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Corvette team winningest in ALMS Corvette team winningest in ALMSCorvette Racing earned its 42nd American Le Mans Series victory – and 11th straight – by winning at Houston to extend its all-time Entrants Wins leadership over Alex Job Racing (37). Audi Sport North America (25), Intersport Racing (19) and Champion Racing (18) round out the top five, followed by Oreca (16), Dick Barbour Racing (15), BMW Motorsport (10), Dyson Racing and Panoz Motor Sports (9), Miracle Motorsports, Petersen/White Lightning and Prodrive (6), and Joest Racing and BMW Team PTG (5).
Porsche still King in ALMS Porsche still King in ALMSPorsche continues to lead the all-time ALMS marque victory list with 59 wins over Audi’s 49. Chevrolet ranks third with 42 wins. Lola ranks fourth among the marques with 36 wins.  Audi, Chevrolet and Lola all won in the 2006 Sebring 12 Hours and the Lone Star Grand Prix. Porsche also has notched 60 all-time Series pole positions, including 56 in GT2, one in GT1 and three in LMP2. Porsche holds the all-time Series record for the longest race-winning streak – 21 (2002 Sebring through 2004 Mid-Ohio), and finished last season with eight straight victories (GT2 plus LMP2 triumph at the Laguna Seca finale).
LMP2 class getting stronger in ALMS LMP2 class getting stronger in ALMSThe 2006 season marks the full-season debuts for two revolutionary entries into the ALMS. Two Audi R10 TDIs, each powered by a V12 diesel engine and one of which won at Sebring, will compete in the final six events of the season. The team will be a combination of Audi Sport North America and Champion Racing. The season also sees the full-season debut of the Porsche RS Spyder in LMP2, two of which will race under the banner of Penske Racing. The car won in class during its debut at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in October 2005 and is Porsche’s first factory prototype to race since 1998. A third factory prototype program is on tap for 2007 with Acura’s announcement that it will construct P2 engines, followed by a complete chassis-engine program in 2008.

[Editor's Note: It will remain to be seen whether Audi, Porsche and Acura perform so well that they make it impossible for the privateer teams to win, at which time they will withdraw to the Grand-Am. It will be interesting to see how the ALMS manages this major issue because once the privateers are gone, the manufacturers will have control of the series. There should be a mandatory path by which the privateer teams can get the factory equipment at a reasonable price and still be able to compete for the wins.]

Lowe’s announces multiyear extension with Hendrick Lowe’s announces multiyear extension with HendrickMOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Lowe’s Companies Inc. today announced a multi-year extension of its primary sponsorship of Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 48 Chevrolet driven by Jimmie Johnson in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.

Under the new agreement, Lowe’s will continue its primary sponsorship of the No. 48 Chevrolet through the 2010 racing season.  Johnson, 30, also signed a contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports that keeps him behind the wheel through 2010.  Financial terms were not disclosed.

“I’m with the best team and the best sponsor in the sport,” said Johnson, a native of El Cajon, Calif.  “Since I started in Nextel Cup racing, my association with Lowe’s and Hendrick Motorsports has been absolutely incredible.  I couldn’t be more proud of this relationship and look forward to continuing what we’ve started with the No. 48 Lowe’s team.”

The pacts build upon a partnership launched in 2001 when Hendrick Motorsports selected Johnson, who at the time had never started a Nextel Cup race, to pilot the new Lowe’s-sponsored No. 48 Chevrolet.  Now in the midst of its fifth full season, the team has posted unparalleled statistics since its inception, with 21 victories and four top-five points finishes. zzzz

Along with crew chief Chad Knaus, the No. 48 operation has already recorded three victories in 2006, marking its fifth consecutive multi-win campaign, and currently ranks first in Nextel Cup points after 11 of 36 events.  The team has notched six top-five results and eight top-10 performances this season.

“We believe this is the best combination in racing,” said Robert Niblock, Lowe’s chairman, president and CEO.  “Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports are a key part of our marketing efforts and outreach to our employees.  We are all proud to have someone like Jimmie carry the Lowe’s name in NASCAR.”

Founded in 1984, Hendrick Motorsports has garnered nine NASCAR championships, including five at the elite Cup level.  The No. 48 Lowe’s team is one of five full-time teams now fielded by the organization across NASCAR’s top two series.

“Lowe’s and Hendrick Motorsports have formed a terrific partnership for the past five years," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports.  "Week after week, we’re able to pair Jimmie Johnson, one of the most dynamic talents in our sport, with Lowe’s, a respected and well-recognized brand throughout the world.  It's a special relationship that we're extremely excited to continue.”

track news
Gill Campbell to appear SPEED’s “2 Wheel Tuesday” Gill Campbell to appear SPEED’s “2 Wheel Tuesday”MONTEREY, Calif. – Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca CEO/General Manager Gill Campbell will be appearing on the May 16 episode of SPEED’s “2 Wheel Tuesday” hosted by Greg White.

Campbell will be discussing the upcoming Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, featuring the MotoGP World Championship and the AMA Superbike Championship, including the improved traffic-flow plan. Last year’s Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix was the largest event in the history of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, attracting 153,653 spectators to the 50-year-old Monterey, California facility.

2 Wheel Tuesday is a show about the vast world of motorcycles, motorcyclists and motorcycle racing. Whether you ride a hog, race a rocket, like to cruise or customize your bike, ride in the dirt or just like to watch, there’s something for you to see each and every week. 2 Wheel Tuesday airs every Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m. EST, 5:00 p.m. PST, and re-airs throughout the week.

Check www.speedtv.com for more information on airtimes for 2 Wheel Tuesday.

More information on the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, including the revised traffic plan for 2006, is available at www.RedBullUSGrandPrix.com or by calling (800) 327-SECA.  Tickets are on sale now for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s 50th Season of Racing including the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix July 21-23, the 33rd Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races August 18-20 and the Monterey Sports Car Championships featuring the American Le Mans Series October 20-22.

Tickets and more information are available by calling (800) 327-SECA or on-line at www.laguna-seca.com.

Bräck back at Indianapolis Bräck back at IndianapolisKenny Bräck’s new career brought him back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 15.

The 1999 Indianapolis 500 winner, whose has embarked on a music career with new band called Bräck, shot scenes for an upcoming music video at the site of his biggest win.

“Right now we’re writing a few songs,” Bräck said. “We thought it would be neat to come to the Speedway and get some footage, since this is my world, so to speak. It’s good to make that association with the music as well.”

Bräck filmed scenes around the Rahal Letterman Racing garage area in gasoline alley and on pit lane of the historic 2.5-mile oval.

“We’ve borrowed some equipment from Team Rahal and that’s a good fit, too, because I’ve been with them so long,” Bräck said. “I’m just glad I could include them in the music video."
Team Leader adds “500” entry for Jones Team Leader adds “500” entry for JonesEarlier this month, veteran car owners Greg Beck and Kent Baker combined their resources to field an Indianapolis 500 entry for Stephan Gregoire. Now that single-car entry has grown into a two-car team.

Team Leader Motorsports announced May 15 that it has entered a second car for the 90th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race for second-generation driver PJ Jones.

“We’ve heard some buzz in the garage area calling this the ‘David vs. Goliath story,’” Team Leader Motorsports co-owner Kent Baker said. “In the beginning we found some humor in that comparison, but we’re starting to believe in it now. Now we’ve added a second rock for our slingshot.”

Jones, the son of 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones, will attempt to qualify his second Indianapolis 500 in the No. 98 Curb Records Special Panoz/Honda/Firestone.

This will be Jones’ second one-off 500 attempt with car owner Greg Beck’s Curb-Agajanian Beck effort. He finished 28th in his first Indianapolis 500 in 2004 backed by the same entry.
Engine lets Speed down Engine lets Speed downIf you were not a racing driver, what would you be doing now?

A reporter for a Dutch TV station asked Scott Speed that question during the Spanish Grand Prix weekend.

"I have no idea what I'd be doing!" Speed said. "I've been racing as long as I can remember, so I was always involved in racing in some form."

As a driver, California native Speed knows that auto racing is a sport of highs and lows, and he faced one of those disappointing lows in the Spanish Grand Prix when he had to pull his Scuderia Toro Rosso into the garage and retire from the race in which he ran in a strong 11th place.

Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya is a popular F1 testing venue, and Speed knows the track well.

In the first day of practice, Friday, May 12, he turned the 23rd-quickest time.

"We didn't do much running so it's actually quite hard to know exactly where we are here," Speed said. "As we expected, we are definitely losing out to the others in performance terms here with the very long straight. But generally the car is working quite well, no problems in the fast turns, but the hardest thing to sort out now will be the right choice between the two tires."  zzzz

In qualifying the next day, Speed just missed making it through the first knockout session. The top 16 drivers advance to the second session, and Speed clocked the 17th-quickest time.

"Of course, I'd prefer to make it into the next part of the session," he said, "but this is pretty much where I expected to qualify anyway. I'm not disappointed because we took the definite decision to have the car set up more to have a good race pace for tomorrow rather than for today's qualifying. I think this will pay off, and we should have a strong race pace. I have confidence in our tire choice."

While he qualified 17th, Speed gained a position on the starting grid because 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve was demoted to the back of the field after a penalty for an engine change in his BMW Sauber.

At the start of the 66-lap race, Speed vaulted past his teammate, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Christian Klien's Red Bull and Nico Rosberg's Williams to claim 13th place on Lap 1. As the race progressed, Speed climbed to 11th place.

Things were going well for America's only F1 driver until his engine started to act up. At the end of Lap 47, he drove into the pits and retired.

"The car was great in the first stint," he said. "It was amazing that we were able to hang between the two Williams cars of Nico and Mark (Webber). That is pretty incredible for Toro Rosso.

"Legitimately we were running in 11th. We had a great opportunity for points. Again our pit stops were quite slow - we lost three positions - so that was a bit frustrating.

"We need to work, myself and the team, on being able to stop a bit more consistently in the pit box, and then as for the actual pit stop itself, the team is working as hard as they can to improve it. My in and out laps are fantastic. Braking into the speed limit is all perfect. The problem is the actual pit stop. We know now where we are suffering the most."

What made the retirement more disappointing was that Speed's car was performing much better at this particular track than the he and the team expected.

"We were running really quick," he said. "So it is a shame because the pace was there. We will see what happens at the next race in Monaco."

The Monaco Grand Prix, round seven of 18, takes place on May 28. The United States Grand Prix, round 10, is on July 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Racing News
ESPN Sports poll tabs NASCAR as most popular ESPN Sports poll tabs NASCAR as most popularNASCAR tops the list as the favorite type of motorsports according to fans polled from January-December 2005 on ESPN.com. It received 59.5% of the votes compared to the next-highest total of 13.4% for the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). Following in third place were motorcycle events at 9.7, Formula 1 with 6.3, the Indy Racing League (IRL) with 6.1, Champ Car World Series with 1.4 and other racing series at 0.4. NASCAR also led the 2004 version of the ESPN Sports Poll, with fans sampling conducted from January through February of that year. In the 2004 poll, NASCAR led with 57.6% of fans’ response, followed by the NHRA with 13.9, motorcycle events with 9.8, the IRL with 6.8, Formula 1 with 6.0, Champ Car World Series with 1.8 and other racing series at 0.5. NASCAR PR
Houston race deemed a success Houston race deemed a successThis Houston Chronicle article is some positive PR for the future of the Houston GP. The promoters realize there are some issues to deal with and are committed to doing such before next year's event. Let's hope they find a cooler month on the schedule for this race next year. While this year's temperature were quite pleasant, it was an anomaly for May in Houston. Even at night the humidity can be unbearable in Houston . As the merger will require the entire schedule to end in September per the ABC/ESPN TV contract, perhaps a season opening race in February could work in Houston.
Overlooked in Houston Overlooked in HoustonA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, People seem to be overlooking something about the Houston race. Yes, the track was too bumpy and it's true that they should have designed more runoff for Turn 2 and not needed a chicane. But those problems can be fixed. The thing no one is talking about is that the event itself was great. I go to a lot of races (in both open wheel series) and I can tell you the sightlines of the track were among the best I've ever seen - especially in the general admission areas.

The sensation of speed in Turn 4 around the Astrodome was astonishing! Wide-eyed people were gasping and grinning and saying 'Wow!' all weekend. All around the track people were talking about the speed. I know the cars weren't that fast in absolute terms, but the relative speed was very impressive - especially to new fans. Plus, you could get very close to the track and there was something interesting on track all the time.

The Atlantics put on a terrific show, the Star Mazda cars were great. and the ALMS cars were fantastic. To top it all off, the Reliant staff was great. From the parking attendants to the security people, everyone I dealt with was polite, courteous, well informed, and generally friendly and helpful all weekend. I've never seen a better group and it really contributes to the overall mood of the event. As a native Texan, I was very proud of them. Every fan I talked to had a great time and plans to come back.
The promoters certainly didn't get everything right, but next year the track will be better and the fans will be back because the event was great.
Keep up the good work. I love the site. Kerry Vincent, Austin, Texas

Velocity makes aggressive push into NASCAR Velocity makes aggressive push into NASCARVelocity Sports & Entertainment, the leading sports and entertainment marketing agency, announced today an aggressive expansion of its NASCAR business.   Effective May 22, 2006, Velocity will commence operations in Charlotte with one of the industry’s most respected executives, Trip Wheeler leading the charge.

Velocity, which has a rich legacy of motorsports clients, will add Charlotte to its list of office locations which includes Norwalk, CT, Atlanta, Washington, D.C, San Francisco and London.   The company will continue to manage motorsports related business out of Connecticut, but the Charlotte office will become an important spear point representing the interests of its clients to the NASCAR community.  

Velocity has a long history in NASCAR, dating back to the 1980’s for sponsors such as Amoco, Nestle and Quaker State.  For eight years, Velocity served as Promotional Activation agency for NASCAR’s New York office helping league sponsors effectively activate their rights.  More recently, the agency has been actively engaged with NASCAR team sponsors such as FedEx, Vitamin Water and ConAgra Foods.

“We couldn’t be more excited to be in the middle of the action in the NASCAR community,” said Velocity Principal David Grant.   “We’ve known for some time that Velocity needed to match its strength in motorsports with a location in the hub of NASCAR Nation.  Velocity is proud to be part of this community,” Grant added.

Raikkonen gives up on F1 title chase Raikkonen gives up on F1 title chaseKimi Raikkonen has ruled himself out of the hunt for the 2006 world title.

The Finn, who came close to bagging F1's biggest prize in 2003 and again last year, is tipped to leave McLaren at the end of the year after expressing frustration with his current silver-shod racer.

''The title battle will be fought between Ferrari and Renault,'' the 26-year-old told La Gazzetta dello Sport after finishing a distant fifth in Sunday's Spanish grand prix.

At 27 points behind the drivers' championship lead of Fernando Alonso, Raikkonen set a different target for 2006, widely thought to be his last season before switching to Ferrari.

Kimi continued: ''Me?  I'll look for winning some races.  At least I'll try.''

The blonde-haired racer also conceded to the Italian sports newspaper that he does not have 'a good car' this year.

Raikkonen said: ''(Barcelona) is an unforgiving track where you can't hide your flaws.''

To learn why the McLaren is slow this year - see related rumor.

Stellar start for MSR Houston Team Jensen Stellar start for MSR Houston Team JensenIn his first ever major professional car race, Steve Ott proved himself to be a very skilled driver with terrific maturity and self confidence.
Ott (24) piloted the #22 MSR Houston Team Jensen entry in the ChampCar Atlantic race to an impressive 7th place finish at the tricky Houston Grand Prix. The circuit was tight and bumpy, winding it's way through the parking lot adjacent to Reliant Stadium and the Astrodome. Ott was on pace all weekend, but struggled to put together a qualifying lap given the multiple red flags. However in the race, Ott showed well his pace by clocking the 12th fastest lap time, and carving his way up the order to finish in an eventual 7th position.
MSR Houston Team Jensen owner Eric Jensen stated, "I have never seen a better performance from a driver with the limited professional experience of Steve. He must have felt immense pressure driving this expensive race car on these tight streets surrounded by concrete walls, all the while trying to impress his sponsors by running competitively. Steve certainly delivered beyond all expectations, and we are please that we will be able to continue to run Steve. It's such a feel good story to see a quick young guy who deserves a shot actually get the chance to show his skills."
MSR Houston is a new race track facility in Angleton Texas; which is located approximately 25 miles south of downtown Houston. The road course circuit is wide, smooth, and very fast. Many top professional teams from ChampCar and ALMS have utilized the circuit for testing, plus ChampCar Atlantic staged the May 7th and 8th official series test at the facility where all of the series cars participated.
MSR Houston is akin to a racing country club, where private individuals may join as members in order to drive their personal cars on the circuit. MSR Houston is also open for professional racing teams to rent for private testing on certain days throughout the year. For more details, visit www.msrhouston.com
Industry News
Chevy goal: 100K Camaros a year Chevy goal: 100K Camaros a yearWith Ford selling over 160,000 Mustangs a year, GM's Robert Lutz has said that if Chevy brings the Camaro back to life it must sell at least 100,000 per year.  The Camaro Concept car is expected to go into production in 2008 and is a rear-wheel drive muscle car based on the Australia Holden chassis.  GM has not yet given the car the green light, but it is expected to given how well the Mustang is selling.
Italian press writes Schu off Italian press writes Schu off(GMM) The Italian press has begun to write off Michael Schumacher's prospects of winning an eighth career world championship this year.

'La Gazzetta dello Sport' newspaper wrote on Monday, following the Ferrari driver's failure to win a third successive grand prix at Circuit de Catalunya: ''Ferrari, what's the matter?

