by NASCAR officials that the truck, truck parts, components and/or equipment used in the event don’t conform to NASCAR rules - unapproved front jacking bolt assembly.

Howe, crew chief of the No. 07 Chevrolet driven by Sean Murphy, violated Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and Section 12-4-Q, determination by NASCAR officials that the truck, truck parts, components and/or equipment used in the event don’t conform to NASCAR rules - unapproved front jacking bolt assembly.

The infractions were discovered during opening day inspection. NASCAR

NASCAR catches and fines 'Busch' Series cheaters NASCAR catches and fines 'Busch' Series cheatersNASCAR announced Wednesday that rule infractions this past weekend at Talladega Superspeedway have resulted in probation for two NASCAR Busch Series competitors.

Kevin Lepage, driver of the No. 71 Chevrolet, was placed on probation until July 6, 2005. Lepage violated Section 12-4-A of the NASCAR Busch Series rule book (actions detrimental to stock car racing) by failing to follow a directive from a NASCAR official while stopped on pit road.

Kenneth Campbell, crew chief of the No. 23 Chevrolet driven by Mark Green, was fined $10,000 and placed on probation until December 31, 2005 after violating Sections 12-4-A and 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment used that do not conform to NASCAR rules) for an unapproved roof flap modification. The violation was determined during pre-qualifying inspection.

In addition, Gregg Mixon, crew chief of the No. 7 Chevrolet driven by Greg Sacks, was fined $500. During pre-qualifying inspection the No. 7 was found to be in violation of Sections 12-4-A and 12-4-Q for an unapproved air directional device. NASCAR

NASCAR catches and fines 'Cup' cheaters NASCAR catches and fines 'Cup' cheatersNASCAR announced today that 11 penalties have been issued to NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competitors, as a result of rule infractions this past weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

Three of those penalties were issued to the No. 00 Chevrolet team, because of an unapproved rear axle housing, a violation of Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and Section 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment that do not conform to NASCAR rules) of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rule book. The violations were found during pre-qualifying inspection.

Kenny Wallace, driver of the No. 00, was penalized with the loss of 25 driver championship points; car owner Elizabeth (Buffy) Waltrip was penalized 25 owner championship points; and crew chief Terry Wooten was fined $25,000.

Harold Holly, crew chief for the No. 32 Chevrolet driven by Bobby Hamilton Jr., was fined $10,000. During opening day inspection, the No. 32 had unapproved upper rear coil spring mounts, violating Sections 12-4-A and 12-4-Q.

Jimmy Elledge, crew chief for the No. 41 Dodge driven by Casey Mears, was fined $2,500 because of unapproved use of refrigerant near the fuel system, violating 2-4-A and 12-4-Q. The violations were found during pre-qualifying inspection.

In addition, $1,000 fines were issued to the following six competitors:
Alan Gustafson, crew chief for the No. 5 Chevrolet driven by Kyle Busch, because of an unapproved right-side window (violating 12-4-A and 12-4-Q); Mike Ford, crew chief for the No. 88 Ford of Dale Jarrett, was fined for the same violations. In both cases, the violations were found during pre-qualifying inspection.

Four crew chiefs were fined because of unapproved window nets presented at opening day inspection (violating 12-4-A and 12-4-Q). Nets must have a minimum opening of one inch between the ribs. Those four:

Robert (Bootie) Barker, crew chief for the No. 0 Chevrolet driven by Mike Bliss; Dave Rogers, crew chief for the No. 11 Chevrolet driven by Jason Leffler; Bob Osborne, crew chief for the No. 99 Ford driven by Carl Edwards; and Richard (Slugger) Labbe, crew chief for the No. 19 Dodge driven by Jeremy Mayfield. NASCAR

Ecclestone says BAR is guilty, calls for ban Ecclestone says BAR is guilty, calls for banFormula One chief Bernie Ecclestone insists a fine is not enough if BAR are found guilty of deliberately breaking the rules and goes on to say they probably are guilty.

Ecclestone insists a financial penalty is not enough of a deterrent if BAR are proved to have deliberately flouted regulations.  He said: "If you can do that why doesn't a team at the beginning of the season give over a check and say if I'm caught cash the check.  There are a million things you could do. I suppose if they are not excluded from the championship you could say the constructor cannot score points in the championship and maybe the driver is excluded from the points he has now and all the other ones count."

Ecclestone offered little hope for a not guilty verdict for BAR, who continue to protest their innocence. "With the information that's available, you have to assume they'll be found guilty," he claimed.  "There's always a reason for these things - it's never a mistake.  If they said they had a problem and they needed a particular part to overcome a particular problem, they would have gone to the FIA."

Fry feels BAR defended itself well Fry feels BAR defended itself wellHonda boss Nick Fry says he is happy with the way the appeal hearing into Jenson Button's 'underweight' 007 was handled in Paris.  The team was represented by top London lawyer David Pannick.  Pannick took great exception to the fact that the FIA's case included allegations of 'fraud, bad faith and deception' on the part of the team.

"Generally I'm very happy with proceedings," Fry told Crash.net after the hearing. "I'm very proud with what all the team members did. I think they presented themselves absolutely superbly, and with huge professionalism and integrity. I think that, first and foremost, is incredibly important. I think it was great that it was never even challenged that the car was below the minimum weight limit, that wasn't even raised. That's a good point to know that we were above the 600kgs, which is what we've always maintained.

"Even more important than that was the point about deception. I think it was conclusively proven by ourselves that there was no case of deception or bad faith. On top of that, it was accepted by at least one of the officials [Jo Bauer] that that was the case. Overall, I think we presented a very strong case, and I hope that, overnight, the judges consider that carefully.

"All we're looking for is fair treatment. We had a decent hearing here today, and everyone appeared to present their information very clearly. We're just looking for a fair outcome, and I think we will get that.  For us, this is the critical point," he admitted. "We can always have debates over technical regulations. F1 is incredibly complicated, and that's almost inevitable. I think suggestions of bad faith and lack of integrity are a completely different league, however, and that's the one you heard our barrister react very negatively towards. That's the view inside the team as well. Honda is a major corporation and has got huge integrity. Any suggestion that they would be party to something illicit is abhorrent in the extreme.

"As we put forward in the court, if the regulations were clarified after this, then that's something we would applaud.

"We're assuming that they don't, in the first instance," he continued. "I think that we presented a sufficiently strong case that we'll get a fair hearing here. What happens next depends on the severity of the punishment dealt out. Obviously, if we were to be excluded from the championship, we'd have no choice but to take it further. But we're assuming that, at the moment, that won't be the case.

"In terms of the FIA and the Concorde Agreement, this is the final port of call as it were," he explained. "It can go no further. I think we'd only consider that eventuality in two circumstances. One, if the requested penalty of being thrown out the championship is actually imposed, because then we'd really have nothing to lose. And, secondly, if there was really a suggestion that we have cheated, because we have not. That really goes to the core of the operation of our team, and we'd have to refute that."

Milwaukee misses out on opportunity Milwaukee misses out on opportunity
FIA asks court to bar BAR FIA asks court to bar BARUPDATE Summary of today's hearing - The FIA believes BAR were using two hidden fuel tanks within the main tank to hide fuel that was used as ballast during the race. That would allow the car to run lighter than its rivals - and dip below the minimum weight limit in the laps immediately preceding its fuel stop. It could also be used to allow the team to do more laps before a stop, giving them a strategic advantage in the race. But the team says the extra tanks are used to pressurize fuel before it is injected into the engine

The lawyer representing BAR at the hearing, David Pannick said: "There was no secret chamber in this engine. At worst, there was a minor misunderstanding. A modest fine would suffice."

But the general secretary of the FIA, Pierre de Coninck, who was presiding over the hearing, said: "A flexible fuel compartment allows a car to stay out for two or three laps when a legitimate car would have to pit. "This enables cars to complete more laps than a genuine 600kg car."

Kris De Groot, a member of the Formula One technical team, told the hearing he asked BAR's chief mechanic Alistair Gibson for a "full draining" of the car. He said he then found more fuel, as well as a plastic tube, the function of which was not clear. "Most teams understand the term 'full drain'," De Groot said. "I asked Gibson what the tube was for and I was given no definitive answer." The verdict will be announced on Thursday. BBC

05/04/05 Formula One's ruling body has asked the Court of Appeal in Paris to throw the BAR team out of this year's Formula One Championship.  The FIA, in their evidence dossier, also recommended a penalty of at least one million Euro.  "The FIA asks the Court to exclude the Lucky Strike BAR Honda team from the 2005 Formula One World Championship and to fine the team at least one million Euros," said the FIA.  The hearing is expected to finish at 2pm French time. Autosport-Atlas
Alonso accuses BAR and Ferrari of cheating Alonso accuses BAR and Ferrari of cheating"There are two teams cheating here," Alonso was quoted as saying in Spanish daily Marca on Wednesday.  "The first one is BAR, as Imola showed, and the other one is Ferrari, who are testing more than what it is allowed in the agreement."
SPEED Channel Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking SPEED Channel Weekly Top 20 Driver RankingUpdated 5-4-05
Pos. (LW) Driver (Series)                        Pts
1. (1) Fernando Alonso (F1)                 13.451
2. (2) Sebastien Bourdais (CCWS)        9.040
3. (3) Dan Wheldon (IRL)                       8.912
4. (10) Jeff Gordon (NASCAR)               7.891
5. (5) Bruno Junqueira (CCWS)             7.784
6. (6) Kurt Busch (NASCAR)                  7.249
7. (4) Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR)         7.205
8. (14) Elliott Sadler (NASCAR)             7.005
9. (9) Michael Schumacher (F1)             6.965
10. (11) Michael Waltrip (NASCAR)       6.888
11. (NR) Tony Stewart (NASCAR)          6.878
12. (13) Paul Tracy (CCWS)                   6.735
13. (19) Jeremy Mayfield (NASCAR)      6.700
14. (NR) Greg Biffle (NASCAR)              6.666
15. (7) Tony Kanaan (IRL)                      6.629
16. (NR) Jamie McMurray(NASCAR)     6.607
17. (22) Dale Jarrett (NASCAR)             6.483
18. (8) Dale Earnhardt Jr.(NASCAR)      6.429
19. (21) Kevin Harvick (NASCAR)          6.426
20. (16) Jeff Burton (NASCAR)               6.095

Last week's ranking in parenthesis

Provided by STATS Inc.
Current year results, last 10 races, last five races and last race are factored in equally, with an adjustment factor to compensate for the series different scoring systems. In addition, a "competition difficulty factor" has been included to balance the competitive depth of each series.

Nick Heidfeld plays driving instructor in Valencia Nick Heidfeld plays driving instructor in ValenciaTennis stars Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and the RBS- sponsored Andrew Murray today completed their first driving lesson in a racing car on the Valencia circuit in the run-up to the Spanish Grand Prix. BMW WilliamsF1 Team driver, Nick Heidfeld, acted as driving instructor to the tennis players and taught them how to handle the 140bhp Formula BMW race car.

After several driving instructions and six laps of the Circuit de la Comunitat, home of the Formula BMW Racing Centre, 17 year old Murray declared, "That was brilliant! I've just driven a real race car, even though I haven't got my driving license yet. I understand most Formula BMW drivers also learn to race before gaining their road license. I know from my own experience that when it comes to sport, you have to start early if you want to make it to the top." In the four Formula BMW series (Asia, Germany, UK, USA), drivers as young as 15 can learn the basics of motor racing.

For Sanchez's part, the winner of 13 Grand Slam tournaments also clocked up her first laps behind the wheel of a racing car, "A great experience," she said, "The low seating position, the confined cockpit and the limited field of vision is so different to driving on the road. Now I have some idea of what Nick experiences when competing in Formula One."

Heidfeld offered his verdict on the two tennis players. "I think both of them had plenty of fun today. I also enjoyed myself and it was also my first time behind the wheel of the Formula BMW car. And I have to say, BMW has built a really good car for its junior talent program. The car offers many set-up options, but within reasonable limits. Most noticeably, I have to commend the safety considerations that are integral to the car - my first experiences on the race track were far riskier! That said, I will be looking forward to Friday and returning to having another 800 bhp behind me."

Before he gets back to Formula One, however, Heidfeld has to demonstrate his prowess on the tennis court. On Thursday, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team driver will take part in a charity tennis tournament in aid of the Northampton Intensive Care Unit. Nick will be joined by his team-mates, Mark Webber and Antonio Pizzonia and drivers Giancarlo Fisichella, Marc Gené, Christian Klien, Felipe Massa, Jacques Villeneuve and Alexander Wurz. They will exchange the learning experience with Sanchez-Vicario and Murray and other tennis players who will pair the Formula One drivers in a doubles tournament. The matches will take place from 9.00 to 12.00 hrs at the Open Club Sanchez-Casal in Barcelona. BMW WilliamsF1

Spanish GP - McLaren Mercedes - Preview Spanish GP - McLaren Mercedes - PreviewRound five of the 2005 FIA Formula One World Championship, the Spanish Grand Prix, takes place at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya this weekend. Following medical tests in Madrid and at the team’s headquarters in Woking, Juan Pablo Montoya will make his return to the cockpit of the MP4-20 following his absence at the Bahrain and San Marino events as a result of a shoulder injury.

Kimi Raikkonen - “After the disappointing end to the last race in San Marino, I am really keen to get back on track and exploit the pace of the MP4-20. We had a positive test last week in Jerez so I’m looking forward to the weekend. The Circuit de Cataluyna does see exciting racing, but because of all the quick corners overtaking is quite difficult. You can slipstream down the long start-finish straight and pass under braking into turn one, but it is a very tight turn. The fast corners also play an important role in our tire choice with Michelin, as they create massive loading and you can have high levels of wear, in particular on the front left.”

Juan Pablo Montoya - “I’m obviously extremely pleased to get back behind the wheel again. It’s been so frustrating for me to be a spectator and I’m looking forward to the weekend. The Barcelona track is physically demanding because of all the fast corners but I have undergone an extensive rehabilitation program to build up the muscles in my shoulder so I will be well prepared. The Circuit de Catalunya is a complete circuit in that it has a very fast long straight, quick sweeping corners, tight hairpins, elevation changes, so it keeps you focused all the time.”
Pedro de la Rosa - “It is really great for me to be taking part in the Friday sessions in front of my home crowd. They are always so enthusiastic and I am really looking forward to it. The issues with the track surface at the Circuit de Catalunya earlier this year have been resolved. The circuit now has much better grip and the problems everyone was having with building up the temperature in the tires due to the surface should no longer be an issue. Although we have completed a number of test days at the Barcelona circuit with the MP4-20 and therefore have a good data set, set-up is always a challenge due to the possible changes of the track temperature.” McLaren Mercedes

Earnhardt calls Johnson an 'idiot' Earnhardt calls Johnson an 'idiot'Dale Earnhardt Jr. called Jimmie Johnson an "idiot," and blamed the Nextel Cup series points leader for causing a 25-car accident at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.  "If there was one idiot out there it was him," Earnhardt said during a break Tuesday in a test session at Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte, N.C. "To be honest about it, I think Jimmie Johnson caused about all the wrecks out there."

Earnhardt and Johnson were at the center of the massive accident in Sunday's race at Talladega that wiped out half the field and ranked as the second-largest melee in track history. Earnhardt was behind Mike Wallace on the front straightaway when he used his car to push Wallace ahead. The practice is called "bump drafting," and the drivers had been asked by NASCAR in their pre-race meeting to be cautious when doing it.  But when Earnhardt used his speed to get Wallace moving faster, Wallace wiggled just a bit. Johnson drifted up the track at the same time and ran into the side of Wallace.  The contact sent Wallace careening into the wall, and 24 other cars piled up behind him. Indy Star

Montoya back this weekend Montoya back this weekendColombian Juan Pablo Montoya will return for McLaren at the Spanish Grand Prix this weekend after missing two races through injury.  "I'm obviously extremely pleased to get back behind the wheel again. It's been so frustrating for me to be a spectator and I'm looking forward to the weekend," he said in a team statement on Wednesday.  Montoya suffered a hairline fracture of his shoulder, supposedly while playing tennis although other reports have suggested he was riding a motocross bike, at the end of March and missed the Bahrain and San Marino grands prix. Reuters
Desperate WilliamsF1 Announces Restructuring Desperate WilliamsF1 Announces RestructuringWilliamsF1, desperate for results and at risk of losing engine supplier BMW, today confirmed details of a restructuring of its senior management and the creation of a Senior Management Group (SMG) which will be the key decision-making forum within the organization. The SMG is intended to enhance performance throughout WilliamsF1 through a more focused allocation of responsibilities, leading to improved target setting and deliverability.

