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Rain postpones NASCAR Nextel Cup race  The Crown Royal Presents The Jim Stewart 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race scheduled for Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway has been postponed until Sunday afternoon due to inclement weather.
The sold out race is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. Sunday, with green flag expected at 1:15 p.m. All tickets for the race will be honored at the gate tomorrow.  The grandstand gates, along with suites and the TORQUE Club, will open at 10 a.m.  The parking lots will open at 6:30 a.m.
The track credential office, NASCAR registration, media center and press box will open at 9 a.m.  The NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series garage will open at 10 a.m.
The race started under caution Saturday night but will be re-started from the very beginning on Sunday.
ALMS team owner wins Kentucky Derby  James Tafel’s Street Sense took the hard road to a win in the 133rd Kentucky Derby. Fighting back from 19th position after the first quarter-mile, the 3-year-old took a nearly three-length victory in Saturday’s classic. The horse, owned and bred by American Le Mans Series team owner Jim Tafel’s father, roared from the back of the pack and powered to a convincing victory.

“This is the aspiration of everyone and anyone in the horse business and it’s just overwhelming,” James Tafel said standing alongside wife Ida Mae and Jim Tafel, who was beaming and glowing as he clutched his father’s championship trophy. He hopes to hold another when Tafel Racing returns to American Le Mans Series competition in two weeks at the Utah Grand Prix.

It is the same day of The Preakness Stakes, the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.
More myths about Ethanol exposed  Gas prices are skyrocketing as the high-demand summer season rolls in, and Bloomberg News predicts that some pumps may soon hit four dollars per gallon.

Along with high gas prices come the calls for Americans to diversify our energy sources and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. But be skeptical of politicians who tout ethanol as the clean-burning solution to our energy crisis.

The Miracle Solution?
The idea that ethanol is the answer is a myth. Ethanol is one thing that both Republican and Democratic candidates agree on this campaign season. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani voice their support for the corn-based fuel, and Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., Barack Obama, D-Ill., and former Sen. John Edwards want the government to subsidize ethanol production. According to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, "The economics of ethanol make more and more sense."

Ethanol "makes sense" to these politicians because, they say, it's a clean and renewable energy source that will slow global warming, protect the environment and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Plus, it just sounds good: Ethanol's made from corn, and we grow corn, so it just seems natural.

But if ethanol made so much sense, we wouldn't have to subsidize it or mandate its consumption. Jerry Taylor of the Cato Institute said, "If you can make a profit in this economy by putting something on the market, the government doesn't need to put a gun to your head."

But ethanol producers do need the help of government subsidies if anyone is going to buy their product, because without subsidies it would cost much more than gasoline. And critics point out that the idea that ethanol is good for America in terms of energy prices, foreign policy or the environment is a myth.  More at ABC news

25 years after his death, Villeneuve's legend lives on  Gilles Villeneuve never won a world championship in his six seasons with Ferrari on the Formula One circuit, but the little man from Berthierville, Que., won the hearts of race fans the world over.

At the time of his death, following a tragic accident on May 8, 1982 at Imola, Italy, while practicing for the Belgian Grand Prix, Villeneuve was at the height of his career.

He was easily the best Canadian race car driver in history then and remains that today -- 25 years after his death.

Villeneuve's legacy goes beyond his world champion son, Jacques, it is a part of almost every racing series in this country.

Drivers such as Paul Tracy, Patrick Carpentier, Ron Fellows and Alex Tagliani all have won races and each one of them credits Gilles Villeneuve's prowess behind the wheel as the catalyst for their success. More at Sun Media

A lap around the revised Barcelona track with Alonso  Fernando Alonso describes the Barcelona circuit, including the impact of the new alterations to the track.

"The Barcelona circuit is my home track and there is always a really good turn out from the Spanish fans, which makes it a very special race for me.

"Also we test here a lot, so all the drivers know it very well so basically we could do a lap here with our eyes shut. Nevertheless the circuit is very good, for testing as well as for racing. Recent modification shown left.

"For the car this is a very demanding circuit both aerodynamically and on the engine side but is very complete from a technical perspective.

"We normally run the hardest tire compounds of the year here as it can be very hard on them; also they tend to suffer from a lot of front and rear wear and even front graining is characteristic of Barcelona. There are a lot of high speed corners, which are very demanding on the tires. More ...

Max Wilson to drive Champ Car again  WOW Racing V8 Supercar driver Max Wilson will drive a Team Australia-livered Champ Car around the spectacular Mount Panorama circuit in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia tomorrow.

Wilson, who has an illustrious open-wheel racing background and raced in the Champ Car World Series in 2001, will drive a Reynard Champ Car in controlled conditions around the 6.213-kilometre circuit as part of this weekend’s WPS Bathurst International Motor Festival.

The Brazilian driver has driven both Formula One, Champ Car and sportscars around some of the world’s classic racing circuit, including Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, Spa- Francorchamps, Nurburgring, Laguna Seca, Silverstone and Hockenheim.

“It’s definitely going to be a great experience to drive the Team Australia Champ Car around Bathurst,” said Wilson. More ...

New Sponsors for San Jose GP  Bottomley Distributing Co. and the Sainte Claire Hotel have joined Redback Networks Inc. to top a list of 21 sponsors the third annual San Jose Grand Prix.

The event, held July 27-29 on the streets of downtown San Jose, has attracted more than 120,000 fans to the city in each of the last two years, race organizers said Thursday.

Bottomley Distributing, which will showcase its Budweiser brand, opened its doors in 1965 on North 30th St. in San Jose and currently is located in Milpitas.

San Jose-based Redback Networks (NASDAQ:RBAK) is title sponsor of the 1.5-mile, seven-turn downtown temporary street circuit

Now in its third year, the race supports the Canary Foundation, which is dedicated to advancing the science of the early detection of cancer.

NASCAR questions benefits of a Cup race at Kentucky  NASCAR and International Speedway Corp. formally denied most of the allegations in Kentucky Speedway's antitrust lawsuit when each filed responses Friday to the track's revised complaint. Kentucky Speedway alleges that the France family-owned NASCAR conspires with the publicly traded ISC (which has the majority of its voting stock owned by the France family) to keep non-ISC tracks from getting Nextel Cup events. In separate filings in U.S. District Court in Kentucky, NASCAR and ISC claim the companies have not violated antitrust laws. Although they operate as two separate entities, among the defenses NASCAR and ISC use is the established legal theory that two companies with common ownership cannot conspire to violate antitrust laws. NASCAR also challenges Kentucky's assertion that a Nextel Cup race at Kentucky would have a short-term economic benefit to NASCAR. In its filing, ISC almost comically challenges a Kentucky Speedway assertion, when discussing the ability of the track to host a Cup date, that the track is "also immediately accessible via helicopter." To that statement, ISC responds: "ISC admits ... that, to some extent, depending upon weather conditions, the entire planet, including the Kentucky Speedway, is 'immediately accessible via helicopter.'" Both NASCAR and ISC indicated they plan to move for summary judgment, where the companies will ask the judge to throw out the case before going to trial. SceneDaily.com
Q and A with Sebastian Vettel  19 year-old Sebastian Vettel is widely known for being the youngest ever driver to take part in a Formula One weekend and for his position as BMW Sauber F1 Team test driver. But there’s more to the young German than that. Vettel is currently leading the World Series by Renault Championship after a dominating lights to flag victory today in race one at the Nürburgring. Here, Vettel talks about his World Series season and the whether the announcement about his Friday F1 testing will affect his racing season.

Is it difficult to switch from the World Series car to an F1 car?

No. In the beginning you think step back, step up, step back, but when you’ve done it a couple of times you get used to it. You can compare it to driving two road cars at home; one automatic and one manual. You’re not going to get into the automatic and try and drive it like a manual. So you get used to it. What are the characteristics of the World Series car? How does it differ to an F1 car?

The World Series car is much heavier and it’s quite a big car. It has a lot of downforce and you can work with the set up quite a lot. Everyone has the same package, the same chassis and the same engine. It’s just the team and driver package that makes the difference. More ...

Drivers admit NASCAR’s racing is fake  UPDATE A reader adds, One thing that NASCAR has forgotten as they've moved further into the world of staged entertainment:  Race drivers are still race drivers.  They want to race and compete against each other straight up.  Most race drivers I know would rather compete and finish second than win and know that their victory was hollow or not earned.  Mika Malehorn, Annandale, Virginia

05/05/07 NASCAR driver quotes on NASCAR's fake cautions to make the race finishes more entertaining. Is this a sport or the Barnum and Bailey circus? Real race fans are beginning to see through NASCAR's charade and turning off the TV set in disgust, which probably accounts for NASCAR's continuing TV rating plummet.

Matt Kenseth: "There's for sure entertainment cautions, there's no doubt about that, but we're in the entertainment business and you're going to get some of that and group the field every once in a while."

Jeff Burton: "I think at times that we have cautions in the interest of better racing."

