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DATE News (chronologically)
05/03/08
starmazda

Makala Joins Andersen Racing's Star Mazda Team
Andersen Racing's international driver roster for the Star Mazda series presented by Goodyear is expanding to include a young star from Finland.

Team co-owner Dan Andersen announced today that he has signed 22-year-old Valle Makala, a native of Laitila, Finland, for five days of testing and at least three races this year in one of the Palmetto, Fla.-based team's Star Mazda cars.

The team's full-season drivers in that series are Charles Hall of Sheffield, England; Peter Dempsey of Ashbourne, County Meath, Ireland; Tom Gladdis of Gibraltar and Juliana Gonzalez of Mexico City, Mexico.  All are rookies. Hall, Dempsey and Gladdis are all in the top five in the current point standings, with Hall second and Dempsey third.

Comment
05/03/08
nassprint

FreeCreditReport.com Extends Partnership
Yates Racing announced today that Experian Consumer DirectSM, the leading provider of online direct-to-consumer credit reports, scores, and monitoring products, will sponsor the No. 38 entry for an additional number of races for the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.  Yates Racing driver, David Gilliland, who pilots the No. 38 FreeCreditReport.com™ Ford Fusion, will continue to feature the company’s website, www.FreeCreditReport.com.

Gilliland has a history with Experian Consumer Direct as a sponsor, racing the No. 38 FreeCreditReport.com Ford Fusion for a total of eight races in the 2008 Sprint Cup series as well as driving the FreeCreditReport.com Ford 19 times in the 2007 NASCAR Nationwide Series.

“It’s wonderful to know that our No. 38 team will continue to be partnered with FreeCreditReport.com,” commented Gilliland.  “They have been a wonderful sponsor to our team and it is very comforting to know that we’re going to showcase our No. 38 FreeCreditReport.com Ford for more races this year.  Everyone at Yates Racing has worked extremely hard this year to yield strong finishes every week, and we look forward to continuing that tradition for FreeCreditReport.com.”

Read more & Comment...
05/03/08
Euro F3

Hulkenberg wins race 1 at Mugello
Nico Hulkenberg claimed his first F3 Euro Series win of the season after holding off the hard-charging Kodai Tsukakoshi at Mugello today.

"It was a big relief after the bad start to the season," said Hulkenberg, who picked up only two points at Hockenheim last month. "It's not easy this weekend because it has been so close.

"We had a strong race but Kodai was always very close behind and he never gave me the chance to relax. It's a good way to start my championship after what happened at Hockenheim."

Results

Pos

Driver Team Car Gap
1. Nico Hulkenberg ART D/M 36:35.388
2. Kodai Tsukakoshi Manor D/M +1.001
3. Jules Bianchi ART D/M +16.404
4. Edoardo Mortara Signature D/V +17.340
5. Renger van der Zande Prema D/M +18.377
6. Mika Maki Mucke D/M +21.521
7. Yann Clairay SG D/M +30.537
8. Dani Clos Prema D/M +31.518
9. Niall Breen Manor D/M +33.276
10. Erik Janis Mucke D/M +36.899
11. Franck Mailleux Signature D/V +38.104
12. James Jakes ART D/M +40.366
13. Henkie Waldschmidt SG D/M +40.623
14. Sam Bird Manor D/M +42.155
15. Richard Philippe Carlin D/M +43.788
16. Tom Dillmann SG D/M +45.510
17. Charlie Kimball Prema D/M +45.974
18. Rodolfo Gonzalez Carlin D/M +46.537
19. Michael Klein Jo Zeller D/M +49.461
20. Basil Shaaban HBR D/M +54.948
21. Stefano Coletti Signature D/V +56.271
22. Maximilian Gotz RC D/V +57.956
23. Jon Lancaster ART D/M +59.821
24. Jens Klingmann RC D/V +1:06.792
25. Jean-Karl Vernay Signature D/V +1:07.179
Not classified
Driver Team Car Laps
Kazuya Oshima Manor D/M 16 laps
Daniel Campos-Hull HBR D/M 16 Laps
Christian Vietoris Mucke D/M 16 Laps
Martin Plowman RC D/V 3 laps

Comment
05/03/08
dtm

Third pole in row for Audi
Audi driver Timo Scheider remains "the man to be beaten" in the DTM: at the third race of the season the German in his GW:plus/Top Service Audi A4 DTM will start from the pole position as well. At Mugello (Italy), Scheider managed a perfect lap at the crucial moment of qualifying, resulting in a gap of over three tenths of a second to the rest of the field.

Since the new Audi A4 DTM cars – following their victories at Hockenheim and Oschersleben – have to run with 20 kilograms more weight than the 2008-spec Mercedes contenders, the field at Mugello moved together closely, as expected. In the third and crucial qualifying segment the quickest four Audi and Mercedes vehicles came within 86 thousandths of a second of each other almost up to the end of the session – and, what’s more, on a race track that – at 5.245 kilometers – is the longest on the DTM schedule.

However, just as the checkered flag was being waved, Timo Scheider managed to improve by four tenths of a second yet again and, cheered by his mechanics, pushed from fifth place forwards to first. Despite the handicap weight, which at Mugello – according to computer simulations run by Audi Sport – costs almost five tenths of a second per lap, the Audi driver stayed below last year’s pole time by 0.772 seconds.

With Tom Kristensen on grid position three and Mattias Ekström on position four, three of the four new Audi A4 DTM cars fielded by Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline will start to the race from the first two rows on the grid. Kristensen set the fastest time in the first qualifying segment, Ekström in the second. However, as track temperatures kept rising, neither of them managed to match his personal best time in the third session.

Read more & Comment...
05/03/08
irl

Giebler has a Indy 500 ride
Phil Giebler
Majority ownership of Playa Del Racing has been purchased by former Indiana Boxing Commissioner William T. Kelsey and Arizona businessman Eric Zimmerman and will be known as American Dream Motorsports.

American Dream Motorsports will attempt to qualify for the 92nd Indianapolis 500 with 2007 Chase Rookie of the Year Phil Giebler behind the wheel of the No.21 Honda-powered Panoz.

Former Playa Del Racing co-owner Susan Schafer will oversee American Dream Motorsports' Firestone Indy Lights program.

"It's an honor to be a part of the Indy Racing League under the new format," said Zimmerman, an Indianapolis native. "I truly value my new relationship with Susan Schafer."

Giebler qualified 33rd in 2007 and finished 29th after being involved in a single-car accident on Lap 106.

"It's hard to put into words what it means to return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy 500," Giebler said. "I had a huge learning curve in my rookie run last year, but I plan on this being a much better year. To say Indy is all I've thought about for the last 12 months would be an understatement." IndyCar.com

Comment
05/03/08
NASCAR

NASCAR appoints panel to look into changing drug testing policy
NASCAR president Brian France has appointed a group of company officials to an interim committee that will study the sport's drug policy, vice president of communications Jim Hunter said Friday. The group, whose members Hunter said have "been around a long time and know the sport," will report back to France with any recommendations "within six weeks or so." Among the topics they will survey, Hunter said, is whether or not to add a staff substance abuse expert and whether or not random testing should be implemented. Currently, drivers are drug tested only under "reasonable suspicion." Any change to the policy, Hunter said, wouldn't likely take place until the 2009 season. ESPN.com

Comment
05/03/08
nassprint

NASCAR suddenly a tough sell
We're liable to see empty seats at RIR tonight for the first time in 17 years, and a sour economy is only the half of it. Yeah, $80 tickets and $3.60-per-gallon petrol squeeze Joe Fan's discretionary income. Toss in a night or two at the Red Roof, a few meals, some cotton candy and a T-shirt for the kiddies, and a family needs to take out a second mortgage to go racin' nowadays.

Assuming it hasn't already rescinded its loyalty oath to the sport.

Fewer people are pledging allegiance to NASCAR these days, and it's not just because their pockets are shallower, it's because they're estranged. They're like the hippies of the '60s -- turned off and tuning out (presumably minus the purple haze). France Family U. has only itself to blame.

This isn't the start of an obituary. NASCAR isn't in jeopardy of becoming Linens-N-Things or Skybus. It's not about to go belly-up. But it's in an extended rut marked by declining turnstile counts and TV ratings (although the Nielsens are up a tick this year), and the trend continues.

Seats unwarmed by fannies are noticeable across the circuit this year -- Martinsville, Atlanta, Phoenix, Texas.

Richmond, which seemingly couldn't toss up grandstands fast enough to satisfy demand, once was immune from this sort of cloud cover.

No longer.

"There's a lot of discussion over the last couple of years about whether fan interest has leveled off," said Jon Ackley, who teaches a business-of-NASCAR course at VCU. "NASCAR says it has 70 million fans. The last two or three years, those numbers don't seem to hold as much weight as they did in the past. It's clear people aren't watching the races as devoutly as they did in the past." More at InRich.com

Comment
05/03/08
nnw

Wallace calls Busch a "Little Girl"
Kyle Busch and Steve Wallace were battling for position on the final lap of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Lipton Tea 250 when Wallace got a run coming off Turn 2 then went on to hit Busch’s Braun Racing Toyota.

Obviously Busch wasn't happy about it and let Wallace know after the race.

“Steven Wallace got a better run off the corner than I did and instead of pulling out and passing, he hit me in the back end and jacked me up, jacked me sideways and luckily I was able to straighten it out and get in Turn 3 behind him and he probably knew I was going to spin him up so he moved up the track and let me go by him,” Busch said. “And we came home third and instead of him passing me clean and ending up third, he ended up fifth. Just being an idiot. So I went up and I told him, you mess with the bull, you’re going to get the horns.  I didn’t appreciate what he did, so I told him what I thought about it. You can get hurt very easily here.”

After the race, Busch went up and leaned his head into Wallace’s car.

“I basically told him that you mess with the bull, you’re going to get the horns, then he wanted to grab my helmet which is pretty childish again,” Busch said. “We’ll see what happens here in the future, and if he wants to play those games, he’s going to get hurt.”

Wallace responded.

“I don’t know what he was saying, but I jerked him by the helmet just to rattle his cage a little bit and just to tell him I wasn’t happy with it,” said the Rusty Wallace Racing driver, who earned a career-best fifth-place finish in the race. “He’s just a little girl about it. I’d say it’s pretty bad when they call drivers introduction, everybody in the grandstands boos you.”

Comment
05/03/08
nassprint
irl

TMS's Gossage offers Dale Jr. $100k to run an Indy Car UPDATE “He thinks I’m a cheap date I guess. I wouldn’t be able to do it, my conscience wouldn’t let me. If they offered me more money, my conscience wouldn’t let me feel comfortable with doing it. I know his intentions are well and we had that discussion with the billboard thing and I totally understand what his approach is advertising now. If I had the opportunity if I was there testing my car and somebody had their car there, I’d like to jump in it and run a couple of laps but that would be the extent of the adventure.” Dale Earnhardt Jr. via Team Chevy PR

[Editor's Note: To think that NASCAR would allow its biggest star to drive an IndyCar and expose his inferior driving abilities is laughable. He would stink up the joint.  This was a PR stunt if there ever was one.]

