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Dixon cracks 227 MPH at Indy
Fast Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway lived up to its name as 28 cars turned 1,263 laps on the famed 2.5-mile oval on the final day of practice before the run for the AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award and its $100,000 prize on Saturday.

At the end of the day, however, there were few surprises as Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon (right) and Dan Wheldon, second and first respectively in the IndyCar Series point standings, topped the speed chart in preparations for the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500.

Dixon, who also led practice Thursday, recorded a quick lap of 39.6184 seconds, 227.167 mph in his No. 9 Honda-powered Dallara. Dixon will go out second during Saturday's qualifying.

Wheldon, who led the first two days of practice, turned in a best lap of 226.650 mph.

Andretti Green Racing regulars Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti, Dario Franchitti and Danica Patrick occupied three of the next four positions, respectively, with Team Penske's Sam Hornish Jr., the reigning race winner, sneaking into the sixth position. Ed Carpenter, Helio Castroneves and Tomas Scheckter rounded out the top 10.

The top 10 100% throttle cars were separated by 0.5217 of a second.

Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed
1. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 227.167
2. (10) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 226.650
3. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 226.236
4. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 226.230
5. (27) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 226.189
6. (6) Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara-Honda, 225.587
7. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 225.295
8. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 225.015
9. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 224.726
10. (2) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 224.215
11. (14) Darren Manning, Dallara-Honda, 224.054
12. (12) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 224.036
13. (15) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 224.025
14. (39) Michael Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 223.998
15. (4) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 223.934
16. (5) Sarah Fisher, Dallara-Honda, 223.706
17. (8) Scott Sharp, Dallara-Honda, 223.623
18. (22) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, 223.561
19. (55) Kosuke Matsuura, Dallara-Honda, 222.959
20. (17) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Honda, 222.756
21. (02) Davey Hamilton, Dallara-Honda, 222.190
22. (99) Buddy Lazier, Dallara-Honda, 221.541
23. (50) Al Unser Jr., Dallara-Honda, 221.457
24. (25) Marty Roth, Dallara-Honda, 220.164
25. (21) Jaques Lazier, Panoz-Honda, 219.312
26. (23) Milka Duno, Dallara-Honda, 218.640
27. (19) Jon Herb, Dallara-Honda, 217.758
28. (77) Stephan Gregoire, Panoz-Honda, 215.749

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Indy 500 qualifying order
SATURDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
7 a.m.. Public Gates Open
8:59 a.m. Honorary starter: Billie Jean King, former professional tennis champion
9-11 a.m. Indianapolis 500 practice
Noon-6 p.m. AAMCO Transmissions Pole Qualifications
6 p.m. AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award Winner Ceremony (Yard of Bricks)
6 p.m. Track closes
Note: Subject to change due to weather

The forecast for Pole Day is for sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s. Should the forecast hold, it would be the first Pole Day without rain since 2001. Here's a look at the weather on past Pole Days.
* 2006: May 13, complete rain out
* 2005: May 14, complete rain out
* 2004: May 15, practice delayed to 12:23 p.m. due to rain, temperature 58 degrees, qualifying started at 2:19 p.m., temperature 66 degrees, qualifying ended 6 p.m..
* 2003: May 11, practice began at 9 a.m., temperature 67 degrees, rain started at 10:24 a.m., track closed at 12:24 p.m. due to rain.
* 2002: May 11, Practice at 8 a.m., temperature 53 degrees, qualifying at 11 a.m., temp 57 degrees, 3 brief rain delays (one for 39 min and 2 for 12 min. each) between 11:49 a.m. and 4:40 p.m.. Qualifying ended at 6 p.m.. Temperature at 2 p.m. was 65 degrees.
* 2001: May 12, Practice at 8 a.m., temperature 50 degrees, qualifying at 11 a.m., temperature 56 degrees, temperature at 2 p.m. 65 degrees, qualifying ended at 6 p.m.. NO RAIN.
* 2000: May 20, Practice at 8 a.m., temperature 55 degrees, Qualifying at 11, temperature 51 degrees, Temperature at 3:25 p.m. 56 degrees. NO RAIN

1. #15 Buddy Rice
2. #9 Scott Dixon
3. #16 TBD
4. #12 Ryan Briscoe
5. #8 Scott Sharp
6. #77T Stephan Gregoire
7. #10 Dan Wheldon
8. #17T Jeff Simmons
9. #23T Milka Duno
10. #21T Jaques Lazier
11. #20 Ed Carpenter

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Morgan-McClure sues sponsor
Morgan-McClure Motorsports has sued 360 OTC parent company Rockford-Montgomery Labs in federal court in Atlanta. The team claims that it signed a $10.1 million deal for the company to sponsor Morgan- McClure's #4 car in 2007. Because of the sponsorship, McClure planned on running two cars next season and had outlined a tentative agreement with driver Johnny Sauter, according to the lawsuit and the accompanying documents. The sponsorship deal was signed June 14, 2006, but 360 OTC announced on Aug. 25, 2006 that it would sponsor Bill Davis Racing's #36 team and driver Jeremy Mayfield. In its complaint, Morgan-McClure claims the team was assured that Rockford-Montgomery Labs would still continue with its Morgan-McClure obligations in addition to the BDR commitments. With that knowledge, according to the suit, Morgan-McClure pursued a deal with Sauter, who was driving in the Busch Series for Haas CNC Racing last year. The deal was worth $450,000 in base salary plus 35% of all winnings and 33% of merchandise sales. Rockford-Montgomery Labs then told Morgan- McClure it would terminate the sponsorship agreement Nov. 1 citing poor 2006 performance, the lack of a driver and the lack of time to prepare promotional materials. The company has not paid Morgan-McClure any money, according to the complaint. Because the sponsorship did not come through, Morgan-McClure could not commit to Sauter, who wound up staying at Haas CNC Racing and driving a second Nextel Cup car for the team this year. In its response, Rockford-Montgomery Labs denies most of the allegations. It also states that McClure sent an e-mail to the company in late October saying it had not been able to finalize a deal for Sauter. The sponsorship deal was for one year with three one-year options at the same $10.1 million per year. Team owner Larry McClure and Sauter declined comment. Representatives of Rockford-Montgomery Labs could not be reached for comment. SceneDaily.com


Glock takes Barcelona GP2 pole
1. Timo Glock iSport 1m 27.713s
2. Andreas Zuber iSport 1m 28.102s
3. Lucas di Grassi ART 1m 28.681s
4. Nicolas Lapierre DAMS 1m 28.712s
5. Mike Conway Super Nova 1m 28.716s
6. Giorgio Pantano Campos 1m 28.484s#
7. Bruno Senna Arden 1m 28.762s
8. Borja Garcia Durango 1m 28.808s
9. Luca Fillipi Super Nova 1m 28.941s
10. Karun Chandhok Durango 1m 29.025s
11. Antonio Pizzonia FMSI 1m 29.146s
12. Roldan Rodriguez Minardi Piquet 1m 29.349s
13. Xandi Negrao Minardi Piquet 1m 29.494s
14. Kohei Hirate Trident 1m 29.574s
15. Kazuki Nakajima DAMS 1m 28.696s##
16. Adrian Zaugg Arden 1m 29.698s
17. Vitaly Petrov Campos 1m 29.716s
18. Sakon Yamamoto BCN 1m 29.551s#
19. Sergio Jimenez Racing Engineering 1m 29.727s
20. Pastor Maldonado Trident 1m 29.810s
21. Mikhail Aleshin ART 1m 30.026s
22. Jason Tahinci FMSI 1m 30.392s
23. Christian Bakkerud DPR 1m 30.843s
24. Ho-Pin Tung BCN 1m 31.636s
25. Andy Soucek DPR 1m 30.130s#
26. Javier Villa Racing Engineering 1m 32.173s


NASCAR Richmond TV rating UPDATE The final TV rating for last Sunday's rain-delayed Richmond Nextel Cup race was a 4.3/11 share.  The last two years the race was on cable so the comparison is not relevant, but the rating was a 3.5/7 share on FX.

05/07/07 The overnight rating for Sunday's Richmond NASCAR Nextel Cup race on FOX was a 4.1/10 share.  The last two years the race was on cable channel FX so there is no overnight data to compare this rating with.  The final rating on FOX (network) should be higher than a cable channel (FX).


91st Indy 500: Team Penske transcript
Team Penske personnel Helio Castroneves, Tim Cindric, Sam Hornish Jr., Rick Mears, and Roger Penske answered questions from the media at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Friday morning.  Transcript


XM to broadcast ALMS races
The action of the American Le Mans Series is hitting the airwaves of XM Satellite Radio with five events airing on America’s leading source of satellite radio with more than 7.6 million subscribers. The new relationship between the Series and XM will involve a live broadcast of the Utah Grand Prix from 7 to 10 p.m. ET on XM’s Sports Nation channel.

Four future American Le Mans Series events will be featured on XM Satellite Radio - the Acura Sports Car Challenge of Mid-Ohio, Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, Petit Le Mans and Monterey Sports Car Championships. The XM shows will utilize American Le Mans Radio featuring play-by-play host John Hindhaugh.