The SMG will include:

Frank Williams - Team Principal
Patrick Head - Director of Engineering
Chris Chapple - Chief Executive Officer
Sam Michael - Technical Director
Alex Burns - Chief Operating Officer
Jim Wright - Head of Marketing
John Healey - Head of Legal Services

Frank Williams and Patrick Head will retain overall responsibility for strategy, principal relationships and all key operating and financial decisions. The SMG is intended to facilitate this through the allocation of operating responsibilities among the senior
management of the company, allowing Frank and Patrick to focus more of their time on the key strategic issues and targets upon which the success of WilliamsF1 depends.

In relation to today's announcement, Frank Williams commented, "This is a positive step which reflects the long term success, rapid growth and increased complexity of both WilliamsF1 and Formula One in general. I am confident that the changes we are
announcing today will improve overall performance within WilliamsF1 and will allow Patrick and myself to spend more of our time focused on ensuring we deliver key targets upon which the success of the company depends." WilliamsF1

Court of Appeals action on BAR Court of Appeals action on BAR
Marc Gene talks Barcelona and Ferrari Marc Gene talks Barcelona and FerrariAmong the thousands of Spanish Ferrari fans supporting their favorite team at the Circuit de Catalunya this weekend, one of them will be watching from inside the Ferrari garage. Marc Gene joined Luca Badoer as a Scuderia test driver this year and for him this will be a special weekend. Spain has been slow to pick up on F1, with rallying and motorbikes proving more popular, but this year’s race is expected to draw a capacity crowd.

“F1 has reached a status in Spain that no one thought possible and the last race in Imola drew as big an audience in Spain as one of the top football matches,” comments Gene. “It is very impressive and it all started in 1999 and 2000, when De La Rosa and myself became the first Spanish F1 drivers after a break of around a decade. Since then it has increased in popularity year after year. This year’s race is a sell- out, although they could have sold a lot more tickets and people here have been talking about little else except the grand prix for the past week.”

Barcelona has been the most popular F1 venue for winter testing, but the teams got a shock this year as resurfacing completely changed the grip level which was always very high, because of the abrasive surface.
“The new surface has reduced the bumps and it was also meant to make the track less tough for the rear tires,” explains Gene. “But the front tires suffer a lot here with fast long right hand corners. Worrying about the front tires is a new concept in F1, because here it was always specifically the left rear that took a lot of punishment and generally in F1, it was always the rears that suffered. Every track has different characteristics and already this year we have seen some drivers in trouble with tires towards the end of the race, but I do not expect Barcelona to be much different to any of the other races so far this year.”

When it comes to tires, the Spanish tester knows his subject, as much of his work since joining the Scuderia has centered on tire testing. “This is the first time I have worked on developing tires with Bridgestone, even though I worked with them when I raced for Minardi and even going back to go-karts,” he recalls. “But now, I am working very closely with their technical department and it has been very interesting because they have a different way of working and they have a very close relationship with Ferrari. As far as the tire development is concerned, we know that some drivers may have slightly different driving styles, but we know that a tire that is good for Luca (Badoer) or myself, is also going to be good for the two race drivers. With other parts such as set-up or traction control, you might have to take the race drivers’ preferences into consideration when making a technical choice during testing.”

So, after a few months in the job, how does Gene assess his team? “Ferrari has a different approach to other teams I worked with. Ferrari is unique in many ways, but from a driver’s point of view, the thing that has impressed me most is the way information flows. All the departments really work together and that translates to the whole team. When we win, the whole team wins and when we lose everyone loses. It is the most compact team in F1. Information also flows between we four drivers. It is very good and I have never experienced that before. The other thing I have realized is just how important Ferrari is as a brand and that puts greater emphasis on my work with the media. News about Ferrari goes round the world in an instant. It is a unique experience and one I would recommend to any driver! Only when you are inside the team do you realize how special it is.”

The hardest part of any test driver’s job is the fact that he does not get to race. “I accept my situation and I don’t fight it,” Gene said. “I just try and do my job to the best of my ability and honestly, I do not think much about not racing. Barcelona will be the exception to that rule, as I will be racing, but in the Trofeo Maserati which takes place on the same weekend in Barcelona, but it’s not the same as F1 of course! I have raced in F1 here in 1999 and 2000 and the most lasting memory is of all the Spanish flags in the grandstand and the reception I got on the parade lap going onto the grid. It is a special feeling seeing so many people from your own country supporting you.”

This year, all that support will be directed at Renault’s Fernando Alonso, so as a loyal Spaniard, will Gene be cheering for his fellow countryman. “Oh no!” he laughs. “My heart is red now! All I can want is what is best for Ferrari and I know many Spaniards who think the same way, because Ferrari Tifosi are fans regardless of who is driving. I’ve got nothing against Fernando and of course he is a great driver, but I only want a Ferrari driver to win this weekend.” Ferrari

BAR Tested Honda V8 Engine Last Week BAR Tested Honda V8 Engine Last WeekBAR-Honda were the first Formula One team to test their V8 engine ahead of the 2006 season last week at the Mugello circuit, Autosport-Atlas has learned. The engine rules are changing next year to a V8 2.4 liter format from the current V10s. BAR's test drivers Anthony Davidson and Enrique Bernoldi tested the first prototype of Honda's V8 engine at the Mugello circuit last week, reportedly lapping around four seconds slower than with the current power unit.

"It wasn't at any time a question of catching quick lap times," BAR's technical director Geoff Willis said after the test. "Davidson before, and Bernoldi later, just ran to help us learn how this engine works and to control several parameters and technical details, and collect a lot of data in view of future, more complete tests. It is a very strange engine. Really low. Really, really low and shorter than usual, with a lack of power and a lower stroke curve compared to the actual V10, as logical. But it will still be a very interesting engine, in some ways more similar to a MotoGP engine than an actual F1 V10." Autosport-Atlas

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Trulli eyes return to form
Famous faces in Spain
Alonso 'love triangle'
May 4
Max to face the music
Gene - 'my heart is red'
Coulthard for president?
Paul's new court threat
Sato in South Africa
Michelin go soft
Stage set for sunny Spain
Edmonton update Edmonton updateUPDATE A reader informs is - I was watching "24" last night on Global TV from Edmonton and was pleased to notice that the show was "brought to you by" The Grand Prix of Edmonton. They had a full 30 second ad @ 9:20, a "screen burn" (with ticket info) in the lower left corner @ 9:40 and a "Global TV is proud to present" quick ad @ 9:50. Also, after the show was over, they had a full 30 second ad talking about Global TV Sports coverage of the Grand Prix complete with driver pictures and apparently every Monday night leading up to the race, they will profile a different driver @ 11:30. Good to see such great promotion. Plus, since this channel is on Canada's two satellite networks, people nationwide saw these ads. I live in Ontario, 2 time zones away! Kris Gough, Ottawa, Ontario Dear Kris, Compare the promotion effort we see at the successful races vs. those that have failed or are failing and it's clear some promoters get it and others don't. Mark C. 04/29/05 Ticket Rush?... Organizers of the Grand Prix of Edmonton, featuring the Champ Car World Series race scheduled for July 15 -17, are anticipating a rush at the box office over the next few weeks as the inaugural event launches a major ticket advertising campaign. "I believe this will be one of the most extensive event advertising campaigns ever staged in Edmonton," says Grand Prix president and general manager, Greg Macdonald. Under the direction of Edmonton agency Calder Bateman, print, radio, TV and outdoor will be utilized to communicate the various event attributes throughout Alberta and surrounding communities. Tickets are available online through the event website: www.grandprixedmonton.com, or by phoning the Ticketmaster hotline at (780) 451-8000.

No rush for Refreshments-- With more than 30 food vendors already in place, fans attending the event will have plenty of access to merchants for water, soft drinks, snacks, hot dogs, etc. All vendors are Alberta based and according to Maraca Canada president Dan Fahey, the level of interest throughout the Edmonton business community has been extremely high. Maraca is responsible for securing vendors and developing the merchandise areas for the July race.

Armed Forces Network to air Edmonton Atlantic race-- The Edmonton Grand Prix round of the Toyota Atlantic Championship presented by Yokohama, will be aired around the globe to U.S. servicemen and women. The Toyota Atlantic race is one of two support events to be run in conjunction with the featured Champ Car race.

On Track--The month of May will be a busy one for GPE's operations staff as officials from Champ Car and sanctioning bodies visit Edmonton to review the progress. Schedules are also being finalized for the start of circuit repaving. A firm construction schedule will be announced shortly. Edmonton GP

SPEED TV readers prefer Champ Cars SPEED TV readers prefer Champ CarsA poll being run all day by SPEEDTV.com shows that race fans would prefer to drive a Champ Car over anything else the USA sanctioning bodies have to offer.  The image to the right is a snapshot of the poll results.  Champ Car (55%) is way out in front.  It's not even a contest. It's interesting to note that hardly anyone wants to drive dumbed-down race cars like NASCAR (7%) or the IRL (9%).  You can find the poll at the bottom of SPEEDTV.com
Glock crashes, escapes injury Glock crashes, escapes injuryDuring the first day of a two-day test at the Milwaukee Mile in preparation for Round Three of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford Rocketsports driver Timo Glock was taken to the hospital after a hard hit this afternoon.  The back end of the car became loose on the rookie, causing him to lose control of his car and backing it into the wall between Turn Three and Four.   He was taken to the hospital after the incident, but was conscious and alert.  A CAT scan was performed and came back clear.  The young German is suffering from a headache and some body aches, but will be released from the hospital this evening.  See Home Page for full report.
Marco Andretti ’It took three laps and I was flat’ Marco Andretti ’It took three laps and I was flat’Marco Andretti's quotes below confirm that the IPS is nothing but a waste of time 100% throttle series that does nothing in the way of teaching a driver car control.

Note and quotes from practice at Indy today for the IPS Series:
Observers in the Andretti pit included grandfather, Mario, and father, Michael, who have combined to make 43 starts in the Indianapolis 500.

MARIO ANDRETTI: "This is always a very special feeling here. We've got the sequence now. I watched Michael grow right through his career, and now, here I am at the beginning of another one. It's just a special feeling. I'm really happy that I was able to be here. It was very important to me. Marco's reaction today was what I pretty much expected. He was cautiously confident earlier, and then he just started taking charge. That's a good thing."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI: "Marco did really well today. It was fun to watch. It was a little nerve-wracking the first few laps, but then I saw he was really comfortable. Then, it was OK. He seemed a little bit nervous at first this morning because he didn't know what to expect. But after the first run, he was a lot more comfortable."

Jay Drake returns to his Menards Infiniti Pro Series race car after winning the U.S. Auto Club National Sprint Car Series race April 30 at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio. Drake won the series' national championship in 2004 and leads the 2005 point standings. His next USAC race is May 7 at Beaver Dam, Wis.

Imran Husain is the first native of India to drive at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Husain was born in Lucknow, India. He moved to Africa when he was 2 years old and came to the United States as a teen-ager to attend Florida International University. He resides in Los Angeles.

IMRAN HUSAIN (No. 36 Genoa Racing Special Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "Out of a billion people, I'll be the first Indian driver to race at Indianapolis, which is a very historic track. For me personally, it has a lot of significance. I've always wanted to run the Indianapolis 500, and this is the first step toward it."

Tom Wood turned his first laps at IMS since the 2003 Futaba Freedom 100. Wood was injured in an accident at Kentucky Speedway in August 2003. He participated in two private tests with Sam Schmidt Motorsports last year. Wood completed 79 laps with a top speed of 185.569 mph (48.4996 sec.).

TOM WOOD (No. 11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It was great, lots of fun. I hadn't been in the car for a while. It's all I expected it to be. This is Indianapolis, too. The car wasn't quite as quick as we wanted yet, but we'll get there. It was nice getting back in the car again."


MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 Vonage Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It's always exciting being at Indy. Just being at this track is awesome. I love the track. I love the city. I love everything about it. It only took a few laps this morning and then we were flat (full throttle). We're just working on trying to free the thing up. We just need to get the car working good. As a driver here, you're just flat and doing as much as you can to let the thing roll. We've got a lot more to get out of it before the race, so we're just trying to free it up and get it going. It's definitely all new to me. I've never done anything like it, like I've never come down the long straight-aways and not lifted, just thrown it in the corner. I had to learn a lot, but it came quick. I was flat the third lap out, no problem." (Any anxiety about running here or did your dad and grandfather help you before you went out?): "To be honest, the anxiety was pretty bad before I got out there, but as soon as I did it I thought it was no problem. Basically it was the unknown, that's what I was afraid of, but it came no problem." (Did you feel some of the intricacies of this place, such as how the IndyCar Series guys say every corner is different?): "They're going a lot quicker, so for us I think it's pretty much, 'just plant it.' I did feel the wind this morning, and definitely through (Turns) 1 and 2, so you definitely feel the same things, just not as drastic."

JAIME CAMARA (No. 1 CELG-Sam Schmidt Motorsports Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): "We are very happy with our job today. The track is very difficult to drive. You have to find the right line. It is not easy to do that. When I was out there, it was not that simple. We did a good job today, and the car is very good. I think we are going to be very competitive during the race. We will take what line to take from the experience. The line I took today was different from what everybody else is doing, and I think it is the best for the race."

WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 33 Visit New Zealand Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We just do the thing we do at every racetrack, work toward a plan and just work our way through it. It's a good team, the whole package is good, so there's no reason why we wouldn't be quick. I had spoken to Scott (Dixon), and he had said the track was quite good - they were just here a couple of weeks ago. I had confidence in the car, so I was flat pretty much straight away."

CHRIS FESTA (No. 19 SpacePak/CareCentric/SSM Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "It went pretty well. It took a little longer than we wanted to get up to speed. But once we did and we started running, we started ticking off a little faster, a little faster each time out. We made some real progress on the car, so when we come back at the end of the month, it will be a lot better for us, and we'll have a good starting package. I figured the line out around this track at the end of the day. I won't have to do that when we come back. All we will have to do is adjust the car for the condition of the track at that time."

TRAVIS GREGG (No. 7 Lucas Oil Products/Sam Schmidt Mspt Dallara/Infiniti/ Firestone): (About how it felt to do his first laps at IMS): "It was great. The track, they repaved it so it's smooth, it has a lot of grip since they did the diamond (grinding) on it. It's real racy." (How has this test helped the whole field; will it take away from anxiety from Race Day?): "Yeah, there will be more rubber laid down, so the track will be different from now to then, anyway. You're not sure how it's going to be when you come back, anyway." (What did you learn about this track, given its reputation for the conditions changing constantly?): "It changed a lot because of the wind. And later today it changed on me through (Turns) 1 and 2. It's a big track and things can change with the wind, so that's what makes it so difficult."

MARTY ROTH (No. 4 Roth Racing Dallara/Infiniti/Firestone): "We didn't have a good chance to go play in traffic, but we've got a really good car when it's by itself. It will be a strong car for the race. It's great to be in the Infiniti Pro car before we start up in the big cars. It's a good little acclimator to the speed."

Indy 500, Futaba Freedom 100 tickets: To purchase tickets, camping or parking for the 89th Indianapolis 500 and Futaba Freedom 100, contact the IMS ticket office at (800) 822-INDY or log on to www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com.

IPS test times from Indy IPS test times from IndyFifteen Menards Infiniti Pro Series cars will participate in today's test. Sixteen drivers are present. Ten of those drivers have never driven on the 2.5-mile oval at IMS (Mishael Abbott, Marco Andretti, Nick Bussell, Jaime Camara, Wade Cunningham, Chris Festa, Travis Gregg, Imran Husain, German Quiroga and Al Unser). Husain and Quiroga have never competed in a race in the Menards Infiniti Pro Series.
Rank Car Driver Time Speed
1 1 Camara 47.2568 190.449
2 33 Cunningham 47.3661 190.009
3 19 Festa 47.3854 189.932
4 26 Andretti47.4001 189.873
5 4 Roth 47.4961 189.489
6 7 Gregg 47.5423 189.305
7 20 Drake 47.9839 187.563
8 24 Simmons 48.0334 187.370
9 3 Unser 48.0739 187.212
10 21 Bussell 48.0900 187.149
11 6 Herb 48.3286 186.225
12 11 Quiroga 48.3981 185.958
13 23 Fletcher48.4045 185.933
14 11 Wood 48.4996 185.569
15 91 Abbott 48.5762 185.276
16 36 Husain 48.8877 184.095
Industry News
Road America plans major upgrades Road America plans major upgradesRoad America plans to add some big amenities for race fans, Road America President George Bruggenthies said. “We have some things on our radar screen that could be pretty exciting,” Bruggenthies said. “We’d love to see a museum here celebrating road racing.” Road America had a $7 million museum designed in 2001, Bruggenthies said. “It’s kind of back on the radar screen because of the exhibit we have in the historical museum in Sheboygan right now,” Bruggenthies said. “The comments we’ve gotten are, ‘Wow, you really should do a museum.’” The Sheboygan County Historical Museum has noticed a larger attendance since the Road America artifacts have been put on display, Bruggenthies said.

