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Industry News
Cenex hires two ex-Cosworth men Cenex hires two ex-Cosworth menCenex, the new Center of Excellence for Low Carbon and Fuel Cell vehicles, has appointed to senior management roles two former members of the management team at the Northampton, UK based race engine manufacturer Cosworth. Brendan Connor who was formerly CEO of Cosworth Racing Limited was named as the new chairman at Cenex while Graham Shemeld formerly Cosworth’s head of procurement and its Formula One program manager has been hired as project manager. Cenex is the UK's first Centre of Excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies. Set up as an industry-led public-private partnership, the aim of Cenex is to support UK industry in building competitive advantage based on national leadership in the global shift to a low carbon economy. By encouraging the early market adoption of low carbon and fuel cell technologies in automotive applications, Cenex aims assist UK industry in developing a supply chain capable of competing in global markets, as well as showcasing UK expertise to encourage inward investment.
Simmons spins again Simmons spins againJust three minutes after practice began Wednesday at the Indianapolis 500, Jeff Simmons spun out of the first turn and bumped the inside wall. The front wing of Simmons' car was damaged, but he was not injured.  Simmons was hired by Rahal-Letterman Racing after Paul Dana was killed in a crash at Homestead, Florida.
TV News
NASCAR Richmond TV rating NASCAR Richmond TV ratingFX's official debut of regularly scheduled NASCAR NEXTEL CUP RACING earned a 3.5/7 (5.633 million viewers) for the Richmond 400 this past Saturday. That is up +3% over last year's 3.4/7 and ranks as FX's highest rating for the Richmond race ever. These are national figures that will not change. FOX/FX PR
Blaney to drive for Braun in Busch Blaney to drive for Braun in BuschBraun Racing officials say Dave Blaney will drive the team's No. 32 Busch Series Chevrolet in eight races this season.  Blaney, who drives the No. 22 Bill Davis Racing Dodge in the Nextel Cup series, is scheduled to debut with the team in the May 27 Busch Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

"When Todd Braun approached me about the opportunity, it was just too good to pass up," Blaney said. "I've had some success in the Busch Series, and I'm excited to get involved in that series again and run in equipment capable of winning."

Since 1998, Blaney has recorded 86 NASCAR Busch starts with six poles, seven top-five and 22 top-10 finishes.

Newlywed Bourdais looks to maintain his wining ways Newlywed Bourdais looks to maintain his wining waysHOUSTON --- Whether he is trying to clinch a season-long title or win a race, McDonald’s® driver Sebastien Bourdais’ methodical approach to any race weekend has always been the same – focus on the here and now.  He will continue that same process when he enters this weekend’s 115-lap Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston but will do so for the first time as a married man.

He and longtime girlfriend Claire Ragot exchanged wedding vows last Saturday, May 6 at the Cathedral Saint Julian in their hometown of Le Mans, France.  While most newlyweds would be on their honeymoon, he is set to return to another love – that of racing – and take on the 2006 title fight one race at a time. 

“The race will only be a few days after the wedding so hopefully it’s going to bring me good luck,” said Bourdais, who recently held the Number One spot on Speed TV’s weekly driver ranking, and became the first non-Formula One driver to hold the position since the poll began one year ago.  “I toured the area in April before the Long Beach race and the complex is exceptional.  The set up is going to be perfect for us.”  zzzz

This approach has served him well since he joined the series in 2003.  In 46 races, he has amassed 17 wins to earn a win percentage of 37 percent.  His 19 poles in 46 events equal an even more impressive average of 41.3 percent.  Another statistic should have him looking forward to the inaugural event on the 1.6-mile, 10-turn course around the Reliant Park complex. 

In the four times the series has ventured to new venues over the last three seasons, Bourdais has emerged victorious.  His wins in Brands Hatch in 2003, Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2004 and Edmonton and San Jose in ’05 speak not only to the talent of Bourdais but also to the meticulous pre-race preparation of Newman/Haas Racing.  In addition to the 1.6 mile, 10-turn Houston track being new, the series will also race on a street course at night for the first time and Bourdais is excited about the prospect.

“I think night racing is exciting and obviously in Houston it’s going to be warm enough that people might like it a lot better and we should too,” said Bourdais, who is no stranger to hot and humid climates as a resident of St. Petersburg, Florida.  “It will be the premiere of our first street race under the lights and I’m fully confident it’s going to be just as much lighting as the day because I’ve seen the setup.  They’re going to have big additional lights like we had in Milwaukee (2004) so the complex is very well lit and visibility shouldn’t be a problem.  It’s going to be a great atmosphere and everybody tends to party a little bit more when it’s nighttime so it should be cool.  Hopefully the McDonald’s team will have something to celebrate after the race is over and we can join them.”

In Round 1 of 15 in Long Beach Bourdais earned every point available after setting the fastest lap times in both qualifying sessions, leading the race, and setting the fastest race lap en route to a win from pole.  He holds a mere eight point advantage over second place Justin Wilson and 10 over third place Alex Tagliani and regardless of the outcome on Saturday night in Houston is confident that the field will appreciate the effort the promoter is putting in to make this one of the best street courses in the United States.

“Obviously it’s ‘concrete racing’ and there are definitely a lot of small bumps and everything but they’ve been cutting the pavement and putting some new concrete in the corners so it’s going to be bumpy on the straight and under braking but the corners should be pretty good,” said Bourdais.  “I’m confident that the organization is going to do a great job; they were hands on when I went there in April.  They had tons of people working on the track and it should be a great venue and it looks like the population in Houston is really excited about the race and I can’t wait to get there.  It should be very much like Denver which, these days is a reference point for street racing and I’m looking forward to it.”

Although taking the season one race at a time, a win in this weekend’s Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston would bring him one step closer to becoming the first to earn three consecutive open wheel racing titles since Ted Horn accomplished the feat from 1946-1948 as well as be a nice wedding present.

The Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston will get underway with first-round qualifying Thursday at 8:15 p.m. Central Time. The final grid will be set with Friday qualifying at 4:00 p.m. Central Time with the race set to take the green flag at 8 p.m. on Saturday night. Fans can watch all the highlights from Bridgestone Pole Position qualifying on a 30-minute SPEED broadcast beginning at midnight Eastern Time Saturday morning while the race will be shown live on SPEED beginning at 9 p.m. Eastern. NHR

Boris Said joins PCM GT effort in Phoenix Boris Said joins PCM GT effort in PhoenixVentura, California – Following a top-six debut in the GT class with the #98 Ironclad/Wine Country Motor Sports Pontiac GTO.R last weekend at Laguna Seca, Pacific Coast Motorsports now heads to the Phoenix International Raceway with Boris Said joining Ross Thompson behind the wheel for Saturday night’s ‘The GAINSCO Grand Prix’, Round 7 of the 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series.
Hornish bumps speed up to 226 MPH Hornish bumps speed up to 226 MPH
Birchwood Foods teams up with Wallace Birchwood Foods teams up with WallaceFor over sixty years Birchwood Foods has been a leader in providing quality beef for the food service and retail industries. In 2006, Birchwood, the Officially Licensed Burger of NASCAR will team up with Rusty Wallace, Inc. to rev up their NASCAR marketing campaign.

"I'm excited to partner with Birchwood Foods, a company that shares such a similar foundation to Rusty Wallace, Inc.,” said Rusty Wallace. “When it comes to pride and quality standards we both strive to be the best in the business."

Through the relationship with Rusty Wallace, Inc., Birchwood Foods is hoping to reach out to the over 75 million NASCAR fans by bringing brand exposure to their variety of ground beef products. Birchwood will offer numerous multi-media opportunities, licensing opportunities, as well as promotions and sweepstakes.

"Collaborating with Birchwood Foods is a powerful marketing vehicle; we look forward to building their brand with the consumers and businesses,” commented John Paysor, VP of Marketing and Sponsorship.

Birchwood Foods joins an impressive roster of sponsors, which include Visa, Comcast, USG and Callaway Golf, among others.

New Chief Aerodynamicist for Honda team New Chief Aerodynamicist for Honda teamAs the Honda Racing F1 Team prepares for the final commissioning of its new state of the art wind tunnel, it is pleased to confirm that Mariano Alperin-Bruvera has been promoted to the position of Chief Aerodynamicist.

With building work on the new full scale tunnel nearing completion, Mariano will now lead the efforts of a significantly expanded team of aerodynamicists, designers, technicians and modelmakers at the Brackley Operations Centre in the UK, which works alongside a similar group at the Dome facility in Japan.

The 40 year old Argentinean joined the team at its inception in 1998 as a Senior Aerodynamicist. Prior to that, he held aerodynamicist positions with AGS France, Lamborghini and Fondmetal. He then moved to the Durango F3000 team before returning to Formula One for a four year spell with the former Minardi team.

Geoffrey Willis
"Mariano Alperin-Bruvera has been part of this team since the beginning and a key player in its progress to date. His new role will see him step up from head of one of our two aero development groups to a position of overall aerodynamic leadership. I have every confidence that in the position of Chief Aerodynamicist, Mariano will continue to play a pivotal role in our team’s pursuit of its championship ambitions."

Mariano Alperin-Bruvera
"I'm very proud to be given this opportunity to lead what I believe to be one of the strongest and most talented aerodynamics teams in Formula One. Our new wind tunnel represents a new technological step in aerodynamic research and I'm confident that there are some very exciting times ahead of us."

Monterrey ticket sales on target Monterrey ticket sales on targetOCESA announced that a little more of 30,000 tickets have been sold for the Monterrey Grand Prix, and according to them this makes them confident for the race day because they have always sold more than half of the total ticket sales the 2 weeks prior to the race. Jose Arrambide
Racing News
Top racing businesses named Top racing businesses namedWith a jury comprising the voluntary efforts of legends including Michael Andretti, Jost Capito from Team RS, Trevor Carlin, former F1 driver and dynamics expert John Miles, DTM driver Tom Kristensen, David Brabham, Dale Jarrett, and respected motorsport journalists such as David Tremayne from the Independent and Kim Wolfkill of Road & Track, the Professional Motorsport World Top 10 Motorsport Businesses of 2006 highlights suppliers and teams who are having the most significant impact on the motor racing scene this year.
Of the world's race chassis builders, the team of experts placed Dallara in pole position for its efforts in supplying the successful IR2 Indy, F3, and SP1 Le Mans chassis, while second place went to McLaren for its attention to detail on its 2006 F1 car. Other companies commended include Lola, Citroen Sport, and Roush.
Moving to the Top 10 engine builders of the year, the PMW jury agreed that Honda's F1, Indy and touring car powerplants were worthy of the top slot, and it acknowledged Cosworth's F1 and Champ Car efforts with second place. Roush and Citroen Sport received further praise, with the likes of Renault, Ferrari, and Ilmor also being highlighted as some of the best in the business.

Of the crop of race teams currently competing in various series worldwide, Michael Andretti's very own Andretti Green Racing was named the class of the year. Last year's F1 champions, Renault, claimed second spot, with Ferrari, Prodrive, and Hendrick Motorsports gaining Top 10 recognition.

Industry News
Toyota profit soar to another record Toyota profit soar to another recordToyota's profit in the January-March quarter jumped 39 percent as the world's No. 2 automaker marked its sixth straight record fiscal year of booming sales, the company said Wednesday. Toyota Motor Corp. recorded a net profit of 404.1 billion yen ($3.6 billion) in the final quarter of fiscal 2005, up from 290.7 billion yen in the same quarter the previous year.
Quarterly sales totaled 5.75 trillion yen ($51.6 billion), up 18 percent from 4.88 trillion yen a year ago. The surge in sales means Toyota is now just slightly behind General Motors Corp. as the world's largest automaker in terms of revenue. GM last month reported its sales rose to a record $52.2 billion in its latest quarter from $45.8 billion in the first quarter a year ago.

With sales booming around the world, Toyota is on pace to overtake General Motors Corp. as the world's biggest automaker. Its models' reputation for good mileage has helped Toyota snatch U.S. market share away from GM and Ford Motor Co. at a time when gas prices are soaring.  More at AP Story

Track News
Mid-Ohio gearing up for new season with expansion Mid-Ohio gearing up for new season with expansionTRUE SPORTS INC. is revving up for the summer season with an expanded Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, two new races and an instructional school for motorcyclists. Dublin-based TrueSports, owner of the 45-year-old Mid-Ohio course, added a 1.2-mile motorcycle track, a half-mile track for all-terrain vehicles, and a 1.7-mile connector track to allow the expanded facilities to be used simultaneously, increasing capacity for classes.

The main Mid-Ohio track, which was repaved as part of the upgrades, is a 2.4-mile, 15-turn road course.

TrueSports' three businesses at Mid-Ohio - spectator events, private events and the driving school - needed the expansion, said Dennis Rhee, the company's vice president.

"We had the staff, the cars, students, drivers and spectators," he said, "but we didn't have enough pavement."

The 36-month expansion allowed the company to increase its driving school's calendar from 120 days to 150 days, adding advanced defensive driving for adults and teens, open-track testing and tuning courses, and licensing and coaching courses for amateur drivers who want to enter the track's newest race, the National Auto Sports Association Championship. zzzz

The additions bring the company's Mid-Ohio School to 14 courses.

"We expect to see a 15 to 20 percent increase in participants during the first year and for the expansion to add 3 to 5 percent to our bottom-line revenue," said TrueSports President Michelle Truman Gajoch.

The privately-held company does not disclose revenue.

Mid-Ohio is also partnering with the Pickerington-based American Motorcyclist Association on courses for motorcycles, dirt bikes and ATVs. The Mid-Ohio Motorcycle Riding School will be open 80 days a year and will operate in partnership with the Chicago-based Motorcycle Riding School and the Delta, Ohio-based Sportbike Track Time instruction firm.

"Ohio is considered the motorcycle capital of America," Rhee said.

Also new for this year is a new fleet of cars, donated by American Honda Motor Co. Honda replaced the 56-car fleet with 2006 Acura TSX sports sedans, Honda Civic EX coupes and Honda S2000 roadsters.

Mid-Ohio, located 60 miles north of Columbus near Mansfield, will open full throttle May 19 for its first spectator event, the American Le Mans Series. Also new for this year is the AMA Superbike Shootout, the season finale for the American Motorcyclist Association's Superbike Championship series.

More information is available at truesports.com. Columbus Business Journal

FIA revoke Ide’s F1 license FIA revoke Ide’s F1 licenseUPDATE SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM confirms that the Formula One Permanent Bureau has decided to withdraw the 2006 Super License of Yuji Ide. Yuji will therefore not be participating in any further official FIA Formula One World Championship events this year.

It is with sadness and regret that the team accepts this decision, however Aguri Suzuki and A.Company (Japan) shall continue to seek driving opportunities for Yuji and hopefully a path back into Formula One.

As a result, Franck Montagny will drive once again for the SAF1 Team at the forthcoming Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix. Super Aguri

05/10/06 (GMM)  Franck Montagny will keep his racing seat at Super Aguri for at least two more races, the fledgling Japanese team said.

In a statement, it was revealed that Yuji Ide - stood down after FIA 'advice' prior to last weekend's Nurburgring race - has in fact lost his formula one Super License.

''Yuji will therefore not be participating in any further ... events this year,'' Super Aguri said.

It is speculated that the Leafield-based squad was very keen to keep 31-year-old Ide in the car, as - although he struggled for pace - the all-Japanese driver line-up was an attraction for corporate interest in Aguri Suzuki's native country.

For now, then, Frenchman Montagny will reappear in Spain and Monaco, 'whilst discussions with a number of parties' for a full-time replacement ensue, the team clarified.

Win would be best birthday present for Helio Win would be best birthday present for HelioSometime during practice Wednesday, May 10 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway someone is going to smash a piece of birthday cake into Helio Castroneves’ handsome face. But it probably won’t be fellow Brazilian and Indianapolis 500 driver Tony Kanaan. He learned his lesson in 2003.

Castroneves is a two-time winner of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Each May he has celebrated his birthday at the track. He turns 31 on May 10 as the drivers continued to prepare for WorldPoints Visa Card Pole Day on Saturday, May 13, which will decide the driver and car to sit on the inside of the front row for the start of 90th Indianapolis on May 28.

Castroneves comes to Indy this May as one of the favorites to win either the pole or the race. Or both.

Driving again for Marlboro Team Penske, he has won two straight IRL IndyCar Series races leading up to the annual pilgrimage to the Mecca of open wheel racing. zzzz

In 2003, Castroneves was returning after two straight victories in the 500-mile grind. Pole Day that year coincided with his birthday, but rain intervened.

So as the ebullient Castroneves waited in his pit for a change in the weather, his buddy Kanaan sneaked up behind him and smashed a piece of birthday cake into his face.

That, said Castroneves this May 9 before turning a fast practice lap of 224.106 mph, turned out to be his favorite Indy birthday memory.

“It was stealing the pole position from Tony Kanaan,” he said. “It was a rained out day. The next day we actually stole it. He got a cake in my face. The next day was OK. I got him back.”

Castroneves took the cake and rainout with his usual happy attitude.

“Maybe,” he told the press that day, “it’s best this way, because now I can try to earn the pole for my mom (on Mother’s Day).”

Sunday, May 11, 2003 was clear but extremely windy. Some cars took their runs, some waited.