“This is a tremendous broadcast opportunity, one of the most significant in the history of the American Le Mans Series,” said Series President and CEO Scott Atherton. “Our new partnership with XM Satellite Radio allows us to expand the reach of the American Le Mans Series to a group of consumers that identifies very well with our demographics - upscale consumers who appreciate technology and cars. We believe this is one of the primary factors that attracted XM to the American Le Mans Series.

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Symonds plays down Renault's surprise pace
(GMM)  Pat Symonds on Friday played down Renault's surprisingly high placings on the free practice time sheets.

Despite only grappling for minor points at the first three races of the season, Giancarlo Fisichella and teammate Heikki Kovalainen were second and third fastest in the definitive afternoon session as the three-day Spanish GP got underway.

In the morning, they were only fast enough to register fifteenth and fourteenth in the order; some one and a half seconds behind McLaren's pace setting times.

"We took the fuel out of the tanks," engineering director Symonds explained in the pit lane after the second session, adding that engineers wanted to test that the R27 car's fuel pressure problems had now been fixed.

He said: "We are still looking for the answers to our problems, and we do not expect miracles.

"We have worked hard since Australia, but it is not yet enough for us to be in front."

Fisichella concurred that the handling of his car is "still slightly inconsistent" and "clearly not fast enough to be second in the times on speed alone".

Ferrari driver Felipe Massa also played down the significance of the practice hierarchy, after McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso respectively dominated the time sheets of both 90 minute practice sessions.

He said: "Maybe they are working already on qualifying, which was definitely not the case with us."


Alonso leads practice 2 - Spain
Fernando Alonso brought smiles to his home crowd by setting the fastest time in Friday afternoon practice in Barcelona. The world champion was followed by Renault's Giancarlo Fisichella, who vaulted from the midfield to second with a late lap just 0.287 seconds slower than Alonso's time.

Pos  Driver        Team                    Time        Gap   Laps
 1.  Alonso        McLaren-Mercedes   (B)  1:21.397            33
 2.  Fisichella    Renault            (B)  1:21.684  + 0.287   39
 3.  Kovalainen    Renault            (B)  1:21.966  + 0.569   38
 4.  Massa         Ferrari            (B)  1:22.048  + 0.651   31
 5.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes   (B)  1:22.188  + 0.791   37
 6.  Raikkonen     Ferrari            (B)  1:22.251  + 0.854   33
 7.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota    (B)  1:22.415  + 1.018   29
 8.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber         (B)  1:22.543  + 1.146   40
 9.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault   (B)  1:22.589  + 1.192   39
10.  Speed         Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B)  1:22.617  + 1.220   35
11.  Kubica        BMW Sauber         (B)  1:22.710  + 1.313   43
12.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault   (B)  1:22.719  + 1.322   30
13.  Button        Honda              (B)  1:22.808  + 1.411   39
14.  Barrichello   Honda              (B)  1:22.926  + 1.529   40
15.  Wurz          Williams-Toyota    (B)  1:22.950  + 1.553   30
16.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B)  1:23.143  + 1.746   29
17.  R.Schumacher  Toyota             (B)  1:23.219  + 1.822   28
18.  Trulli        Toyota             (B)  1:23.307  + 1.910   42
19.  Sato          Super Aguri-Honda  (B)  1:23.493  + 2.096   40
20.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda  (B)  1:23.497  + 2.100   49
21.  Sutil         Spyker-Ferrari     (B)  1:23.609  + 2.212   33
22.  Albers        Spyker-Ferrari     (B)  1:23.736  + 2.339   30


Schu interest ’unbelievable’ - Vettel
(GMM)  Young countryman Sebastian Vettel on Friday described as "unbelievable" the attention attracted so far in Spain by Germany's visiting former formula one driver Michael Schumacher.

BMW's teenage test driver was asked by a reporter in Barcelona how he felt about the fact that Schumacher, who retired at the end of last year as a seven time world champion, had captured the attention of the world's press despite now occupying only a minor role at Ferrari.

"I noticed that," Vettel told the German broadcaster Premiere.

"30 photographers were waiting for him to arrive for an hour, but on the other hand he was a very big character in formula one and it is natural that a lot of attention is still paid towards him."

Former triple world champion Niki Lauda, meanwhile, said he doubted that Ferrari really needs the 38-year-old driver to act as an 'advisor' this weekend at the Spanish GP.

"Ferrari is very well set up, they have an outstanding car and with Raikkonen and Massa two excellent drivers," the Austrian said.

Schumacher fronted a predictably-packed press conference on Friday, where he ruled out becoming a team owner or succeeding Jean Todt as Ferrari boss.

But while saying he has no desire to return to the driving cockpit at the moment, he added: "I'm only so many months out of this business and I'm quite happy with that.

"What will be my future, who knows?"


NASCAR: Back to the Future
NASCAR’s “Car of Tomorrow” project is unabashedly forward-thinking but it also gives a nod to the past, a dichotomy on display for fans this weekend at Darlington Raceway, site of Saturday night’s Dodge Avenger 500.

A special exhibit entitled “NASCAR: Back to the Future” will be open Friday from 2–7 p.m. and Saturday from 1-7 p.m., behind the raceway’s Tyler Tower. The exhibit will illustrate the evolution of NASCAR-style stock cars, culminating with the current Car of Tomorrow models that honor traditional NASCAR principles of safety, competition and cost management while offering a closer-to-stock appearance that is a “throwback” to the past.

Three cars from that past will be featured:

* A 1972 Dodge Charger driven by Richard Petty – he won the series championship that year – on loan from Petty Enterprises.

* A 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo driven by Darrell Waltrip. The car is on loan from the International Motorsports Hall of Fame located in Talladega, Ala.

* A 1987 Chevrolet driven by Terry Labonte and owned by Junior Johnson, on loan from the NMPA Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame and Museum located at Darlington Raceway.

Other cars planned for the exhibit include both the Car of Tomorrow and street versions of the four 2007 models competing in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series: Chevrolet Impala SS, Dodge Avenger, Ford Fusion, and Toyota Camry.

In addition, an informative video detailing the evolution of a stock car will be shown continuously.

Saturday night’s event at Darlington will be the fifth NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race this season using the Car of Tomorrow models. The previous “COT” races were at Bristol Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway and Richmond International Raceway.

industry news

Experts say Ethanol is a hoax
Europe's car manufacturers, led by Saab and closely followed by Ford, are endangering their credibility with buyers as they exaggerate the environmental benefits of ethanol and hide its disadvantages in a desperate scramble to catch up with the need to appear green.

After soft-pedaling the problem for years, Europe's automotive manufacturers have been caught out by a sudden sea change in public opinion, which now wants more attention paid to the need to conserve fuel and protect the environment. Tire-squealing, macho advertising campaigns underlining speed and performance are on the way out; green, tree hugging is in.

Saab, General Motors' Swedish up-market subsidiary, is running a TV ad campaign which claims its new ethanol Flex Fuel engines, powered by renewable fuel which sucks in CO2 as it grows, can cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to an amazing 70 percent. Ford Europe claims a Flex-fuel powered little Focus sedan also cuts carbon dioxide emissions by 70 percent compared with a gasoline-engine car. At the same time, in theory at least, a significant amount of imported gasoline would be replaced by homegrown fuel.

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What to look for in Spanish GP
• Fernando Alonso is seeking his 40th podium and is 16 kilometers away from leading 5,000 kilometers.

• Nick Heidfeld is six points away from attaining 100 world championship points.

• The Renault engine is in line for its 300th podium.

• With Fisichella, Liuzzi and Trulli on the grid, Italy should reach 700 world championship starts.

• Felipe Massa will be taking part in his 75th Grand Prix (73 starts, plus a DNS at the 2005 U.S. GP)

• McLaren is seeking its 150th win and its 400th podium.

• Kimi Räikkönen is seeking his 40th career podium and is 30 kilometers away from completing 25,000 kilometers in Formula 1.


Teresa Earnhardt’s tactical error
The Boston Red Sox once sold Babe Ruth so its owner could fund a play. The Portland Trail Blazers once passed on Michael Jordan. The Minnesota Vikings once traded five players and six draft picks for Herschel Walker.

None of those moves were as disastrously bad as the one Teresa Earnhardt made when she thought she could call Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s bluff about leaving his late father's racing team.

Her stepson was serious. Painfully so for DEI.

Thursday at his JR Motorsports headquarters in North Carolina, Earnhardt Jr. announced he is leaving DEI. Whether he is going to drive for his own team or will join an existing competitor is not certain.

What is known is that he'll still be sponsored by Budweiser, still will drive a Chevy and, of course, still be the overwhelmingly most popular and recognizable driver in NASCAR.
Only now, he'll be doing it for even more money and even more (if not total) control.  More at Yahoo! Sports


Singapore GP to be held at night - Ecclestone
(GMM)  Contrary to earlier reports, Bernie Ecclestone confirmed on Friday that the first Singapore grand prix will be staged at night in 2008.