''The team from Maranello suffered a heavy defeat, and was not competitive for one minute.''

'Tuttosport' predicted that the loss in Spain to Renault and Fernando Alonso was a 'big blow' to Schumacher's rejuvenated charge in 2006.

''He knew immediately that he didn't have a chance to win,'' the newspaper said on Monday. ''He cannot become the world champion.''

'La Stampa' added: 'Ferrari is not competitive', while 'Corriere della Sera' wrote simply that the team's 37-year-old was 'too slow'.

''The tires, too much fuel and the wrong strategy are some of the reasons for the defeat. Alonso's speed was not the surprise, but Ferrari's lack of it was.''

Spain's daily 'Marca', on the other hand, applauded its local hero by saying that Alonso 'flogged' his racing rivals in Barcelona.

'AS', meanwhile, referred to the presence at the circuit of Spain's King Juan Carlos.

The editorial read: ''Alonso is the King of Spain.''

Tough day for Rahal and Unser Tough day for Rahal and UnserHouston, Texas – It was a disappointing day for the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing drivers in Houston at the Fast Trac 100. Graham Rahal finished in 15th position after contact with Raphael Matos damaged his front suspension. Rahal now sits seventh in the championship standings. As for Al Unser III, he retired early from the race due to mechanical problems.

Starting in third position Rahal made it up to second half way through the race, passing eventual race winner, Andreas Wirth. With only a few minutes to go, the son of Champ Car Champion Bobby Rahal tried to make a move on Matos to take the lead but made contact with the Brazilian driver and damaged his right front suspension. Rahal, who had to serve a drive thru penalty for avoidable contact, ended the race 15th, one lap behind the leader in his #18 Gehl Company car. zzzz

“We were having a good race and I was able to get passed Wirth for second place. I was fighting for the lead and with the laps winding down I wanted to get in front of Raphael (Matos). I tried going into turn 1 but we touched and from that point on my race was pretty much over. The important thing is that we were running well up-front and that is what we needed, unfortunately it just didn’t last long enough.”

Al Unser III was also having a good race. He moved up from 21st to 18th at the start, but had problems with a stuck throttle on lap 20. His day ended in the tires in turn two, putting him 23rd in the final standings.

“Today the 200+ Fast Trac car was doing good during the race, unfortunately we ended up having the throttle stick on us going into turn 1. I had to shortcut the chicane and went into turn two a little hesitant and couldn’t get the car to stop. I slid into the tires and was able to start the car back up but the throttle was stuck wide open, putting an end to my race. It’s disappointing because the Mi-Jack Conquest Team provided me with a great car and I really wanted to have a strong race. I hope we can go to Mexico and get the bad luck out of the way.”

The Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Atlantic drivers will be back on track next weekend in Monterrey, Mexico at Fundidora Park for the third round of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship.

Tough day for Gelles boys Tough day for Gelles boysHouston –   Robbie Pecorari and Stephen Simpson had a tough day on the street race around Reliant Center in Houston as race incidents marred their race in the second round of the Atlantic Champ Car series. Starting from the 6th row, Simpson’s day was cut short in the first corner when the funneling effect saw a car push him over the wheel of the car in front of him. He became a passenger until his Western Union machine hit the wall and ended his day. A few laps later, Robbie Pecorari came charging hard in the same corner, braked deep in the corner and was side by side with another car when it suddenly turned early in the corner and their cars made contact. Pecorari had to pit for a flat tire and front wing repairs. He resumed racing and finished in 18th place.

“I’m very disappointed, declared South African Simpson. I saw the cars stopping and I felt a wave coming to me: I tried to go left where I had some room and I was hit from behind by another car and my front right tire rolled over the left rear of the car in front of me. I could not save the Western Union #14 car and I hit the wall to end my day. It’s too bad because I wanted to be patient and open up after a full lap in the scheduled 40-lap race. The car was much better in the morning warm-up and I felt we could have done very well.”

“I feel I had made myself pretty visible coming into the corner," claimed Pecorari.

"I knew space was limited and I stayed very close to the wall. But the other car turned sharply into my car and spun in front of me. With the contact, I had to pit on account of a flat tire and wing repairs. But I came back dead last and wound up 18th overall. I have to admit my car was very good in the first laps and kept improving after I had my tire changed. Me and Stephen will have to forget this one and concentrate on the next round next week in Monterrey.”

Steadily improving
From practice to qualifying sessions, both Pecorari and Simpson improved their times and their positions on Thursday and Friday. “We worked hard with our engineers Dave Conti and Alan Langridge, both said. Our Western Union cars got better every time we took to the track.  We posted the 5th and 6th fastest qualifying times in the Friday Session respectively. But I had to sit in the first qualifying session, added Simpson, when my gearbox was locked. Otherwise my car ran very well.”

The fastest laps of the Spanish GP The fastest laps of the Spanish GP
1. F. Massa - Ferrari - 1:16.648 - lap 42
2. F. Alonso - Renault - 1:16.723 - lap 39
3. M. Schumacher - Ferrari - 1:16.922 - lap 43
4. G. Fisichella – Renault - 1:17.083 - lap 38
5. K. Raikkonen - McLaren - 1:17.357 - lap 40
6. J. Button - Honda - 1:17.367 - lap 40
7. R. Barrichello - Honda - 1:17.399 - lap 40
8. N. Rosberg - Williams - 1:17.861 - lap 51
9. D. Coulthard - Red Bull Racing - 1:17.862 - lap 55
10. N. Heidfeld - BMW Sauber - 1:17.869 - lap 49
11. M. Webber - Williams - 1:17.900 - lap 61
12. J. Villeneuve - BMW Sauber - 1:18.050 - lap 62
13. J. Trulli - Toyota - 1:18.465 - lap 42
14. V. Liuzzi - STR - 1:18.488 - lap 52
15. C. Klien - Red Bull Racing - 1:18.516- lap 59
16. S. Speed - STR - 1:18.541 - lap 41
17. R. Schumacher - Toyota - 1:18.621 - lap 24
18. T. Monteiro - MidlandF1 - 1:19.265 - lap 28
19. JP Montoya - McLaren - 1:19.482 - lap 17
20. C. Albers - MidlandF1 - 1:19.532 - lap 28
21. T. Sato - Super Aguri - 1:20.411 - lap 42
22. F. Montagny - Super Aguri - 1:22.389 - lap 9
Richard Childress receives honorary degree Richard Childress receives honorary degreeChampionship NASCAR team owner Richard Childress will be awarded an honorary degree from the board of trustees of Davidson County Community College (DCCC) during tonight’s commencement ceremony on the school’s campus in Lexington, N.C. Childress’ wife, Judy, will accept the award as he will be busy directing his NASCAR Busch Series teams’ efforts in tonight’s Diamond Hill Plywood 200 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

“I’m honored to receive this recognition from Davidson County Community College and I’m sorry I won’t be there to accept it in person,” said Childress, President and CEO of Richard Childress Racing (RCR). “Davidson County Community College provides its students with a great opportunity to continue their education and prepare for better jobs in the future. It’s also an honor to be rewarded at the same time as my friend Bob Timberlake.”

Childress and Timberlake, a world renowned artist, are only the fourth and fifth community leaders to receive such recognition from DCCC. “Both Timberlake and Childress have generously given their time, talent and resources to better our community. My fellow trustees and I value their support, dedication, and concern for the people and businesses that make up our educational service area,” said Dr. Barbara Leonard who chairs the DCCC Board of Trustees. RCR Press Release

Ganassi commits to the IRL another year Ganassi commits to the IRL another yearChip Ganassi apparently is confident the Indy Racing League is ready to turn the corner -- and perhaps unify with Champ Car -- because he backed off his threat to pull Ganassi Racing from the IRL at season's end if improvements aren't made.  "We're committed to next year (in the league)," he said. Ganassi insisted he doesn't possess insider knowledge regarding recent talks between IRL CEO Tony George and Champ Car's Kevin Kalkhoven, but he believes the concerns of team owners have been heard.  Ganassi's primary concerns center on promotions and exposure.  "We all have been listened to about next year and we've been polled," he said. "I don't know what's going to happen, but I still think it's very, very important that the two sides come together.  "There's a lot of anticipation . . . and I can tell you there's going to be a lot of people let down if something good doesn't come of (these talks). Indy Star
Unification needs to happen now Unification needs to happen nowA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, A 2006 Mid-May Musing & Plea

Welcome to May 2006.  I hate the IRL and everything it stands for—as much as I did in 1995.  I remain enraged at Tony George and the greed of the former CART team owners and shareholders who sold out open wheel racing.  However, despite being a diehard CART and Champ Car fan, watching rain in Indianapolis remains far more compelling than watching Seb Bourdais, Paul Tracy, a few other talented drivers, and a bunch of other drivers I couldn’t care less about bounce and bump their way around a Mickey Mouse circuit in Houston. 

Like many other devoted open wheel fans, I remember the first time I attended the Indy 500 in 1973.  It was rainy—and one of the most tragic races in the rear-engined era.  However, my hair stood up on end as I saw the superteam of Al Unser, Mario Andretti, and Joe Leonard line up on the grid—along with the other heroes of the day such as Mark Donahue, Johnny Rutherford, and the buffoon A.J. Foyt (he is a buffoon, but he could drive a race car in his day).  The Purdue Marching Band played, balloons flew, and “Back Home Again in Indiana” was omnipresent. 

Tony Hulman’s command to start engines brought tears to my eyes—literally and figuratively as we were in seats a mere few feet from the track (seats that were removed after the crash that occurred a few minutes later).  I also remember other epic and emotional days at the Brickyard—rain-driven chaos in ’75, Big Al’s incredible and improbable 4th victory in ’87, Little Al and Emmo going wheel to wheel in ’89, and others.  I never forget or minimize the emotions of race morning, regardless if I’m actually attending the race.  It is far more than a sporting event.  zzzz 

Walking the grid on race morning is a moving emotional experience that gets more intense as the race start nears.  Even watching on TV, “Back Home in Indiana” brings tears to my eyes.  For whatever reason, I can easily separate my venom for Mr. George and the IRL from my admiration for his prime piece of property and the race it hosts (I’m not talking about the USGP or the boring Brickyard parade).

Watching the Houston race weekend on TV typified open wheel racing at its most ordinary and boring.  The track is an uninteresting, bumpy joke.  The chassis are tired and need to be changed.  Thus, the “technology” is an irrelevant afterthought.  Apart from a few star and recognizable drivers, I really don’t care about any of the other drivers or teams.  The non-stars may be talented (some more than others), but they lack charisma and anything else that makes them interesting to fans.  The broadcasts are second rate at best.  Rick Benjamin is well-intentioned, but he talks too fast most of the time and, when he can be understood, is as interesting as former Bush Press Secretary Scott McClellan. 

The “weekend festival” theme fashioned by Champ Car officials may be profitable (or not) and could potentially attract new attendees (not necessarily “fans”), but it makes for bad and boring racing.  I’m a true Champ Car fan, and I didn’t care who was on “Reds” or regular tires, who pitted where and when, whether the fast dry concrete gremlins would affect drivers other than Bourdais, and, incredibly, who won!  The race was a non-event.

The IRL is far worse.  I have not attended an Indy 500 in the IRL era, and refuse to do so.  I refuse to attend any IRL event.  I confess that I attended one Saturday qualifying session at California Speedway a few years back, but I left after sheer boredom set in after watching 5 cars attempt to qualify. 

I cannot watch the IRL on TV.  The announcers spew pure propaganda.  Today, Arute called the punk P.J. Chesson the IRL’s newest “sensation”.  He’s as much a “sensation” as the infamous Indy qualifier Racin Gardner (Marty Roth may be somewhat of a phenom as well).  The IRL’s chassis and engine package lacks appeal as well.  The rules essentially mandate 100% throttle racing using ugly, overweight chassis and anemic, spec engines.  I could go on and on, but the IRL doesn’t warrant such considered thought.

Unification is the easy and sole beginning of a remedy for open wheel racing.  The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is hallowed, sacred ground.  It deserves strong, reasoned ownership.  The single, unified series needs strong, competitive teams with talented and interesting drivers.  Open wheel racing deserves a balanced schedule of challenging race tracks, attractive venues, and devoted promoters. For the sake of the fans, talented upcoming drivers, well intentioned car owners and promotes, and the Speedway itself, unification needs to happen now. Ken Ehrlich

Dear Ken, Unification for the sake of unification will not be a silver bullet that will solve all of Indy Car Racing's problems overnight.  That is why it is important they get it right.  They will have only one chance to succeed, because if the unification fails it would be even more disastrous for the sport.  I'm afraid that if you set your expectations too high for a unification, you may be disappointed that the new merged series doesn't meet your vision of what it should be.  You cannot expect the sport to be magically fixed overnight.  It will be a rebuilding process that could take years. Mark C.

Hildebrand Claims Impressive Double Victory Hildebrand Claims Impressive Double VictoryBraselton, Ga.– J.R. Hildebrand (right) earned a brace of victories on Saturday, outpacing 27 other competitors when the 2006 Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship kicked off in style at Road Atlanta.

Cape Motorsports teammate and fellow Californian teenager Dane Cameron took second in both 30-minute races. Venezuelan Ricardo Vassmer and Englishman Dominik Jackson each claimed one podium finish.

Gerry Kraut, from North Oaks, Minn., was the best-placed Cooper Masters finisher (for drivers over 35 years of age), taking sixth overall in the first race with the #5 Daugherty & Co./JDC Motorsports Van Diemen. Jason Byers, from Livonia, Mich., took the honors in Race Two, also placing sixth overall in the #28 A&B Refrigeration/St. Clair Motorsports Van Diemen.

Another talented teenager, Cole Morgan, from Lighthouse Point, Fla., dominated the Cooper Gold Cup category (for older Pinto-engined cars), scooping a pair of victories in the venerable #11 Morgan Homes/Lee Racing/10-Tenths Motorsports Swift DB-6. zzzz

Cameron, from Sonoma, Calif., was the first to make his mark in an extremely competitive field. The 17-year-old high school student capped an enthralling qualifying session, during which the top half-dozen drivers had traded fastest times on a regular basis, by snaring the coveted pole position – and a valuable championship point – aboard the #19 Finlay Motorsports/Jim Russell Racing School/Red Line Oil Van Diemen. Vassmer, from Caracas, Venezuela, was second fastest in the #25 Comprent Motorsports Van Diemen, while Hildebrand, from Sausalito, Calif., had to be content with third on the grid in the #2 Formotion/Spy Optics/Mockett.com Van Diemen.

Hildebrand, 18, who had been fastest during most of the preseason tests, moved up to second place immediately after the start of the opening race, then deposed Cameron from the lead at the beginning of the second lap. He opened up a useful gap in the early stages, before clipping a curb heavily in Turn Three and falling back into the clutches of Cameron. Unfortunately for Cameron, the race finished under caution when Chuck Lessick crashed his #58 ZAT Graphics/ZAT Racing Van Diemen. Lessick, from Sheridan, Ill., was not injured.

"I think we would have had a good battle with J.R. but I was really happy with second," said Cameron.

Vassmer, the 2005 Cooper Gold Cup champion, finished third ahead of Andy Knight (#33 NAPA/G.FRO Van Diemen), from Christchurch, New Zealand, and Potomac, Md.’s Chris Meredith (#3 MII Security/Bertil Roos Racing School/Primus Racing Van Diemen).

Light rain began to fall just before the second 30-minute contest, but all of the front-runners elected to stay on slick, dry-weather Cooper Zeon tires.

Hildebrand, who had taken the pole by virtue of posting the fastest lap in Race One, took off into the lead on a treacherous track and remained out in front, although he never was able to pull out much of a lead.

"Coming into a new series with a new team, I really wanted to start things off with a bang and I think I pretty much accomplished that," related Hildebrand, who finished second in last year’s Pacific F2000 Championship.

Renault relieved by 'psychological' win Renault relieved by 'psychological' win(GMM)  Victory in Spain was also a 'psychological' win for Renault and Fernando Alonso.

That's the belief of Renault's Pat Symonds, who said a third successive defeat to Ferrari's Michael Schumacher - not to mention in front of 131,000 Spaniards - would not have been a good lead-in to the second third of the 2006 calendar.

''It's still only ten points,'' the Briton told 'Premiere' in Spain, ''but psychologically it was important to win today.

''In the winter we were very strong here, so if we had lost, we would have been asking ourselves some unpleasant questions.''

Renault was openly worried about not only the pace, but the consistency of the Bridgestone-shod Ferrari package throughout practice at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Symonds admitted: ''I was not overly optimistic.  The race panned out better than I had expected it would.''

Many F1 teams will re-appear at the Paul Ricard circuit in southern France early this week to prepare for the Monaco grand prix.

Schu sets sail for Monaco Schu sets sail for Monaco(GMM) Michael Schumacher says he will try to return to the top step of the podium next time out, at Monaco.

The German, who was a little puzzled to lose by 18 seconds to Renault's Fernando Alonso in Barcelona, said the street circuit in Monte Carlo is one of his favorites on the calendar.

But Ferrari's Schumacher said: ''I don't know how the situation is going to look there.

''Here, we were very confident, everything was going well, but (on Sunday) I was suddenly one second slower than him.

''So first we need to find the reason for that.''

Technical director Ross Brawn expressed confidence that the red team could return to winning form very quickly, although he admitted that a few bad races for Alonso would be 'helpful'.

The Briton said: ''We have many new parts coming, and Michael is always very good in Monte Carlo.''

Also looking forward to Monaco is Jenson Button, who admitted in Barcelona that his Honda simply was not a match for the leading two.

But, before heading to David Coulthard's party in the city to mark his 200 career grands prix, 'JB' said: ''I love Monaco.