At 2:41 p.m., Kanaan rolled out and whipped together four laps that averaged 231.006 mph. The pole appeared to be his. Except Castroneves still was being held back by car owner Roger Penske.

Then as Happy Hour approached – 4:36 p.m. to be exact – Castroneves pushed on the throttle and blasted out onto the racing surface, fighting the brisk breezes and beating Kanaan’s speed.

The crowd cheered wildly as the speed of the first lap was announced at 231.673 mph. Castroneves drove even harder and turned a 232.215 circuit, and followed these with a closing two speeds of 231.486 and 231.529 mph for an average of 231.725. The pole was his.

Castroneves had smashed the cake back in Kanaan’s face.
“That run he made out there in the wind was one of the more exceptional runs I’ve ever seen around here,” said four-time Indy 500 champion Rick Mears, now a driving coach for Marlboro Team Penske.

Mears knows what he’s talking about: He won a record six Indy poles in a Penske car.

“It was a tremendous feat that he pulled off,” Mears said. “And that’s where he is able to get focused and stay focused whether conditions were going up or down. He is able to stay focused on the job at hand and not get flustered by it, but do what needs to be done and make the most of it.

“So I think when those conditions are challenging like that, it’s a plus for him.

The forecast for WorldPoints Visa Card Pole Day on Saturday is a chilly one, the temperature expected to be below 60.

“It’s part of the game,” Castroneves said. “That’s why Indianapolis is so important. It’s amazing, because first of all you can’t beat Mother Nature.”

Castroneves is the only driver in the track’s history to place in the top 10 in the first five races of his Indy career. He started with back-to-back victories – last accomplished by Al Unser in 1970-71 – in 2001-02, followed with a close second to Gil de Ferran in 2003, and then, using the under-powered Toyota engine the next two years, battled his way to a pair of ninth-place finishes.

Castroneves is proud of this accomplishment.

“Oh, yeah, big time,” he said. “That is just to prove we never gave up. We were in situations where we were about to be a lap down, but at the end of the day we were patient enough not only to win a race but to finish in the top 10.”

Castroneves passed on kudos to his team headed by Tim Cindric, chief mechanic Rick Rinaman and engineer Ron Ruzewski for the car preparation and race pit work.

Mears, one of the Speedway’s all-time greats, isn’t one to choose one driver over another because he thinks that always slights somebody. But he rates Castroneves highly.

“He’s one of the best I’ve seen here,” he said. “He has a knack for this place. He very rarely puts a wheel wrong, very smooth. He just does an excellent job around here.”

Another pole would provide Penske with 13, equaling his total number of victories dating back to Mark Donohue in 1972. Castroneves wants to be the driver to give his boss victory No. 14, too.

“More than anybody,” he said. “I know Mears would have been the guy who would have given it to him. Hopefully, between Sam (Hornish Jr., his teammate) and I, we can give him No. 14.”

At the end of each season, Castroneves returns to Brazil to check on his family and business interests as well as keep in touch with his native country. However, there may be something in the wind that will make him an American.

“Hopefully, I find an American girl and I will stay here forever,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.

Has he found her yet?

“Oh, yeah, I’ve spotted her,” he said. “Let’s see if she likes me or not.”

And her name?   “You’ll see her around,” he assured. IMS

Atlantic series sponsor to continue activation program in Houston Atlantic series sponsor to continue activation program in Houston
Industry News
GM says it's ready for Delphi strike GM says it's ready for Delphi strikeGeneral Motors Corp. Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said Tuesday that the automaker has several days' worth of parts stockpiled in case Delphi Corp. workers go on strike, but he believes a strike can be avoided.

"We strongly believe there are solutions that will work for all the parties," Wagoner said.

But, Wagoner says, paying a portion of the hourly wages of Delphi workers isn't the "optimal" solution for avoiding a strike.

Wagoner's remarks counter those of Steve Miller, CEO of Delphi, GM's former subsidiary and its biggest supplier. Miller maintains GM has to provide some portion of Delphi union workers' pay.

Without GM's support, the workers would face even deeper pay cuts under Delphi's plan to close most of its U.S. plants and reduce labor costs at those remaining.  More at Detroit Free Press

Alonso beater Jones to make Oulton Park debut Alonso beater Jones to make Oulton Park debutWarrington-based team Xero Competition is poised to make its Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship debut at its home circuit of Oulton Park in Cheshire this coming Sunday 14 May.

Xero will field a Super 2000-spec Lexus IS200 for championship newcomer Adam Jones (Solihull) who, in his karting days, proved a match for the likes of reigning Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso and McLaren-Mercedes F1 test driver Gary Paffett. More recently, the 25-year-old has won single-seater titles against the likes of current GP2 front-runner Adam Carroll.

Team manager Dave Beecroft says Oulton marks the start of a longer-term ambition to establish Xero among the front-running teams in Britain's most popular motor racing championship.

"The long-term plan is to be in the BTCC into the future," said Beecroft. "We know it's going to be hard so Oulton and the following meeting at Thruxton will be used to learn what it's all about. After then, though, we'll begin pushing.

"It's ultra-competitive at this level. Our goals this weekend will be to ensure we start and finish all three races and keep out of all the banging and crashing. A top ten finish would make me very happy..." zzzz

Jones, sponsored by Air Cool Engineering (Midlands), will be racing in aid of Sunfields - a Stourbridge residential school for children with severe learning and complex needs. His recent racing career has been in sports cars across Europe, but he's a proven winner - his CV includes French Formula Renault Campus and Formula 3 titles. In his earlier years, in karts, he even beat Alonso in one major international race and also Paffett to a British crown.

The highly-rated Solihull driver said: "I'm thrilled to be a part of the BTCC - it's what I grew up watching and what I always aspired to. I don't think you could sell or be part of a better championship. I know not many people in the UK will know me at the moment, but this is my big chance to make a name for myself in Britain.

"I'm realistic about my chances. It's a late deal and we've not had a real opportunity to test the car in full BTCC-spec so Oulton will be all about learning how the BTCC works. I'd still like to think we can get in among people and cause a bit of a stir."

Jones' only gripe is that he couldn't have a start number of 55. He added: "I used that in karting, but in the BTCC it's already gone so I've settled on 21 - my girlfriend's age! It keeps her happy..."

The BTCC will be in race action three times at Oulton Park on Sunday and the crowds will also be able to meet the drivers for autographs and giveaways during the hugely popular Pit Lane Walkabout. In addition, there will be a further six championship races from high-profile manufacturers BMW, Porsche, Renault and SEAT.

For more information about the BTCC visit the championship's official website www.btcc.net . For an Oulton Park timetable click on the website's Calendar section.

Bernie - 'I'd bet on Schu' Bernie - 'I'd bet on Schu'(GMM)  F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has tipped Michael Schumacher to lift an eighth world championship this season.

''We are having the most exciting season for many, many years,'' he told the German 'Abendzeitung' newspaper.

Ferrari's Schumacher, 37, has won the past two grands prix, but Fernando Alonso's earlier victories see the Spaniard commanding the drivers' title chase.

Briton Ecclestone continued: ''I would put my money on Schumacher.''

TV News
SPEED to begin Champ Car qualifying coverage SPEED to begin Champ Car qualifying coverageThe new temporary race circuit set up on the grounds of Houston’s Reliant Park will provide a stern test for the stars of the Champ Car World Series this weekend, and fans will get a chance to see how teams deal with the new track as they prepare for Saturday’s race, as SPEED launches its 2006 Bridgestone Pole Position Qualifying coverage on May 13.

SPEED will cover all of the action of Thursday and Friday Bridgestone Pole Position Qualifying in Houston and will air a 30-minute highlight show covering both sessions on Saturday morning from 12 – 12:30 a.m. Eastern Time. The show will be the first of eight Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford qualifying broadcasts to take place in 2006, which includes coverage of rounds 12-15 as the fight for the Vanderbilt Cup comes down to its final stages.

“Qualifying is an important part of a Champ Car race weekend and we are pleased that our fans will be able to follow the action on SPEED.” said Champ Car President Steve Johnson.

“The pressure and intensity of the qualifying sessions provide some of the greatest drama of the Champ Car World Series race weekends,” said Al Speyer, executive director of Bridgestone Motorsport. “Getting that perfect qualifying lap requires the proper car set-up, mistake-free concentration and, of course, great Bridgestone tires. With the Bridgestone Pole Position Qualifying Show back for the second year, we can help bring that excitement into the homes of SPEED viewers everywhere to enjoy.”

Additional Bridgestone Pole Position Qualifying shows will carry qualifying action from Monterrey, Mexico on May 20, Milwaukee on June 4, Denver on August 12, Road America on September 23, Ansan, South Korea on October 15, Surfers Paradise on October 22 and Mexico City on November 11.  zzzz

“SPEED realizes that for the true race fan, the weekend’s racing action really starts with qualifying,” said Rick Miner, SPEED SVP of Programming & Production. “Without qualifying, it’s like trying to pick up a book and read it from the middle … to understand the entire story, you need to start at the beginning.”

This weekend’s coverage of the Grand Prix of Houston begins with Saturday morning’s qualifying show on SPEED and culminates with live race coverage from Reliant Park with the green flag flying at 9 p.m. Eastern on SPEED. Champ Car

 track news
All-Star race to stop for mid-race concert All-Star race to stop for mid-race concertConcorde, N.C. - NASCAR fans in attendance or tuning in to watch the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series All-Star Challenge on Saturday, May 20 (7 pm EST on FX) will see something unprecedented in NASCAR history - a mid-race concert featuring a performance by the world famous Red Hot Chili Peppers. NASCAR has never previously had a scheduled performance during a race, and it is only due to the All-Star challenge's unique flow - consisting of three segments of 40, 30 and 20 laps - that it is even possible. Following in NASCAR's growing tradition of having top-name acts perform at races, the Red Hot Chili Peppers will take center stage between the first and second segments to perform songs from their recently released album, "Stadium Arcadium." The performance will mark a first for the Red Hot Chili Peppers - the heavily-touring band has never performed at a sporting event. Footage from the concert will also be used for the band's upcoming "How Bad Have You Got It"? NASCAR commercial, which will begin airing nationally this coming summer.

Widely celebrated as one of Rock's best known groups, the Red Hot Chili Peppers new album, "Stadium Arcadium" will arrive on May 9. The first single, "Dani California," is already receiving rave reviews and steady radio airplay. The Red Hot Chili Peppers' performance at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series All-Star Challenge will be their last U.S. appearance before starting their world tour, which begins in Barcelona, Spain, on May 30. For more information on the new album, visit www.redhotchilipeppers.com.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers will also appear in a NASCAR Image television commercial this summer, becoming the latest in a long line of musicians and celebrities appearing in NASCAR ads. Past NASCAR Image spots have featured major names in the music industry including: Jewel, Lisa Marie Presley, Lenny Kravitz, LeAnn Rimes and Sheryl Crow. These popular entertainers help showcase the contemporary, cool and hip aspects of NASCAR, while generating exposure for the artist to NASCAR's fan base of 75 million Americans.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers formed in 1983 and quickly became known in local Los Angeles circles for their high-energy, risqué live performances. The band achieved initial success with the release of "Mother's Milk" in 1989, but it was the 1991 release of "BloodSugarSexMagik" that cemented their immortal rock status, fueled by the hit "Give it Away" and their first Top Ten single, "Under the Bridge." In 1999, the band released the acclaimed "Californication," continuing their success with "By the Way" in 2002. The band has garnered seven multi-platinum albums and sold more than 50 million albums worldwide.
Mika Salo, Jamie Melo join Ferrari team Mika Salo, Jamie Melo join Ferrari teamRisi Competizione, competing in the ALMS series this year with the new Ferrari 430GT, announce that Mika Salo, a former Ferrari Formula 1 Driver and one of the world's top sports car drivers, has agreed to join the team. The team simultaneously announces that Jaime Melo, who set the fastest lap in the GT2 class during the 2006 running of the 12 Hours of Sebring, has committed to the team for the remainder of the 2006 season. The pairing of these two drivers will provide Risi Competizione with a duo of the world’s top sports car drivers.

Team Managing Director Giuseppe Risi said that "I could not be happier. We are delighted to have Mika back with Risi Competizione and racing a Ferrari. He has started 110 Grands Prix and is widely recognized as one of the best drivers in the world. He raced the MC12 in the ALMS series last year and also a Ferrari 575GTC in the FIA series in Europe. His track effort and off-track insight into the setup of the car were invaluable. Pairing Salo with Jaime Melo in the 430GT gives us an extraordinarily potent combination of racing drivers who can, we believe, realize the full potential of this extraordinary Ferrari race car."
Barcelona still hard on tires Barcelona still hard on tiresBridgestone is aiming for their third straight in Barcelona this weekend following Michael Schumacher's victories at Imola and the Nurburgring. Speaking before the Spanish GP, technical manager, Hisao Suganuma said, "The Barcelona track was resurfaced prior to last season but nevertheless, the track remains one of the toughest on the calendar from a tire perspective," he noted. "It has several long, high-speed corners which means that our tires must be strong from both a compound and construction point of view.

"Looking at our compound selection, the Barcelona circuit has a relatively smooth track surface which would normally mean choosing compounds from the softer side of the range. However, the nature of the track is not kind to tire compounds so our choice of a medium compound range is a compromise between getting high grip and the necessary toughness. These tires are from the same series of constructions and compounds that have performed so well in recent races. Having tested a lot with our teams at this circuit we are confident that they can be competitive this weekend, although Barcelona is a regular test track for most of the teams so no doubt the competition will be tough this weekend."

Bridgestone's director of motorsport, Hiroshi Yasukawa meanwhile added, "The huge crowd numbers and the facilities provided by the Circuit de Catalunya have made the Spanish Grand Prix one of the best races on the Formula One circuit. There is also a fantastic atmosphere. Spain is an important market for Bridgestone and we will have many guests and supporters at this race so we are very much hoping that the recent competitiveness of our teams will continue this weekend so our supporters can enjoy a thrilling weekend of racing.".
Drag racer dies Drag racer diesScott Geoffrion, a two-time NHRA Pro Stock world championship runner-up and nine-time national event winner, died May 8 of an apparent heart attack in Southern California. He was 40. Geoffrion was hospitalized Sunday night for observation with breathing problems and a fever stemming from ulcers in his esophagus and was stricken the following day.

Geoffrion, who drove for Warren Johnson from 1987 through 1991 before joining David Hutchens' Wayne County Speed Shop/Dodge Boys team with Darrell Alderman, reached the final round 28 times in a career that spanned more than 200 races from 1987 through 2004. He didn't score his first victory until his 10th final round, in Memphis in 1993, where he defeated Pro Stock legend Bob Glidden. His most recent win was in 1997 in Topeka. Geoffrion logged six top 10 points finishes, including world championship runner-up finishes in 1992 and 1994. He scored a career-high six victories in 1994, yet finished second to Alderman. He finished third in 1993 and fourth in 1991.

Geoffrion sat out the 2001 season after being released from the Dodge camp following three lackluster seasons, but resurfaced in a Ford with new team owner Hurley Blakeney and scored his final top 10 finish in 2003, a season in which he was runner-up twice. "Scott will be remembered not only as a fierce competitor in the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series, but as a friend to so many in the Pro Stock community," said Tom Compton, president, NHRA. "Everyone at NHRA is shocked by the news of his unexpected passing and our thoughts and prayers go out to Scott's entire family."

According to his family, wakes will be held Thursday in California and Monday, May 15, at the Vander Plaat Funeral Home, 257 Godwin Ave., Wyckoff, N.J.

His funeral will be Tuesday, May 16, at Immaculate Conception Church, 900 Darlington Ave., Mahwah, N.J., at 10 a.m. The services are open to the public. Geoffrion is survived by his children, Kyle and Alexa; brother, Rick; sister, Michele; and parents, Richard and Jeanne. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the Drag Racing Association of Women, www.drawfasthelp.org. -NHRA-
Terry Labonte's final start at Darlington, and to be honored Terry Labonte's final start at Darlington, and to be honoredTerry Labonte, driver of the No. 44 Kellogg's Chevrolet, will make his 54th and final Darlington (S.C.) Raceway start Saturday evening. Racing a limited schedule in his last NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season, Labonte will enter eight more events for Hendrick Motorsports in 2006, including the last of his career in November at Texas Motor Speedway. Darlington Raceway president Chris Browning will present Labonte with a one-of-a-kind memento during pre-race driver introductions Saturday evening. The piece includes souvenir program covers from significant Darlington races throughout Labonte's career, including his first start, first win, most recent win and final start. Hendrick Motorsports PR
Rice fastest of Rahal Letterman cars Rice fastest of Rahal Letterman carsBuddy Rice, the 2004 Indy 500 champion, returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time officially today after his neck injury nearly a year ago and set the eighth fastest speed in the opening day of practice for the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.

Rice, driving the No. 15 Argent Mortgage Honda/Panoz/Firestone, clocked a lap of 222.762 mph to make an impressive return to the famed Brickyard. Rice suffered torn neck ligaments on May 10 of last season and was forced to sit out nearly the entire month of May missing an opportunity to defend his 2004 Indy 500 victory. 1999 Indy 500 champion Kenny Brack filled in for Rice and set the fastest qualifying attempt at 227.565 m.p.h.

