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Sprint Cup race at Darlington Sold Out
For the fourth consecutive time since the race moved to Mother's Day weekend in May 2005, reserved grandstand seating for the 2008 Dodge Challenger 500 is a sellout, Darlington Raceway President Chris Browning announced today. "The staff at Darlington Raceway has worked harder than ever to reach a sellout crowd for the 2008 Dodge Challenger 500," said Browning. "Four consecutive sellout crowds for the Dodge Challenger 500 shows the overwhelming support we receive from NASCAR fans in South Carolina, the United States and around the world." Race tickets have been sold in 50 states, including Alaska and Hawaii, and the District of Columbia as well as several countries around the world. Infield admissions for Saturday's Dodge Challenger 500 are still available and can be purchased by calling 866-459-RACE. Darlington Raceway PR


NASCAR claims electrical fire caused fatal plane crash
NASCAR officials claim an electrical fire caused a fatal plane crash near Orlando last year that killed two aboard the aircraft and three on the ground, but federal investigators do not necessarily agree with that claim. The NASCAR accident summary is included in Friday's release of reports by the National Transportation Safety Board into the July 10 [2007] crash of the NASCAR airplane. It claims the pilots were overcome by fumes and were incapacitated. The NTSB says it is still investigating the crash, with a final report of the cause likely in the summer. NTSB reports say a radar unit malfunctioned and caused a burning smell the day before the crash, but NASCAR claims the radar unit did not cause the fire that led to the crash. NASCAR's insurance company earlier this year reached a settlement with a man whose wife and 6-month-old son were killed when their home was hit by the plane. The crash also killed NASCAR pilot Michael Klemm and the husband of a NASCAR executive, as well as a 4-year-old child in the second house that was hit. Associated Press


Indiana hopes to cash in on unification
Race fans enjoyed a break in the weather Friday, crowding into the Speedway for "Fast Friday".

Video from Chopper 13 showed traffic back-ups along 16th Street, trying to get into Indianapolis Motor Speedway to catch the action before the rain came back. With this year's merger with ChampCar, there's a renewed interest in the racing that Indianapolis made famous.

"There is a lot more people talking about open-wheel racing than ever before," said fan Mike Wilhelm. Fans are already seeing - and feeling - the benefits of uniting the sport. "Ticket sales will increase, people will watch more on TV," said Bruce Miller.

Fans, drivers and sponsors fled the sport during the 12-year split between the Indy Racing League and ChampCar. Even the Indianapolis 500 struggled to fill its 33-car field. While 40 cars entered this year's race, Speedway president Tony George is cautious about meeting fan's expectations.

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2009 CTS-V Blisters Nurburgring
Breaks 8-minute barrier, fastest documented lap time for a production sedan

Cadillac CTS-V
In testing this morning at Germany's Nurburgring, Cadillac's upcoming new 2009 CTS-V completed a lap of the legendary Nordschleife in 7:59.32. This blistering time appears to be the fastest ever publicly documented for a production sedan.

Cadillac is nearing the completion of testing of the highly anticipated CTS-V, the limited-edition high-performance model based on the award-winning CTS sport sedan. John Heinricy, GM Performance Division executive and an acclaimed racing driver, piloted the CTS-V through its sub-8 minute lap today. The car itself was equipped exactly as planned for consumer production, which is scheduled to begin this fall.

Estimated at 550-hp, the CTS-V is at the moment going through the final stages of intensive testing and development. One of the realistic objectives of the Cadillac team is to make the CTS-V the world's fastest production sedan, as a part of the overall goal to make the V-Series Cadillac's ultimate expression of performance and technology. More updates will be released in the coming weeks as testing is finalized, including the car's certified SAE power ratings, acceleration specifications and U.S.-market pricing.

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Dixon tops Indy speeds before rain hits
Scott Dixon, Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan turned the fastest laps Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway before heavy rains cancelled practice yet again.  More later....

Friday Speeds


Driver Diff Gap Best Time Best Speed
1 Scott Dixon (9) ... ... 39.6531 226.968
2 Marco Andretti (26) 0.0452 0.0452 39.6983 226.710
3 Tony Kanaan (11) 0.0491 0.0039 39.7022 226.688
4 Ryan Briscoe (6) 0.1447 0.0956 39.7978 226.143
5 Hideki Mutoh (27) 0.1716 0.0269 39.8247 225.990
6 Dan Wheldon (10) 0.2275 0.0559 39.8806 225.674
7 Vitor Meira (4T) 0.3805 0.1530 40.0336 224.811
8 Danica Patrick (7) 0.3925 0.0120 40.0456 224.744
9 Tomas Scheckter (12) 0.3981 0.0056 40.0512 224.712
10 Ryan Hunter-Reay (17) 0.5030 0.1049 40.1561 224.125
11 Helio Castroneves (3) 0.5226 0.0196 40.1757 224.016
12 Buddy Rice (15) 0.5986 0.0760 40.2517 223.593
13 Alex Lloyd (16) 0.6065 0.0079 40.2596 223.549
14 Townsend Bell (99) 0.6122 0.0057 40.2653 223.518
15 Graham Rahal (06) 0.6530 0.0408 40.3061 223.291
16 Oriol Servia (5) 0.7014 0.0484 40.3545 223.023
17 A.J. Foyt IV (2) 0.7092 0.0078 40.3623 222.980
18 Darren Manning (14) 0.7509 0.0417 40.4040 222.750
19 Ed Carpenter (20) 0.7856 0.0347 40.4387 222.559
20 Justin Wilson (02) 0.8038 0.0182 40.4569 222.459
21 Will Power (8) 0.8308 0.0270 40.4839 222.311
22 EJ Viso (33) 0.8701 0.0393 40.5232 222.095
23 Sarah Fisher (67) 0.8915 0.0214 40.5446 221.978
24 Davey Hamilton (22) 1.0661 0.1746 40.7192 221.026
25 Bruno Junqueira (18) 1.0851 0.0190 40.7382 220.923
26 Max Papis (44) 1.1763 0.0912 40.8294 220.429
27 Marty Roth (25) 1.3925 0.2162 41.0456 219.268
28 Milka Duno (23) 1.4371 0.0446 41.0902 219.030
29 Jay Howard (24) 1.4482 0.0111 41.1013 218.971
30 Mario Moraes (19) 1.5759 0.1277 41.2290 218.293
31 Mario Dominguez (96) 1.6469 0.0710 41.300 217.918
32 Jaime Camara (36T) 1.9869 0.3400 41.6400 216.138
33 Enrique Bernoldi (36) 2.2448 0.2579 41.8979 214.808

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske): “I guess Mother Nature is just not cooperating with us this week. It's too bad we couldn't run more today. I would have liked to have done a few more things out there, but I still think we're in good shape for tomorrow. I'm not concerned with the other drivers' speeds today, because I think a lot of them were getting tows. It'll be interesting to see who has what during qualifying tomorrow. It is what it is, and it's the same for everyone. We'll use the short practice session in the morning to our advantage and see what we can do. It would be the best birthday present tomorrow if I could put the #3 Team Penske car on the front row.” (Castroneves turns 33 tomorrow)

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Lloyd and Dominguez crash at Indy UPDATE “I am really disappointed.  I was returning to the track for our second full run and I exited too fast coming out of the pits. I lost the rear of the car and crashed into the inside wall.    I got a few laps at speed and this is so unfortunate because we were on the way to making our car better.  Everyone is telling me to keep my patience.  We are already behind and I guess I was trying to rush it back out there.  We are working hard and we have a lot of work to do.” Mario Dominguez

Lloyd went hard into the Turn 1 fence just after logging his best lap of the day (223.549mph/40.2596 seconds), inflicting heavy damage to the #16 car. Lloyd was awake and alert at the IMS infield care center, but went to Methodist Hospital for precautionary tests - which came back negative- after complaining of neck pain as well as a headache. Rahal Letterman Racing will issue updates as conditions warrant.