Kyle Busch: "Most of them are imaginary, so I'm not really a fan of some of the cautions that come out, you know, there's some that really don't need to be, but um, they think there's something on the race track they throw it."

Kyle Petty: "We're in the entertainment business, if they want to throw a caution every 40 laps to keep everybody bunched up, so the fans have a better experience, more cautions, the better."

Denny Hamlin: "You got to make the race exciting one way or another."

Changes in Barcelona given thumbs up  Following tests at the Circuit de Catalunya, F1 drivers have given changes to the track the thumbs up ahead of next weekend's Spanish Grand Prix.

Among the changes, which are designed to maximize overtaking opportunities, are a new chicane which aims to bunch cars together before unleashing them around the track's final corner and onto the long main straight.

Speaking about his home circuit, World Champion Fernando Alonso told Formula1.com: "Although I have always really enjoyed the final two corners and their speed, the new chicane at the end of the track will hopefully lead to more overtaking during the race, which is great for the spectators."

Tests also indicate that average lap times will increase by up to five seconds as a result of the changes.

Peugeot 1-2 in Valencia qualifying  In a repeat performance of their success at Monza, both Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs have qualified on the front row of the grid for the 1,000km of Valencia. It was local talent Marc Gene who took pole position at the wheel of the N°7 908 HDi FAP, just 0.441s clear of the N°8 908 in the hands of Pedro Lamy. Even though qualifying was restricted to the LMP 1 and LMP2 classes, the two 908s were sent out early in the session to avoid traffic, a key concern at Valence.

Marc Gene: "I’m really happy to claim pole position here in Valencia in front of both my fans and friends. I put in a very good first lap, using all the grip I could from my tires. I had to overtake a car which made me loose 2 or 3 tenths in the last sector. I knew I had to give it everything on the first lap and that is exactly what I did. The other laps weren’t as good and traffic prevented me from improving my time." More ...

Vettel takes victory in Germany  It was a home win for Sebastian Vettel today, the German driver taking victory in the World Series race at the Nurburgring. Vettel started from pole after a stunning performance in qualifying earlier in the day, but was lucky to avoid a first corner incident which effectively ended team mate Mikhail Aleshin’s race. It was an all Carlin front row for round three of the 2007 season.

As the lights went out the Carlin duo looked evenly matched with Vettel just keeping ahead as the field thundered down the start/finish straight. As the 30 cars headed into the tight first corner, Aleshin received contact from behind and was put into a spin, nearly taking out team mate Vettel as well. Aleshin recovered to limp back to the pits with a delaminated tire and damaged body work. The Red Bull driver rejoined the race on lap five, but later retired on lap nine.

Vettel meanwhile was able to pull away from the pack, building up a four second gap from second placed man Ben Hanley before making his mandatory pit stop. The Carlin team turned the car around in just 7.8 seconds and Vettel rejoined the track to drive his Red Bull liveried car to victory.

Carlin now has a substantial lead in the team championship, with a total of 60 points compared to nearest rival Tech 1’s 37. After his pole position, win and fastest lap today, 19 year-old Vettel leaves round three with a maximum 21 points to lead the driver’s championship.

Race winner Sebastian Vettel said, “I was quite nervous about the first corner. The start was ok, but I did have to pull to the right to defend my position from Mikhail as we went into turn one. Before I turned into the corner I looked in my mirror and saw the side of Mikhail’s car coming towards me. A little later I saw Hanley behind me. I was very lucky to have been just ahead of the accident, as it meant I could focus on the race ahead of me. The pit stop went well, the team did a very good job and our position right at the end of the pit lane allowed me to have a good exit. The car handled very, very well.

“I think we were very well prepared for this race. One big advantage was that we had a very good test at Magny Cours, where we worked on the set up and developed the car. That meant that we were on the pace immediately here on Friday. As a team we did a perfect job today. There were quite a lot of people in the grandstands here today, so it was nice to win in front of a crowd.”

Häkkinen on pole at Oschersleben  Mika Häkkinen is the second DTM pole sitter of the year. The Finnish Mercedes-Benz driver lapped the 3.696 kilometres long track in the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben in 1:22.456 minutes with his C-Class. “It has been quite a long time since I was in front. Therefore, my pole position is a great satisfaction”, the crowd’s favorite said after claiming his second DTM pole.

23-year old German Mike Rockenfeller caused a slight sensation. With his year-old Audi A4 DTM, the DTM rookie will be starting from second place into Sunday’s 44 lap race in the Magdeburger Börde region (live on ARD from 13.45 h onwards). He was 74 thousandths of a second down on the former Formula 1 world champion. Third place in the shoot-out qualifying session was occupied by Mercedes-Benz driver Bruno Spengler from Canada, who had been on pole for the Hockenheim season opener. More ...

Q and A with Lewis Hamilton  
Q. How would you summarize the start of the season both for you and the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team?

Lewis Hamilton: "I think we have definitely started off on the right foot. We have done a fantastic job, that is not just the team at the track but also everyone back at the McLaren Technology Centre and Mercedes-Benz in Brixworth and Stuttgart. It really feels like we have all pulled together and you can see that all the hard work has really paid off with such great results at this early stage of the season.

"To come straight into a new and fresh start for the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team and to have had a one-two finish in the second race, it couldn't have really been a better start. But it is only the start, there is a long way to go this season and for me in the sport, and we are taking things step by step."

Q. What has been your personal highlight of the first three races?

LH: "There has been three highlights. In Australia I had my first Formula 1 podium in my first race. But also to have been battling with the Ferrari's in my second Grand Prix and having them both behind me was cool. Then in Bahrain to be hunting down a Ferrari felt good." More ...

Q and A with Fernando Alonso  
Q. How would you summarize the start of the season both for you and the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team?

Fernando Alonso: "It has been great. I am extremely happy with the performance of the car and the first three races. Also I am very, very happy to have already got my first victory for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, which was one of our goals, well my personal target for the whole season, and it came very early, so I am happy for that."

Q. What has been your personal highlight of the first three races?

FA: "Well no doubt that is the Malaysian Grand Prix. It was perfect for me from Friday through to Sunday, finishing with the victory for me with Lewis second, the whole Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team was in a perfect position." More ...

Q and A with Martin Whitmarsh  
Q. What has the atmosphere been like within the team during the four week break leading up to the Spanish Grand Prix?

Martin Whitmarsh - McLaren F1 CEO: "The atmosphere has been positive and incredibly busy. We've had both Fernando and Lewis visit the team, and that is something that is always appreciated. But we are very aware that this is a break in racing at which we need to make the largest incremental improvement in car performance during the course of the season.

"So we have all been working very hard to make sure that we can realize the technical upgrades that we are seeking to achieve on the car. This process has been going very well and consequentially there is an extremely positive feeling within the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team and we are looking forward to the resumption of the racing season in Spain next week." More ...

McMurray surprised by fine  Jamie McMurray said he was stunned by NASCAR’s $25,000 fine for bumping with Kevin Harvick in the final moments of Sunday’s Talladega 500. Harvick was initially angry because he thought McMurray had triggered a late crash, and he bumped McMurray hard under the yellow. McMurray said he tried, during that part of the race, to ask Harvick what the problem was. The incident was triggered when David Gilliland squeezed McMurray up the track and into Tony Stewart, but that wasn’t evident to the men involved until they saw the replays.

“I didn’t think anything happened bad enough that would have called for a penalty or a fine,” McMurray said. “I didn’t think it was that severe.

“I’d already called Tony Monday, and he was like ‘Hey, I’m not mad.’ And I called Kevin and asked ‘Why are you all fired up?’ And Kevin was like ‘Aw, I’m sorry. I thought you caused that wreck, and I just got hotheaded and lost it for a second. But I’m not mad.’ More ...

Carlin secure first row of the grid at Nürburgring  Sebastian Vettel has taken pole position at his home World Series event this morning, at the Nürburgring in Germany.  Local hero Vettel put in a stunning lap in the closing stages of qualifying to secure the front spot.  Mikhail Aleshin was equally impressive setting the fastest time in his qualifying group and will line up alongside his team mate for the first race later today.  

Currently top in the team standings, the Carlin team have put in a dominating performance so far in Germany, finishing yesterday’s practice session first and second.   Under World Series regulations, the FR3.5 drivers are split into two groups for qualifying, each group taking part in a 20 minute qualifying session.  Aleshin was the first Carlin driver on track, duly securing first place in his group.  With a front row start secured, Aleshin waited and watched the second qualifying group to see if his efforts would be enough to secure pole.  More ...