“So, we’re rethinking that,” Bruggenthies said of a possible Road America museum. “Our board of directors is at least aware of it now and is considering it.” The track is working towards having activities year-round that may include all-terrain vehicles, said Mary Lou Haen, marketing promotions director for Road America. “We’re trying to develop different ways that we can use the facility,” Haen said. “One of them would be ATVs because we don’t have to rely on snow.”

Paddock expansion and a condominium garage business park are in the works as well, Bruggenthies said. “It’s not firm yet, but we’re working on it,” Bruggenthies said of the business park. “The paddock will be expanded at the end of this season. The race teams are getting bigger and the events are popular, we just need to do that.”

Road America also plans to install newer, upscale Kohler Co. bathrooms, Bruggenthies said. “We thought why don’t we put in some of the really cool stuff that Kohler does,” Bruggenthies said. “We’re in the process of working with a designer on how we can incorporate the higher-end products and put it in our general public bathrooms. The spectators are going to be blown away when they come in and see some of these painted sinks and stuff. I think it’s really going to be cool.” Sheboygan Press [Editor's Note: The USA natural terrain road courses have not kept up with the grandiose oval track facilities built by ISC and SMI in terms of fan amenities so improvements like this are welcome news, though still far short of what is needed.]

Mosley to hold press conference Mosley to hold press conferenceFIA President Max Mosley will hold a press conference on Friday. Although the FIA did not announce what the topic of conversation will be, it's expected that Mosley will talk about the progress on post-Concorde Agreement rules for 2008 and possibly the BAR cheating case where it's possible the team will be handed a suspension.
Ferrari Fiorano test notes Ferrari Fiorano test notesSecond day of testing this week for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, working at the Fiorano circuit. Luca Badoer was in action again today, with an F2005 at his disposal. The technical program for the session centered on Bridgestone tire development and the shakedown of the cars which will be used in the Spanish Grand Prix on 8th May. Badoer completed 178 laps (47 on the short version of the track), with a best time of 57.424. Circuit: Fiorano track (2,976 km -- short course 1,413 km) Driver: Luca Badoer Car: F2005 Weather: air temperature 22/26°C, track temperature 32/34°C; cloudy. Ferrari
Indy 500 to get extensive radio coverage Indy 500 to get extensive radio coverageThe Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network and its affiliates will provide extensive coverage from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway throughout the month of May leading up to and including the 89th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race on Sunday, May 29.

More than 400 affiliate IMS Radio Network radio stations located throughout the United States and Canada - plus the LeSea Broadcasting network, which provides worldwide shortwave radio coverage, and the American Forces Radio Network, which broadcasts to United States
military installations and ships around the world - will broadcast live Race Day coverage of the Indianapolis 500 at noon (EDT) May 29 with a pre-race show, followed by the Indianapolis 500 broadcast at 1 p.m.

The network will kick off the month of May at Indianapolis with the first of four "Indy Live" talk shows on May 10 from 9-10 p.m. (EDT). All four shows will broadcast live from the Brickyard Crossing Inn, and the public is welcome to attend each broadcast free of charge. Each show, hosted by IMS Radio Network Anchor Mike King, features interviews with notable drivers and other personalities from the Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series and Menards Infiniti Pro Series.

The "Indy Live" Talk Show broadcast schedule is 9-10 p.m. (EDT) on May 10, 12, 19 and 26.

The radio network will deliver morning and afternoon qualifying shows on the four qualifying days, May 14-15 and 21-22.

A Miller Lite Carb Day Recap will be broadcast from 6-7 p.m. on May 27.

The IMS Radio Network broadcast team for the Indianapolis 500 is comprised of these veteran radio commentators: Mike King, anchor; Dave Wilson, color commentator; Pancho Carter, driver analyst; Donald Davidson, historian; Jerry Baker, Turn 1 reporter; Adam Alexander, Turn 2 reporter; Mark Jaynes, Turn 3 reporter; Chris Denari, Turn 4 reporter; Dave Argabright, Kevin Lee, Nicole Manske and Kevin Olson, pit reporters.

In addition to reaching millions of listeners worldwide via the radio waves, the 89th Indianapolis 500 broadcast - along with every IMS Radio Network program from the month of May - also will be available live and archived on the Internet via ww.indianapolismotorspeedway.com or www.indycar.com.

Industry News
BMW May Report Lower Earnings as Steel Rises, Dollar Declines BMW May Report Lower Earnings as Steel Rises, Dollar DeclinesBayerische Motoren Werke AG, the world's largest maker of luxury cars, tomorrow may report its first earnings decline in seven quarters because of the dollar's drop against the euro and rising steel prices.

First-quarter net income probably fell 3.4 percent to 505 million euros ($652 million) from 523 million euros in the same quarter a year earlier, according to the median estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. The Munich-based carmaker may say sales increased 3.8 percent to 11.2 billion euros.

Chief Executive Officer Helmut Panke said March 16 that this year's profit would be ``approximately'' the same as for 2004. The dollar's 8.3 percent drop against the euro over the past year reduced revenue in the U.S., while higher prices of raw materials including steel increased production costs. That erased the benefit of rising sales of models such as the 5-Series car.

``The dollar is a powerful factor holding back profit growth at BMW,'' said Markus Brueck, a fund manager at Bankhaus Metzler in Frankfurt, which has 15 billion euros in assets including BMW shares. ``BMW is suffering because of the current environment.'' Bloomberg

GP2 tweaks Sporting Regulations GP2 tweaks Sporting RegulationsNew 2005 sporting regulations have today been announced by the GP2 series, and we thought you’d like to know about them. Two new rules will come into effect in Barcelona, and will remain in place thereafter. While the racing on show in Imola was incredibly exciting, we wanted to make sure that the spectacle was maintained. We hope these new rules will improve the expectations created by the already close racing, and add to your enjoyment of the GP2 series.

The first change relates to Race 1, and the compulsory pitstops each driver must make in the course of the race. From Barcelona, each driver will only have to make one compulsory pitstop, at which his team must change at least two tires on the car.

The second change relates to both Race 1 and Race 2, and has to do with the regulations for fastest lap. The new rules state that a driver must be classified in the final race results in order to qualify for fastest lap of that race. The cut-off point for race classification is 90% of the total race distance.

115K expected for Spanish GP 115K expected for Spanish GPA record 115,000 fans will pack the Circuit de Catalunya next weekend as Fernando Alonso attempts to win his home Grand Prix.  For the first time organizers say they expect the majority of fans to come from Spain itself, many making the trip across Spain from the driver's native Asturias. 

Fernando Alonso has said that before the season started he never considered himself a serious threat for World Championship honors this year - but he has now warned his team that their unexpected competitiveness means they must now work even harder if they are to triumph this season.  Alonso confessed that he is only now allowing himself to dream about becoming the youngest ever World Champion this year, but is not foolish enough to believe it will automatically come to him.

"At the beginning of the season it was not a real target for the team or me, but regarding how it's going now it's starting to be a dream getting close," he said about his world title hopes. ”We have to work even harder now and take care about every single thing in the team, to be ready and to avoid having Ferrari or McLaren catch us very quickly."

French GP hotel info French GP hotel infoLooking for hotel accommodation for the Grand Prix de France? Why not buy a chateau near the Nevers - Magny-Cours circuit instead? If you take the time to browse through the latest issue of 'Chateaux Demeures', you would be amazed at what you can buy for your money in the Bourgogne / Nievre region. A super 14th century chateau with an inner court yard, 14 bedrooms, five bathrooms near a village for a mere 1,400,000 euros.

Another well placed property located near the A77 / A6 is a 14th century chateau with private chapel, numerous outbuildings, 32 hectares with woodland at the bargain price of only 580,000 euros. However, restoring would be needed.

There's even a two for one offer with a 50 hectares property located just two hours from Paris with not just one 19th century chateau, but a second chateau thrown in for good measure.

Dreams of becoming the newest chatelaine at the next Grand Prix de France at Magny Cours were dashed when realization set in that even at their comparatively low prices, it would be far cheaper to stay in a hotel for the race weekend. Hotel accommodation in the Bourgogne / Nievre areas can be found at the local Tourist Board at +33 3 86 59 14 22. Grand Prix de France

San Jose promotion ramping up San Jose promotion ramping upA reader writes to say that in the SF Bay Area, NBC TV ran a brief ad (15 secs) for the San Jose Grand Prix last Saturday.  It was shown during the broadcast of the Penn Relays (classic track meet), so it seems that the promoters see an association between human-powered racing and motor racing.  It works for me!  I wonder if more ads will run in conjunction with bicycle races and/or triathlons. Herb Hwang, San Mateo, CA  Dear Herb, We have heard a number of reports from the Bay Area saying they have seen or heard ads for the San Jose GP, and connecting speed with speed, racing with racing,  makes a lot of sense.   Promoter Bob Singleton certainly knows how to do things right as we saw when he was with Molson in Canada.  We suspect that the attendance for this race will dwarf what Champ Car was able to get in Monterey and what the IRL will get at Sears Point (Infineon Raceway). There's just so much more to do at a downtown city event for the spectators.  While we all lament over the loss of the beautiful natural terrain road circuits like Laguna Seca and Road America, until those promoters can afford to promote an event as heavily as the downtown circuits do, and to entice the fans out to their facility, we're going to see more of these types of events.  Mark C.
Crash spoiled Dixon’s chance with Dallara Crash spoiled Dixon’s chance with DallaraScott Dixon's desire to evaluate his new Dallara chassis in race conditions before Indy were spoiled when his race lasted less than a lap in Saturday's Indy Japan 300. Starting from the ninth row of the grid, Dixon's race in Motegi lasted until halfway through the opening turn on lap one before Bucknum spun and collected the New Zealander, causing heavy contact with the outside wall.

“I'm not sure what it is but I just haven't had much luck here,” said Dixon who was checked and release by the IRL medical staff after his third accident at the Motegi track in as many years. “I'm not sure just what happened but it looked like the #44 car spun on cold tires and I had nowhere to go.

“It's very unfortunate particularly since we didn't get a chance to gather much data on the Dallara in a race situation for the Target engineering team. We'll just have to shrug it off and put all our efforts into having a good month of preparations for the Indy 500.”

Petty proposes 2-hour races Petty proposes 2-hour racesPetty proposes shorter races to keep, draw fans' attention
As long as NASCAR officials are kicking a bunch of longstanding traditions to the curb, Kyle Petty wonders if it's time to review whether 500 miles of racing is too much of a good thing. From Petty's perspective as the driver of the No. 45 car in Nextel Cup series, races aren't too long. But he says if he were a fan, he couldn't imagine intently watching every lap.

In fact, Petty, 44, says when he's hanging out in his motorhome at the track on Saturdays, he struggles to pay full attention to Busch Series races, which are usually 100-200 miles shorter than Cup races.  "I don't mind saying it — on Saturdays, when I'm watching it on TV, I have a hard time with a Busch race," Petty says. "I mean, I'll watch the first part of the Busch race, then I'll get out and I'll walk up and down pit road, and see what the tire wear is and do some of that stuff and try to educate yourself. But I'm not going to sit in that chair for whatever the length of a Busch race is and watch the whole race. I just can't do it. And that's just me. But God bless the people that do. Because they're who pay our bills."

Petty says shorter races of no more than two hours in length might make for a more intense show for fans attending in person and attract more casual fans on television. The traditional mid-race lull, where drivers seem to fall into a pattern of following the leader and trying to avoid trouble while plotting moves for later in the race, might be eliminated.  "Even though the speeds have picked up and the technology's better, you know, there's a middle part of the race that's just not exciting for everybody," Petty says. USA Today

Women hope Legge's win is start of something big Women hope Legge's win is start of something bigThis USA Today article talks about Katherine Legge's debut win in the Champ Car Toyota Atlantic series at Long Beach and how a lot of women are hoping her win opens more doors for sponsorship.
Industry News
GM faces US safety probe GM faces US safety probeGeneral Motors Corp. faces a U.S. safety investigation of 1.28 million Silverado pickups, Yukon SUVs and similar light trucks because of corrosion on a brake part that led to a recall in Canada.  The action involves 1999 through 2002 models, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday. It affects vehicles sold in states where salt often is used to keep roads clear in winter and may corrode a speed sensor, interfering with braking, the agency said. NHTSA reported 120 complaints, including 22 accidents and four injuries.  GM recalled 150,000 of the trucks last year in eastern Canada. Company spokesman Alan Adler said Detroit-based GM decided then not to recall the vehicles in the United States because it believed the corrosion was occurring in just three of every 10,000 of the trucks in states where road salt is often used. The rate in Canada was more than 10 times higher, he said.  General Motors is cooperating with NHTSA, Adler said. Detroit Free Press
Industry News
Ford hires former Chrysler designer Ford hires former Chrysler designerFord Motor Co. has hired former DaimlerChrysler AG designer Freeman Thomas in an effort to improve design and spur flagging car and truck sales.  Thomas, 47, will join Ford effective June 1 as director of strategic design, spokeswoman Jennifer Flake said in an interview Monday. Thomas, who helped develop the New Beetle and Audi TT roadster at Volkswagen AG in the 1990s, resigned from the California studio of DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler unit on April 21 after almost six years with the company.  Ford and General Motors Corp., the world's largest automaker, are looking to new models to regain lost customers in their home market as foreign automakers gain ground. Rivals such as Chrysler and Nissan Motor Co. have boosted U.S. market share in recent years by stressing design and introducing new models.   "This is a move by Ford to deepen its design bench," said IRN Inc. analyst Erich Merkle in Grand Rapids. "They need help on their car side." Detroit Free Press
Police catch Talladega cheats Police catch Talladega cheatsLaw enforcement officials seized more than $160,000 worth of counterfeit merchandise during last weekend's NASCAR race in Talladega, Ala. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokesman Marc Raimondi says more than 7,000 items were confiscated. USA Today
Michael satisfied with development work Michael satisfied with development workThe BMW WilliamsF1 Team is looking back at the first four Grand Prix with mixed feelings. Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld often delivered convincing performances in qualifying, and the Williams BMW FW27 has been competitive in most of the races, too.

However, the Anglo-German partnership has only scored 14 championship points so far.  "We haven't had the results that we wanted, regular high points scoring positions," said Sam Michael, WilliamsF1's Technical Director. "We've had qualified very well but because of incidents in the races things haven't been going our way."

Irrespective to the results to date, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team is continuously working on improving the car. The engineers are trying to make the FW27 quicker and consequently enable the drivers to fight for podium positions.  "We've had to put a lot of effort into the development of the FW27 in the last six-to-eight weeks and that's been very good," added Michael, "The car development has been very strong since the start of February and we've got a lot of new parts on the car."  WilliamsF1

Minardi Sticking with Cosworth V10 power for 2006 Minardi Sticking with Cosworth V10 power for 2006The Minardi team today announced that it has signed an engine supply contract with Cosworth Racing for the 2006 Formula One World Championship season, with an option for 2007.

The arrangement will see the Faenza team’s 2006 cars powered by a further development of the famous Northamptonshire company’s TJ 90- degree V10 engine. This follows the team’s initial experience of the TJ2005 power unit in recent tests of its new Minardi Cosworth PS05 at the Mugello circuit and during the San Marino Grand Prix weekend at Imola.