Mario Dominguez Spins
Mike Young/IRL
Rookies Mario Dominguez and Alex Lloyd became the second and third drivers to crash this week when they had two separate accidents at about 1:30 p.m. during today's practice session.

Lloyd's wreck was more severe, prompting last year's Firestone Indy Lights champion to be taken off the track on a stretcher. As the 23-year-old Brit headed high into the first turn, he spun and slammed into the SAFER barrier with his left rear.

Alex Lloyd crashes
Mike Young/IRL
The impact ripped off the left wing of his No. 16 Chip Ganassi Racing car and shot sparks along the track.

His car continued down the south chute and hit the second turn, nearly ripping off the left tires.

Lloyd was taken out of the car, put on a stretcher and taken to the infield hospital.

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Notes from Indy - 2
As reported in Notes - 1, the rain that was headed toward Indy from the West has reached the track.  The heavy rain means the rest of today's activities will be washed out.


Notes from Indy - 1
A neck brace was put on Alex Lloyd after he crashed, and he was taken to the track's hospital before he was transported to Methodist Hospital complaining of neck pain..........Danica Patrick ran over Chuck Buckman on pit lane.  He was crew member for Dale Coyne Racing.  Buckman suffered a concussion and facial cuts in the incident, which happened at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at about 2 p.m.  Patrick was driving on pit lane when she struck Buckman, who is not a member of Patrick's team and was trying to examine one of Coyne's cars. The impact threw Buckman into the air, and he struck his head on the ground .............Reports of rain headed toward Indy again, not sure we will get a full day of practice in......An interesting theory/rumor in the paddock was related to why Penske moved his team from CART to the IRL.  The theory presented by an unnamed source was that Penske was on the board of ISC and part of the 'oval track cartel.'  CART was moving away from ovals and towards road racing.  Penske and the France family thought the IRL could bring big crowds to races at ISC tracks and make them more money.  That is why Penske jumped to the IRL.  It was all about money and greed.  In hindsight we all know the IRL failed on most of those ISC ovals.  This person who had this theory thought that the France family used Penske as a pawn to lure in the IRL to their tracks so they can kill off the races with little to no promotion and make open wheel racing look bad, which of course made NASCAR look good. In reality the split had as much or more to do with those races failing, but it’s an interesting theory nonetheless.


Button - I'll be with Honda in 2009
Jenson Button
(GMM)  Jenson Button on Friday said he will still be a Honda driver in 2009.

It is understood that the 28-year-old's current deal with the Brackley based squad runs out at the end of this season.

But although apparently now pledging to stay next year, the Englishman refused to rule out switching to another team at some point in the future.

"Everybody's got imagination and nobody can see into the future," Button is quoted as saying by F1's official website.

"For the moment I am very happy with where I am and I will be with Honda next season.  And that is what I am concentrating on," he added.

Button, whose only win was scored at the wheel of a Honda in Hungary two years ago, made his debut as a 20-year-old with Williams in 2000.

Honda's team CEO Nick Fry said at the Australian grand prix this year that the two sides are working towards a new deal for 2009.

"He's certainly someone we want on our side," he said, adding that Button's management and Honda chiefs would likely sit down "later this year".


92nd Indy 500 - Team Penske annual press conference
Team Penske
Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castroneves, Tim Cindric, Rick Mears, Roger Penske

PAT SULLIVAN: Welcome. This is always a special day in our Media Center when we have our annual visit from Team Penske. Obviously, it's been an interesting week thus far, and we're all anxious to get going. So we really appreciate all of you taking time out of your schedules before we get on the course.

We turn our attention to a team that's won here 14 times. They've won 12 championships, over 130 Indy-style races. It's a mark of excellence, and no one has sustained such excellence at this facility ever. Previous to that perhaps the Lou Moore Blue Crown teams were that mark, and that has since been surpassed by this team.

We'll turn our attention to Roger. Mr. Penske, first of all, I was thinking this morning you will be honored in the drivers' meeting, I believe, by the United States Auto Club with the Roger McCluskey Award of Excellence. That's for the many things you've done in the sport with the United States Auto Club, including being a champion in 1958 yourself. I was thinking to myself the famous line where a player of the Atlanta Hawks basketball team looked at their legendary coach Lenny Wilkins and said, "Coach, did you ever play the game?" I wonder if your driving corps are aware that you, A, played the game and have been a champion at it yourself at it?

ROGER PENSKE: That was 50 years ago; most people weren't around at that time. Certainly the McCluskey Award is an honor for me. I knew Roger as a driver and knew him as he was very instrumental in USAC, and I'm very excited to receive that next week.

SULLIVAN: That's an important award and well deserved. I think I ask you this question nearly every year. When I go through the tunnel on Opening Day, I feel an excitement that I felt when I was a young person. You've been at the top of this game for a long time. Does the excitement or energy ever wane for being at Indianapolis?

PENSKE: I think every morning that we're here before the race, it's the same. You're on pins and needles, you're just trying to really anticipate what's going to happen and what did we forget. In fact, the more times you're here, it gets tougher and tougher because there's so many things you try to be sure on your checklist that you've taken care of. Certainly in the old days, we used to worry about would the engine start, did we scuff a piston, did we warm it up enough. Obviously, we have a lot more sophistication.

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Simona de Silvestro featured in Askmen.com
We thought this profile of Simona de Silvestro on Askmen.com might be of interest to you.  When Simona de Silvestro won the Atlantic race in the 2008 Long Beach Grand Prix, she became only the second woman in the world to do so (Katherine Legge was the first).  Danica Patrick, IRL hero and Superstar, tried but she failed.


Brawn shields Fry from Aguri collapse blame
(GMM) Team principal Ross Brawn has defended Honda team colleague Nick Fry amid suggestions the CEO worked to topple the satellite outfit Super Aguri.

Aguri Suzuki, and failed team savior Franz Josef Weigl commented this week that Fry, who appointed Brawn as his successor as Honda team principal for this year and beyond, was instrumental in Super Aguri's collapse.

"I am sure it is a very difficult time for Aguri. He has worked for two years on this project and he realized the end had come, and when he reflects on some of the things he said I am sure he will reflect differently," Brawn told a news conference in Istanbul on Friday.

Also on the scene of Sunday's Turkish grand prix, Fry himself insisted that he cannot be held responsible for Super Aguri's problems, despite rumors that he instructed Bernie Ecclestone to refuse the team access to the paddock this weekend.

Fry had also been openly dismissive of the proposed Weigl buyout, after earlier assisting his friend Martin Leach's ultimately failed Magma deal.

Brawn, insisting that the Magma deal was the only "viable solution", said: "What I saw was Nick making big efforts to keep the project alive."


News briefs from Turkey: Friday
(GMM)  Stewards at the Turkish grand prix punished Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella with a three position grid penalty after the Roman driver jumped the red light at the start of Friday morning practice at Istanbul.


Felipe Massa has rescinded his membership of the formula one drivers' union, the GPDA.

"I didn't always like the way it was run," the Ferrari driver told the Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The news follows hot on the heels of Grand Prix Drivers' Association stalwart Jarno Trulli's harsh criticism of other non-members, including Lewis Hamilton, Adrian Sutil and Massa's teammate and current world champion, Kimi Raikkonen.