"As a night race we anticipate it will quickly establish itself as one of the most dramatic and atmospheric races on our calendar," he said.

In explaining that the event towards the end of next year's calendar would be the 'first ever' night race, the F1 supremo also hinted that talks to also stage the season opening Australian GP under lights next year had not been successful.


Thursday practice notes from Indy
Dillon Welch, the son of ABC-ESPN IndyCar Series pit reporter Vince Welch, finished third in the USAC Kenyon Midget Car Series feature race Wednesday night at Mount Lawn Speedway in New Castle, Ind.
Finishing 12th in the 30-lap feature was Nelson Stewart, father of 1996-97 IndyCar Series champion and 2005 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner Tony Stewart.
Vision Racing driver Ed Carpenter received a set of Hitachi Power Tools today in recognition of the company's primary sponsorship of his #20 IndyCar Series car at the Indianapolis 500.

ED CARPENTER (Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I woke up this morning, and they told me that I needed to come over to the garage to talk to the Hitachi people. I got over here, and they unveiled this (display of tools) for me. It's quite a surprise. The good thing is that I will actually use all of these things, so I'm pretty happy about that. I called my buddies that I work on the houses with already and told them that Hitachi had given us a bunch of new power tools, and they were really excited about it, too. The cool thing is that it's all on display out here, and if somebody sees something that they might like, they're all for sale at Lowe's. So it's a good thing."
At a press conference today, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing announced a partnership with Bachrach Clothing. The men's clothing retailer's logo will be featured on the IndyCar Series machines of Buddy Rice and Sarah Fisher during the 2007 season beginning at the Indianapolis 500.

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Renault to build new CFD center
Renault has won planning permission to build a new computational fluid design facility at the team's base at the Whiteways Technical Centre in Enstone. The new building will be partially underground and will be linked to the existing facilities. The new project will add another 13 staff to the 550 employed at Renault F1 in England. The team has just one windtunnel at the facility and it seems that unlike some other teams it has decided to use CFD more, a strategy which has been adopted in recent times by both BMW Sauber and Ferrari. Grandprix.com


Agathangelou leaves Red Bull
Ben Agathangelou, who headed the aerodynamic team at Red Bull Racing before the arrival of McLaren's Peter Prodromou, has left the Milton Keynes team. It will be interesting to see where he ends up.


Unser continues to struggle
IRL driver Al Unser Jr., who has been arrested a number of times while in a drunken alcohol induced stupor, continued to struggle in his A.J. Foyt Racing machine at Indy this week. Unser's best of 40 laps was 218.466 mph, slower than all but one of the 26 cars on the track.


GM Statement on Dale Jr./DEI
Statement from Brent Dewar; General Motors North America Vice President of Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing Regarding the Dale Earnhardt, Jr. announcement to leave Dale Earnhardt, Inc. at the end of the 2007 Nextel Cup Series season:

"Chevrolet and General Motors are proud of our long-standing relationship with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. For more than 20 years, the Earnhardt family has relied on Chevrolet products to achieve their legendary on-track success. As the winningest nameplate in NASCAR, Chevrolet shares the individual goals of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to win races and championships. We look forward to discussing future opportunities with DEI and Dale, Jr." GM Racing PR


Without Dale Earnhardt Jr., DEI is a museum
Tony Stewart said the words on his Sirius Satellite Radio show in February. “Without Dale Earnhardt Jr., DEI is a museum.” And it seems that’s what’s left now in the wake of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s announcement Thursday that he is parting ways as Nextel Cup driver for Dale Earnhardt Inc. after the 2007 season.

One of the most common comments I’ve heard concerning Teresa Earnhardt letting her stepson get away and not giving him more control of DEI is that Teresa is left not with 49 percent of DEI but 100 percent of nothing. Hard not to argue that one at this point in time.

What is DEI left without Earnhardt? A Nextel Cup driver stable that will include Martin Truex Jr. and Paul Menard.


McLarens 1-2 in opening practice
Rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton led a McLaren one-two in Friday morning practice for the Spanish Grand Prix.  The McLaren duo finished ahead of Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and BMW's Robert Kubica.

Pos  Driver     Team              Tire  Time      Gap     Laps
 1.  Hamilton   McLaren-Mercedes   (B)  1:21.880            22
 2.  Alonso     McLaren-Mercedes   (B)  1:22.268  + 0.388   21
 3.  Raikkonen  Ferrari            (B)  1:22.291  + 0.411   19
 4.  Kubica     BMW Sauber         (B)  1:22.446  + 0.566   21
 5.  Massa      Ferrari            (B)  1:22.565  + 0.685   15
 6.  Davidson   Super Aguri-Honda  (B)  1:22.665  + 0.785   21
 7.  Trulli     Toyota             (B)  1:22.740  + 0.860   28
 8.  Schumacher Toyota             (B)  1:22.843  + 0.963   23
 9.  Rosberg    Williams-Toyota    (B)  1:23.048  + 1.168   28
10.  Button     Honda              (B)  1:23.114  + 1.234   22
11.  Wurz       Williams-Toyota    (B)  1:23.131  + 1.251   23
12.  Heidfeld   BMW Sauber         (B)  1:23.170  + 1.290   26
13.  Sato       Super Aguri-Honda  (B)  1:23.316  + 1.436   22
14.  Kovalainen Renault            (B)  1:23.322  + 1.442   24
15.  Fisichella Renault            (B)  1:23.397  + 1.517   21
16.  Coulthard  Red Bull-Renault   (B)  1:23.428  + 1.548   21
17.  Webber     Red Bull-Renault   (B)  1:23.444  + 1.564   21
18.  BarrichelloHonda              (B)  1:23.479  + 1.599   23
19.  Sutil      Spyker-Ferrari     (B)  1:23.954  + 2.074   25
20.  Liuzzi     Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B)  1:24.104  + 2.224   24
21.  Speed      Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B)  1:24.179  + 2.299   19
22.  Albers     Spyker-Ferrari     (B)  1:24.396  + 2.516   25


Toyota’s Skinner shows strength at Charlotte test
Mike Skinner posted the best speed in Craftsman Truck Series testing Thursday at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Skinner turned a lap of 179.158 mph in his Bill Davis Racing Toyota during the morning session for the quickest lap of the day.

Teams had a three-hour morning session, a four-hour afternoon session and a three-hour evening session.

The top three speeds came from the morning session with Skinner followed by Wyler Racing's Jack Sprague (179.039 mph) and Roush Fenway Racing's Travis Kvapil (179.021).


Schu arrives at Spanish GP venue
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher arrived at the Circuit de Catalunya on Friday morning for his highly anticipated return to a formula one paddock after retiring as a driver last October.

The seven time world champion arrived at the Barcelona venue in casual clothes - jeans with a white belt and a white patterned shirt - and entered paddock security with his permanent FIA pass and his official cap on his head.

tv news

Gurney on Wind Tunnel
WHO: Alex Gurney, son of racing legend Dan Gurney
Driver of the #99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac-powered Riley Daytona Prototype in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve, with one victory, four poles and six podiums to his credit, including the pole for the 2007 Rolex 24 at Daytona. In his second full season of Rolex Series competition, Gurney is currently sixth in the points chase.
Gurney will be featured live from the All American Racers shop in Santa Ana, Calif., during a 20-minute segment of Sunday’s broadcast of SPEED Channel’s “Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain.” Alex will talk about the challenge of the Grand-Am Rolex Series, his first-ever Rolex Series win at Mexico City in late February and preview the upcoming race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. He’ll also take questions from fans via telephone and e-mail.
Gurney and his co-driver, two-time Toyota Atlantic champion Jon Fogarty, will compete in Round Five of the Rolex Sports Car Series, the Road & Track 250, May 18-20 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The weekend features the Rolex Sports Car Series, where Alex is a leading competitor in the championship, coming off his first Grand Am victory and four straight front-row starts.
WHAT: “Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain” is SPEED Channel’s flagship racing talk show, airing live on Sunday nights. The program features veteran racing journalist Dave Despain’s commentary, along with insightful interviews with drivers, team owners and other motorsports personalities.
WHEN: Sunday, May 13, 2007 9:00 p.m. (EDT) on SPEED Channel


Pablo Perez injury update UPDATE #5 Pablo Perez, an Indy Pro Series driver who suffered foot and ankle injuries in a crash in March at Homestead-Miami Speedway, was released from hospital care for the first time Thursday. He has undergone six surgeries. He is expected to remain in Indianapolis through the 500, which he plans on attending.  Indy Star

03/29/07 Indy Pro Series driver Pablo Perez is in stable condition at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his lower legs March 28, according to Dr. Michael Olinger, director of medical services for the Indy Racing League.  Perez is under the care of Dr. Kevin Scheid, the Indy Racing League's orthopedic consultant, in conjunction with Methodist Hospital's trauma team. He is scheduled for additional reconstructive procedures before beginning an extensive rehabilitation program, though no specific timetable has identified at this time.  Perez suffered serious injuries to his lower legs March 24 during the Miami 100 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.  Fans wishing to send cards or notes to Perez are asked to send them to: Target Chip Ganassi Racing, 7777 Woodland Dr., Indianapolis, IN 46278 or CGRmedia@ganassi.com. Further updates on Perez' condition will be provided when available.  IRL PR

03/28/07 Indy Pro Series driver Pablo Perez had additional surgery at Methodist Hospital on Wednesday for leg injuries from a crash in the season-opening Miami 100. 