“It feels good to back on the track here at Indy, “said Rice. “I am excited to be back here and to be getting ready for the race. The first day was pretty smooth. We are working on our program for the month, and following a program very similar to 2004. Last year, I crashed on the second day of practice and that was it. I had to watch. I was able to help Kenny (Brack) in his comeback and, actually, that was exciting to see him back in the car. It took my mind off of not being in the car for the month. Now this team is focused on getting back to victory lane. This is a long month and we need to work out every component of the car. I think we are moving along well right now. Of course, the weather always changes your plan. And the rain coming in could get a lot of people pretty anxious to go fast quicker than normal. We’ll have to wait and see.”  zzzz

Rice’s teammate, Danica Patrick, the 2005 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year, took her No. 16 Argent Mortgage Honda/Panoz/Firestone car to 21st as a late rain storms shut down the track and curtailed Patrick’s chances for higher speeds. Patrick recorded a 220.302 mph before the rain closed the track for the day.

“It was the first day and it is always fun to come to Indy,” said Patrick, who placed fourth last year at Indy, the highest finish ever for a woman in the Indy 500. “This place is such a legendary track. You have to respect this track. Because it can bite you at anytime. I felt comfortable on the track today, but we had a lot of downforce in the car. The balance is right on the setup, but it was a little frustrating because right when we wanted to go faster, it rained. I’m confident we’ll go faster each day. There are a lot of things we need to work on with the car and there are so many practice days that you don’t want to get too anxious and make a mistake. A mistake here is a big one. But I’m very happy to be back to the Speedway.”

Rahal Letterman rookie Jeff Simmons, driving the No. 17 Team Ethanol Honda/Panoz/Firestone, was quick early in the day with a Top Five time clocking in at 222.292 m.p.h. Simmons and his crew then worked on a variety of setups as the weather changed from sunny to cloudy to rainy.

“It felt good to start out with the opening day of practice with a strong team,” said Simmons, whose only Indy 500 appearance came in 2004. “Last time I was here I had one day of practice, one day of qualifying and then the race. The Team Ethanol car felt good early in the day, but the weather conditions changed and we started chasing the setup. I have learned with this team and they have a lot of experience and know how to handle the changes at the track. The wind started to get strong and we had to adjust to a variety of things. It is very exciting to come to Indy with a team like Rahal Letterman. They have won this race and they know how the month progresses. There are a lot of laps to go from practice, qualifying and the race. So I am taking in as much as possible right now.” RLR

Vasser to step up Vasser to step upUPDATE #2 The Robin Miller article on ChampCar.ws is live again after being removed yesterday.

05/09/06 We did not want to say much back on the 25th of April when we broke this story, but now we can.  According to a report that appeared on ChampCar.ws by Robin Miller, and then disappeared, word is that Jim McGee and Steve Krisiloff are out at PKV Racing and Dan Pettit and Jimmy Vasser will call the shots starting this weekend in Houston.  The news is that Jim McGee has quit over his refusal to fire Steve Krisiloff.  Team morale has been low since Steve Krisiloff came on board.  Steve is a very pessimistic person who does not readily give compliments.  In other words, he's hard to work for.  McGee said Krisiloff has done everything he's ask him to do.  Robin referred to Krisiloff as McGee's soldier.  Jim McGee said he is not working for a paycheck, but to win races.

"Team morale doesn't cost anything but it's real important and you can't succeed without it," said Vasser, who learned all about that during his '96 CART championship and five years with Ganassi Racing. "There's just too much ill will.

"This is not what I wanted because I chose those two guys and I respect them very much. It just didn't work out."

"That's life," said McGee, who was in the PKV shop Monday morning and says he's willing to stay on and help until a replacement is found. "Steve did everything I asked him to and he did a good job.

"I'm not sad or mad, but the philosophy of this team changed since I took this job.  I'm not through racing either. If a quality package comes along, I'll do it. But I don't race for a paycheck, I race to win."

04/25/06 Sources tell AutoRacing1.com it that Jimmy Vasser is not going to Italy Wednesday with Kevin Kalkhoven and Katherine Legge for a promotional offshore powerboat event, but instead left the Milwaukee test after it was too cold to run today, and is going back to Indy to take a more leadership role in PKV Racing as they look to step up their Champ Car game.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Toyota won't replace Gascoyne
STR racers predict Spanish struggle
Aguri boost for hopeful Montagny
Ferrari boast about V8 recovery
Stoddart sells F1 thrills to public
BMW praise for resurgent JV
Aguri Suzuki to test team's F1 car
Schu likes back-to-back dash
No Schu announcement in Spain - manager
What to look for in Houston What to look for in Houston
Returning to the Lone Star State – This year Champ Car will be revisiting the streets of Houston after a four year hiatus from the “Space City.”  Houston hosted four Champ Car races from 1998-2001 on the streets of downtown. During the four year run, Houston produced four different winners. Of the current roster of drivers: Paul Tracy, Cristiano da Matta, Alex Tagliani, Bruno Junqueira and Oriol Servia raced on the old layout. The only currently active driver that has visited victory lane in Houston is Paul Tracy.

Starting in Style – Sebastien Bourdais kicked off his title defense in style by taking the maximum 35 points at Long Beach, and leads the series by eight points over Justin Wilson. A win in Long Beach would make him the first driver since Rick Mears in 1982 to win the first two races of the years after winning the championship the year before.

Legge-to-Legge - Katherine Legge set a new Champ Car high for best finish by a female driver with an eighth-place finish in Long Beach. A similar finish in Houston would make the PKV Racing driver the first woman ever to earn back-to-back top-10 finishes in Champ Car competition.

Here Endeth The Streak – The Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston will be the first Champ Car event contested without 1996 series champion Jimmy Vasser in the field. Vasser’s all-time series record of 211 consecutive starts is 19 better than previous record-holder Al Unser Jr. The last Champ Car race to be held without Vasser in the field was at Nazareth Speedway in 1993. zzzz

As the Coyne turns – With the driver changes made at Dale Coyne Racing over the off-season, there was a question as to how the new pilots would affect the team. In Cristiano da Matta’s first outing at the Long Beach Grand Prix he made up five spots from the start to finish fifth, marking the highest-ever Long Beach finish for long-time Champ Car competitor Dale Coyne Racing. While rookie competitor Jan Heylen led four laps during the race and recorded the top rookie finish in the race, finishing in the seventh position.

Under the lights – This year’s Houston Grand Prix marks just the second time in history that Champ Car has run a temporary road course event under the lights, as Musco Lighting will illuminate the parking areas that surrounding Reliant Park. The only other temporary road course race to run at night came in 2003 when Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport was lit up for Sebastien Bourdais’ victory.

Bourdais Blazes the Beach - At the Long Beach Grand Prix Sebastien Bourdais started the defense of his 2004 and 2005 titles in perfect form. He led both qualifying sessions, scored his 19th career pole position and set a new track record. On race day the Flying Frenchman kept up his frenzied pace leading seventy laps, recording the fastest lap of the race, and taking the checkered flag to record his 17th career win.

Servia Celebrates 100 – This weekend Champ Car veteran Oriol Servia will celebrate his 100th start at the Grand Prix of Houston. Servia made his Champ Car debut at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2000. During his Champ Car career Servia has recorded one victory (Montreal, 2005), one pole position (Australia, 2005) and finished a career high 2nd in points in 2005.  

Pastorelli steps in – The Houston Grand Prix will mark Nicky Pastorelli’s Champ Car debut in the #8 car for Rocketsports Racing.  The 23-year-old Dutchman comes to Champ Car after a successful European career that saw him climb from the karting ranks to become a Formula 1 test driver with Jordan in 2005.

Hot Houston Nights - Before the Champ Car World Series takes center stage on Saturday there will be plenty of events to keep the party going in Reliant Park. Thursday night in Reliant Arena, nine-time World Champion Oscar De Le Hoya’s Fight Night at the Grand Prix presented by Budweiser will take the ring, featuring the battle for the NABF welterweight title which will highlight Larry Mosley against three-time NABF champion Golden “14 Carat” Johnson. There will also be Women’s Pro-Am Beach Volleyball matches daily, the Miss Grand Prix of Houston competition, and live music featuring local bands.

Triple Threat? –Sebastien Bourdais is chasing history to join Ted Horn as the only driver to win three consecutive Champ Car titles. It is interesting to note that Horn also won the opening race of his third championship year. He finished fourth in his second race.

Filled with Talent - The field preparing to take the green flag in Houston has combined to score 73 Champ Car victories, 67 poles and four series titles despite the relative youth in the lineup. The average age of the 2006 driver roster, which contains six rookies, is 26.8. Paul Tracy and Alex Tagliani are the only drivers in the field to have made over 100 Champ Car starts. Eight members of the 2006 lineup have Champ Car victories on their resumes while 10 of them have podium finishes to their credit, a number that is more impressive when you consider the lineup for the Houston Grand Prix features six rookies. Champ Car

Q and A with Matt Kenseth Q and A with Matt KensethMatt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, heads into this weekend’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in third place – 99 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.  Kenseth spoke recently about this year’s only trip to the egg-shaped oval.

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 DeWALT Ford Fusion -- IS THERE ANY WAY OF DESCRIBING THE GRIP YOU HAVE AT A TRACK LIKE RICHMOND AND THE LACK OF GRIP YOU HAVE AT DARLINGTON?  “It’s kind of a night and day difference.  You keep pretty constant grip at Richmond, but at Darlington you have pretty good grip for about two laps and then it starts going away and it’s a lot different, but it’s a lot different type of race track, too.” 

WILL IT BE TOUGHER TO SET UP THE CAR BECAUSE NOBODY WAS ABLE TO TEST THERE AND THE TIRES DROP OFF SO FAST?  “Yeah, it’ll be a tough one.  Hopefully they give us enough tires to get through practice because that’s a tough one without testing.  The tires are gonna wear out in 10 laps, so that’s gonna be one of the most difficult races with the new testing policy.” 

HOW HARD IS DARLINGTON ON A DRIVER MENTALLY?  “You have to pay a lot attention.  It’s an old saying, but you’ve really got to race the race track and try not to get yourself in trouble.  If you get caught up racing other cars, then it’s pretty easy to misjudge something and get in trouble.”  zzzz

IS 500 MILES THERE AS CHALLENGING AN EVENT YOU’LL SEE THROUGHOUT THE YEAR?  “It was worse on Labor Day when it was hot out and it was a lot tougher.  It’s a little easier at night because you have a little bit more grip and it’s a little bit more forgiving.” 

WE’RE IN A STRETCH OF NIGHT RACES RIGHT NOW.  HOW DO YOU LIKE THOSE COMPARED TO DURING THE DAY?  “I like them and I really like the two-day weekends.  I like Saturday night racing so our guys can spend Sundays with their families and get a little day off every now and then.  I enjoy the Saturday night races because that’s kind of how we all started and it’s kind of fun.” 

HOW DID YOUR TEST AT CHARLOTTE GO?  “The race track is awesome.  They did a really nice job paving it.  It’s just like it used to be, except that it’s new and it’s a little smoother.  The track is great.  There are absolutely no problems with the track.  It’s perfect.  It needs a little time probably to age.  The tire is pretty darn hard.  The tire is really hard and we definitely don’t need small fuel cells, but those are the only two things that I really found.  They’re just being real conservative because they don’t want to have tire problems, but the tire is really, really hard.” 

WHEN YOU ARE EXCITED ABOUT A GIVEN RACE HOW DOES THAT CHANGE YOUR OUTLOOK VERSUS A TRACK YOU MAY NOT LIKE?  “I think it depends on how you’re running.  Just because the racing is great if you’re running terrible, you don’t look forward to it.  But if you’re running good, you do.  I think the racing will be good there (at Charlotte).  I think it will probably be great maybe even this fall or whenever they give us a little softer tire back and the track ages a little bit.  I think it’ll be great.  I think it will definitely be good, though.  From just testing there are already at least two grooves out there, so there’s gonna be plenty of room to work out there.” Ford Racing

Q and A with Justin Wilson Q and A with Justin WilsonJustin Wilson trails first-place leader Sebastien Bourdais by eight points in the Champ Car World Series standings heading into this weekend’s event in Houston. Champ Car makes its return to Houston after last competing on the downtown streets in 2001. The event will be held under lights, marking just the second time that Champ Car has run a night race on a temporary circuit.

JUSTIN WILSON – WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES YOU FACE IN A NIGHT RACE AS COMPARED TO A DAY RACE? “Even though the day starts later, but I generally don’t do anything different. Usually night races are well lit and it will just take a few laps to adjust to the lighting, then we are back in the business of racing.”

HOW DO YOU PREPARE DIFFERENT DURING THE DAY? “My schedule is very similar for day and night races, except for the start time. The process is the same; I meet with the team and engineers, make a few practice runs on track, regroup with the team and prepare for qualifying.”

THE AVERAGE AGE OF THE CHAMP CAR FIELD IS 27… “There are some great competitors in Champ Car and I’ve learned a lot in my racing career. Both veterans and rookies enhance the field – everyone makes you a better driver regardless of experience.” zzzz

NOW THAT YOU HAVE A COUPLE OF YEARS UNDER YOUR BELT, DO YOU SEE RACING FROM A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE? “I’ve learned and grown through my career in Champ Car. As in any career, you learn what works and what doesn’t and you learn to adapt and try new techniques. I’ve changed my training routines to improve endurance and find the right mixture of all components.”

I heard that you recently bought a house? “Yes, I bought a house in Denver.”

WHY DID YOU SELECT DENVER? “That’s where RuSPORT is based and I wanted to be closer to the team and the engineers. Plus, Denver is centrally located and my home is near the airport. It makes it easier to fly out of Denver. I really wanted to be close to the team.”

WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR DOWN TIME? “I enjoy my quiet time. My life outside of racing is very quiet and low key. I enjoy listening music and staying at home. I’ve been working on the house, recently had some sod done. I even enjoy racing in video games. My name and vehicle from the 2001 F3000 racing series are licensed in the EA Sports games. AJ races online, but I prefer my X-Box.”

IN CONCLUSION, WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR 2006? “I’m happy to have finished well in Long Beach and am looking forward to this season. The team worked very hard in the off-season and had a great start in Long Beach. I hope to have a few more wins, not only for myself, but also for the RuSPORT team.” Ford Racing

CBS kicks off their ALMS coverage CBS kicks off their ALMS coverageFor the fifth consecutive year the relationship between CBS Sports and the American Le Mans Series brings the fastest-growing auto racing circuit to network television. This weekend CBS Sports, a programming arm of the nation’s No. 1-rated entertainment network, kicks off its 2006 coverage of the American Le Mans Series with the Lone Star Grand Prix in Houston. — the first of five straight Series races to be broadcast on CBS. Broadcast of the Lone Star Grand Prix is set for 1-3 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 13.

“CBS Sports has been an important partner for the American Le Mans Series, and the network enables us to offer the best overall television package in road racing,” said American Le Mans Series President and CEO Scott Atherton. “Our CBS package has gradually grown thanks to increased viewer and Series partner interest. CBS Sports also has responded with additional support in the way of the development of a road racing talent team as well as more air time opportunities and promotions.”
Via America’s most watched television network, 110.8 million households have access to the Series through the CBS network and its more than 210 television stations and affiliates. Following Round Two in Houston, the 2006 Series broadcast schedule on CBS features the American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio on May 21 (1-3 p.m. EDT), the New England Grand Prix on July 2 (4-6 p.m. EDT), the Grand Prix of Utah on July 16 (2-4 p.m. EDT) and the Portland Grand Prix on July 23 (3-5 p.m. EDT).  zzzz

“With five events in a row, we are thrilled to be bringing top-level, world-class sports car racing to a broad and diverse network audience,” Atherton said. “I think our broadcasts will reflect the interest level of our fans and sponsors as well as a premium partner like CBS Sports.”
Beginning with coordinating producer Suzanne Smith, CBS Sports’ broadcast team is comprised of some of the top talent in the industry. Veteran motorsports broadcaster Greg Creamer will handle the play-by-play role, while his sidekick in the booth will be analyst Calvin Fish.

“I’m pumped,” proclaimed Creamer, who will be making his CBS debut at Houston. “We have a new venue coming up in Houston, and running on a street course at night in Houston is going to be spectacular.”
Ralph Sheheen and famed Indy car driver Danny Sullivan will alternate reporter duties on a three-reporter team that also includes Brian Till and Heather Cox — the team’s lead feature/pit reporter. “I think she’ll be a great addition,” Creamer said of Cox. “The work that she’s done in the past has impressed me.”

A former professional volleyball player and member of the 1990 United States Olympic Festival team, Cox is no novice to auto racing. Her father raced formula cars professionally for a number of years and is currently racing vintage cars. “I’ve always wanted to cover racing,” explained Cox, who as a reporter has covered the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Olympic Games and college football. “I inherited the passion and respect for the sport from my dad, and I hope I can bring that passion to my reporting.”

In addition to the American Le Mans Series, the CBS Sports broadcast lineup also includes the National Football League (NFL), Southeastern Conference (SEC) college football, the NCAA national championship basketball tournament, The Masters, the PGA Championship, the PGA Tour and the College Baseball World Series.

The next round of the 2006 American Le Mans Series is the Lone Star Grand Prix, scheduled for 8 p.m. CDT Friday in Houston. It will be broadcast at 1 p.m. EDT Saturday on CBS Sports, the first of five straight Series events on network television. Qualifying is set for 6:15 p.m. CDT on May 11. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage at www.americanlemans.com, which also will have IMSA Live Timing & Scoring.