"I think they just don't care about safety," Toyota racer Trulli said this week.


Australia's Mark Webber on Friday accepted "100 per cent" blame for crashing his Red Bull in afternoon practice at Istanbul on Friday.

"I didn't respect the green astroturf that sits on the outside of the track enough," he said, apologizing to his mechanics.


Speed Racer to sponsor Nationwide car
Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Speed Racer,” which opens today, will serve as the primary sponsor of SKI Motorsports/Stanton Barrett Motorsports’ NASCAR Nationwide Series No. 30 Chevrolet, driven by Stanton Barrett, for Friday’s Diamond Hill Plywood 200 at Darlington Raceway.


After morning troubles Raikkonen tops PM times
Kimi Raikkonen recovered from transmission problems in his Ferrari in morning practice to lead the way in today's second session in Istanbul ahead of Sunday's Turkey Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver beat McLaren's Lewis Hamilton to the top spot by just 0.036 seconds, with Raikkonen's teammate Felipe Massa third ahead David Coulthard (Red Bull) and Hamilton's teammate Heikki Kovalainen.



Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:27.543 0.000 30
2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.579 0.036 31
3. Massa Ferrari 1:27.682 0.139 29
4. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:27.763 0.220 24
5. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.954 0.411 27
6. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:28.431 0.888 29
7. Trulli Toyota 1:28.619 1.076 29
8. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:28.664 1.121 27
9. Alonso Renault 1:28.681 1.138 26
10. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:28.817 1.274 31
11. Button Honda 1:28.826 1.283 28
12. Glock Toyota 1:28.849 1.306 26
13. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:28.907 1.364 29
14. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:29.008 1.465 35
15. Barrichello Honda 1:29.024 1.481 22
16. Piquet Renault 1:29.212 1.669 26
17. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:29.462 1.919 30
18. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:29.630 2.087 32
19. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:29.633 2.090 4
20 Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:30.832 3.289 9


Massa leaves GPDA
Felipe Massa has left the Grand Prix Drivers' Association as he doesn't like the way the body is run. This was reported by the Italian newspaper 'Gazzetta dello Sport' today. Massa now joins Raikkonen, Hamilton and Sutil on the list of drivers who are not a member of the GPDA.

Felipe Massa was quoted by the 'Gazzetta dello Sport': "I agree with the good things the GPDA does and I was part of it, but I left because I didn't always like the way it was run."


Pantano tops GP2 practice in Turkey
Giorgio Pantano topped the times in the 30-minutes of free practice at Istanbul Park on Friday morning for round two of the GP2 Series.

The Italian's Racing Engineering machine outpaced the Piquet Sports duo of Andi Zuber and Pastor Maldonado.



Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Pantano Racing Engineering 1:33.815 0.0000 11
2. Zuber Piquet Sports 1:34.010 0.195 15
3. Maldonado Piquet Sports 1:34.373 0.558 14
4. Grosjean ART Grand Prix 1:34.547 0.732 13
5. Petrov Campos Team 1:34.689 0.874 13
6. Soucek Super Nova Racing 1:34.835 1.020 15
7. Valsecchi Durango 1:34.952 1.137 15
8. Senna iSport International 1:34.969 1.154 16
9. Villa Racing Engineering 1:34.986 1.171 13
10. Kobayashi Dams 1:34.989 1.174 16
11. Chandhok iSport International 1:35.055 1.240 14
12. Parente Super Nova Racing 1:35.070 1.255 15
13. Carroll FMS International 1:35.228 1.413 15
14. Filippi ART Grand Prix 1:35.269 1.454 14
15. Buemi Trust Team Arden 1:35.297 1.482 15
16. D'Ambrosio Dams 1:35.433 1.618 15
17. Conway Trident Racing 1:35.456 1.641 14
18. Rodriguez FMS International 1:35.476 1.661 12
19. Valerio Durango 1:35.502 1.687 15
20. Hanley Campos Team 1:35.567 1.752 13
21. Buurman Trust Team Arden 1:35.705 1.890 16
22. Pavlovic BCN Competicion 1:35.761 1.946 16
23. Ricci DPR 1:36.225 2.410 15


Webber crashes in Turkish practice
Mark Webber just before crashing his Red Bull this morning
Red Bull
(GMM)  Mark Webber brought out the red flags during afternoon practice for the Turkish grand prix on Friday by crashing his Red Bull.

The Australian crashed his Renault-powered single seater at turn six of Istanbul's Otodrom venue, sustaining significant front end damage to both corners of the car.

The RB4 was covered up by team members as it was returned to pitlane.

The session was restarted at 2.37pm local.


GM to pay up to $200 million to help resolve American Axle strike
General Motors Corp. today said it would give American Axle & Manufacturing Inc. as much as $200 million to help its resolve the UAW's strike at the Detroit-based supplier.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the automaker, which has had to idle or cut production at as many as 31 plants during the course of the strike, said the money would help "fund employee buyouts, early retirements and buy-downs to facilitate a settlement of the work stoppage."

The UAW's strike of 3,650 workers at four American Axle plants is in its 11th week.

"We believe the offer will help bridge the gap between American Axle and the UAW and that they will be able to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement in the near future," GM spokesman Dan Flores said Thursday following the filing.

The offer from GM is "is predicated upon an expedited resolution," American Axle said in its own SEC filing Thursday.

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Gearbox problem for Raikkonen in Turkey
Kimi Raikkonen not happy about car troubles Friday morning
(GMM)  World champion Kimi Raikkonen was stranded in last place in Friday morning practice at Istanbul, following a gearbox problem.

The Finn managed only three laps in his F2008, but word from the pitlane is that the broken unit will be repaired rather than replaced ahead of the afternoon session at 2pm.

Raikkonen's troubles were in stark contrast to the fortunes of his teammate, Felipe Massa, who topped the time sheets, despite a few spins.


F1 reaches new video game licensing deal
(GMM)  Formula one has reached a new computer game licensing deal, with the British company Codemasters, gaming websites reported on Friday.

The news follows reports earlier this week that said Bernie Ecclestone was at odds with F1's previous game developer, Sony Computer Entertainment, who last produced an official title for the Playstation in 2006.

The gaming websites on Friday said Codemasters has already begun development of its first official F1 game, which will be available on multiple gaming platforms in 2009.

"This alliance with formula one is the jewel in Codemasters' racing crown," CEO Rod Cousens is quoted as saying.


Raikkonen: "I am finding my job easier this year"
Kimi Raikkonen, the winner of the last Grand Prix in Barcelona a fortnight ago arrived at the Istanbul Park circuit, where he won three years ago, admitted that he was more comfortable at Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro than last year. "For sure, I am finding my job easier this year as it is my second season with Ferrari," said the Finn. "The longer you work with people the more you understand them and how they operate, what they want to do and what they expect from you. Of course, the car is different this year, but the rest of the environment is the same and we know how to get the best out of the car."

As the championship leader after four rounds, Raikkonen can be happy with the way the season is going, however, he insists his attitude does not change at all. "I want to win every race, but unfortunately that isn't always possible," he said. "But my attitude is always that I am trying to win. That is my approach to every race. Usually, after qualifying, you get a clearer picture of what you can expect. In Barcelona for example, it was a completely trouble free weekend right from the start which is very important and I was confident from the beginning. Then on Saturday, qualifying on pole was the key to a good Sunday. I got to the first corner first, then I pushed hard but felt it was under control all race long, although the Safety Car made life more complicated."