“Cosworth is delighted to be extending its partnership with Minardi into 2006, as it’s a team with which we have enjoyed a longstanding, and close relationship over the years,” said Cosworth Managing Director, Tim Routsis. “It’s also fair to say there are mutual benefits in such an arrangement. On the one hand, it has always been an integral part of Cosworth’s philosophy to test its products to the limit at the top levels of international motorsport. On the other, it is pleasing for our company, which is now an independent engine manufacturer, to continue to support one of the last true independent teams on the Formula One grid.”
Minardi Team Principal, Paul Stoddart added: “We have been exceptionally impressed with the TJ2005 engine just in the short time we have been running it in the PS05. We can’t praise highly enough the power, driveability and reliability of the new power unit, and we are more than pleased to demonstrate our belief in Cosworth by entering into this contractual arrangement at an early stage of the new season. In terms of engine supply, this is definitely the right way for Minardi to go. The team has enjoyed a strong relationship with Cosworth over the years, and on both a technical and a personal basis, we now look forward to continuing that excellent relationship.” Minardi [Editor's Note:  Meanwhile, Cosworth are pushing ahead with its V8 design despite the news that Red Bull Racing is moving to Ferrari engines next year.  This deal means Cosworth is assured of staying in F1 for now.]

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Ferrari resume F1 flaunt
Relaxed JV to tackle Barca
Fisi set for F1 fightback
BAR await crucial court date
DC on the run
New Minardi on right track
'Dancer' Liuzzi
Steadfast Stewart
Imola rivalry to restart
India 'must get grand prix'
'New bits' at Barca
'New' Circuit de Catalunya
Kimi's 'second best' in F1
San Jose Radio Spots San Jose Radio SpotsA reader writes to say, Around 5:00pm this evening I heard a radio spot advertising the San Jose Grand Prix.  The spot mentioned 190mph Champ Cars racing through the streets of downtown San Jose and an international field of drivers.  The Canary Fund was also mentioned.  This is really exciting since the event is still three months away.  I heard the spot on Wild 94.9 (KYLD) that is the #1 Hip Hop format station in the Bay Area.  Champ Car is definitely going after a younger demographic. Marcus Rietema, Mountain View, CA
Grand Prix of Denver, Friday Night Fights Team Up Grand Prix of Denver, Friday Night Fights Team UpThe CENTRIX Financial Grand Prix of Denver presented by PacifiCare announced today that Golden Boy Promotions will be bringing their boxing stars to the Pepsi Center on Friday, August 12, 2005.

In addition, long-time Grand Prix of Denver partner, Coors Brewing Company, has enhanced their status as the official beer of the race event to also include presenting sponsorship of the Friday Night Fights.

"The Grand Prix of Denver is more than just a race, a lot more," enthused the Grand Prix General Manager Jim Freudenberg. "Our event is establishing itself as the event of the summer in Denver. Each unique and exciting component that we add to our marquee continues to build upon the race and festival atmosphere. We are thrilled that Coors has partnered with us for the Friday Night Fights as well as for the Grand Prix race weekend."

The Friday Night Fights Presented by Coors will bring a new element to the Grand Prix of Denver. The event is brought to Denver by Golden Boy Promotions, which is owned by six-time world champion Oscar De La Hoya. The fights will feature six bouts, the final two being 10-round championship bouts, with the world's leading boxing contenders. The fights will be held at the Pepsi Center. As an added bonus, fans who purchase a ticket to the Friday Night Fights will also receive a free ticket to Friday's Grand Prix events, which include on-track activity by the Champ Car World Series, Toyota Atlantic, Formula BMW, Trans-Am and SCCA Speed World Challenge.

The Coors Brewing Company, part of the new Molson/Coors Company, will sponsor the Grand Prix of Denver for the fourth year. "This is our hometown, so that's usually enough to get our interest to sponsor a big event, but this one is special. The race and all the related festival style events make this a 'must do' in any town. We are proud to be associated, and we know this will move our business at the event and in the marketplace through our promotions with our retail partners," said Steve Saunders, event marketing director, Coors Brewing Company.

The fight card for the event will be announced mid-summer, but tickets go on sale on Thursday, May 5 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster outlets, http://www.ticketmaster.com, or 1-303-830-TIXS. Ticket prices range from $20 for lower bowl, non-reserved seating, to $40 for reserved floor seating to $75 for premium, ringside seating.

For more information on Golden Boy Promotions, please visit their Web site.

Industry News
Outside-the-box Scion scores with young drivers Outside-the-box Scion scores with young driversNeither the discomfort of lying on hot asphalt nor the prospect of a cold beer a few yards away is enough to dissuade Chip Bell from taking apart his Scion in the Hooters parking lot.

Surrounded by buddies, the husky 25-year-old Internet help-desk technician gingerly unbolts the bumper of his beloved xA sedan to install a pair of fog lamps that he just won in a club contest.

Fanatic? You bet. But that's the point. "It's about making it mine," says Bell, who drove up from San Diego. "People look at my car and say, 'That's Chip's xA.' "

Bell is exactly the kind of young auto buyer that has turned Scion into one of the most closely watched experiments in the auto industry. Toyota started its Scion division from scratch to aim straight at the teens and twentysomethings of Generation Y, roughly those born after 1977.

Toyota is one of many automakers that has jumped headlong into the gold rush to win the sales and especially the loyalty of the next generation of car buyers. [Editor's Note: Too bad Toyota isn't still in Champ Car which is making a big push for the young generation and has added Drifting to many of its street race venues, as they would be able to capitalize on the young generation with this car. Can you see Scion Drifting Cars? They'd be pretty cool. Instead they are going NASCAR Racing - big pushrod engines with carburetors, not exactly the image Toyota plays to.]

General Motors and Ford Motor, along with just about every other automaker, are cranking out performance-oriented cars and sponsoring events to try to win over a demographic bubble that, at 72 million strong, will outnumber Gen Xers, born from 1965 to 1976, by nearly 50%.

But only Toyota has gone as far as creating a separate brand aimed straight at a specific target of driving-age youths.

Even the Scion brand name presents a pronunciation problem (SIGH-on) for clueless parents. Truth be told, Toyota doesn't really care if parents ever learn as long as their kids never forget. USA TODAY

Ferrari to have say in Barcelona Ferrari to have say in BarcelonaTwo days of testing, one day of shooting for sponsor Vodafone: Michael had a busy week following the GP-weekend at Imola. So the world champion is now taking his time at home to prepare for the next big challenge: the race at Barcelona, home-circuit of championship leader Fernando Alonso.

Michael is completing his daily fitness routine just as focused as his test program on the race track, because slowing down is not an option. It's never an option - but especially not now that the race at Imola has rekindled hope of regaining the old strength again. "The Grand Prix of San Marino was just what the doctor ordered for all of us," the defending world champion said, "Of course we had seen that we're heading in the right direction before at Bahrain, but Imola showed that we're capable of winning again. That gave us hope and encouragement for the next leg of the season, and has pushed our motivation even further. We managed to keep our spirits up even during the messed up start of this year's season, and our performance at Imola proved that we were right in doing so."

The Grand Prix of Spain starts off the next part of the season this weekend. A race that will see Michael and Ferrari as the fancied winners following the impressive comeback? "Fernando is still the first driver that has to be mentioned in this context, because his performance at Imola was highly impressive, he has already won three races and he is still leading the championship by far. And that makes him a hot contender for winning the race," is Michael's statement. "But I also think that McLaren Mercedes and BAR will be strong. I think that Barcelona will be a close race, and of course I'm convinced that we'll also have some say in who wins it."

NASCAR on FOX one big infomercial NASCAR on FOX one big infomercialWatching a NASCAR broadcast on Fox can be a rather confusing experience. It's not the sheer volume of coverage that leaves a viewer bewildered, though yesterday's Nextel Cup race took up seven hours of the network's time. Cricket matches don't last that long.

And it's not some of the things that are said, though the cleric who blessed yesterday's race sent me to the Yellow Pages for bomb shelter listings when he said, "We all know the big one is coming." I learned later he was talking about a big crash, which did come, twice in fact. Nor did analyst Larry McReynolds help by telling viewers that the air temperature, "is 65 miles per hour."

What's really confusing about the Fox version of NASCAR is the mystery of what exactly constitutes advertising. These guys give so many free plugs to sponsors you wonder why they interrupt the race for commercials.

Even in the world of auto racing, where car and tire manufacturers are as much a part of the race as the drivers, Fox manages to outdo everybody. NASCAR on Fox is basically a seamless infomercial.

There's the unnecessary mention of sponsor names when cars are being identified. Even though you can clearly see a car's color and number, the Fox guys often throw in a reference to "the orange Home Depot car," just in case you were wondering the next time you needed a hammer.

But that's small potatoes compared with the shameless sponsor plugs the Fox guys toss about as freely as they abuse the English language.

Then came Jeff Gordon, who was being sponsored by the new Star Wars movie, the one announcer Chris Myers told viewers, "is coming out this month," just as Fox cameras showed two guys in Star Wars costumes. What this had to do with the race is still a mystery.

But it didn't stop there. When Darrell Waltrip said other drivers might team up on leader Gordon, Myers added, "Jeff would need more than Yoda," if that happened. As if the point hadn't been made, Gordon celebrated his victory by proclaiming, "I had the force with me." As they say, you can't buy that kind of advertising. More at Toronto Star

Bill Davis Racing announces Toyota sponsorship Bill Davis Racing announces Toyota sponsorshipToyota Certified Used Vehicles (TCUV), a program of Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., will become the associate sponsor on the No. 23 Bill Davis Racing Toyota Tundra piloted by Johnny Benson in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Gateway International Raceway this Saturday.  The sponsorship will run for the remainder of the season.   "We are pleased to be partnering with Bill Davis Racing in support of Johnny Benson and the No. 23 Toyota Tundra," said Al Smith, Corporate manager of Fleet /TCUV.  "Johnny is an exceptional driver and has been running strong all season.  We hope to soon be celebrating with him in Victory Circle."  Toyota Certified is an industry leader selling more than 200,000 vehicles a year throughout the U.S.  Certified Toyotas come with a six year/ 100,000 mile warranty, roadside assistance and all vehicles pass an extensive 160-point quality assurance inspection.  "I am real excited about Toyota Certified coming on board as an associate sponsor of the No.23 Toyota Tundra for the rest of the 2005 season," said Benson.  "We are thrilled about being involved in their racing program and honored to be with a company like Toyota that makes such great products, like the Toyota Tundra." Bill Davis Racing
Burton’s jack man injured Burton’s jack man injuredUPDATE #2 Team statement - Josh Yost, jackman for the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet driven by Jeff Burton, was treated in the infield care center yesterday at Talladega Superspeedway, then transported to Carraway Hospital in Birmingham, Ala. for x-rays to his right ankle. The x-rays were negative, but injuries include cut and torn ligaments in his right ankle, along with a severe laceration requiring 13 stitches. While making a routine four-tire stop on lap 117, Yost was hit by the car driven by Rusty Wallace, who was pitting in the stall just past the Team 31 pit.  After flying home to North Carolina last night, Yost will have surgery to repair the ligaments and verify the extent of his injuries Tuesday morning at Wake Forest University/Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, NC. 05/02/05 Josh Yost, the jackman for #31 Jeff Burton's Cingular Wireless team, suffered torn ligaments and a severe laceration on his right ankle after a pit stop mishap. He was taken to a Birmingham hospital, but flew home with his team Sunday night. Alabama Live 05/02/05 The jack man for Jeff Burton's team was injured when Rusty Wallace hit him during a pit stop. Josh Yost had torn ligaments and a severe cut on his right ankle. Indy Star
Japanese invasion has Ford and Chevy teams riled Japanese invasion has Ford and Chevy teams riledThis Winston Salem Journal article talks about the pending Japanese invasion of NASCAR that has a lot of folks worried.  Key excerpts - Some top NASCAR team owners, who rely on Detroit for key support, are worried about the Japanese, for a number of reasons.  Is there the possibility that an American car maker might drop out of the Busch series if Toyota does come in?  "I'd say everything is on the table," Ford's Jack Roush said. "I haven't heard anything to that effect, but if you look at where they (Toyota) have been, they've run off competitors in the other series, and they'll try to do the same thing here."

That was in reference to Chevrolet pulling out of the Indy Racing League after Toyota and Honda blew the GM division out of the water on that tour.  "The thing about the Japanese is that to them, business is war, and the same thing with racing," Roush said. "And the limitations, out of tradition and consideration, that Americans have put on their racing and business are things the Japanese typically don't do. And that puts them at an advantage, because they can do things that traditionally would not have been done.  There is great jeopardy to our economy and our racing from the influence of money that comes in from sources that weren't developed in the American economy."

The prospect of a Japanese invasion of the Busch and Nextel Cup series doesn't set well with Ford's Jack Roush.  "You can look at all the series the Japanese have been into, except Formula One, and they have basically shut down the series," Roush said. "Based on the money they spend and their politics with the sanctioning body. And certainly what they've done in the Truck series smacks of the same thing.

"Now we've got to come back and redefine our Cup engines because the Toyota engine has so many more advantages. It's only the first shoe to fall in raising the costs of our sport. The non-Toyota teams are at the mercy of NASCAR.

"The Japanese could bring in a cadre of a hundred technically adept people from anywhere in the world that might face off against say 15 or 20 that we might have doing the same thing. They will eventually overwhelm you with their numbers."

Penske's Don Miller says it's unclear what Toyota might do. Of course, a Toyota pullout from the IRL would put Penske in a difficult position, looking for a new Indy 500 engine operation.

"I don't know that Toyota has made any decision on the IRL at this point," Miller said. "They'll probably look at it real hard before they abandon ship.

"But it's pretty obvious that stock-car racing is what people want to see. We're going to new venues constantly. About the only thing NASCAR hasn't been able to do is add weeks to the year."

Roush says Indianapolis needs Detroit's carmakers involved: "They need to have a core of traditional American manufacturers competitive in that series, and whatever they have to do is what needs to be done to stop the travesty that's occurred in the IRL series."

Talladega to get lights Talladega to get lightsTalladega Superspeedway will become the 11th NASCAR race track to get lights and 'Dega fans could see their first night race as early as the fall race of 2007, Talladega Superspeedway President Grant Lynch said Sunday. While repaving the track is in the works now, the installation of lights will begin once that project is finished, Lynch said.

Daytona, Charlotte, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Bristol, Texas, Phoenix and Richmond have conducted Nextel Cup events under the lights. Darlington and Homestead have also added lights. Darlington will run its first night race on May 7 and the Nov. 20 event at Homestead - the final Nextel race of the 2005 season - will begin in the afternoon and finish under the lights.

NASCAR spokesperson Denise Maloof, who would not comment on any plans for illuminating Talladega Superspeedway for night racing, said the reasons for running night races are simple. "Our TV partners like racing in prime-time," she said. "You can't beat prime-time. It's a marquee time for racing to be on the air." NASCAR does not enter into the expensive task of lighting speedways blindly, she said. "The numbers we see from Nielsen Media Research are good," Maloof said. "The fans like it, too. It's a new experience. At Daytona when they flipped the switch for the first time it was electric - no pun intended. It's a different atmosphere. It can also be more comfortable for fans and drivers." Alabama Live

Sponsor announced for Pacific Coast Motorsports Sponsor announced for Pacific Coast MotorsportsSports Management Network, Inc. (“SMN”) announced today that the firm has structured an associate sponsorship program for task-specific glove manufacturer and marketer Ironclad with championship-winning Pacific Coast Motorsports (“PCM”).  PCM fields a Corvette C5-R in the GT1 category of the American Le Mans Series (“ALMS”) with primary sponsorship from home improvement retailer Menard, Inc. (“Menards”).

The sponsorship program is based primarily around a business-to-business program for Ironclad with Menards.  Menards has over 200 retail store locations primarily in the Midwest.  “The association we have formed with PCM is beneficial to Ironclad on several fronts,” said Kent Pachl, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Ironclad.  “Today’s sponsorships are not only about exposure and entertainment, but also the ability to generate revenue directly from the sponsored property.  SMN clearly understands this, and with PCM, provided us with a very unique and highly-effective sponsorship program.”

Outside of its direct business association with Menards, the multi-year agreement provides Ironclad with logo identification on the PCM Menards Corvette as well as the team and driver uniforms, transporters and pit equipment.  In addition, the Ironclad sales force will be able to entertain existing and potential customers at each of the ALMS races and utilize the race car and PCM’s drivers (Alex Figge and Ryan Dalziel) in all advertising, marketing and promotional materials as well as personal appearances.  The PCM team will exclusively utilize Ironclad’s award-winning task-specific gloves both at the race track and at the team’s shop in Oxnard, California thus serving as a product showcase and virtual testing center. 

“We’ve put together a true association with Ironclad – one that is of real benefit to everyone involved,” said PCM Team Director Tyler Tadevic.  “This program will help move the needle for Ironclad from a business and marketing perspective and is a great addition to our portfolio of successful sponsors including Menards and Yokohama.”