05/02/08 Series star Danica Patrick recommended on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s XM Satellite Radio show Thursday evening that if the NASCAR superstar ever wanted to swap cars and run an Indy car that Texas Motor Speedway would be the place to give it a shot. Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage is wholeheartedly backing that recommendation by Patrick and giving Earnhardt Jr. 100,000 reasons why "The Great American Speedway!" is indeed the ideal choice. Gossage is offering $100,000 to Earnhardt Jr. if he would pay the IndyCar Series a visit and compete June 7 in the Bombardier Learjet 550k at Texas Motor Speedway. Gossage is open to presenting Earnhardt Jr. $100,000 in cash or a check to his favorite charity for that amount if that is more to his liking. TMS PR Stunt

Comment
05/03/08
motogp

Lorenzo rides through pain barrier
Jorge Lorenzo prepares to practice on his Yamaha in Shanghai
MotoGP
Despite severe pain in his ankles Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo put in a good shift in the Saturday morning free practice session.

After his huge crash on Friday morning, which resulted in a chipped bone in his left ankle and swelling and bruising on his right ankle, Jorge Lorenzo was back on his Yamaha M1 800cc prototype in Saturday’s third MotoGP free practice session of the weekend, lapping 21 times at Shanghai and concluding the run 14th on the timesheet.

The remarkable Fiat Yamaha rookie, who leads the World Championship after three races in the premier class, was a second slower than his pace setting team-mate Valentino Rossi, but made an important step in getting through the session - allowing his team to play catch-up on setting up for tomorrow’s race and proving his ability to ride despite his injuries.

Lorenzo stayed mounted on his bike throughout the practice, even during breaks in his pit-box, and his team manager Daniele Romagnoli told motogp.com, `The session was quite difficult because he has a lot of pain in both ankles, especially on the right side. At the beginning we were working to change the set-up and the gear selector position to make him more comfortable and that took up time but overall it is not so bad.´

`What he achieved this morning is already a good result. Of course it is difficult because we haven’t had so much time to set-up the bike, but today was the most difficult moment for him, getting back on the bike. Now he will go improving bit by bit.´

Comment
05/03/08
motogp

Edwards wins pole in Shanghai with new record
Colin Edwards on his Yamaha
MotoGP
In the latest chapter of his surprise resurgence with the Tech 3 Yamaha team, Colin Edwards took pole position for the Pramac Grand Prix of China with a last-gasp lap of the Shanghai International Circuit.

Having previously been amongst the frontrunners in the practice sessions, Edwards smashed Valentino Rossi’s 2007 pole position record by nearly three tenths of a second with a lap of 1´58.139 in the final stages of the qualifying run. He was the only rider to do so, thus claiming pole position number three of his MotoGP career and his first since moving to the satellite Yamaha outfit.

Colin Edwards in post-qualifying press conference
MotoGP
Rossi himself will start from second place on the grid, with a 1´58.494 lap only slightly slower than his marker from last year. The Italian battled for victory with eventual race winner Casey Stoner in 2007, and a repeat of this could be on the cards if the pair can get past Edwards and break away.

The front row will be completed by 2007 World Champion Stoner, who lines up in the top three for the first time this season. The Australian was in contention for pole throughout the session, before eventually succumbing to the pace of the Yamaha riders.

Qualifying - Results

1 C. EDWARDS USA Tech 3 Yamaha 1'58.139
2 V. ROSSI ITA Fiat Yamaha Team + 0.355
3 C. STONER AUS Ducati Marlboro Team + 0.452
4 J. LORENZO SPA Fiat Yamaha Team + 0.572
5 D. PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team + 0.716
6 L. CAPIROSSI ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP + 0.802
7 J. TOSELAND GBR Tech 3 Yamaha + 1.115
8 C. VERMEULEN AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP + 1.186
9 R. DE PUNIET FRA LCR Honda MotoGP + 1.218
10 N. HAYDEN USA Repsol Honda Team + 1.368
11 A. DOVIZIOSO ITA JiR Team Scot MotoGP + 1.420
12 M. MELANDRI ITA Ducati Marlboro Team + 1.539
13 S. NAKANO JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini + 1.577
14 J. HOPKINS USA Kawasaki Racing Team + 1.601
15 T. ELIAS SPA Alice Team + 1.794
16 A. DE ANGELIS RSM San Carlo Honda Gresini + 2.177
17 S. GUINTOLI FRA Alice Team + 2.621
18 A. WEST AUS Kawasaki Racing Team + 2.699

Comment
05/03/08
f1

Honda's Fry says Weigl deal 'unlikely' UPDATE #2 (GMM)  Honda's F1 chief executive Nick Fry has poured cold water on hopes that the struggling satellite team Super Aguri is nearing a deal that will secure its future.

Leafield based Super Aguri on Friday said it hoped serious talks with the German company Weigl Group would win the backing of the Honda board, which is understood to be due to meet about the issue next week.

We previously reported that Honda - the struggling team's creditor, sponsor and technical supplier - was reluctant to accept the Weigl deal because it is neither a complete takeover nor financed in the longer term.

Late on Friday, Fry was quoted as saying by the British news agency Reuters that he is not optimistic about the proposed partial Weigl buyout.

"Since we have been looking for a partner for over a year ... it would seem unlikely that someone appropriate is going to appear in the next 48 hours," he said.

Fry added: "It would appear unlikely that a company the size of Weigl is able to support a competitive formula one team, unless of course there are other partners of which we have not been made aware."

Weigl CEO Franz Josef Weigl on Friday commented that his company's bid is backed by "sponsors and partners", but did not provide further details.

As well as the race for money, Super Aguri also faces a race against the clock to get its cars to Istanbul's Otodrom venue ahead of scrutineering for the Turkish grand prix.

While most other teams headed for the track directly from Barcelona via the Italian port city of Trieste, Super Aguri's cars ominously returned to Honda's Brackley factory, where they remain.

05/02/08 (GMM)  Super Aguri on Friday confirmed talks with the German automotive engineering company Weigl Group.

In a move that is being interpreted as pressure on the Honda board to accept the buyout, Leafield based Super Aguri said talks had entered "final discussions" for the sale of "a substantial shareholding" of the team.

It was previously reported that Honda - the struggling team's creditor, sponsor and technical supplier - was reluctant to accept the Weigl deal because it is neither a complete takeover nor financed in the longer term.

But Super Aguri said in its statement that Weigl's is a "just and reasonable offer" that would "secure its racing future".

Team boss and co-owner Aguri Suzuki, meanwhile, revealed that the deal will shortly be presented to the Honda board in Tokyo.

"Such a partnership as the one proposed by Weigl Group will allow us to race for the foreseeable future and I am hopeful that all parties will find the Group's offer a realistic package," he said.

Weigl CEO Franz Josef Weigl added that it is his company's "earnest intention" to "provide ongoing investment to secure the team's future".


05/02/08 SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM and WEIGL Group AG are in final discussions concerning an agreement for a substantial shareholding of the Formula One team. SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM believes this to be a just and reasonable offer that would secure its racing future.

Aguri Suzuki, Team Principal, SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM
“We are happy that we have been able to resurrect talks between SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM and Franz Weigl at such short notice and to have the opportunity of presenting the WEIGL Group to the Honda Board once again. Such a partnership as the one proposed by WEIGL Group will allow us to race for the foreseeable future and I am hopeful that all parties will find the Group’s offer a realistic package.”

Franz-Josef Weigl, CEO, WEIGL Group AG
“WEIGL Group has decided to speak out openly at this decisive time for SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM. We would like to express sincere support for the team’s participation in the Formula One World Championship and the Group’s, together with its sponsors and Partners, earnest intention to provide ongoing investment to secure the team’s future.”

Comment
05/02/08
nnw
NASCARSprint

Lipton Tea gets a perk
Kahne celebrates winning the Coors Light Pole for Friday night's NASCAR Nationwide Series Lipton Tea 250
John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR
Lipton Tea is sponsoring Kasey Kahne's Nationwide Dodge car in some races this year.  Lo and behold, the Kahne Lipton car won the pole position for Friday night's Lipton Tea 250 in Richmond.  This was a great way to reward Lipton for coming onboard with the team and NASCAR.

Meanwhile Virginia native Denny Hamlin won the race and also won the pole for Saturday night's Sprint Cup race at Richmond.  Hamlin lives just 15 minutes from the track so the win and pole by Hamlin should help to fill the stands on Saturday night because the race is not a sellout for the first time in many years.

Comment
05/02/08
nassprint

Earnhardt fastest in Cup practice
FIN CAR DRIVER SPEED TIME BEHIND
1 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 123.412 21.878 Leader
2 8 Mark Martin 122.895 21.970 -0.092
3 9 Kasey Kahne 122.733 21.999 -0.121
4 11 Denny Hamlin 122.549 22.032 -0.154
5 19 Elliott Sadler 122.249 22.086 -0.208
6 1 Martin Truex Jr. 122.211 22.093 -0.215
7 18 Kyle Busch 122.205 22.094 -0.216
8 24 Jeff Gordon 122.133 22.107 -0.229
9 66 Scott Riggs 122.001 22.131 -0.253
10 12 Ryan Newman 121.946 22.141 -0.263
11 41 Reed Sorenson 121.891 22.151 -0.273
12 10 Patrick Carpentier* 121.814 22.165 -0.287
13 44 David Reutimann 121.770 22.173 -0.295
14 48 Jimmie Johnson 121.770 22.173 -0.295
15 5 Casey Mears 121.770 22.173 -0.295
16 77 Sam Hornish Jr.* 121.737 22.179 -0.301
17 01 Regan Smith* 121.726 22.181 -0.303
18 6 David Ragan 121.715 22.183 -0.305
19 29 Kevin Harvick 121.715 22.183 -0.305
20 15 Paul Menard 121.687 22.188 -0.310

Read more & Comment...
05/02/08
track news

ABC, ESPN, IMS Radio Network providing in-depth Indianapolis 500 coverage
ABC, ESPN2 and the IMS Radio Network will provide in-depth, behind-the-scenes coverage of the 92nd Indianapolis 500, with more than 50 hours of programming.

The live television broadcast of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" will start on ABC with a pre-race show at noon (ET) Sunday, May 25, followed by the race at 1 p.m. This marks the 44th year of Indianapolis 500 coverage on the ABC network.

Indianapolis 500 Pole Day Qualifying will be broadcast live from noon-2 p.m. Saturday, May 10 on ESPN2 and from 3-6 p.m. on ABC, with post-qualification coverage, analysis and highlights on ESPN2 from 6-7 p.m.