Earnhardt Jr.: ’We’ll be driving Chevys’  Dale Earnhardt Jr. nearly started laughing Friday and said, 'Nah,' when asked if it was really possible he could drive a Ford next season. Dale Earnhardt Inc., which is in negotiations with Earnhardt Jr. for a contract extension and also must sign a new deal with Chevrolet, has had preliminary talks with other manufacturers and also has talked about a possible merger with Robert Yates Racing. But Earnhardt Jr. couldn't see himself driving anything but a Chevy. As part of his negotiations with DEI, he wants majority ownership of the team. "We'll be driving Chevys, I'll promise you that," Earnhardt Jr. said following qualifying Friday for the Crown Royal/Jim Stewart 400. SceneDaily.com
Chevy Wants NASCAR to Use Ethanol  One of NASCAR's top sponsors plans to file a formal petition asking that it join other racing leagues and start using ethanol to power its racecars. The recommendation by General Motors Corp., planned for later this year, comes as NASCAR adjusts to using unleaded gasoline, decades behind the commercial marketplace. GM sponsors 22 NASCAR vehicles under its Chevy nameplate, about half the vehicles that start any given race. It's been promoting more environmentally friendly fuel for months, and now it plans to proceed with an official presentation to NASCAR ownership. McClatchy News
Andretti Green team alter pitstops  Michael Andretti promises pit-stop changes for his Indy-car team in the wake of last weekend's contact that knocked Tony Kanaan out of the lead at Kansas Speedway.
Turning into his pit box, Kanaan's car was struck by Danica Patrick's as she tried to leave from her stop. Both drive for Andretti Green Racing.

Andretti said car coordinators no longer will be allowed to release their driver via radio communication, beginning with the upcoming Indianapolis 500. That responsibility will literally be in the hands of each car's right front tire changer.

"That's how people get hurt, like when I ran over my guy at Milwaukee a few years ago," the former Indy-car driving champion said Friday. "I thought (the radio voice) said 'Go, go, go,' and he said, 'No, no, no.'

"It's too easy for a driver to get confused. He has to watch his right-front tire changer's hands to see when to go."  More at IndyStar.com
Rossi shatters Shanghai record  Fiat Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi registered a scorching hot 1’58.424 qualifying time today in China to break the Shanghai International Circuit lap record and take pole for the fourth Grand Prix of the 2007 season.

‘The Doctor’ made good use of his Michelin qualifying tires at the Sinopec Great Wall Lubricants Grand Prix of China on the 20th of 24 laps, to knock more than two seconds off any previous time he had recorded this weekend and break Dani Pedrosa’s circuit best lap set on 990cc machinery last year by 0.585s.

It was astonishing performance especially given that Rossi’s nearest challenger in the session, Rizla Suzuki’s John Hopkins, could only get within 0.891s of him after a series of incredibly tight MotoGP qualifying contests previously in 2007.

But after taking pole ahead of team-mate Colin Edwards by just 0.149s in the last round of the World Championship in Turkey only to fall away dramatically and eventually finish 10th due to tire problems Rossi will be counting on a better set-up from Michelin for tomorrow’s Grand Prix. The five-time former World Champion will be looking to repeat his 2005 Chinese triumph as he looks to regain his title. More ...

ALMS Houston TV rating  UPDATE Below we forgot to post the IRL race TV rating from Kansas on ESPN2 last Sunday.  It was a pathetic 0.2.  We suppose this was Tony George's "vision" when he created the IRL, i.e. drive the sport so low almost no one watches.  And the split goes on.......

05/04/07 The final TV rating for the tape delayed ALMS race from Houston, Texas on CBS last Sunday was a horrible 0.6/2 share.  At least that dwarfed the Champ Car race from Houston (0.3 on ESPN) and the IRL race Kansas on ESPN2.
ABC, ESPN, IMS Radio Network Indy 500 coverage  INDIANAPOLIS - ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and the IMS Radio Network will provide in-depth, behind-the-scenes coverage of the 91st Indianapolis 500, with almost 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 27, followed by the race at 1 p.m. This marks the 43rd 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 12 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 on Riley Family Day will be broadcast live from noon-2 p.m. on ABC and 5-6:30 p.m. Sunday, May 13 on ESPN2. Third Day Qualifying coverage on Coca-Cola Throwback Day, Saturday, May 19 will be live from 4-6:30 p.m. on ESPN2, and Bump Day Qualifying on Armed Forces Day will be broadcast live from 12:30-3 p.m. Sunday, May 20 on ABC and from 5-6:30 p.m. on ESPN2. More ...

NASCAR drivers are cracking HANS Devices  NASCAR is downplaying the cracks found in Kyle Busch and Casey Mears' HANS devices after wrecks at Talladega Superspeedway.

Busch's head-and-neck restraint was cracked in a spectacular crash Saturday, and NASCAR officials inspected the HANS before sending it back to the manufacturer for a review.

Then came word Friday that Casey Mears' device also cracked when he hit the wall hard on Sunday. Initially unaware of that crack, NASCAR has since taken possession of the HANS and also is sending it back.

Mears said the crack in his HANS was in the centre and appeared as if the left strap had been tugged too hard.

''In a hit like that it probably should have (cracked),'' he said. ''It didn't crack hard enough where it wouldn't have done its job. It just cracked enough where you wouldn't feel good about using it again.''  AP Story

Jimmie Johnson: “We do know it was cracked. I cracked one at Indianapolis, and I think Casey Mears cracked one with the impact he had as well. And looking at the crack and talking it over with (crew chief) Chad Knaus, granted we want to fix it so it doesn’t crack, but it didn’t fail, and on top of that the seat belt comes over top of the Hans and it is secured and locked down to your shoulder harness on each side, so even if the Hans Device is cracked in the back, as long as the seat belts are over the Hans Device, it’s going to control the head movement and do its job. I still think that regardless of the crack that the Hans Device was doing its job and would have been able to take effect in impact if it needed to.”

''It's actually something that happens more often than you hear about,'' said four-time champion Jeff Gordon. ''We analyze those things everytime we go through a wreck, and they have cracked while doing their job. Until one cracks and breaks and doesn't do their job, I don't think any of us are concerned.''

[Editor's Note: A cracked HANS Device after an accident means the carbon fiber device is doing its job and the forces from the accident are being transmitted through the HANS Device instead of the driver's neck.  If not for the device NASCAR would have a lot more Dale Earnhardt situations whereby they pull down the safety net on the driver's window, find blood flowing out of the driver's nose like they found Earnhardt, Petty and Erwin, and take the dead body away in a body bag.]

Mansell cool on Hamilton hype  (GMM)  Lewis Hamilton is reaping the rewards of formula one success before he has truly delivered.

That is the claim of 1992 world champion and countryman Nigel Mansell, who told the Daily Telegraph that the gushing British media also went wild for Jenson Button long before the Englishman had won his solitary race.

"What can you say?" Mansell, who is now pushing on the single seater careers of his sons Leo and Greg, said.

"We had to win races and challenge for championships before we got the rewards.  Now you seem to get the rewards before you achieve."

Mansell insisted that he has no hard feelings for Hamilton, but credited much of the 22-year-old rookie's impressive debut so far in 2007 to McLaren.

He commented: "McLaren have been way overdue for success.  Timing is everything.  When a driver can arrive with a team and an engine coming right, it makes a difference.  No disrespect to him."

But Mansell hints that Hamilton's immaculate preparation for F1, since first meeting Ron Dennis at the age of 10, makes comparisons with earlier greats unsuitable.

"I think it was ordained," he said, comparing Lewis' full McLaren sponsorship through his junior career to Mansell's selling of a house to fund a Formula 3 seat -- only to be fired.

Mansell said: "My story was a lot harder."

Pit Stop gives Bowyer Richmond Busch win  Clint Bowyer won the race off pit road after Friday night's final pit stop and ran away from Matt Kenseth and Jeff Burton to win the Circuit City 250 Busch Series race at Richmond International Raceway.

Points leader Carl Edwards and rookie David Ragan stayed out on old tires and led the field to the final restart on Lap 228. But Bowyer, who had pitted with the rest of the leaders under a caution caused by Derrike Cope's spin in Turn 2, quickly caught Edwards and passed him for the lead through Turns 1 and 2 on Lap 231.

Kenseth, who restarted fifth, passed Burton for second on Lap 237 but couldn't catch Bowyer, who finished 1.483 seconds ahead of the driver of the No. 17 Ford. Burton held onto third, followed by Kevin Harvick and
Kyle Busch. More ...

Pit Crew Challenge Practice  Next week’s practice sessions for the NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge presented by Craftsman will serve as the equivalent of “Preseason Thunder” for more than 20 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup crews as they prepare for the one annual premiere event that showcases their unique over the wall skills and talents.

The NEXTEL Cup teams will invade the JHE Production Group’s new. 44,000 square foot facility in Harrisburg, NC on Tuesday May 8th, Wednesday May 9th and Thursday May 10th. The NASCAR NEXTEL Pit Crew Challenge arena floor has been recreated to allow the teams to practice in a nearly identical setting to what they will see on May 16th. The media is encouraged to attend. The sessions are not open to the public. More ...

Portland Champ Car race picks up a sponsor  The Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland presented by Joe’s Sports and Outdoor is proud to announce its race partnership with local jeweler Stephen Vincent Jewelers and watchmaker Chase-Durer. Stephen Vincent Jewelers is the Official Jeweler for the 2007 running of the Champ Car Grand Prix. Chase-Durer as also been named as the Official Timepiece.