The season has not yet reached the end of its first quarter, but already the press are talking about titles. "I think it is too early in the season to start thinking about the Championship title," insisted Kimi. "We have often seen that the races in Monaco and Canada which come up next, can see situations change quickly. It is difficult to say how strong we will be there, but after those two races, then maybe we will start to see what we can expect for the rest of the season."

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Massa: "very close between me and Kimi"
Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa
Felipe Massa is well known in Turkey now and his local fans would have been pleased to hear his opening remarks at this afternoon's press conference, at the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro media unit: "I love this track and why wouldn't I as I have won here for the past two years!" began the Brazilian. "It is great fun to drive especially the quick sections. Having won here before it gives me a lot of confidence. I can't explain why I have done well here particularly. Yes, I like it, but I also like other circuits and I am quick at other circuits."

The more technically minded journalists were keen to find out about one change on the F2008 cars for this race. "Why no hole in the nose? Because it would bring no advantage in performance terms here," explained Massa. "We always said we would run at those tracks, such as Barcelona, where we felt it brought us this edge, but here, the nature of the track is different and we decided the more conventional nose was the one to use."

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Turkish GP: Mild temperatures all weekend
Weather forecasts predict perfect conditions for the Formula 1 drivers in Istanbul. This weekend's temperatures won't get much higher than 20 degrees Celsius on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday there is a small risk of light rain showers but the rest of the weekend should remain dry.

According to Meteorological Services the weather is going to be stable on Saturday and Sunday. Perhaps some cloud to begin the weekend on Saturday, though this will melt away quite quickly during the morning, with good sunny spells developing. A mixture of sunshine and larger areas of cloud cover in the afternoon, with just a small risk of catching an isolated, light rain shower.

On Sunday Atmospheric pressure continuing to rise. Long sunny periods throughout the morning and afternoon, with small amounts of cumulus cloud developing. Dry and fine weather expected.


Turkish GP: Massa fastest in opening practice
Felipe Massa means all business this weekend in Istanbul
Felipe Massa topped the times in the opening practice session on Friday morning for Sunday's Turkish GP Formula 1 race.

The Brazilian has won the past two Turkish Grands Prix and, looks keen on making it a hat-trick this weekend.

After coming back from a big shunt and concussion in Spain, Heikki Kovalainen, was ahead of his teammate Hamilton again
However, the Maranello team didn’t enjoy a trouble-free start as world champion Kimi Raikkonen suffering a gearbox problem and ending the session at the bottom of the timesheets.

Heikki Kovalainen made a return to the cockpit after his huge Spanish GP crash, setting the second fastest time, just 0.133s behind Massa.


1. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari 1:27.323
2. Heikki Kovalainen Finland McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.456
3. Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes 1:27.752
4. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault 1:28.284
5. Jenson Button Britain Honda 1:28.919
6. Kazuki Nakajima Japan Williams-Toyota 1:29.002
7. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber 1:29.024
8. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Honda 1:29.068
9. Nelson Piquet Brazil Renault 1:29.082
10. Timo Glock Germany Toyota 1:29.103
11. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota 1:29.329
12. Robert Kubica Poland BMW Sauber 1:29.330
13. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota 1:29.367
14. Adrian Sutil Germany Force India-Ferrari 1:29.756
15. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Force India-Ferrari 1:29.811
16. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1:30.088
17. David Coulthard Britain Red Bull-Renault 1:30.340
18. Sebastien Bourdais France Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:30.388
19. Sebastian Vettel Germany Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:30.426
20. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari 1:30.732


Latest F1 news in brief
  • New Safety Car rule could be in place for Monaco
  • Renault must confirm Barca pace - Alonso
  • Schu's son called 'Mika' in Germany
  • A quiet, slippery start in Turkey

New Safety Car rule could be in place for Monaco
(GMM)  A proposal to change the safety car rules could be in place in time for the Monaco grand prix in two weeks.

BMW motor sport director Mario Theissen in Istanbul admitted that his preferred solution would be to electronically limit the speed of cars upon deployment of the safety car, to prevent drivers from racing at high speed into the pits.

"This is not going to happen within the next few races," Theissen said.

The current rule, where the pitlane is simply closed after the deployment of the SC, is being criticized for unfairly punishing drivers who are out of fuel.

For now, FIA race director Charlie Whiting has proposed to simply impose a minimum time for caution sectors; a solution similar to the speed restrictions already in place for the formation laps prior to a grand prix, and the closing stages of 'Q3'.

"Charlie's proposal I think could be implemented immediately," Theissen explained.  "That would be better than the present situation."

The German said the hoped the new rule will be in place in Monaco.

"Yes, because there, the risk of a safety car is the highest," he said.

The issue was due to be discussed in the team managers' meeting here at Istanbul.

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Richmond TV Ratings up 5%
For the second straight week, NASCAR on Fox posted a year-to-year increase as Saturday's race from RICHMOND averaged a 4.5/9 (7.3 million viewers). That's up +5% over last year's 4.3/11, which aired on a Sunday due to a Saturday rain-out. This is FOX's best NASCAR rating for a Saturday night race since 2006. Saturday's race opened at a 4.0/9 at 7:51p, and peaked at a 5.5/11 from 11-11:30p. For the night, FOX was the top-rated network among both Households (4.3/8), and Adults 18-49 (2.5/9), easily outrating the competition. Remarkably, every time FOX has aired a Saturday night race over the last seven-plus years the race has won the night among Adults 18-49, a perfect 12 for 12 record. Season-to-date, Sprint Cup racing on FOX is averaging a 6.1/12 (10.1 million viewers), up +3% over last year's 5.9/13. Currently, Sprint Cup racing on FOX is the top-rated sport in season. Fox PR


Allmendinger best in second Cup practice
Red Bull Racing's AJ Allmendinger posted the fastest lap in Thursday's second Sprint Cup practice session at Darlington Raceway, topping the speed chart at 178.679 mph.  Hendrick Motorsports' Dale Earnhardt Jr. was second fastest at 178.640 mph followed by Bill Davis Racing's Dave Blaney at 178.620 mph.

Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch and Roush Fenway Racing's Greg Biffle completed the top five fastest speeds.