Second Day Qualifying will be broadcast live from noon-2 p.m. and 5-6:30 p.m. Sunday, May 11 on ESPN2. Third Day Qualifying coverage on Coke Zero 500 College Fest, Saturday, May 17 will be live from 4-6:30 p.m. on ESPN2, and Bump Day Qualifying on IMS Armed Forces Day will be broadcast live from noon-3 p.m. Sunday, May 18 on ABC and from 5-6:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

Read more & Comment...
05/02/08
nassprint

Biffle aims to re-sign with Roush Fenway
Greg Biffle said on Friday at Richmond International Raceway that "my 100 percent intent" is to work an extension with Roush Fenway.  "There are a lot of great teams and great opportunities out there," said Biffle, whose contract expires at the end of this season. "I am making my decision kind of how Dale Earnhardt Jr. did, and it's about winning races and championships and contending for the title and having good equipment.

"There are a lot of teams that have that, but I feel comfortable where I'm at with Roush Fenway."

Comment
05/02/08
nassprint

Edwards signs multiyear contract with Roush
Carl Edwards says that he has signed a multiyear NASCAR Sprint Cup Series contract to continue driving for Roush Fenway Racing.  Edwards, has driven full time for team owner Jack Roush since 2004, finished third in series points in 2005 and has already won three NASCAR Cup races this season.

“I signed my contract yesterday, so I’m staying with Roush,” Edwards said Friday afternoon at Richmond International Raceway. “I looked at everything and I talked to everybody, and, for me, the number one thing is looking into the future and saying, ‘Where can I win the most races and have the most success?’ I was honored at the people who I got to speak with, and I just feel like for me personally this is where I want to be for the near future, and we got it done.

“It’s good. I’m real happy about it. It’s a huge relief. It really wasn’t that painful. [Roush Fenway Racing President] Geoff Smith and I get
along really well, and we just pretty much sat down, and he’s really easy for me to deal with.  It took us about a week and a half of going back and forth with just little things, and I feel like the luckiest guy in the world for the contract I got.”

Edwards negotiated his contract without any input from an agent, an experience he deems as “neat.” He said that might have been a problem if he’d been dealing with someone he didn’t trust, but that he has a good relationship with Smith and that talks went smoothly.

Comment
05/02/08
Euro F3

Nico Hülkenberg: Second pole in second qualifying
So far this season, qualifying in the Formula 3 Euro Series has been the domain of Nico Hülkenberg (ART Grand Prix, 1:41.443 min). Just like during the season opener at Hockenheim, he also came out fastest in the second qualifying of the year at Mugello in Italy. Kauai Tsukakoshi (Manor Motorsport, 1:41.609 min), Christian Vietoris (Mücke Motorsport, 1:41.765 min) and Renger van der Zande (Prema Powerteam, 1:41.905 min) will be completing the first two rows on the starting grid for the third season round of the Formula 3 Euro Series at the 5.245 kilometers long circuit in Tuscany.

Hülkenberg drove his fastest lap time eight minutes before the end of the session. The final attacks of his rivals weren’t good enough to take the top position away from the test driver of the Williams-Toyota-F1-team. Third-placed Christian Vietoris pushed a little bit too hard on his final attempt and had to plough through the gravel trap.

Italian driver, Edoardo Mortara (Signature-Plus, 1:42.108 min) was best-placed driver with a Volkswagen engine in seventh place behind fastest rookie, Jules Bianchi (ART Grand Prix, 1:41.906) and James Jakes (ART Grand Prix, 1:42.099 min).

Nico Hülkenberg (ART Grand Prix): “Qualifying wasn’t easy. Compared to free practice, the track had changed a lot so that the car didn’t behave all the time like I had expected it to. Moreover, the asphalt was significantly warmer than in the morning. In these conditions, tires wore out particularly quickly, I could only do one quick lap. This one was about 95 percent right.”

Koudai Tsukakoshi (Manor Motorsport): “The balance of my car is really good. In qualifying, I entirely focused on finding the right line and not making any mistakes. Moreover, I tried to find a clear lap, in which I succeeded. I am really happy with second place.”

Christian Vietoris (Mücke Motorsport): I am very happy with third place, as the Mugello circuit doesn’t suit me. It took me a few laps to get on the pace. In testing on Thursday, I was way down on the front runners, now I lacked only 0.322 seconds. On my final lap, I was too quick. The tires were already over their peak and I landed in the gravel trap.”

Comment
05/02/08
nassprint

Talladega TV rating UPDATE The final TV rating of last Sunday's Aaron's 499 Sprint Cup race from Talladega was a 5.7/13 share, up 5.5% over last year's 5.4/14 share final rating.

04/28/08 Fox's broadcast of Sunday's Aaron's 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway earned a 5.2 overnight Nielsen Media Research rating and an 11 share.  The rating is 2.0 percent higher than the 5.1 Fox earned overnight for the race in 2007.

ABC's broadcast of Saturday's Aaron's 312 Nationwide Series race earned a 2.3 overnight rating, up 9.5 percent from the 2.1 the race earned in 2007.

Comment
05/02/08
f1

Kova 'fighting fit' after Barca crash
Heikki Kovalainen
(GMM)  Heikki Kovalainen on Friday said he is back training and hoping to bounce back from his huge Barcelona crash at the Turkish grand prix next weekend.

The Finn was hospitalized and concussed after his 27G impact with the Campsa tire barrier, so must be cleared to race at Istanbul by FIA doctors next Thursday.

Since Kovalainen, 26, last spoke from his Barcelona hospital room, he has returned to Finland and recommenced training.

Team chief executive Martin Whitmarsh revealed that the driver is "fighting fit" and should pass the FIA's standard neurological and physiological exams, but it is understood that Pedro de la Rosa has been put on standby in the event that Kovalainen is grounded.

"I am feeling good, the stiffness in my neck has pretty much gone," Kovalainen said on Friday.

He revealed that his full focus is on ensuring he is fit to race in Turkey, and fended off any talk that the more than 200kph shunt has made him nervous about returning to the wheel of his Mercedes-powered car.

Asked if he has any qualms about racing in Turkey, Kovalainen answered: "None whatsoever.  I want to get back racing as soon as possible, since the accident at Barcelona it has been my only focus."

Comment
05/02/08
irl

Zimicki's prior coaching helps Rahal and Patrick to first wins
Major league open-wheel racing has had a lot to celebrate over the past several weeks including historic race victories by both Graham Rahal (youngest driver in history to win an IndyCar Series race) and Danica Patrick (first female to win a closed-course race).  While the victories by Rahal and Danica came world’s apart and on different types of circuits (Rahal’s win was on street course in St. Petersburg, Florida and Danica’s on an oval in Motegi, Japan) both have a common thread.  That “common thread” is renowned driver coach Mike Zimicki.

For over 25 years, Zimicki has provided a star-studded list of race car driver clients with expertise in the areas of driver coaching and development, data analysis and integration of information from an engineering standpoint.  Having worked extensively for multiple years with both Rahal and Danica, Zimicki takes a tremendous amount of satisfaction in their respective victories.  “I started working with Danica when she joined Rahal Letterman Racing in 2003.  To help her career advance and grow through the Atlantic Series and into IndyCar competition, and to see her now as a race-winner at the highest level of professional motorsports, it’s a real pleasure,” says Zimicki.

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05/02/08
irl

Blockbuster and Lucasfilm team up with Andretti Green Racing
INDIANA JONES™ is embarking on a daring new adventure, thanks to an alliance between Andretti Green Racing, Blockbuster Inc. and Lucasfilm Ltd.  At a Hollywood BLOCKBUSTER® store this afternoon at 5:30 pm. IndyCar driver Marco Andretti will unveil the #26 Indiana Jones-themed car he will drive at the Indianapolis 500 on May 25.  The car, sponsored by Blockbuster and Lucasfilm Ltd., celebrates Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull™, opening in theaters worldwide on May 22.

"Both Indiana Jones and the Indy 500 are legendary," said Andretti. "The Indy 500 is the biggest, most exciting race in the world, so it's the perfect place for Blockbuster and Lucasfilm to celebrate the world's favorite action hero in his new film."

Comment
05/02/08
a1gp

A1GP Mugello, Italy confirmed
A1GP World Cup of Motorsport has confirmed the first race of the 2008/09 season to be held at the Mugello circuit in Italy on 21 September 2008.

Comment
05/02/08
a1gp

A1GP Drivers Bowled Over in Cricket International
A1GP point leader Neel Jani swings and misses
In the build up to this weekend’s A1GP season finale at Brands Hatch circuit in Kent, Great Britain, drivers from 10 different nations took part in a friendly cricket match against a selection of academy players at the Kent County Cricket Club Ground in Beckenham on Thursday morning (1 May).

After a welcome from Ken Slater, manager of the Beckenham ground, a leafy suburb in South East London, the drivers got to grips with the kit in the dressing room before proceeding to the pitch for a briefing with the Kent players.

Once all 13 drivers were warmed up and familiar with the rules of cricket, the captains of the opposing teams took to the pitch to perform the traditional coin toss at the wicket. James Butterfill, the captain of the Kent side, won the toss and decided to bat first to take advantage of the temporarily dry weather conditions.

After a short break for morning tea in the pavilion while rain suspended play, the A1GP drivers took to the crease to bat, chasing Kent’s score of 48 runs.

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05/02/08
automotive

Audi sales mixed
Audi of America, Inc. announced today sales for the month of April totaling 7,730, a decrease of 4.6% from last year’s record figures. Audi Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) sales continued their record-setting trend; compared with last year’s April figures, CPO sales rose to 3,175 units, an increase of 56.4%.

Comment
05/02/08
irl

Feedback on IndyCar editorial UPDATE #2 Having read the article by Jason Peters, I feel I must pick up on the point about the broadcast team. Here in England we get the international broadcast, and I have to say the commentary is woeful. Gary Lee and Larry Rice sound so dull and unenthusiastic, and have little clue what is going on (especially on the road courses). I feel I would be no less informed about the race if I watched with the volume on 'mute'! I'd like to see Jeremy Shaw back in the booth. His efforts along with James Hinchcliffe last year made the best IndyCar/ChampCar international commentary team in many years. Stuart Page, England

05/01/08 Great article!  You made a number of good points.  Regarding one – sponsor activation – I did a little consulting work for a NASCAR team a couple of years ago.  I am big racing fan, but I don’t know much about NASCAR; although I do have a lot of admiration for the business model.  So I thought I would get up to speed on how NASCAR worked.  It didn’t take me very long to realize that a key component of NASCAR’s success is sponsor activation.  Actually, NASCAR does relatively little advertising, but you see the brand all over.  That’s because the sponsors advertise their involvement. Like you said, go to Menards, Target, or 7-Eleven store and see there is any indication that they are involved with IndyCar. 

On a closing note - Gene Simmons – I haven’t got a clue if he brings anything, or if they just don’t listen, but I know that he told them that IRL sounds like a disease, that it needs to be called IndyCar only.  That was a year ago, and to this day, this website and everybody else calls it the IRL.  They (the IRL) could fix that with a Press Release.  My guess is they don’t listen to Simmons. 