03/27/07 Indy Pro Series driver Pablo Perez is in stable condition at Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after being transferred from Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami March 27, according to Dr. Michael Olinger, director of medical services for the Indy Racing League. Perez is being examined by Dr. Kevin Scheid, the Indy Racing League's orthopedic consultant, in conjunction with Methodist Hospital's trauma team to determine the next steps of care. Perez suffered injuries to his lower legs March 24 during the Miami 100 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Fans wishing to send cards or notes to Perez are asked to send them to: Target Chip Ganassi Racing, 7777 Woodland Dr., Indianapolis, IN 46278 or CGRmedia@ganassi.com. Further updates on Perez' condition will be provided when available.  IRL PR

[Editor's Note: Perez is from the richest family in Argentina so the news of his horrific injuries is making a lot of news in Argentina.  Unfortunately, as is all too often when you race open wheel cars in close quarters on high speed ovals, it's bad news, very bad news.]

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Pierce wins Darlington Silver Crown race
Aaron Pierce of Muncie, Ind. led USAC’s assault on Darlington (S.C.) Raceway Thursday night and came away $23,500 richer after scoring a thrilling victory in the “USAC Silver Crown Showdown at Darlington.”

Pierce led a three-car freight train to the checkered flag as Wayne Reutimann Jr. of Zephyrhills, Fla. and Pablo Donoso of Santiago, Chile were less than a second behind and the crowd was on its feet for the final 20 laps around the 1.366-mile oval.

NASCAR star J.J. Yeley won the pole for the 50-lap race in A.J. Foyt’s Greer Special at a speed of 163.555 mph, but Pierce started alongside on the front row. When the green flag waved, Yeley proceeded to disappear, extending his lead to nearly 10 seconds before a lap 23 yellow for debris on the backstretch.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Schu's F1 car tipped for $8m price-tag
  • Coulthard frustrated by Liuzzi gossip
  • Now BMW prepare to use radical wing
  • Heidfeld says 'closer' to new BMW contract
  • Fisi slams untrue 'disaster' quotes
  • Ferrari have the 'edge' - Hamilton
  • BMW's Theissen wants extra day at GPs
  • Ralf cool on brother's F1 return

Schu's F1 car tipped for $8m price-tag
(GMM) The last car raced by Michael Schumacher in his sixteen year formula one career is expected to fetch an impressive sum when it is auctioned next week.

Despite suggestions at the time that the scarlet '248 F1' single seater he used in his Brazilian finale last October had been gifted to the 38-year-old German, it is reported in the Italian newspaper Tuttosport that premier auction house Sotheby's will sell the car to the highest bidder as part of Ferrari's 60-year birthday celebrations.

A price-tag of more than (US) $8m is expected at the auction next Sunday.

Coulthard frustrated by Liuzzi gossip
(GMM) F1's oldest driver arrived at the Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday and immediately faced rumors that he might be dropped from the Red Bull lineup at the end of 2007.

Team owner Dietrich Mateschitz hinted in an interview last week that his Milton Keynes squad might better be served by installing a young charger alongside one of the existing experienced racers next year.

With Mark Webber newly arrived and regularly in the top-ten qualifiers, the rumors hinting at a step up from junior team Toro Rosso for Vitantonio Liuzzi seem to suggest that David Coulthard - who made his grand prix debut way back in 1994 at Barcelona - is set for the elbow.

"I'm irritated to have to answer questions based on the fact I was born in 1971," Coulthard fumed to the British newspaper The Mirror.

"The statistics show I am quicker in the races than Mark and the car telemetry shows it too. End of story."

Red Bull's motor racing consultant Helmut Marko, meanwhile, was asked by the German press if Coulthard's comments also hint at a growing rift between 36-year-old Coulthard and Webber, who were never friends prior to their linking-up in 2007.

"It's true that they do not go out for dinner together," he said, "but they do have respect."

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Audi faces hot battle in Utah
Following the 12 Hours of Sebring and three successive street races, the Audi R10 TDI faces yet another big challenge in the USA: Quite possibly the hottest race on the 2007 American Le Mans Series calendar held at the Miller Motorsports Park some 30 miles west of Salt Lake City (US state of Utah) awaits the Audi Sport North America team on Saturday (19 May). Temperatures exceeding 30 degrees Celsius in the shade are forecast in the desert in Utah. However, the 24-turn 4.486-mile track - the longest in the USA - offers no such respite from the burning heat. Audi celebrated a narrow victory with the R10 TDI in last year's hot battle in the cauldron close to Salt Lake City. After suffering two unlucky defeats at the hands of the significantly lighter LM P2 cars in Long Beach and Houston, Team Audi Sport North America aims to bounce back by repeating last year's victory.

Dindo Capello (Italy) and Allan McNish (Scotland) arrive as championship leaders in Utah. Their team mates Emanuele Pirro (Italy) and Marco Werner (Germany), for whom Miller Motorsports Park is new territory, are only eight points behind.

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Industry News

Russian firm to invest $1.54 billion in Magna
Russian Machines, a subsidiary of Moscow-based Basic Element, plans to invest $1.54 billion in Canadian supplier Magna International Inc. as part of an alliance to pursue growth opportunities in Russia and the surrounding markets, according to a joint statement released this morning by the two companies.

Russian Machines holds an interest in Gaz Group which is Russia's second-largest automotive company. Magna has a unit in Austria that builds vehicles for the Chrysler, Mercedes-Benz, Saab and BMW nameplates. Magna, which is holding its annual shareholders’ meeting today in Toronto, also is considered a leading bidder for the Chrysler Group, the Auburn Hills-based division of DaimlerChrysler AG.


Dixon keeps Ganassi cars on top at Indy
Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon supplanted his teammate Dan Wheldon atop the speed charts in the third day of practice for the 91st Indianapolis 500.

Dixon capped a frenetic "Happy Hour" that saw four drivers jump to the top of the charts. Dixon's best lap of 39.7398 seconds, 226.473 mph came minutes before practice ended, putting an end to Wheldon's two-day reign as quickest.

Before him, Ryan Briscoe and Tomas Scheckter took turns on top the speed chart, bumping out Sam Hornish Jr., who had been the quickest most of the day.

When practice ended, Dixon was followed by Andretti Green Racing's Danica Patrick (226.358, right), Wheldon (226.206), Scheckter (226.161) and Briscoe (225.995) in the top five.

Marco Andretti, Hornish, Vitor Meira, Kosuke Matsuura and Helio Castroneves rounded out the top 10. *
Pos. Car Name C/E/T Speed
1. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 226.473
2. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 226.358
3. (10) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 226.206
4. (2) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 226.161
5. (12) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 225.995
6. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 225.881
7. (6) Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara-Honda, 225.803
8. (4) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 225.441
9. (55) Kosuke Matsuura, Dallara-Honda, 225.350
10. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 225.095
11. (27) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 224.794
12. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 224.525
13. (5) Sarah Fisher, Dallara-Honda, 224.375
14. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 223.930
15. (8) Scott Sharp, Dallara-Honda, 223.895
16. (14) Darren Manning, Dallara-Honda, 223.693
17. (39) Michael Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 222.783
18. (15) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 222.383
19. (99) Buddy Lazier, Dallara-Honda, 222.059
20. (22) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, 221.867
21. (17) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Honda, 221.702
22. (25) Marty Roth, Dallara-Honda, 220.340
23. (02) Davey Hamilton, Dallara-Honda, 219.060
24. (23) Milka Duno, Dallara-Honda, 218.908
25. (50) Al Unser Jr., Dallara-Honda, 218.466
26. (77) Stephan Gregoire, Panoz-Honda, 218.270

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Spanish GP Thursday Press Conference

Q: What are your feelings about the changes to the circuit? Is it better for racing, is it better for you drivers?

Vitantonio LIUZZI: It will give more chances for overtaking in the race because we go from a slow corner before the beginning of the straight and I think it might help to make a better spectacle and more fun in the race. Before, for sure, it was more demanding with two high speed corners which was maybe nicer from the drivers' point of view, but it's much better now from a racing point of view.

Rubens BARRICHELLO: I agree with Tonio. I think it might be the case that the racing is better except that we lost two corners that were very challenging and good and if we look back, we've lost so many circuits by doing that, so obviously, if you have the space I would rather have a bit more room for going off or something, but still have those corners that we had. It was the same case in Hockenheim, for example. It was just lovely to be there but we had to improve safety and then we cut the track short. I don't want to see that happening too often, but in the way that is safer now and probably a little bit better for overtaking, I think we have to agree.