Pos Car # Driver Manu Time Speed
1 84 AJ Allmendinger Red Bull Toyota 27.522 178.679
2 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Mountain Dew/AMP Energy/National 27.528 178.640
3 22 Dave Blaney Caterpillar Toyota 27.531 178.620
4 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Indiana Jones Toyota 27.744 177.249
5 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford 27.834 176.676
6 70 Johnny Sauter Haas Automation Chevy 27.853 176.555
7 78 Joe Nemechek Furniture Row Racing Chevy 27.853 176.555
8 40 Sterling Marlin Dodge Challenger Dodge 27.868 176.460
9 99 Carl Edwards Claritin Ford 27.901 176.252
10 1 Martin Truex Jr. Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevy 27.908 176.208
11 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota 27.909 176.201
12 12 Ryan Newman alltel Dodge 27.910 176.195
13 20 Tony Stewart Home Depot Toyota 27.953 175.924
14 19 Elliott Sadler McDonald's Dodge 27.968 175.830
15 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevy 27.992 175.679
16 5 Casey Mears Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevy 28.010 175.566
17 2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge 28.028 175.453
18 9 Kasey Kahne Budweiser Dodge 28.053 175.297
19 96 J.J. Yeley DLP HDTV Toyota 28.065 175.222
20 44 David Reutimann UPS Toyota 28.097 175.022
21 8 Mark Martin U.S. Army Chevy 28.127 174.836
22 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevy 28.134 174.792
23 34 Jeff Green Chevy 28.141 174.749
24 28 Travis Kvapil Lafayette Ford Ford 28.144 174.730
25 29 Kevin Harvick Shell/Pennzoil Chevy 28.167 174.587
26 6 David Ragan AAA Insurance Ford 28.209 174.327
27 38 David Gilliland freecreditreport.com Ford 28.219 174.266
28 43 Bobby Labonte Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge 28.225 174.229
29 26 Jamie McMurray Crown Royal Ford 28.232 174.185
30 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Wrigley's Big Red Dodge 28.245 174.105
31 7 Robby Gordon Jim Beam Dodge 28.247 174.093
32 41 Reed Sorenson Target Dodge 28.298 173.779
33 77 Sam Hornish Jr. # Mobil 1 Dodge 28.300 173.767
34 00 Michael McDowell # Brain Cancer Action Week Toyota 28.350 173.460
35 15 Paul Menard Menards/Nibco Chevy 28.366 173.362
36 07 Clint Bowyer Jack Daniel's Chevy 28.380 173.277
37 83 Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota 28.389 173.222
38 45 Kyle Petty Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil Dodge 28.389 173.222
39 31 Jeff Burton AT&T Mobility Chevy 28.390 173.216
40 01 Regan Smith # Principal Financial Group/DEI Chevy 28.431 172.966
41 66 Scott Riggs State Water Heaters Chevy 28.454 172.826
42 55 Michael Waltrip NAPA Auto Parts Toyota 28.480 172.669
43 21 Bill Elliott Motorcraft Ford 28.498 172.559
44 10 Patrick Carpentier # LifeLock Dodge 28.515 172.457
45 17 Matt Kenseth DeWalt NANO Ford 28.684 171.441


Fans Can Join In Fun At 36th Indy 'Last Row Party'
After a full schedule of activities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Miller Lite Carb Day, Friday, May 23, race fans can eat, drink and laugh as three Indianapolis 500 drivers share the hot seat at the 36th Last Row Party.

The Last Row Party, scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. (ET) at the pavilion at Brickyard Crossing Inn, honors the drivers starting on the 11th and final row of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" with a dinner and roast. Brickyard Crossing Inn is located at 4400 W. 16th St., adjacent to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Turn 2.

One of the "500's" best peripheral events for fans, Last Row Party attendees can mingle with Indianapolis 500 drivers, share a laugh at the drivers' expense and support a great cause. Popular radio, television and IMS Public Address personality Bob Jenkins will serve as host. The event benefits the Indianapolis Press Club Foundation, which annually presents thousands of dollars in scholarships and cash-prizes for creative writing to journalism students attending colleges and universities in Indiana.

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Penske Racing opens doors to fans
On Friday, May 23 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., Penske Racing is opening its doors to all NASCAR, Indy car and American Le Mans Series fans for a special celebration surrounding race weeks at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.  Many exciting events are being planned for Penske Racing fans, including a special autograph session with NASCAR stars Kurt Busch, Sam Hornish Jr. and Ryan Newman.  In addition, attendees will be able to see a variety of racing machines that have propelled Penske Racing drivers into victory lane as well as the trophies they earned.

The nearly 425,000-square foot Penske Racing facility is located at 200 Penske Way, Mooresville, NC 28115.  This one-of-a-kind race shop houses all of Penske Racing’s winning motorsports efforts, from NASCAR Cup and Nationwide Series Dodge Chargers to the LMP2 Porsche RS Spyders of the American Le Mans Series to the legendary IndyCar Series Dallara/Honda racing machines.  With more than a million pounds of Italian floor tile, expansive fan viewing areas and special Kodak graphics chronicling Penske Racing’s history, the Penske Racing facility is unmatched in the United States and is considered one of the top race shops in the world. 

“The Penske Racing Fan Fest is a great way to not only give something back to our loyal fans, but give them a peek into our shops and show them what it takes to run championship-caliber teams,” said Jonathan Gibson, Vice President, Marketing, Penske Racing.  “We’re going to have a lot of fun with our NASCAR stars out in force and we also have some surprises in store for our special guests.”

Some highlights the fans will experience include:

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Go Daddy Starts Its Engine for Indy 500 TV Sponsorship – Again!
For the second year in a row, GoDaddy.com will be the presenting sponsor for the Indianapolis 500 television broadcast on ABC.

The sponsorship deepens the Web hosting and domain name provider’s relationship with auto racing fans. As part of the deal, GoDaddy.com will have its iconic branding on everything from broadcast segments to aerial and in-car views.

This year’s Indy 500 is shaping up to be a tremendous showdown with ‘Go Daddy Girl’ Danica Patrick on the track and in contention. Analysts have listed her as one to watch and the media have been on a coverage-frenzy since Danica’s historic IndyCar win last month, a first-ever for a woman.

“I feel very confident at Indy,” Danica said. “I’m especially proud Go Daddy is back again to sponsor the Indy 500 broadcast. They’re a company that knows how to do things right and Bob Parsons has been a tremendous supporter from the start.”

Parsons is the CEO and Founder of GoDaddy.com and says his decision to sponsor the broadcast was an easy one. “When you think of IndyCar racing, the first race that comes to mind is the Indianapolis 500,” Parsons said. “They don’t call it the Greatest Spectacle in Racing for nothing!”

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Drama builds for Indy pole as rain hits again
Rain hits Indy again
Ron McQueeney/IRL
For the first time since 2006, rain forced the cancellation of a second consecutive day of on-track activity at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The lack of track time adds to the drama and tension as teams prepare for qualifying for the Indianapolis 500.

A key moment in the month-long pursuit to become the Indianapolis 500 champion comes May 10 when drivers compete for the top 11 starting positions for the 92nd running of the 500-Mile Race, including the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award presented by AutoZone and it’s $100,000 prize.

But, for the 11 drivers who don’t qualify on Pole Day, there’s still hope. Three times in the last 10 years, the winner has come from outside the top 11 spots.

Eddie Cheever Jr. drove to Victory Lane from the 17th starting position in 1998. Helio Castroneves won from 13th in 2002, and Dan Wheldon started 16th when he won in 2005.

“Your primary goal at this race is to win the race,” said Wheldon, who led 30 laps in 2005. “You can get very caught up in qualifying, and it’s a very proud achievement for everyone on the team to be on pole for the race. You have to make a very disciplined approach to that and understand that if your car is not necessarily a pole contender, you can waste a lot of tires trying to do that.”

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Fired for cheating, Curry hired by Roth Racing
Roth Racing has hired IndyCar Series veteran Larry Curry as chief engineer. Curry comes to Roth Racing from Vision Racing, where he was the team manager.

As chief engineer, Curry will not only oversee the setups for the Nos. 24 and 25 race cars driven by Jay Howard and Marty Roth, respectively, but also will set about restructuring the engineering department.

MARTY ROTH (Roth Racing, Owner/Driver): “Having a person of Larry’s experience join our organization, especially as the month of May and the most important race of the season is upon is, should be a huge boost to us all. Although we realize that changing team personnel at the season’s fifth race may put us slightly behind the 8-ball as we head into the first weekend of qualifying at Indy, we feel that the knowledge and leadership that Larry brings to the team will only make us better as we continue to develop our program and strive to become more competitive at each race. Our team has made huge strides this year. We’ve added a second car with Jay Howard, who passed his rookie orientation on Sunday, and at the last race in Kansas we posted the best-ever qualifying effort in team history. We fully expect that as the season progresses we will continue to develop and run further toward the front.”