Bottom line - IndyCar is, and Champ Car was, in the sports entertainment business, but I am not sure they get it.    Donn Kelly

04/30/08 Our latest editorial, The Unification Was Great, Will Anything Change? is generating a lot of feedback.  Here are few:

What a great article!!  Jason couldn't have hit the nail on the head better. If you need a case in point, I have one from earlier today.  I stopped at an Exxon station, the kind with the convenience store added in, to buy a soda on my lunch break.  What do you think I saw there?  No fewer than 6 different promotional ads, those being in just the limited portion of the store I went through, proudly featuring former 2 time Indy Car Series Champion, Indy 500 winner and all time Indy Car Series race wins leader now full time NASCAR driver, Sam Hornish Jr. in his Mobil 1 racing suit and a big NASCAR logo on the sign hawking different food and drink deals encompassing one's entire day from breakfast to late night snacks for the Exxon Mobil company stores.  He was all over the store and on the windows facing out of the store so you could see it when walking into the store.  NASCAR's masterful marketing dept. working its usual way, all to the complete discredit of the Indy Car Series.  Tony George should see this as a big slap directly to his face from the France Family and ISC because that's exactly what it is and they know it.  Don't think for a second that NASCAR isn't loving every minute of running that ad campaign for all race fans and non race fans to see all day and night long.  They are loving it, and to be perfectly honest, they should be.  They took a major American born Indy Car Star away from the series completely and are putting him out there in a marketing campaign for their series, for everyone to see at every single store that chain has, even without him having accomplished all that much since he made the switch to full time NASCAR driver.  I am a devout open wheel racing fan and this type of stuff that NASCAR does bothers me greatly.  Time for the Indy Car Series to fight fire with fire, I say. 

I know this is kind of long so if you want to edit anything and post it, you have my blessing.  I get a little "winded" sometimes.  If not, that's OK too.  Just wanted you all to know what I saw today that played right into what was written in that article, which you have probably already seen yourselves.

Keep up the great work there. Brian Schofield

Jason Peter's article was an absolute breath of fresh air! It is about damn time journalists that cover motorsports get "a set” and start telling the truth. Quit playing to The NASCAR Cartel and drinking Kool-Aid in the King's court.  Flash back to 1995 -1996 ........What was wrong with CART and open wheel racing?

Let's begin: Great TV coverage on ABC with a intelligent and articulate broadcasters who loved the sport and knew every detail about. Page, Gerald, and Arute were awesome. Bobby Unser was also a lot of fun. Sam Posey, negative that.

Crowds and venues: awesome.......... Drivers: name recognition, exceeded NASCAR.

Sponsors, hospitalities, promotion and advertising: over the top. Car count: on par with the number of starting spots at INDY.

Manufactures and engines: Cosworth, Ilmor, Chevy, Ford, Buick, Porsche, Lola, Reynard, Honda and Toyota just starting, Swift and the Gurney Eagles forthcoming, etc.

Indy: Full house fat and happy.

Racing: The best. Ovals, roads, streets. The best venues in the world.

Engineering: Reward excellence, go fast. You miss the mark, better fix it or you won't be able to give it away.

Race Safety: The absolute best in the world. The envy of all motorsports. And still is.  CART Safety/Champ Car safety the best!

So where does that bring us today? A substandard racing series that has put all of the chips on a driver who never won in Atlantics, got a freebie in Japan to boost Indy, The King drunk up on his own Kool Aid and letting the same players that help doom CART have the keys to the Kingdom, and because of the unholy alliance with NASCAR are now paying the price for open wheels failure to attract sponsors and corporate America because NASCAR now controls that avenue.

Dead spot on about Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Thanks Jason for telling like it is.  Don't think NASCAR is going to ever allow open wheel the chance to be on top. Indy is just NASCAR's "lap dog."  Feel the Speed, BK

Bravo, Bravo..... Mr. Peters nailed it on every level, except the Gene Simmons thing. Bruce, Lansing, MI

Comment
05/02/08
f1

Vijay Mallya Q&A
Force India scored its first top 10 finish in Spain when Giancarlo Fisichella finished 10th, having run as high as eighth at one stage in the race. However it was a disappointing day for his team mate Adrian Sutil, who made a great start and passed several cars before getting involved in a first lap accident.

Vijay Mallya gave us his thoughts on the weekend.

Q: How pleased were you to see Giancarlo running as high as eighth at Barcelona?
'I was not expecting an eighth place finish when I saw the car in eighth, but I am very pleased that we made the top 10 at the end of the race. We're getting better and better in every race. It was a shame that Adrian could not have a full race, as both cars started off very well. But these things happen in racing, if you start further down the grid, you have to take some risks; sometimes they work out very well and sometimes they don't. This is racing.'

Q: How important was it to get a decent finish like that?
'Nothing is better than a top 10 result. We've been in this game for five months, and being in the top 10 is a great feeling. It's a feeling that makes us believe in ourselves, and the fact that we're making progress. We shouldn't underestimate this achievement - this team was getting better all the time last year, however regular top 12 finishes were something of a rarity. I hope this year we can make it a permanent trend.'

Q: Are you a little frustrated by qualifying and always just missing Q2?
'I was disappointed with qualifying after such a strong practice on Friday and Saturday morning. Clearly what I'm noticing is that we're not able to get good qualifying pace out of the car, and we need to investigate that thoroughly. But our race pace has always been decent. People have commented on it, and we showed it again in Spain. We are looking into why we cannot reproduce the lap times in qualifying now and I'm confident we will get to the bottom of it. We have to - if we can start higher up, the chances are we will finish higher up.'

Q: Once again Giancarlo was able to keep quicker cars behind him. Was that very satisfying?
'Absolutely. In the last race he kept Lewis Hamilton behind him, and this time he kept Nick Heidfeld in a BMW behind him for almost eight laps. It was great to see, and it was great brand exposure for us too!'

Read more & Comment...
05/02/08
nnw

Carpentier’s race-worn helmet to be auctioned tonight
Patrick Carpentier’s race-worn, autographed helmet will be placed on eBay for auction tonight [Friday, May 2] at 10 pm EST. Autographed by Patrick, the helmet was worn in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Mexico City’s Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on Sunday, April, 20 where he piloted the No. 9 Auto Value Dodge to a fifth place finish.

Proceeds from the auctioning of the helmet will benefit Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper’s Charity Cars program.

Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper Charity Cars takes in donated cars from store customers and then allows the Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper experts to inspect and ensure that each and every car is ready for the road. The refurbished vehicles will then be presented to over 500 recipients across the nation, all of whom are victims of domestic violence.

Logon to www.ebay.com/charitycars to begin bidding.

Comment
05/02/08
f1

Red Bull to test Spanish youngster
One key aspect of the Red Bull Young Driver program is that it rewards strong performances on the race track with the opportunity to drive a Red Bull Racing Formula 1 car, either as part of the test program or at a Formula 1 show run. Driving a Grand Prix car in the early stages of a career is all part of the training that is at the heart of the Red Bull Young Driver program.

Recently, Canada’s Robert Wickens and Kiwi Brendan Hartley have both got the call to sit in a Red Bull F1 cockpit and next weekend the name of Red Bull Junior driver, Jaime Alguersuari will be added to this list. The Spaniard is to drive an RB4 when Red Bull Racing travels to the Idiada Proving Ground, in Spain, for straight line aero testing over the weekend of the Turkish Grand Prix.

Alguersuari, who has just turned eighteen, is currently lying third in the British International Formula 3 Championship, driving for Carlin Motorsport. Last year, he finished second in the Italian Formula Renault series and fifth in the European Renault series. 

At Idiada, Jaime will be standing in for Red Bull Racing’s usual test and reserve driver, Sebastien Buemi, who will be competing in the GP2 event at Istanbul Park that week. Alguersuari has recently been nominated for Spain’s prestigious Gillette Future Champion Award.

Comment
05/02/08
irl

Power looking to repeat history at Brickyard
Will Power drives the #8 Aussie Vineyards - Team Australia Honda/Dallara/Firestone at Kansas Speedway
(Credit: LAT)
Will Power is looking to repeat Australian motor racing history as he embarks the 92nd Indianapolis 500 with Rookie Orientation practice beginning this Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

If Power can qualify for this month’s race, he stands a chance of becoming only the second Australian to win the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year award.

Power will turn his first laps at the famed speedway on Sunday May 4 with 12 other rookie contenders, with practice for all IndyCar drivers and teams commencing on Tuesday May 6.

With 40 entries vying for 33 starting positions in the event known as ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’, Power’s immediate objective is to qualify for his Indy 500 debut, with the race to be held on May 25.

If Power is able to secure a starting spot for the 200-lap race, he will become the fifth Australian to race in the Indianapolis 500, held since 1911 at the 2.5-mile oval known as ‘The Brickyard’ after the original circuit was surfaced with bricks. Now, a single yard to bricks forms the start-finish line on the front straight.

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05/02/08
track news

Testing Sessions Set for NASCAR at LMS
Testing sessions for NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series teams have been scheduled at Lowe's Motor Speedway in preparation for the track's calendar of May races, including the May 17 Sprint All-Star Race and the May 25 Coca-Cola 600. Each division will participate in a two-day testing session with a third day reserved in case of rain.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series May 5-6; May 7 Rain Date
7:00 a.m. Garage Opens
9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. On-Track Testing
12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Lunch Break
1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. On-Track Testing
5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Dinner Break
6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. On-Track Testing
9:30 p.m. Garage Closes
During each testing session, Lowe's Motor Speedway's frontstretch grandstand will be open free of charge and fans should enter through Gate 5A, located next to the main ticket office. LMS PR

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05/02/08
f1

World Council pre-votes on Mosley!
Radovan Novak is much in the news today for his remarks to a Czech radio station about who was responsible for what Max Mosley claims was an investigation into his private life. The end result of this was the sordid revelations that have filled the newspapers of late.

The sound of back-pedaling has been very clear as Novak has sought to avoid legal action (it is too late to worry about embarrassment).

Further study of the content of the interview reveals not only some interesting tales about how he came to have his FIA current position, but also about what he claims was an unofficial vote of 24 of the 26 members of the FIA World Motor Sport Council, which suggests that Mosley still has some support within the FIA. The two people not involved in this alleged process were Mosley himself and Bernie Ecclestone.

It is not clear why the latter was not involved.

According to Novak the result of this straw poll was six abstentions, nine votes for Mosley and nine votes against. Novak went on to say that it is 50-50 as to whether Mosley will survive the FIA General Assembly meeting as he reckons the sporting clubs will vote with Mosley and the touring clubs will vote against. Most sources we have spoken to seem to think that Mosley will get more of the touring votes than Novak suggests. What is interesting about this is that if Mosley can only get half of the WMSC to support him, it is unlikely that he will get more than half of the sporting clubs.

One must consider the possibility that Novak's remarks are not simply those of a loose-lipped official but rather are designed to try to swing votes. More at Grandprix.com

Comment
05/02/08
motogp

MotoGP China: Rossi on top on Friday
Valentino Rossi’s morning lap of 1´59.906 was enough to take the early advantage in the MotoGP combined free practice standings, with not even the Italian himself able to beat his hot lap in the second session.