''Two years ago I finished second there so hopefully we can do that again or even go one better.''

Don't declare 'F1 peace' just yet Don't declare 'F1 peace' just yet(GMM)  The headlines screamed 'Peace!', but the carmakers' deal with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone still has a way to go.

It is interesting to note the slightly mixed messages out of the two press releases on Sunday.

The Renault announcement, paving the mood of peace, made it clear that the concrete is now drying.  A deal, no doubt, is done.

Following suit, however, was the GPMA's press proclamation, which indicated that Toyota, Mercedes, Honda and BMW are also now committed.

But, for the last trio, there is not a 'Concorde' in sight.  What they signed in Spain was a Memorandum Of Understanding, which - crucially - excluded the signature of a vital 75-year-old supremo.

Indeed, their 'agreement' should be viewed more as an end to divisions between the GPMA manufacturers themselves, rather than with the F1 establishment.

''(The GPMA teams) look forward to the commercial rights holder accepting the terms agreed today,'' the GPMA statement said.

While confirmation of Bernie and CVC's assent was expected on Sunday evening, it is unclear whether this took place.  CVC's Donald McKenzie was believed to have been on his way to Barcelona on Sunday afternoon.

Furthermore, it is not known to what extent a compromise was settled over the issue of money; GPMA was vehemently pushing for 60 per cent of F1's income, but a stalwart Ecclestone was offering only 50.

Another missing piece is that the sporting, technical and thorny governance issues - the GPMA's continuing debate with the FIA - are even more unresolved.

McLaren-Mercedes' Ron Dennis said: ''This document is only the first step towards a new Concorde Agreement and ... (new) sporting and technical regulations.

''There is still a way to go.  This is not the final version of the Concorde Agreement, but it is a good starting point.''

Ferrari lineup could be unveiled earlier - Todt Ferrari lineup could be unveiled earlier - Todt(GMM)  Jean Todt has tempered Michael Schumacher's claim that an announcement by Ferrari about its 2007 driver line-up could be delayed until the last race.

The Italian team's principal told reporters after the Spanish grand prix that an 'earlier' call is likely.

Todt said: ''Together with Michael, when he feels comfortable with the announcement, we should do it around Monza (in mid September).''

However, with Schumacher, Felipe Massa, Kimi Raikkonen and Valentino Rossi all in the mix, the France-born chief was giving little away about the possible look of next year's Maranello based squad.

''We need to secure Ferrari in a strong situation for the future,'' he insisted.

Wirth savors his second victory of 2006 Wirth savors his second victory of 2006Making his third career Atlantic victory even sweeter, Andreas' win in Houston represents the first time in 14 years that a driver has captured back-to-back wins in the opening two rounds of an Atlantic Championship.

Starting from second on the grid, Andreas took the lead in the early stages of an action packed race with a picture-perfect pass on the pole-sitter, Raphael Matos, on the new temporary track on the grounds of Reliant Stadium where it was said little passing would be had.

"We struggled a bit all weekend with the setup over the bumps" said Wirth, "We weren't way off the pace in practice or qualifying and we just weren't at the level we were in Long Beach, but it was just about impossible to get a good clean lap in qualifying because of all the traffic and red flags, so I was a bit disappointed. Fortunately though, my car was really good at the beginning of the race, and I could get by Matos and just pull away."

As Wirth's car went away from him mid-race, increased tire pressures meant early braking and his early lead slipped from his grasp on lap 18 of what would go on to be a timed race, cut short to 36 laps. "The tire pressures got a bit too high and I had to brake way early in the corners and ended up losing two positions. Raphael got by and Graham just followed him through the inside of the corner and got past also, so I was thinking that was it." zzzz

However, Wirth's patience and experience paid off as he persisted behind the leaders through four full-course yellows that were spotted with some dodgy restarts, which were dubbed "dangerous" by others of the 28-car field. On the final restart, with just five laps remaining, Wirth seemed to be keeping his distance, possibly expecting another incident. And as if it had been part of his plan all along, Wirth regained the lead when Matos and Rahal, who were battling for the lead heading into the Turn 1 chicane, made contact.

After the deciding sequence change, it was no challenge for Wirth to hold off the rest of the pack as he took the checkers with a 5.542 lead over second place "challenger" Simon Pagenaud and a 7.334 lead over third place finisher Jonathan Bomarito.

With great enthusiasm Andreas relates his win, "It's fantastic to win here in Houston! I got lucky at the end when they tangled in the chicane. I pretty much saw it coming when Graham dove inside Raphael and I just waited for it to happen. I was lucky. Like I said, my car was good in the beginning, but if we didn't have those cautions, no one knows if I would have won. What can I say though? Two wins in two races - I've never had such a good start to a season. I just need to stay at this level, and I know I can do that with this team. I've got a good points lead and I don't think I'll feel any pressure heading into Monterrey."

Going into round three of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship of 2006 at Monterrey Mexico, Andreas tightens his grip on the Championship as he positions himself well with 65 Championship points, a 14 point lead over second place. Andreas proves himself again to be Fab 1 of 4 on the Forsythe Championship Atlantic Racing team.

Finally, Andreas wants to thank everyone at Forsythe Championship Racing, his guys, all the Engineers, and especially his Engineer - Nick Harvey for everything this weekend ... he couldn't have made another visit to Victory Lane without them!

Tagliani to hospital Tagliani to hospitalUPDATE Team Australia’s Alex Tagliani has been released from Hermann Hospital in Houston this morning after a late-race accident yesterday and believes he will be fit enough for this weekend’s third round of the Champ Car World Series in Monterrey Mexico.

Tagliani was taken to hospital for overnight observation after hitting a wall at turn three during last night’s Houston Grand Prix.

The talented Canadian suffered back pains due to the accident and he underwent x-rays, MRI and CT Scans of sections of his back.

Despite being given the “all clear”, Tagliani will travel to Indianapolis for further precautionary checks with Champ Car’s leading orthopedic consultant, Dr Terry Trammell today.

On being released this morning, Tagliani went straight to the track where his Team Australia crew was re-building his car before it was to be trucked down to Mexico for this weekend’s third round at Monterrey.

“I obviously feel a little stiff after the accident, but I feel much better than yesterday,” said Tagliani.

“As every hour goes by I feel stronger and stronger and more flexible.

“I will head to Indianapolis to see doctor Trammell, but at this stage I feel like I will have no problems racing in Monterrey this weekend.

“The throttle stuck open and having front brakes just made everything worse. By the time I got to the switch to cut the engine I was in the wall.

“It was obviously disappointing because we were on track for a good points haul. We will just have to make sure we get them back in Monterrey.”

05/14/06 Team Australia’s (#15) Canadian driver Alex Tagliani, is on the way to Hermann Hospital due to hitting the wall in turn three after rear brake failure occurred from an accident with Oriol Servia during Saturday night's Houston GP. Tagliani is suffering back pains due to the accident. The Champ Car medical staff recommended an overnight stay and an MRI to check for inflammation. More information will be released tomorrow.
Unser meets fastest runner Unser meets fastest runnerTwo-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Jr. met Olympic gold medalist and 100-meter world-record holder Justin Gatlin this morning in the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing garage in Gasoline Alley. Gatlin set the world record Friday in Qatar.

AL UNSER JR.: "The similarities that we talked about were the wind and the air temperature. I asked him, 'What kind of winds were there?' for him when he set the record. Basically, it was the same as us. A nice little tailwind makes us go faster, and it's the same way with him. The humidity and cold air (hurts a sprinter). Cold air is pretty heavy, and hot air is pretty light, so what he basically said for a sprinter is that you want it dry and hot. Today would be a horrible day for him."

JUSTIN GATLIN (World Record holder, 100 meters): (About the Indianapolis Motor Speedway): "It's amazing. The structure is quite unique. There's nothing like it in the world. These cars are fast and I'm addicted to speed. I'm like a kid all over again. I've learned a lot about (the "500") today. I'm a big fan now. I think these cars are traveling 200 (mph) plus, especially hitting those curves and taking on those g-forces what is it, probably 4 Gs at a time. I mean every car out there, and they're hitting the track more than 500 times so I take my hat off to them. They're great athletes. It's all about a mental and a physical out there and it's dangerous as well." (What is it like to be the world's fastest human?): "It feels great, as an athlete, I feel like it was time for me to have the world record. I've done everything already; I've achieved all the goals that I could. And me being a competitor, I just want to do it again. I just want to go out there and redo everything again. But as a person, I think I'm still in shock. I think it really set in this morning when I woke up and got out of the shower and I wrote 9.76 on the foggy mirror. I had to really sit back and look at that time and look at how fast it was and I did that. I can't believe it, and I'm happy about that.

Rain again forces cancellation at Indy Rain again forces cancellation at IndySteady rains forced WorldPoints Visa Card Pole Day Qualifications for the 90th Indianapolis 500 to be moved from May 14 to Saturday, May 20, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Indy Racing League officials announced.

Unlike the last two days, where activity was completely cancelled, it was not a complete washout. Twenty-four drivers and teams had approximately 45 minutes of practice before rains brought an end to the day's activity at 2:15 p.m. (EDT). It was the first time since 1983 that a complete weekend of qualifications was rained out.

Qualifying for the 33-car field will be Saturday. "Bump Day" will take place as scheduled on May 21. The practice and qualifications times shall be announced later. Fans can use May 13 and May 14 tickets as a rain-check for either May 20 or May 21.

May 15-16 – No track activity
May 17-19 – Practice for all cars
May 20 – Qualifications, positions 1-33
May 21 – Bump Day

Selected quotes from the Brian Barnhart. zzzz

BRIAN BARNHART (President and COO, Indy Racing League): "Well, we really tried to keep all options open and balance all kinds of factors before making a decision. It kind of goes back to we have four scheduled days of qualifying, and we are going to stick to those four scheduled days. We've lost the first two to inclement weather. Our original plan under the new format called for 33 cars to be in the field by the conclusion of the third day, so we are going to stick to that plan, and we'll do positions one through 33 on Saturday as Joie mentioned. Sunday will remain as Bump Day, bumping the slowest cars in the field."

(About possibly of qualifying Monday and Tuesday): "There were a number of factors. When I've talked before about trying to keep options open, it includes trying to do what is best for the fans. They are obviously most important. It is difficult for fans to be here on Monday and Tuesday when the original schedule called for the track to be closed. And both from the (Indianapolis Motor) Speedway standpoint and from a League standpoint, we face staffing issues. You take the competitors into consideration. You certainly take the weather forecast into consideration, and tomorrow's forecast isn't much better than what we've been unfortunately experiencing the last three or four days. There were a number of factors involved in that (decision), but I think as I said earlier, it just kind of goes down to we had four original days of qualifying. We've lost the first two, and we'll stick to the third and fourth and the plan of doing 33 by the end of the day."

(About the qualifying format): "I think the potential of this format is really exciting. I think even more so this year than last year with the parity we have in competition with Honda as the sole engine supplier and the leveled playing field of competition that we have as the shortened week of practice even demonstrated. We had 22 or 23 cars that are really in the hunt going for 11 spots. With three attempts per day out of those cars, I think we were really setting ourselves up for an exciting day. Two years in a row we haven't been able to experience that, but that's fine. That's one of those things you can't be too unhappy about. You don't control it, and you can't control you. You take the situation as it's dealt to you and make decisions moving forward based on what's in the best interest for everybody."

(How much time do the drivers need on the track?): "We'll have to deal with it when it comes about. I think (weather forecasters) are far enough out that I don't feel real comfortable that they are able to predict that far in advance. At least I'm hoping not, because the forecast is not very good. But track time is important. I think the guys running the first week are in pretty good shape. Some of the second week runners have had time in the ROP. Thiago Medeiros ran in that session. Some of the guys did refreshers as well. Larry Foyt ran one day as well. Track time is vital and important to them. It puts a little bit of a burden on them now that they need to mix and balance full tank runs and race preparation with qualification preparation. You will be jockeying for all 33 spots, keep an eye on the weather forecast, which adds another dimension that will make it just that much more challenging for them."

Wheldon, Hornish top 228 MPH before rains Wheldon, Hornish top 228 MPH before rainsMother nature continues to punish the Indy 500 this May as she gave a reprieve just long enough today to allow Target Chip Ganassi's Dan Wheldon and Marlboro Team Penske's Sam Hornish to top 228 MPH in practice - the fastest speeds of the month so far.  The skies then opened up and it's raining again in Indianapolis and the 2nd attempt at pole qualifying appears to be in jeopardy.

Pos Driver Behind Leader Best Time Best Speed
1 Dan Wheldon (10) ... 39.3592 228.663
2 Sam Hornish Jr (6) 0.0765 39.4357 228.220
3 Helio Castroneves (3T) 0.1339 39.4931 227.888
4 Scott Dixon (9) 0.2405 39.5997 227.274
5 Dario Franchitti (27) 0.2954 39.6546 226.960
6 Tony Kanaan (11) 0.3953 39.7545 226.389
7 Ed Carpenter (20) 0.5942 39.9534 225.262
8 Bryan Herta (7) 0.6071 39.9663 225.190
9 Scott Sharp (8) 0.6146 39.9738 225.147
10 Tomas Scheckter (2) 0.6247 39.9839 225.091
11 Michael Andretti (1) 0.6462 40.0054 224.970
12 Marco Andretti (26) 0.6615 40.0207 224.884
13 Townsend Bell (90) 0.6802 40.0394 224.779
14 Vitor Meira (4T) 0.6834 40.0426 224.761
15 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 0.8751 40.2343 223.690
16 Eddie Cheever Jr (51) 0.9898 40.3490 223.054
17 Danica Patrick (16) 1.0503 40.4095 222.720
18 Buddy Rice (15T) 1.1154 40.4746 222.362
19 Jeff Simmons (17) 1.3528 40.7120 221.065
20 Felipe Giaffone (14) 1.4161 40.7753 220.722
21 Buddy Lazier (5) 1.5066 40.8658 220.233
22 Al Unser Jr (31) 1.7084 41.0676 219.151
23 PJ Chesson (91) 1.9097 41.2689 218.082
24 Marty Roth (25) 2.3477 41.7069 215.792

German F3
Ho-Pin Tung wins third straight Ho-Pin Tung wins third straightKlettwitz – Twenty nine drivers and only one can win the race but for the second successive day the Chinese national anthem was played at the EuroSpeedway. Ho-Pin Tung (23) started in second place and not only won the race but also regained the championship lead!

Ho-Pin Tung: “ I drove a very solid race and was in second place until Foster had car problems and gave me the lead so I could score maximum points this weekend!”

In the morning qualifying session determining the grid positions for round 6 of the Formula 3 Cup the spectators were treated with a very exciting session in which Joey Foster scored his first pole position and will be joined on the front row for the afternoon’s race by Ho-Pin Tung who managed to drive the second fastest lap in the very last seconds of the session. Starting third will be Marcello Thomaz from Brazil who changed this weekend from a one year old car to the new Dallara F306 Opel-Spiess.

HO-PIN: “Just like yesterday in qualifying we had so many yellow flags. Today I only had three clear laps and my fastest lap was only two tenths of a second slower as Foster’s lap. During my fastest lap I also had to overtake somebody which cost me a little bit of time.”

Ho-Pin started sixth round of the Formula 3 cup from the front row and followed Joey Foster into the first corner with Nico Hulkenberg in third position. In lap eleven Foster ran into car problems and had to park his car and scored no points. From that moment Ho-Pin was leading the race comfortably and took another 10 points and shared the podium with Hulkenberg in second place and Ferdinand Kool in third place.

HO-PIN: “I was running in second place behind Foster when his car failed. Last year I had a transmission problem in the warming up lap and was very disappointed but today I am glad that it was Foster and not me again. I am happy to win two races in one weekend and leave the Lausitzring with 21 points added to my championship tally!”

100 wins for Renault and Elf 100 wins for Renault and ElfThe first victory for Renault-Elf dates back to 1979 at the French GP.

27 years later, we have scored our 100th win together here in Barcelona, with the Renault F1 Team and its driver Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella.

The team’s excellent start to the season continues our exceptional partnership, which has already won 6 Constructors’ titles and 5 Drivers’ crowns.

Renault-Elf 100 Grand Prix triumphs

1979: France (Jean-Pierre Jabouille/Renault).
1980: Brazil, South Africa (René Arnoux/Renault), Austria (Jean-Pierre Jabouille/Renault).
1981: France, Netherlands, Italy (Alain Prost/Renault).
1982: South Africa, Brazil (Alain Prost/Renault), France, Italy (René Arnoux/Renault).
1983: France, Belgium, United Kingdom, Austria (Alain Prost/Renault).
1985: Portugal, Belgium (Ayrton Senna/Lotus-Renault), San Marino (Elio de Angelis/Lotus-Renault).
1986: Spain, United States (Ayrton Senna/Lotus-Renault).
1989: Canada, Australia (Thierry Boutsen/Williams-Renault).
1990: San Marino (Riccardo Patrese/Williams-Renault), Hungary (Thierry Boutsen/Williams-Renault).
1991: Mexico, Portugal, (Riccardo Patrese/Williams-Renault), France, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain (Nigel Mansell/Williams-Renault).
1992: South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, San Marino, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Portugal (Nigel Mansell/Williams-Renault), Japan (Riccardo Patrese/Williams-Renault).
1993: Africa, San Marino, Spain, Canada, France, United Kingdom, Germany, (Alain Prost/Williams-Renault), Hungary, Belgium, Italy (Damon Hill/Williams-Renault).
1994: Spain, United Kingdom, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Japan
(Damon Hill/Williams-Renault), Australia (Nigel Mansell/Williams-Renault).
1995: Brazil, Spain, Monaco, France, Germany, Belgium, Europe, Pacific, Japan (Michael Schumacher/Benetton-Renault), United Kingdom, Italy (Johnny Herbert/Benetton-Renault), Argentina, San Marino, Hungary, Australia (Damon Hill/Williams-Renault), Portugal (David Coulthard/Williams-Renault). 
1996: Australia, Brazil, Argentina, San Marino, Canada, France, Germany, Japan (Damon Hill/Williams-Renault), Europe, United Kingdom, Hungary, Portugal (Jacques Villeneuve/Williams-Renault).
2003: Hungary (Fernando Alonso/Renault F1 Team).
2004: Monaco (Jarno Trulli/Renault F1 Team).
2005: Australia (Giancarlo Fisichella/Renault F1 Team), Malaysia, Bahrain, San Marino, Europe, France, Germany, China (Fernando Alonso/Renault F1 Team).
2006 : Bahrain, Australia (Fernando Alonso/Renault F1 Team), Malaysia (Giancarlo Fisichella/Renault F1 Team), Spain (Fernando Alonso/Renault F1 Team)

Damp, overcast day again at Indy Damp, overcast day again at IndyCold and damp weather continues to plague Indy Car teams the first weekend of Indy 500 qualifying. At 11:00 a.m. (EDT) it was overcast 48F (9C) with winds SW 3 mph. Forecast: Occasional rain. High near 53. WNW wind 7 mph.