LARRY CURRY: “I had a great three-and-a-half years at Vision Racing, and I want to thank Tony George for his support over the years. I now look forward to a long tenure with Roth Racing and to the challenges of helping to build the team into a competitive, first-class organization.”


Krohn Racing Announces New Team Partner
Krohn Racing announces a new team partner for the No. 75 and No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lolas with BryanMark Financial Group. BryanMark logos will run on both Krohn cars beginning at the Monterey Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, on May 17, 2008.

BryanMark Financial Group Joins Krohn Racing
“We are pleased to announce that BryanMark has joined Krohn Racing as a sponsor partner. Their niche business is a good fit with the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series,” said Krohn Racing team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn. “We are looking forward to working with them and introducing them to the Grand-Am Series Prototype level. With BryanMark’s astute knowledge of financial services and the Krohn Racing team’s desire to win, we look forward to sharing many successes.”

Nick Bellon, a Partner and Director of Business Development at BryanMark Financial Group, is enthusiastic about being involved with Krohn Racing. “In addition to the fact that I like racing, the Grand-Am Rolex Series and Krohn Racing are a good fit for us demographically. We wanted to align ourselves with both an elite DP and GT team and found a good match in Tracy Krohn and Johnny Stevenson of Stevenson Racing. Tracy is running a very serious racing program with the new Lolas. Tracy owns the team and is also driving the car. Additionally, he is a fairly high-profile business owner. Aligning ourselves with an individual team like Tracy and Krohn Racing is a good fit for us branding and marketing-wise.”

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Sarah Fisher has lost her primary Indy 500 sponsor UPDATE Sarah Fisher Racing (SFR) today announced that Milwaukee based Direct Supply, Inc., the nation’s leading supplier of equipment and ecommerce solutions to long-term healthcare communities, will sponsor the No. 67 Honda powered Dallara driven by IndyCar Series veteran Sarah Fisher in the upcoming Indianapolis 500. 

“I’m honored to have Direct Supply’s support of our team,” said Fisher, who will attempt to qualify for her seventh Indianapolis 500 this weekend.  “Working with Bob Hillis and the entire group at Direct Supply has been great thus far and we look forward to helping grow their business.”

Direct Supply, who returns as a sponsor at the Indianapolis 500 for the third time, is new to SFR and Fisher, 27, of Commercial Point, Ohio.  Showcasing years of dedication to the sport, Fisher, who became the first female to start from the pole position in an IndyCar Series race, mirrors Direct Supply’s corporate values in commitment, success and drive. Direct Supply is proud to sponsor Fisher as the first female owner/driver in IndyCar Series history.

05/08/08 Sarah Fisher's face briefly lit up as her iPhone buzzed to life on a table inside her motor home Wednesday.

The glow faded when the incoming phone number popped up on the screen.

"That'd have been nice if that was the check clearing, but it's not," she said with a smile.

Perhaps Fisher could joke because it's not the first time she has been put on hold by a sponsor. After several seasons in which a lack of funding sidelined her as a driver, she now is dealing with the predicament as a driver-owner.

Since forming Sarah Fisher Racing in February, the fastest woman to qualify at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (a 229.439-mph average in 2002) has struggled to kick the fledgling Indy Racing League team into gear financially.

An energy drink company was signed as a primary sponsor for the Indianapolis 500 and races at Kentucky Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway, but Fisher said a deadline passed last week without payment.

When she made 16 laps on the opening day of practice Tuesday, the sidepods of her No. 67 Dallara-Honda were lacking for logos.

"It's a very stressful situation," she said. "My attorney has been talking to them, and it's a friendly conversation right now. I don't have anything against them, but pay your bills.

"They're saying, 'Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.' There comes a certain point of, 'Is it going to be tomorrow or not, guys?' There's nothing dishonest, and they're good people. We just have to figure out a resolution." More at USA Today


Hendrick Motorsports reopens museum
Check out Rick Hendrick's first Chevrolet. Watch a dissected Impala SS "Car of Tomorrow" being pieced together. See the cars and memorabilia of Casey Mears, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. These are just a few things visitors can do now that Hendrick Motorsports has reopened its museum. The 15,000-square-foot facility, which was closed the last four months for renovations, pays tribute to nearly 25 seasons of Hendrick Motorsports history and offers fans the latest in team-related apparel and merchandise. Admission to the museum is free of charge. Throughout the year, the museum will exhibit a rotating stable of famous Chevrolets -- such as an original All-Star Racing entry, multiple Daytona 500 champions and the inaugural Brickyard 400 winner. Featured currently are cars driven by Geoff Bodine, Tim Richmond, Ken Schrader and Ricky Hendrick, among others. Visitors will be met at the entrance by the Monte Carlo SS that Johnson drove at Homestead-Miami Speedway to clinch the 2007 Sprint Cup Series title. The Hendrick Motorsports museum is open to the public from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Visitors can find special announcements, extended race-week hours, driving directions and additional information related to the museum at www.HendrickMotorsports.com. HMS PR


Inclement Weather Cancels Track Activities at Indy again
For the second-consecutive day, periodic rain showers forced the cancellation of all on-track activities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Qualifying for the first 11 positions on the starting grid is scheduled for Saturday, May 10, beginning at 12 p.m. (EDT).  The 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 is Sunday, May 25.  ABC Sports will provide live broadcast coverage of the event beginning at 12 p.m. (EDT).

BUDDY RICE (No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing): (About the weather): “I don’t think it would be Indy if you didn’t have weather. I think that’s what makes this place so unique – you never know what you’re going to get. This track – its layout, the rules, the atmosphere – everything is unique. It wouldn’t be the month of May if we didn’t have some down time due to weather. The whole thing about this place is speed. If you can find a couple of tenths of a mile per hour by sitting there and looking at the car and cleaning it up and doing what you can, you’re going to do that. I don’t think any down time is necessarily good because I think all of us up here would just as soon be out there running right now and having to work late with the teams to make our cars faster. But at the same time, it’s just part of the month. This is a long, long month, but we’re all excited for the weekend and ready to get going.” (About how the team has run so far): “We rolled off the trailer on Tuesday in the top 10, and basically we were there for most of the time until we stopped running for a bit in the middle of the heat. We went back and made some changes and came back in the afternoon and jumped back up in there. For us to be rolling off the trailer the way we are, we’re in pretty good shape now. It benefits the teams and the personnel and the people who have been here. But I think it’s definitely different. It’s interesting to have 33 cars starting the month versus 20 or 22 like we’ve had in the past. To try to get clean laps and try to run open, it’s just not going to happen. We’ll have to see what happens with qualifying. It’s going to be fast, and the weather’s going to dictate how fast we run.”
JAIME CAMARA (No. 34 Sangari): “It’s really too bad that it rained again today. Yesterday didn’t bother me too much, but I was really looking forward to getting back into the car today to continue our preparation for qualifying this weekend. It sets us back on track time, but it’s the same for everybody. I think the weather should be better tomorrow, so hopefully we can get out there.”
ENRIQUE BERNOLDI (No. 36 Sangari Conquest Racing): “Obviously we need the track time to continue our development of the car, and this rain just isn’t helping. It makes for long days just sitting around waiting. I’m not used to this. I met with my engineer and then played some computer chess.” (Did you win?) “Of course.”

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Bernie puts positive spin on Aguri collapse
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone in Turkey tried to put a positive spin on the Super Aguri collapse, as his formula one grid dwindles to just ten teams.

"More room," he answered.