Jörg Bergmeister Returns to Phoenix as Points Leader Jörg Bergmeister Returns to Phoenix as Points LeaderDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Still looking for his first 2006 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve race victory, Daytona Prototype points leader Jörg Bergmeister returns to the site of his most recent Rolex Series triumph and will lead a strong field into Saturday’s GAINSCO Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway (SPEED, May 14, 3:00 p.m. ET).

Bergmeister and his 17-year-old co-driver, Colin Braun, co-drove the No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Riley to its second podium result of the season with a third-place run in last weekend’s Road & Track 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. That performance enabled Bergmeister to climb back atop the Daytona Prototype championship standings, giving the German a slim, two-point lead over No. 23 Ruby Tuesday Championship Racing Team Porsche Crawford co-drivers Patrick Long and Mike Rockenfeller (208-206).

In the 2005 Rolex Series visit to Phoenix International Raceway, Bergmeister combined with Christian Fittipaldi to claim the victory, and Bergmeister is undoubtedly hoping for a repeat performance this weekend to strengthen his position in the point standings. It would be an historic victory should Bergmeister and Braun pull it off, as it would make Braun the youngest overall winner by more than three years. Phoenix-born Michael McDowell currently holds the distinction after his victory in the 2005 Rolex Series season finale at Mexico City at the age of 20 years, 10 months and 15 days.

Likewise, Fittipaldi returns this weekend to defend his title, sharing the No. 39 Crown Royal Special Reserve/Cheever Racing Porsche Crawford with an as-yet-unnamed co-driver, as Fittipaldi’s regular co-driver, Eddie Cheever, will not participate in the GAINSCO Grand Prix due to his commitments at the Indianapolis 500. Fittipaldi and the No. 39 team are looking to build on a previous best result of second, which was achieved in the Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami in March when Fittipaldi shared the car with Porsche factory pilot Lucas Luhr.

[Editor's Note: Grand-Am race is tape delayed until Sunday because Champ Car's Houston GP is live on SPEED Saturday night]

Junqueira looking forward to return to Houston Junqueira looking forward to return to HoustonHOUSTON --- Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) and the Champ Car World Series will return to Houston for the first time since racing here from 1998-2001 and will compete on a new 1.6-mile, 10-turn street course around the Reliant Park complex in the 115-lap Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston.  Bruno Junqueira is one of only five drivers in the field that competed on the old course around the convention center and he hopes his return to Houston will also be his return to racing after his comeback from injury in a crash in the 2005 Indy 500 was postponed from the season-opener in Long Beach when he was taken out on the first lap.  He is confident that NHR’s level of preparation will be instrumental in accomplishing this task.  zzzz

“I’m looking forward to Houston even more than I was before Long Beach which was a great weekend until the green flag on Sunday,” said Junqueira, who hopes to take the checkered flag for the first time since May 22, 2005 (357 days) when he won the race in Monterrey, Mexico and took the series points lead.  “We had a strong car and I wanted to give Newman/Haas and myself a great result in my first race back but we were hit in turn 1 on the first lap.  I’m confident that we will be strong again in Houston because Newman/Haas is very competitive on street courses, including new ones.  They really do their homework before coming to a track.  Before we go to a track for the first time, the engineers get the track layout and make simulations on the computer for the gear ratios we are going to run so that when we arrive to the track we’ll have a basic street course setup with the gears pretty close to what they will need to be.  The engineers work hard to make sure we unload a car that is fast right away.” 

Junqueira’s season-ending crash with the lapped car of A.J. Foyt IV in the Indy 500 and resulting broken back precluded him from competing in the inaugural 2005 events in Edmonton and San Jose, but prior to his injury Junqueira scored podium finishes on each of the last four new circuits that he has competed on, dating back to a victory in the inaugural Grand Prix of Denver in 2002 for Ganassi Racing.  Wins by Bourdais in the past four series premieres in Brands Hatch (England, 2003) Las Vegas Motor Speedway (2004), Edmonton and San Jose (both in 2005) prove that the NHR duo will be formidable despite a lack of experience on this course. 

After joining the Champ Car series in 2001, Junqueira established himself as one of the most consistent title challengers by finishing runner up to the champion in 2002, 2003 and 2004 but never in those seasons had he begun as well as he did in 2005 when he finished third in the season-opener in Long Beach and won the Monterrey, Mexico race to take over the points lead.  Unfortunately perhaps his best chance to date to win the elusive title slipped away in 2005 but he is ready to resume that title hunt with a strong finish this weekend.  In his rookie season in 2001, Junqueira competed in the Houston event around the George R. Brown Convention Center.  He qualified second but retired from the race due to mechanical failure but still has good memories from the event. 

“I raced in Houston in 2001 in my first season in the Champ Car series,” said Junqueira, who has won in each of his five seasons in the series.  “It was a different track from the one we are going to race on this year but the fans and the atmosphere of the race in Houston was great and I’m sure it will be the same this year.  I started second in 2001 and it was going pretty good running in second until the gearbox blew.  I have good memories of Houston and I think it’s great that Champ Car is going back there.  It is a big city in the U.S. and I think it’s going to be a great event with a lot of fans.”

After waiting almost a year to get back into competition, Junqueira surprised all but himself and the team when he was only 3/100ths of a second off the pace of the provisional polesitter Bourdais on Friday in Long Beach.  He started the race from his third place final qualifying position but never made it past Turn 1 on the first lap after Mario Dominguez triggered a multi car accident that collected, among others, Paul Tracy, who hit Junqueira.  This weekend Junqueira is looking forward to competing in the first night race on a street course and is hoping to build on his podium finish statistic that has earned him a 38 percent average with 28 top-three finishes in 74 starts.

“Night races are different,” said Junqueira.  “I’ve done two so far; on the oval in Milwaukee and in Cleveland but the Houston race is going to be the first night race on a street course and I think it’s going to be good.  I always like Saturday night races because it’s a chance for the fans to have a big Saturday night party so I hope we can put on a great race for everybody including ourselves.”

The Champ Car Grand Prix of Houston will get underway with first-round qualifying Thursday at 8:15 p.m. Central Time. The final grid will be set with Friday qualifying at 4:00 p.m. Central Time with the race set to take the green flag at 8 p.m. on Saturday night. Fans can watch all the highlights from Bridgestone Pole Position qualifying on a 30-minute SPEED broadcast beginning at midnight Eastern Time Saturday morning while the race will be shown live on SPEED beginning at 9 p.m. Eastern. NHR

European GP postscript European GP postscriptINDIANAPOLIS - Points leader Fernando Alonso expects that Honda and McLaren-Mercedes soon will challenge for victories in the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship season that includes the United States Grand Prix on July 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Four-time United States Grand Prix winner Michael Schumacher won the past two races in his Ferrari, including the most recent one, the European Grand Prix on May 7 at the Nürburgring.

"I think it's not a surprise that Ferrari is fighting," said reigning champion Alonso, who also has two victories this season in his Renault.

"I expect McLaren will arrive, also. Honda is really strong in some races, so nothing changes from the beginning of the championship. There are four teams, sometimes one is quicker, sometimes another one is slower, but all four teams are strong and ready to fight."

Speed keeps watch: Californian Scott Speed took a break from his busy F1 commitments to watch the two GP2 races held in conjunction with the European Grand Prix. Speed finished third in the inaugural GP2 championship last year and then graduated to F1 along with series champion Nico Rosberg, who drives for Williams-Cosworth.
"GP2 is good racing, for sure," Speed said. "I know most of the guys personally, so it is fun to watch."

Rookie Lewis Hamilton, who has been a McLaren protégé since age 11 when he raced karts, won both GP2 races at the Nürburgring.
Montoya, Raikkonen keep options open: 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya and his McLaren-Mercedes teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, are both keeping their options open regarding which team they will drive for in 2007. With Alonso joining McLaren next year, at least one of them will have to leave.

"There is nothing at the moment that I could tell you," Montoya said. "I'm looking to put myself in the best position and where I can be winning in the future. It doesn't matter if it is here or anything. You have to see in the future what car is going to be winning, and you want to be there."

Raikkonen said, "You want it get it right when you decide, and you never know before." zzzz

Wedding bells: 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve and his French fiancée, Johanna Martinez, plan to get married in early June in France.
Tenth pole: Fernando Alonso started on the front row for the first time this season when he qualified on the pole for the European Grand Prix. It was the 10th F1 pole of his career.
Speed fined: Scott Speed earned a US $2,750 pit-lane speeding fine during practice May 6. Drivers are fined $250 for each kilometer over the 60-kph (36 mph) speed limit.
Ralf's 150th: Ralf Schumacher started his 150th F1 race at the Nürburgring.
F1 debut: Former Renault F1 test driver Franck Montagny made his F1 debut in the European Grand Prix. The Frenchman replaced rookie Yuji Ide at Super Aguri F1 after the team decided to give Ide some more testing miles before he races again.

Montagny made it to the midpoint of the race before retiring with hydraulic problems.

"It is disappointing not to have finished my first race with the team, but that is motor racing," Montagny said. "The car's handling was not too bad, and I was having quite a reasonable race up until I suffered with a hydraulic problem. I would like to thank Aguri Suzuki for giving me this opportunity. It has been a good weekend, and I have enjoyed working with the team."

Next event: The next race on the schedule is the Spanish Grand Prix on May 14. The United States Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, round 10 of 18, is July 2. USGP

A1GP reviews first season, makes plans for future A1GP reviews first season, makes plans for futureA1 Grand Prix management wrapped up several days of meetings today outside of Johannesburg, South Africa, where discussions focused on a review of year-one and plans for the future of the racing series. “We’re very pleased with the success we enjoyed in year one – acknowledging that we experienced growing pains like any new series would,” stated CEO Bruce Holmes. “However, we’re taking this off-season to make improvements where they’re needed. We’re committed to providing a quality product and continually improving the Series to deliver a bright future for our teams and fans.”
Issues discussed include scheduling for season two and beyond, the race format, sporting and technical regulations, expanding commercial opportunities, new teams (Franchises), and potential new race circuits. “We’ll be implementing most of the decisions we arrived at in the next few weeks, but some matters will be discussed with A1 Team seat holders before further consideration,” said Holmes. “A1 Grand Prix is a first class racing series, in a unique and competitive nation versus nation environment. As we grow we’ll continue to review issues relevant to the quality of our product – and we’ll continue to make changes where needed.”
The response A1GP has had from popular race websites has been very positive. “Like any other new series, we’ve had some strong teams, and others who’re weaker. That was expected, but we also have more than a dozen potential suitors for new national franchises interested in joining A1GP. We expect to have at least twenty-four cars on the grid for Zandvoort and will be announcing further race dates and venues later this month.”
Houston Preview: Atlantics Houston Preview: Atlantics
Jarrett’s team penalized Jarrett’s team penalizedUPDATE Robert Yates Racing is appealing penalties NASCAR on Tuesday handed to Dale Jarrett's team for violations discovered prior to Saturday night's Nextel Cup race at Richmond International Raceway.

Crew chief Richard "Slugger'' Labbe was suspended through June 7 -- three points races and the all-star race -- and fined $25,000 for using an unapproved rear sway bar mounting that was discovered during pre-race inspection.
Jarrett was penalized 25 points, dropping him from 11th to 12th in the standings, 380 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson. Car owner Robert Yates also was penalized 25 championship points.

A spokesperson at RYR said Labbe will be at Darlington Raceway this weekend and remain with the team until the appeal is heard, likely next week.

Yates, in a statement released by the team, said whether the modification was a blatant attempt to break the rules is a matter of interpretation.

"Obviously, in this case, we interpreted the rules differently from NASCAR,'' Yates said. "But because of the lack of a clear-cut understanding on our part, we believe we have grounds for appeal and have started that process.''

Eddie D'Hondt, the general manager at RYR, said the organization was surprised by the severity of the penalties.

"Obviously, if our interpretation is wrong, we did wrong,'' he said. "Like most, we're pressing the envelope to the highest degree to get the best performance. We pushed reading the rules to the edge.

"If that's the case [and we went beyond the edge], we've got to deal with the ramifications. But we are going to appeal it. There are things we would like to discuss with the Commission.''  More at NASCAR.com

05/09/06 NASCAR today fined Richard "Slugger" Labbe , crew chief for Robert Yates Racing's No. 88 Ford for Dale Jarrett, $25,000 and suspended him until June 7 for an unapproved rear sway bar mounting found during prerace inspection before last weekend's Crown Royal 400 Nextel Cup race at Richmond International Raceway. Jarrett was also penalized 25 driver championship points, while team owner Robert Yates was penalized 25 owner championship points as a result of the violation.
track news
BIC has major impact in Bahrain BIC has major impact in BahrainBahrain International Circuit (BIC) has emerged as one of the largest exhibition centers in the Middle East with total revenues in 2005 reaching $120 million, 20 per cent more than a year earlier, BIC's General Manager Martin Whitaker said yesterday.

He told the monthly meeting of Bahrain French Business Club that the circuit has a huge impact on economic growth of the Kingdom. "The BIC offers huge business opportunities as in less than three years this circuit has emerged as an active business and entertainment segment of the national economy."

He said: "The economic support from the BIC can be increased substantially through an aggressive marketing and team work. This year we have a record number of visitors from across the world to watch the opening race of grand prix hosted by BIC in March. Watched by over 500 million TV viewers the season's first grand prix also attracted 500 per cent more British fans. The circuit hosted 398 events in 2005.

Indy 500 tidbits Indy 500 tidbitsOn this date in 1978, PPG Industries announces that all 33 starters and pace car driver Chuck Yeager will receive a gold ring with a green stone signifying the starting flag and their participation in the Indianapolis 500.

In celebration of the 90th Running of the Indianapolis 500, various personalities associated with the "Greatest Spectacle of Racing" will give their favorite 500 memories. Here's today's memory.

ED CARPENTER (Driver, Vision Racing): "I don't remember the years it happened, but I remember the year when Juan Pablo Montoya won (2000). Buddy (Lazier) was quicker than him and would run him down, but when he would come into the pits, Juan would beat him big time. Buddy would run him back down. That was a pretty cool race to watch. I also remember the year that Emmo (Emerson Fittipaldi) put Little Al (Unser Jr.) in the wall (1989). I was mad about that.

Did you know?: Sixteen (16) brother combinations have started the Indianapolis 500, including Buddy and Jaques Lazier, who are entered in this year's 500.  Only two (2) brother combinations have led the Indianapolis 500, Louis and Gaston Chevrolet and Al and Bobby Unser

Ethanol will present $2,500 to the driver who records the fastest lap on five practice days during the Month of May. The "Ethanol Fastest Lap" will be presented on May 10, 11, 17, 18 and 26. In addition to the ethanol awards, Cholula Hot Sauce will award $7,500 to the driver who completes the Fastest Lap of the Day on May 12 and May 19.

Firestone produced nearly 5,000 Firehawk racing radials for use throughout the month of May. All were built at the Firestone Technical Center in Akron, Ohio. At the direction of IRL officials, each entry competing all month will receive 35 sets of Firehawks (140 total tires), to be used at the team's discretion throughout the practice, qualifying and race sessions. The tire selected for Indianapolis in 2006 features a new compound formula to deliver even better grip and wear. The same specification was successfully utilized in April at the Indy Open Test and the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi.

Helio Castroneves is the hottest driver in the IRL IndyCar® Series, but if past records are any indication, the Indianapolis 500 may be a struggle for the series points leader.

Castroneves won for the second consecutive time when he claimed the Indy Japan 300 on April 22, but the series points leader has finished in the top 10 at Indianapolis only three times in the previous 10 IndyCar Series races at the Brickyard.

Dan Wheldon, who has led the points entering the last two 500s, is one of the two points leaders to finish in the top 10, finishing third in 2004 and winning in 2005. Still, the average finishing position for the points leader entering the race at Indianapolis is only 15th.

However, he could take some solace should he fail to win the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. The IndyCar Series points leader entering Indianapolis has gone on to win the IndyCar Series championship five times in the last 10 seasons.

Here is a listing of the previous points leaders and their finish at the Indianapolis 500:

Year Points
Leader Indianapolis 500 Finish

1996 Buzz Calkins 17th
1997 Mike Groff 12th
1998 Tony Stewart 33rd
1999 Scott Goodyear 27th
2000 Buddy Lazier 2nd
2001 Sam Hornish Jr. 14th
2002 Sam Hornish Jr. 25th
2003 Scott Sharp 20th
2004 Dan Wheldon 3rd
2005 Dan Wheldon 1st
2006 Helio Castroneves ??

Tuesday a bit frustrating for Michael Tuesday a bit frustrating for Michael"Today was a little disappointing. We were a little slower today than we expected we'd be, so we're trying to figure out what the problem is. We just haven't put our finger on it yet.  That's a little disappointing. We had a pretty good car yesterday. We'll keep working on the Jim Beam/Vonage car and see what happens." Michael Andretti
Wheldon pays homage to Indy 500 Wheldon pays homage to Indy 500“Everyone knows how much I love the Indianapolis 500,”says defending race winner, Dan Wheldon. “During the month of May, you experience every emotion, and the atmosphere on Race Day is something you never forget. This is a race I have wanted to win since I was a little kid growing up in England. To have realized that dream is something very special. To be celebrating the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 – it really says something about how great the event is. It’s the biggest race in the world, and everyone who is a part of it can tell you how special it is – everyone from the fans and volunteers to the drivers and crew members. There is so much history at the track, and it’s very special to be a part of it.” Dan Wheldon
track news
Miss Milwaukee Mile contest Miss Milwaukee Mile contestMILWAUKEE – The Milwaukee Mile has announced its first-ever Miss Milwaukee Mile contest, which will see one lucky woman take home $10,000 cash and more impressive prizes for being crowned as the face of The Milwaukee Mile this Summer.