The next round of the 2005 ALMS season is scheduled for May 20 – 22 at Mid-Ohio.  The PCM Menards Corvette with Ironclad sponsorship can be seen live on CBS network television on the 22nd.

Honda increases involvement in the IRL Honda increases involvement in the IRLHonda is strengthening its involvement with IndyCar racing through an agreement that makes its Honda Power Equipment Division an official supplier to the IndyCar Series, the company announced today. Additionally, Honda has supplied each of its Honda- powered Indy Racing League (IRL) cars with a pair of Honda generators, delivering them technologically advanced, reliable Honda power both on and off the track. Making their IndyCar Series debut at the April 3 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Honda EU2000i portable inverter generators provide the electrical power for the Indy Racing League's remote on-track timing and scoring equipment that is required for this season's street and road-course events. Ultra-quiet Honda EU3000is and EX4500 generators now provide Honda-powered IndyCar teams with electricity for their pit lane equipment and the newly allowed tire warmers. "The synergies that exist between Honda's various divisions and the IRL are tremendous," said Honda Power Equipment vice president, Wade Terry. "This is a perfect fit for us right now, and it's rewarding to know that our generators are helping to track our race cars as they cross the finish line." The Honda EU2000i generators that the IRL now uses deliver 2,000 watts of power and can be linked to provide a total of 4,000 watts. Through the use of inverter technology, Honda has eliminated the need for alternators found on many generators, resulting in a package that is one-third the size and half the weight of conventional units with comparable output. Additionally, inverter technology delivers ultra-clean electrical output with a sine wave equal to, or better than, AC current from a standard household wall outlet. This is critical for sensitive electronics like timing and scoring equipment where power fluctuations could cause the devices to freeze or be interrupted. The Honda EU3000is generators powering Honda teams up and down pit lane also utilize inverter technology and deliver 3,000 watts of electricity, while the EX4500's used for the tire warmers generate 4,500 watts. Honda Power Equipment markets a complete line of portable generators from 1,000 to 10,500 watts for a variety of commercial, residential, and recreational applications. Honda Power Equipment, a division of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., manufactures and markets a complete range of outdoor power equipment, including outboard marine engines, general purpose engines, generators, lawnmowers, pumps, snowblowers, tillers and trimmers for commercial, rental and residential applications. Its comprehensive product line is powered exclusively by environmentally advanced 4-stroke engines.
Ganassi's only winning team Ganassi's only winning teamWhen Laguna Seca Grand-Am winner Scott Pruett was asked what he thought about Ganassi coming all the way from Japan to make the race Sunday, Pruett said, "Of course he wants to be with his winning team!"
Loomis Wins Second Crew Chief Award Loomis Wins Second Crew Chief AwardJeff Gordon scorched the competition at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend.  His Robbie Loomis prepared Chevrolet easily weaved its way to the top spot, leading 139 of 190 laps in route to Gordon’s second restrictor plate win of the season, his third win in 2005.   Loomis’ dominant car made him the easy pick for the WYPALL® Wipers Crew Chief of the Race.

“The DuPont Chevrolet was just incredible today,” said Loomis after the race.  “It’s just a real tribute to our superspeedway program.  All our guys did an awesome job preparing for this one.  They poured their heart and soul into it.  All 500 people at Hendrick Motorsports had a hand in this one.  We’re just real glad to get in Victory Lane.”

The panel of voters; including Mike Szvetitz of Opelika-Auburn News, a WYPALL® Wipers representative and Tony Eury Sr.; all agreed that Loomis deserved WYPALL® Wipers Crew Chief of the Race honors.  “He (Loomis) got Gordon in first and got him out first,” said Szvetitz.  “He kept him up front for almost the whole race.”

“Loomis’ restrictor plate program is top notch,” said Eury Sr.  “He had an awesome car in Daytona, but his car today was even better.  He could drive it anywhere he wanted to.  Gordon had no problem driving through traffic, and obviously had no problem staying up front.  Loomis has something figured out on these superspeedways and has everybody else playing catch up. He was the man to beat today.”

Loomis collected $1,000 for winning the WYPALL® Wipers Crew Chief of the Race.  Collecting his second award in 2005, Loomis is now tied with Doug Richert in the Crew Chief of the Year standings. Scott Miller, Bob Osborne, Alan Gustafson and Pete Rondeau are tied for second place, each with one win.  At the end of the season, the crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000.

Gordon to unveil Times Square billboard today Gordon to unveil Times Square billboard todayNASCAR driver Jeff Gordon will help unveil a 38-foot-tall billboard featuring his image at Times Square at 9:15am ET today. The two-sided sign is part of the TAG Heuer “What Are You Made Of?” ad campaign, and Gordon, who will be waived in by an all-female “pit-crew,” will use a bullhorn to count down to the unveiling at the northwest corner of West 50th Street and 7th Avenue. TAG Heuer.
Bernie and Flavio almost bought team Bernie and Flavio almost bought teamF1 'supremo' Bernie Ecclestone has revealed he made a bid for the Chelsea football club in Britain.  The 74-year-old said he and Renault principal Flavio Briatore 'had the money' before Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich rolled into town.  'We weren't outbid,' Bernie told Sunday Express.  "I did get fed up and said 'to hell with it'. Flavio and I were deadly serious.'  Although indicative of billionaire Ecclestone's interest outside of F1, the fact that Abramovich took the wheel was probably best for Chelsea.  Bernie said he wouldn't have pumped in the same kind of cash.
Too many F1 races Too many F1 racesThe current F1 schedule is at an all-time high of 19 races.  India, Russia, Greece, Mexico and others are planning an F1 race.  How high can the number of races go? 

Back in 2003 it was announced that there would be a Formula 1 race in Korea in 2009 at a new track which would be built near the city of Jinhae (Chinhae). This is to be part of a vast development which will include a new seaport with 30 berths which aims to become the maritime capital of Asia.  This planned growth will be driven by the fact that the development will be in what is called a Free Economic Zone (FEZ) which hopes to attract more than $15bn in foreign investment by 2020 and emerge as a transportation hub to surpass rivals Shanghai, Hong Kong and Kobe. This will include a new Renault engine plant, which will produce engines for Renault-Samsung and probably for Nissan as well. Grandprix.com

Fuji reopens this week Fuji reopens this weekThe Toyota-owned Fuji Speedway will this week host the second round of Japan's Super GT series, the first event at the track after 18 months of refurbishment which is aimed at bringing the Japanese Grand Prix back to the track for the first time since the 1970s. The track hosted the first ever Formula 1 races in Japan and played an important role in Japanese racing throughout the 1980s and 1990s but was closed in September 2003 to be rebuilt. The work was done for Toyota by F1 track designer Hermann Tilke and the work was completed earlier this year. The track looks very similar to the old layout except for a new complex of corners just before the main straight. What used to be a sweeping uphill right-hander after the old Dunlop chicane is now a completely new three-corner section which slows the approach to the main straight and at the same time provides some new viewing opportunities for fans. Grandprix.com
More developments coming at Toyota More developments coming at ToyotaToyota has made big gains in 2005 and currently sit second in the constructors' championship ahead of McLaren and Ferrari. The new car has been quite a revelation in the opening rounds of the championship and the team have yet more developments coming this weekend in Spain.

"As part of our race-by-race updates, we are bringing some significant new aero bits to Barcelona, including upgrades to the sidepods and diffuser, in order to further improve the efficiency of our package," Chassis Technical Director Mike Gascoyne explained. "This, combined with the aero upgrades introduced in Imola, will result in another slight step forward in terms of our overall performance."

Imola was not so kind to the team however, but Gascoyne remains confident that the Spanish Grand Prix should yield more points for the German-based squad. Toyota

Maserati 1-2-3 in France Maserati 1-2-3 in FranceKarl Wendlinger and Andrea Bertolini drove the nr 15 JMB Racing Maserati MC 12 to victory in Magny-Cours Sunday, after a close and action-packed race around the French circuit, in extremely hot conditions. They headed up a Maserati one-two-three, followed by the two Vitaphone Maserati cars, which finished, as they did in Monza, with the nr 9 of Bartels and Scheider ahead of Babini and Biagi.  The Corvette C5R was fourth, with the two Larbre Ferrari cars fifth and sixth.
Pos Cl Drivers Make Time
 1. 1 Bertolini/Wendlinger Maserati MC12 3:01:20.442
 2. 1 Bartels/Scheider Maserati MC12 3:01:25.143 + 4.701
 3. 1 Babini/Biagi Maserati MC12 3:01:56.481 + 36.039
 4. 1 Longin/Kumpen/Hezemans Corvette C5R 3:02:47.900 + 87.458
 5. 1 Lamy/Gardel Ferrari 550 3:01:27.980 + 2 Laps
 6. 1 Bryner/Calderari/Zacchia Ferrari 550 3:02:22.024 + 2 Laps
 7. 1 Peter/Buncombe/Rusinov Maserati MC12 3:01:53.525 + 3 Laps
 8. 1 Bouchut/Fomenko/Vasiliev Ferrari 550 3:02:06.607 + 4 Laps
 9. 2 Collard/Sugden Porsche 996 3:02:19.112 + 4 Laps
10. 2 Lieb/Rockenfeller Porsche 996 3:01:33.455 + 5 Laps
11. 1 Deletraz/Piccini Ferrari 575 3:01:36.585 + 5 Laps
12. 2 Kinch/Kirkaldy Ferrari 360 3:01:27.032 + 6 Laps
13. 2 Mullen/Niarcos Ferrari 360 3:02:05.497 + 6 Laps
14. 2 Jordan/Caine Porsche 996 3:02:43.441 + 7 Laps
15. 2 Tomlinson/Kane TVR T400R 3:02:43.950 + 7 Laps
16. 1 Almeras/Berville/Casoni Saleen S7 R 2:58:40.791 + 8 Laps
17. 1 Becker/Konrad Saleen S7 R 3:02:04.653 + 8 Laps
18. 2 Hughes/Pearce TVR T400R 3:02:34.693 + 8 Laps
19. 2 Jones/Jones Porsche 996 3:02:42.774 + 8 Laps
20. 2 Ried/Ried Porsche 996 3:02:39.470 + 9 Laps
21. 2 Vonka/Casadei Porsche 996 3:03:11.126 + 12 Laps
22. 1 Ruberti/Camathias Saleen S7 R 3:02:23.221 + 15 Laps
23. 2 Griffin/Hooker Vauxhall Monaro 3:03:14.499 + 18 Laps
24. 1 Kox/Simon Lamborghini 2:29:53.006 + 21 Laps

Not Classified

 2 Balfe/Derbyshire Mosler MT900R 2:25:47.934 D.N.F.
 2 Bentwood/McKever/Wilson Nissan 350Z 1:17:51.115 D.N.F.
 1 Lechner/Alzen Saleen S7 R 51:47.067 D.N.F.
 2 Khan/Smith Porsche 996 28:16.230 D.N.F.
 1 Stanco/Janus Saleen S7 R 7:09.966 D.N.F.
 1 Keen/Halliday Lister Storm 13:34.012 D.N.F.

Fastest Laps

 1 Bertolini/Wendlinger Maserati MC12 1:38.826
 2 Collard/Sugden Porsche 996 1:44.126
 2 Balfe/Derbyshire Mosler MT900R 1:44.920

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
'I should be back' - Montoya
Brit F1 duo hit the town
Alonso 'favorite' - Schu
Pedro on the money
Spain 'better' for Toyota
Bernie and Chelsea
F1 Indian to stick around
Caution at Hinwil
Schu's $37m jet
Webber 'can win' - Frank
DC as politician
Hakk back on the podium
Renault lose advantage
'I'm Schu's heir?'
F1 news in brief F1 news in briefIn France, tobacco advertising in F1 is banned.  But the grand prix at Magny Cours has devised a scheme to sell race tickets at tobacconists.  ''This is perfect,'' said promoter Jacques Regis, ''to bring the sport directly into the hearts and homes of the French.''


Michael Schumacher has backed a campaign to 'find ball boys' for the 2006 football World Cup, in Germany.  ''I would love to have been a football player,'' he told the dpa agency, ''but the problem was I wasn't good enough even for the substitutes' bench!  Luckily I decided to become a race driver.''


Juan Pablo Montoya won't be there to show off his skills, but a group of F1 drivers will take on a tennis pro in Barcelona this week.  Winner of 13 grand slams, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, will be challenged on the court by Nick Heidfeld, Mark Webber, Marc Gene, Christian Klien, Felipe Massa, Jacques Villeneuve and Alexander Wurz.


Local shop owners have expressed disappointment with the benefits brought by F1 to Bahrain.  ''F1 is a non-event,'' said one manager.  ''Planning for next year should be done now, but it usually starts in January or February.''

Surviving without Champ Car Surviving without Champ CarThis Monterey Herald article laments the loss of Champ Car at Laguna Seca and then talks about hopes for success with Grand-Am.  Our photographer at the race this weekend reports attendance off about 40% from the Champ Car weekend and Champ Car's attendance was horrible.  The fact of the matter is that Grand-Am suffers terribly from lack of fans. Photos
Formula BMW
Richard Philippe Scores Round 2 Win Richard Philippe Scores Round 2 WinUPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I was at Laguna Seca Raceway this weekend and let me tell you, keep an eye on Richard Philippe.  He won the pole for both races, set fastest lap for both races, won the 2nd race flag-to-flag, and would have won the first race had he not been taken out in an accident.  This 15-year old kid was driving that car in perfect 4-wheel drifts.  I predict he is a star in the making. John Lund, San Francisco, CA.  Dear John, His brother Nelson Philippe was in a Champ Car at 17 and racing at 18.  If Richard continues this sort of performance we may see him in Champ Car in a couple of years.  Mark C. 05/01/05 BMW Junior and Rookie driver Richard Philippe (brother of Champ Car driver Nelson Philippe and races for Team Autotecnica, pictured right) took a flag-to-flag victory in Round 2 of the 2005 Formula BMW USA Championship today. He completed 15 laps around the 2.238-mile Laguna Seca Raceway in the 30-minute contest, finishing 1.908 seconds ahead of Maxime Soulet (Gelles Racing). Held off by Soulet in a race-long battle, Round 1 winner Kevin LaCroix (AIM Autosport) finished third. In redeeming his last place finish in Round 1 Philippe was credited with the fast lap of the race (1:30.961) on lap nine. 

The race was marked by two full-course caution periods, but the top-three never changed. After a fine second place finish in Round 1, Reed Stevens (HBR Motorsport Team USA) had to fight an uphill battle in today's race. Starting in the 20th position because of a problem in qualifying, he drove hard to finish eighth and end the weekend fourth in the Championship Points standings. 

The top-finishing Rookies were Philippe (P1), LaCroix (P3) and Robert Wickens (P4).  By benefit of his Round 1 win and third place finish today, Kevin LaCroix holds the Championship lead with 32 points. With a second and a third, Maxime Soulet stands second (27), Richard Philippe (20) third, Reed Stevens (18) fourth and Robert Wickens (16) fifth. 

LaCroix also leads the Rookie Championship with 35 points. Philippe stands second (20), Wickens third (20), Davison fourth (20) and Stevens fifth (20). 

"It was a well-deserved victory for Team Autotecnica," said Philippe (pictured right). "Yesterday, I made a mistake and I paid for it. I may pay for it in the points for a long while, but that's racing. Today, I came back to the top and am happy."  Soulet said, "We had everything to learn here this weekend and I am happy to finish twice on the podium. First is always my goal, but I am pleased to stand second in the Championship."  LaCroix added, "We still have a lot of work to do because Richard has been very fast. We have made set-up changes, but we are not quite there yet.  Still, I am confident looking towards Mid-Ohio and am pleased to lead the Championship. 

Rounds 3 and 4 of the 2005 Formula BMW USA Championship will be held at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on May 20-22. 