"It means we have a lot more room now because the teams are expanding like crazy with their hospitality units and their trucks and everything.  We're always running out of room," the F1 chief executive is quoted as saying by PA Sport.

The prescribed maximum for F1 is twelve teams.

"We're not looking for twelve teams, we're looking for ten," he said.

Ecclestone, 77, had been touted as a potential savior of the Leafield based outfit, and its administrators this week expressed confidence that the outfit might be sold as a going concern.

But, presumably given the team's reportedly $100m debt to Honda, the Briton said he baulked at the price tag.

"I didn't want to put in 100 million, which is what was needed," Ecclestone said.

"For somebody else it might have been okay, but it wasn't for me."

Ecclestone is not confident that the administrators will find a buyer.

"There are a lot of people walking around with a begging bowl," he acknowledged.


Historic IMSA Cars Racing at Monterey Festival of Speed
Porsche 935
Legendary race cars such as the Porsche 935, the “Spirit of Sebring” Greenwood Corvette, and Jaguar XJR-5 will duke it out much as they did in contributing to the incomparable history of world-renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s famed 2.238-mile permanent road course during the Monterey Festival of Speed May 16-18.

The sleek IMSA cars of 1974-1982 vintage will grace the twists and turns of the fabled track just as they did during one of the great eras of racing in the world and add to the diversity of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s 2008 season-opening event that will also feature some of the latest and greatest in both open- and closed-wheel racing.

Included in the fabulous opening weekend will be the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, the Cooper Tires Presents the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda and Formula BMW USA.

In their day, these IMSA race cars featured advanced design and technology for their time.  Now, they can be considered the predecessors of the current crop of closed-cockpit race cars.

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Toyota quarterly profit drops 28 percent
Toyota's profit for the January-March quarter sank 28 percent from the previous year as a strengthening yen and lagging North American sales chipped away at the Japanese automaker's earnings.

Toyota, the maker of the Prius gas-electric hybrid and Camry sedan, forecast even tougher times ahead. For the current fiscal year through March 2009, it said Thursday that it expects sales to drop for the first time in nine years -- and net profit to plunge 27 percent.

The pessimistic outlook for this year underlines how even Toyota -- with its small cars reputed for good gas mileage -- hasn't emerged unscathed from the risks of a global slowdown, a U.S. credit crunch, volatile currency fluctuations and soaring material and energy costs.

"We are facing a severe business environment," Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe said. "Toyota considers this headwind as a valuable opportunity to turn it into a more flexible and stronger company."


Best engines in world?  BMW Turbos win title again
[Editor's Note: Turbo and Supercharged engines are becoming more common on passenger vehicles, largely because they are superior to normally aspirated engines.....so the rumors that the IRL's next car might have a turbocharged engine sits well with a lot of people.  NASCAR on the other hand still runs carburetors (hilarious) and it took years for them to get the lead out of their gasoline.  Clearly that is one organization out of touch with the rest of the world.  With gasoline prices hitting $4 per gallon and heading toward $5 and higher, newer technologies (including small displacement turbo and superchargers in increasing numbers) will make their way into passenger automobiles and NASCAR will fall further behind to the point fans will have little connection to NASCAR's formula and manufacturers a diminishing reason to use NASCAR to help sell cars.]

With six awards for five engines gained at this year’s “International Engine of the Year Awards”, BMW has successfully defended its position as the world’s leading manufacturer of efficient high-performance power units. For the second time in succession, the 3-liter inline six engine with Twin Turbo and High Precision Injection has won the overall ranking in this most significant international engine competition. In addition, the 300 hp engine employed in the BMW 3 Series and 5 Series, the BMW 1 Series Coupe and Convertible, as well as the new BMW X6, repeated last year’s victory in the 2.5 to 3-liter engine category.

Only one engine had previously ever succeeded in repeating overall victory at the “International Engine of the Year Awards”: the 5-litre V10 high-revving engine employed in the BMW M5 Sedan, M6 Coupe and M6 Convertible received top honors in 2005 and 2006. This year the 500 hp high-end power unit won the “Above 4-liter” category. BMW M GmbH was successful in posting another winner: the 414 hp V8 engine in the new BMW M3 won the category for engines in the 3 to 4 liter category. Furthermore, the 2-liter four-cylinder diesel with Variable Twin Turbo technology employed in the BMW 123d received the award for “Best New Engine” of the 2008. And the 1.6-liter four cylinder with Twin Scroll Turbocharger and direct gas injection employed in the MINI Cooper S managed to repeat last year’s win in the 1.4 to 1.8 liter class.

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The Rahals review Speed Racer movie
TheMag.com asked Bobby Rahal, winner of the 1986 Indianapolis 500 and owner of IndyCar Series team Rahal Letterman Racing, and his son Graham Rahal, recent winner of the IndyCar Series Honda Grand Prix, to take a break from Indy 500 preparations to watch a special screening of the new movie, "Speed Racer," which opens nationwide on May 9. This is what they had to say. As told to David Higdon

Graham: The movie revolves around a family of racers, so obviously that struck a chord given my background. Speed decides to stick with his family's team as is the case here in the IndyCar Series with Marco Andretti [who races for his father Michael's team]. But I'm doing just the opposite. Dad always told me to do my own thing, carve my own path. I get asked every day why I don't drive for my father's team, but right now, driving for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing is the best thing for us.

Bobby: Graham says it was his destiny to be a race driver but I never pushed him into it. Just like the main character in Speed Racer, from the moment he was a kid Graham loved cars and racing. He even watched videotapes of old races with me just like the father-son in the movie.

Graham: Well, I certainly never watched Speed Racer, and maybe that's why I was so bored with the movie because I couldn't follow the plot. Of course, I understood the family story line and the Racer X stuff and all that, but the rest of it? What a mess.

Bobby: I suspect you would have to be a religious Speed Racer fan to make much sense of it, but even still, this is a movie that I imagine mostly kids will enjoy, not their parents who grew up on the cartoon. The kids might like the racing scenes. Personally, the computer animation graphics assaulted my senses.

Graham: I hoped the racing was going to be more realistic, but there was nothing realistic about it. Well, I shouldn't say that. When Speed won the race and downed the milk, that's what drivers do after winning the Indy 500. So that was cool, and I hope to be doing that someday.

Bobby: Kids may like the fantasy element, but I felt it was over the top.

Graham: And when they weren't racing, the dialogue was dull and cheesy. I was drawn into the racing scenes, but they got repetitive. I could hardly sit through the movie. I felt every minute of the two hours.

Bobby: Only highlight for me was that there was nothing about NASCAR in it.


BCN team parts ways with Nocera
BCN Competicion and Paolo Maria Nocera announced today the end of their collaboration by mutual consent. Their partnership started last December and had Nocera entering the 2008 GP2 Series Championship in Barcelona two weeks ago. The Team expressed their gratitude to Nocera for his contribution and wished him all the best for the rest of his career.

For the remainder of the season, BCN Competicion reached an agreement with Adrian Valles. The Spaniard will be behind the wheel of the number 26 car, starting from the Istanbul´s round which will take place this weekend. Valles is the first Spanish driver to compete for this team.


News briefs from Turkey: Thursday
(GMM)  According to the odd taxi driver in Istanbul, this weekend's Turkish grand prix could be a wet one.  For now, however, the official forecasts are for some showers on Friday, but otherwise a cool and dry Saturday and Sunday.


BMW-Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld is suffering from an irritating bout of hay-fever.