The contest was publicly announced yesterday by Milwaukee Mile Chairman Craig Stoehr and Miss Milwaukee Mile spokeswoman Sara Gilliame on WITI-TV FOX6 Milwaukee’s “FOX 6 Wake-Up” program.

The Miss Milwaukee Mile Grand Prize winner will be announced on Sunday, August 27, 2006 during the speedway’s Governor’s Cup race weekend.

Miss Milwaukee Mile will win a Grand Prize package that includes $10,000 in cash, a one-year lease of a Toyota Solara convertible or Toyota 4-Runner (winner’s choice), a trip for two to Miami to see the NASCAR Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck series finales in November, a year’s supply of Miller Lite beer as well as a Miller Lite personal beer vending machine, monthly salon and spa visits, and much more.  zzzz

Contestants can enter the Miss Milwaukee Mile contest by attending a number of qualifying events held at popular bars and clubs in the metro Milwaukee area.  Ten finalists will compete for each of The Mile’s first four individual race event crowns.  Individual race event contest winners will receive $1,000 in cash and other prizes.

The four Miss Milwaukee Mile individual event winners, along with an additional contestant determined by online voting, will then compete for the Grand Prize on August 27, 2006.  Each overall contest finalist will receive an iPod along with a set number of iTunes downloads.

“Since taking over the promoter rights of The Milwaukee Mile January 1st, we have put a great deal of effort in developing initiatives to get our message out in creative ways, and in building events around our world class auto racing on the track,” said Craig Stoehr, Milwaukee Mile Chairman.  “The Miss Milwaukee Mile contest is one way we feel we can attract Milwaukee’s active young adults to our events.  Once they’ve come to The Mile, they’ll be entertained and will return as frequent visitors.”

Miss Milwaukee Mile contestants will be judged based on a variety of factors – including their ability to perform a tire change – by a panel of local personalities, including WITI-TV FOX6 Reporter/Anchor Nicole Koglin, Milwaukee Mile investor and former Green Bay Packer Gilbert Brown, Milwaukee Mile Chairman Craig Stoehr, Miss Milwaukee Mile spokeswoman Sara Gilliame, OnMilwaukee.com’s Drew Olsen, and several other guest judges.

Miss Milwaukee Mile spokeswoman Sara Gilliame added, “This is sure to be one of the best contests ever held in Milwaukee.  Given the prize package, I expect that many husbands and boyfriends will be pushing their wives and girlfriends to enter.  After all, who wouldn’t want a year’s supply of Miller Lite Beer and a trip in cold November to Miami for the NASCAR Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck series finales?”

The Miss Milwaukee Mile  qualifying event schedule, which will be promoted by WITI-TV FOX6 and 102.1 WLUM, can be found at www.missmilwaukeemile.com, along with contest rules and other information. 

Several Milwaukee Mile marketing partners are Miss Milwaukee Mile sponsors, including Miller Lite, Toyota, AT&T and Time Warner Cable.

Team Penske leads first full day of Indy practice Team Penske leads first full day of Indy practice
TV News
F1 ratings still a struggle on SPEED F1 ratings still a struggle on SPEEDSPEED’s live coverage of the Grand Prix of Europe scored an average Nielsen Household Rating of 0.42 (282,000 Households) Sunday morning, peaking at a 0.52 (350,000 HH). Combined with the afternoon replay, the race scored a cumulative average rating of 0.69 (464,000 HH). Formula One ratings on SPEED are up 38 percent year-to-date from 2005.
Toyota announces Gascoyne replacement, more... Toyota announces Gascoyne replacement, more...Toyota Motorsport has announced further internal restructuring to it chassis and engine departments as part of its ongoing endeavor to optimize human resources within its Formula 1 program. The specific function of "Technical Director" has been abolished in line with Toyota's belief that successful organizations nowadays follow an integrated structure, rather than relying on the direction of one particular individual.

In its place, the title of Senior General Manager has been introduced in both chassis and engine areas, a position which will be assumed by Pascal Vasselon and Luca Marmorini respectively. In these roles, Pascal and Luca will continue the day-to-day management and co-ordination of chassis and engine departments, whilst both working together and reporting directly to Yoshiaki Kinoshita in his position as Executive Vice-President of Toyota Motorsport and alongside Noritoshi Arai.

Pascal's function will encompass aerodynamics, chassis design, chassis R+D, race and test engineering and team management, whilst Luca's responsibilities will be extended to incorporate electronics in an effort to keep chassis and engine workloads finely balanced. zzzz

Tsutomu Nagashima retains the position of Senior Executive Coordinator, but will take a more lead role within the chassis department and will work alongside Pascal. Nagashima will specifically head up all special projects, defined and jointly agreed with Pascal, in chassis, as well as managing the daily liaison with Toyota Motor Corporation and more specifically with Keizo Takahashi at Motor Sports Division.

President of Toyota Motorsport, John Howett said of the recent structural refinement: "Part of Toyota's genetic make-up constitutes the embodiment of teamwork. As such, we are always striving to empower each individual within the organization to actively contribute to the ultimate goal, namely to one day win the world championship. We feel that this can only be accomplished by focusing less on the position of technical director, therefore we have decided to erase this position from our structure. Pascal and Luca have agreed to take over the replacement position of Senior General Manager in chassis and engine areas respectively and will continue to excel in these managerial roles. We are confident that these changes will significantly help our long-term internal stability and ultimately our on-track performance."

New sponsor for Zwolsman New sponsor for ZwolsmanGoldenPalace.com will be betting on the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Team (MJCR) for the upcoming Grand Prix of Houston. The Indianapolis-based team announced today that it had agreed to a one race partnership deal with the number one internet casino and poker room for this weekend’s race. The online gaming company, who will be also making their Champ Car World Series debut, will be the title partner of the #34 GoldenPalace.com Casino car driven by 2005 Atlantic Series Champion Charles Zwolsman.

“We are thrilled to have GoldenPalace.com on board for the Grand Prix of Houston,” said Eric Bachelart, co-owner of the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Team. “That such a major player in the online gaming industry has decided to partner with Mi-Jack Conquest Racing is truly a testament to us as an organization and as a team. It is our sincere hope that this will develop into a long-term association.”

Mi-Jack Conquest Racing joins a diverse group of individuals and organizations that have received support from GoldenPalace.com. In recent years, the internet casino and poker room has partnered with the Minardi Formula One Team, the Grand Prix Masters Series, boxer Bernard Hopkins and basketball player Dennis Rodman, among others.

“GoldenPalace.com is proud to announce this sponsorship deal with Mi-Jack Conquest Racing in the Champ Car World Series,” said GoldenPalace.com CEO Richard Rowe. “Having previous sponsorship experience in the racing circuit, we are extremely excited about being a major sponsor of the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Team. We feel that the Champ Car World Series is the perfect platform to increase our visibility worldwide and we look forward to seeing the GoldenPalace.com Casino car on the track.” 

In addition to visibility on the #34 car, the GoldenPalace.com logo will also be featured on Charles Zwolsman’s race suit and helmet.

About GoldenPalace.com
Founded in 1997, GoldenPalace.com® is a leader in the online gaming industry. They combine cutting-edge software, 24-hour live support, and the most advanced security measures available to provide the thrill of Las Vegas from the comfort and safety of one’s own home. Legally licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake, Canada, GoldenPalace.com offers the most exciting casino games available on the Internet. They provide completely secure transactions, fast reliable payouts, and odds that are better than Las Vegas. www.goldenpalace.com Mi-Jack Conquest Racing

121K for Nurburgring 121K for NurburgringEuropean GP race organizers announced that the Sunday attendance for last week's race at the Nurburgring in Germany was 121, 000.
BMW banking on balance in Houston BMW banking on balance in HoustonBRASELTON, Ga. – It didn’t take long for a layout of the 1.7-mile, nine-turn street circuit at Reliant Park, site of this week’s Lone Star Grand Prix, to catch the collective eye of BMW Team PTG.

The short straights and tight turns are ideally suited for the team’s two BMW M3s in large part to its balance and braking system, drivers Joey Hand and Justin Marks believe. Having the only car with ABS in the GT2 field, both drivers say that could be enough to help the team earn its first victory in the American Le Mans Series since the 2001 Petit Le Mans.

“I think our BMW will be right up there because we will be able to use all of the M3’s braking capabilities and I don't believe there is a car in the field that can outbrake us,” said Hand, who will drive in the No. 21 BMW M3 with Bill Auberlen. “Combined with ABS, our brake package is second-to-none. The short straights and tight turns put a premium on handling and braking – not horsepower.”

BMW Team PTG is in its first full season of Series competition since 2001. The competition is challenging and deep with the likes of Panoz, Ferrari and Porsche also fielding GT2 teams. But Marks is confident that Houston will mark an early-season turning point for BMW Team PTG.

“The front-engine, rear-wheel drive M3 excels at quick transitions, and our recent testing has shown us that the Performance Friction brake package and newest Yokohama tires are becoming quite a formidable combination,” said Marks, who is teaming with Martin Jensen in the No. 22 entry. “With no long straights at Houston our displacement disadvantage will be minimized and give us a good chance to reach the corners first. If that is the case, we will be looking at a very good finish.”

The next round of the 2006 American Le Mans Series is the Lone Star Grand Prix, scheduled for 8 p.m. CDT Friday in Houston. It will be broadcast at 1 p.m. EDT Saturday on CBS Sports, the first of five straight Series events on network television. Qualifying is set for 6:15 p.m. CDT on May 11. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage at www.americanlemans.com, which also will have IMSA Live Timing & Scoring.

Spark plug wire cost Kahne Spark plug wire cost KahneDefending champion Kasey Kahne's chance of a repeat ended early when he had to pit to repair an engine problem and lost five laps. He ended up 34th, four laps down. "They left off two spark plug wires," Kahne said. "We put them back on and there was nothing wrong. That's the third time it's happened this year. We've got to figure out why they're falling off or whatever is going on there. We had a top five car. We definitely could have battled with those guys, but we didn't want to get up there and mess with the leaders. "I think [Kevin] Harvick might have been the only car that passed us under green after we got back out there. Harvick definitely had the car to beat tonight for 300 laps. I can't believe he lost it." Times-Dispatch
Dominguez in Monterrey Dominguez in MonterreyToday (Tuesday) Mario Dominguez will visit the Fundidora Park track to help Federico Alaman, the sport events director of OCESA, explain the pre-race events in store for the Monterrey Grand Prix, such as the pit stop competition. An event director for promoter OCESA saw at Long Beach and decided to replicate it in Monterrey. Jose Arrambide
Industry News
Dodge brand to be sold overseas Dodge brand to be sold overseasDaimlerChrysler is taking a gamble worth hundreds of millions of dollars that it can establish its brash American Dodge brand in car markets outside North America as a way to fuel sales growth.

Dodge, which generates more than half of Chrysler group's U.S. sales volume and has a 7 percent U.S. market share, aims to establish itself overseas alongside Coca-Cola, Apple, Levi's and Harley-Davidson as a must-have American product.

The European campaign gets underway in June with the launch of the Dodge Caliber, which goes head-to-head against models such as the Volkswagen Golf and Opel Astra in the fiercely competitive C-segment of compact cars.

The issue, as Chrysler head of international sales and marketing Thomas Hausch told reporters at a presentation in Spain late last week, is that Dodge is "almost unknown" among consumers in Europe who are asked to name car brands.  More at Detroit News

Abrasive surface makes Barcelona a challenge Abrasive surface makes Barcelona a challengeBarcelona is a circuit that every F1 team knows well as they complete thousands of miles there in testing throughout the season. The mix high-speed corners, a very long straight and an abrasive track surface, makes the Circuit de Catalunya a uniquely complete circuit. Finding the right set-up compromise is always a tricky business at the Spanish Grand Prix as the RenaultF1 team explains….

Aerodynamics: Aerodynamic efficiency is always a key factor at this circuit. Barcelona offers every type of corner in its layout, and the straights are invariably preceded by quick corners. This means the team actually runs quite high downforce levels, in spite of the long main straight, as it is important to get good exit speed from these corners. That, ultimately, is what conditions the car's speed on the main straight. That means this a race where we use a high downforce set-up.

Suspension: When we look at suspension settings, we have to find the best compromise to give the drivers a well-balanced, responsive car. This means we will use relative stiff settings at the front of the car to get a good change of direction, while the rear will be slightly softer in order to get the best possible traction out of the slow corners. Ride height is also an important parameter to consider – generally we can run the car quite low, which allows optimum aerodynamic performance.

Tires: The Circuit de Catalunya is well known for being a particularly tough circuit, particularly because it includes so many long, high-speed corners. These put the tires under high loadings, and particularly the front left tire which has to work very hard in all the quick corners. We will therefore pay particular attention to tire degradation when making our choice, and we may alter settings such as camber angles to limit tire wear if necessary.

Engine Performance: Barcelona is not generally thought of as an engine circuit as the engine is not under particular stress at any point. There are relatively few hard accelerations from low revs, and the main priority is for the power delivery to be progressive and drivable in order to maintain the best handling balance, and limit tire wear. 69% of the lap is spent at full throttle.

Gearbox: Given the length of the main straight at this circuit, the choice of gear ratios is quite tricky. In fact, for top gear we have to contend with possible over-revving if the wind blows down the main straight, or if the driver is in a competitor's slipstream. Similarly, a headwind can cost performance. Choosing the final drive is an important part of the work during the practice sessions. Renault

Drifting added to Monterrey card Drifting added to Monterrey cardOCESA has confirmed Formula Drift will be one of the supporting series for the upcoming Monterrey Grand Prix. This will be the first time the formula has held an event outside of the US. Jose Arrambide
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Fine weather to greet panting F1 circus
'I'd rather win in Spain' - Alonso
Clashing Massa splits with engineer
JV disappointed by FIA penalty
No clue about Schu at 'Ring
Retirement can wait, press tells Schu
Sauber rules out return as F1 chief
Schu wants Massa's help to bridge title gap
McLaren wants to keep Kimi - boss
Houston test concludes with Wirth on top Houston test concludes with Wirth on topANGLETON, Texas  – It may have only been the final few minutes of a series test, but it had the definite look and feel of a pressure-packed qualifying session as the top competitors in the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda feverishly battled to see who could post the top time. That’s the way it is these days in the ultra-competitive Atlantic Championship. Even the honor of leading a series-sanctioned open test carries with it a badge of honor as the top rising stars of open-wheel racing look to distinguish themselves among their peers.

In the final day of a two-day Atlantic open test at the MSR Houston Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land road circuit south of Houston, series point leader Andreas Wirth (#37 INDECK/Wirth Solar - right) owned the bragging rights. Wirth, the Forsythe Championship Racing driver that won the series’ opening round of competition last month at Long Beach, rallied late to claim the top lap of the test. The 21-year-old native of Heidelberg, Germany blistered a time of 1:18.669 (108.912 mph) on the 2.38-mile circuit, serving notice to the rest of the series’ competitors that he intends to hold on to the championship lead after this weekend’s Round 2 at the Grand Prix of Houston’s Fast Trac 100 race.

“The day and the test were very good for us,” said Wirth. “The team did a great job. At the end, we were actually done for the day, but I really wanted to go back out. I knew I could get the top time and it was important to me to do it. I think now we’re ready for Houston.” zzzz

It wasn’t just Wirth that raised his game on the second day of the test. Nearly all 27 series testers improved their times from Sunday and while only two drivers broke the one-minute-and-20-second mark on Day 1, the top 16 drivers surpassed that plateau on Monday. The tight competition of the series field also continued to shine as the top 17 testers over the two-day period were separated by just under a second-and-a-half. The new Mazda-Cosworth/Swift 016.a/Yokohama Atlantic car also further demonstrated its durability as teams collectively logged nearly 7,800 virtually trouble-free miles during the course of the test.

After setting the pace throughout most of the test, Team Australia rookie Simon Pagenaud (#15 Team Australia/Location U/Cons. Gen. Vienne - Right) of France wound up with the second-fastest time overall. His lap of 1:18.686 (108.888 mph), established early in Monday’s afternoon session, stood as the mark to beat until Wirth staged his late charge.

“The team gave me a lot of confidence and I thought the test was quite good,” said Pagenaud, who topped all times in the first day of testing at MSR Houston. “I definitely have a better feel for the car now than I did at the first race in Long Beach. We were among the top three in all sessions (of the test), now hopefully we can carry that over to the race this week.”

Raphael Matos (#6 Pro Works), the Brazilian racer that enters Round 2 trailing Wirth by just five points in the championship standings, also ran up front for much of the test. He wound up with the third-fastest lap overall at 1:18.788 (108.748 mph). “We made a lot of improvements to the car over the two days,” said the Sierra Sierra Enterprises rookie. “We weren’t really working on the set-up for this track. We were trying to learn and simulate as much as we could for what we think we’ll see this weekend in Houston.”