Fernando ALONSO: Yeah, same thing. I think the last corners were very nice, so we will miss them, for sure. I think the overtaking will be exactly the same this year as last year. If you had a quicker car last year, you could exit from the last corner quick enough to overtake people, and now, if you have a quick car, you can follow maybe someone in the chicane. If the cars are very close together, as we found in the test, fighting with someone, it was impossible to follow anyone in the chicane, so I think the chicane was not made for overtaking reasons. I think it's more for safety issues, so as far as whether it's safer now than before, I'm happy to run with the new chicane. That's the important thing.

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Kristensen’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in doubt
The serious crash at the DTM opener three weeks ago might have a serious aftermath. German newspaper Motorsport Aktuell reports that Tom Kristensen, who was heavily involved in the crash, has suffered more serious injuries than initially diagnosed. Kristensen was unable to contest at last weekend’s DTM round at Oschersleben – and might not be able to compete at Le Mans either. The seven-time Le Mans champion suffered a second-degree (out of four) brain trauma, causing impaired vision and heavy headaches. Kristensen is expected to not be able to compete at third DTM round at the Lausitzring on the 20th of May, leaving very little time for recovery until the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

While Audi would have enough skilled drivers to compensate Kristensen in a worst case scenario, it would be a huge disappointment for the countless Danish fans as well as the whole event. The last time Kristensen was not part of the Le Mans grid dates back to 1996 – more than a decade ago.


Budweiser statement on Earnhardt leaving DEI
Statement from Tony Ponturo, Vice President, Global Media and Sports Marketing, Anheuser-Busch, Inc. Regarding Dale Earnhardt Jr's decision to leave Dale Earnhardt Inc. at the end of the 2007 Nextel Cup season: "Budweiser, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Dale Earnhardt Inc. have enjoyed a great relationship since 1999. Dale Jr., and his father before him, have been excellent and loyal ambassadors for our company and the sport of NASCAR. Budweiser and JR Motorsports have an agreement in place to ensure Dale Jr. will continue to personally represent Budweiser through 2008, and we look forward to discussing our future with Dale Jr. and DEI in the weeks ahead." fingerprint inc./Bud Racing PR


SPEED to re-air Earnhardt press conference
SPEED will re-air the complete Dale Earnhardt Jr. press conference tonight at 9 p.m. ET where he announces he is leaving DEI..


The Creation has landed
Autocon Motorsports has taken delivery of its Creation-Judd prototype and is preparing it for its first test and shakedown Monday at Miller Motorsports Park. The car was picked up Wednesday in Los Angeles and taken back to the team’s shop near San Diego.

Not surprisingly, the Autocon bunch was giddy and thrilled at the sight of their new toy. There wasn’t much time to savor it though as the departure for Salt Lake City loomed.

“The truck is already loaded and ready to roll,” said Michael Kramer, team VP of business development. “Definitely no later than bright and early tomorrow morning.”

The car will compete at Miller in the white paint scheme highlighted by decals from Cyclo, one of the team’s sponsors. It will make its debut in full Jean Richard livery at Lime Rock Park in early July.

The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Utah Grand Prix, set for 5:05 p.m. MT on Saturday, May 19 from Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City. CBS Sports will air the race at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 20. MotorsTV in Europe, SPEED Latin America and 7TV in Russia also will provide international coverage. American Le Mans Radio and IMSA’s Live Timing and Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.


Henkel Helps Drive Innovation in Grand Prix Racing
DUESSELDORF, Germany and GULPH MILLS, Penn. -- Heading into Fernando Alonso's home turf and holding two of the top spots in a three-way tie for the 2007 Drivers' Championship, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is emerging as one of the teams to beat in 2007. Infused with comprehensive design modifications from more than a year of R&D and wind-tunnel testing, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-22 is clocking top lap times, delivering consistent peak performance and leading the field in the race for this year's Constructors' Championship. Innovative solutions from Henkel play an invisible yet important part in this.

As an Official Supplier to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, Henkel provides increasingly more products and technologies used to construct the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes MP4-22, helping the team to implement design modifications quickly and reliably. Throughout a 13-year association with the team, the number of different applications of Henkel products on the car has grown from around 50 to more than 300 today.

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Lauda rubbishes Schu's advisor role
(GMM) Niki Lauda has dismissed as "rubbish" suggestions that Michael Schumacher's attendance at the Spanish grand prix this weekend is anything other than symbolic.

Ferrari figures insist that the 38-year-old German will arrive at the Circuit de Catalunya on Friday in his role as an 'advisor'.

Kimi Raikkonen on Thursday confirmed that Schumacher will "try to help the team go forward" this weekend.

"I am sure he will follow things closely," triple world champion Lauda, who himself was once an advisor to the Maranello based team, told the newspaper 'Welt'.

Lauda insisted: "But all this gossip about him being an advisor or an assistant is rubbish.

"I do not know what the internal arrangements are, but my belief is that he is simply curious about keeping motor racing as a part of his life.

"For Ferrari, I rather see him as a kind of mascot."


Alonso indifferent to Valencia news
(GMM) He is almost solely responsible for F1's popularity boom in Spain, but Fernando Alonso on Thursday seemed indifferent to the concept of a second grand prix in his home country next year.

Reporters at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya asked the reigning world champion what he thought of the newly announced deal for a European GP in the port city of Valencia.

"For me it doesn't make a huge different whether I take an aeroplane to Valencia or to Italy, even though it is good for Spanish motor sport," the news agency Sport-Informations-Dienst quoted Alonso, 25, as saying.

Probably on the grounds of safety, the McLaren driver even questioned the logic of organising a street race instead of using the nearby permanent Ricardo Tormo circuit, which is regularly used for F1 testing.

"It is a little difficult for me to understand," Alonso added.


Statement from Teresa Earnhardt/DEI
In response to today's announcement by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., that he will be leaving DEI, Teresa Earnhardt, CEO of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. issued the following statement. "While we are very disappointed that Dale Jr. has chosen to leave the family business, we remain excited about our company's future. Our aggressive expansion and diversification plans have not changed. This company has continued to thrive since Dale left us in 2001, and it will thrive following today's announcement. Dale and I built this company to be a championship-contender, and those principles still apply. Dale Earnhardt, Inc. will win, and we have other extremely talented drivers and hundreds of employees that are dedicated to the programs we founded. This company has a great legacy and a bright future, built on loyalty, integrity, and commitment." DEI


Earnhardt Jr. is leaving DEI, unsure of future
The scheduled press conference by Dale Earnhardt Jr. has started this morning.  Dale, Jr. says he told the DEI crew & staff this morning that he would not be back in 2008.  Martin Truex is not part of his new deal.  No plans to field his own team as of yet.  No mention of Hendrick supplying him cars or engines. 

Summary of statements made today

11:58 -- Press conference ends.

11:55 -- "I'm going to look at everybody from a competition standpoint but I want to be comfortable with the teammates I have I want to feel welcome by the employees at that place wherever that my be. And I need to find a way for it to compliment this building here and the employees. Its got to give me the opportunity to take care of my family. I wont allow myself to try and narrow it down because I feel I wouldn't be giving myself the whole opportunity."

11:52 -- "I love driving cars. The business itself gets pretty hard sometimes outside the car but that motivates me behind the wheel. I can't wait to race Saturday. I'm gonna work hard. I think for me personally its to go out there and be ridiculous about my effort and leave a good impression on those guys. I don't expect everyone to have their entire heart into it but when I'm behind the wheel I'm racing. I think we can have a successful season."

11:48 -- "I've always been interested in the opportunity to race Busch cars and I'm going to look into that becoming a reality. We've been trying so hard in working with DEI that we haven't really looked into it. But I would love to drive in Busch out of here."

11:43 -- "I don't think that would be wise to put any other individuals in this. Tony Jr. will make his decisions and I will support whatever decision he makes. I expect him to do the same. As far as Martin, it's the same thing. I will support Martin in whatever he wants to do. It's really up to him and his father. If he wants to stay at DEI and thinks that's best for him then I will support him in that."

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Mazda New Title Sponsor for Portland Champ Car Grand Prix
PORTLAND -- Mike Nealy, President of Global Events Group, announced today that Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) has signed on as title sponsor of the Mazda Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland Presented by Joe’s Sports and Outdoor.

“To have a title sponsor with the international stature of Mazda is an honor for us,” said Nealy.  “They have a reputation as a company ‘that does things right’, and we know they will bring their spirit to an already great event.”

Mazda, known worldwide for their technological innovations including the introduction of the first mass-produced rotary engine has a rich history in the automotive industry. The first Mazda vehicles arrived in the United States in 1970 and have flourished ever since with quality, value and service.

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Martin to strengthen Hendrick team
Just when you thought Hendrick Motorsports couldn’t get any better, here comes Mark Martin to drive one of the organization's Chevrolets in the NASCAR Busch Series.

Martin, the all-time leader in Busch wins with 47, is driving the first of three scheduled Busch races for Hendrick this season in Friday night’s Diamond Hill Plywood 200 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway (8:30 p.m. Eastern, ESPN2) in Hendrick’s No. 5 Chevrolet.

Hendrick entries have been impressive in the Nextel Cup Series this season, winning seven of the 10 races. Drivers Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson are first and second in points, respectively.