“We are thrilled to be a part of the greatest sports event in Portland and want to support what the event does for the City in excitement, prestige and international exposure”, said owner Stephen Pirkl. Stephen Vincent Jewelers will be hosting the new DP01 show car at their SW First and Jefferson storefront in downtown Portland on May 30th. Miss Oregon will be in attendance at the Stephen Vincent Jewelers booth race weekend to help give away two Chase-Durer watches – the same model the fastest qualifier and winner will receive. More ...

Bourdais and Rahal continue to set pace at Portland test  PORTLAND, Ore. – Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) drivers Sebastien Bourdais and Graham Rahal completed their first test during the 2007 Champ Car World Series season on the 1.964-mile road course at Portland International Raceway and were pleased with the results.  The 3-day test began on Tuesday, May 1 but inclement weather on Wednesday shifted the final workload to Thursday.

Under near perfect conditions, McDonald’s® driver Bourdais and Medi | Zone driver Rahal ranked first and second unofficially on Tuesday with lap times of 57.1 and 57.4 respectively in their Cosworth/Panoz DP01/Bridgestone race cars.  As a comparison, Newman/Haas Racing driver Bruno Junqueira earned the pole at the 2006 race here with a lap time of 57.631 in his Ford-Cosworth/Lola/ Bridgestone.  The team chose not to run in the rain on Wednesday but returned to the track on Thursday until rain curtailed the test in the early afternoon.  Although the track was slower on Thursday, Bourdais and Rahal again unofficially topped the charts with lap times of 57.45 and 57.61 respectively.  Approximately 10 drivers ran during the test.  More ...

Petty to attend Kentucky Derby  Richard Petty, ‘The King’ of NASCAR, will join guest Queen Elizabeth II Saturday afternoon at the 133rd running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Petty will leave the Richmond (Va.) International Raceway Saturday morning and fly into Louisville (Ky.) where he will be escorted to the most famous horse track.  He will be a guest of Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher and Kentucky Speedway co-owner Jerry Carroll.  Petty will meet other celebrities, VIP’s and take part in photo opportunities.  Queen Elizabeth II, who is currently in the middle of a six-day trip to the United States, will also be in attendance.  Saturday will be the first Kentucky Derby for both attendees.

“It’s pretty awesome just to go to the Kentucky Derby,” said NASCAR’s all-time winner.  “But, when you are joining The Queen of England it really puts this over the top.  I understand she’s a big fan of horse racing.  This is as big as is gets at the Kentucky Derby.  I don’t know how much she knows about NASCAR racing, but hopefully I can teach her a few things while I’m there.”

Petty will have the most interesting “double-duty” of any driver this weekend. After attending the Derby, he will fly back to the Richmond International Raceway Saturday evening in time to watch Saturday night’s Richmond 400.

“The Kentucky Derby is going to be great,” continued Petty.  “I’ll enjoy my time there, but my real attention will be on Saturday night’s race.  That’s the one that really matters to me.”

NASCAR Talladega TV rating plummets  UPDATE The final TV rating for last Sunday's Nextel Cup Aaron's 499 at Talladega was a 5.4/14 share, down 29% from 2005, the last time the race was broadcast on network TV.  The final Talladega NASCAR Busch race was a 2.1/6 share on ABC.

04/30/07 The overnight USA TV rating for Sunday's Aaron's 499 Nextel Cup race from Talladega on FOX was a 5.1/12 share, down 16.4% from 2005's 6.1/14 share, the last time the race was on network TV.  Saturday's Aaron's 312 Busch race garnered an overnight rating of 2.1/5 share on ABC.
STR's Berger predicts F1 future for Senna  (GMM) While directing yet more criticism at Scott Speed, Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger has predicted a bright future in formula one for Ayrton Senna's nephew.

Former GP winner Berger, who for many years was Ayrton's teammate and friend until his death in 1994, hailed 23-year-old Bruno Senna's front-running GP2 debut in the recent Bahrain round.

"I have been observing him for some time," Berger told Sport Bild, referring to the Brazilian whose mother Vivianne was Ayrton's sister. More ...
Renault win approval for second wind tunnel  (GMM) Renault has won approval to situate a second wind tunnel at its Enstone base. Despite not enjoying a competitive start to the 2007 season, the reigning back to back champions are looking to the longer-term future after being granted conditional permission from the Oxfordshire County Council to relocate a facility that is currently situated in Italy. The approval is subject to the agreement of an ecologist, and it is reported that at least one local resident is already objecting to the development on the grounds that it will mean more vehicle movement on the local roads. The new tunnel will create an extra 15 jobs, according to the Cotswold Journal.
PR1 Motorsports to offer Atlantic test for Pacific F2000 Champ  Continuing to provide opportunities for open-wheel racing’s top young drivers, Miracle Sealants Company and the PR1 Motorsports Champ Car Atlantic team have announced that they will host a special post-season test for the champion of the 2007 Pacific F2000 series.

In its third season competing in the Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, PR1 Motorsports has established itself as one of the top squads in the series. With the help of the team’s primary sponsor – Miracle Sealants – PR1 has agreed to provide a one-day test session in one of the squad’s 300-horsepower Mazda-Cosworth/Swift/Cooper Atlantic cars for the winner of this year’s Pacific F2000 championship. The Pacific F2000 series features a host of talented young drivers beginning their careers in open-wheel racing and the test will provide a unique opportunity for the series champion to showcase their skills in hopes of securing a ride in the prestigious Atlantic Championship in the future. More ...

Record purse for Coca-Cola 600  Nextel Cup Series drivers will battle for a record $6.5 million during the May 27 Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway while total posted awards for the track's schedule of May events is more than $14.5 million.

Eight races will be run at Lowe's Motor Speedway and The Dirt Track @ Lowe's Motor Speedway between Friday night, May 18, and Sunday evening, May 27, and each carries a record purse with a total of $14,524,532 up for grabs.

Already one of the richest races on the NASCAR circuit, the $6,569,628 in total awards for the Coca-Cola 600 is $136,947 more than was posted for last year's event and $4,481,404 more than competitors raced for in the 600-mile event 10 years ago.

van Lagen ends relationship with Comtec  Jaap van Lagen has confirmed that he has ended his contract with Comtec Racing.

“I am heavily disappointed,” van Lagen told his personal website. “I was signed as the lead driver but when I signed the contract most of the important people had moved away from the team. This is the only team in the World Series where I would have focused myself on, because Comtec can win races.

“The preparations for the season went badly. I had many problems in the car, which had been just solved at the Nürburgring and Barcelona. At Monza I had a tire problem, something that Michelin have confirmed later.

“However, I thought it was particularly bad for Jonathan Lewis accuse me in the press afterwards for my performance. I could have remained for the races at the Nürburgring and Monaco but not with the chemistry as it is at the moment.

“I had hoped for a lot this season, but it has abruptly ended. The season has just started and the top teams are at present full. Undoubtedly spots will be released, so that I can possibly come back this season."

Minardi Team USA Portland test report  Inclement weather conditions didn’t stop Minardi Team USA from a successful test this week at Portland International Raceway. Drivers Dan Clarke and Robert Doornbos completed nearly two full days of testing despite the rain, and made the most out of an important testing event.

This was ‘Speedy’ Dan Clarke’s first test this season with the team, as he missed all of the pre-season events. His first time in the new DP01 chassis was at Las Vegas, but on Tuesday Dan turned the fifth quickest lap, with a time of 58.6 seconds. ‘Speedy’ stepped it up even further Thursday, with his 57.96 second lap the third fastest of the day. “We had a good day (Thursday), the rain hindered our plans a little bit, but we did what we came here to do, and it is great to be back at work. I’m so happy to be testing, and I feel confident we accumulated a lot of good information so the guys have some numbers to crunch when they get back to the workshop. Since I missed the earlier tests, I didn’t get to work with the car as much (as the other drivers), so this is a much needed boost for me and the crew. I really appreciate all the hard work from the team, and I think we are looking strong for the race here in June.” More ...

McLaren to use radical wing in Spanish GP  (GMM)  Contrary to earlier reports, McLaren has confirmed that its new radical front wing is likely to be used at the Spanish grand prix next weekend.

The Mercedes-powered team turned heads with the unique aerodynamic innovation at the Barcelona test this week, which features an upper flap that loops over the tip of the MP4-22 single seater's nose.

But despite some suggestions that the piece had not lived up to engineers' expectations, McLaren's F1 CEO Martin Whitmarsh on Friday confirmed that the team was "pleased" with the results of its Spanish test.

Drivers Pedro de la Rosa and Fernando Alonso, moreover, are understood to have reported that the bodywork, nicknamed the 'bridge' by some sections of the media, delivered a slight improvement to the car's production of front-end handling.

"Consequentially it will be one of the options available to our drivers during the Spanish grand prix weekend," Whitmarsh said.

industry news
Despite cuts, GM stuck in low gear  General Motors Corp. has broken sales records, turned out critically acclaimed vehicles and shaved tens of thousands of workers from its payroll.

