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Allmendinger defeats Hornish to make All-Star race
A.J. Allmendinger raced his way into the field for Saturday night’s running of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All Star race with a victory in the Sprint Showdown at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

Allmendinger beat out former Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish, Jr. to win the two-segment, 60-lap event, with the winner and second-place finisher transferring to the star-studded field for the 24th edition of NASCAR’s all star event.

“This is like winning the Daytona 500,” said Allmendinger. “I’m looking forward to running the all star race. That was like the most pressure I’ve ever been in, so now I’m just going to go and have some fun.”

The victory was a vindication for the 26-year-old driver, who was pulled out of the no. 84 Red Bull Toyota after failing to qualify for the first three races of the season.

“We’ve had such a struggle,” said Allmendinger. “I’ve had a struggle, the 84 team has had a struggle, and for us to come through and win this race, it’s the biggest thing that could have happened.”

Although Hornish was safely in the field for the all-star race with a second-place finish, he didn’t seem content with the runner-up spot, pulling right up on Allmendinger’s bumper in the final two laps, looking to take the victory for himself.

Hornish smartly backed off in the final turn, saving his car for the all star race.

“I wasn’t going to take any chances unless I got a good run and could get by cleanly,” said Hornish. “I wanted to be smart and not waste a chance to get into the All Star race.”

David Ragan finished third followed by Brian Vickers. Kasey Kahne finished fifth in the Showdown but won the fan vote to become the 24th and final starter in the all star field.

Allmendinger’s good fortune came at the expense of polesitter Elliott Sadler, after contact early in the event sent Sadler’s no. 19 Dodge Charger hard into the wall, ending what was a promising run for Sadler.

“There’s a reason why (Allmendinger) get taken out of that racecar it seems like every other week,” said Sadler. “It’s just a shame – we had a fast race car, and (Allmendinger) just got into us and took us out. I hate it for my guys, they put a lot of effort into coming here and making it into the all star race, and we never even got a chance.”

Sadler’s Gillett-Evernham Motorsports teammate Patrick Carpentier brought out the first caution after backing into the wall on lap two. He joined Sadler, Stanton Barrett and Johnny Sauter among the drivers who failed to finish the event.  Pete McCole reporting from Lowe's


Montoya Talks About The Indy 500
Juan Montoya

Juan Pablo Montoya (JPM): “I only ran (Indy 500) once. No, I’d rather be here than there to tell you the truth.”


JPM: “What I think has changed is that people are starting to realize what NASCAR is. I think myself coming in last year, when Chip (Ganassi) hired me, that he showed people that anyone is really welcome here. If you perform, you’re welcome here. Everybody received me with arms open and it’s been an awesome experience. I think people want to try it. They see grandstands here every week are full. The racing itself is so good. I think that everything that I lived and done has been a lot of fun. But right now, for where I am, I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

Chip Ganassi (CG): “I think it has to do with the challenge too. Look at the guys that are down here of late. Dario (Franchitti) and Sam (Hornish Jr.), these guys have won the big one there (IndyCar) and sort of feel like they’ve accomplished what they’ve set out to do. I think they are looking for a new challenge. I agree with everything that Juan said. Look at Dario’s season or Sam’s season the last year or so. They won the championship. They won the Indy 500. They want a new challenge. I think they feel that it would just be repeated. Why would you go back and do that again? In fact Juan said that to me one time. When he and I were talking about him coming down here, I said, ‘I thought you were talking about Indy cars.’ And he said, ‘No, no, I already did that. I want to do something new.’ So I think that you have to look at somebody and say that if they accept the challenge, it’s a nice thing from a car owner point of view.”

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The 33 Qualified cars for Indy 500 so far
1. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 226.366
2. (10) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 226.110
3. (6) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 226.080
4. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 225.733
5. (7) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 225.197
6. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 224.794
7. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 224.417
8. (4T) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 224.346
9. (27) Hideki Mutoh, Dallara-Honda, 223.887
10. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 223.835
11. (12) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 223.496
12. (99) Townsend Bell, Dallara-Honda, 222.539
13. (06) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 222.531
14. (14) Darren Manning, Dallara-Honda, 222.430
15. (18) Bruno Junqueira, Dallara-Honda, 222.330
16. (02) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 222.267
17. (15) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 222.101
18. (22) Davey Hamilton, Dallara-Honda, 222.017
19. (16) Alex Lloyd, Dallara-Honda, 221.788
20. (17T) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 221.579
21. (24) John Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 221.550
22. (67) Sarah Fisher, Dallara-Honda, 221.246
23. (8) Will Power, Dallara-Honda, 221.136
24. (41) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Honda, 221.103
25. (5) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Honda, 220.767
26. (33) EJ Viso, Dallara-Honda, 220.356
27. (23) Milka Duno, Dallara-Honda, 220.305
28. (19) Mario Moraes, Dallara-Honda, 219.716
29. (36) Enrique Bernoldi, Dallara-Honda, 219.422
30. (34) Jaime Camara, Dallara-Honda, 219.345
31. (98) Roger Yasukawa, Dallara-Honda, 218.010
32. (91) Buddy Lazier, Dallara-Honda, 217.939
33. (25) Marty Roth, Dallara-Honda, 215.506