At 1:21 p.m. EDT the cars finally took to the track for some practice. We'll see if we get any qualifying in today before it rains again, but there is a small window of opportunity showing on the Doppler radar.

Neal wins Oulton Race 2 Neal wins Oulton Race 2Matt Neal has won the second of today's three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship rounds at the Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire.

Neal, the reigning champion in his Team Halfords Honda, made a great start to move from fourth to first into the opening corner.

Neal then held a one-second lead to Vauxhall's Fabrizio Giovanardi to achieve his third win of the season - a result that further extends his championship lead ahead of this afternoon's third race at 16.10.

Italian Giovanardi took second - his best result since joining the BTCC. Third was race one winner, Neal's team-mate Gordon Shedden.

Neal's closest championship rival, Team RAC's Colin Turkington, finished a lap down after pitting to repair damage to his MG, but at least set a new lap record to score one bonus point.

Plato wins Oulton Race 3 Plato wins Oulton Race 3Jason Plato has won the third of today's three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship rounds at the Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire.

Plato took the lead from SEAT team-mate James Thompson four laps into the race and from there was never headed, setting the race's fastest lap en route to his second win of the season. Thompson followed him home in second.

Third was Vauxhall's Tom Chilton who had started from pole position and led the opening lap before running wide and allowing both SEAT drivers to nip past.

In the title race, points leader Matt Neal was eighth in his Team Halfords Honda. As a result, he now holds a 14-point lead over new second-placed driver Thompson.

Plato is up to third, just one point behind Thompson. Team RAC's Colin Turkington, who finished the race in sixth, has dropped from second to fourth, three points behind Plato.

Renault did not expect Alonso win Renault did not expect Alonso win(GMM)  Renault's Pat Symonds has admitted that he expected Michael Schumacher to win the Spanish grand prix of 2006.

The engineering chief at local victor Fernando Alonso's team told 'RTL' that he was not feeling optimistic as the first of 66 laps unfolded at the Catalan track.

He said: ''I thought Michael and Ferrari would have had the speed to win this race.

''But when it counted, we were fast enough.''

Symonds also denied that Alonso's teammate, Giancarlo Fisichella, deliberately held up Schumacher during the race.

''Absolutely not,'' the Englishman said, ''he was at the absolute limit.''

A team statement, meanwhile, referred to 'inconsistent handling' - not tactics - that slowed the Roman's pace.

Home win beats world title, says Alonso Home win beats world title, says Alonso(GMM) Spaniard Fernando Alonso said winning his home grand prix on Sunday ranked alongside securing his world championship last year.

''It is probably the best feeling so far in a formula one
car,'' said the Renault star after taking the personal congratulation of his King in Barcelona.

Comparing the moment with clinching the drivers' title in Brazil 2005, he added: ''This one was maybe a better feeling because we crossed the line winning.

''I enjoyed this more.''

Alonso's dominant display at Circuit de Catalunya was his third such victory so far in 2006.

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher simply had to admit that, despite back-to-back wins at Imola and last weekend in Germany, his car was 'not quick enough' this time.

The German added: ''I'm reasonably happy to lose only two points. Sometimes you have to accept what is not possible.

''We are going to analyze where this weekend went away from us.''

McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya, meanwhile, confirmed that a failing traction control system spun him into retirement, while Ralf Schumacher said he was trying to pass Toyota teammate Jarno Trulli when they collided.

''We are allowed to race each other,'' Ralf remarked.

Williams' Nico Rosberg was lapped for the very first time in his fledgling career, after the team struggled in Spain.

''It is not a pleasant feeling,'' the German said.

Track News
Champ Car gets hammered for Houston track Champ Car gets hammered for Houston trackUPDATE It looks like some people agree with us that the bumpy track actually made for an exciting race for a street circuit.

"These Champ Car guys who complained about the track being too bumpy are prima donnas," said Atlantic driver Leo Maia. "Just drive it man. You think AJ Foyt would give a hoot about the bumps? He probably wouldn't even notice them. People are whining about nothing. I wouldn't change a thing."

John Lopez, a sports writer for the Houston Chronicle agrees. "This is the Houston Grand Prix, not the Malibu Grand Prix. So long as the bumps and tricky Turn 2 do not pose a danger - and none of the races indicated severe peril - leave it alone.

"The challenging parts of the course clearly affected every driver all week. They made them make race-deciding decisions. Dominguez in fact lost Saturday's race because he went too deep into a bumpy Turn 5 and could not recover, opening the door for Bourdais. Don't change a thing. Give the crew chiefs, owners and drivers as many challenges as possible. Make the engineers make necessary adjustments to suspension and steering. That's what racing is, and in the meantime you give the Houston layout something of distinction." We saw more passing and action on this street race than we have in a long time. The fans were cheering at the end of the race and that, after all, is what really matters.

05/14/06 If Champ Car officials are the street racing experts -- and we have to assume they are, because they say so -- then how do they keep getting street circuits so wrong?

The latest case in point: The 1.615-mile temporary circuit that winds its way through Houston's Reliant Park. It's concrete-lined proof that any lessons that should have been learned by last summer's disaster in San Jose were not.

And those aren't the only examples. For every sublime new track like Edmonton, which came on board in 2005, there's another one that's ridiculous. Take the 2002-04 downtown Miami track with its 81-mph pole speed. Please.

It's clearly difficult to fashion a temporary street course that works for racing cars and spectators, which makes the good ones like Monaco, Macau, Long Beach, Toronto and Surfers Paradise all that much more special. But a poorly designed or executed street course is no fun for anybody.

The downtown Houston track used from 1998-2001 got ripped for its succession of boring, 90-degree turns. But until improvements are made to the new site, current Champ Car teams and drivers would love to be back there. The new circuit certainly looked great on paper, as a Sharpie doodle on a map of Reliant Park. Unfortunately, the execution came up painfully short.

"I told them two months ago when I was here for a media day that the track would need extensive grinding," said two-time defending series champion Sebastien Bourdais. "I guess I wasn't heard.

"It's a shame because this place is just beautiful," he added. "It has everything it needs to be one of the best street courses we've ever had. Unfortunately, it's bumpy enough that it ruins the attraction."  More at ESPN.com 

[Editor's Note: Yes, the chicane for Houston was silly and the track design in Turn 2 should have been dealt with during the design phase so that a silly chicane was not necessary, and yes, the track was too bumpy, but bumpy tracks always make for the most entertaining races - always have, always will.  Bumpy tracks test a driver's and a car's limits and it leads to mistakes and hence passes.  There is nothing more boring than a 2-hour street race parade where everything is so 'perfect' that no one can pass, and Houston on Saturday night was anything but boring.  AutoRacing1.com was told that the track will be improved for next year's race, but if they remove all the bumps will we see any passing given there are no real long straights?  Only time will tell.]
Wallace wins ARCA race Wallace wins ARCA raceSteve Wallace, son of former NASCAR star Rusty Wallace, held off a fellow 18-year-old driver Saturday night to win the Harley-Davidson of Cincinnati 150 at Kentucky Speedway for his second career ARCA-RE/Max victory. Wallace had the lead in the oft-delayed 100-lap race when a caution on the second-to-last lap prolonged it by three for a green-white-checker finish. Brad Coleman, who hasn't yet graduated from high school, made several attempts to pass Wallace on the final lap, but couldn't get by. "Everything was just perfect," Wallace said.
F1 goes to the movies F1 goes to the moviesThe Formula 1 world is getting into bed with the movies in the next couple of weeks as the film world gathers at Cannes between May 17-28 and will be a big presence at the forthcoming Monaco Grand Prix with Red Bull Racing expected to do a deal to promote one of the movies at the festival, following on from its efforts in recent years with Star Wars and Ocean's 11 (when the team was still Jaguar Racing). It is not yet clear which film will be involved. Given that the others were both Warner Brother productions it would be worth guessing that this year the film will be Superman Returns, the company's biggest launch of the summer.

In Barcelona Walt Disney started the winding-up for the launch its new Pixar movie called Cars which will be released this summer. Film star Owen Wilson and director John Lasseter turned up in the paddock in Barcelona. The film is the latest in a series of Pixar successes, that have included Toy Story, Bug's Life, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. The voiceover credits for the movie include Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso. Grandprix.com

Viso wins GP2 sprint race Viso wins GP2 sprint raceErnesto Viso has taken his second GP2 win of the season in a tight but uneventful race two in Barcelona, holding on to beat Nelson Piquet Jr, Alex Premat and Lewis Hamilton to the checkered flag.

Viso was never headed in a race which was unusually devoid of overtaking on the technical circuit, with the teams showing what happens when they all have extensive set up data on a track that the drivers know very well.

At the start polesitter Viso was quickly away as the lights went out, with fellow front row starter Xandi Negrao stalling and being swamped by the oncoming field. Piquet had a lightening start to move up from fifth to second, with the ART pair following the Brazilian through the grid by running outside Michael Ammermüller at turn one.

Ferdinando Monfardini was very slow off the line, dropping from third to seventh, while Tristan Gommendy had a safe start to hold on as best he could ahead of Giorgio Pantano, who pushed up three places to sixth. zzzz

At the front Viso was pushing hard to establish a lead over Piquet, with the pair trading fastest laps ahead of ART drivers Premat and Hamilton, as the order all along the field was shaking itself out.

Part of that process was Clivio Piccione and Franck Perera taking each other out on lap two, while Jose Maria Lopez was into the pits with yet another problem.

With the drivers at the front establishing their positions for the race the action was happening further back, with Timo Glock holding on grimly for eleventh ahead of Andreas Zuber, Nicolas Lapierre and Sergio Hernandez, a train forming owing to the difficulty of overtaking on this circuit.

Nonetheless Monfardini was determined to try: for lap after lap he hounded Pantano for the final points position, and lap after lap Pantano was determined to make the most of his re-entry into the series after just missing today's pole, which he had lost to Viso on the last lap yesterday.

The pressure finally told on lap nineteen, when Pantano ran wide and over the edge of the gravel trap at the final corner, and Monfardini scampered through for sixth, while back at the front the first four drivers were running together on track, each running as near to perfect laps as they could to hold position.

Further back and there was more heartache for Hiroki Yoshimoto: the Japanese driver retired his wayward looking car once again when he pulled up at the end of the pitlane at what is effectively his home race, while Lapierre was unable to add to his points tally after retiring in the pits on lap 22.

After 26 laps of relentless pressure Viso claimed the win ahead of Piquet, Premat and Hamilton, with the four drivers split by just 2.3 seconds. Further back Gommendy was fifth for his second points score in as many races, while Monfardini picked up the final point with Gimmi Bruni also scoring for the fastest lap of the race.

The podium finish for Piquet meant the Brazilian regained the championship lead over Hamilton by 39 points to 37, ahead of Premat on 27, Viso on 26 and Lapierre on 25.

Pos Driver Team Time
 1. Viso iSport International 37:37.277
 2. Piquet Jr. Piquet Sports + 0.730
 3. Premat ART Grand Prix + 1.581
 4. Hamilton ART Grand Prix + 2.443
 5. Gommendy iSport International + 3.987
 6. Monfardini DAMS + 15.879
 7. Pantano FMS International + 21.526
 8. Ammermuller Arden International Ltd + 30.711
 9. Di Grassi Durango + 31.033
10. Glock BCN Competicion + 34.009
11. Zuber Trident Racing + 34.715
12. Carroll Racing Engineering + 36.327
13. Hernandez Durango + 39.764
14. Fauzy Super Nova International + 50.479
15. Villa Racing Engineering + 51.073
16. Valles Campos Racing + 70.645
17. Bruni Trident Racing + 76.247
18. Negrao Piquet Sports + 82.227
19. Tahinci FMS International + 1 Lap
20. Pla DPR Direxiv + 1 Lap


 Driver Team Laps
 Lapierre Arden International Ltd 20
 Yoshimoto BCN Competicion 16
 Porteiro Campos Racing 12
 Lopez Super Nova International 8
 Perera DAMS 0
 Piccione DPR Direxiv 0

Fastest lap: Bruni, 1:25.970 on lap 8

Shedden takes first win at Oulton Park Shedden takes first win at Oulton ParkScottish driver Gordon Shedden has won the first of today's three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship rounds at the Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire - his first win in the BTCC.  Shedden, in his Team Halfords Honda, led all the way after early leader, SEAT's Jason Plato, was handed a stop-go penalty for a grid rules infringement.

Second was Mike Jordan in his Team Eurotech with John Guest Racing Honda - adding to his dream debut victory in the previous round at Mondello Park three weeks ago.  Third, achieving his first ever BTCC podium finish after 15 years of trying, was veteran James Kaye in his small Synchro team's Honda Civic.

He finished just ahead of Team Halfords' Matt Neal, the reigning champion, who has increased his current championship lead over Team RAC's Colin Turkington to six points ahead of this afternoon's second race at 14.20.

Darlington gets Cup date for 2007 Darlington gets Cup date for 2007Darlington Raceway president Chris Browning got the NASCAR sanctioning agreements in the mail Friday for 2007, guaranteeing more Nextel Cup racing at "The Track Too Tough To Tame."

"So that was pretty cool," Browning said Saturday.

Browning said the format will be the same as this year and take place on Mother's Day weekend with the Busch series' Diamond Hill Plywood 200 on Friday, May 11th, and the Nextel Cup's Dodge Charger 500 on Saturday, May 12th.

Peace declared in Barcelona Peace declared in Barcelona(GMM)  Peace, at last, has broken out in F1.

The scene for the bombshell was Spain's Circuit de Catalunya, with mere hours until the five lights expire for the Spanish grand prix.

Not only Renault, who issued a separate statement, but also Mercedes-Benz, Honda, BMW and Toyota indicated that they would sign a new commercial agreement to end the long-running threat of a 'breakaway' beyond 2008.

''(Renault) today announced that it has reinforced its commitment to Formula 1 beyond 2008,'' read a statement, which explained that the team has agreed a deal with Bernie Ecclestone.

Before the 'GPMA' followed suit with its own statement, outlining a 'memorandum of understanding', McLaren's Ron Dennis said in Barcelona: ''All (GPMA) members are now prepared to sign (up for 2008).''

Only Bernie Ecclestone had not yet signed the carmakers' document, but a representative for CVC is expected to make it official on Sunday.

Dennis added: ''(We) now have a complete agreement.''

Mario looks for revenge in Monterrey Mario looks for revenge in MonterreyNearly everyone agreed Mario Dominguez had the fastest car in Houston this weekend.  He captured his first career pole and spent much of the early part of the race in the lead. Dominguez, 30, appeared on his way to his third career title.

But on lap 66, with a 2 1/2 -second lead over Sebastien Bourdais, Dominguez missed his braking point for Turn 5. He drove straight into the runoff and was forced to make a quick U-turn by spinning the car 180-degrees.

He recovered for third place behind Paul Tracy and finished the race 2.28 seconds behind the winner, Bourdais.

"I made a mistake," Dominguez said Saturday. "I couldn't hold on. I locked up the rear tires, went right into the run-off and lost first place."

"We've shown a lot of improvement," Dominguez said. "We showed we can be on the pole, we can run with them, and I think in Monterrey we're going to go for revenge.
Pedrosa wins Chinese GP Pedrosa wins Chinese GPSpanish rookie Dani Pedrosa claimed his debut MotoGP win at the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday to become the second-youngest rider to win a top-category race.  The 20-year-old Pedrosa, already a two-time champion in the 250cc class, finished the 22 laps in sunny conditions at the Shanghai International Circuit in 44 minutes, 7.734 seconds. 

"I was just very focused on my job, trying to get the best lap time every time, going faster and faster,'' said Pedrosa, just 33 days older than Freddie Spencer was when he became the youngest winner at Spa-Francorchamps in 1982. 

Pedrosa won the hard way, though, starting from pole position but losing the lead after a rocky start. Clawing his way up from fifth place, Pedrosa snatched back first place on the ninth lap and never let it go again. zzzz

American Nicky Hayden was second to make it a one-two finish for Repsol Honda. 

"I felt like I did about all I could do,'' said Hayden, who extended his lead in the season championship to 72 points, 13 ahead of Italy's Loris Capirossi. "I tried to put some heat on him and he never cracked.'' 

Third place went to another American, Colin Edwards, on a Yamaha, a distant 14.6 seconds behind Hayden. 