The organization is still looking for its first Busch win of the season, and Martin is certainly a plausible candidate to provide it this weekend.


Honda also wants Brawn
"We are talking to Ross Brawn," Honda Racing's Nick Fry told Autosprint magazine in an interview. "At Ferrari he was the most classic example of coordinator of the technical work. The best thing Brawn did at Ferrari was creating a group able to work together, by making everyone go in the same direction.

"It's not easy to do. Every team needs a similar figure, there's no need for superstars or self-centered geniuses. Of course we'd like to have Ross Brawn, but there are also other people similar to him.

"At Honda we have two agendas. The first one encompasses solving the current problems, while the second one concerns planning all the future work. Obviously the future planning of the team is much more important than how to improve the car for the next GP in Monte Carlo.

"My priority now is how to prevent us from having more difficult times like the current one. The fact that Ross Brawn decides only in July what he wants to do, is perfectly compatible with our schedules."


NASCAR Canada signs sponsor
NASCAR Canada announced a multi-year agreement with Beyond Digital Imaging (BDI), making Canada's leading digital printing company an official partner and licensee of NASCAR in Canada. 

BDI will also be involved in a number of areas in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series in its inaugural season.  BDI will participate in the Series contingency award program and also will be the primary sponsor of the #02 Beyond Digital Imaging Ford Taurus, driven by Kerry Micks, for the first three races of the season.

"BDI will help increase exposure of the NASCAR brand in Canada by creating visually stunning promotional imagery that will be used nationally at NASCAR-related events, race tracks and on the race cars," said Randy Paul, Managing Director, NASCAR Canada.

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Racing News

SMI Profits Off Slightly
Speedway Motorsports Inc. today reported that its first-quarter net income slipped to $31.9 million, or 72 cents per diluted share, from $32.2 million, or 73 cents per diluted share, in the same quarter last year. The track operator said total revenue in the quarter increased to $152.2 million from $151.1 million in the year-ago period.

"Our first-quarter 2007 net income and diluted earnings per share demonstrate SMI's core motorsports business remains strong," H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, chief operating officer and president, said in a statement. "SMI's 2007 season remains on track to be another outstanding year, as presales for tickets to many upcoming events and for sponsorships and other corporate-event-related revenues continue to trend ahead of last year."


Evernham Motorsports open house
Evernham Motorsports will be holding their sixth annual Fan Appreciation Day on Friday, May 25, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at their headquarters in Statesville, N.C. The event is held to thank fans for their continuous support of the organization and will feature all Evernham Motorsports drivers.

Fans will be treated to a full day of activities at the sprawling facility in Statesville, N.C. Fans have the opportunity to participate in driver autograph sessions, live pit stop demonstrations, show car viewings, a silent auction and partner displays. Fans will even be able to see what goes on inside the shop at special garage observation areas. In addition, fans can visit the Evernham Motorsports museum to see the team’s memorabilia. The Evernham Motorsports gift shop will be open throughout the day for fans who want to take a piece of the excitement home with them.

“Fan Appreciation Day is always an exciting time at Evernham Motorsports,” said Team Owner and CEO, Ray Evernham. “It means a lot to me, the drivers and our entire staff to meet and interact with the fans that support us tirelessly throughout these long race seasons. This is our chance to welcome them to our facility and show how much we appreciate them.”

The most popular event of the day -- the autograph sessions -- will begin at 9 a.m. with Kasey Kahne, Elliott Sadler and Boris Said. Ray Evernham and Scott Riggs follow in the next autograph session at 11 a.m.

industry news

GM sued over OnStar change
A disgruntled Cadillac owner, whose OnStar service will go dead next year as a result of upgrades to General Motors Corp.'s peace-of-mind roadside assistance feature, filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday against the automaker.

Robert Weaver of Virginia bought a new Cadillac El Dorado in 2002 equipped with GM's OnStar, a much-advertised communication system that links motorists with live operators who can offer driving directions and emergency help.

Weaver is among 1.5 million owners who will be affected when OnStar completes its switch from an analog system to a more current digital network.

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Chinese sponsor for Nemechek UPDATE Haier America (pronounced Hi-er), a division of the Chinese-owned Haier Group, has joined the Ginn Racing team of sponsors. A leading manufacturer of home appliances and consumer electronics, Haier will sponsor Joe Nemechek's Ginn Racing entry in Saturday night's Nextel Cup race in Darlington S.C.

The Haier Group, ranked by Forbes magazine as the most reputable company in China and 25th overall in the world, was founded in 1984 in Qingdao, China. The company's products are manufactured in 16 countries, including the United States. Haier's U.S. manufacturing plant is located in Camden, S.C., approximately 30 miles from Darlington Raceway.

"We're proud to start our NASCAR sponsorship at Darlington Raceway, which is near our operations and manufacturing headquarters in Camden," said Dave Parks, chief operating officer of Haier America. "We believe the NASCAR fan is also a Haier customer. This is a great opportunity to further enhance our branding by being affiliated with the revitalized Ginn Racing team and driver Joe Nemechek."

Jay Frye, CEO and general manager of Ginn Racing, said of the new partnership, "Each year NASCAR is becoming more of a global sport and we are very proud to have formed a partnership with a leading international company such as Haier. This is Haier's first venture in motorsports and we are honored that this prestigious international company is teaming with Ginn Racing."

The No. 13 Haier Chevrolet will make its debut during Friday's practice session at Darlington Raceway. Saturday's Cup race will be televised on FOX, 7 p.m. Eastern. 

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • No Friday drive for Spyker's Valles
  • Fisi writes off title, wins, podium
  • Bernie baulks at Brit GP talks
  • Alonso, Kimi, not keen on Schu return
  • Schu briefing to be one-off - spokeswoman
  • Injured Ammermuller to demo RBR's F1 car
  • Raikkonen to be main rival says Alonso

No Friday drive for Spyker's Valles
(GMM) Spyker test driver Adrian Valles will not as expected appear for the Dutch team on the Friday preceding this weekend's Spanish grand prix.

It was earlier reported that the 20-year-old Spaniard was hopeful of the drive at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, after racking up the miles for his mandatory FIA Super License at the group test last week.

But the Spanish news agency EFE reveals that, while Valles was thought to have done enough laps to qualify for the coveted document, he has not officially obtained a Super License in time.

"I really wanted to drive in front of my countrymen but the request for the Super License was sent behind schedule," Valles explained.

"Still, I am happy, because the team has told me that I am doing a good job and that I can drive as third pilot at later grands prix."

Valles added: "It wasn't to be this time, but we'll see what happens at the upcoming races, and next year I hope to be an official driver for the team."

Fisi writes off title, wins, podium
(GMM) A downbeat Giancarlo Fisichella has ruled out charging for the world championship, winning a single race, or even simply appearing on the podium with Renault's disappointing R27 single seater in 2007.

"I expected to be going for the title this year and instead I will probably not even see the podium," the Roman said in an extensive interview with Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The 34-year-old, who in 2005 and 2006 was teammate to Renault's now departed dual world champion Fernando Alonso, said the current Enstone built racer was "born badly" and urged Renault to focus instead on next season.

"The aerodynamics are not right," Fisichella explained. "From my perspective, it would be better to focus on 2008 so that we do not waste time working on a car that was born badly."

He said the R27 initially looked good in the wind tunnel but turned into a "disaster" when it hit the actual winter test tracks.

"Now, in testing, we are going back to the drawing board because we clearly did some wrong things with the design," Fisichella added.

"But at least we have started to understand our problems in the last few weeks. Like McLaren, we have run the car on the runway of an airport before this race."

Indeed, Renault engineers have fitted a new front suspension layout to the R27 for the Spanish GP, in the hope that it will help the car to better integrate with the Bridgestone tires.

Fisichella, though, said the improvement is "small" and reckons the real problem is the bodywork.

"We are going to have another really hard race -- and to think that only last year we were dominant (at Barcelona)," he sighed.

However, Fisichella is refusing to lay the blame at Bridgestone's door for the chronic lack of grip, however, by observing that BMW-Sauber and McLaren made successful transitions from the Michelin brand.

He concluded: "We, Renault, have done something wrong, the guilt is ours. We even thought about bringing back the 2006 car but with these tires it still would have left us nowhere."

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Kanaan sets up car for Danica and Marco UPDATE Marco Andretti, whose car was given a shakedown by his father, Michael, after a similar test run by Tony Kanaan the day before, posted a 224.745-mph lap, fourth-fastest on the day.

05/09/07 Wait a second, that's not Danica in the No. 7 Motorola car. Hey, that's not Marco in the No. 26 NYSE car.

Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan, the team's "sounding board," got behind the wheel of both of his teammates' cars early on the first day of official practice for the 91st Indianapolis 500 to provide the baseline setup.

In the last IndyCar Series race – on the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway on April 29 – Andretti's ill-handling car forced him out of the Kansas Lottery Indy 300 after 43 laps. In the run for the AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award a day earlier, Patrick wondered aloud why her qualifying speed was more than 2 mph slower than Kanaan's pole-winning speed (214.188 mph; 25.5476 seconds). Both employed the same setup. Patrick started 10th and finished seventh.