The Fiat Yamaha rider finished second in the afternoon runout, behind 2007 Shanghai racewinner and reigning World Champion Casey Stoner. However, Stoner’s 2´00.186 lap was not sufficient to better Rossi’s marker, falling just over two tenths of a second short.

Both riders had grip problems on their final outing of the day, avoiding highsides on the sun-heated asphalt but losing time making corrections. Rossi ran off track, a fate that also befell Alice Team’s Toni Elias and Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi.

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05/02/08
motogp

Lorenzo injured in first practice in China
Lorenzo goes flying over his bike in a rather nasty spill in Shanghai Friday
MotoGP
He starred in Qatar, reigned in Spain and thrilled in Estoril, but Jorge Lorenzo’s visit to China has got off to an inauspicious start. The current MotoGP World Championship leader suffered a huge highside in the second half of the opening practice session, and is currently being examined at the city’s Huashan hospital.

The exact extent of his injuries will not be known until after an x-ray is undertaken, but the Clinica Mobile believe that the Spaniard has fractured his right ankle, cut the heel of the same foot and has possible damage to the left ankle. The Spaniard also appears to have suffered an abrasion to his left knee.

`I don't think Jorge will be able to ride this afternoon because he has pain in both ankles and needs a further x-ray at the hospital, so it will take time to get there and back and to do the tests,´ said Daniele Romagnoli, Lorenzo’s Team Manager, after talking with the Clinica Mobile.

`Dr Costa wants to be absolutely sure about the injuries as it looks like there could be possible small fractures in both ankles. The knee injury is not too serious, just a bit of a cut.'

The teams ended today with the second round of practice without Lorenzo and he will not take to the track until tomorrow morning at 10:00am (local time), giving Lorenzo nearly 24 hours to rest.

Comment
05/02/08
f1
irl

Honda considers Danica for PR stunt UPDATE #2 Another reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Of course a Danica Patrick F1 test would be a PR stunt.  If not, every IRL driver who has won only one race would get a test, too.  Graham Rahal won a race this year.  Where's his F1 test?  What about all the other IRL single race winners?  However, Danica is 'special' because she is a cute female.  In the past the male IRL champions, not single race winners, but champions, got an F1 test.  Now Honda is lowering their standards to if you win a race you get a test?  They did the same thing with single race winner Marco Andretti because he has a 'big' name. I could see if Danica won the championship, was a multiple race winner who ran at the front of the field all the time, and was fast enough to put the car on pole frequently.  Instead she is not capable of doing any of that, so don't insult my intelligence by saying Honda would give her a proper F1 test because she has the potential to be an F1 driver.  If she was F1 material, pigs would fly over the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  I guess they must think we fans are stupid.  Danny Jones

05/01/08 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, You have got to be kidding me, right?  Danica has won only one race in all her life, and that on a fuel economy run, and now she qualifies for an F1 test?  She isn't good enough for F1 and will NEVER get an F1 ride.  Everyone in the paddock knows this.  We laugh at all the attention she gets because we know she is a wanker.  A good looking wanker, but a wanker nonetheless.  She's a pretty face that in most cases falls right back when the green flag drops.  And her performance on road courses is laughable.  The IRL had to even implement power steering (OK variable steering, but pretty much the same thing) just for her because her arms would tire and she would fade as the race wore one.  If this test happens it is nothing but a PR stunt and I don't care how Honda tries to characterize it - it is PR for Danica, PR for the IRL, and PR for Honda.  This sport has become a joke when a pretty face with questionable driving abilities is the hero.  I and many others inside the paddock are besides ourselves.  Name Withheld by Request

05/01/08 IndyCar race winner Danica Patrick has set her sights on a Formula One test, with Honda Racing confirming they would be interested in running the Andretti-Green Racing driver.

Patrick's maiden victory at Motegi has prompted fresh speculation about her future, with Honda being an obvious candidate to consider her because the Japanese manufacturer supply her engines.

Speaking to this week's Autosport, Patrick confirmed that she was interested in a run in an F1 car, but only if it was a serious test.

"Every driver would love to drive a Formula One car at some point in their life, so yeah," she said. "I don't think there's anything wrong with a real, proper test.

"I was asked to do a demonstration lap at Indy in 2005, and I said, 'No way. You're making me a show. That's embarrassing.' But I would say that a real test is absolutely something I would do." Autosport.com

Comment
05/02/08
f1
gp2

Bruno Senna wants F1 debut in 2009
Bruno Senna
(GMM)  Bruno Senna, the nephew of the late and great triple world champion Ayrton Senna, wants to step up to formula one in 2009.

The 24-year-old has just begun his second season in the main GP2 series, and in Barcelona he turned fourth on the grid into second in the Saturday race.

He was then fourth in Sunday's sprint race, leaving him now equal on points with the championship leader Alvaro Parente.

"This is obviously the most important year in my career until now.  It is now or never," he told the Irish Sun.

"If I can be (GP2) champion, I can have the opportunity to be in formula one next season," Senna added.

Bruno Senna's famous uncle was killed in the 1994 San Marino grand prix at Imola exactly fourteen years ago this week.

Despite fighting through a lengthy family ban on his racing career, Bruno insists that he is not scared of following in the fateful footsteps of Ayrton Senna.

"The cars cannot be compared with those of fourteen years ago," he said, albeit admitting that his mother Viviane Senna - Ayrton's sister - is still wary of his choice of career.

Bruno Senna also told F1's official website: "I want to be in F1 in 2009 or 2010.  I am fast enough, and this season I want to prove this."

Comment
05/02/08
f1

Kubica eyes future rally switch
Robert Kubica

(GMM)  Robert Kubica has refused to rule out switching from formula one to become a professional rally driver.

BMW-Sauber's Polish race driver is an avid rally fan, and he told the British news agency Reuters that he often spends time away from the grand prix paddocks to stand among the mud-covered spectators at a rally event.

The 23-year-old admitted "a good possibility" of switching codes one day.

"If I want to do rally properly as a serious driver, I cannot wait a long time.  But first of all I would like to have fun in formula One and achieve something in formula one," he said.

"The second option is (to do it) when I stop formula one, just to do rallying for fun.  And I think the second option is more possible," Kubica added.

Kubica made his grand prix debut as Jacques Villeneuve's replacement at BMW in 2006, and he is currently third in the championship following two podiums and his maiden pole position in Bahrain.

Comment
05/02/08
superleague

Designer to tackle all 20 Superleague liveries
Thousands of football fans around the world are eagerly awaiting the chance to see their club colors aboard the 750 horsepower, V12-powered Superleague Formula cars – and, with only four months to go before the kick off at Donington Park, British graphic designer Ian Hutchinson is bearing the weight of expectation.

The renowned racing car livery designer has been appointed to complete the designs for the entire Superleague Formula field – 20 cars to be completed in time for the championship’s pre-season kick-off in Barcelona from July 29.

All 20 clubs will gather in Spain for the final pre-season test where the liveries will be unveiled at the home of both the Spanish Grand Prix and Superleague Formula.

Hutchinson is the man responsible for some of the most memorable liveries in world motorsport including the classic Silk Cut Jaguar sportscars (and the US-based Castrol and Bud Light sponsored entries); the 7Up Jordan Formula 1 car and the entire series of Mild Seven-sponsored Benetton and Renault Formula 1 entries.

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05/02/08
f1

Hardest tires possible for Turkey
Istanbul circuit
Formula One heads to Turkey for the fifth round of the season where Bridgestone’s hard and medium compound Potenza tires will face the tricky turn eight, as well as the rest of the difficult-to-master 5.34 km Hermann Tilke designed track, for the Petrol Ofisi Turkish Grand Prix on 9-11 May.

The Istanbul Park Circuit has hosted the Turkish Grand Prix since its inauguration in 2005. The first anti- clockwise track on the calendar this season, it has a mix of almost every type of corner that is seen on a grand prix circuit. Only a small portion of the track is on level ground, the majority being either uphill or downhill to present drivers with a real roller-coaster ride.

Turn eight is one of the rare pieces of level ground on the circuit, however, but it presents the biggest challenge over the course of a lap. A triple-apex left-hander, the corner has a downhill entry which levels off and keeps on turning left until it has helped generate some of the highest G forces of the year, putting the tires, cars and drivers under high loads.

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05/02/08
nassprint
nnw

Harvick Signs with JEGS High-Performance Auto Parts
Kevin Harvick
Kevin Harvick has signed to promote high-performance auto parts giant JEGS.com and their Mail Order parts business. Harvick will feature the JEGS.com logo on the helmets he uses in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series. The Coughlin family, owners of JEGS for more than 45 years, is a multi-generational success story in NHRA drag racing and is now venturing into NASCAR sponsorship.

"JEGS is a great company and we need to make JEGS.com the place for NASCAR fans to go whenever they need high-performance parts," Harvick said. "The Coughlin brothers got involved with NASCAR through the contingency program last year and they have big billboards at most of the tracks. I think this deal is just a natural progression for their involvement with our sport.

"I've become great friends with John (Coughlin) and watched Jeg (Coughlin) race his Pro Stock car in Las Vegas. I’m a fan of drag racing and they’re fans of NASCAR. We're all racers at heart and that made this relationship very comfortable right from the start. I started Kevin Harvick Inc. with my wife DeLana, so we really identified with the family aspects of what they do in business and racing."

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05/02/08
racing news

Lyn St. James’ Scholarship Program Jump Starts Careers
Danica Patrick made international headlines last month when she became the first woman to win an IndyCar race. Her victory is a celebration for many aspiring young women drivers who look at Patrick’s big win as inspiration for their own opportunities within the sport of motor racing.

For 18 young women drivers nationwide, and one from Germany, Lyn St. James’ Project Podium offers optimism that their hard work, perseverance and driving talents will grow and be recognized. Project Podium is a new grant program that provides matching funds to drivers who have generated sponsorships.

For St. James, Project Podium is a natural extension of the Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation and Driver Development Program, of which Patrick is a graduate.

“There are many more women in the driver pipeline than ever before,” St. James said. “Project Podium is designed to help young talent achieve racing and business success, but not by giving them a handout. Each applicant must demonstrate her commitment, desire and need, both in the business world and on the track.”