"These guys came through like a freight train,'' said Edwards, who celebrated his first podium finish of the season. "I was just trying to get a whiff but it was hopeless _ I couldn't keep that pace.'' 

Edwards' teammate Valentino Rossi, last year's winner and the defending world MotoGP champion, withdrew from the race with four laps to go. While Rossi clocked the fastest time in Friday's rainy practice, he never seemed to find the right setting on the dry track and started the race 13th on the grid. 

Pedrosa's win boost him up three notches in the championship standing to third place, just two points behind Capirossi. It was his first win since taking second at the season opening Spanish Grand Prix.

GPMA comments on MOU for new Concorde Agreement GPMA comments on MOU for new Concorde AgreementFollowing a meeting in Barcelona between representatives from the Grand Prix Manufacturers Association (GPMA), a Memorandum of Understanding on the commercial structure of Formula One, as developed between CVC, FOA and the GPMA, was unanimously agreed and signed by representatives from the five GPMA teams BMW Sauber, Honda GP, McLaren Mercedes, Renault F1 and Toyota Racing. 

The GPMA teams are committed to Formula One until 2012, and look forward to the commercial rights holder accepting the terms agreed today. 

The Memorandum of Understanding provides the basis for a new Concorde Agreement between FOA, the FIA and the teams, and should help progress the sporting, technical and governance discussions with the FIA. 

Prof. Burkhard Göschel, Chairman of the Grand Prix Manufacturers Association: “Today’s MoU constitutes a comprehensive solution for the future of the sport. We can build on this result and look forward to jointly grow Formula One and make it an even bigger sporting spectacle than ever before.”

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Albers excuses rude gesture
Kimi, Schu, makes 'nice' lineup - Brawn
Tire war in 'full swing' - Wurz
Aguri eye July for new car debut
Billionaire adds denial to Klien gossip
Alonso's not light, Briatore insists
Lay off Schu, manager tells press
Overheard in Houston - II (Attendance) Overheard in Houston - II (Attendance)UPDATE #2 The official 3-day attendance announced by the promoter was 127,729. Paul Tracy said after the race it was a good show and a great race.  We're here for five years so we need to get the track smoothed out a bit.

05/13/06 We hear that the promoter sold almost 35,000 tickets for Saturday night's race and they expect 85,000 to pass through the turnstiles for the 3 days.  This race may do better if ALMS was Saturday night and Champ Car Sunday night.  Racing on weekday nights is a challenge because people have to work during the week.

05/12/06 We heard that 29,000 came through the turnstiles on Thursday in Houston for the first day of practice and qualifying for the ALMS and Champ Car's first foray around Reliant Center and the Astrodome in Houston, Texas. Not a stellar crowd, but it was after all, a Thursday.

Dale Coyne Racing’s Jan Heylen (#11 Sonny’s BBQ Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) was the only driver not to turn a lap in today’s qualifying session. Dan Clarke was officially scored as posting no time, after losing his only timed lap due to bringing out a red flag in the session.

Ryan Justice grabs first Star Mazda victory at Houston Ryan Justice grabs first Star Mazda victory at HoustonUPDATE Herrington was disqualified for non-compliant part in post-race impound and was moved to last in the standings.

05/13/06 Ryan Justice capped off his race weekend at Houston, where he topped the time sheets in every session around the Reliant Park street circuit, with his first career Star Mazda victory in Round Two of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear , being held in conjunction with the American Le Mans and Champ Car Lone Star Grand Prix in Houston this weekend. Justice, driving the #38 Northwest Autosport Mazda, led every lap to squeeze out a 0.791 second victory over Daniel Herrington in the # 3 Bluetooth SIG AIM Autosport Mazda this afternoon. Kevin Lacroix, driving the #74 Uni-Select Auto Parts John Walko Racing Mazda, completed this weekend's podium.

"It was a great feeling to cross the finish line and get that first victory," Justice, a native of Portland, Oregon said. "It makes all the hard work, the hour of running every day, the weight training, test sessions and sacrifices drivers make to compete worth it. I also have to give credit to my crew at Northwest Autosport for their long hours to give me a race-winning car. The car didn't handle as well on tires with a heat cycle on them as they did the other days of the weekend, I'm not sure if it was because of the heat or the rubber laid down by the American Le Mans Series last night, and with the yellow flags I wasn't able to pull away from he field as I had hoped but it feels great to cross the finish line first." zzzz

Herrington, from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, set fast lap of the race at 1:10.234 and scored his second consecutive second place finish to start off his Star Mazda career, moving into the points lead after series points leader entering the weekend, Gerardo Bonilla, was knocked out of the event in a single car incident during a restart. "We had a good race again today and I was able to get past Adrian Carrio on the opening lap and had my sights set on Justice in first place," Herrington said. "On the first restart I was able to get a good run on Ryan and was able to make it past him when the caution came out for Bonilla's crash. My car was strong in the closing laps but I wasn't able to get back to the front. We are happy to have started the season strong and to take the points lead and all thanks go to my sponsor Bluetooth, AIM Autosport and my father."

Making his series debut this weekend Lacroix was quick to move up from the fifth spot on the grid, jumping into third place on the opening lap. "I was able to take advantage of some drivers that were very aggressive on the opening lap and pushed wide on the first few corners, " the St. Eustache, Quebec, resident explained. "The car was good but it just wasn't fast enough to get past the cars in front."

Rounding out the top six in today's 22-lap event were Michael Potekhen, of SIlverthorne, Colorado, crossing the line in fourth in the #53 Avenue Communities Apex Racing Mazda; Matt Varsha, from Atlanta, Georgia, would finish fifth in the #45 Jeff Haas Mazda prepared by Racers Edge Motorsports; Adrian Carrio, from Monument, Colorado, lined up second on the grid this afternoon but would finish sixth in his Rockford Fosgate World Speed Motorsport Mazda.

With two rounds complete of the 2006 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear Herrington sits atop the leaderboard with 80 points, Carrio holds second place with 67 points while Varsha and Potekhen are tied for third place with 66 points apiece. In the Expert Championship, for drivers aged 30-44, Brian Thienes won the class in his JDC Motorsports Mazda and sits in second place with 31 points to Gerardo Bonilla who remains in first with 32 points, Dan Tomlin III and Phil Fogg Jr are tied for third with 30 points each. In the Masters Championship for drivers aged 45 and older, APex Racing driver Ken Losch captured the victory to move into second place with 31 points. John Pew holds onto first place with 32 points while Jay Poscente and Doug Peterson are tied for third with 26 points each.

The series now heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in one weeks' time for Round Three of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear to be held in conjunction with the American Le Mans Series at Mid-Ohio on May 18-20. Round Two from Houston is Scheduled to air at 5:00 PM Eastern Time on Sunday, May 28. For more information please visit www.starmazda.com


Pos No. Name Laps Total Tm Diff Gap Points Best Tm
1 38 Ryan Justice 22 34:18.412 - - 0 1:10.254
2 74 Kevin Lacroix 22 34:23.804 +5.392 +4.601 0 1:10.346
3 53 Mike Potekhen 22 34:27.467 +9.055 +3.663 0 1:11.254
4 45 Matt Varsha 22 34:27.881 +9.469 +0.414 0 1:10.087
5 14 Adrian Carrio 22 34:28.888 +10.476 +1.007 0 1:10.901
6 68 David Stover 22 34:29.539 +11.127 +0.651 0 1:10.291
7 12 Jon Branam 22 34:29.933 +11.521 +0.394 0 1:10.427
8 47 Tom Sutherland 22 34:33.617 +15.205 +3.684 0 1:11.454
9 54 Mickey Gilbert 22 34:34.060 +15.648 +0.443 0 1:11.182
10 77 Brian Thienes 22 34:35.282 +16.870 +1.222 0 1:11.589
11 28 Russell Walker 22 34:35.584 +17.172 +0.302 0 1:11.631
12 29 Phil Fogg Jr. 22 34:36.513 +18.101 +0.929 0 1:11.104
13 23 Logan Gomez 22 34:37.750 +19.338 +1.237 0 1:10.454
14 52 Ken Losch 22 34:42.715 +24.303 +4.965 0 1:12.031
15 85 Jay Poscente 22 34:47.476 +29.064 +4.761 0 1:12.743
16 87 Doug Peterson 22 34:50.509 +32.097 +3.033 0 1:12.713
17 56 Dan Tomlin III 22 34:51.469 +33.057 +0.960 0 1:13.026
18 2 Brad Jaeger 22 34:51.651 +33.239 +0.182 0 1:12.241
19 18 Rob Bunker 22 34:51.990 +33.578 +0.339 0 1:11.829
20 86 Charles Anti 22 34:56.182 +37.770 +4.192 0 1:12.949
21 15 John Pew 22 34:57.392 +38.980 +1.210 0 1:13.459
22 44 Antonio Downs 22 34:58.061 +39.649 +0.669 0 1:13.744
23 22 Ramiro Scuncio 22 34:58.307 +39.895 +0.246 0 1:11.750
24 91 Michael Guasch 22 35:04.058 +45.646 +5.751 0 1:15.262
25 96 Browning Williams 22 35:04.806 +46.394 +0.748 0 1:13.997
26 66 Emmett Murphy 22 35:08.066 +49.654 +3.260 0 1:14.451
27 58 Dan Tomlin Jr. 22 35:08.098 +49.686 +0.032 0 1:14.829
28 65 JW Roberts 21 34:40.735 1 Lap 1 Lap 0 1:17.151
29 42 Nur Ali 21 35:02.636 +21.901 +21.901 0 1:16.886
30 24 Jon Brownson 20 34:46.404 2 Laps 1 Lap 0 1:14.202
31 8 Ross Smith 19 35:01.285 3 Laps 1 Lap 0 1:12.958
32 11 Jason Bowles 16 27:19.600 6 Laps 3 Laps 0 1:11.009
33 93 John Faulkner 15 26:09.940 7 Laps 1 Lap 0 1:15.570
34 9 Gerardo Bonilla 10 16:05.841 12 Laps 5 Laps 0 1:10.903
35 69 Ron White 5 5:50.078 17 Laps 5 Laps 0 1:09.941
36 71 Steven Hickham Jr. 4 4:57.396 18 Laps 1 Lap 0 1:14.400
DQ 3 Daniel Herrington 22 34:19.203 +0.791 +0.791 0 1:10.234

Yates reaction to Jarrett leaving Yates reaction to Jarrett leavingDoug Yates, co-owner of Robert Yates Racing, reacted to the announcement that Dale Jarrett will be leaving the team after the 2006 season.

WHAT'S YOUR REACTION TO THE ANNOUNCEMENT TODAY? "Robert Yates Racing and Dale Jarrett have had a great history together and have accomplished championships and many wins. We're sad to see Dale gone, but in this sport you've got to take care of business. He has to take care of his business and we have to take care of our business. We want to do the best for Ford, UPS and all of our fans for the rest of the year and end this thing on a positive note, and then wish him all the best in the future."

THIS OBVIOUSLY DIDN'T HAPPEN OVERNIGHT. HOW DID IT GET TO THIS POINT? "Obviously we're in the last year of our contract together and he came to us and said that he had an offer. We told him that we were willing to counter that offer, so we matched it to show him that we were committed to keeping him here until his retirement. He said he would think about it and told us that he really wanted to stay here and really loved our race team and what we've built together. A little time later, though, he came back and said they made him an offer that he couldn't refuse. We told him we understood and wished him well. He's doing what he needs to do and we wish him the best. It's sad because we've had a great time together, but we just need to make sure we remember all the good things and finish it off on a good note."  zzzz

WERE YOU SURPRISED HE OPTED TO LEAVE IF YOU MATCHED THE OFFER? "Like I said, they made him an offer he couldn't refuse. That part doesn't surprise me because Toyota's history and background is throwing a lot of money around and here is one of those examples. It is what it is. We have to make good business decisions for our business and the employees of our company and the future of our company, and he does as well for his family."

NOW IT'S TIME TO REPLACE HIM. HOW DO YOU APPROACH THIS SEARCH? "First of all, I want to make sure that everybody knows that we are fully committed to Dale Jarrett and UPS and Ford in carrying this thing out to the end of the year. I think what will happen is now that Dale has made his announcement, people are going to realize that the 88 is a good seat with a good car number, good sponsor and good history. I think that will create some awareness. We've been talking to some people, but we never started talking to anyone until Dale made his decision."

WHAT IS THE STATUS OF UPS AND IT'S SPONSORSHIP? "As of today, UPS has to make a decision. We wish more than anything that UPS will stay with us. We've had a great six-year history together and feel like we can carry that on in the future and bring along the next star to drive the truck, but that's their decision. That's a business decision for them and we'll know in the near future where they're going to be. Whether they're here or not, we're committed to the future of Robert Yates Racing and making it strong. We're going to race two cars next year and I think there will be a lot of people out there that would like to be on that 88 Ford Fusion."  Ford Racing

Wirth wins again in Atlantics Wirth wins again in AtlanticsHouston, Texas - Andreas Wirth of Germany overcame four caution flag periods and several challenges for the lead on Saturday to capture the second round of the Yokohoma Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.

Wirth, the second-year Atlantic racer that drives for Forsythe Championship Racing, led the final five laps at the Fast Trac 100 race at the Grand Prix of Houston to claim his third career Atlantic win and his second straight victory to start the season.

Starting second at the 1.690-mile temporary road course around Reliant Park, Wirth passed rookie polesitter Raphael Matos on the seventh lap and led for the next 12 orbits at Houston.

Both Matos and Graham Rahal, the 17-year-old son of racing legend Bobby Rahal, got by Wirth on Lap 19 as the rising German star fell to third overall. With five laps remaining, the leader Matos and second-place runner Rahal made contact coming off a late restart and Wirth was there to recapture the lead. zzzz

Working hard to hold off both Frenchman Simon Pagenaud and American Jonathan Bomarito over the final few laps, Wirth crossed the finish line just 5.542 seconds ahead of his closest pursuer. Wirth, who won the first series race of the season at Long Beach, averaged 71.573 mph in the accident-filled race and won in 51:00.134. Pagenaud's second-place finish represented the rookie's first podium result of his short Atlantic career. Bomarito wrapped up third for his second career Atlantic podium finish.

With the win, Wirth becomes the first driver in 14 years to take the checkered flag in the first two races of the Atlantic season. Russell Spence won at both and Miami and Phoenix to start the 1992 Atlantic season and went on to finish fourth in the championship.

Wirth now carries a 14-point advantage over Pagenaud (65-51) into the third race of the Atlantic season, May 19-21 at the Tecate Grand Prix of Monterrey Presented by Roshfrans in Monterrey, Mexico.


Pos Car# Driver Team Lag Status
1 37 Andreas Wirth  Forsythe Championship Racing 0.000 Active
2 15 Simon Pagenaud Team Australia 5.542 Active
3 23 Jonathan Bomarito PR1 Motorsports 7.334 Active
4 3 James Hinchcliffe Forsythe Championship Racing 8.316 Active
5 1 Danilo Dirani Condor Motorsports 9.451 Active
6 12 Alan Sciuto Polestar Racing Group 9.842 Active
7 22 Steve Ott Jensen MotorSport 12.104 Active
8 4 David Martinez US RaceTronics 13.993 Active
9 7 Leonardo Maia Forsythe Championship Racing 14.203 Active
10 5 James Davison Team Australia 14.608 Active
11 6 Raphael Matos Sierra Sierra Enterprises 15.553 Active
12 34 Joe D'Agostino Newman Wachs Racing 18.123 Active
13 25 Ryan Spencer-Smith NCDL TECH 32.182 Active
14 17 Barton Mawer Transnet Racing 59.657 Active
15 18 Graham Rahal Mi-Jack Conquest Racing 1 Lap In Pit
16 16 Charles Hall Transnet Racing 1 Lap Active
17 56 Chris Souliotis Bite Racing 1 Lap Active
18 28 Robbie Pecorari Gelles Racing 2 Laps Active
19 2 Tim Bridgman Jensen MotorSport 8 Laps Contact
20 33 Richard Philippe Forsythe Championship Racing 11 Laps Contact
21 10 Norbert Siedler Brooks Associates Racing 12 Laps Contact
22 21 Alex Barron Polestar Racing Group 13 Laps Contact
23 30 Al Unser III Mi-Jack Conquest Racing 16 Laps Contact
24 49 Dan Selznick The Room Store 19 Laps Mechanical
25 26 Justin Sofio Mathiasen Motorsports 20 Laps Mechanical
26 8 Luis Schiavo Brooks Associates Racing 27 Laps Contact
27 14 Stephen Simpson Gelles Racing 36 Laps Contact
28 35 Daniel Gaunt Newman Wachs Racing 36 Laps Mechanical

-Champ Car-

Ford’s Davis sends warning to Toyota Ford’s Davis sends warning to Toyota“We’re obviously not happy Dale is leaving Robert Yates Racing because he’s been a champion and a great ambassador for Ford fans. We understand his decision, but we are disappointed.  Toyota is going to have its work cut out for them competing in Nextel Cup, no matter how much they plan on spending. Our plan is to keep winning races and championships." DAN DAVIS, Director, Ford Racing Technology
Industry News
GM names Bridgestone Supplier of Year GM names Bridgestone Supplier of YearBridgestone Corp. has been named a General Motors Corp. (GM) Supplier of the Year.  "The award is for excellence in tires and related service provided to GM globally in 2005 by Tokyo-based Bridgestone Corporation and its global group of companies," say Bridgestone officials.

Bridgestone was recognized as a GM Supplier of the Year "because they exceeded our expectations in 2005," says Bo Andersson, vice president of global purchasing and supply chain for GM.