Round 2 - Results (15 laps)
1 Richard Philippe (R) Team Autotecnica 27:52.458
2 Maxime Soulet Gelles Racing 27:54.366
3 Kevin LaCroix (R) AIM Autosport 27:54.975
4 Robert Wickens (R) Team Apex Racing USA 27:55.566
5 James Davison (R) HBR Motorsport Team USA 27:56.298
6 Justin Moon (R) Gelles Racing 27:56.691
7 Rob Bunker (R) AIM Autosport 27:58.416
8 Reed Stevens (R) HBR Motorsport Team USA 27:58.998
9 Matthew Lee (R) Twintooth/BRM Motorsport 27:59.958
10 Race Johnson (R) HBR Motorsport Team USA 28:00.664
11 Darin Marcus (R) Gelles Racing 28:06.746
12 Doug Boyer (R) Jensen Motorsport 28:07.437
13 Derek Burseth Burseth Racing 28:13.233
14 Tom Sutherland HBR Motorsport Team USA 28:18.173
15 Nathan DePagter (R) DRE Autosport 28:21.410
16 John Zartarian (R) Jensen Motorsport 28:39.239
17 Jules Duc (R) Jensen Motorsport 28:44.896
18 Ryan Phinny (R) Gelles Racing 12 laps
19 Daniel Herrington Jensen Motorsport 8 laps
20 Adrien Herberts (R) Atlantic Racing Team 2 laps

Championship Standings:

1. Kevin LaCroix (AIM Autosport, 32), 2. Maxime Soulet (Gelles Racing, 27), 3. Richard Philippe (Team Autotecnica, 20), 4. Reed Stevens (HBR Motorsport Team USA, 18), 5. Robert Wickens (Team Apex Racing USA, 16), 6. James Davison (HBR Motorsport Team USA, 16), 7. John Zartarian (Jensen Motorsport, 10), 8. Rob Bunker (AIM Autosport, 8), 9. Justin Moon (Gelles Racing, 6), 10. Matthew Lee (Twintooth/BRM Motorsport, 5), 11. Tom Sutherland (HBR Motorsport Team USA, 2), 12. Race Johnson (HBR Motorsport Team USA, 2), 13. Doug Boyer (Jensen Motorsport, 0), 14. Ryan Phinny (Gelles Racing, 0), 15. Daniel Herrington (Jensen Motorsport, 0), 16. Darin Marcus (Gelles Racing, 0), 17. Adrien Herberts (Atlantic Racing Team, 0), 18. Derek Burseth (Burseth Racing, 0), 19. Jules Duc (Jensen Motorsport, 0), 20. Nathan DePagter (DRE Autosport, 0),

1. Kevin LaCroix (35), 2. Richard Philippe (20), 3. Robert Wickens (20), 4. James Davison (20), 5. Reed Stevens (19), 6. John Zartarian (12), 7. Rob Bunker (12), 8. Justin Moon (10), 9. Matthew Lee (7), 10. Race Johnson (5), 11. Doug Boyer (1), 12. Darin Marcus (1), 13. Nathan DePagter (0) 14. Jules Duc (0), 15. Ryan Phinny (0), 16. Adrien Herberts (0)

World Series by Renault
Toccacelo and Kubica score at Zolder Toccacelo and Kubica score at ZolderUPDATE Here is our page of photos from the two races. 05/01/05 The first two races of the former World Series by Nissan, now called the World Series by Renault series is in the record books, run today in Zolder, Belgium. (Photos to follow...)
Toccacelo out on his own
Enrico Toccacelo (Victory Engineering) led from start to finish to take victory in the first race in the 2005 World Series. The Italian driver was joined on the podium by Austrian Andreas Zuber (Carlin Motorsport) and Polish driver Robert Kubica (Epsilon Euskadi). The podium thus featured drivers from three different countries and three different teams! BEST LAP M. Winkelhock - 1’20’’630

Kubica’s strategy pays dividends
A breath-taking second race in the World Series held the full attention of the 52,000 spectators present at the Zolder circuit. In daring to adopt a different tire-change strategy to the leaders, the Epsilon Euskadi team helped Robert Kubica to take the win, ahead of Andreas Zuber (Carlin Motorsport) and Markus Winkelhock (Draco Multiracing USA). BEST LAP R. Kubica - 1’21’’410

NASCAR sets dates for 2005 Award Cermonies NASCAR sets dates for 2005 Award CermoniesNASCAR has announced the dates and sites for season-ending awards ceremonies for its three national series, plus its nationwide short-track competitive level. The run of celebrations will be highlighted by the renewal of a true NASCAR tradition – “Champion’s Week” in New York City.

As it has since 1981, the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series will honor its champion at the venerable Waldorf=Astoria Hotel in New York City. This year, the gala is set for Friday, Dec. 2 and also will feature the other drivers involved in the “Chase for NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.”

Since then-NASCAR President Bill France introduced the sport to New York 25 years ago, the annual awards ceremony at the Waldorf has capped a weeklong schedule of activities and major media appearances by the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup titlist.

TNT will broadcast the event nationally that evening; it will be re-broadcast at a later date on NBC.

Dates and times for the awards ceremonies for the NASCAR Busch Series, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series also have been established:

For the fourth consecutive year, the NASCAR Busch Series awards ceremony is set for the Portofino Bay Hotel in Orlando, Fla. The celebration will take place Friday, Dec. 9, and will be broadcast at a later date by TNT.

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will conclude its “10 Years Tough” celebration on Sunday, Dec. 11 – also at the Portofino Bay Hotel. The ceremony will be broadcast at a later date by SPEED Channel. The location and time are new; instead of hosting its awards ceremony on the Saturday evening following the Friday season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series now will crown its champion three weeks later.  

Also, the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series awards ceremony will be held in Nashville. This year’s celebration will be held Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort.

2005 NASCAR Awards Ceremonies
Sat., Nov. 5:    NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series, Gaylord Opryland Resort, Nashville
Fri., Dec. 2:     NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, Waldorf=Astoria Hotel, New York
Fri., Dec. 9:     NASCAR Busch Series, Portofino Bay Hotel, Orlando, Fla.
Sun., Dec. 11: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Portofino Bay Hotel, Orlando, Fla.

Pruett and Diaz win at Laguna Seca Pruett and Diaz win at Laguna SecaCompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates moved one step– actually seven steps closer to taking over the points lead with their second-consecutive Rolex Sports Car Series victory at the inaugural Road & Track 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Native Californian Scott Pruett put the finishing touches on the timed 97-lap stick-and-move style race, picking his spots and dodging Daytona Prototypes to finish first among the record 54 entered machines. Pruett and co-driver Luis Diaz narrowed SunTrust Racing’s championship lead from 17 to 10 as they continue their defense of the Grand American title.

After qualifying in the top three for the second straight race (Fontana, pole), Diaz was able to deal with right-front dive plane difficulties and a tremendous amount of traffic to successfully deliver Pruett the no.01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley in one piece during the first pit stop on Lap 26. Diaz was showing second on the scoring pylon as the team made the driver change, and Laguna’s local favorite was able to sustain the Mexican’s momentum, keeping the car in the top five for the Monterey drive.

Pruett caught and overtook Butch Leitzinger’s Daytona Prototype for the lead on Lap 69 of the scheduled 112-lap duel, and went on to survive three late-race restarts– the last of which ended the event under caution– to secure victory for the CompUSA team.

“It was just an awesome day for the CompUSA team and Chip Ganassi Racing,” said Pruett, who scored back-to-back wins for the second time in team history (Mont Tremblant/Watkins Glen, 2004). “To get two straight wins in this series is an accomplishment in itself. I just hate it for the fans though. I was hoping for a green-white-checkered for all the people that showed up to see a great race today. This one had it all. A little bit of everything. Hopefully it was as fun to watch as it was to drive in. Luis did a fantastic job again today, getting the car to me in one piece and working his way through traffic. You had to be aggressive out there, but also be aware of going three and four-wide at times. I guess the cream of the crop rises to the top, and that’s how it unfolded.”

Diaz leaves California with fond memories after seeing his two-race swing result in the first two wins (Fontana) of his young Rolex Series career. Once again, the second-year CompUSA pilot displayed confidence and turned the car over to the veteran Pruett in fine fashion.

“The entire team put together a great race,” said Diaz, whose second win comes in just his 15th Rolex Series start. “Chip Ganassi Racing was awesome, and this is just another great performance for these guys. Scott fought hard all day and we were able to do it again in California. It’s my job to get things going and turn the car over to Scott to close it out, and I think we combined to do that today.”

With the win, Pruett also moved into a tie for sixth overall with Mauro Baldi for Most Overall Driver Victories in Rolex Series history.

German DTM
Paffet wins at the Lausitz - Häkkinen third Paffet wins at the Lausitz - Häkkinen thirdBefore 70,000 fans British Mercedes-Benz Gary Paffet driver succeeded in winning the 2005 DTM season’s second round, held at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz, with Denmark’s Audi A4 DTM driver Tom Kristensen and ‘The Flying Finn’, Mika Häkkinen (Mercedes-Benz), finishing second and third respectively. For Paffet, this result meant his fifth DTM victory, while two-time Formula One World Champion secured his first podium finish in his only second DTM race. Reigning DTM Champion Mattias Ekström (Audi) delivered in fine style to finish fourth in spite of a drive-thru penalty, and Opel’s Laurent Aiello also thrilled the crowds by his great performance. The Frenchman had been last on the grid but during the course of the 48-lap race, he battled his way up to cross the line in tenth position, at the end of the 165.216 kilometers.

By his win, Gary Paffet compensated for last year’s race at the EuroSpeedway when he had also been the first to cross the line but was disqualified after the race. For Mercedes-Benz, Paffet’s success means that the manufacturer’s 2005 spec cars will have to take another 10 kilos ballast weight aboard for the next DTM round, held at Spa-Francorchamps.

Rossi wins in China in the wet Rossi wins in China in the wetValentino Rossi made history today in Shanghai when he won the first ever MotoGP Chinese GP, a win he took in spite of persistent heavy rain and a persistent Frenchman at his heals.

Having started the race in fifth place in wet conditions, Rossi took control of the race during the fifth lap and opened up a gap over the chasing pack. Towards the end, the only person to put any real pressure on him was Oliver Jacque who had stepped in to replace an injured Alex Hoffman, but on the last lap Rossi powered away from the Frenchman to take his second win of the season.

"Out of all the victories in my career, this was the one I least expected – I am really surprised,” said Rossi. It is the first time I have won in the wet on the Yamaha, so it is a special victory.

“We had some problems with the set-up of the bike this weekend but the team made some modifications overnight, changing the front fork setting, and already in the warm-up it felt good. I got off to a good start in the race and I was quite surprised to be at the front so quickly.

“There was a lot of water on the track so I had to keep my concentration at 100%. I was smooth and in control all the way to the end and the race worked out perfectly for me. All I can say is big thanks to Jeremy Burgess, the rest of the team and Yamaha because we have worked especially hard for this win.”

Rossi´s usual challengers were outrun by returnee Jacque, who hadn’t raced in a GP for seven months. “I got off to a good start in the race and I was quite surprised to be at the front so quickly,” explained Rossi after the race. “There was a lot of water on the track so I had to keep my concentration at 100%. When I saw Olivier’s name on my pit board I didn’t understand who it was because they only put an ‘O’ on there. I thought “who is O?”. I thought perhaps it was a Chinese rider – then I realized it was OJ!. At the end of the race he was faster than me but I managed to keep out front and win the race.”

Rossi´s win today significantly strengthens his lead in the championship, pulling it further away from archrival Sete Gibernau. The two will meet again in two week’s time in the French GP, where Rossi will be starting off with a comfortable 37-point lead.

Details, details Details, detailsThe devils in the details they say.  Due to the small sidepods and radiators on the new Williams, they have a hard time allowing hot air from the radiators to escape from the bodywork without putting slits in places that disrupt the airflow to the rear wing and, therefore, reduces rear wing downforce.  Williams will introduce bigger radiators in Barcelona that will fit in the current sidepods, which they hope will be more efficient.
GP2 TV Ratings GP2 TV RatingsThe first two races of the GP2 series have recorded excellent viewership figures across Europe and the world.  TeleCinco, Spain’s number one free TV channel and one of many broadcasters who hold the rights to broadcast the GP2 series live, reported a 23% share of the total television audience for Sunday’s race. That’s more than 1.2 million viewers in Spain alone! Eurosport televised both races live to more than 50 European nations, with the ART network broadcasting all the action live to more than 20 countries in Africa and the Middle East.  BCN Competicion’s young hope Ernesto Viso’s involvement in the series means Venezuelan channel Venevision will broadcast all the action live. German channel Premiere and Finnish channel MTV3, will also be showing the GP2 series live, with British broadcaster ITV, Austrian network ORF, TV2 Denmark and SRG-SSC in Switzerland showing all the action with a delay.  With more channels to be added to the list imminently, everyone is looking forward to an exhilarating season, whether at the track, or from the comfort of their armchairs. GP2 Series
Aaron's re-ups with Waltrip and the No. 00 team Aaron's re-ups with Waltrip and the No. 00 teamAaron’s Sales & Lease Ownership, which is sponsoring Sunday’s Nextel Cup race, extended its primary sponsorship of Michael Waltrip’s Busch team through 2008. Waltrip’s team will carry Aaron’s colors in at least 22 Busch races each season through 2008, as well as four Nextel Cup races in a Waltrip-#00 owned car driven by Kenny Wallace. Wallace failed to qualify for tomorrow’s race, so Aaron’s will sponsor Hermie Sadler, who will start the Aaron’s 499 in 30th place. Speed Channel
Ferrari stars launch road safety campaign Ferrari stars launch road safety campaignMichael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello will launch a new international road safety campaign at the Spanish Grand Prix on May 5th. Think Before You Drive is a campaign, aiming to promote safer driving, and is backed by the FIA Foundation and Bridgestone Corporation. The three year campaign will be rolled out across Europe and parts of Africa and Latin America in 2005. Participants in the media launch will also include Minekazu Fujimura, Chairman, CEO and President of Bridgestone Europe; and David Ward, Director General of the FIA Foundation. Bridgestone
Formula BMW
LaCroix wins round 1 at Laguna Seca LaCroix wins round 1 at Laguna SecaUPDATE We have added photos below to some of the action from the Formula BMW race including the first lap incident that took out polesitter Richard Philippe.  Philippe came back to set the fastest lap of the race on lap 8, but it was too late as he had already lost a number of laps. Race number 2 is today.   Click here for all photos from Race 1.

04/30/05 With a stellar standing start few professional racers ever master, 16 year old BMW Junior and Rookie driver Kevin LaCroix (pictured right - AIM Autosport) rocketed from his fourth starting position and stole today's Round 1 race from the 19 other Formula BMW USA competitors. With the lead firmly in hand by turn one he led the 15-lap contest flag-to-flag, finishing 1.694 seconds ahead of Reed Stevens (HBR Motorsport Team USA). Stevens, who started the race from the outside pole, held off a charging John Zartarian (Jensen MotorSport) in the early laps and then Belgium's Maxime Soulet (Gelles Racing) in the closing laps. Soulet finished third, after starting fifth.  The top-finishing Rookies were LaCroix (P1), Stevens (P2) and John Zartarian (P4). 

Top-3 finishers (L to R) Soulet (3rd), LaCroix (1st) and Stevens (2nd)
Photos by Bob Heathcote

Polesitter Richard Philippe was knocked off the track on the very first lap and was credited with the final finishing position, completing only 12 laps. He set the fastest lap of the race (1:29.605) on his eighth lap.

First lap accident takes out polesitter Richard Philippe
Photos by Bob Heathcote

"The start was very good," said an excited LaCroix. "I don't know what I did, but I was like a rocket. Maybe it was because I went to Space Camp. The battles behind me allowed me to focus on the track ahead."  Stevens said, "The start was frustrating as we only had one warm-up lap and thus one less lap to warm up the tires. Kevin got a great start and I picked up a battle from behind so I had to fend them off. By the time I could focus on chasing Kevin, he was too far ahead."  Soulet added, "This was my first race in America so I am pleased to finish on the podium, but I know I can do better and the team can do better. I think we will get it right for tomorrow's race."