Project Podium applicants submitted their driving qualifications, sponsor information and a written essay on their goals and plans and why they need support. They are:

Renee Dupuis (Glastonbury, Conn.) – NASCAR Whelen Modified Series
Kaley Engstrom (Rhome, Texas) – Brazo Mini Sprint Assoc.
Natalie Fernaroli (Raymore, Mo.) - TAG USA KART
Diana Harker (Gainesville, Ga.) – NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster
Kate Harker (Gainesville, Ga.) – NHRA Top Alcohol Dragster
Sloan Henderson (Franklin, Ohio) – INEX Legends
Brandie Jass (Bryan, Texas) – Brazos Mini Sprint Assoc.
Kristy Knoll (Amherst, N.Y.) – WKA Jr. Restricted Dirt Karts
Samantha Neild (Jensen Beach, Fla.) – NHRA Altered Dragster
Ashley Parlett (Harrisburg, N.C.) – 260 Sprint Cars
Leah Pruett-LeDuc (Cherry Valley, Calif.) – NHRA Funny Car / Super Comp
Megan Reitenour (Miamisburg, Ohio) - SuperCupStockCarSeries / ARCA Truck Series
Kayla Sewell (Henderson, Nev.) - NHRA Sportsman
Trista Stevenson (Pocahontas, Ill.) – NASCAR Late Model
Samantha Taylor (Bonney Lake, Wash.) – USAC / QMA / IKF / ASCS
Miranda Throckmorton (Coatesville, Ind.) – Allstar & Midwest Circuit of Champions
Lynsey Tilton (Martinsville, Ind.) – USAC Midgets / Mini sprints
Jackie Weiss (Hessen, Germany) – Karts / Formula BMW

Read more & Comment...
05/01/08
nassprint

Richard and Kyle Petty Visit With Veterans
While in Richmond this week, Richard and Kyle Petty visited with paralyzed veterans in the Spinal Cord Injury Unit of Richmond’s Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center.  The two spent time with seriously wounded troops and met with members of the Paralyzed Veterans Virginia Mid-Atlantic Chapter.

The Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) will adorn the hood and sides of Kyle Petty’s #45 Dodge this weekend for the Crown Royal Presents the Dan Lowry 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.  Petty Enterprises recently donated sponsorship of the #45 Dodge to the PVA for the Kobalt Tools 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.  The organization will join the team again at the Pocono 500 held on June 8 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.

The Petty’s were proud to spend their afternoon with some of our nation’s service men and women.  They are longtime supporters of the armed forced and have a deep appreciation for the commitment and sacrifice made by American troops.

Comment
05/01/08
irl

Large rookie class headed to Indianapolis
Only eight rookies have ever won the Indianapolis 500 – and that includes Ray Harroun, who won the inaugural race in 1911. This year, 13 rookies, the most since 1997, will attempt to add their name to the list that includes Graham Hill, Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves.
 
The rookie class for the 92nd Indianapolis 500 will take its first laps around the 2.5-mile speedway May 4-5 when they must complete the Rookie Orientation Program, a set of four phases of 10 laps each at increasing speeds.
 
The rookie class is diverse, featuring drivers who have won at the track in Firestone Indy Lights, drivers who competed on the track’s road course in Formula One, and several drivers who will be on the grounds for the first time. There’s also Graham Rahal, whose father Bobby won the 500 three years before the 19-year-old was born.
 
Jaime Camara, Jay Howard, Alex Lloyd and Hideki Mutoh competed at Indianapolis in Firestone Indy Lights, lapping the oval at 190 mph vs. the 225 mph of an IndyCar Series car. Camara won the Freedom 100 in 2005 and finished third twice. Lloyd won in 2007 while Mutoh finished fifth. Howard finished second in 2006.

Read more & Comment...
05/01/08
irl

Quickest Bump Day driver to be rewarded
Red Gold, a leading producer of premium quality tomato products since 1942, will offer an incentive for drivers attempting to find extra speed on Bump Day, the dramatic final day of qualifications for the 92nd Indianapolis 500.

The driver who posts the quickest lap time during a qualification attempt that secures a starting spot on Bump Day, Sunday, May 18, will earn the $10,000 Red Gold Red Zone Award. The quick lap cannot come on a successful attempt that later is bumped from the starting field.

Red Gold Brand Ketchup, an Indianapolis favorite, is being served throughout IMS for fans and race teams to enjoy. Red Gold Brand Ketchup is available on more than 60 condiment carts located throughout the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Red Gold, based in Elwood, Ind., is a third-generation, family-owned and operated business. In its three state-of-the-art processing facilities, located in the heart of Tomato Country, Red Gold produces more than 100 different styles and flavors of tomato products in 20 different sizes and containers. More than 1,200 dedicated employees pursue this mission: "To produce the freshest, best tasting tomato products in the world."

The Red Gold family of consumer brands includes Red Gold, Redpack and Tuttorosso canned tomato products, along with Sacramento Juices.

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05/01/08
irl

Legends coming to IMS to talk with fans
An impressive lineup of legendary Indianapolis 500 drivers is returning to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during May to participate in question-and-answer sessions with fans.

The sessions will take place on the Coke Zero Stage in the Pagoda Plaza at IMS. The schedule:

  • Sunday, May 4: 1-1:30 p.m. - Al Unser, Al Unser Jr., Al Unser III, Johnny Unser, Robby Unser
  • Saturday, May 10: 1-2:45 p.m. - Mel Kenyon, Bill Vukovich Jr.
  • Sunday, May 11: 1-2:45 p.m. - Tom Sneva
  • Sunday, May 18: 1-2:45 p.m. - Michael Andretti, Bobby Rahal
  • Wednesday, May 21: 2:30-3 p.m. - Rick Mears


Comment
05/01/08
irl

Viso will start month with Mini-Marathon
E.J. Viso
Forgive E.J. Viso if he’s a bit tired for the first day of Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway May 4. The 23-year-old Venezuelan rookie will compete in the 32nd running of the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon in Downtown Indianapolis the day before he begins preparations for the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500.

“I’m not a professional runner, but I do run quite a lot for training purposes and I really enjoy it,” said Viso, who drives the No. 33 PDVSA HVM Racing car. “I think that participating in the 500 Festival Mini-Marathon is a great opportunity to spend some time with the people who will be watching the race in a few weeks. It is my first time running with so many people, I’ve only done a couple of 10Ks before but I’m really excited about it.

“When I get to the part of the marathon course that is inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, those will be my first steps on the track. I think it is fitting that I step foot on the grounds of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in this way. I will be taking it easy, however, not looking to set any records, as I have to be in the car on Sunday for my first day of Rookie Orientation.”

Firestone Indy Lights points leader J.R. Hildebrand also is expected to run in the Mini-Marathon.

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05/01/08
irl

Sherman gets bonus test with Panther Racing
Firestone Indy Lights rookie Brent Sherman got his first taste of an IndyCar Series machine on April 28.

Sherman, who shared Panther Racing's No. 4 Honda-powered Dallara with its regular driver Vitor Meira, became the latest Firestone Indy Lights driver to drive an IndyCar Series car thanks to the Firestone Indy Lights Bonus Testing program, which grants extra test days to teams that field full-time entries in the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights.

"I didn't really know what to expect, obviously," said Sherman, who finished eighth in the Kansas Lottery 100 on April 27. "I'd have to say for me it went better than expected. We were up to speed fairly quickly on the first run, and I didn't know how much feedback I'd be able to give to the team and how much I'd really actually be able to help them."

The test concluded a busy weekend for Sherman, whose team picked up primary sponsorship from the National Guard for the remainder of the 2008 season. He returns to the track at the end of May when the Firestone Indy Lights contest the Firestone Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"It just made me want more," Sherman said. "After I got out of the car I called John Barnes and said, 'Look, I'm ready for the 500 this year, let's do it.' I didn't get a comment back. So I'm assuming that's a no."

Comment
05/01/08
nnw

SPEED to Simulcast NASCAR Nationwide Race
By special arrangement, SPEED is adding a live simulcast of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Lipton Tea 250 from Richmond International Raceway on Friday, May 2, with pre-race coverage beginning at 7 p.m. ET, followed by race coverage at 7:30 p.m. ET.

“SPEED is happy to lend a hand to NASCAR and one of our fellow NASCAR television partners,” said SPEED President Hunter Nickell. “It’s a great way for SPEED and ESPN to come together to best serve the race fan.”

The simulcast will follow 4.5 hours of NASCAR programming on SPEED, including:
NASCAR Live (1 p.m. ET)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice (1:30 p.m. ET)
Go or Go Home (3:30 p.m. ET)
NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying (4 p.m. ET)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying (5:30 p.m. ET)
The popular SPEED Series Trackside will air following the race.

Comment
05/01/08
nastruck

NBA bumps Friday night's race off ESPN2
Friday night's Lipton Tea 250 has been bumped from ESPN2 because of an NBA playoff game.

ESPN said Thursday the Nationwide Series race from Richmond would be moved to ESPN Classic and will also be simulcast on Speed and ESPN360.com.

ESPN2 will air Game 6 of the NBA playoff series between the Washington Wizards and the Cleveland Cavaliers instead of the race. The race will then be replayed on ESPN2 following coverage of the basketball game.

Comment
05/01/08
f1
a1gp

Dr. Vijay Mallya responds to Teixeira
'I am amused by the comments of Mr. Teixeira, promoter of the A1GP series, on how Indians should view motorsport in general and Force India's participation in the FIA Formula One World Championship in particular.

Mr. Teixeira is better advised to comment on his native South Africa and his self-styled World Cup of Motorsport that is nothing more than a standard single seater series. Trying to reach out to India's youth by encouraging participation in and the temptation of winning a title in a series that does not even begin to compare with GP2 or F1 is just promoting mediocrity amongst young Indians who aspire to be World Class.

This, indeed, is a wrong message which seems to be an act of desperation given the huge and growing support for Formula One and the Force India Formula One team.

I am sure that Indians could win so-called World titles at B or C grade levels of any sport quite easily but competing at the very highest international level is not only a matter of pride but proves a Nation's ability to participate and do so.

Read more & Comment...
05/01/08
track news

ChaCha named as official mobile answers service of IMS
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has selected ChaCha as its Official Mobile Answers Service, as the revolutionary new 1-800-2ChaCha allows cell phone users to easily access information using conversational English while on the go - perfect for fans who want to enhance their racing experience and visit to Indianapolis.

Throughout the month of May, selected IMS Safety Patrol officials and Guest Services staff will introduce race fans to ChaCha, showing them how to use the service on their cell phones for instant access to information on the race, Indianapolis attractions, drivers and more, as an extension of the customer service provided to IMS fans. In partnership with track officials, ChaCha will allow race fans to have insider access to all the action as it happens.

"With ChaCha, over 350,000 Indy 500 race fans will be able to tap into a network of insiders and experts for virtually any question they have," says Scott A. Jones, co-founder and CEO of Indianapolis-based ChaCha. "Locals, out-of-town guests and even the biggest racing history buffs can discover new information - from who had the fastest qualifying lap in history to the best place to grab a burger after the race - and they will receive an accurate text message answer from a human guide within minutes."

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05/01/08
alms

Counting down to de Ferran debut
Gil de Ferran
De Ferran Motorsports’ debut in the American Le Mans Series is getting closer and closer each day. The newest member of the Acura Motorsports stable will make its highly anticipated first start at next week’s Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by the Grand and Little America Hotels. So what’s going through team owner and driver Gil de Ferran’s mind as his first start in the Series approaches?

“It’s hard to imagine that just a few months ago this was just a conversation,” said de Ferran, who will team with fellow newcomer Simon Pagenaud. “We still have a lot of preparation to go through. We still are getting used to running the car and so on and so forth.