Grand-Am ditches qualifying race concept Grand-Am ditches qualifying race conceptGrand American Road Racing Association President Roger Edmondson has instructed the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve competition department to return to traditional timed qualifying procedures to determine grid positions for the remainder of the 2006 Rolex Series season. The Rolex Series contested three qualifying races in 2006, at Virginia International Raceway on April 22, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on May 6 and at Phoenix International Raceway last night.

“We introduced qualifying races in an effort to improve the entertainment qualities of our events and to provide all teams, including those who may not qualify for the main event, some head-to-head competition and points,” Edmondson said. “I announced last year that select 2006 race weekends would include qualifying races. After seeing these races at three events, I have concluded that the critics of this plan were right and I was wrong. What sounded positive in theory did not meet expectations in reality.” zzzz

The first three qualifying races were evaluated, including last night’s Daytona Prototype qualifying race that included a multi-car incident. Grand American officials penalized No. 60 Flight Options/Nett App Lexus Riley driver Oswaldo Negri Jr. of Michael Shank Racing one minute for “avoidable contact” for his role in the incident in the qualifying race. Officials have also suspended Negri from the GAINSCO Grand Prix this evening.

The GAINSCO Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway, Round 7 of the 14-race 2006 Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve, takes the green flag shortly after 7:00 p.m. local time this evening. The race will be televised on SPEED at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 14.

Roshfrans Joins “Super Mario” Dominguez and Team Forsythe Roshfrans Joins “Super Mario” Dominguez and Team ForsytheHOUSTON, Texas – Forsythe Championship Racing is pleased to announce a renewal of its relationship with Roshfrans, Mexico’s premium brand of lubricants, for three events beginning with today’s Grand Prix of Houston, continuing at the Tecate Grand Prix of Monterrey Presented by Roshfrans (Mexico) May 19-21 and culminating at the season finale, the Telmex/Tecate Grand Prix of Mexico City, November 10-12.  At these three events, Roshfrans will sponsor the #7 Pride of Mexico/INDECK entry driven by Mexican star Mario Dominguez, who cemented his nickname of “Super Mario” this weekend in Houston when he stormed to a dominating Bridgestone Pole Position on an extremely challenging 1.69-mile temporary road course laid out on the grounds of Reliant Stadium and the Astrodome.  Roshfrans is also a member of the Champ Car family as the Official Lubricant of the Series and the Rookie of the Year Award Sponsor.

Mario Dominguez #7 INDECK/Roshfrans Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone/Lola
“It’s an honor to once again wear the colors of Roshfrans!  Last year we were together for the race in Mexico City and it looked like we were going to reward their partnership with a podium finish.  Unfortunately I was taken out by another driver near the end of the race so I’m looking forward to starting tonight’s race with Roshfrans back on board.  The team has done a great job this weekend and I managed to grab the first Pole of my Champ Car career, so hopefully we can give Roshfrans a win here in Houston to celebrate our new partnership.”  zzzz

Jerry Forsythe Owner – Forsythe Championship Racing
“We’re very proud that Roshfrans has chosen to join us once again for our assault on the Vanderbilt Cup, the ultimate prize of the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.  Roshfrans is a tremendous partner and a proud Mexican company which fits in perfectly with our Pride of Mexico campaign, we couldn’t have asked for a better scenario than to see Mario claim his first career pole on the same day that our partnership was cemented.  We look forward to putting the Roshfrans name in front of millions of Champ Car fans here in North America and showcase the motoring performance that Roshfrans stands for.”

Sergio Platonoff Commercial Vice President – Comercial Roshfrans, S.A. de C.V.
“Motorsports has always been a very important marketing platform for our company.  We develop high performance premium lubricant products and there’s no better way to showcase their potential than in Champ Car.  The timing couldn’t have been better; we are very excited to be part of the Forsythe Team and “Super Mario” and what better way to celebrate our partnership than with a Pole Position!

Monterrey promoter pushing Tuner Exhibition Monterrey promoter pushing Tuner ExhibitionTuner racing has increased in popularity in Monterrey, Mexico - so much so that the last 3 years Monterrey has held a tuner car exposition in the city’s largest convention center, Cintermex. The expo is called Fast and Furious, a reference to the movies of the same name. The Monterrey Grand Prix is taking advantage of this popularity and is using a few ads in newspapers telling fans that they will not only get the Champ Car race but they will also enjoy the "fast and furious" cars of the Formula Drift Series next weekend when the Champ Car Series arrives in town.
Pole day not without some excitement Pole day not without some excitementDespite rain that wiped out all activities, pole day at Indy was not without its excitement. A fire broke out but was contained at the ABC Sports infield compound. Power was lost for about 15 minutes at some track facilities, including the media center. Indy Star
Seen in Houston - V Seen in Houston - VRan into Antonio Pizzonia last night in Houston. He tells us he is still trying to put together a Champ Car deal, but of course sponsorship has to be found. The fact he is still here with the Champ Car contingent so many weeks after Long Beach indicates this is where he hopes his future lies.
GP2 Saturday press conference GP2 Saturday press conference
Indy rainout quotes Indy rainout quotes
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The rain delay is really kind of boring, actually. I just came out to see what was going on and if there is a chance that we might get to go (on track). I like to be here. I have a hard time being away from the track anyway. They have a ping-pong table set up over in the Speedway Engines garage, so I stopped by there to play a little. Things are not looking good for running today, so I'll probably head out of here pretty soon."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Klein Tools/Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The PR guys usually keep me pretty busy. Today, I've been sitting with the engineering guys quite a bit. Yesterday, the five of us went shopping, so that was fun. My wife is in town now, so I'm planning on spending time with her, which is my ideal way to spend a rain delay." (About his recent purchase of an Xbox 360): "Bryan (Herta) and I have been playing quite a bit. I've definitely been owning him in our boxing matches. Now both of our wives are here, so I'm guessing the Xbox playing will get put on the back burner for now."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I just got here, actually. I've been in bed watching TV. The other days, I've gone training. It may be a little too wet to go cycling or running, so I may go swimming today, just to take some the stress away." (About the lack of track time): "I think it might be a little harder on the team and their timetable for things. We still need to do full tanks because we've been focusing on qualifying runs. We'd need to be qualified because we'd like to get the engine into the T-car and run some laps so we're ready in case something happens to a qualified car. It's confusing, and for me I don't have to be too concerned with it, but it's something the team has to deal with, and I'm sure the team has something worked out. I think that's why the league will keep pushing (qualifying) if we don't run today."  zzzz

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I spend a lot of time bugging my engineer. I'll go back to the bus here in a little bit. Dario (Franchitti) and I have been playing video games a lot lately. I also just try to visit with everyone. There are so many people you work with all year long, and you don't have much time to talk with them. Today is a good day to do things like that. I just like to say hi to them, chat for a bit, and find out how their family is doing. I also do press conferences on days like today, and basically anything you can do to pass the time until it's time to go back on track."
MICHAEL ANDRETTI (No. 1 Jim Beam/Vonage Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "We sit around and twiddle our thumbs really. It's frustrating, boring and pretty nerve wracking because you just want to get it over with. But this is all up to Mother Nature, and you can't mess with her."
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I've just been hanging out and spending some time with my engineer. We just try to get ready for what we're about to go do. I look at it as everyone is waiting. I would be going crazy if I was the only one that had to wait, but it's the same for everyone. Qualifying is going to be the most nerve- wracking day in motorsports for me. I'm not going to say that I'm not nervous because I am, but I think I have a pretty good idea of what I need to go out there and do."
TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It's a little frustrating. I feel bad for the fans and people that have come out here and have to wait around to see what is going to happen. I'm going to try to sign as many autographs and visit with media as much as I can. I think that once we get on track, the fans will not be disappointed, and we'll put on a good show for them."
BUDDY LAZIER (No. 5 Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "It's tough because we are struggling to find some things we need to find, and the rain is really hurting us. We're working to have all of our ducks in a row."
AL UNSER JR. (No. 31 A1 Team USA Geico Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The Dreyer and Reinbold team is doing very well. But, we have our work cut out for us and definitely need the track time."

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I think it's been a strange month with a lot of the rain interrupting. I hope it doesn't dampen fans' spirits because I think it's certainly going to be a very competitive race. I think we've seen that the Penskes this year have in practice and qualifying been extremely fast, but they certainly come back to us in the races. I was asked by Chip, actually, I think it was not yesterday but the day before, if he needed to panic at all because he thought the Penskes might be a chunk quicker than us, he wasn't sure how we were going to fare in qualifying. I told him not to panic."

EDDIE CHEEVER (No. 51 Cheever Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "When you come to Indy, you've got to be ready for everything. It's just one of the things that happens. It's Indiana, the weather can change in two minutes. I think it's tougher on the mechanics than it is on the drivers. They've got to get the car ready and then change it for the weather. They're always fiddling with the wings and the springs and the shock absorbers, so it's just part of the deal.

We have not practiced on qualifying. You can't expect a team that's been hibernating for eight months to turn up at Indy and be fast right away. But, it's a long race. It is 500 miles long, and patience pays an important part."

DANICA PATRICK (No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Argent Panoz/Honda/ Firestone): "The one factor we can't control here at the track is the weather. We have lost a lot of practice time due to the weather and as frustrating as it is, you just have to be ready to drive when the opportunity presents itself."
SUNDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
7 a.m. Public Gates Open
9:30-11 a.m. IndyCar Series Practice
Noon-6 p.m. WorldPoints Visa Card Pole Qualifications
6 p.m. WorldPoints Visa Card Pole Winner Ceremony (Victory Podium)
Note: Subject to change due to weather.

Rain wipes out Indy pole day Rain wipes out Indy pole dayUPDATE Rain and persistent cold temperatures forced Indy Racing League officials to postpone Pole Day qualifying activities Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It was the second consecutive weather-abbreviated day at Indianapolis, as a massive weather system has stalled over the Great Lakes, bringing showers and unseasonably cool temperatures throughout most of Indiana since early Thursday evening.

Weather permitting, qualifying now will start Sunday at noon EDT, with the coveted pole position and first 22 starting positions in the 33-car starting field - the first Indy 500 with Honda as the sole engine supplier - up for grabs.  In the qualifying draw held Friday afternoon, rookie Townsend Bell drew the first position of the 27 drivers who have practiced this week, giving him the opportunity to make the first qualifying run when weather conditions allow.

Sam Hornish Jr. and defending race winner Dan Wheldon led the field in practice this week, both turning laps in excess of 226 mph.

05/13/06 Persistent rain and cold temperatures continues in Indianapolis today and threatens to wipe out the entire weekend of Indy 500 pole qualifying. The ducks are happy, but the same cannot be said for all the participants and race officials. Qualifying could be held Monday or Tuesday if the skies do not clear throughout the weekend.
Justice wins pole in Houston Justice wins pole in HoustonRyan Justice, pilot of the #38 Northwest Autosport Mazda, continued his mastery on the temporary street circuit around Reliant Stadium, posting a blistering lap of 1:09.341 (87.740 MPH) in qualifying to earn the pole position for Round Two of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, being held in conjunction with the American Le Mans and Champ Car Lone Star Grand Prix in Houston this weekend.

Justice has topped the charts in all of the practice sessions this weekend leading up to this afternoon's 34 lap event. He will be joined on the front row of the grid by Adrian Carrio, of Monument, Colorado, who navigated the 1.69-mile circuit in a time of 1:09.517 (87.518 MPH) in his Rockford Fosgate World Speed Motorsports Mazda. Zzzz

The second row of the grid will be filled with drivers that posted identical times. Daniel Herrington, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, will start third in his Bluetooth SIG AIM Autosport Mazda after posting the time of 1:09.776 (87.193 MPH) one lap prior to Sebring winner Gerardo Bonilla, from Orlando, Florida, matching the time in his Carmela Sausages Andersen Racing Team Mazda.

Round Two of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, 34 laps around the Reliant Park temporary circuit, is scheduled to begin this afternoon at 2:15 Central Time.
Waltrip signs Jarrett for 2007 Waltrip signs Jarrett for 2007Michael Waltrip, owner of Michael Waltrip Racing, Incorporated, announced today that former NASCAR champion and three-time Daytona 500 winner, Dale Jarrett, is joining the organization to drive the team’s second Toyota entry in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series beginning in 2007.

“When we began building Michael Waltrip Racing, I knew the key to success was bringing in quality people,” Waltrip explained.  “Ty Norris has been instrumental on the business side, just as Larry Carter and Bobby Kennedy have been on the competition side.  By hiring Dale, we have yet another example of the importance we are placing on securing first-rate individuals for our program.”

“Dale’s resume speaks for itself,” continued Waltrip.  “To have a NASCAR champion on our team is another significant piece of the puzzle that pulls together our vision.   I know his knowledge and experience will be invaluable for a start-up team with a new manufacturer and will allow our organization to grow and succeed at a faster pace.”

Jarrett is a well-known veteran of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.  He established himself as a perennial championship contender in the mid-90s, finishing in the top-10 in championship points for seven consecutive seasons and winning the series title in 1999.   Jarrett has 32 career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series victories, including the aforementioned three Daytona 500 wins and two in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  His resume also includes being named to NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers list. zzzz

“My tenure at Robert Yates Racing has been extremely important to me, my family and my career,” Jarrett said.  “We accomplished a lot together during the past 12 years and I am thankful to Robert and everyone at RYR and Ford Motor Company for the opportunities they afforded me and the success we have all shared.  This was a very difficult decision.  I feel this is a great opportunity for me to take on a new challenge and what they are building at Michael Waltrip Racing fits my plans for the future.” 

“My decision to join Michael Waltrip Racing is based solely on a competitor’s perspective,” Jarrett continued.  “What Michael has pulled together is impressive and I want to be a part of it.  The Daytona 500 might seem far away, but for a race team it is right around the corner.  Michael’s team is building cars now, their core management team is in place, the competition department is established and sponsors are locked up.  From that perspective, it doesn’t feel like I am going to a brand new team.”

“Toyota’s strategic entry into NASCAR has been equally impressive,” said Jarrett.  “The mark they have made in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in the last three years is reason enough to want to be part of their entrance into the Cup Series.”  

Waltrip is the first of the three Toyota team owners to solidify their 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers. Michael Waltrip Racing

German F3
Ho-Pin Tung takes 2nd victory of season Ho-Pin Tung takes 2nd victory of seasonKlettwitz - Ho-Pin Tung drove his Opel-powered Lola from pole position to victory in the first race of the weekend at the EuroSpeedway. At the finish, the Dutch born Chinese driver could add eleven points to his championship total, ten for victory and another one for pole position. Ho-Pin Tung: “I had a good start and drove away from the rest of the field together with Joey Foster. After the safety car period when the race restarted I could control the race and race to the finish!”.

The first qualifying session which was filled by yellow flags, decided the grid positions for the first race, round 5 of the German Formula 3 cup. Ho-Pin was in second position with exactly the same lap time as Nico Hulkenberg until he would produce a late minute pole-winning lap at the very end of the session. Despite the competitiveness of the German Formula 3 cup, the difference between Ho-Pin’s pole position time and second placed Hulkenberg’s time was 0,3 seconds!

HO-PIN: “During the first qualifying session we had so many yellow flags and therefore it was difficult to drive a fast lap. Until the end of the session I was in second position with exactly the same lap time as Nico Hulkenberg. At the end I was able to do drive a very fast lap and put the car on pole position by 3 tenth’s of a second!”

Starting from pole position Ho-Pin Tung (23) made a good start en went through the first corner as race leader. During the race Ho-Pin could control the race and drove away from the rest of the field together with Joey Foster who could follow Ho-Pin but was too far behind to try and overtake. After the safety car period the Dutch-Chinese driver and Joey Foster drove away from the rest of the field again and finished the race in first and second place with Renger van der Zande in third place.

HO-PIN: “I had a very good start en could lead into the first corner. At the beginning I had a gap to second placed driver Joey Foster but he came a little bit closer but not enough for him to try and overtake me. Together we were driving away from the rest of the field until the safety car came out. After that I had a good restart and finished the race in first position!”.

Q and A with Target Chip Ganassi Racing Q and A with Target Chip Ganassi RacingSaturday morning transcript from a media question and answer session with Target Chip Ganassi's Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon, and Chip Ganassi at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Transcript
Plato wins pole at Oulton Park Plato wins pole at Oulton ParkJason Plato and James Thompson made it an all-SEAT front row in qualifying for the first of tomorrow's (Sunday) three Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship rounds at the Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire.

Plato and Thompson, who between them have won three of the last five BTCC titles, moved to the top of the times in their SEAT Leons as the wet track started to dry slightly. Plato's pole position time was set in 1m35.063s. Thompson's 1m35.329s lap ensured the Spanish manufacturer of a lock-out.

But a shock third was Martyn Bell in his BMW 320i, run by the small Geoff Steel Racing team. Bell had been the only driver to set a tentative lap time in the drier early minutes of the qualifying session. It then rained and until the closing stages it appeared that nobody would beat his time. James Kaye, in the equally small Synchro team's Honda Civic, was a surprise fourth fastest. zzzz

Points leader, reigning champion Matt Neal, was only 11th fastest in his Team Halfords Honda, four places behind his nearest championship rival, Team RAC's Colin Turkington, in seventh. Neal's car, it was later discovered, had been hampered by an electrical fault.

Plato and Thompson, currently fourth and third in the title race, know that they have an opportunity to claw back lost ground to Neal and Turkington in the title race. "It's a great chance for the whole team to get a 1-2 result in race one and if we do that I think we can repeat it in race two," predicted 2001 BTCC champion Plato. "Matt's lead over me is 13 points, but that's nothing and it can easily be gone in those two races. I'll admit I was fortunate in that session - at the start an output shaft broke on my car, but the team worked wonders to fix it for me to get back out."