Kanaan had a top speed of 223.474 mph (40.2731 seconds) in Andretti's car on seven laps. His best of eight laps in the No. 7 was 222.562 mph.

"We were trying some different things today and the best way to judge is to have one driver driving all the cars," Kanaan said. "I was chosen to drive the cars because I'm the closest in size to Marco (Andretti) and Danica (Patrick). We had a couple of things we wanted to try and I think we accomplished them."

Patrick, who playfully held an umbrella over Kanaan while he waited in the cockpit, didn't want to be upstaged by the fill-in. She recorded a best lap of 224.164 mph (sixth of the 27 car-driver combinations). Andretti's best was 223.239.

Kanaan, who posted a best lap of 224.622 mph (third) in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car, offered to set up the cars of Dario Franchitti and team co-owner Michael Andretti. Both politely declined.  IndyCar.com

[Editor's Note: Good drivers don't have their teammates set up a car for them.]


Indy Pro Series driver breaks back
Indy Pro Series driver Tom Wood, who sustained a compression fracture in his back when he crashed during a test Tuesday at Milwaukee, was transported to Indianapolis on Wednesday to be treated by Dr. Terry Trammell.

Industry News

Magna files second bid for Chrysler UPDATE Canadian auto parts maker Magna International Inc. would not go into debt to finance the purchase of a stake in DaimlerChrysler's struggling Chrysler division, Canada's The Globe and Mail newspaper reported on Wednesday.  The Globe and Mail said Magna (Charts) Chairman Frank Stronach expects a decision regarding the potential purchase to be made during the next few weeks.  Magna has reached a partnership deal with Canadian buyout firm Onex Corp. in its bid to buy a stake in Chrysler, The Globe and Mail reported.

05/03/07 Magna International Inc. wants to go to the next round in its attempt to buy the Chrysler Group.

The Canadian auto-parts supplier filed its new bid Tuesday, seeking to become a finalist to buy the struggling Auburn Hills automaker, the Free Press has learned.

It was unclear when or whether private equity suitors Blackstone Group and Cerberus Capital Management made their bids, though the Free Press has been told the two groups are still in the hunt.

DaimlerChrysler is expected to decide as early as this week -- though possibly not until next week -- who gets to continue the due diligence and negotiation process.

Representatives for all of the groups declined comment Wednesday.

"Everything is still going. All options are still open," DaimlerChrysler spokesman Han Tjan said.


Wheldon again fastest before rains hit Indy
Dan Wheldon took all of seven laps to lay down the fastest lap of the month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - 226.391 mph (39.7543 seconds) - during a rain-abbreviated second day of practice for the 91st Indianapolis 500.

Helio Castroneves certainly wouldn't allow that to go unchallenged, ripping off a 225.820 mph lap in the No. 3 Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, as Happy Hour wound down.

The procession of "top that speed" began in earnest as the May 12 run for the AAMCO Transmissions Pole Award and the first 11 spots draws neigh. Wheldon's Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Scott Dixon, was third (224.902 mph) in the No. 9 Honda-powered Dallara, while Marco Andretti jumped to fourth (224.745). Tony Kanaan (224.112) was fifth in the No. 11 Team 7-Eleven car, and defending champion Sam Hornish Jr. (224.054 was sixth).

Twenty-six driver/car combinations recorded 680 total laps during the two-hour window without incident. The No. 77 Chastain Motorsports Panoz/Honda/Firestone made a pit road appearance, but Stephan Gregoire didn't get on the track.

1. (10) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 226.391
2. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 225.820
3. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 224.902
4. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 224.745
5. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 224.112
6. (6) Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara-Honda, 224.054
7. (27) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 223.844
8. (2) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 223.539
9. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 223.476
10. (55) Kosuke Matsuura, Dallara-Honda, 223.331

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Miller released
Bobby Hamilton Racing and Dodge Motorsports are redirecting its focus in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series from driver development in the No. 4 Open Joist Dodge. BHR and driver Chase Miller will part ways effective immediately. A replacement will be determined. “We really enjoyed working with Chase Miller,” said Lori Hamilton. “He worked great with our team and we saw a ton of potential is Chase’s ability to drive. He has a big future ahead of him in Motorsports. We wish him the most success.” Evernham Motorsports driver Kasey Khane and Chip Ganassi Racing driver Kevin Hamlin will test the Open Joist Dodge later this week at Lowes Motor Speedway.


Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Promotions
LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Record crowds for the "Fast Friday," April 13 opening day of the 33rd Annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend were due in great measure to a wide variety of ticket discounts and prize contest opportunities offered by event sponsors.

"Our Friday attendance eclipsed any other Friday in our history by a considerable margin," said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach.  "And, it can be directly attributed to our outstanding family of sponsors, who mounted a very aggressive promotional campaign throughout the Southern California market."

Presenting sponsor Toyota led the way, with its dealers offering two Friday and two Saturday tickets as part of their $69.99 Parts/Service Special.  In addition, Toyota provided a Toyota Tundra truck as a sweepstakes Grand Prize in a contest conducted with Coca-Cola, ampm convenience stores and Power 106 Radio (105.9 FM).

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track news

Richmond President refutes Earnhardt Jr.
Richmond International Raceway president Doug Fritz was surprised as anyone to hear the comments from Dale Earnhardt, Jr. yesterday regarding his concerns about the track surface. "This is completely out of left field," said Fritz. "All of the comments I have heard about our track surface from the drivers have been overwhelmingly positive since we repaved it before the 2004 season. Between our two-day test session in early April and our races this past weekend, I did not hear one comment or concern regarding our track surface from Dale Earnhardt, Jr. or any other driver," said Fritz. "I'm always available and accessible to the drivers and I have received feedback from many of them over the years on a number of issues. I was in the garage frequently this past weekend and talked to many of the drivers, and there was no mention of any issues with the track surface. In fact, we've made numerous changes and enhancements at the drivers' request over the years, including concreting our pit stalls, taking out a kink in the backstretch wall, relocating the spotters' stand to a better location and many other improvements related to the competition side," continued Fritz. "Certainly, if there is a consensus among the drivers and NASCAR that we need to do something with this issue or any other, we will certainly take a look at it. Obviously, the drivers are busy today testing, but we have reached out to a number of them, including Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to talk about this." During testing Monday at Lowe's Motor Speedway Earnhardt told reporters, "The thing about Richmond, now honestly-they need to start sealing that track again. You ain't gonna have a second and third groove at Richmond if the sealer ain't up there to use. I don't know why that ain't registered in anybody's brain. I mean, when that track was good is when they were sealing it ever year...You know-hello?" Track officials have not applied any sealer to the asphalt after it was resurfaced prior to the 2004 season. Since it was repaved, the track has received rave reviews from the drivers-including Earnhardt-on the quality of the repaving job and the quality of the racing. "Considering his positive comments about our track and the repaving job during our test session last month and after his victory in last May's Crown Royal 400, I'm even more surprised at his statement," said Fritz. NASCAR has also not heard any complaints from any of the drivers. "Neither (Vice President, Competition) Robin Pemberton or (NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Director) John Darby has heard anything from any of the drivers on this," said Kerry Tharp, Director of Communications, Competition, for NASCAR. This past weekend's Crown Royal Presents the Jim Stewart 400 featured more of the great side-by-side action Richmond International Raceway is known for. The race tied the track record for the most lead drivers (12) and fell one short of the record for the most lead changes (25), which has happened twice, most recently in March 1996. RIR PR


Champ Car signs die-cast model deal
INDIANAPOLIS - The Champ Car World Series and Speedgear, the exclusive merchandiser and licensing partner of Champ Car, have entered into a licensing agreement with Brinkworth Models, an industry leader in the world of “Limited Edition” team presentation models, to produce 1:10 replicas of the new 2007 DP01 Champ Car.

Brinkworth Models have been producing 1:10 and 1:5 scale models of open-wheel cars since 1991, when they were first commissioned by Carl Haas of then Newman/Haas Racing, to build a replica of the team’s 1991 Championship winning Lola, driven to a total of eight victories that year by Michael Andretti. Haas then presented the model to the president of Kmart, the primary sponsor for his 1991 Championship winning team to commemorate their accomplishments.

Since that time, Brinkworth Models has been the major supplier of Limited Edition “Presentation” models being commissioned by numerous Champ Car teams and their sponsors. During those years, the majority of the annual production of these hand-built models was dedicated to team and sponsor commissions, leaving very little to no time at all, to produce replicas for the collector market.

Brinkworth Models will now offer models of all of the Champ Car World Series team cars on the 2007 grid, not only to the teams and their sponsors, but to the individual collector as well.

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industry news

Toyota reports record $14-billion profit
Toyota Motor Corp. reported early this morning that annual profits rose 19.8% to a company record $1.64 trillion yen, or about $14 billion.

Toyota’s revenues rose 13.8% to a record 23.94 million yen, or $204 billion, for the fiscal year, which ended March 31. Global vehicle sales in the period totaled 8.52 million units, an increase of 550,000 units compared to the last fiscal year and also a record. For fiscal year 2007, Toyota posted record consolidated results across the board.” Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe said in a statement. “We believe our continuous efforts to support global growth have steadily contributed to our record net revenues, operating income and net income.”