But all that progress couldn't save the automaker from another money-losing quarter in North America -- a stark reality that underscores GM's competitive disadvantages and why it desperately needs a money-saving labor deal this year with the United Auto Workers union.

GM on Thursday reported a $46 million net loss in its North American operations for the first quarter and a narrow $62 million profit on its global operations. The results fell 80 percent short of projections by investment analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.

While the North American loss is a $246 million improvement from last year, it comes at a time when GM is benefiting from aggressive cost-cutting measures, a deal with the UAW to cut its health care tab and a dramatically smaller work force.

In addition, GM's re-energized product lineup is bringing in $1,000 more in revenue per vehicle sold in North America than it did just a year ago.

But those improvements continue to be overshadowed by GM's crushing labor and retiree costs.

"If you look at the cost burden we bear in this area versus international competitors, it's really massive," GM Chief Financial Officer Fritz Henderson said in an interview with The Detroit News. "Health care remains for us and for the industry a major source of competitive disadvantage. It diminishes margins, diminishes cash flow." More at Detroit News

industry news
Ford to cut Mustang options  Given engine choices, interior trim level choices, color choices and other packages and options, a single Ford Motor Co. vehicle like the Mustang can literally come in thousands of configurations.

Now Ford Motor Co. -- taking a page from its Japanese competitors -- is moving to drastically reduce its vehicle configurations, a move that could save money and reduce complexity in purchasing and manufacturing.

The goal was outlined in a new internal document titled "Ford North America -- 2007 Objectives at a Glance," a copy of which was obtained by The Detroit News.

The one-page report offers a summary of each department's goals and objectives for the year in four key areas that CEO Alan Mulally has identified as the pillars of his turnaround plan: resizing the company to match the reduced demand for its vehicles, accelerating product development while reducing manufacturing complexity, securing financing and improving teamwork.

It has been nearly a century since Henry Ford told customers they could have their Model T in any color they wanted, as long as it was black. Today, Ford offers motorists a dizzying array of trim lines, options and packages on vehicles.

For example, there are currently 16,000 buildable combinations of options and color offered on the 2007 Ford Mustang V-6 deluxe model. More at Detroit News

Hitachi, Lowe's to sponsor Vision car for rest of 2007  Vision Racing is pleased to announce the addition of Hitachi Koki U.S.A., Ltd (Hitachi Power Tools) as the primary sponsor of the No. 20 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, driven by Ed Carpenter, for the 91st Running of the Indianapolis 500. The partnership also includes an associate sponsorship presence by Lowe’s. The Hitachi and Lowe’s affiliation as associate sponsors will continue for the balance of the 2007 IndyCar Series season.
“It is our great pleasure to welcome Hitachi Power Tools and Lowe’s to the Vision Racing team for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” team co-owner, Tony George, said. “Hitachi’s reputation for developing the latest in high-tech power tools, commitment to speed, precision and durability as well as its strong consumer appeal makes them a great fit for our team, for the Indianapolis 500, and the IndyCar Series.”
The agreement between Vision Racing and Hitachi Power Tools for the 2007 season brings a great new partner to the paddock.  Hitachi is the only tool manufacturer that offers a complete line of electric, cordless and pneumatic power tools as well as a full line of accessories and fasteners. Hitachi is keenly focused on producing the most technologically advanced tools on the market. Their commitment to technological excellence has resulted in making Hitachi Power Tools superior in the industry and a perfect fit for the demanding tool-intensive IndyCar Series. More ...
Shanghai: Hopkins tops Friday practice times  
Rider Team Time
1 John Hopkins Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 2m 01.204s
2 Marco Melandri Honda Gresini  2m 01.303s
3 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 2m 01.333s
4 Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda Team 2m 01.346s
5 Loris Capirossi Ducati Marlboro Team 2m 01.365s
6 Valentino Rossi Fiat Yamaha Team 2m 01.390s
7 Colin Edwards Fiat Yamaha Team 2m 01.409s
8 Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro Team 2m 01.460s
9 Alex Hofmann Pramac d'Antin  2m 01.771s
10 Carlos Checa Honda LCR  2m 01.881s
11 Randy De Puniet Kawasaki Racing Team 2m 01.896s
12 Chris Vermeulen Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 2m 01.991s
13 Alex Barros Pramac d'Antin  2m 02.051s
14 Toni Elias Honda Gresini  2m 02.114s
15 Makoto Tamada Dunlop Yamaha Tech 2m 02.242s
16 Kenny Roberts Jr Team Roberts 2m 02.564s
17 Sylvain Guintoli Dunlop Yamaha Tech 2m 02.768s
18 Olivier Jacque Kawasaki Racing Team 2m 02.818s
TV News
Eurosport deal paying dividends for Champ Car?  Eurosport, the pan-European sports channel agreed a contract with Astro to offer its 24-hour subscription to more than 1.9 million viewers in Malaysia.

As a result of the deal Malaysia joins Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Philippines in the Eurosport Asia Pacific viewer universe.

"Malaysians are not only enthusiastic viewers but also active sports participants. Eurosport provides more than 300 days of LIVE professional sporting events per year for people who want to not just watch sports, but live sports," said Arjan Hoekstra, Managing Director of Eurosport Asia-Pacific. [Editor's Note:  Champ Car moved to Eurosport2 this year.  Dumb move because Eurosport2 may not be part of the deal in Malaysia, Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Philippines.]

Background story on Mike Lanigan  [Editor's Note: This story is about Mi-Jack and Mike Lanigan, newest owner of the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Champ Car team.]

Some suppliers like to brag out loud that they "think globally, act locally." One crane company tucked away in Chicago's south side does it without making a lot of noise.

Just about the only thing that the closely held firm shouts is its slogan, “Where Service is Golden.” Clients have heard that every time they call the office of Hazel Crest, Ill.-based Lanco International Inc. since it set up shop in 1955.

Lanco is better known by its subsidiary, Mi-Jack Products Inc., a moniker that 80-year-old founder Jack Lanigan Sr. forged by combining the names of his first two sons, Michael and Jack. “I tried to design a company for my sons and for a company that I would like to work for,” says Lanigan. He tried to retire at 65, but got the itch for iron and came back to work.

Lanco faces fierce competition for cranes that move bulky objects fast and cheap inside ports, rail yards and precast operations. Besides cranes, its secret is its ability to offer complete intermodal operations. More ...

Horsepower of another sort  Jim Tafel appeared cool and calm as he sat inside the Tafel Racing drivers’ lounge. One of the two Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs he owns was circulating around Road Atlanta track as the conversation turned to racing and horsepower of another kind.

A little nervousness was beginning to creep in, he admitted just days before the 133rd Kentucky Derby. Tafel’s father James is the owner of Street Sense, currently listed as the second favorite at 4-to-1 for Saturday’s race at Churchill Downs.

“It comes when I think about it or when I see something on TV,” Jim Tafel said. “It will be two days of pomp and circumstance until Saturday. It’s racing. Anything can happen.”

The two Tafels share an urge for competition, but take very different mounts to get to the finish line.

James Tafel is a renowned thoroughbred horse breeder who hopes to realize his dream by winning the Kentucky Derby. Jim is a budding race car driver and team owner with a dream to one day win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. More ...

Kimmel’s move to Ford was key  Frank Kimmel is one of the most, if not the most, successful ARCA RE/MAX drivers in the series’ history. He’s set a series record by capturing eight championships – all of them behind the wheel of a Ford.
The Clarksville, Indiana native’s first championship came in 1998, the first year he switched over and began racing a Ford. “It made us competitive on intermediate tracks,” said Kimmel. “We had struggled on the mile-and-a-half tracks. We just couldn’t compete with Ford, so we went and got one and that turned us around. We won races immediately after that.”
He named that first Ford he raced after his mother Mabel. Just as basketball players keep pieces of the net after milestone victories, Kimmel in the same way kept that first Ford. “It’s at home in the barn,” he said. “We’ll never get rid of it. It’s a special race car and did really well for us.” More ...
USAC cancels Terre Haute Silver Crown race  UPDATE A reader writes, It is truly sad to see an institution like this go away. I can remember when you went to the first day of quailing at Indy and then drove to Terre Haute for the dirt race and all the "hot shoes" like Andretti and Foyt would show up and put on a great show. Tim DeCesaro

Dear Tim, You can burn your Road to Indy hat now. When Tony George created the IRL he severely weakened the top-level of open wheel racing in the USA and the entire sport has been withering away into oblivion ever since. This will be his legacy. Mark C.

05/03/07 United States Auto Club and Terre Haute Action Track officials regret to announce that the June 2 “Sumar Classic” at the 1/2-mile Indiana oval has been canceled for 2007. No replacement date for the K & N Engineering Silver Crown event has yet been announced..........as open wheel racing in the USA withers further away since the IRL was created.
An embarrassing week for NASCAR  The Nextel Cup Series could use some time off in order to receive a major image makeover following a couple of ugly incidents over the past week on NASCAR's top racing circuit.