F1 stewards at the Otodrom venue confirmed that, because of the downfall of Super Aguri and the reduction of the field to just 20 runners, only five drivers will drop out at the end of the 'Q1' and 'Q2' segments in qualifying.  Previously, six of the 22 cars dropped out in each of the sessions, leaving the ten qualifiers in the final top-ten runout.


Hamilton hangs around with Trojan Horse
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton left onlookers bewildered on Thursday as he hung from a wire amid the backdrop of a huge Trojan horse on a Turkish theatre stage.

As reported, the McLaren driver was making a guest appearance at 'Troya'; an historical theatre show by a local folkdance troupe, before moving on to Istanbul to prepare for this weekend's grand prix.

But rather than donning the historic garb of Troya's actors, the 23-year-old was decked out in his sponsor-laden formula one overalls and swung around the stage attached to a wire.

British newspaper The Times' F1 correspondent Ed Gorman watched Hamilton's antics and described it as "an extremely odd occasion".

A columnist for the publication then wrote: "The horse Hamilton should be worrying about is the prancing one of Ferrari".

A reader, meanwhile, wrote on the Times' website: "He is acting like a plonker.  I can't imagine Schumacher or Senna debasing themselves with such a stunt."

Industry News

SMI showing flat to soft admissions
Like everything in the financial world these days, Speedway Motorsports Inc. is talking about the economy.
In discussing its first quarter results from 2008, SMI officials said ticket sales for the first part of the year had been lackluster.
While Las Vegas Motor Speedway announced a virtual sellout of its Sprint Cup race with only single-seats available, it wasn’t able to sell every seat and did not put up temporary bleachers it had a year earlier, SMI President Humpy Wheeler said Wednesday during a conference call with financial analysts. Still, Wheeler termed the crowds “excellent” for the Vegas weekend.
The race weekends at SMI's tracks in Atlanta and Bristol, Tenn., were impacted by inclement weather, but Bristol still managed a sellout for its Cup race and a very strong crowd for the Nationwide event, which was shortened because of weather. Atlanta attendance was “soft,” Wheeler said.
“While we’re showing flat to soft admissions – down some places, flat in others – we’ve had very, very strong corporate revenues,” Wheeler said.
As far as the potential of moving one of the Atlanta dates, Wheeler said moving the October race to Labor Day in a swap with Auto Club (California) Speedway is still a possibility.
“We haven’t gotten any confirmation on that, but we’re continuing to work on it,” he said. Scenedaily.com


Foyt says son won't drive
Larry Foyt is on the 500's entry list and hopes to qualify the second car of A.J. Foyt Enterprises.

But Foyt's father, who owns the team, said Wednesday someone else will drive the car if it is used this month.

"I'm not letting him in it," A.J. Foyt said. "He's more important to me as (the team director) than he is as my driver. His future is running this team."

Larry Foyt, who graduated from Texas Christian University, drove in three consecutive 500s, the most recent in 2006, never finishing better than 30th. He had a brief but undistinguished NASCAR career.

"He's a good driver and knows what he's doing, but he doesn't have a killer instinct," A.J. Foyt said. "He's also broke his back once, and I don't want that to happen again." Indy Star


Barnhart  says no more rookies
Because there are 11 already, Brian Barnhart said no more rookies will be allowed to join the field, so any teams showing up next week will need to have drivers with Indy 500 experience.


Franchitti expected to return for Coca-Cola 600
NASCAR rookie Dario Franchitti is wearing a carbon-fiber walking cast on his broken left ankle. The 2007 Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series champion was injured during the April 26 Nationwide Series race at Talladega Superspeedway. He missed the Cup races at Talladega and Richmond and will miss the upcoming race at Darlington Raceway.

Sterling Marlin will drive Franchitti's car at Darlington, then stand by for the May 25 Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway, where Franchitti is expected to return to action. AutoWeek


Outlook for Chrysler is expected to stay bleak
Chrysler LLC's cash flow is likely to remain negative until an upturn in the nation's construction market and pickup sales, according to a report issued Tuesday by Fitch Ratings.
The rating agency also said it expects Chrysler to continue with a strategy that could involve shutting down more assembly plants.

The rare public analysis of Chrysler's financial health came Wednesday when Fitch downgraded its credit rating on Chrysler LLC, and warned that its outlook for the automaker's ratings is negative.

The sour economy, Chrysler's market share losses, and decisions to eliminate poor-selling models, cut production and scale back on fleet sales have all pushed down vehicle sales and revenues for the Auburn Hills automaker and led the agency to cut its ratings on Chrysler to B from B-plus.

"Chrysler's restructuring efforts remain on track, and liquidity is expected to remain adequate over the near term to fund restructuring costs and operating losses through a period of economic weakness," Mark Oline said in a note.

Since Chrysler went private in August, it's been hard to judge its financial status against publicly traded peers such as Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp., both of which, according to Brian Bertsch, a Fitch spokesman, the agency has rated as B with negative outlooks -- the same as Chrysler.

Chrysler's sales are down 18% so far this year compared with last year. Sales of light trucks -- the pickups, SUVs and minivans that dominate Chrysler's lineup -- are down 23%. Detroit Free Press


Latest F1 news in brief
  • De la Rosa not sure of Turkey race seat
  • Sato rules out retiring from F1
  • News of the World denies McLaren link
  • Schu missing from sports Hall of Fame
  • Production error caused Kovalainen crash
  • Massa eyes Turkish triple
  • Lauda scoffs at Alonso-to-Ferrari rumors
  • Sutil the victim of blackmail
  • Kovalainen passed fit to race in Turkey

De la Rosa not sure of Turkey race seat
(GMM)  McLaren reserve driver Pedro de la Rosa on Thursday morning said he did not yet know if he will be stepping into Heikki Kovalainen's race cockpit for the Turkish grand prix.

"I have no idea whether I will or not," the 37-year-old is quoted as saying by the news agency EP.

Regular driver Kovalainen spent the night in a Barcelona hospital with concussion following his huge crash during the Spanish grand prix two weeks ago.

Whether or not de la Rosa, a Spaniard who is ironically from the Catalan region, will need to step up to the race cockpit in Istanbul will be determined after Kovalainen's mandatory FIA medical exam at the Otodrom venue today.

De la Rosa said: "The important thing is that Heikki recovers one hundred per cent as soon as possible.

"I have not really changed anything about my preparation, because there is always the possibility that I will race.

"The only different thing is that I have strengthened the left side of my neck more than usual, because that is particularly important at this circuit," he added.

Mercedes-Benz competition boss Norbert Haug, meanwhile, explained that de la Rosa was put on standby to replace Kovalainen because he is "the most experienced" of McLaren's backup drivers, including the Briton Gary Paffett.

The German added that Kovalainen, 26, has been feeling better "with every passing day" since he resumed training in Finland last week.

Sato rules out retiring from F1
(GMM)  Takuma Sato has ruled out immediately retiring from formula one, despite the collapse of the Super Aguri team.

The Leafield based outfit was set up with the key support of Honda ahead of 2006, partly to keep the immensely popular Sato on the grid following a Japanese backlash in reaction to his removal as a works driver.

"At this time I am not sure what will happen next as I have been concentrating all my efforts on racing for Super Aguri," Sato, the 31-year-old with 91 races and 44 points under his belt, said in a statement.

Like his 2008 Super Aguri teammate Anthony Davidson, Sato has in the past also spent time as a Honda test driver.

"I will be looking at my options with my manager and will make an announcement once it is appropriate," he added.

"However, I have no intention to retire from F1.

"I feel I am driving at the top of my game and want to give so much more to my fans and supporters in Japan and worldwide who have been so incredibly supportive to me during my whole career," he said.

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