For the final quarter of the year, Toyota’s net income rose 9% to 440 billion yen, or $3.7 billion.

The results come as Toyota is poised to pass General Motors Corp. as the world’s largest automaker. It outsold GM for the first time ever in the January-March period with global sales of 2.35 million vehicles to GM’s 2.26 million.

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racing news

SPEED Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking
  • Top four drivers separated by 7/10ths of a point
  • Three Hendrick Motorsports drivers in the Top 10
  • Bourdais (CCWS), Gordon (NASCAR), Wheldon (IRL) and Massa (F1) tops in their series
  • Busch brothers side by side  

Updated 5-9-07
Pos. (LW) Driver (Series) Pts
1. (2) Sebastien Bourdais (CCWS) 8.982
2. (1) Jeff Gordon (NASCAR) 8.954
3. (3) Dan Wheldon (IRL) 8.317
4. (4) Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR) 8.263
5. (8) Denny Hamlin (NASCAR) 7.671
6. (5) Matt Kenseth (NACAR) 7.446
7. (6) Felipe Massa (F1) 7.436
8. (9) Kurt Busch (NASCAR) 6.982
9. (NR) Kyle Busch (NASCAR) 6.948
10. (21) Tony Stewart(NASCAR) 6.764
11. (10) Fernando Alonso (F1) 6.746
12. (12) Kevin Harvick (NASCAR) 6.503
13. (14) Scott Dixon (IRL) 6.465
14. (15) Will Power (CCWS) 6.426
15. (16) Helio Castroneves (IRL) 6.290
16. (17) Kimi Raikkonen (F1) 6.240
17. (NR) Clint Bowyer (NASCAR) 6.182
18. (13) Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NASCAR) 6.087
19. (NR) Carl Edwards (NASCAR) 5.063
20. (NR) Ryan Newman (NASCAR) 5.931

Dropped out: Jamie McMurray (NASCAR), Jeff Burton (NASCAR), David Stremme (NASCAR), Martin Truex Jr. (NASCAR), Bruno Junqueira (CCWS)

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


Dernie re-emerges in another racing world
(GMM)  Having left Williams, formula one veteran Frank Dernie has re-emerged in the world of Powerboat racing.

He is a long time colleague of Sir Frank Williams', and had returned to the Oxfordshire based squad as a consultant engineer in 2003.

But he left the team at the end of last year, and at the weekend emerged in Malta in the role as a member of the Powerboat P1 category's Technical Compliance Committee.


British F3’s Romanian Street Party
The weekend of May 19th and 20th will see the first overseas races of the season for the teams and drivers competing in the 2007 Lloyds TSB Insurance British F3 International Series. Rounds 5 and 6 will take place on the streets of Bucharest and at nearly 2000 miles, the Vodafone Bucharest Challenge event in the Romanian Capital will be the furthest that the British F3 grid has traveled in the 43-year history of the championship.

With three wins from four races Marko Asmer holds a healthy 34-point advantage over Stephen Jelley and Maro Engel, however all this could change on the streets of Bucharest on the 19/20 May if the young Estonian is forced to miss the event due to his racing commitments in Japan that weekend.

If Asmer misses the Romanian races, the pressure will be on his main rivals to close up the gap at the top of the championship table and with a maximum of 42 points on offer there is every possibility that this could happen. 

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ISC headquarter upgrades
International Speedway Corp. will be turning its Daytona headquarters - right across the street from Daytona International Speedway - into a $250 million shopping-entertainment-hotel complex.

ISC and Cordish Co., the developer that put together the revitalized Baltimore Harbor complex, will develop a 71-acre site next to the Speedway with shops, a movie theater, condominiums and a 160-room hotel. The development will include offices for ISC and NASCAR, both of which are controlled by the France family.

The project is still in the planning stages. ISC will provide the land, and it and Cordish will contribute $15 million-$20 million each for the project, with investors providing the rest.

Cordis builds entertainment-related complexes including two Hard Rock Cafés in Florida. The company plans to build a chain of NASCAR-themed restaurants. Winston-Salem Journal


Q and A with Toyota's John Howett
Would you say it has been a positive start to the 2007 season for Panasonic Toyota Racing?
"What I would say is that the expectations of many people have been grossly exceeded. But in terms of our own ambitions, we expect to be fighting at a higher level. So yes it is pleasing we have exceeded some peoples’ predictions based on winter testing but we know we have to do more."

Has the team exceeded your expectations?
"No. I think we were quicker than BMW last year, very similar to McLaren but not quite so fast in race pace and now clearly they have achieved more or we have slipped back."

But the team is not where we want to be – is the challenge now to push for the top three?
"There are two or three challenges facing us now the European season is starting. The first is to maintain our position at the top of the second group of teams and make sure we don’t slip back. Then, looking forward, the main ambition now has to be to catch and pass BMW as the first step."

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Rahal happy with Portland test
PORTLAND - Graham Rahal wrapped up two days of testing in Portland, Oregon last week with the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing team, recording second fastest lap time on each of the two days of running.

The team began testing on Tuesday, at the Portland International Racing, a 1.964 mile permanent road course, and the venue for the fourth round of the Champ Car World Series which takes place next month.

After the first day of running Rahal shadowed two-times Champ Car champion, Sebastian Bourdais, just three-tenths off his team mate with a 57.4 seconds lap.

With persistent rain on the second day the team opted not to run and resumed testing on Thursday.

Rahal was quickest of the drivers at Portland for much of the day, with Bourdais stealing the top spot late in the session, pipping the Ohio racer by less than two tenths of a second.

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Doornbos compares F1 to Champ Car
Q: How different is the Champ Car experience to that of Formula One racing?
RD: The Champ Car reminds me a lot to my International F3000 year in ’04 because you drive with big cars, no tire warmers, no power steering, and steel brakes… so you drive it a little different than F1 cars, but at the end of the day it’s great fun, just like F1! And in the end it is all about winning - so the material might be different, but the will to succeed has to be the same.

Q: You recently races two street circuits - Las Vegas and Long Beach - on consecutive weekends. How exciting were they, compared to purpose-built race tracks?
RD: Ha, I always really enjoy driving on street circuits! That’s the reason I moved house to Monaco, so I can do it every day!

Q: Are you satisfied with your 2007 performance so far? And where do you see room for improvement, in terms of driver and team?
RD: Yes, I’m happy that we scored good points from the first races and the podiums are good for overall motivation. But we need to improve the car more because all the teams are pushing very hard to find the ‘sweet spot’ in set-up with the new Panoz Champ Car. And therefore I’m just on my way to the Portland Raceway where we start testing for three days. After that you will see me in the paddock in Barcelona.


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Teams question McLaren 'bridge' wing - report
  • Massa receives Bandini trophy
  • Haug rules out driver hierarchy at McLaren
  • Mateschitz keeps eye on Kubica
  • Gascoyne blames Japan for F1 teams' woes
  • Test limits 'bad' for drivers - Karthikeyan
  • McLaren backs Paffett for Prodrive seat
  • Newey confirms interest in yachting role
  • Alonso lends name to go-kart venue
  • Schu to sit on Ferrari pit wall - spokeswoman
  • Wurz plays down Rosberg threat

Teams question McLaren 'bridge' wing - report
(GMM)  A new controversy surrounding the legality of allegedly flexing bodywork could be set to rear its head at the Spanish grand prix this weekend.

The German specialist magazine Auto Motor und Sport reports that some rival teams are concerned about the behavior during testing of the radical bridge-like element on McLaren's new front wing, which could be raced at the Circuit de Catalunya.

The controversy would be the latest installment in the so-called and long-running flexible wings saga, which has involved rear wings and - most recently - the under-bodies of formula one cars.

It is suggested that some unnamed teams have already asked FIA observers to keep a close eye on the behavior of McLaren's 'bridge' wing via on-board cameras as the Barcelona event progresses later this week.

Massa receives Bandini trophy
(GMM)  Felipe Massa last Sunday received the coveted Lorenzo Bandini trophy in Italy.

Capping his successful 2006 season alongside Michael Schumacher and a similarly impressive start to 2007 with Kimi Raikkonen as his teammate, the Ferrari driver received the trophy from the late Lorenzo Bandini's widow Margherita in the town of Brisighella, near Imola.

Imola's San Marino GP, usually the scene of the prize-giving in late April, does not feature on the 2007 calendar.

Bandini, the leading Italian driver of his period, was burned to death in an horror accident at Monaco in 1967.

Among previous recipients of the trophy are Raikkonen, Jenson Button, David Coulthard, Juan Pablo Montoya, Michael Schumacher, Alex Wurz, Fernando Alonso and Jacques Villeneuve.

"The award is very important and prestigious," 26-year-old Massa said this week.

"It is usually given in the early stages of one's career and reflects also on how well you have done in the previous year's championship."

Massa added: "I was extremely happy to accept it and I was given a very warm reception by the people in the town square for the ceremony."

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