These aren't just a couple of unsightly wrinkles that NASCAR is up against -- they are major cracks that could eventually require surgery.

Outspoken Tony Stewart put a severe dent in NASCAR's credibility at the start of last week when he said the organization's officials threw arbitrary caution flags for debris and manipulated the outcome of races, comparing the sport to professional wrestling.

Then, as Jeff Gordon earned his 77th career victory at Talladega Superspeedway last weekend to pass the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. for career wins, dozens of idiots in the grandstands pelted the racetrack -- and Gordon's car, among others -- with bottles, beer cans and whatever else they could find to heave. More ...

Stewart simply stated what many fans believe  Perception is everything. Which is why Tony Stewart's comments last week that NASCAR is beginning to look like professional wrestling struck a responsive chord with stock car racing fans. Nextel Cup champion could have picked a slightly better analogy. Possibly, he's totally wrong.

And choosing to make the charges on his own radio show (Sirius Satellite) after skipping a mandatory postrace interview session was completely out of line.

But Stewart only stated what a lot of fans believe – that NASCAR rigs late-race cautions to fit in a final round of television commercials and set up a photo-op finish.

When that is the perception, there is a problem, which NASCAR needs to address.

In case NASCAR hasn't noticed, television ratings were down 10 percent last season and empty seats could be found at most tracks. If the boom isn't over, it has at least slowed.

Why? Well, some fans – and I hear from them almost weekly – have grown tired of the way races end and disgusted with the amount of commercial interruptions on the telecasts. More at The Union Tribune

ISC mothballs Northwest plans  If anybody can handle last Sunday’s Talladega mess, it’s Grant Lynch, a transplanted Winston-Salem native who has been one of the France family’s go-to men since he left R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. to join its International Speedway Corp.

Lynch will be doing damage control while NASCAR moves on to another ISC track, Richmond International Raceway. Qualifying is today at 6:10 p.m. for Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. start of the sport’s fourth car-of-tomorrow race.

Lynch, whose primary job is running Talladega Superspeedway for the Frances, is the man who helped put together ISC’s highly successful Kansas City and Chicago tracks.

But he was less successful in the Pacific Northwest, where things haven’t gone as well. The ISC’s Seattle project, a planned 84,000-seat track in sight of downtown, across Puget Sound, has been put on hold. More ...

racing news
Mopar Performance Parts enters a 2007 Dodge Charger  Joining both amateur and seasoned drivers, Chrysler Group’s Mopar® Performance Parts has entered a specially-prepared 2007 Dodge Charger SRT8 in the 2007 Cannonball One Lap of America Competition. A joint vehicle development project between Mopar and Street and Racing Technology (SRT), the Charger had previously competed in the Targa Newfoundland race.

The One Lap competition begins on Saturday, May 5 as competitors leave Indiana’s South Bend Motor Speedway. For the next eight days, the drivers and their vehicles endure nearly 4,000 miles of 24-hour-a-day driving on top of strenuous closed-course competition at each stop along the way. In between race stops, competitors battle fatigue, weather and traffic across 11 states with the competition finishing on Saturday, May 12 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Coulthard sets new Barcelona lap record
  • BMW scraps Friday driver strategy
  • Alonso says home GP not special
  • Four-way fight in '07 won't last - Alonso
  • Updated Ferrari is 'new car' - Tost
  • Gene opposed to return of street circuits
  • I won't quit with third title - Alonso

Coulthard sets new Barcelona lap record
David Coulthard turned a few heads on Thursday by setting a new unofficial lap record as the four day Barcelona test drew to a close.

The Red Bull driver, whose 'RB3' was equipped with a new seamless shift gearbox that also impressed in the hands of Mark Webber earlier this week, narrowly went quicker than Kimi Raikkonen's Monday benchmark after Ferrari dominated the majority of the test.

It must be noted, however, that Scottish veteran Coulthard's fast time was achieved on a qualifying simulation run, and also before midday when the skies above Circuit de Catalunya opened and ensured that none of his rivals could trouble his apparent pace.

Meanwhile, aboard the heavily revised 'F2007' Ferrari, Brazil's Felipe Massa had a limited program due to the rain and a hydraulic problem in the morning, when it was mostly dry.

Teams packed up early at the end of the day when the track stayed wet.

Red Bull's chief test engineer Ian Morgan said: "It's always good to produce quick lap times and to be fastest, but let's wait and see how the situation evolves when we come back here for the race."

The Spanish GP takes place next weekend.

BMW scraps Friday driver strategy
BMW Sauber has apparently caved to the pressure of its race drivers by scrapping the unpopular policy of sitting one of them out during Friday morning practice at grands prix this year.

The Swiss based outfit's team principal Mario Theissen confirmed that teenaged tester Sebastian Vettel will not take to the cockpit of either Robert Kubica or Nick Heidfeld's cars at the Spanish GP next weekend.

"Until further notice, the two race drivers will be on track for the whole of Friday," the German said, having earlier revealed that BMW would "look closely" at the strategy following Heidfeld's struggle to perfect his setup with limited practice time.

Germany's Bild newspaper proclaimed the decision as a victory for Heidfeld, who has been openly vocal about disagreeing with a plan that put BMW's race drivers at a disadvantage compared with its rivals.

The tabloid publication headlined that Theissen's back-flip is a "triumph" for 29-year-old Nick, who has yet to secure a contract for 2008, "in the struggle for power".

In a media preview about the Barcelona race next weekend, meanwhile, BMW-Sauber said it wanted to remain clearly the third quickest team in formula one as the European season develops in 2007. More ...

industry news
Navistar seeks $2B in damages from Ford  The dispute between Navistar International Corp. and Ford Motor Co. ratcheted up Wednesday, as Navistar accused Ford of trying to develop its own diesel engine for pickup trucks and sought $2 billion in damages. In a release, Navistar said its contract to supply the Power Stroke diesel engine runs through 2012, but cited "indications that Ford plans to develop its own diesel engine for introduction prior to 2012."

Warrenville, Ill.-based Navistar has been supplying diesel engines for Ford's Super Duty F-series pickup trucks since 1979. More ...

Indy 500: Firestone preview  
Race Distance: 500 miles/804.67 km (200 laps on the 2.5-mile/4.023-km superspeedway oval).
Television Broadcast: Live at noon EDT Sunday, May 27 on ABC.

Firestone Firehawk Race Tires Supplied: 5,175 dry-condition slicks.

Each car number entry receives 35 sets (140 total tires) for the entire month. Cars not running all month (i.e., entries starting practice the second week) receive tires on a prorated basis for the number of days they compete.

For Indianapolis, Firestone brings two tire stagger options. Stagger is the process of building the right rear tire slightly larger than the left rear to help the IndyCars go through the left-hand oval turns more smoothly. The stagger options available this month equate to diameter differences of 0.35 and 0.44 of an inch between the right and left rear tires. More ...

track news
Inaugural class of the “Legends of Laguna Seca”  The 50th anniversary celebration continues at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with today’s announcement of the inaugural class of the “Legends of Laguna Seca,” honoring five competitors who played significant roles in the colorful history of the Monterey track that opened in 1957.

Five legendary racers – Dan Gurney, Wayne Rainey, Pete Lovely, Eddie Lawson and Bobby Rahal – are the first inductees into the recently announced “Legends of Laguna Seca” program. Each will be honored on their own race weekend during the 2007 season’s five major races.

Following their induction at this year’s races, a permanent “Legends of Laguna Seca” walk of fame tribute is planned for the Corkscrew area. More ...

91st Indianapolis 500 event schedule  
(All Times Local - Schedule Subject to Change)

STAR/ROOKIE ORIENTATION - $5 admission; 12 and under free
9 a.m.-6 p.m., Public Gates Open
9-11 a.m., "Flapjacks at the Track" free breakfast, F1 Garages No. 31, 32
10:30-11:30 a.m., Champions Autograph Session, Pagoda Plaza
Noon-5 p.m., Rookie Orientation Program
1-1:30 p.m., A.J. Foyt and Family Q&A, Coca-Cola Stage
1:45-2:45 p.m., A.J. Foyt and Family Autograph Session, Pagoda Plaza

May 7: ROOKIE ORIENTATION - $5 admission; 5 and under free
9 a.m.-6 p.m., Public Gates Open
Noon-5 p.m., Rookie Orientation Program More ...

Champ Car wraps up testing in Portland  PORTLAND – After a near washout on Wednesday, Champ Car teams concluded their testing today at Portland International Raceway with eight cars taking laps around the 1.969-mile circuit in the Pacific Northwest.  Though the skies threatened rain most of the day, the track stayed dry until the final hour and teams were able to complete their testing checklists.

Once again it was Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald’s Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and his Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing teammate Graham Rahal (#2 Medi|Zone Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) holding down the top two spots with Bourdais running a session best 57.45 seconds and Rahal running a 57.61.

“We’ve had quite a bit of different weather conditions making things more complicated than they needed to be,” said the three-time champion Bourdais.  “The McDonald’s car is good and we are just trying to find some improvements and go through the items we had on the list.  Hopefully we can get some valuable information and just build for the race weekend.”