On Monday, American first-year driver Graham Rahal (#18 Gehl Company) of Mi-Jack Conquest Racing carded the second-fastest lap. Today, he slotted in fourth in the overall rundown, posting a quick time of 1:18.970 (108.497 mph).

James Hinchcliffe (#3 Emexis/INDECK) of Canada completed a tight top-five from the test. The 19-year-old rookie clocked in at 1:19.013 (108.438 mph) for Forsythe Championship Racing.
Atlantic teams and drivers won’t have much time to rest after the grueling test in the Texas heat. The series swings back into race mode Thursday with practice and opening-round qualifying for the Grand Prix of Houston at the temporary road course constructed around Reliant Park. Round 2 of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship – the Fast Trac 100 – will take the green flag at 5:15 p.m. Saturday (tape-delayed telecast on SPEED – Sunday, May 20 at 1 p.m. ET). Follow all of the action from Houston live and learn more about North America’s top open-wheel development series by visiting the official Atlantic website, www.champcaratlantic.com.

Combined lap times and speeds from the two-day test at MSR Houston follow:

1. Andreas Wirth, Forsythe Championship Racing – 1:18.669/108.912mph
2. Simon Pagenaud, Team Australia – 1:18.686/108.888 mph
3. Raphael Matos, Sierra Sierra Enterprises – 1:18.788/108.748 mph
4. Graham Rahal, Mi-Jack Conquest Racing – 1:18.970/108.497 mph
5. James Hinchcliffe, Forsythe Championship Racing – 1:19.013/108.438 mph
6. Jonathan Bomarito, PR1 Motorsports – 1:19.050/108.387 mph
7. Robbie Pecorari, Gelles Racing – 1:19.345/107.984 mph
8. Luis Schiavo, Brooks Associates Racing – 1:19.398/107.912 mph
9. Richard Philippe, Forsythe Championship Racing – 1:19.418/107.885 mph
10. Stephen Simpson, Gelles Racing – 1:19.481/107.799 mph
11. Danilo Dirani, Condor Motorsports – 1:19.525/107.740 mph
12. Alex Barron, Polestar Racing Group – 1:19.570/107.679 mph
13. Tim Bridgman, Epson Team Jensen – 1:19.701/107.502 mph
14. Steve Ott, MSR Houston Team Jensen – 1:19.752/107.433 mph
15. Joe D’Agostino, Newman/Wachs Racing – 1:19.891/107.246 mph
16. Leonardo Maia, Forsythe Championship Racing – 1:19.921/107.206 mph
17. James Davison, Team Australia – 1:20.015/107.080 mph
18. David Martinez, US RaceTronics – 1:20.417/106.545 mph
19. Ryan Spencer-Smith, NCDL TECH – 1:20.544/106.377 mph
20. Alan Sciuto, Polestar Racing Group – 1:20.615/106.283 mph
21. Al Unser III, Mi-Jack Conquest Racing – 1:20.839/105.988 mph
22. Norbert Siedler, Palfinger Brooks Associates Racing – 1:20.885/105.928 mph
23. Daniel Gaunt, Newman/Wachs Racing – 1:21.008/105.767 mph
24. Justin Sofio, Mathiasen Motorsports – 1:21.130/105.608 mph
25. Charles Hall, Transnet Racing – 1:21.283/105.409 mph
26. Barton Mawer, Transnet Racing – 1:22.330/104.069 mph
27. Duncan Ende, Bite Racing – 1:23.958/102.051 mph
28. Chris Souliotis, Bite Racing – 1:27.503/97.917 mph

Champ Car

Industry News
Penske retained to clean up filth in Detroit Penske retained to clean up filth in DetroitMayor Kwame Kilpatrick had a simple, happy message for Detroiters on Monday:

“Roger Penske is back!”

Confirming news reported in Monday’s Free Press, Kilpatrick announced at a noon press conference in front of the city’s Spirit of Detroit statute that businessman and auto-racing legend Penske will take on a major new downtown clean-up effort as the new chairman of the civic group Downtown Detroit Partnership.

With a budget of $1.2 million for the rest of this year and $1.5 million next year, Penske will oversee the effort to keep the downtown business district as clean as it was for the recent Super Bowl XL.

“This is bigger than the Super Bowl as far as I’m concerned, because this is sustaining value for this city and the future. So for me, it’s an issue that I want to be sure I’m part of,” Penske told the press conference.

The money, all of it to be raised by private donations, will pay for daily patrols of uniformed workers to pick up litter, power-wash sidewalks, remove graffiti and posters, and otherwise keep downtown looking clean.

If there were any doubts about the need for a new clean-up effort, a short walk along Woodward Avenue after Monday’s press conference could dispel them. Sidewalks and the grassy median along Woodward downtown showed papers and other litter strewn about.

Penske said that Goodwill Industries, a non-profit agency that lines up jobs for poor and disadvantaged people, would provide and supervise the workers. The clean-up effort, part of the mayor’s “Next Detroit” series of initiatives, will kick off about June 1. Plans call for workers to clean from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and for shorter hours on weekends.  More at Detroit Free Press 

[Editor's Note: We're waiting for the photo op of Roger driving a Street Sweeper through the downtown streets.  What about it Roger?] 

TV News
SPEED moves to basic package in Mexico SPEED moves to basic package in MexicoUsers of Sky TV (the largest satellite system supplier in Mexico) that love racing have reason to be happy tonight.  Speed Channel, which was a premium channel, is now part of the basic package.  Mexican viewers now will have a second option to watch Champ Car, F1, Champ Car Atlantic races, ALMS and Grand-Am races. Jose Arrambide
Industry News
GM turns a profit after accounting change GM turns a profit after accounting changeGeneral Motors Corp. on Monday revised its first-quarter results to exclude a charge for a retiree health care deal with its union, an accounting change that pushed the world's largest automaker to profit. GM said that it had made the change after discussions with securities regulators over how to treat an initially reported charge of $681 million, or $1.20 a share, related to a health-care settlement with blue-collar retirees.

After excluding that charge, GM said it had earned $445 million, or 78 cents per share in the first quarter compared with an initially reported loss for the period of $323 million, or 57 cents per share.

The revised results snapped a losing streak of five consecutive quarters for the automaker, which is shedding jobs and closing down plants to adjust to a loss of share in the U.S. market.  More at Reuters

Indiana time change affects teams Indy strategy Indiana time change affects teams Indy strategyWith Indiana's switch to Eastern Daylight Time and a recent move to the noon start, the nuances of the racetrack (temperature, shadows) will be altered. Goodbye "Happy Hour," that 5-6 p.m. period when drivers played "top that" to be the fastest of the day, and hello midday binge.

KYLE MOYER (General manager, Andretti Green Racing): "That makes a big difference. The biggest thing we're looking at is track change for the race, because now we're an hour later for the race too (1 p.m. EDT). The second biggest impact will be on qualifying. Before, you hated to be an early number. Now all of a sudden you want to draw in the top 10, especially the way it's going to be a shootout. I don't think it's going to be a 5 o'clock shootout. Now you're just going to run all day long, and if you're not in the top 11 you go right back in line . If you're in the top nine you're going to put yourself back in line. You're not going to say to yourself, 'Hey, we'll wait until 5 o'clock and be faster,' because I don't think you will. In practice, we try not to run in Happy Hour anyway. We'll probably run later in the day because it makes more sense since it's similar to race time. For us, we'll get a full six hours of work. I think the biggest thing is you'll see a lot more cars out at noon every day instead of waiting around for 5 o'clock."

STEVE RAGAN (Chief mechanic, Panther Racing): "Some people like to go out there and set a good time, to other teams that doesn't mean anything. You want to get out at the best time that benefits your running, and that's important now with the mileage. You have 1,200 miles on your engine, and I think that will change that "Happy Hour" running a lot. Really, what does that do? There's no more Happy Hour. The sun is different. That's going to shift everyone's approach. Wind, shadows and all the changes. You're just going to have to look at how everyone approaches it the first couple of days."

Seen at Indy - I Seen at Indy - ITwo-time Indianapolis 500 starter Willy T. Ribbs visited the Speedway today. Ribbs became the first African-American to start the Indianapolis 500 in 1991.

WILLY T. RIBBS: "I haven't been here since 2001. I was down in Lawrenceburg, Ind., shooting in a tournament. I shoot shotguns for a living now and Tony George came in (to the tournament) on Friday. We talked and he said to come on up."

(How does it feel to be back here?) "What happened here in 1991 was probably the most important career happening for me, and it's certainly changed in its growth. It's a huge complex now, with Formula One being here, and IndyCar, it's an unbelievable. And when you look at Turn 1, it brings back all the memories."

(And desire at all to get back in a car?): "Oh, no, no, I'm having a great career and my new race car is a Perazzi 12 gauge."

(How did you get involved in tournament shooting?): "I used to shoot guns as a hobby as a kid, and I'd hunt birds with my grandpa, but I shot skeet and traps for fun in the (racing) off-season. Once I quit racing I started taking it real serious and traveling all over the country to tournaments. This is full time, every week all over the U.S., or Russia, England, wherever a big tournament is happening. I compete with the NSCA - National Sporting Clays Association."

IRL teams must not exceed 1200 miles in practice IRL teams must not exceed 1200 miles in practiceINDIANAPOLIS - Each Indianapolis 500 entrant will receive a new Honda Indy V-8 engine for first day of practice on May 9. Teams must use that engine through practice and qualifying. All qualified cars will receive a new engine for Carb Day for use in the race. IndyCar Series regulars must use the same engine for the event at Watkins Glen.

GEORGE KLOTZ (Team manager and race strategist, #7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "Honda has always given us the very best engines, and we can count on that the entire month of May. The engines they are providing for practice can be used for more than 1,000 miles, so the lack of another engine doesn't affect how many miles we run in practice.  You will always have an engine in the car when you need one, and we will not be limited too much. We will have to be slightly more efficient with the work we do, but we are confident we'll get in all the practice that's needed."

BARRY WANSER, (Team manager, Target Chip Ganassi Racing): "(It) makes it more of a challenge, and you're limited to 1,200 miles on the first motor. We did more than that last year with Scott (Dixon), especially when you start doing full-tank running the second week. It will be a challenge to make the most of it. It's the same for everybody, but you have to be careful with your track management and time to get the most out it. The first week is all about getting the pole. You could throw in some full-tank running in the mix of doing qualifying sims. It definitely will be interesting for everybody.

Bell fastest as rookie practice ends Bell fastest as rookie practice ends
Penske slams USA Today Penske slams USA TodayAn angry Roger Penske met with USA Today reporters before Saturday night's race to express his displeasure with that newspaper's Thursday article on driver Kurt Busch. Busch and Penske have been trying to wipe the slate clean on all the controversies that have dogged Busch the last few years. But each time they think they're getting over the hump, something new crops up. Saturday night's race offered no respite. Busch was looking good early, running as high as third, but he was called for pitting outside his pit box and issued a pass-through penalty. When he returned to pit road, he was hit by NASCAR with a second penalty for speeding. By the time the three-hour race was over, Busch was a frustrated 29th. Winston Salem Journal
Wilson looking forward to night race Wilson looking forward to night raceA month after Champ Car's season opener in Long Beach Justin Wilson is eager to go racing again. Saturday night's race is under the lights on a temporary street circuit around Houston's Reliant Park. The track takes in landmarks such as the Astrodome which, like many other facilities in Houston, provided refuge to thousands made homeless by Hurricane Katrina.

The break since Long Beach has gone quickly for Justin. His podium celebrations were short-lived - the following day he and RuSPORT traveled north to Portland, where they had a successful test ahead of June's race. Last week the team tested again, this time at the twisty and bumpy Sebring circuit in Florida, working on set-up for Houston and other street races this year. Justin also spent several days on the east coast of the United States meeting enthusiastic staff at sponsor CDW and signing hundreds of autographs.

"It's been a busy few weeks", agreed Justin. "The tests in Portland and Sebring were useful, and I'm looking forward to getting out there and quantifying what we've learned. We've done some simulation work on the track layout for Houston, so I have a bit of an idea what to expect. We'll walk the track to see what it's really like, understand the layout and get used to the scenery, but it will still be an interesting first day as we get our heads round it." Justin's sportscar experience means he's not fazed about racing at night, but he's well aware of the special challenges of racing under the lights. "At night everything seems so much quicker and it's really easy to find yourself significantly off the pace, so you need to concentrate even harder than usual." Justin Wilson Website

Rookie Brings Bluetooth® Technology to the Houston Grand Prix Rookie Brings Bluetooth® Technology to the Houston Grand PrixHOUSTON - Daniel Herrington, rookie stand-out in the Star Mazda Championship, will be sporting a new Bluetooth enabled helmet this week as he pilots his Formula Mazda race car around the streets of downtown Houston. This innovation in race car communications makes use of the same technology available in popular Bluetooth hands-free car kits and headsets.

“Bluetooth wireless technology provides me with a safer and more reliable way to communicate with my crew,” said Herrington. The Bluetooth enabled system, developed in collaboration with engineers at Virginia Tech, eliminates the need for wires that connect the driver’s helmet to the in-car radio. zzzz

Herrington, currently second in points in the Star Mazda Championship, hopes to use the Bluetooth wireless communications system to help him reach the podium during Saturday’s 2 p.m. race. “In the harsh and extremely competitive world of professional racing, good communication is critical to success,” said Ian Willis of AIM Autosport and owner of the Bluetooth SIG sponsored race car.

Added Michael Foley, Ph.D., executive director of the Bluetooth SIG: “Bluetooth technology in the automotive industry has come on strong in recent years – just as Daniel Herrington leverages the convenience of Bluetooth wireless technology to communicate with his crew, consumers all over the world are using the same type of wireless communication, in headsets and built-in hands-free systems in automobiles, to stay connected to their ‘crew’ while keeping both hands on the wheel.”

On Tuesday, Herrington will be showing off his Bluetooth enabled helmet to children hospitalized at the Texas Children’s Hospital as part of a Racing For Kids hospital visit. Herrington will be working with Racing ForKids throughout the season to raise funding and increase awareness to the health care needs of children.

Andretti Wind Tunnel quotes Andretti Wind Tunnel quotes
Eury Jr. Wins Crew Chief Award Eury Jr. Wins Crew Chief AwardRICHMOND, Virginia – Tony Eury Jr. helped Dale Earnhardt Jr. snap a 27 race winless streak this weekend at Richmond International Raceway.  The pivotal moment of the event came when Earnhardt Jr. relinquished his second-place position to pit for fresh tires during the closing stages of the Crown Royal 400.  The strategy allowed Earnhardt Jr. to track down the leader and fend off the advances of a hard charging Denny Hamlin before capturing the checkered flag.  Eury’s winning call earned him the WYPALL® Wipers Crew Chief of the Race award.

“Tony (Eury) Jr. did a great job calling the race,” said Earnhardt Jr. following the event.  “My team did a great job on the pit stops.  I was real proud of the race car.  It says a lot about the guys back at the shop putting the car together and calling the set-up plate and everything.  I really didn’t have to work real hard.”

A panel of voters; including a member of the local media, Robbie Reiser and a WYPALL® Wipers representative; all cast their vote for Eury Jr. as the Crew Chief of the Race. “The 8 team had a really good car, but Tony made all the right calls today,” said Reiser.  “He chose the right time to come into the pits and made the right adjustments to the car.  It was its best at the end of the night.  He’s got that team back on track this year and tonight proved that.”

For winning the Crew Chief of the Race award, WYPALL® Wipers presented Eury Jr. $1,000.  At the end of the season, the Nextel Cup crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000 and be crowned the WYPALL® Wipers Crew Chief of the Year.  This was Eury’s second Crew Chief of the Race award in 2006, which ties him for the lead with Robbie Reiser and Kenny Francis in the standings.  Darian Grubb, Todd Berrier Chad Knaus and Roy McCauley are tied for second-place, each with one win.

Montoya: Schumacher should retire Montoya: Schumacher should retireMcLaren driver Juan Pablo Montoya believes Michael Schumacher should retire at the end of this season. According to the Colombian it would be better if Schumacher would retire while being at the top. I think these successes this season should make him retire. He should quit while being at the top. He would be mad if he would carry on in F1 after he wins the title this season," Montoya told Gazzetta dello Sport.
Things to look for - Lone Star GP Things to look for - Lone Star GPThe Lone Star Grand Prix is the seventh street race in the eight-year history of the American Le Mans Series. Past venues include Adelaide (2000), Miami (2002-03), Washington D.C. (2002) and Trois Rivières (2002-03).

Penske Racing's Lucas Luhr, who has started all six previous street races, is unbeaten on street courses in the American Le Mans Series, having taken then-GT class wins with Alex Job Racing. Luhr also was the fastest GT qualifier at Miami (both years), Trois Rivières (2002) and Adelaide. More....

Orange County Choppers helps Petty camp Orange County Choppers helps Petty campSunoco has teamed with Orange County Choppers to create and donate a custom motorcycle to be raffled in a Victory Junction Gang Camp fundraiser. Sunoco representatives unveiled the bike prior to the Crown Royal 400 Nextel Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in a news conference involving the Petty family, founders of the camp for chronically ill children. The bike, which resembles a vintage board-track racer, is a first for OCC. The motorcycle reflects Sunoco's checkered royal blue and yellow colors, as well as other key references to its motorsports history.