Round 1 - Results (15 laps)

1 Kevin LaCroix (R) AIM Autosport 21:19.271
2 Reed Stevens (R) HBR Motorsport Team USA 21:20.965
3 Maxime Soulet Gelles Racing 21:22.596
4 John Zartarian (R) Jensen MotorSport 21:25.166
5 James Davison (R) HBR Motorsport Team USA 21:25.248
6 Robert Wickens (R) Team Apex Racing USA 21:26.438
7 Rob Bunker (R) AIM Autosport 21:32.023
8 Matthew Lee (R) Twintooth/BRM Motorsport 21:34.107
9 Tom Sutherland HBR Motorsport Team USA 21:36.426
10 Race Johnson (R) HBR Motorsport Team USA 21:36.935
11 Justin Moon (R) Gelles Racing 21:44.744
12 Doug Boyer (R) Jensen Motorsport 21:57.789
13 Ryan Phinny (R) Gelles Racing 22:00.803
14 Daniel Herrington Jensen MotorSport 22:13.178
15 Darin Marcus (R) Gelles Racing 22:19.818
16 Adrien Herberts (R) Atlantic Racing Team 22:20.023
17 Derek Burseth Burseth Racing 22:21.832
18 Jules Duc (R) Jensen MotorSport 22:39.697
19 Nathan DePagter (R) DRE Autosport 14 laps
20 Richard Philippe (R) Team Autotecnica 12 laps

Championship points after 1 of 14 races:

1. Kevin LaCroix (AIM Autosport, 20), 2. Reed Stevens (HBR Motorsport Team USA, 15), 3. Maxime Soulet (Gelles Racing, 12), 4. John Zartarian (Jensen MotorSport, 10), 5. James Davison (HBR Motorsport Team USA, 8), 6. Robert Wickens (Team Apex Racing USA, 6), 7. Rob Bunker (AIM Autosport, 4), 8. Matthew Lee (Twintooth/BRM Motorsport, 3), 9. Tom Sutherland (HBR Motorsport Team USA, 2), 10. Race Johnson (HBR Motorsport Team USA, 1), 11. Justin Moon (Gelles Racing, 0), 12. Doug Boyer (Jensen MotorSport, 0), 13. Ryan Phinny (Gelles Racing, 0), 14. Daniel Herrington (Jensen MotorSport, 0), 15. Darin Marcus (Gelles Racing, 0), 16. Adrien Herberts (Atlantic Racing Team, 0), 17. Derek Burseth (Burseth Racing, 0), 18. Jules Duc (Jensen MotorSport, 0), 19. Nathan DePagter (DRE Autosport, 0), 20. Richard Philippe (Team Autotecnica, 0)

Rookies: 1. Kevin LaCroix (20), 2. Reed Stevens (15), 3. John Zartarian (12), 4. James Davison (10), 5. Robert Wickens (8), 6. Rob Bunker (6), 7. Matthew Lee (4), 8. Race Johnson (3), 9. Justin Moon (2), 10. Doug Boyer (1), 11. Ryan Phinny (0), 12. Darin Marcus (0), 13. Adrien Herberts (0), 14. Jules Duc (0), 15. Nathan DePagter (0), 16. Richard Philippe (0)

Seen at Motegi Seen at MotegiSome post-race tidbits from the IRL race at Motegi:

A.  The big sign boards inside the race track were actually teaching the Japanese fans how to ask the drivers for autographs in English to use during the driver autograph sessions. 
B.  One of the race cars that Jeff Bucknum's father, Ronnie, drove in the '60s was brought to the track from The Honda Collection Hall museum.  Jeff sat in the car and was emotional when he reminisced about his late father's career and wishing that he could be with him at Motegi.
C.  They showed a clip of AJ Foyt working on his grandson's car which AJ Foyt IV crashed into the SAFER barrier in Turn 4 during the last ten minutes of the final practice session.  Grandpa was very angry and threw something in frustration.  It was either a tool or a part from the car.
D.  During the TV broadcast Scott Goodyear made some poignant comments about the Penskes.  This is what Scott said:  "The top Toyotas always seem to be Penskes so far this year.  There's been some rumbling in the paddock, even this week here, that maybe Penske has a little bit different Toyota than everybody else up and down the pit lane.  So it will be interesting to see throughout the month of May if that actually continues.  On that note, let me just add that Penske just made an announcement this past week with Porsche that they're going to enter into endurance racing (ALMS).  The big rumor going around now is that when the rule changes come out in 2007, will there maybe be a Porsche powerplant in the back of a Penske car?" [Editor's Note:  This rumor was started by someone on an internet forum and it made its way into the IRL paddock in Japan.] 

Mansell to appear on Wind Tunnel Mansell to appear on Wind TunnelUPDATE Reminder that this show will air tonight at 9:00pm ET on SPEED Channel. 04/20/05 Among the most charismatic racing drivers ever, Nigel Mansell is one of only three drivers to have won both the Formula 1 World Championship and an Indy car national championship-and is the only one to have done so in consecutive seasons.

Englishman Mansell was fairly late to racing stardom, having had to work his way up the ranks largely with his own money. After showing strong form in British Formula 3, however, Lotus founder Colin Chapman gave him a testing deal with his Formula 1 team, and then brought the 26-year-old Mansell into F1 in 1980. He spent four F1 seasons with Lotus, but these were lean years for the team and Mansell managed only one third place during that time.

His speed attracted the attention of Frank Williams, however, who signed him for the 1985 season. After a troubled beginning, Mansell came on strong as the season progressed and decisively won the final two races of the season. The next two years, Mansell racked up 11 grand prix wins, although the ultimate prize of the F1 world title continued to elude him. Williams lost its Honda engines the following season, forcing Mansell to race an underpowered Judd-engined car, but his aggressive driving carried that car into contention on several occasions, adding to his reputation as one of F1's hardest chargers.

Two F1 seasons with Ferrari brought several more memorable wins and earned Mansell the nickname "il leone" ("the lion") from Ferrari's fanatic Tifosi. He then returned to Williams, winning five times in 1991 before finally rolling to the world title in '92 with an utterly dominant season in which he reset the record book with nine grand prix wins and 14 (out of 16!) poles.

In mercurial Mansell fashion, however, he had a bitter falling-out with the Williams team even as he was clinching the title, and stunned the racing world by announcing he was quitting F1 for CART's IndyCar World Series, as the Champ Car series was then known. Joining the Newman/Haas team for 1993 alongside Mario Andretti, Mansell promptly won the first Indy car race of his career, from the pole, and went on to win four more races and the CART championship that year.

Amid a disappointing follow-up CART season, Mansell decided to return to F1, having patched up his differences with Williams, which was reeling from the tragic death of Ayrton Senna in one of its cars at Imola. Mansell gave the team a morale-boosting victory in the final Grand Prix of 1994, but an ill-advised move to McLaren for '95 was cut short when he failed to fit the cockpit and he retired after just two races. He left the sport with 31 grand prix wins, and still ranks fourth on the all-time list a decade later.

Mansell made a brief comeback in the British Touring Car Championship in 1998, and then returned to an F1 cockpit last June when he drove a Jordan through the streets of London to promote the British GP. The massive crowds on hand were a testament to Mansell's popularity in the UK 10 years after his glory days.  Mansell lives in England, where he operates a Ferrari dealership among other business interests.  The Nigel Mansell interview for Sunday, May 1, will be taped this Sunday, April 24.  If you have a question for Nigel, please call 1-866-WTUNNEL between 3:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. EST or send your questions by e-mail now to windtunnel@speedtv.com

Gibernau on pole in Shanghai Gibernau on pole in ShanghaiSete Gibernau has finished fastest in the qualifying practice of the Taobao.com Grand Prix of China GP to put himself in pole position for tomorrows historic race.

Moving on from a turbulent and disappointing first few weeks of the season, Gibernau lapped the massive Chinese track in under two minutes to set a fastest lap of 1´59.710 ahead of transformed team-mate Marco Melandri who lapped 1´59.873 to be the only other rider to beat the two-minute mark; also meaning that Movistar Hondo MotoGP will occupy the first two grid positions tomorrow.

Loris Capirossi will complete the front row tomorrow. The Italian Ducati Marlboro Team rider clocked a fastest lap of 2´00.480 to put himself ahead of American John Hopkins (Team Suzuki MotoGP) who will head-up the second row.

Fellow American Nicky Hayden will also be in the second in fifth position ahead of reigning World Champion Valentino Rossi in sixth place, who finished more than a second slower than archrival Sete Gibernau. After Jerez, the Spaniard will be determined to capitalize on the situation.

Carlos Checa, although being fastest in the morning practice session, will be starting in seventh position on his Ducati. Toni Elias will be eighth on the Shanghai grid ahead of American Team Suzuki rider Kenny Roberts and Japanese Kawasaki Racing Team rider Shinya Nakano will complete the top ten.

NASCAR can stop cheating but won’t NASCAR can stop cheating but won’tIf motor sport's governing body, the FIA, find BAR guilty of cheating during last Sunday's F1 race, then the team could be excluded from the championship, leaving Jenson Button without a drive for the rest of the season. That would be the worst-case scenario at the end of an investigation alleging that the BAR Honda car ran below the minimum weight limit during the race.  Max Mosley has stated that any form of cheating will be severely punished, because the credibility of the sport is in question…  "If somebody gets caught with clear and deliberate cheating, they will be out of the championship, no matter who it is,” said Mosley.

NASCAR take note "Excluded from the entire championship."   The teams in NASCAR are caught cheating weekly.  NASCAR just slaps them on the wrist so they come back and do it again.  Why do we seldom hear of cheating in F1?  Because it's a professional race series that deals with cheaters severely.  If you are convicted of cheating in F1 you could find yourself benched for an entire season.  Can you image NASCAR ever doing that?  No, but if they did they would quickly put an end to the cheat-at-all-costs mentality that permeates the entire paddock. Mark C.

Truex wins Talladega wreck-fest Truex wins Talladega wreck-festMartin Truex Jr. got caught up in an early wreck, then weaved his way around several other accidents to win Saturday's wild, rain-delayed Aaron's 312 at Talladega.  The reigning Busch Series champion has won both races he's entered at Talladega.  "That's two-for-two at Talladega,'' he said. "That's a pretty good record and something I'm real proud of.'' Jon Wood finished second in his first race on the 2.66-mile oval. David Stremme was third, followed by Ashton Lewis Jr. and Kerry Earnhardt.  Eight of the top 10 drivers in the points standings were involved in some sort of accident. Carl Edwards, who was in the big wreck at the start that took out 16 cars, still held his points lead by 147 over Clint Bowyer.  Reed Sorenson, who was also in the big accident, dropped to third and Truex moved up one spot to fourth in the standings following the win.
Industry News
The XK 4.2-S unveiled at the 2005 Geneva Show The XK 4.2-S unveiled at the 2005 Geneva ShowNew 4.2-S special edition models unveiled at the 2005 Geneva International Salon (March 1st) mark another advance for the Jaguar XK – and confirm there has never been a better time to buy one of these highly desirable sports cars.

Available as either coupe or convertible, with a choice of two V8 engines – one of them supercharged – the new 4.2-S can be ordered now. Buyers will own a car that is widely recognized as a modern classic, with looks, performance and poise true to Jaguar's sports car lineage.

Encompassing all the styling features introduced last year to give the XK a bolder, even more sporting appearance, the 4.2-S package also upgrades the cabin with a compelling blend of visual changes and an increased level of specification that sees many premium features becoming standard equipment.

The 4.2-S heads the 2006MY XK range. It will be offered in four new limited edition exterior metallic colors – Copper Black, Frost Blue, Bay Blue and Satin Silver – in addition to the wide palette already in existence. With four interior colors and two distinct veneer options for the instrument panel, this creates up to 11 possible combinations. XK8 models will offer a new luxurious Elm wood veneer as standard for the interior trim, while XKR cabins will be lined with a sporty Carbon Fiber veneer set, with Elm veneer as a non-cost option (not available on XKR in North America). A further unique feature of the 4.2-S models will be the full soft-grain leather interior with contrast stitching located on the seats, centre console and door linings. A new interior carpet color, Dove, is also offered for the first time on a Jaguar.

In recognition of Jaguar's racing heritage, special badging and accents adorn the 2006MY models, including the 4.2-S. Polished door treadplates feature checkered flag emblems and leather-edged embossed floor mats line the footwells. The revised white Jaguar Growler badge on the bonnet also features new checkered flag accents on the sides of the emblem. New darkened rear light clusters further enhance the sporting credentials of the Jaguar XK range.

The XK8 models feature 19-inch 'Atlas' style wheels, while the XKR models get a new, unique 20-inch BBS Perseus wheel. The XKR also gets cross-drilled Brembo brake discs with red brake calipers to reinforce its sporting credentials.

The additional specification of the new 4.2-S models are attributes above and beyond those that mark out every Jaguar XK as special. As well as providing a thrilling driving experience, the XK bristles with features and technologies that allow drivers to relax and enjoy themselves to the full. These include not only advanced Dynamic Stability Control, but also Adaptive Cruise Control and, of course, Jaguar's A.R.T.S Adaptive Restraint Technology System.

Industry News
Toyota breaks ground on new USA engine plant Toyota breaks ground on new USA engine plantToyota Motor Manufacturing Alabama broke ground Wednesday for a plant expansion that will bring 300 more jobs and an additional $250 million investment. By 2006 Toyota will have the capacity to build 1.66 million vehicles and 1.44 million engines annually in North America. The automaker currently employs more than 36,000 people throughout North America. The company's direct investment is over $15.3 billion. Annual parts, materials, goods and services purchased from North American suppliers total another $25 billion. Toyota's North American-produced vehicles include the Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Matrix, Sienna, Solara, Sequoia, Tacoma, Tundra, and the Lexus RX 330. Toyota
Champ Car vs. Daytona Prototype Champ Car vs. Daytona PrototypeMax Papis, who drives the No. 66 Pontiac-Riley with Jörg Bergmeister, won the 2001 CART Championship Series race at Laguna Seca. He noted the differences between his CART Champ Car and the Krohn/TRG Daytona Prototype.  "It's a completely different feeling when you drive an Indy car compared to the prototype car because the Indy car has so much more downforce. It makes some of the corners that much faster," he noted. "In the prototype, there's a lot more sliding and a lot more being on the edge, especially in medium-speed corners."
Negri takes Grand-Am pole at Laguna Negri takes Grand-Am pole at LagunaDespite the fact that he hadn’t driven a Daytona Prototype in six months, Brazilian Oswaldo Negri Jr. didn’t show any signs of rust in qualifying for Sunday’s Road & Track 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, as he claimed his first career Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series pole position.

As time expired in the 15-minute qualifying session, Negri [Oswaldo Negri (left) and Mike Shank (right) celebrate] ran a best lap at 1:24.357 (95.508 mph) in Michael Shank Racing’s No. 60 MatlinPatterson Lexus Riley to take the pole for the inaugural Rolex Series race on the 2.238-mile circuit. The run capped a dramatic turn of events in the final minutes of qualifying, as Negri ran the fastest lap inside the final five minutes only to see Luis Diaz briefly take the spot away on his final lap in the No. 01 CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley before Negri’s last-lap flyer. Negri will share the No. 60 machine with newcomer Mark Patterson in Sunday’s race.

“I have to say thank you first off to Lexus and to Mike Shank and his guys for working as hard as they do to prepare a car that was capable of taking the pole today,” said Negri. “I knew right when we got on track here this weekend that we had a great combination and being second quick in practice yesterday was another confidence boost for me and the team. To be out of the car for so many months and take the pole the first time back is really just fantastic for me and shows what I have been saying about how absolutely incredible this Michael Shank Racing team is. This is also my engineer Dave Kanning’s first time being the lead engineer on a Daytona Prototype, and he obviously did a fantastic job. I am just so thankful for the opportunity that Mark Patterson and the team have created for me this weekend, and I am really looking forward to the race.”

Negri will be joined on the front row by Jörg Bergmeister, who turned a best lap of 1:24.466 (95.385 mph) in the No. 66 Krohn Racing/TRG Pontiac Riley. It was the German’s career-best qualifying performance, and comes on the heels of a third-place qualifying performance four weeks ago at California Speedway. Bergmeister and co-driver Max Papis—the 2004 Daytona Prototype co-champion—enter the Road & Track 250 looking to build upon a third-place finish in their last race together at Homestead-Miami Speedway in February.

"It was definitely much better than yesterday," said Bergmeister, who had an abbreviated session due to a problem on Friday. "It was kind of a gamble today for qualifying because we weren't able to do the qualifying setup yesterday. The car was running really good – the whole team did an excellent job on that. I'm really happy that I could make up a little bit for yesterday."

Diaz wound up third with a best lap of 1:24.649 (95.179 mph) after being leap-frogged by both Negri and Bergmeister on their final qualifying laps. Nevertheless, it will be Diaz’s second-consecutive top-three starting position, and he and co-driver Scott Pruett are looking for a second-straight victory in the race after winning the Ferrari Maserati 400 at California Speedway.

“The car was decent, I just wish that last lap time would have stuck,” Diaz said. “We were fighting a condition in which the car was loose on entry, tight through the middle of the corner, then loose on exit. It was difficult to get a good feel for it. We definitely need more grip and balance in the car, but I’m confident the CompUSA team will be able to get it corrected for the race tomorrow.”