Rahal held the fast time for most of the day but was eclipsed by his teammate with about two-hours to go. More ...

Jimmy Kite to Drive the #18 PDM Racing entry  Jimmy Kite has agreed to drive in this years' Indy 500 for the colorful, exciting and always entertaining PDM Racing, Inc.  The car will be prepared in the home of PDM racing, the former Leader Card Racers facility owned by the legendary A J Watson.  This build will be spearheaded by the capable hands of veteran chief mechanic Rob Stark hailing out of Cucamonga , California .  PDM looks to have their Panoz chassis powered by Honda on the famed two and a half mile oval during the second week of practice. 
 Could this be deja-vu all over again? Back in 2003, Kite and PDM teamed up for the Indianapolis 500 and it was a magical run at the Brickyard. Starting in 32nd position, Jimmy finished the race in 13th place. For those keeping score, with regards to start-finish positioning, Jimmy was the most improved for the field that year.
More shakeups at Waltrip  Michael Waltrip Racing and #44-Dale Jarrett’s crew chief Matt Borland have parted ways. “Dale Jarrett wasn’t happy, UPS wasn’t happy, and we had to do something immediately,” Waltrip said.  “Originally, we had hoped that Matt Borland would take the role as the technical director, but he wasn’t ready to come off the road. We need a technical director down the road, but it wasn’t going to help us this weekend.”

Jason Burdett, formerly the co-crew chief of the #88 car at Robert Yates Racing, left Yates on Wednesday and will eventually be the #44 crew chief. Waltrip wanted to give Burdett time to get acclimated to the system at Michael Waltrip Racing before he jumped into that role. Burdett worked with Jarrett last year.

Wimmer files suit against Bill Davis Racing  Scott Wimmer filed a lawsuit earlier this week against Bill Davis Racing, claiming he is owed $1.2 million in salary for the 2006 season because the team did not follow the procedure in the contract to fire him.

In the suit filed Monday in North Carolina Superior Court in Greensboro, N.C., Wimmer alleges BDR did not tell him until Oct. 24, 2005, that he would not be the driver in 2006.

He claims that violated a clause in the contract which states that if the driver is not in the top 25 in the standings by Sept, 1, "team shall have the right to issue a written notice that driver is being placed on a 30-day notice stating that performance level must be improved to the satisfaction of sponsor and team by September 30th of current year or team may issued [sic] a written notice of termination of driver agreement at the end of current Nextel Cup season."

Wimmer claims he received no written notice, that the team told the media around Oct. 8 that he would return in 2006 but then sent him a termination letter Oct. 24.

According to the lawsuit, Wimmer was being paid $600,000 for the 2004 season, $900,000 for 2005 and $1.2 million for 2006. He also received 45 percent of prize money as well as 33.3 percent of royalties from team merchandise. Scenedaily.com

PCM Portland test report  Oxnard, CA -  Due to rain, Pacific Coast Motorsports completed just one of their scheduled two days of testing at Portland International Raceway.  Three of the four scheduled tests this season have been affected by mother-nature, a situation that is particularly frustrating for the rookie team and drivers.  

“Practicing in the rain is important as racing in the rain is an element of the Champ Car World Series.  Fortunately though, we had that at both Sebring and Houston.  Now that the season has started each rookie driver gets just 900 miles of testing. As a new team, every mile in testing is crucial and we just can’t maximize the opportunity to learn in wet conditions,” commented team manager Michael Harvey.  “The test was still very successful for us as a group as we continue to learn and develop this car.  Tuesday was a big day, the engineers worked through their test plan and Alex and Ryan completed 330 miles combined, we learned quite a bit about what works with this car.” More ...
Earnhardt or Gordon, who is better?  As part of its weeklong All-Star programming lineup leading up to the NASCAR Nextel All-Star Challenge, SPEED will deliver a special episode of Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain. The 90-minute special, entitled “Wonderboy or The Intimidator … Who’s Better?” will air live at 7 p.m. ET on May 16, as Despain brings in experts to compare the careers of the sport’s ultimate all stars -- Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon.

“Earnhardt versus Gordon is a fascinating comparison,” Despain said. “Earnhardt is the epitome of “old NASCAR,” a series born among WWII vets who treated racing as another form of combat.  “The Intimidator” was the last in a long line of grizzled tough guys who reigned as the sport’s biggest heroes.  In contrast, Gordon opened the door to “new NASCAR.”  He’s the definitive “young gun,” the first driver to combine on-track prowess with mainstream marketing appeal.  Which of these guys you think is better says as much about you as it does about the drivers, and I suspect hearing the differences between Earnhardt fans and Gordon fans will be half the fun of this show.” More ...

Industry News
Volvo launches Treasure Hunt  Volvo Cars launches its online global hunt for a sunken treasure in conjunction with its partnership with Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise. A chest filled with $50,000 worth of gold doubloons plus the key to a brand new Volvo was sunk to the bottom of the ocean somewhere in the world. Participants must find the location of the chest by answering questions, solving puzzles and finding clues online. The hunt starts simultaneously in 22 countries on May 4, and ends with a global online ‘head to head’ on June 2. Note: Watch video on our home page for more details.
industry News
GM reports $62-million profit  General Motors Corp. said its first-quarter profit was $62 million, or 11 cents a share, compared with $602 million, or $1.06 a share, in the same period a year ago.

It was the second straight quarter of positive earnings for the nation’s largest automaker. Excluding special items, GM’s adjusted net income was $94 million, or 17 cents a share in the first quarter, compared to adjusted earnings of $350 million, or 62 cents a share in the first quarter of 2006.

GM revenue for the three-month period ended March 31 were $43.91 billion, compared with $52.38 billion in the first quarter of 2006.

After losing $12.4 billion in the last two years, officials at GM credited this quarter’s success on growing presence in emerging foreign markets, along with its aggressive turnaround plan in North America for the good news.

“The first quarter of 2007 marked another quarter of continued progress in GM’s global automotive operations,” said GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner, in a statement. “We were able to expand vehicle sales and improve automotive profitability based on the progress in our turnaround initiatives in North America and Europe and our expansion strategy for key growth markets like China, Russia and South America.”

GM said it sold a record 2.26 million cars and trucks in the first quarter of 2007, a jump of 3% when compared to the first three months of 2006. Asia Pacific vehicle sales increased by more than 20%, while GM Latin America, Africa and Middle East saw a 17% jump, followed by a 6% climb at GM Europe.

However, GM North America posted an adjusted loss of $85 million for the first quarter, compared with an adjusted net loss of $251 million in the same period in 2006.

Wagoner said the earnings decline was largely a result of losses incurred by the GMAC Financial Services business, due to weakness in the nation’s mortgage sector. GM holds a 49% stake in GMAC, after selling 51% in 2006.

“Our strongest growth is in the Asia Pacific market, which is critically important as this will be the fastest growing region in the world over the next decade,” Wagoner said. “We continue to build on our already strong footprint in China, take advantage of GM-DAT’s great capabilities, and move aggressively in other important markets, like India.” Detroit Free Press

industry news
BMW's 1Q profit falls 38 percent  Luxury car maker BMW AG said Thursday its first-quarter profit dropped 38 percent as it spent more money on launching new models and because last year's figure included a one-time gain.

The company earned 587 million euros ($797.6 million) in the three months through March 31, compared with 948 million euros a year ago, when it had booked a 375 million Euro gain from an exchangeable bond in Rolls-Royce Group PLC. The results were better than the 568 million euros ($771.8 million) analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires had expected.

Sales rose 2.9 percent to 11.95 billion euros ($16.24 billion), slightly better than the 11.61 billion euros ($15.78 billion) analysts had predicted.

The Munich-based company's pretax profit dropped 34 percent to 852 million euros ($1.15 billion), lower than the 861 million euros forecast.

NHRA expands safety rules in wake of Medlen's death  The National Hot Rod Association announced Wednesday it will implement several new rules in its Top Fuel and Funny Car divisions to enhance safety in the wake of the death of young star Eric Medlen.  Medlen died from injuries sustained March 19 in a crash during a test session in Gainesville, Fla.

"We've learned something from Eric's incident that we've never witnessed before, that being an extreme oscillation or vibration," said Graham Light, senior vice president of racing operations for the NHRA. "Although this is an unprecedented occurrence, we don't want to prematurely react given the current high level of safety measures implemented in these cars that have proven very effective.

"We need, however, to take what we have learned and make appropriate changes to reduce the possibility of a similar incident in the future, both on a short- and long-term basis."

The rule changes include adding padding in the driver cockpit area in both Top Fuel and Funny Car, making a roll cage/helmet shroud, similar to those installed on Top Fuel cars, mandatory in Funny Car no later than the May 18-20 event at Bristol, Tenn., and replacing the current five-point driver restraint systems with a seven-point system by the Bristol event in Funny Car and by the June 1-3 event in Topeka, Kan., in Top Fuel.