“You can’t help when you look at a cool and fast race car, you think, ‘Yeah I’d like to get in there and have a go at it myself,’” he said. “The primary reason you’ve been seeing me in the paddock is that I’m observing the proceedings and trying to understand how people do certain things and learn from the very experienced and competent teams.”

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05/01/08
nassprint

Richmond through the years
As the rain began to fall on lap 250 of the 1982 400-lap Richmond 400, Joe Ruttman appeared to be on the way to his first NASCAR win. As he raced to the caution flag, Ruttman's Buick lost a wheel, sending him into a spin off turn four as Dave Marcis cruised past for his final career win. Here, Marcis survives a spin by Joe Millikan.
(Photo Credit: RacingOne/Getty Images)
Richard Petty wins the Richmond 500 in 1975, making it nine of the last 10 events he’d won at Richmond. Petty had also captured the pole starting position.
(Photo Credit: RacingOne/Getty Images)
Kyle Petty gets his first NASCAR Cup Series win, in the Miller High Life 400 at Richmond in 1986, as Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt take each other out in a fender-banging duel just two laps from the finish.
(Photo Credit: RacingOne/Getty Images)
Neil Bonnett beats native Virginian Ricky Rudd by one second to pick up his 17th career victory. The 1988 Pontiac Excitement 400 was the final NASCAR event to run on the speedway's half-mile configuration, a layout which dates back to 1946. Construction began the next day on a new .75-mile track.
(Photo Credit: Racing One/Getty Images)
Mopar fans rejoice as Kasey Kahne wins the Chevy American Revolution 400 in 2005 at Richmond driving Ray Evernham's Dodge. It was the first time a Chrysler product had won this event since Dave Marcis' 1976 victory.
(Photo Credit: RacingOne/Getty Images)
Bill Elliott got his second of four consecutive victories as he nipped Alan Kulwicki at the line by a mere 18 inches during the Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond in 1992. (Photo Credit: RacingOne/Getty Images)
After a terrifying spill during the 1984 Busch Clash at Daytona, forcing Ricky Rudd to compete in the 500 with his swollen eyes literally taped open, Rudd went on to not only compete in the Miller High Life 400 at Richmond two weeks later, he won the race by a margin of 3.2 seconds over Darrell Waltrip.
(Photo Credit: Racing One/Getty Images)
The 1964 Richmond 250 turned into a two-day affair as the first 100 laps were run on Sunday, then the event was delayed by rain. The remainder of the race was held on Tuesday nigh under the lights as David Pearson took the win, his first since 1961.
(Photo Credit: Racing One/Getty Images)


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05/01/08
irl

Andretti Green, Toronto delay decision
Andretti Green Promotions, LLC and Grand Prix Association of Toronto Corp (GPAT) have agreed to extend the closing date on the potential purchase of GPAT's assets until May 15, 2008.

The additional period is needed to allow both parties time to meet certain obligations related to the completion of purchase agreements.

The terms of the agreement will not be disclosed and neither party will be offering further comment.

Comment
05/01/08
lmes

Fittipaldi Joins Team Modena Le Mans Lineup
Christian Fittipaldi
Team Modena have added the hugely experienced Christian Fittipaldi to their driver lineup for June's Le Mans 24-Hour race, where the rapid Brazilian will join Antonio Garcia and Liz Halliday in the team's LM GT1 class Aston Martin DBR9. Prior to the French endurance classic, Fittipaldi will contest next month's Valencia, Spain, round of the Le Mans Series, a 1000km race that will give useful track time in the Aston Martin.

A former Formula One and Champ Car racer, Fittipaldi has valuable sportscar experience having previously won both the Daytona and Spa 24-Hours events, as well as having driven an LM GT1 category car at Le Mans in 2006.

"We are delighted to have Christian with us for Le Mans," said Team Modena Sporting Director Rik Bryan. "Christian is highly experienced at all levels of motorsport, and it is a great boost for the team ahead of Valencia and Le Mans. It means we go into the 24-Hour race with a tested driver line-up and can look to match the high standards we set last year when we took a top ten finish."

"I am pleased to be joining Team Modena," said Fittipaldi. "The Aston Martin will be competitive at Le Mans and I am confident we can do well."

Team Modena's Sergio Rinland and Kerry Adams have worked in the past with Christian's father Wilson, and with his uncle and double Formula One World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi, and are delighted to be extending that relationship to Christian.

Comment
05/01/08
a1gp

Jani not yet counting his chickens
Neel Jani knows better than to assume title is his
Neel Jani says A1 Team Switzerland cannot assume it has already won the 2007/08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport – because of Super Giant Slalom skiing.

Jani and Switzerland head into next week’s Brands Hatch championship decider knowing that a finish of seventh or higher in either of the event’s two races will make it mathematically impossible for chief-rival New Zealand to overtake it and snatch the crown.

However, despite New Zealand’s Jonny Reid also needing to win both races to have a shot at the title, Jani insists the championship is not settled, using countryman and Super G skier Didier Cuche as the reason why the team is not counting its chickens yet.

‘There was a Swiss guy in this year’s Super G World Cup and everyone thought he was going to win the crystal globe,’ Jani explains.

‘The only way that he could not win the title was that he scored zero points and the guy who was then second [Hannes Reichelt] won the event. And what happened? Cuche scored zero points and the other guy wins the race by just 100th of a second. Cuche lost the title.

‘It was incredible. He just needed one point or to finish in 15th place or better to win. And he was 15th until the very last skier, his team-mate, went and finished ahead of him and pushed him down the order to 16th. Everyone thought it was impossible for Cuche to lose the title – but it happened. It’s not impossible for us to lose this title.’

Jani insists that the best strategy for the championship finale at Brands Hatch next weekend is to take a sensible, measured approach, without any errors.

‘We will see what happens at Brands,’ Jani added. ‘We just need to keep our heads down and not make any mistakes. That is why I use this story about the skiing – we’ve got to not make mistakes.’

Comment
05/01/08
track news

New Jersey Motorsports Park news
Paving has started on the Thunderbolt Raceway
Update on New Jersey Motorsports Park: Tickets On Sale, Paving Progressing, Buildings Nearing Completion, Schedule Updated

Millville, NJ -- With less than 80 days remaining to the official opening of New Jersey Motorsports Park, dust is flying, buildings are nearing completion and major developments are being finalized. Here's an update on numerous fronts:

Race Track Paving
Spring brings ideal conditions to complete the paving. The Lightning Road Course is complete, as is the F1 New Jersey Karting complex. Paving is underway on the marquee Thunderbolt Raceway, and is on schedule for mid-May completion. Trackside safety features, such as impact walls and tire barriers, are taking shape.

Building & Facility Update
Several buildings are nearing completion, including the signature Clubhouse, Driving and Karting facility race control buildings, Shadetree garages, Event garages and the trackside medical building. Construction has started on the remaining buildings, including the Chris Economaki Media Tower, Concession Building and VIP suites. The construction is on schedule.

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05/01/08
alms

Alex Figge Joins Tafel Racing
Alex Figge
Former Champ Car driver Alex Figge will share the No. 73 Tafel Racing Ferrari F430 GTC with owner/driver Jim Tafel (Alpharetta, Ga.) for the remainder of the American Le Mans Series season. Figge, who has seven career Series starts in the GT1 class, will make his GT2 debut with the Cumming, Ga.-based organization at the Utah Grand Prix on May 18. To date, the resident of Denver, CO. has an American Le Mans Series career- best finish of third (Portland, 2005).

The 14-race Champ Car veteran joins the second- year American Le Mans Series team with an impressive racing resume. Figge has run one full season on the Champ Car Series (2007) with a career-high finish of 11th and finished 14th earlier this year at the Champ Car Series' Finale in Long Beach. The Colorado-native has five class top-10 finishes in the American Le Mans Series, all in '05, and multiple career starts in the Grand-Am Daytona Prototype class with a best finish of second (Phoenix and Laguna Seca) in 2006. In 2004, Figge finished seventh overall in the Champ Car Atlantic Series with one win in Monterrey, Mexico, two podiums and two front row starts. He was also awarded the Michael Rosen Memorial Award by the Atlantic Series for "dedication, perseverance and his desire to succeed" that year. Figge's sophomore season of Atlantics spawned two top-five finishes in 2003 and nine top-tens in 12 starts. His rookie season in Atlantics resulted in two top-10s and a front row start. Figge ran consistently in the top- five of the US Formula Ford 2000 Championship in 2001 and scored three victories and two pole positions in the Formula Mazda Series from 1998 to 2000.

Read more & Comment...
05/01/08
automotive

Big Three shifting priority to profits
For years, the American auto industry had it both ways. It was the biggest player in the game and it made money consistently.

Not anymore.

General Motors Corp. lost $3.3 billion in the first quarter and $38.7 billion last year. Ford Motor Co. made $100 million in the first three months of the year, but lost $2.7 billion last year.

Chrysler LLC lost $1.6 billion last year; it's unclear what its early 2008 numbers look like because the now private automaker doesn't divulge those details.

All three have seen their share of the automobile pie eaten away by Asian automakers.

Arrogance dictated that there was no way the "Big Three" could be unseated, but it happened.

Toyota methodically rose to the top and likely will stay there.

Sure, the Japanese automaker has had its share of financial hiccups recently.

And if you look in enough garages around enough corners it's possible to find a few thousand more GM vehicles that were sold last year than Toyotas to uphold the Detroit automaker as No. 1 in the world. But that's fleeting.

And that's a good thing because it has forced a new way of thinking in American automobile circles.

Size doesn't matter. Profit does.

Read more & Comment...
05/01/08
automotive

GM to cut more after $3B loss
General Motors Corp. on Wednesday provided further proof that the company's painful downsizing in the United States isn't over, posting a first quarter loss of $3.25 billion, the third-straight quarterly deficit that included widening losses in its home region.

The No. 1 U.S. automaker has spent the past two years slashing jobs, closing factories and axing unsuccessful vehicles. But GM still isn't lean enough to make money in its critical North American operations, where it lost $812 million in the first three months of the year.

"All the things we've done were necessary and important, but we can't just stay static and say 'We've done it all,' " GM Chief Operating Officer Fritz Henderson said during a conference call Wednesday. "You've got to do more."

The automaker, after months of holding out, on Wednesday conceded that U.S. vehicle sales are likely to fall further this year than it initially expected. The coming months will bring widespread production and job cuts at a company that since 2006 already has ushered out 35,000 hourly employees, shuttered factories around the country and cut $9 billion in annual costs.

On the product side, Henderson said Wednesday, GM needs "fewer, better" cars and trucks in each of its eight brands.

"They're not out of the woods with their turnaround," said David Kudla, chief investment strategist at Mainstay Capital Management LLC. "But they're continuing to make progress."  More at Detroit News

Comment
05/01/08
a1gp

Great Britain hits back at Ireland
A1 Team Great Britain team principal Katie Clements has hit back at criticism by her Irish counterpart that the British squad can no longer be considered a ‘top A1GP team’.

Ahead of this weekend’s championship finale at Brands Hatch, which both teams claim as their home race, the bosses of both have become embroiled in a pre-event war of words.