Diaz shares the second row with his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, as Stefan Johansson placed the No. 02 New Century Mortgage Lexus Riley fourth on the grid with a lap at 1:24.719 (95.100 mph). Johansson and co-driver Cort Wagner head into the race with three-straight top-seven finishes, but are still looking for their first Rolex Series podium result.

Rounding out the top five is Memo Gidley in the No. 19 Make A Wish/Air Force Reserve/Commercial Defeasance BMW Riley for Finlay Motorsports. The Novato, Calif. resident is certainly no stranger to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, having competed in several other cars, and he used that experience to his advantage in his first Daytona Prototype go-round this weekend. He will co-drive in the Road & Track 250 with Michael McDowell.

Enge crashes at Motegi Enge crashes at MotegiUPDATE Enge broke multiple ribs in his accident at Motegi during qualifying and did not start the race.  The trip to Japan was again this year an expensive one for the IRL.  Eight of the 22 cars crashed out of the race, which was slowed seven times by caution flags.  Some of the cars had severe damage. 04/29/05 Rookie Tomas Enge has crashed hard into the outside wall of Turn 4 at Motegi during his qualifying run.  The car sustained heavy left-side damage.  Enge is out of car and into the safety vehicle.
Marco Werner - In his own words Marco Werner - In his own wordsCan anyone stop Marco Werner? Lately, the answer has been no. The German has won eight of the last 10 American Le Mans Series events dating back to the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio nearly a year ago. In three weeks, the ALMS returns to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with Werner and teammate JJ Lehto having swept the series' first two rounds in the No. 1 Champion Racing Audi R8. Beyond Mid-Ohio is the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where the team of Werner, Lehto and Tom Kristensen are one of the favorites to win the overall title.

What does Werner think about the start to his ALMS career? Can he win at Le Mans for the first time? And what is the secret to Audi's success? Let him tell you:

Q: Thirteen wins in 20 starts. When you joined the series in '03, did you envision that kind of success?

Marco Werner: No, definitely not. I am very surprised and very proud because this is the best series with the best cars, and I was never a part of that level before. I was never on the same level with Formula 1 drivers like JJ Lehto and Johnny Herbert or famous sports car drivers like James Weaver. It is an honor to be associated with them.

Q: What's the biggest reason for that success...teammates, crew, the Audi organization or just plain awesome ability?

MW: All of it, but mostly it has to do with teamwork. For example we won Road Atlanta because of the pit stops and the team strategy and we happened to be running the best car. Not necessarily the quickest car, but the best car. The Audi is never broken, never has any problems. It is running strong every time.

Q: Is it easier to drive for a team like Audi when you've had this much success, or is there more pressure because people now are expecting it?

MW: There is more pressure because the expectation level with Audi has always been high. A driver must bring the car home to a great finish every time. It is very nice to be in an Audi, but that doesn't make it easier. I very much like this kind of racing. The competition is always good!

Q: You've won nearly every major sports car race in the world except Le Mans. What would it mean to do it this year (a) with Audi, (b) the Champion privateer team, and (c) with JJ after all the success the two of you have had in the past few years?

MW: First, I want to help my teammate Tom Kristensen get his seventh win. And I want JJ to have his second win. And of course, I very much want to win my first Le Mans race and give Audi its fifth Le Mans win. And for Champion Racing, this would be a very special situation. I want very much to get this win for Dave Maraj and Champion Racing. ALMS

Interview with Sauber's Willy Rampf Interview with Sauber's Willy RampfSauber Petronas Technical Director Willy Rampf talks of the season so far and his hopes for the remainder of the season as the Swiss- based team develop the C24 and look ahead to the C25. The team have shown good progress culminating in Jacques Villeneuve’s strong drive to sixth position last Sunday at Imola.

Sauber Petronas made great strides at Imola. Had you expected this yourself?
“Yes, I certainly had. Our wind tunnel measurements had given us reason to expect that we'd be making clear progress, yet the effective gain turned out to be bigger than we'd thought.”

Was this strictly about aerodynamics?
“Yes, by and large it was. We had made a number of aerodynamic modifications, but the crucial one, no doubt, was the slimmer, lowered rear bodywork. This has improved the car's aerodynamics significantly. We're measuring clearly more downforce with merely a slight increase of drag, and braking stability has benefited from these changes as well.”

Can we now expect Sauber Petronas to be at this level at all the forthcoming races?
“I'd be careful about making such predictions. It's true that we've made considerable strides, but Imola is a special circuit. What's more, we were one of the few teams that tested at Imola prior to the season and therefore had a good basic set-up. That certainly helped. I think we'll have a clearer picture after the race at Barcelona. But in any event, the hierarchy in Formula One seems to be "returning to normal" again, after it had gotten mixed up quite a bit in the first races. “

How do you explain your difficult start to the season?
“If the rules remain the same from one year to the other, you can continue to work in the direction you already know. For the 2005 season, however, there were major changes in the area of aerodynamics forcing us to investigate things at a basic level. We wanted to build a car with a basic design offering optimum prerequisites. A visible result of this work is the significantly undercut sidepods of the Sauber Petronas C24. But that took time. Because we normally use our wind tunnel only in a one-shift operation, we were somewhat behind the top teams which are all running three shifts. But now we're at a stage where we can concentrate on detailed improvements, and we're making pretty good progress with these.”

Can further steps like those at Imola be anticipated now?
“That would certainly be great, but probably not quite realistic. The step we took at Imola roughly equates to the one we had taken at Silverstone last year. We're going to continue pursuing our current approach and try to use new aerodynamic components at each forthcoming race. I'm convinced that the C24 has a lot of potential that we can now continuously exploit step by step.”

How is the cooperation with Michelin coming along?
“The cooperation with Michelin is extremely productive. Michelin not only make competitive tires but also practice a very open style of communication from which we profit a great deal. Consequently, it's usually easy for us to make the right choice between the two tire specifications at a race weekend. Nevertheless, we still have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to making optimum use of the tires in certain conditions, such as in extreme heat. But that's primarily a question of experience in handling the tires, and we keep learning at each test and each race.”

And the C24, after all, had not been developed for Michelin tires.
“That's right. The Michelin decision was taken at a time when the development of the C24 had already progressed quite far. As a matter of fact, the Michelin tires require different specifications regarding the suspension geometry or weight distribution. At the moment, we have to live with a compromise situation in this area. Yet I wouldn't want to overrate the whole thing either. However, with regard to the C25, there is room for improvement.” Sauber Petronas

Rains delay Talladega action Rains delay Talladega actionHeavy rains moving through Alabama have delayed the start of the Aaron's 312 NASCAR Busch Series race today at Talladega.  Paul Menard, son of John Menard, has the pole position.
Formula BMW
Philippe wins 2nd pole in row Philippe wins 2nd pole in row15-year old BMW Junior and Rookie driver Richard Philippe (Brother of Champ Car driver Nelson Philippe and driving for Team Autotecnica) continued to show the rest of the 20-car Formula BMW USA field the rear of his Team Autotecnica FB02 as he scored his second pole position of the weekend. His 11th lap of 1:29.419 minutes around the 2.238-mile Laguna Seca circuit was good enough for the Round 2 pole and to hold off the last minutes attempt by second place qualifier Maxime Soulet (Gelles Racing), of Belgium, (1:29.657) to take the pole away. Canadian BMW Junior and Rookie driver Kevin LaCroix rounded out the international top- three with a 1:29.835 minute lap. 

As the drivers become more familiar with Laguna Seca's twists and turns, everyone's times are getting faster and closer together. As in yesterday's qualifying session, the top-seven were all within one second of the pole, and all one-second faster. 

The quickest Rookies in today's qualifying session were Philippe (P1), LaCroix (P3), James Davison (P4), Justin Moon (P5) and Kevin Wickens (P6). 

"The track was quite green this morning and there was a lot more rubber down from yesterday's Grand Am practice sessions," said Philippe. "We decided to put on two new tires during the session to go for the quick lap and it worked out well." 

21-year old Soulet said, "I only had four laps yesterday because I was a bit late. Getting to review the data and being able to think about the track made the difference in today's effort. I know I will be quicker in the race."

Not completely satisfied with third, LaCroix looked toward the races. "The track and car set-up were much better for me today. All of the Grand Am classes qualify and race before both Formula BMW USA races so the conditions will certainly change. I think the track will be slower for us, but I believe I can move up to the front." 

The Round 1 race is scheduled to start at 1:45 p.m. today. Sunday's Round 2 race is scheduled to start at 3:35 p.m.

Qualifying: Round 2

1 Richard Philippe Team Autotecnica 1:29.390 (90.131 mph)
2 Maxime Soulet Gelles Racing 1:29.657
3 Kevin LaCroix AIM Autosport 1:29.746
4 Justin Moon Gelles Racing 1:29.765
5 James Davison HBR Motorsport Team USA 1:30.037
6 Daniel Herrington Jensen Motorsport 1:30.132
7 Robert Wickens Team Apex Racing USA 1:30.287
8 Race Johnson HBR Motorsport Team USA 1:30.472
9 John Zartarian Jensen Motorsport 1:30.617
10 Tom Sutherland HBR Motorsport Team USA 1:30.882
11 Rob Bunker AIM Autosport 1:31.225
12 Doug Boyer Jensen Motorsport 1:31.566
13 Adrien Herberts Atlantic Racing Team 1:32.004
14 Ryan Phinny Gelles Racing 1:32.437
15 Matthew Lee Twintooth/BRM Motorsport 1:32.563
16 Derek Burseth Burseth Racing 1:34.535
17 Darin Marcus Gelles Racing 1:34.947
18 Jules Duc Jensen Motorsport 1:36.152
19 Nathan DePagter DRE Autosport 1:38.905
20 Reed Stevens HBR Motorsport Team USA 1:42.789

Franchitti crashes out while leading Franchitti crashes out while leadingUPDATE ArcaEx driver Dario Franchitti had the dominant car for the first 123 laps in Saturday's running of the Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi, but contact with the Turn 4 wall erased what was a splendid drive and relegated Franchitti to a 17th place finish.  Franchitti had this to say about his mistake afterwards - "The ArcaEx car was absolutely fantastic all day. Our only weak points were the restarts, but we seemed to be able to recover from those within a short number of laps. On the last restart, Dan Wheldon got a good run and went on my inside. It was a pretty aggressive move by him, but at the same point I could have backed out of it and I think I would have been able to pass him later. I made the mistake of trying to stay on the outside, got up in the marbles and that was it. " 04/30/05 The Indy Japan 300 is turning into another patented expensive race for the IRL teams with a good number of crashes into the outside retaining wall.   The latest was leader Dario Franchitti who hit the wall in Turn 4 ending his day.  There was so much wreckage the field is being funneled down the pit lane.  Franchitti is out and walking but the cash registers at Dallara in Italy just went ca-ching.
Schumi gets another new jet Schumi gets another new jetMichael Schumacher has bought a private jet — for a cool $25 million.  The Formula 1 champ snapped up the Falcon 2000 EX made by Dassault so he can fly to races when he wants, rather than depend on scheduled flights.  It has a sofa-bed and bathroom — and burns nearly $1,000 worth of fuel an hour.
Imola attendance continues to fall Imola attendance continues to fallImola may have signed a new deal for the San Marino Grand Prix to go on until 2009 but the race organizers need to face up to the fact that spectator numbers are not great. Like many European promoters SAGIS, a subsidiary of the Automobile Club di Bologna, has been struggling to find the money to upgrade the circuit facilities and ticket sales are the one important source of funding left. This year the race attracted a Sunday crowd of 65,000 (compared to 88,200 last year). The three day figure this year was 100,000 compared to 138,000 last year and 192,500 back in 2000. Grandprix.com [Editor's Note: As F1 race promoters raise ticket prices to astronomical levels to help cover Bernie Ecclestone's outrageous sanctioning fees, less fans can afford to attend an F1 race and must resort to watching on TV]
Hornaday has emergency surgery Hornaday has emergency surgeryCraftsman Truck Series driver Ron Hornaday, Jr. was home Tuesday when he felt a 'pop' in his stomach. Turns out his appendix burst and he underwent emergency surgery. Despite that, Hornaday plans on running Saturday's race at Gateway International with Tony Raines standing by to drive Kevin Harvick's #6 truck in case he's needed. PRN's Garage Pass Radio Show
Q and A with Mike Gascoyne Q and A with Mike GascoyneToyota chassis Technical Director Mike Gascoyne talks of Toyota's tests this week in Jerez and looks forward to the fifth round of the championship in Barcelona.

What has the testing plan been since the last race in Imola?
"We had originally planned to test at Silverstone following the San Marino Grand Prix, but a rather unpredictable weather forecast led us to move to Jerez in southern Spain. With the thirty day testing agreement, we cannot risk wasting valuable running in the event of inclement weather, so we tend to play things as safe as possible in order to prepare ourselves fully for the next race. In Jerez, work was split up between Ralf and Jarno who conducted one day each and Olivier who ran on both days. Our focus was primarily to work on the set-up of the TF105s for Barcelona and to finalize our Michelin tire compound choice for the weekend."

What are the technical characteristics of the Circuit de Catalunya?
"Barcelona is a circuit that is extremely well known to most teams through the extensive off-season testing that is carried out there, so it is fair to say that most teams arrive at the circuit with a good indication of set-up. Therefore, it is of paramount importance to hit the ground running in Friday free practice because it is difficult to make up lost time. It is a medium-high downforce track which demands a lot from every aspect of the car. We have a long straight which is good for overtaking, as long as you can get a good exit from the final corner and follow the car in front closely enough. In addition, there is a nice mix of high and lower speed sections, which mean we have to find a good compromise of mechanical grip and top speed. Although the technical characteristics of the circuit have not changed much, there has been a notable difference in the data we have collected since the track was resurfaced over the winter."
How has the resurfacing of the track affected the car's behavior?
"I do not think that the car's behavior has necessarily been changed due to the new track surface, but there has been quite a big variation in tire degradation. Previously, tire performance was an issue at Barcelona with quite a big initial drop-off, but we have seen at this season's Barcelona tests that tires do not appear to degrade as quickly as in the past. We have nevertheless worked intensively with Michelin to select competitive tires for this race and I think we will be in good shape."

What new parts will you introduce on the TF105 for Spain?
"As part of our race-by-race updates, we are bringing some significant new aero bits to Barcelona, including upgrades to the sidepods and diffuser, in order to further improve the efficiency of our package. This, combined with the aero upgrades introduced in Imola, will result in another slight step forward in terms of our overall performance."

What are your expectations for the Spanish GP weekend?
"Imola was always going to be one of the toughest races for Toyota. Ralf's 25-second penalty aside, we were competitive enough to get both cars in the points by the checkered flag, so I do not see any reason why we cannot fight for points at every event this season. Spain will be slightly better for us than Imola, so both cars in the top eight is my minimum expectation for this weekend." Toyota

A sea of red A sea of redOur sources at the IRL Motegi race tell us that attendance was off from prior years and it appeared close to 90% of the attendees may have been there courtesy of Honda.  As can be seen from the photos below, almost everyone is a wearing a free red Honda cap and they cheered loudly when the Chevy of Tomas Scheckter ran out of fuel with two laps to go handing the win to the Honda of Dan Wheldon.  It was just what the doctor ordered.  The grandstands were empty on Thursday (opening day of practice) and Friday saw a couple of thousand red capped fans in attendance.  We suspect this race is dead if Honda pulls the plug on its IRL program as some speculate will happen if Toyota leaves as rumored.

Photos courtesy of Honda

Carnage continues as Carpenter crashes Carnage continues as Carpenter crashesThe crash fest called the Indy Japan 300 just got worse as Ed Carpenter hammered the outside wall in T2 bringing out yet another caution. Carpenter is out of the car and walking but the cash register at Dallara just went ca-ching again and Tony George, the owner of Carpenter's team, Vision Racing, is learning first hand just how expensive his series is as his stepson took out another one of his cars. The pace car has led the most laps.  Eight of the 22 cars crashed out of the race, which was slowed seven times by caution flags.
Opening lap crash takes out Dixon and Bucknum Opening lap crash takes out Dixon and BucknumThe  Indy Japan 300 got off to a bad start when Scott Dixon and Jeff Bucknum took each other out on the very first lap in Turn 2. No sooner did the track go green again on lap 12 and Alex Barron crashed in Turn 4 bringing out another caution. Danica Patrick was leading on lap 40 of 200, but soon Dario Franchitti blew by her like she was standing still and is stretching his lead.
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