(L-R) Kyle Petty of Petty Enterprises, Vince DiMartino, Paul Teutul Jr., Paul Teutul Sr,. Mikey Teutul (of Orange County Choppers) and Richard Petty of Petty Enterprises, unveil the OCC Custom Sunoco Motorcycle prior to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Crown Royal 400. (Photo Credit: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The motorcycle can be seen by fans along the route of the Petty Charity ride when it crosses the country July 22-30. The episode showing the building of the bike air on the Discovery Channel's "American Chopper" June 19 and 26 at 10pm/et. To learn more about winning the motorcycle, visit www.victoryjunction.org and click on the bike logo. NASCAR Daily Scene

Wallace to drive for RML in 24 Wallace to drive for RML in 24Andy Wallace has been named as the third driver in RML's Le Mans 24 Hours line-up, joining regular drivers Mike Newton and Thomas Erdos in the MG Lola EX264.
Field of 33 cars-drivers set for 1st full practice Field of 33 cars-drivers set for 1st full practiceA flurry of activity has pushed the Indianapolis 500's field to a level not seen in years.
It appears there will be 33 car-and-driver combinations before official practice begins Tuesday.
Indy Racing League president Brian Barnhart couldn't remember the last time that happened.

"It eliminates (filling the field) as being an issue for the month," he said. "And that's an amazing feeling when I thought about it."

Among the recent deals that have come together or should today:

Thiago Medeiros at PDM Racing will drive a car acquired from Fernandez Racing. The Brazilian will take his rookie test today in the No. 18 Panoz and be a second-week participant.

Stephan Gregoire, a six-time 500 starter, will try to make the race for the first time since 2001 in a Panoz of Team Leader Motorsports, a new team with several partners, including Kent Baker, Cary Agajanian and Mike Curb. The No. 97 program will be led by veteran Greg Beck.

Airton Dare or Richie Hearn will be entered in a car owned by Sam Schmidt. Dare, a four-time Indy starter, is considered the leading candidate.

Cheever Racing has a second driver to announce, with Davey Hamilton, Roger Yasukawa and Max Papis as possibilities. Team owner/driver Eddie Cheever Jr., who raced a Grand Am sports car Sunday in Monterey, Calif., said it will be a second-week program and won't be confirmed until later this week.  More at Indy Star

Racing News
Hawaii Raceway Park burns Hawaii Raceway Park burnsFire investigators believe someone torched the closed Hawaii Raceway Park, destroying the observation tower (the track's main physical landmark) at the west Oahu racetrack.  This afternoon firefighters were called to the park, which closed last month after losing its lease.  Firefighters determined they could not safely enter the structure, so they let it burn.

Photo to the right by Earl Ma taken during JN Track Days event shows Ivan Capelli talking to two women and the observation tower that burned in the background.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Michelin admit tire defeat
BMW attraction to star in Spain
Massa sacrifice helped Schu win
More musical seats at MF1
McLaren can still win, says boss
Honda still in tire despair
Montagny waits on Aguri decision
Alonso not worried about Schu revival
Heidfeld asks BMW for help
Cosworth expect no more problems
Bernie slams Dennis, Alonso
Big crowd at Nurburg
Trulli draws blank on Toyota problem
Test safety adequate, says Dennis
Schu denies 'new engine' advantage
McLaren not rushing to replace Newey
Lauda meets old rival, savior
Todt eyes McLaren, Honda threat
Massa not in F1's top three, says Todt
Montreal wins new F1 contract
Andretti Foundation Indy 500 VIP auction Andretti Foundation Indy 500 VIP auctionNAZARETH, PA - The Michael Andretti Foundation will be auctioning off a VIP race package on eBay beginning Monday, May 8. As an honorary guest of Michael Andretti and Andretti Green Racing, the winner and a guest will attend a weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 28.

The winner will get an insider's look at race weekend activities and preparations with AGR. They'll receive three nights lodging, the opportunity to meet Michael Andretti and several of the Andretti Green Racing drivers. The winner will participate as an honorary crew member for Michael Andretti during final practice on Carb Day and be in Michael Andretti's pits during the running of the Indy 500. The package also includes a private tour of the race cars and a VIP invite to the private invitation only Andretti Green Racing team party.  zzzz

Race day activities include breakfast with the team and sponsors and enjoying all the excitement of pre- race activities. Once the race starts, you can stay in the pits and see all the behind-the-wall racing action up close and personal. This access is only available to IndyCar team personnel and to those with special permission -- access that makes this package truly unique and priceless.

All proceeds from the package will benefit the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation. "I'm excited about being able to put a package like this together," said Andretti. We hope to raise a good amount of money with the auction and are very excited to be able to pass it along to the Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation. I'm a big supporter of Sam and all the effort he has put toward this cause over the years." The VIP Package will be auctioned on eBay until Monday, May 15. The package is available by visiting www.ebay.com or directly at: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=8808298025 The Michael Andretti Foundation is a 501(c)(3) foundation that was established to help people who have shown need and to help promote programs for better health, education and welfare of America's children and citizens. For more information about The Michael Andretti Foundation, visit www.andretti.com.

About SSPF The Sam Schmidt Paralysis Foundation (SSPF) helps individuals overcome spinal cord injuries and other neurological disorders by funding scientific research, medical treatment, rehabilitation and technological advances. This research also benefits stroke victims and people diagnosed with ALS, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. SSPF also funds quality of life programs throughout the country benefiting people with paralysis and other disabilities and through its national Day at the Races programs. SSPF works tirelessly in its advocacy efforts both locally and nationally. Further information is available at www.samschmidt.org or (317) 236-9999. MAF

Pagenaud tops first day of Houston test Pagenaud tops first day of Houston testANGLETON, Texas – If it weren’t for the heat and humidity, Atlantic rookie Simon Pagenaud (#15 Team Australia/Location U/Cons. Gen. Vienne) might have thought he was back home on Sunday, blistering lap times on a track in the French countryside. But instead of Europe, Pagenaud was actually burning up the MSR Houston road circuit in the first of two Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda open test days at the secluded and challenging track 30 miles north of Houston.

Pagenaud, a 21-year-old native of Montmorillon, France, led all 27 Atlantic drivers that tested at the 2.38-mile course. The Team Australia racer clocked a fast lap of 1:19.608 (107.627 mph) in the afternoon session on a day that featured humid conditions and temperatures in the upper 80s. The Atlantics are testing in preparation for Round 2 – the Fast Trac 100 at the Grand Prix of Houston – to be held May 11-13.

“I really like this track and it’s a lot like the tracks you see in Europe,” said Pagenaud, who finished fourth at the season-opening race in Long Beach on April 9. “There are lots bumps and some really fast corners. You could really feel the downforce of the car here. It was a real pleasure to drive the Atlantic car on this kind of track.”

Based solely on the amount of work the Atlantic teams put in on Sunday, it appeared that all series competitors enjoyed testing at the MSR Houston circuit. As the squads continued to learn and test the limits of the 2006 Mazda-Cosworth/Swift 016.a/Yokohama car, the durability and performance of the new Atlantic passed yet another test. Collectively, teams logged nearly 4,000 miles during a full day of testing. The high level of talent in the field was also clearly on display as the top 12 drivers were separated by less than a second in their fast-lap times. zzzz

While Pagenaud secured the top lap of the day, young American rising star Graham Rahal (#18 Gehl Company) was not far behind. Rahal posted a time of 1:19.859 (107.289 mph) and joined Pagenaud as the only two drivers to break the one-minute, 20-second mark on Sunday.

“It was a really good day for us,” said the 17-year-old Rahal, who claimed fifth at Long Beach for Mi-Jack Conquest Racing in his series debut. “We showed that we were quick all day today, but it was more than just lap times. We found out a lot more about the car today and these are things that are going to help us in the long run this season.”

PR1 Motorsports driver Jonathan Bomarito (#23 Miracle Sealants) also spent much of the day learning about the intricacies of his Atlantic car. He recorded the most laps of any competitor, turning 98 orbits on the 17-turn circuit. The Monterey, California native also found time to score the third-fastest time of the day at 1:20.051 (107.032 mph).

Canadian James Hinchcliffe (#3 Emexis/INDECK) also looked strong as he finished the day just behind Bomarito in the running order with a top lap of 1:20.072 (107.004 mph). Hinchcliffe’s Forsythe Championship Racing teammate Andreas Wirth (#37 INDECK/Wirth Solar) completed the top five from the first day of testing. Wirth, the current series points leader who claimed his second career Atlantic win when he took the checkered flag at Long Beach, produced a best time of 1:20.234 (106.788 mph).

After leading the morning practice session, Sierra Sierra Enterprises driver Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks), was sixth overall on Sunday. Matos, currently ranked as the top series rookie after a second-place run at Long Beach, had a quick time of 1:20.276 (106.732 mph). The talented Brazilian only turned 11 laps in the afternoon session, however, after an off-course excursion left his car in need of some extensive repair.

The Atlantics will return to the testing trail on Monday, with another full day of activity at MSR Houston. The Champ Car Atlantic Championship begins second-round action later this week at the Grand Prix of Houston with practice and qualifying at the new Reliant Park course set to begin on Thursday, May 11.

For more information about North America’s top open-wheel development series, please visit www.champcaratlantic.com.

Combined lap times and speeds from Sunday’s testing at MSR Houston follow:
1. Simon Pagenaud, Team Australia – 1:19.608/107.627 mph
2. Graham Rahal, Mi-Jack Conquest Racing – 1:19.859/107.289 mph
3. Jonathan Bomarito, PR1 Motorsports – 1:20.051/107.032 mph
4. James Hinchcliffe, Forsythe Championship Racing – 1:20.072/107.004 mph
5. Andreas Wirth, Forsythe Championship Racing – 1:20.234/106.788 mph
6. Raphael Matos, Sierra Sierra Enterprises – 1:20.276/106.732 mph
7. Stephen Simpson, Gelles Racing – 1:20.283/106.722 mph
8. Richard Philippe, Forsythe Championship Racing – 1:20.294/106.708 mph
9. Alex Barron, Polestar Racing Group – 1:20.479/106.463 mph
10. Robbie Pecorari, Gelles Racing – 1:20.510/106.422 mph
11. Leonardo Maia, Forsythe Championship Racing – 1:20.511/106.420 mph
12. Steve Ott, MSR Houston Team Jensen – 1:20.565/106.349 mph
13. Danilo Dirani, Condor Motorsports – 1:20.729/106.133 mph
14. Tim Bridgman, Epson Team Jensen – 1:21.003/105.774 mph
15. Norbert Siedler, Palfinger Brooks Associates Racing – 1:21.242/105.463 mph
16. James Davison, Team Australia – 1:21.387/105.275 mph
17. Joe D’Agostino, Newman/Wachs Racing – 1:21.540/105.077 mph
18. David Martinez, US RaceTronics – 1:21.553/105.061 mph
19. Alan Sciuto, Polestar Racing Group – 1:21.600/105.000 mph
20. Ryan Spencer-Smith, NCDL TECH – 1:21.958/104.541 mph
21. Luis Schiavo, Brooks Associates Racing – 1:21.986/104.506 mph
22. Justin Sofio, Mathiasen Motorsports – 1:22.265/104.151 mph
23. Charles Hall, Transnet Racing – 1:22.834/103.436 mph
24. Barton Mawer, Transnet Racing – 1:22.863/103.400 mph
25. Daniel Gaunt, Newman/Wachs Racing – 1:23.010/103.216 mph
26. Al Unser III, Mi-Jack Conquest Racing – 1:23.446/102.677 mph
27. Chris Souliotis, Bite Racing – 1:27.503/97.917 mph

Champ Car

Q and A with Marco and Michael Andretti Q and A with Marco and Michael AndrettiRookie Marco and his father Michael Andretti practiced today at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and took time out to answer questions from the media. 

Moderator: Everyone, welcome to the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500. Obviously, one of the great stories for this month, a father-and-son duo here who put in a good day's work. It looked like it from our point of view. Marco, you got a lot of laps underneath your belt. Just a little bit slower than your father, who turned in some good laps at 220 plus.

Michael, talk about the day, having Marco out, what it was like. Transcript

Opening day results at Indy Opening day results at IndyUPDATE Marco Andretti and P.J. Chesson each passed through the four phases of the Rookie Orientation Program on the Opening Day of preparations for the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Andretti, driving the No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone, lapped the 2.5-mile oval in 40.8122 seconds, 220.522 mph.

"I think it started out pretty good,” Andretti said. “It was easier than I thought to get up to speed. At some points, I was quicker than they wanted. But things definitely went well. I was certainly happy when I found out I passed my rookie test. I wanted to pass it early so we could spend the day working on the car and the set-up. I was comfortable with different lines all around the track. We stayed pretty consistent with the downforce on the car and were working on car comfort. I think we ended up pretty comfortable."

Several veteran drivers turned laps as part of refresher tests, including Michael Andretti, Al Unser Jr., Townsend Bell and Arie Luyendyk Jr. Michael Andretti led all drivers with a fast lap of 40.7241, 220.999 mph.

"It was really a special day for sure,” the elder Andretti said. “It started out special as we kicked off the ceremonies. To have my dad on the right side and my son on the left was neat for sure. I'm happy with the car. We got up to speed right away. I'm really happy with the way I felt in the car. Marco also got some speed out of his car, too. It was a good day for both us. So far so good."

Rookie Orientation and driver refresher tests continue May 8. The first practice open to all veterans of the Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for May 9.

05/07/06 INDIANAPOLIS - Practice Sunday for the Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program IRL IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine and speed:
1. (1) Michael Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 220.999
2. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 220.572
3. (91) P.J. Chesson, Dallara-Honda, 214.302
4. (61) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Panoz-Honda, 206.468.
5. (31) Al Unser Jr., Dallara-Honda, 206.387.
6. (90) Townsend Bell, Dallara-Honda, 113.065

Note: Michael Andretti and Unser were on track to take refresher tests since they did not race last year. The other four drivers are Indianapolis 500 rookies.
Maserati wins FIA-GT race at Silverstone Maserati wins FIA-GT race at SilverstoneThe 2006 season of the FIA GT Championship got off to an excellent start in Silverstone today, with the Royal Automobile Club Tourist Trophy.  In front of 15,000 spectators, and despite wet weather, a thrilling race kept the excitement going until the end, when Andrea Bertolini and Michael Bartels claimed the historic trophy for Vitaphone Racing Team.  A clever strategy saw their Maserati MC 12 triumph ahead of the Zakspeed Saleen S7 and the Aston Martin Racing BMS Aston Martin DBR9, making three different makes on the podium, and five cars on the same lap after three hours of racing.  In GT2, Matteo Bobbi and Jaime Melo, in the nr 58 AF Corse Ferrari 430 GT2, were victorious ahead of Ebimotors' Porsche 996 GT3 RSR of Emmanuel Collard and Luca Riccitelli, promising excellent things for the season ahead.
Alonso admitted defeat during Euro GP Alonso admitted defeat during Euro GP(GMM) Fernando Alonso has admitted to giving up the fight after Michael Schumacher emerged from the final pit stop in Germany.

The title leading Spaniard, who finished second to the Ferrari at the Nurburgring despite starting from pole position, said he 'turned down the engine' in order to protect it ahead of the Spanish GP in a few days.

Alonso, 24, said: ''Ferrari were a bit faster than us today, and while our tyre performance was okay, they certainly had more speed.''

Renault boss Flavio Briatore, too, confessed that the Ferrari-Bridgestone-Schumacher package was 'too strong' in the Eifel region
Another driver gets Indy 500 ride Another driver gets Indy 500 rideThiago Medeiros is the latest driver to land a ride in the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500. Indy Pro ace Medeiros will attempt to make his first Indy 500 start driving for PDM Racing.
Victory for Ferrari in European FIA GT3 inaugural race Victory for Ferrari in European FIA GT3 inaugural raceThe Silverstone circuit in England is this weekend hosting the opening rounds of the FIA GT championship, the newly created European FIA GT3 and the continental series of the Ferrari Challenge Pirelli Trophy.

In the inaugural FIA GT3 race, it was a case of clear cut victory for the Ferrari F430 Challenge of Simonsen/Lester (JMB Racing.) In qualifying for the Grand Touring event, held on a wet track, the crew of Longin/Kumpen/Hezemans (Corvette) set the fastest time in the GT1 class, which did not feature any Prancing Horse cars. Next up were Bert/Janis (Saleen,) Deletraz/Piccini (Aston Martin) and Bartels/Bertolini (Maserati.) In the very popular GT2 category, pole went to the Ferrari F430 GTC of the Kinch/Kirkaldy (Scuderia Ecosse) duo, beating the Porsche of Collard/Riccitelli. The other F430 GTCs of Niarchos/Mullen (Scuderia Ecosse,) Sugdne/Alexander-David (JMB Racing, Sala/Aguas (AF Corse) and Bobbi/Melo (AF Corse) rounded off the places from third to sixth.