A1 Team Ireland seat holder Mark Gallagher scoffed at the suggestion Great Britain would be in contention for victory this weekend, and Clements has angrily reacted by labeling the comments as gamesmanship.

Clements, A1GP’s only female team principal, added she didn’t think anyone from Ireland was in a position to criticize, because it is currently three places behind it in the standings.

‘Some mind games are possibly at play here,’ Clements claimed. ‘We prefer to target the teams ahead of us in the championship, and we do not focus on the ones behind.

Read more & Comment...
05/01/08
a1gp

Ireland: 'GBR isn't a top team'
A1 Team Ireland supremo Mark Gallagher has launched at attack on rival team Great Britain, proclaiming it is no longer a top team in A1GP.

With this weekend’s 2007/08 season championship finale at Brands Hatch considered as their home event by both teams, each is out to end the season on a high and take victory on home soil.

With most of the pre-race media hype centered on Great Britain and its aim to secure runner-up spot in this season’s championship with two victories at Brands Hatch, Gallagher has poured cold water on its aspirations, saying he does not consider the red, white and blue car a genuine victory contender this weekend.

He believes Ireland, winner of the Feature race in Mexico last month, is only likely to receive competition for victory this weekend from Switzerland, New Zealand, France, Germany and Portugal.

‘A1 Team Great Britain has a lot of pressure on it this week and a lot to prove after a difficult season for them,’ he said. ‘Many of the smaller nations have learned the tricks of the trade that GBR seemed to have figured out from the first season so they are facing tougher competition than ever before.

‘Although they are ahead of us in the series, we now look past them to the benchmark set by the likes of Switzerland and New Zealand. There’s a natural rivalry between our teams anyway, but Ireland’s no longer simply interested in beating Great Britain – we want to beat the top teams, and they are not one of them.’

Ireland is currently seventh in the standings, but could theoretically overhaul Great Britain and finish as high as third depending on other results.

Comment
05/01/08
f1

Renault found three tenths on rivals
Renault engineering chief and F1 veteran Pat Symonds says his team gained three tenths a lap on its rivals thanks to improvements made mainly to the aerodynamics before the Spanish Grand Prix.

The improvements allowed Fernando Alonso to run closer to the front and even qualify on the front row, although he was running two laps of fuel lighter than the cars around him.

"I can say that at Barcelona we probably moved three tenths of a second closer," Symonds said. "Whether that will be the same in Monaco and Turkey I'm not sure yet, but the evidence at the moment indicates for that kind of improvement still."

"We're going the right way and lots of things we tried worked," he added, "We just have to keep working at it. The gap is still pretty big, especially to Ferrari so we have a lot to do but we're pleased with the direction."

"We improved 19 separate areas of the car last weekend and we have got to keep doing more of that," he concluded.

Comment
05/01/08
tv news

ESPN on ABC Talladega TV Ratings Score Big Jump from 2007
ESPN on ABC's live telecast of Saturday's Aarons 312 Nationwide Series race at Talladega Superspeedway scored big increases in ratings and household impressions over last year's race, continuing an upward trend to series TV numbers in 2008. The race earned a 2.6 rating and 2,962,000 household impressions, increases of 28 and 29%, respectively, over the same categories for last year's ABC telecast (2.1; 2,291,000). The event also earned the largest numbers for a Nationwide Series race on the ESPN networks since live NASCAR racing returned to ESPN in 2007, eclipsing the previous high of 2.4/2,699,000 for the March, 2007, event from Las Vegas that aired on ABC. The Talladega telecast also earned large increases across the board in important demographic categories, increasing 67% in Males 18-34, 50% in males 55 and older and 44% in persons 55 and older. Cable ratings for the series have also increased in 2008. The average rating for the five Nationwide Series events that have aired on ESPN2 is 1.9, a 10% increase over the 1.7 from this point last season. ESPN2 numbers do not include the rain-delayed event from California Speedway in February that was run on a Monday. ESPN's multi-platform approach to NASCAR coverage is also showing increases in areas other than television. ESPN.com's motorsports section has grown 32% in visits during 2008, and ESPN's Fantasy Racing was up 43% in visits and 15% in page views during the Talladega weekend as compared to the same weekend last year. ESPN PR

Comment
05/01/08
f1

Latest F1 news in brief
  • Super Aguri future still unclear
  • Villeneuve hopes for GP Masters revival
  • 2009 rules should aid overtaking - Brawn
  • Dennis denies involvement in sex scandal
  • Renault holds out for 'good race' by Piquet
  • Williams to tinker with engine cover fin idea
  • STR's Berger plays down Dubai buyout talks

Super Aguri future still unclear
(GMM)  Super Aguri's fate has been granted a one-week reprieve after a key meeting with Honda officials in Tokyo was postponed on Wednesday.

It is suggested that while the interest of potential new savior Weigl Group, a German automotive company, has received the blessing of Bernie Ecclestone, Honda - until now a key team financier - is yet to green-light the deal.

Part of the reason for Honda's reluctance is that Weigl seems able to initially only stump up a minimal amount of cash, leaving the health of Super Aguri still unclear beyond the end of the 2008 season.

Complicating the negotiations with Weigl, however, was the premature disclosure of the company's name this week to the media.

The German magazine Auto Motor und Sport cited insiders as suspecting that Honda's F1 CEO Nick Fry, a close former colleague of the failed buyer Martin Leach (Magma Group) was responsible for the damaging leak to a British online magazine.

Other members of the Honda board in Tokyo were reportedly furious that the Magma deal failed, even though Aguri Suzuki's curtailed meeting on Wednesday did not result in what some others insiders had suspected -- that Honda would simply abandon the Super Aguri team.

Some sources report that the Wednesday meeting was simply inconclusive because so many officials were absent for this week's string of public holidays.

A full board meeting is scheduled for next week.

One bad sign for the struggling team, however, is that the Super Aguri cars neither travelled to Turkey with most of F1's other cars this week nor returned to the team's Leafield base.

Instead, Reuters reports that the cars have in fact turned up at Honda's Brackley HQ following the Spanish grand prix, although the transporters are in the Italian port of Trieste awaiting the ferry to Istanbul.

Other team members are also planning to travel to Turkey for next weekend's grand prix there.

Villeneuve hopes for GP Masters revival
(GMM)  A group hopes to revive the defunct Grand Prix Masters series, where mature retired formula one drivers went wheel to wheel in high performance single seaters.

The series was last year declared bankrupt following three races in 2005 and 2006, when chassis supplier Delta Motorsport complained that its invoices had gone unpaid.

The fleet of 15 cars, based on the 2000-spec Reynard chassis for Champ Car, was bought by a group that is in the initial stages of planning for a series of races late this year, Autoweek reports.

1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve would like to race, but that would require a reduction of the original minimum age (45) of competitors.

"I watched one of the first races on TV and thought that it would be great to compete against a guy like Nigel Mansell," he said.

Also on the initial GP Masters grids were Emerson Fittipaldi, Riccardo Patrese, Alan Jones and other famous names.

Villeneuve added: "If it happens, I really want to be part of it."

It is believed that the buyer of the cars is currently in talks with a possible investor.

Read more & Comment...
05/01/08
alms

American Le Mans Series Acura Teams Test
It’s Springtime in Utah. The trees are blooming, the flowers are blossoming and extraordinary sports cars are returning to Miller Motorsports Park. On Wednesday, all four Acura LMP2 teams arrived to test for the fourth round of the American Le Mans Series, the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by The Grand and Little America Hotels, scheduled for May 16-18.

Andretti-Green Racing, Lowe’s Fernandez Racing, Patr¢n Highcroft Racing and de Ferran Motorsports spent a blustery day testing Michelin tire compounds, aerodynamic and suspension settings and engine management settings in advance of the race. This year, for the first time, the series will be running the 3.048 mile Outer Course instead of the 4.5-mile Full Course, making testing critical.

For de Ferran Motorsports, owned by two-time Champ Car titlist and 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran, the test was particularly important, since his brand-new team will make its series debut at Miller Motorsports Park. The team was formed earlier this year, and de Ferran has had to purchase a car, hire a team and co-driver, obtain a shop and transporter and find sponsorship. With that out of the way, all that’s left is getting the car ready to race. In addition to data collection, de Ferran and co-driver Simon Pagenaud spent the day learning the tricky Miller circuit and getting to know their new car.

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05/01/08
track news

Record purse for Coca-Cola 600
Lowe's Motor Speedway officials announced that Sprint Cup Series drivers will compete for a record $6.6 million purse in the May 25 Coca-Cola 600.

The $6,648,557 in total awards for the event is $78,929 more than last year.

"Things have changed so drastically that it's hard to compare prize money from the early years of the sport to today, but here's a fact that caught my eye," said H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway. "Two-time NASCAR champion Ned Jarrett ran 352 races between 1953 and 1966, winning 50 times, and his total career winnings were $289,146. That's $59,429 less than the total posted awards for the winner of this year's Coca-Cola 600."

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05/01/08
nassprint

Discount Tire to sponsor Kvapil's No. 28
Yates Racing officials announced today that Discount Tire will sponsor the team's No. 28 NASCAR Sprint Cup entry with driver Travis Kvapil for this weekend’s Crown Royal 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

Kvapil enters the race 23rd in the standings after his season-best finish of sixth last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

"There’s a lot of momentum right now at Yates Racing, and thanks to all the wonderful sponsors we’ve enjoyed partnerships with already this year, we’re very grateful that companies recognize our increased performance both on and off the track," he said.

Saturday night's race will mark the first time the tire retailer has been a primary sponsor in the Cup series. It has been in the Nationwide Series since 2004.

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05/01/08
automotive

BMW profit falls
Luxury automaker BMW AG said Tuesday that its first-quarter profit fell 17 per cent because of a one-time charge taken to better insulate the company from lower used-car prices and the risk of defaults on loans for leased cars in the U.S.

The Munich-based company, whose brands include BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce, earned 487 million euros ($761 million (U.S.)) in the January-March period compared with 587 million euros a year earlier.

The drop in profit was the result of the 236 million euro ($368.82 million) provision taken in the quarter, the company said.

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05/01/08
a1gp

Half Million Dollar Judgment Against A1 Team USA
A judgment has been entered in favor of Hill & Knowlton confirming an arbitration award in the amount of $535,136 against A1 Team USA Racing, LLC (formerly known as A1 Team USA, LLC). The award reflects amounts unpaid by A1 Team USA Racing for past services rendered and expenses incurred by Hill & Knowlton in support of A1 Team USA Racing during the 2005-2006 A1 Grand Prix season, as well as costs incurred by Hill & Knowlton in trying to collect those fees and expenses.  The judgment was entered in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois.

A1 Team USA Racing has not paid any of the $535,136 award, which is due immediately, despite the award issuing in October 2006 and the court’s confirming judgment being rendered in October 2007.

“Rick Weidinger is in his third season as owner of A1 TEAM USA, a founding competitor in A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.”  Team USA

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