Bell, meanwhile, was delighted with his third place, although conceded: "We were lucky and I've got to hand it to the SEAT drivers - to beat my time in what were still not ideal conditions really must have taken some doing. They both deserve medals."

Kaye used his 15 years of BTCC experience to set the fourth fastest time in the tricky conditions. "I told the team to put slick tires on the front and wet weather tires on the rear and then wait for the tires to get up to operating temperature. It's a trick that (former double champion) John Cleland taught me years ago and it worked a treat," said 42-year-old veteran Kaye, who is still chasing his first BTCC podium result.

Turkington's and Neal's progress will undoubtedly be worth watching tomorrow and so will that of Vauxhall team-mates Fabrizio Giovanardi and Tom Chilton - both drivers crashed their Astra Sport Hatches early on in the session so never set truly competitive lap times. As a result, Giovanardi will start 14th and Chilton an even lowlier 17th.

Tomorrow's three races, rounds seven, eight and nine in the championship, are scheduled to start at 12.10, 14.20 and 16.20. Britain's number one commercial terrestrial television channel ITV1 will be at Oulton to broadcast live coverage of the action.

Premat boots Hamilton, wins in Spain Premat boots Hamilton, wins in SpainAlex Prémat has taken his first win of the 2006 GP2 series in today’s race in Barcelona, after passing his ART Grand Prix team-mate Lewis Hamilton on the final lap. Lewis took over the lead of the race after Nelson Piquet Jr was forced to take a drive-through penalty, and the Briton looked to have his third win on the trot wrapped up. Alex had different ideas however, and after catching Lewis he made an audacious attempt for the lead on the final lap. The pair touched, Lewis spun, and Alex ran home victorious ahead of his team-mate in second and Michael Ammermüller third for Arden International.

At the start, Nelson got a perfect getaway from pole position, while Lewis was slow away from fourth. The Brazilian led Alex, Adam Carroll, the lightening bolt that was Olivier Pla, Gimmi Bruni and Michael. Lewis was in on lap two for an early pitstop, and emerged in clean air to set about making up the time he had lost at the start.

The plan worked, as Lewis rattled off fastest lap after fastest lap. But when Nelson made his stop on lap 13, the Brazilian had done just enough to stay ahead and the pair, who were now effectively battling for the lead, were separated by under a second. But the potential for an epic dual between these two apparently equally matched drivers was not to be, as Nelson was called in for a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pitlane. He duly took his punishment and re-emerged out of the points, but on a mission to make the most out of a race which had just been turned upside down.

At the front, Ferdinando Monfardini was driving a great race, leading easily and actually pulling away from Lewis in second place. The Italian held on for as long as he could, becoming the final man to stop on lap 30 to strap on new tires. He emerged well in the hunt for points, in the midst of a battle between Olivier Pla, Tristan Gommendy, Nelson and Nicolas Lapierre.

Lewis now led the race, but Alex was closing him down. With five laps to run the gap was under a second and the two played cat and mouse. On the final lap Alex got a great drive on Lewis down the back straight, and into La Caixa the Frenchman tried an ambitious move on the inside. The pair made it through safely, but as they exited the tight left-hander, Alex’s front right tire touched Lewis’ rear left, spinning the Briton through 360 degrees.

Alex held his pace and took the win, ahead of Lewis who managed to keep going despite his spin. Michael was third, holding off the advances of Clivio Piccione in the dying laps. Clivio himself spun off trying to pass Michael on the final lap, so fourth place went to the battle-hardened Nelson, as Tristan took his first points in fifth with Ferdinando sixth, Xandi Negrao seventh and Olivier eighth. Pole for tomorrow’s race however goes to Ernesto Viso who finished ninth, as Olivier’s car was found to be underweight and was disqualified. zzzz


1st Alex Prémat – ART Grand Prix. 57:24.150
“I need to move back to Lewis and Nelsinho in the championship, to win a lot of races and hopefully then win the championship. I'm sorry for Lewis because he had a good race, but I think I was much faster at the end... so I am very happy with this result.”

2nd Lewis Hamilton – ART Grand Prix. +2.187
“This is racing, and fortunately I managed to get second. I was lucky because I just managed to keep the motor running, and to get points which is the most important thing for me and for the team.”

3rd Michael Ammermüller. +10.963
“I'm satisfied with the race today because I finished third and started fifth, I just wanted to be maybe in the top five or six and get the podium, and now I'm always there and also in the championship too.”.

Pos Driver Team Time
 1. Premat ART Grand Prix 57:24.150
 2. Hamilton ART Grand Prix + 2.187
 3. Ammermuller Arden International Ltd + 10.963
 4. Piquet Jr. Piquet Sports + 11.720
 5. Gommendy iSport International + 13.005
 6. Monfardini DAMS + 14.848
 7. Negrao Piquet Sports + 20.113
 8. Pla DPR Direxiv + 23.000
 9. Viso iSport International + 31.742
10. Pantano FMS International + 33.713
11. Carroll Racing Engineering + 38.173
12. Glock BCN Competicion + 48.660
13. Di Grassi Durango + 53.303
14. Perera DAMS + 62.590
15. Villa Racing Engineering + 67.219
16. Tahinci FMS International + 67.539
17. Piccione DPR Direxiv + 1 Lap
18. Porteiro Campos Racing + 1 Lap
19. Valles Campos Racing + 2 Laps


 Driver Team Laps
 Lapierre Arden International Ltd 34
 Lopez Super Nova International 22
 Bruni Trident Racing 22
 Yoshimoto BCN Competicion 20
 Zuber Trident Racing 16
 Hernandez Durango 16
 Fauzy Super Nova International 15

Fastest lap: Valles, 1:25.550 on lap 37

Schu worried that Fisi could block him Schu worried that Fisi could block him(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has singled out Fernando Alonso's Renault teammate, Giancarlo Fisichella, as a possible road block to victory in Sunday's Spanish grand prix.

The German, eyeing a hat track of victories in Barcelona, is disappointed to have qualified behind Rome's Fisichella because it gives Renault a handy chess piece for the race.

''You can see that he is fast compared to Fernando here,'' Ferrari's 37-year-old, third on the grid while title leader Alonso is on pole, told reporters after qualifying.

Schumacher said: ''If I am behind him tomorrow and he suddenly drives a lot slower, then it could be a problem.  So hopefully I can get in front of him at the start.

''If Fisichella drives slowly then it could have a large influence on the result of the race.''

Another engine change for Villeneuve Another engine change for Villeneuve(GMM)  Jacques Villeneuve is to have his second engine change in as many days after qualifying for Sunday's Spanish grand prix.

With the French Canadian already moving ten places down the grid because his Nurburgring-spec V8 was damaged, BMW-Sauber decided that another change - and another ten-place demotion that does not further affect his starting position - was the best strategy for the upcoming races in Barcelona and Monte Carlo.

''As Jacques is starting from the last row anyway, we will fit another fresh engine to give him the best possible chances for here and Monaco,'' said team boss Mario Theissen.

Pedrosa earns first MotoGP pole Pedrosa earns first MotoGP poleDani Pedrosa will start tomorrow’s Polini GP of China from the front spot, after putting in a last minute circuit pole record for his debut appearance ahead of the pack. The Spaniard’s time of 1’59.009 came on a mildly wet track, and the session was split in half by the appearance of the rain.

It looked as if Sete Gibernau would maintain his advantage from the first half hour when the rain started to fall, but when the riders came out again times quickly improved, dropping the Spaniard down the pecking order.

John Hopkins earns his first front row of the season, ahead of a rejuvenated Colin Edwards. Shinya Nakano, who had been sitting in pole in the later stages, dropped to fourth, ahead of Hayden and Gibernau.

1. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) - 1'59.009
2. John Hopkins (Rizla Suzuki MotoGP) - 1'59.373
3. Coiln Edwards (Camel Yamaha) - 1'59.383
4. Shinya Nakano (Kawasaki Racing) - 1'59.570
5. Nicky Hayden (Repsol Honda) - 1'59.574
6. Sete Gibernau (Ducati Marlboro) - 1'59.639
7. Casey Stoner (LCR Honda) - 1'59.880
8. Marco Melandri (Fortuna Honda) - 2'00.004
9. Randy de Puniet (Kawasaki Racing) - 2'00.044
10. Loris Capirossi (Marlboro Ducati) – 2’00.078

Flav in possession of new Renault contract Flav in possession of new Renault contract(GMM) Flavio Briatore is in the possession of a contract to renew his stay at the Renault team.

But the French carmaker's formula one principal admitted in Barcelona that he is not sure whether he would be adding a signature.

''I have been speaking with the president, Carlos Ghosn, about it for one month, but I still have not decided,'' the Italian was quoted as saying by Spain's Marca newspaper.

Flamboyant Briatore, who entered the sport for his business acumen rather than his passion for motor racing, admitted that 'motivation' was a vital factor to consider.

Criticizing the staleness of modern formula one, he admitted: ''The atmosphere (in F1) today bores me.''

Overheard in Houston - IV Overheard in Houston - IVUPDATE The Grand Prix of Houston was shortened from 115 to 100 laps after a last-minute track change led to slower times.

The chicane added in Turn 2 increased lap times and with a two-hour television window on Saturday, race officials shortened the race.

The drivers welcomed the change for another reason. They've complained all week that the course set up in the parking lot next to Reliant Stadium was too bumpy and slippery.

"That's definitely a help," driver Paul Tracy said. "Getting to the end of this race is going to be tough," Tracy said. "It's very easy to make a mistake here and go in the runoff or hit the wall. Attrition is going to be a factor."

AutoRacing1.com was told by the promoter last evening that there will be no grinding of the track this weekend. Maybe next year. Will there be any cars left running at the end of 100 laps Saturday night?

05/12/06 Paul Tracy is livid about the track surface. "It's a joke," said Tracy, "absolutely the worse track surface we have ever raced on. Our cars are not made to race on a track surface like this. Between the bumps and the joints in the concrete, it's hard to keep the car straight. This entire track needs to be repaved with asphalt. If it was smooth it would not be a bad track"
A Monkey can drive them A Monkey can drive themHere's what Champ Car driver Sebastien Bourdais thinks about racing on oval tracks.

Not much.

So, if there is a unification of Champ Car and the IRL, how would he feel if the nine oval tracks on the current IRL schedule are part of the unified schedule? Champ Car has only one oval (Milwaukee).

"Well, don't take me wrong," Bourdais said. "I don't like ovals where you don't drive. There are ovals where there is some real racing, and you have to drive the car, like Milwaukee and Indy.

"But when we used to go to Vegas for example, and it's two hours and basically the only input you have as a driver when you're going through traffic is pretty much how stupid you are willing to be. That's not racing.

"You can have oval racing where you don't end up being a passenger in your car. But if you don't drive, you might as well put monkeys in the cars, as a quite famous F1 driver said a little while ago." Houston Chronicle

Fisi’s revenge Fisi’s revenge(GMM) Following their on and off-track spat at the Nurburgring, Rome's Giancarlo Fisichella sought revenge on Jacques Villeneuve during the final free practice session in Spain.

A week ago at the German venue, Villeneuve was penalized by stewards for allegedly blocking the irate Renault driver during qualifying.

But at the Circuit de Catalunya, JV's BMW-Sauber was seen skidding through a gravel trap at one point.

Villeneuve explained to 'Premiere': ''I was on a fast lap, but when Fisichella saw me, he decided that it would be the perfect opportunity to block me.

''Probably he wants revenge for qualifying at the Nurburgring,'' the French Canadian added.

Hamlin wins Darlington Busch race Hamlin wins Darlington Busch raceDenny Hamlin won his second race of the season and became the first NASCAR Busch Series driver to win from the pole this year, capturing Friday night's Diamond Hill Plywood 200 at Darlington Raceway in front of a huge crowd at the venerable racetrack.

Hamlin's crew was a big key to his victory, keeping him in first place following a caution on Lap 114. He had wrestled the lead from Matt Kenseth prior to that yellow flag, but crew chief Dave Rogers and company gave their driver the top track position during that stop where all lead lap drivers came down to take four tires and fuel in an attempt to make a run at Hamlin.

Hamlin staved off Kenseth with tremendous restarts following the remaining four cautions in the last 20-plus laps, especially during the last restart with three laps to go when he pulled away easily from his challengers.

Kenseth finished second, while Jamie McMurray, who also had a strong car and was leading until a caution on Lap 63 saw him surrender the top spot to Hamlin off pit road, was third. Mark Martin, the all-time leader in NASCAR Busch Series wins both at Darlington (8) and in series history (47) was fourth, followed by Greg Biffle in fifth, Kyle Busch in sixth, points leader Kevin Harvick in seventh, Carl Edwards in eighth, J.J. Yeley in ninth and Jason Leffler in 10th.

Harvick, who finished in the top 10 for the 11th time in 12 races this season, retained his points lead. His Richard Childress Racing teammate Clint Bowyer is second, while Hamlin moved up one spot to third. Edwards dropped a place to fourth, Kyle Busch gained one position and stands fifth while Paul Menard fell from fifth to sixth. Biffle and Yeley remained in seventh and eighth, respectively, while Leffler made the biggest jump in the rankings, rising two slots to ninth. Johnny Sauter lost one spot and is in 10th.

The NASCAR Busch Series takes a week off and returns May 27th at Lowe's Motor Speedway for the CARQUEST Auto Parts 300. NASCAR PR

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Ron blames journalist for Bernie roast
Kimi, Montoya, 'undecided' about 2007
Ron's 'concern' with Michelin exit
F1 teams move to axe engine 'freeze'
Another meeting for F1 peace
Ralf plays down Toro Rosso's Monaco boost
Sign me up, JV tells BMW
JV wants stewards to be harder on F1 rivals
McLaren four tenths too slow, Haug admits
Pressure not affecting me, Heidfeld protests
Horner slams Red Bull driver rumors
F1 drivers drug-tested in Spain
Track News
Construction continues at Talladega Construction continues at TalladegaJust more than a week has passed since Talladega Superspeedway President Grant Lynch kicked off the much-anticipated repaving project of the 2.66-mile track, and major progress is evident.

Nearly all of the former asphalt has been removed from Turns Three and Four as well as portions of the backstretch and Turn One. The project will be completed by the track's fall UAW-Ford 500 event weekend, set for Oct. 6 - 8. Tickets are available now by calling 1-877-Go2-DEGA (1-877-462-3342); for our hearing impaired guests, please call TDD 1-866-ISC-TRAK (1-866-472-8725). You may also purchase tickets online at www.racetickets.com or in person by visiting the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. CDT, Monday - Friday.


Schumacher tops final practice in Spain Schumacher tops final practice in SpainFerrari's back-to-back race winner Michael Schumacher went quickest in the final practice session before qualifying in Barcelona.

In fine weather and with local hero Fernando Alonso just eighth after nearly losing it in a quick corner, Renault demonstrated it also had pace at the Spanish circuit as Giancarlo Fisichella lagged Schumacher's time by just five hundredths of a second.

Somewhat curiously, BMW-Sauber's Nick Heidfeld was third, ahead of the surprisingly rapid Red Bulls of Christian Klien and David Coulthard.

As per usual, McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen occupied the midfield after completing fewer practice laps than any other team. 

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. M. Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:15.658 14
 2. Fisichella Renault (M) 1:15.707 + 0.049 14
 3. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) 1:16.057 + 0.399 13
 4. Klien Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:16.277 + 0.619 12
 5. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:16.352 + 0.694 16
 6. Barrichello Honda (M) 1:16.399 + 0.741 16
 7. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:16.410 + 0.752 15
 8. Alonso Renault (M) 1:16.595 + 0.937 10
 9. Montoya McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:16.660 + 1.002 9
10. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:16.705 + 1.047 9
11. Button Honda (M) 1:16.999 + 1.341 18
12. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:17.004 + 1.346 13
13. R. Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:17.199 + 1.541 19
14. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:17.240 + 1.582 19
15. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:17.645 + 1.987 14
16. Webber Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:17.743 + 2.085 14
17. Villeneuve BMW-Sauber (M) 1:17.924 + 2.266 16
18. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:18.411 + 2.753 18
19. Monteiro MF1-Toyota (B) 1:18.747 + 3.089 22
20. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:18.857 + 3.199 20
21. Albers MF1-Toyota (B) 1:19.587 + 3.929 19
22. Montagny Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:20.031 + 4.373 24

Matos remains on Champ Car Atlantic pole Matos remains on Champ Car Atlantic poleWhen Raphael Matos (#6 Pro Works) reflects on his first series pole position in the Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, he’ll be able to look back with pride, knowing that he overcame a multitude of challenges to achieve his goal.

Matos, the 24-year-old Brazilian rookie, conquered not only the deep and talented 28-car Atlantic field to earn the pole for Saturday’s Fast Trac 100 Atlantic race at the Grand Prix of Houston. The Sierra Sierra Enterprises driver also had to overcome the bumpy and challenging 1.690-mile track around Reliant Park, as well as a plethora of red caution flags that halted both on-track sessions on Friday. After posting the fastest time in opening-round qualifying on Thursday, Matos came back with increased focus and led the final qualifying session with a fast lap of 1:05.263 (93.223 mph). The native of Belo Horizonte, Brazil scored a bonus championship point for his performance on Friday. That, coupled with the marker he earned on Thursday for the provisional pole, enabled Matos to draw within three points of series championship leader Andreas Wirth (#37 INDECK/Wirth Solar) – 33-30 – in the series standings.