Along with the new restraints, NHRA has mandated stricter installation requirements to be certain that teams install the restraints according to manufacturer recommendations. AP Story

track news
More improvements at MIS  Michigan International Speedway’s continued commitment to race fans took another important step with the approval of several capital improvement projects for the 2007 summer racing season.

Although MIS has yearly goals, its primary goal of providing the best possible experience to the race fan is ongoing. With previous announcements regarding grandstand replacements in Turn One and revised outbound traffic patterns, MIS will also make a number of smaller improvements for 2007.

“Even though traffic and more comfortable grandstands are large-scale improvements, many of these smaller projects are just as important,” track President Roger Curtis said. “Our goal is for every fan to have a great experience every time they visit MIS. Any time we can make improvements, large or small, it’s good for our fans.” More ...

Coulthard fastest in wet Barcelona  David Coulthard set a surprise fastest time for Red Bull on the final day of this week's Barcelona test.

The Scot's 1m21.066s lap was a new record for the revised Catalunya track, beating the mark set by Kimi Raikkonen on Monday.

Ferrari had dominated the first three days of the test, but had a less successful time today, with Felipe Massa's car requiring a tow back to the pits after encountering hydraulic problems this morning.

Massa rejoined later in the session, but was only third quickest, behind McLaren's Pedro de la Rosa, who also stopped with mechanical issues early on.

Pos  Driver        Team                     Time     Laps
 1.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault    (B)  1:21.066   59
 2.  de la Rosa    McLaren-Mercedes    (B)  1:21.267   58
 3.  Massa         Ferrari             (B)  1:21.483   38
 4.  Fisichella    Renault             (B)  1:21.876   63
 5.  Kubica        BMW-Sauber          (B)  1:22.098   55
 6.  R.Schumacher  Toyota              (B)  1:22.359   49
 7.  Klien         Honda               (B)  1:22.807   80

Ferrari confirms former Red Bull chief  (GMM) Ferrari on Thursday confirmed rumors that suggested Red Bull's recently departed Dany Bahar would join the Maranello based team.

Despite his low-profile, Bahar was arguably the highest ranking Red Bull chiefs when he left in February, often referred to as company tycoon Dietrich Mateschitz's 'right hand man'.

Formerly head of corporate projects at the Austrian energy drinks stable, and listed as 'team owner' of the Red Bull NASCAR team on the American series' website, Bahar is to head up a newly established Global Brand Department at Ferrari, a statement said.

Bahar's business unit will report directly to Jean Todt and "manage and develop the Ferrari brand on a worldwide scale".

Early return for Enge  Although the initial doctor recommendation was that he wouldn't race in the American Le Mans Series until July, Tomas Enge has been given the green light to return to racing next weekend for the fifth round of the season at Salt Lake City. The Petersen Motorsport/White Lightning suffered a broken elbow, broken ribs and partially collapsed lung in an accident during the Grand Prix of St Petersburg back in March and wasn't expected to return to the #31 Ferrari 430 until at least 7 July and the event at Lime Rock.
Honda nose sprouts 'ears' at Spanish test  (GMM)  Embattled Honda has taken a leaf out of McLaren's book in a bid to produce a quicker car for the upcoming Spanish grand prix.

The crisis-ridden team sent Christian Klien's RA107 out of the garage on the final morning of the Barcelona test on Thursday fitted with what the attending media immediately referred to as 'elephant ears' -- two peculiar winglets sprouting from the tip of the nose.

Already painted to match the rest of the 'Earth Car' livery, it is expected that engineers for the Brackley based team believe the solution could contribute to improving the stability of the troubled car's handling, particularly under braking.

Honda's innovation follows the testing earlier this week of a similarly revolutionary front wing design by McLaren, featuring a thin 'bridge'-like appendage looping over the front nose and attached to the end plates.

Ferrari voted Best Place to Work  Ferrari is proud to announce that it has been voted Best Place to Work in Europe 2007 by the Great Place to Work Institute, having already won the Italian title. This award is a powerful endorsement of the enormous organizational and financial commitment made by the company in recent years to providing its employees with the best possible working conditions and to encouraging personal and professional growth.

Over a thousand companies throughout Europe participated in the survey which measures the degree of satisfaction of employees with their place of work and picks out the best working environments. This alone makes Ferrari's achievement particularly impressive. In 2003, the then Ferrari Maserati Group was voted the Best Place to Work in Italy but this latest award is the ultimate acknowledgement of the company's ongoing commitment to the personal growth of its staff. More ...

Nextel Cup drivers in all-star race for charity  Nextel Cup drivers will take to the dirt June 6 at southwest Ohio’s Eldora Speedway in the Nextel Prelude to the Dream exhibition race. The event, which will raise money for the Victory Junction Gang Camp in North Carolina and the Tony Stewart Foundation, will be presented live on HBO Pay-Per-View.

Also expected are Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Denny Hamlin, Bobby Labonte, Ryan Newman, Bill Elliott, Clint Bowyer, Dave Blaney, Kyle Petty, Aric Almirola, Kyle Busch, Ron Capps, Red Farmer, Elliott Sadler, Ken Schrader, Kenny Wallace, Mike Wallace, J.J. Yeley and Ray Evernham. All will drive 2,300-pound dirt late-model stock cars.

“This is going to be a fun but unbelievably competitive race,” said Stewart, two-time NASCAR champion and owner of the Rossburg, Ohio track.

NASCAR Drivers in ‘Big Break’ on The Golf Channel  NASCAR’s finest will kick off a new season of shows when stars from the world of sports and Hollywood will take on the most popular challenges from The Golf Channel hit reality series, The Big Break. On Tuesday, May 23 at 10:30 p.m. ET, NASCAR drivers will steer The Golf Channel airwaves in the second season debut of The Big Break All Star Challenge.

The Big Break All Star Challenge season premiere will pit NASCAR Drivers Kurt Busch, Mike Skinner, Kyle Petty, Hermie Sadler and Boris Said against each other in a special event for charity and bragging rights.

Each All Star Challenge show is a condensed version of the original Big Break series, but with all the action packed into one hour. Contestants are eliminated throughout the competition, with a final pairing battling it out for the crown at the end of the show. Based upon individual performance, the contestants will receive equivalent cash awards to be donated to a charity of their choice.

Industry News
Slim profit expected at GM  Analysts expect General Motors Corp. to report today that it made a slight profit in the first three months of the year, helped by aggressive restructuring efforts and production adjustments in its North American operations.

Analyst profit estimates averaged between $300 million and $500 million. GM doesn't forecast its results.

It was a tough quarter to forecast, analysts said, because of lower sales and softer vehicle prices. It also remains unclear how much GM's earnings will be affected by exposure to delinquent subprime loans at its former financing arm, GMAC.

GM sold 51% of GMAC in November. GMAC reported a net loss of $305 million on Wednesday. Despite that uncertainty and even as GM fell behind Toyota Motor Corp. for total global sales for the quarter, analysts said, GM has made progress in some areas that should result in quarterly profits globally and possibly even in North America.

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • McLaren unlikely to race radical wing
  • More rain likely for last day in Spain
  • McLaren forks out to 'inspire staff'
  • Vettel not guaranteed BMW seat in 2008
  • Mateschitz rejects Red Bull 'crisis'
  • Red Bull hunt for 'reserve' stand-in
  • Another famous son begins racing rise

McLaren unlikely to race radical wing
McLaren is unlikely to use its unique 'bridge' front wing design at the Spanish grand prix next week.

The Woking based team publicly debuted the innovation at the pre-race test at Circuit de Catalunya on Monday, and on Wednesday world champion Fernando Alonso got his first taste of the unique bodywork.

But the Spanish newspaper Diario As reports that 25-year-old Alonso did not offer promising feedback after using the wing - now painted red after originally appearing in carbon-fiber black - on the Barcelona layout.

"The extravagant and revolutionary front innovation did not work as the team had expected," the report added.

Alonso was fifth quickest in the MP4-22 on Wednesday; a full second off the pace of the dominant Ferrari steered by Felipe Massa.

'As' said Pedro de la Rosa will conclude McLaren's test on Thursday, with Alonso due to do an appearance for a sponsor.

More rain likely for last day in Spain
After torrential rain washed out day two of the crucial Barcelona test, the skies above Circuit de Catalunya brought a better day of weather on Wednesday.

Although some light rain interrupted proceedings for a short time around noon, warm Spanish sunshine mostly set the scene as Ferrari continued its dominance of the pace.

Having taken over the Finn's F2007, however, Felipe Massa trailed teammate Kimi Raikkonen's new unofficial circuit record by a few tenths.

A Williams spokeswoman, meanwhile, confirmed that Nico Rosberg was taken to the local hospital for tests after he crashed his FW29 at high speed without setting a lap time.

He was not injured.

Due to Tuesday's bad weather, the initially three-day test has been extended to include Thursday, but the risk of rain on day four is high.

Along with Williams, Toro Rosso, Super Aguri and Spyker all opted against staying around for the extra day. More ...

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