Race-1 of the continental one-make series was action packed and exciting with the new Ferrari F430 Challenge on centre stage. In the rain, France's Ange Barde (Modena Cars) took the win after a great climb through the field on the last lap, make the most of a mistake from John Bosch who was caught out by the extreme conditions. The Baron Racing-Kroymans team Dutchman had led for almost all the race and still finished second, crossing the line ahead of reigning champion, Ireland's Michael Cullen (Rossocorsa.) Victory in the class for the 360 Modena cars which are still allowed to compete for one final year, went to Italy's Sandro Mucelli (Ineco,) eleventh overall. In the first race of the Shell Cup for gentlemen drivers in the same Ferrari one-make series, Nicolas Misslin (Ferrari West Europe) won from Ettore Contini (Kessel Racing) and Coleman/Flux (Kessel Racing.) Ferrari

No more mistakes, says Todt No more mistakes, says Todt(GMM)  Jean Todt says his Ferrari team can not afford to make any more mistakes in 2006.

The red squad, led by number one driver Michael Schumacher, is already 15 (drivers') and 18 (constructors') points behind Fernando Alonso and Renault in the world championships.

France's Todt, team principal, told 'Welt am Sonntag' newspaper on Sunday: ''Every season you can only make two or three mistakes in races.  We have used ours up already.''

Schumacher, 37, will start today's European grand prix behind his Spanish championship leader.

''We cannot afford to make any more mistakes,'' Jean Todt continued, ''but unfortunately the same cannot be said of some of our opponents.''

McNish, Capello ready for return to Audi R8 McNish, Capello ready for return to Audi R8The second round of the American Le Mans Series is on the agenda two months after the new Audi R10 TDI prototype's historic victory in the season-opener at Sebring. On May 12, the world's most important sports car racing series makes its debut on the street circuit in Houston for the Lone Star Grand Prix. The third race of the season is staged only one week later in Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Because the Audi R10 TDI currently is being prepared in Europe for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Audi Sport North America team once again competes with the proven Audi R8 in the next three races. Last year's Le Mans race winning car (chassis No. 605) now sports the same design as the silver-red R10 TDI – but with the slogan "Audi FSI Power" instead of "Audi TDI Power."

Dindo Capello (Italy) and Allan McNish (Scotland) certainly will have their work cut out in Houston and Mid-Ohio: The regulations dictate that the Audi R8 must now weigh 35 kilograms more than before and now weighs 935 kilograms.  zzzz

For Capello and McNish it is a question of scoring as many championship points as possible to safeguard their title chances in the races with the five-year-old Audi R8. From the race in Salt Lake City on July 15, they will return to the latest Audi R10 TDI and will receive support from defending Series champions Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro in another R10 TDI.

Capello and McNish arrive in Houston as championship leaders following their victory at Sebring. The street circuit is new to both Audi drivers just as it is for the majority of the other drivers. McNish has also never started in Mid-Ohio; Capello knows the undulating course from 2001 and 2002.

The Lone Star Grand Prix starts on Friday evening at 8 p.m. local time as darkness falls and is therefore a genuine night race. Capello and McNish have vivid memories of their event with the Audi R8 in Texas: In 2000, temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius ruled during the race in Dallas – and during the night. In general, however, it is not quite as hot in Houston in May.

Quotes before the races in Houston and Mid-Ohio

Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "Dindo and Allan won't have things all their own way with the additional 35 kilograms of ballast. However, the pair should nevertheless collect as many points as possible with the R8 in the next three races. The R8's reliability and low fuel consumption should help along the way. The race in Houston certainly adds a little spice to the American Le Mans Series, and let's not forget that many things can happen on a street circuit."

Dindo Capello (No. 2 Audi R8): "I'm looking forward to competing in the American Le Mans Series after a three-year break and to be able to drive the fantastic R8. Because of the restrictions it certainly won't be a stroll for us, but we will bank on the R8's legendary reliability. We want to score big points at the next races, and fight for the title after Le Mans with the R10 TDI."

Allan McNish (No. Audi R8): "We don't know exactly how strong the competition will be because they had several reliability based problems in Sebring. Our R8 has been reined in by the regulations, which means we might have to set our sights a little lower and just collect points. However, this isn't actually my goal – I always go out to win."

Dave Maraj (Team Director, Team Audi Sport North America): "Houston is our first event with the R8 as an Audi ‘factory' team. We are looking forward to it and don't want to disappoint Audi. In Allan (McNish) and Dindo (Capello) we have a very potent driver lineup, which already demonstrated in 2000 just how strong it can be. Obviously it would be fantastic to give the R8 another win before it officially retires. It deserves it."

Industry News
Chrysler recalling 45K cars for brake defect Chrysler recalling 45K cars for brake defectDaimlerChrysler AG said Friday that it was recalling about 45,000 Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Magnum sedans because of brake fluid leaking that could lead to engine compartment fires. DaimlerChrysler said the recall affects 2006 model-year vehicles with 2.7 liter engines. In some cases, the exhaust gas recirculation tube could come into contact with the brake tubes and cause it to wear through or burn through the tube, leading to brake fluid leaking and a fire.  DaimlerChrysler spokesman Max Gates said the automaker was aware of nine reported engine fires. He said there have been no reports of crashes, injuries or property damage.
TV News
Big things for NASCAR fans on TV, ESPN and DirecTV Big things for NASCAR fans on TV, ESPN and DirecTVStarting next season, NASCAR fans can expect to see Nextel Cup races in ways they never have. Plans are for races to be shown on multiple channels and broadcast over the Internet. Expanded race information will be available on network-related Web sites and NASCAR.com. Even cell phones will provide an outlet . “We’re kind of in a different age,’’ said David Berson, senior vice president, program planning and development for ESPN and ABC Sports. “People consume things in many different ways.’’ ESPN has provided glimpses of what some NASCAR broadcasts might be like. The network showed a Duke-North Carolina men’s basketball game in March on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU , giving fans three versions of the same contest . Berson said the network plans to broadcast some NASCAR events next season using that full-blanket coverage . He mentioned the Daytona Busch race, which marks ESPN’s return to televising the sport, and the Mexico City Busch race as targets. Berson also said the network might do the all-inclusive coverage for the Indianapolis race, the Bristol night race, the Richmond fall race and the season finale at Homestead. Berson said it’s unlikely ESPN will provide as extensive coverage for all 10 chase races next year because the network has other programming. The chase takes place in the heart of the college football and NFL seasons. ESPN won’t be alone. While Fox won’t detail its plans, it is owned by the same corporation that owns Speed Channel and DirecTV. That would create the opportunity for Fox to provide extra viewing choices for fans. DirecTV is expected to have a pay-per-view service similar to its NFL Sunday Ticket package. Virginian Pilot
Hamilton doubles up in Germany Hamilton doubles up in GermanyLewis Hamilton (right) has claimed the first double win of the season, storming his way through the pack from eighth on the grid to win race two at the Nurburgring ahead of Nicolas Lapierre and Jose Maria Lopez.

The dominant display has thrown the championship wide open, with the Briton now just one point behind championship leader Nelson Piquet Jr, and Hamilton’s performance will have team bosses all along the pitlane biting their nails as they work on matching his speed.

Hamilton’s job was made easier before the start of the race when Ernesto Viso and Alex Premat, third and seventh on the grid respectively, stalled as the grid moved off for their warm up lap. Both men were pushed into the pits to get restarted, and Hamilton had two less cars to contend with before the lights went out.

At the start polesitter Hiroki Yoshimoto made a perfect getaway, his new clutch mapping working to plan as he led Lapierre, who blew past Xandi Negrao at the start, into turn one.

Behind them Adam Carroll had also made a strong start, pushing up to third ahead of Lopez and Negrao, with Hamilton the next man by. Further back Andreas Zuber was tapped into a spin, while Javier Villa was pushed into the pits after stalling at the start. zzzz

Yoshimoto had the bit between his teeth and was using everything he had to build a gap at the front, pulling away from Lapierre as Carroll was pushing hard behind the Frenchman. Hamilton, starting as he meant to go on, was easily by Negrao on the first lap and into fifth position, while his teammate Premat set the fastest lap after getting out of the pits, sending an ominous warning of the potential of the ART package.

Negrao was in the wars after his poor start from the front row, with Michael Ammermueller climbing all over the rear of the Brazilian’s car. The inevitable came on lap four when Negrao ran wide, and the German was through and into the points.

One lap later, in what was fast becoming a habit, Hamilton was easily through Lopez on the inside approach to turn one, putting himself immediately behind Carroll in just half a lap.

The Ulsterman was determined to bring home another podium after picking up his first points of the season, and was masterful in defense of his position. For four laps Hamilton was on the tail of Carroll, and for four laps Carroll held him at bay by holding a perfect line through every corner.

But it wasn’t to last: running just inches wide on the second last corner meant that Carroll lost a fraction of speed down the front straight, but that was all Hamilton needed. Carroll had the inside line but locked his tires into turn one, and Hamilton was on the podium.

Further back Piquet was up to eighth position from twentieth on the grid, and was monstering his teammate ahead of him. Inevitably the Piquet Sports team leader found a way past on lap nine, and was now just one place outside the points as he searched for something to take home from a miserable weekend.

All the effort Carroll had put into defending his position had clearly hurt his tires; he was dropping like a stone in comparison to Hamilton, which put him into the clutches of fierce rival Lopez. The Argentine was through on the inside of turn one on lap 12 for fourth place, and was off up the road looking for more.

Two laps later Hamilton, who had been taking chunks out of Lapierre’s time, was up to and past the Frenchman at his favorite corner, with Lapierre looking invisible as the Briton powered by. With only Yoshimoto ahead of him, the double win was looking a certainty.

But the Japanese driver is made of sterner stuff, and was looking mighty at the front of the pack. Yoshimoto had said he’d rather retire than not win after yesterday’s race, and fireworks were on the way. For four laps Yoshimoto was as solid as a rock, holding his line and doing enough to frustrate his pursuer, who had Lapierre right behind him, and small puffs of tire smoke were the outward signal that Hamilton was getting irritated behind him.

It was clear that his usual trick wasn’t going to work on the Japanese driver, who ran the perfect line lap after lap through turn one. So on lap 18 Hamilton tried a new line through the final complex to see if a different track position would work where all of his other moves had failed.

And it did: Hamilton got a strong tow through the final corners and drafted Yoshimoto to the line, approaching turn one side by side before pushing left and braking, leaving his rival nowhere to go but behind him. The bitter frustration was too much for Yoshimoto: after working so hard to maintain his lead he ran wide a few corners later and the pursuing pair of Lapierre and Lopez were eagerly through for the final podium positions.

And that’s how they finished: Hamilton saluted his adoring team as he was greeted by the checkered flag, crossing the line a second ahead of Lapierre, with Lopez further back in third.

Yoshimoto, inevitably gutted to see what he felt should be his first GP2 win stolen from him, was a bitterly disappointed fourth, with Carroll and Ammermuller closing out the points positions.

Championship leader Piquet was left empty handed as Gimmi Bruni claimed the point for fastest lap, and to add insult to injury the Brazilian was forced into the pits with one lap to go to retire.

With Barcelona just a week away, Piquet will have to redouble his efforts to stay ahead of Hamilton in the championship standings after the pair had a weekend of hell and heaven respectively at the Nurburgring.


Pos Driver Team Time
 1. Hamilton ART Grand Prix 41:18.772
 2. Lapierre Arden International + 1.034
 3. Lopez Super Nova International + 3.821
 4. Yoshimoto BCN Competicion + 10.682
 5. Carroll Racing Engineering + 11.646
 6. Ammermueller Arden International + 14.193
 7. Negrao Piquet Sports + 19.611
 8. Piccione DPR Direxiv + 21.478
 9. Fauzy Super Nova International + 37.310
10. Monfardini DAMS + 37.601
11. Viso iSport International + 38.266
12. Gommendy iSport International + 38.899
13. Di Grassi Durango + 42.126
14. Valles Campos Racing + 46.117
15. Perera DAMS + 50.908
16. Bruni Trident Racing + 77.955
17. Premat ART Grand Prix + 87.512
18. Tahinci FMS International + 95.744
19. Piquet Jr. Piquet Sports + 1 LAP
20. Villa Racing Engineering + 1 LAP


 Driver Team Laps
 Glock BCN Competicion 13
 Porteiro Campos Racing 11
 Filippi FMS International 6
 Pla DPR Direxiv 5
 Hernandez Durango 0
 Zuber Trident Racing 0

Fastest lap: Premat, 1:40.983 on lap 22  GP2 Series

News in brief from Nurburg News in brief from Nurburg(GMM) Toro Rosso's Scott Speed lived up to his name at the Nurburgring by earning a $2750 fine for speeding in pit lane.

Much like Saturday, more mild and pleasant German weather is forecast for grand prix day at the Nurburgring track. The chance of rain remains at 20 per cent.

FOM apologized for the timing error and phantom red flag of qualifying, but insisted that the fault was with the F1 circuit's 'starting lights panel', not the system operated by Bernie Ecclestone's company.

Fernando Alonso's pole position lap time (1.29.819) was, incredibly, actually faster than in 2005 (Nick Heidfeld, 1.30.081), despite the loss of about 200 horse power with the V8 engines. ''These are the best F1 cars I have even driven,'' veteran Jacques Villeneuve enthused.

Before exiting the paddock on Saturday evening, Red Bull principal Christian Horner was asked who he thought would win the GP. ''(Fernando) Alonso,'' he bluntly said.

It is rumored at the Nurburgring that Super Aguri would like to put Yuji Ide, replaced in Germany by Frenchman Franck Montagny, back in the seat as quickly as next week's GP in Spain. This is very unlikely, but some sponsorship of the Honda-backed team is understood to be dependant on an all-Japanese driver line-up.

Reigning champion Fernando Alonso's upcoming home race in Barcelona is sold out. A record 130,000 seats on Sunday at 'Circuit de Catalunya' will be full.

Bernie Ecclestone says he is hopeful of convincing F1's eleven teams to back a proposal to immediately tweak the 'knockout' qualifying format. ''I don't see why they wouldn't all agree,'' said the formula one boss.

'Dell' stickers adorned BMW-Sauber's 2006 car - on the front of the side pods - at the Nurburgring for the first time on Saturday. The computer brand was involved with BMW at Le Mans in 1999, and also in 'Formula BMW' and the World Touring Car category.

GP record hurting image, says Button GP record hurting image, says Button(GMM) Honda's Jenson Button has admitted that constant reports of his failure to win a race despite more than 100 grands prix is hurting his image.

The Briton, outqualified for the first time this year by resurgent teammate Rubens Barrichello at the Nurburgring, explained that the German circuit is probably his least favorite on the calendar.

And he insisted: ''Nobody would do a better job than me in this car.

''It doesn't help my reputation being asked the same question so often because it is a negative thing,'' said Button.

A slightly negative perception about 26-year-old Button, meanwhile, is now permeating into the paddock. Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger says Honda's racer has not 'taken that extra step' towards Michael Schumacher, but added that Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen have.

All the while, veteran Barrichello - who struggled hugely to adapt from his former Ferrari team - started the slow but steady climb back onto JB's pace.

He said in Germany: ''I don't care when people have things to say about me. It does not weaken me.

''Every race is a new way to make things better.

''I don't know what we are going to (achieve in the race) but I am still a happy person, I'm calm.''

F1 chiefs apologize for timing blunder F1 chiefs apologize for timing blunder(GMM) Formula One Management (FOM) apologized for a timing blooper that imposed pandemonium on qualifying at the Nurburgring.

''I really hope the organizers have an explanation for that,'' said MF1's Tiago Monteiro, one of a handful of racers who copped the working end of the phantom red flag.

Team boss Colin Kolles vowed to take the matter further, but Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner - whose Christian Klien was also affected - said he would not be taking it up with stewards.

MF1's chief engineer Dominic Harlow suggested that the FOM's apology was not enough.

He explained: ''Maybe they should have allowed more cars into the second session to make up for it, or perhaps considered extending the first session.''

Austrian Klien, meanwhile, let fly with the expletives after the timing blunder -- he used two in Red Bull's post-session review.

He was just as annoyed, though, with Super Aguri's Takuma Sato, who was hauled in front of the stewards to explain why he seemed to fail to check his mirrors for quicker cars.

Fisichella shouts at Villeneuve Fisichella shouts at VilleneuveUPDATE (GMM) Stewards at the Nurburgring justified Giancarlo Fisichella's anger during qualifying by penalizing Jacques Villeneuve for blocking him.

The French Canadian, driving a BMW-Sauber, will drop down the European GP grid after holding up Fisichella's Renault on a flying lap.

''He did not say sorry when I spoke to him,'' Roman Fisichella, who had wildly stomped into the BMW garage to vent his fury, said in Germany.

He also used words like 'unacceptable' and 'unprofessional', although Villeneuve - who insisted that the incident was not deliberate - has actually been driving impressively so far in 2006.

Williams' Mark Webber, meanwhile, indicated that the saga might reveal more about Fisichella than Villeneuve, the 1997 champion.

''It just sums up that he's feeling the heat,'' said the Australian.

05/06/06 Giancarlo Fisichella was eliminated in the second heat of the qualifying session for the European Grand Prix at Nürburgring. The Italian was 'blocked' after the BMW Sauber of Jacques Villeneuve. Fisichella got out of his car and furiously walked towards the BMW Sauber garage to shout at the Canadian that he was a "bastardo".....that's bastard in English.

Right - A frustrated Fisichella storms down to Villeneuve's garage.  He's fighting to keep his job at Renault next year and he took his frustration out on Villeneuve who did not appear to block him as Fisichella was never close enough. Photo courtesy of Renault.

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