Overcoming three red flags that halted the 30-minute Atlantic qualifying, to go along with the three flags that stopped the afternoon Atlantic practice session, Matos was the only driver among the top three qualifiers that was able to better his time from Thursday. His top lap also established a new course record at the Reliant Park circuit, new to the Atlantic series this season. zzzz

Wirth was one of several drivers that was unable to find a clear qualifying lap with the abbreviated track time. The young German racer will still start second in Saturday’s Fast Trac 100 race (tape-delayed on SPEED at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 20), based on his top lap from the first round of qualifying at 1:05.490 (92.900 mph).

After battling mechanical issues for most of the day, rookie Graham Rahal (#18 Gehl Company) also managed to maintain his spot from the first round of qualifying. The 17-year-old son of Atlantic graduate and three-time Champ Car champion Bobby Rahal carded a fast time of 1:05.581 (92.771 mph) on Thursday and he will start third on Saturday for the best starting position of his young Atlantic career.

French first-year Atlantic racer Simon Pagenaud (#15 Team Australia/Location U/Cons. Gen. Vienne) will join Rahal in the second row of the starting grid after he secured a fast lap 1:05.613 (92.726 mph) in the second round of qualifying. Fellow rookie James Hinchcliffe (#3 Emexis/INDECK) of Forsythe Championship Racing equaled his top qualifying performance of the season as he posted the fifth-fastest overall lap of 1:05.640 (92.687 mph).

American Jonathan Bomarito (#23 Miracle Sealants) of PR1 Motorsports will start sixth in tomorrow’s race but he saw his fastest lap time taken off the board late in qualifying. Bomarito and Australian racer Barton Mawer (Australian Motorsports Foundation/Dixien) came together in Turn 5 with just a few minutes left in the qualifying session. The incident brought out the final red flag of the day and forced a premature end to the second round of qualifying. Both drivers were penalized with the loss of their fastest time for bringing the session to a stop and Bomarito fell from fourth to sixth in the order, relying on his next-fastest lap of 1:05.755 (92.525 mph).

After clocking a quick time of 1:05.888 (92.339 mph) on Thursday, Forsythe Racing rookie Richard Philippe (#33 INDECK) qualified seventh. Joe D’Agostino (#34 Newman Wachs Racing) saw his best time of 1:05.963 (92.234 mph) slot in eighth position overall for his top qualifying result of the season, but it’s unclear if he’ll be able to race on Saturday. The 21-year-old native of Plantation, Florida was injured at the end of Friday’s afternoon practice session when his car made hard contact with the Turn 4 tire wall. D’Agostino was complaining of neck and upper back pain and was taken to Houston’s Hermann Hospital for further evaluation. All x-rays were negative and D’Agostino was released on Friday evening, but his status for the race was still to be determined, pending consultation with Dr. Chris Pinderski, Champ Car Director of Medical Affairs.

Pos Driver Car# Lap Time Behind Leader
1 Raphael Matos 6 1:05.263 0.000
2 Andreas Wirth  37 1:05.490 0.227
3 Graham Rahal 18 1:05.581 0.318
4 Simon Pagenaud 15 1:05.613 0.350
5 James Hinchcliffe 3 1:05.640 0.377
6 Jonathan Bomarito 23 1:05.755 0.492
7 Richard Philippe 33 1:05.888 0.625
8 Joe D'Agostino 34 1:05.963 0.700
9 Robbie Pecorari 28 1:06.040 0.777
10 Alex Barron 21 1:06.087 0.824
11 Danilo Dirani 1 1:06.096 0.833
12 Stephen Simpson 14 1:06.167 0.904
13 Norbert Siedler 10 1:06.243 0.980
14 David Martinez 4 1:06.353 1.090
15 Charles Hall 16 1:06.401 1.138
16 Alan Sciuto 12 1:06.450 1.187
17 Luis Schiavo 8 1:06.603 1.340
18 Leonardo Maia 7 1:06.737 1.474
19 Barton Mawer 17 1:06.754 1.491
20 James Davison 5 1:06.916 1.653
21 Steve Ott 22 1:06.969 1.706
22 Al Unser III 30 1:07.140 1.877
23 Daniel Gaunt 35 1:07.183 1.920
24 Tim Bridgman 2 1:07.460 2.197
25 Ryan Spencer-Smith 25 1:07.657 2.394
26 Justin Sofio 26 1:07.938 2.675
27 Dan Selznick 49 1:10.139 4.876
28 Chris Souliotis 56 1:11.384 6.121

Lexus anticipates ALMS debut Lexus anticipates ALMS debutTORRANCE, Calif. – Since Lexus’ announcement in December that Team Lexus will field two IS 350s in the 2006 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT2 class, the team has been hard at work preparing the cars for their first racing season.  The new cars will challenge GT2-class stalwarts Porsche and Panoz while taking on new entries from Ferrari and BMW.

“Although we’d love to be racing this weekend in Houston, building a new, competitive, GT2 car from the ground up is a complex undertaking,” said Team Lexus owner Chuck Goldsborough.  “Our team has been working very hard to design and build the new cars, with inevitable challenges along the way.  Once complete, the task of development then starts and must ramp up very quickly.”

The level of ALMS GT2 competition underscores the challenges inherent in building a sedan to compete on even terms.  Top GT2 competitors include the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Ferrari 430 GT, Panoz Esperante GTLM and BMW M3—all formidable cars.  zzzz

With its production-based V6 providing more than 450 hp to propel a race car weighing less than 2,800 lbs., the new IS 350 GT2 promises to be plenty quick.  The car also will retain its double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension, suitably modified for the task and tuned to work with the large BBS-mounted Michelin racing slicks.  StopTech will provide an upgraded brake package.

The team expects to begin testing in the next few weeks with the goal of a race debut in July.  But the final decision on race timing will be based on test and development program results.  “With the majority of the ALMS schedule taking place after July 1, it simply makes sense to be patient and develop the car properly,” said Philip Gaviola, Lexus motorsports manager.  “And with the caliber of competition in the GT2 class, it’s going to be a steep learning curve regardless of when the IS 350 makes its debut.”

McLaren team run very few laps on Friday McLaren team run very few laps on FridayMcLaren drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen made only a few laps on Friday at Barcelona, as the team opted to save engine miles for the rest of the weekend.

Montoya has the latest spec for the first time after his failure at the Nurburgring, while Kimi still has the engine from last weekend. The Finn was given leave to use extra revs in the latter stages at the 'Ring when he was catching Alonso and Massa, while Montoya's old spec engine failed when he turned the wick up.

"We only really did three laps," said the Colombian. "We do a lot of testing there, and I think we're well prepared for what we need. We'll wait and see where we are tomorrow against everybody else. It was just to make sure everything works and check a little bit the balance for tomorrow, and that's it.  We haven't done anything today. Both cars did three laps. I think you cannot judge our pace on the basis of three laps. I think we know what we need to do, and I think it was the most conservative way to look after the engines a bit more, and save some engine life for the race."

"We hope to be competitive. Everybody should be quite competitive, everybody's done about the same miles around this place. It's a little bit wait and see what happens. Our approach was quite conservative for today, and hopefully pays off the rest of the weekend."

Atherton happy to see manufacturers starting to activate Atherton happy to see manufacturers starting to activateWe had the chance to spend a few quiet moments with a very busy ALMS President Scott Atherton today. Atherton was happy to show us the 1/4 page ad placed by Porsche in today's Wall Street Journal that featured the ALMS logo as prominently as the Porsche logo.  The ad featured an image of its new RS Spyder, with the text, “Gives You That ‘Racing History Is About To Be Rewritten’ Feeling”

"The inclusion of our brand in our sponsor ads creates a greater awareness of ALMS and that raises everyone’s value in the series. We held a sponsor summit in Sebring during the off-season and we talked about activating the series from a branding perspective. The power of our manufacturers to do this is collectively enormous so I'm happy to see Porsche buying into our plan."

On the subject of the Houston race Atherton expressed his frustration over the ALMS being totally ignored in today's special race insert in the Houston Chronicle newspaper. The insert featured Champ Car exclusively. He gave high marks to the race promoters, however, as he felt for a first year event it was well done.

On the subject of the Panoz chassis for Champ Car he really did not want to comment on the record. Like everyone else, he is anxious to hear what the outcome of the Champ Car/IRL merger negotiations will be. "We have certain expectations as to how many cars we will sell as the quantity affects our ability to recoup our investment and eventually turn a profit," said Atherton. "A healthy open wheel series is good for everyone." Mark C. reporting from Houston

Yates announces changes for Busch team Yates announces changes for Busch teamCitiFinancial and Robert Yates Racing announced today a driver shift for the team's No. 90 Busch Series Ford. Stephen Leicht and Matt McCall are going to assume increased driving duties for the CitiFinancial-sponsored Ford and will be sharing the seat for the remainder of the 2006 NASCAR Busch races. Elliott Sadler will be Leicht's and McCall's mentor throughout the remainder of the season. When the schedule was first announced, Sadler was to race in an "estimated 16 races" with the team this season. He has already competed in five races for the team this year. NASCAR Daily Scene
Qualifying order for Indy 500 Qualifying order for Indy 500INDIANAPOLIS -- Qualifying order for Saturday's WorldPoints Visa Card Pole Day at the 90th Indianapolis 500, with qualifying order position   and car number:

1. (92) Jeff Bucknum
2. (90) Townsend Bell
3. (4T) Vitor Meira
4. (4) Vitor Meira
5. (25) Marty Roth
6. (31) Al Unser Jr.
7. (7T) Bryan Herta
8. (1T) Michael Andretti
9. (5T) Buddy Lazier
10. (7) Bryan Herta
11. (3) Helio Castroneves
12. (41) Larry Foyt
14. (61) Arie Luyendyk Jr.
15. (91T) P.J. Chesson
16. (88) Airton Dare
17. (9T) Scott Dixon
18. (55) Kosuke Matsuura
19. (2) Tomas Scheckter
20. (90T) Townsend Bell  zzzz
21. (51) Eddie Cheever Jr.
22. (55T) Kosuke Matsuura
23. (52) TBA
24. (15) Buddy Rice
25. (1) Michael Andretti
26. (9) Scott Dixon
27. (31T) Al Unser Jr.
28. (10T) Dan Wheldon
29. (51T) Eddie Cheever Jr.
30. (26T) Marco Andretti
31. (6T) Sam Hornish Jr.
32. (21) Jaques Lazier
33. (48) TBA
34. (27) Dario Franchitti
35. (93) TBA
36. (11) Tony Kanaan
37. (20) Ed Carpenter
38. (18) Thiago Medeiros
39. (8) Scott Sharp
40. (15T) Buddy Rice
41. (16) Danica Patrick
42. (26) Marco Andretti
43. (91) P.J. Chesson
44. (2T) Tomas Scheckter
45. (11T) Tony Kanaan
46. (14T) Felipe Giaffone
47. (27T) Dario Franchitti
48. (22) TBA
49. (6) Sam Hornish Jr.
50. (12) Jon Herb
51. (10) Dan Wheldon
52. (20T) Ed Carpenter
53. (17) Jeff Simmons
54. (21T) Jaques Lazier
55. (8T) Scott Sharp
56. (16T) Danica Patrick
57. (5) Buddy Lazier
58. (41T) Larry Foyt
59. (17T) Jeff Simmons
60. (14) Felipe Giaffone
61. (97) Stephan Gregoire
62. (3T) Helio Castroneves

Foyt’s greatest Indy 500 memory Foyt’s greatest Indy 500 memoryIn celebration of the 90th Running of the Indianapolis 500, various personalities associated with "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" will give their favorite "500" memories. Here's today's memory:

A.J. FOYT (four-time Indianapolis 500 winner/owner, A.J. Foyt Racing): "My best memory of the "500" is the first time I qualified for the race in '58. When I was driving midgets and sprints, it was my dream to race at Indy. That was what I was aiming for. The race itself wasn't such a good memory, though. I remember they warned me about the race, saying this could happen and that could happen and to be alert for it. Going down the backstretch on the first lap, there was a huge accident. Cars were flipping over the wall and spinning everywhere, other cars were on fire, and I thought to myself, 'Man, they never told me about this in the rookie meeting.' I eventually dropped out when a water line broke on my car, and I spun and hit the wall. My second-best memory was when I won my first Indy 500 in '61. To win it, well that was another dream come true. Eddie Sachs and I had raced hard all day long. I thought I had it won, then they told me I was low on fuel and had to pit, and I thought I had lost it. But Eddie Sachs had to pit with a couple laps to go because he had a tire showing its cords, and I won the race. I couldn't believe it. It was a great, great feeling."

Review of Indy 500 qualifying procedures Review of Indy 500 qualifying proceduresHere's a look at the qualifying format used for the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race:
  • WorldPoints Visa Card Pole Day: Positions one through 11 in the 33-car field are available to the fastest 11 qualifiers that day.  Once the 11 spots are full, bumping will occur for the rest of the day to determine the WorldPoints Visa Car Pole Award and the fastest 11 qualifiers for that day.
  • Second Day Qualifying: Positions 12 through 22 are available.  Once those spots are full, bumping will occur only in spots 12 through 22 for the rest of the day to determine the fastest 11 qualifiers for that day.
  • Third Day Qualifying: Positions 22 through 33 are available.  Once those spots are full, bumping will occur only in spots 23-33 for the rest of the day to determine the fastest 11 qualifiers for that day.
  • Bump Day: Any qualifying attempt on the fourth day that is faster than a qualified entrant in the 33 positions in the starting field will bump the slowest qualifier from the field, regardless of the day of qualification.  The "bumped" entrant will be removed from the field of 33, and the remaining field will move ahead one position in the starting field as the newly qualified entrant will take the 33rd position, or a higher position if faster than other fourth-day qualifiers. 
  • Each car, primary or backup, will have three attempts per day to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. If a car is bumped on any day of qualifications, that entrant can re-enter the qualification line and attempt to re-qualify based on the number of attempts remaining for that car.
  • Entrants also can withdraw qualified cars from the field at their choice, but that car still will be allowed to make qualifying attempts based on the number of attempts it has remaining for the day. The car does not have to be removed from competition, as in previous formats.   zzzz

The format was used for the first time in 2005. 2004 IRL IndyCar® Series champion Tony Kanaan, third in the qualifying line, won the Pole for the 89th Indianapolis 500 after recording a four-lap average of 227.566 mph (2 minutes, 38.1961 seconds).

Sam Hornish Jr., who had the 10th-best speed through the initial round of qualifiers, withdrew his qualified car per the qualifying rules and made a second run at 4:30 p.m. (EDT). Hornish improved to second after a four-lap average of 227.273 mph. That bumped Scott Sharp, who kicked off qualifying with a four-lap average of 227.126 mph, to third.

Hornish's teammate, Helio Castroneves, also took advantage of the new rules and re-qualified. Castroneves had posted the fourth-best time earlier in the session, but Marlboro Team Penske owner Roger Penske withdrew the time at 5:50 p.m. for Castroneves to make a run at the pole. Driving the No. 3 Toyota-powered Dallara, Castroneves started strong with a lap of 227.330 mph. But he fell off the pace and fell one spot to fifth on the grid.

In all, twenty-two cars qualified under the new procedure, with the No. 51 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota/Firestone driven by Alex Barron checking in at No. 22. Barron's time had been bumped by Dario Franchitti's time, but he returned for an attempt with 35 minutes remaining. He posted a four-lap average of 221.053 mph.

New supplier for BMW team New supplier for BMW teamThe BMW Sauber F1 Team has a new Promotional Supplier: DuPont, based in Wilmington (Delaware, USA) and with its European headquarters in Geneva, will supply the team with innovative paints and coatings for its racing cars as well as trucks and motor homes. When it comes to Formula One cars, paint finishes and coatings are of particular relevance. Important criteria are low weight combined with optimum thickness, thermal stability, resistance to mechanical stresses such as stone chips, and color brilliance suitable for television broadcasts.

BMW and DuPont already cooperate in the aftermarket sector for series- production vehicles and this will strengthen their future cooperation. DuPont is a science company. Founded in 1802, DuPont puts science to work by creating sustainable solutions essential to a better, safer, healthier life for people everywhere.

Operating in more than 70 countries, DuPont offers a wide range of innovative products and services for markets including agriculture, nutrition, electronics, communications, safety and protection, home and construction, transportation and apparel.

DuPont invests over a billion US dollars annually into research and development for its various business segments (Coatings & Color Technologies, Safety & Protection, Electronic & Communication Technologies, Performance Materials and Agriculture & Nutrition). BMW Sauber

Patrick and Simmons miss valuable practice time Patrick and Simmons miss valuable practice timeDanica Patrick, driver of the No. 16 Argent Mortgage Honda/Panoz/Firestone spent the day meeting with her engineers and conducting several national media interviews.

“It is frustrating to be here and know that you need to run and yet you can’t get the time you need to work on the car,” said Patrick. “Obviously we aren’t where we want to be right now, but we have gone back and reviewed the set-ups and made a few significant changes. So many things can change at Indy with a change in the weather conditions. Last year we were fighting for the pole and had a great shot at qualifying at the front. Right now that will be a challenge, but the most important part of the month is on May 28th, not Pole Day.”

Jeff Simmons driver of the No. 17 Team Ethanol was disappointed that the rain cost him another day of practice. Although Simmons is preparing to make his second Indy start, he is essentially a rookie having logged minimal laps at Indy in 2004 prior to his start.

“It is no fun sitting around in the rain, said Simmons. “I think everyone is anxious to get out there and run some laps. It has been tough mentally for a lot of guys this week just because we haven't had a lot of time on the track. Once we start getting some more time I think everyone will feel better about their cars. I know we aren't the only team that would like more track time. But we have no control over the weather. The conditions always change so much here at Indy. We have to be prepared for any kind of weather this weekend.” RLR

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