Indy: Mutoh latest Turn 1 victim UPDATE Medical update from Dr. Mike Olinger, senior medical director for the Indy Racing League: #27 Mutoh has been checked and released at the Clarian Emergency Medical Center. He is cleared to drive.

HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 27 Formula Dream): “I lost control. That was my in-lap, and I wasn’t pushing very hard. I don’t know why, but suddenly I lost it.”

05/17/08 Turn 1 at Indy this year has had its share of accidents.  The latest is AGR's Hideki Mutoh who hit the Turn 1 wall during a high wind gust and tore off the left rear before sliding to a stop in turn 2.  The car looks repairable.  Tom Wohlford reporting from Indy


Dominguez hits wall again, Papis crashes too UPDATE #2 Medical update from Dr. Mike Olinger, senior medical director for the Indy Racing League: #44 Papis has been checked and released at the Clarian Emergency Medical Center. He is cleared to drive.

Rubicon Race Team/Sam Schmidt Motorsports is working feverishly to repair the No. 44 car driven by Max Papis that was damaged earlier in the day. The team has secured replacement parts from several sources in the garage area, including Dallara and Vision Racing.

JIM FREUDENBERG (Co-owner, Rubicon Race Team): (Will you be back on track today?) “(The car) will be back together today, but that wouldn't be the safest thing for Max (Papis) or anybody. We'll work until it is done tonight, and we'll be back on the track tomorrow." (About getting parts to rebuild the car): "Sam Schmidt Motorsports had a lot of spare parts. Chris (Griffis), the team manager, was scrambling through the garage to get parts. Dallara and the League have helped us out, so we're just trying to get it back together." (About getting help from other teams): "This is the good thing that comes from the bad part of racing. Even people you are trying to beat are trying to give you a fair shot. To me, that doesn't happen in many places. It is the positive thing about this sport." (About the racing community): "Most of us have known each other for many years, so when you don't burn bridges and you make friends, you'll be able to count on each other. We'd do the same for other teams if they were in this position."

Mario Dominguez talked about Pacific Coast Motorsports’ plans for Bump Day qualifying after his crash this morning in practice.

MARIO DOMINGUEZ: “It’s looking good. The car is ready to go. We have a practice tomorrow. It will be great to set up the car and have it working properly and make it go a bit faster than it’s been so far. With a little help from the gods, we should be able to make it in the field. The team is amazing. The team has been doing some serious work ever since they got this car. If you can believe it, they put it together just 2 ½ weeks ago. It’s just incredible what they’ve done. What they’ve done today, again, shows how professional this team is. The fact that most of us are new to Indy doesn’t mean we can’t get the job done. Obviously, Indy is a tough place. We knew it was going to be difficult coming in, and we were ready for things like that, so that helps us out.” (How confident are you about making the field tomorrow?): “I'm confident, but I’m certainly not sitting down and relaxing. I’m not relaxed, and neither is the team, by any means. We knew coming in it was not going to be easy to make the field, but we all believe we can do it, and we’re going to do out tomorrow and do it.” (Strategy for tomorrow): “We’ll go out as soon as the track opens. It’s great that we have a practice so we can set up the car a little bit better and get some speed from it. As soon as the track opens, we’ll go out and qualify.” (Are you prepared mentally for maybe making more than one qualifying attempt?): “Yeah, we might have to go out again and again and again because other people can be bumping each other out. We’re ready for that, too.” 

05/17/08 Mario Dominguez made contact with the turn one wall this morning while preparing for qualifying at the Indianapolis Motors Speedway.  Dominguez was not injured in the incident.  The incident occurred just before 11:00 am in the final practice before qualifying begins at Noon ET.  Fortunately, the damage is not severe and as long as the necessary parts are available, Dominguez will return to the track this afternoon to qualify.  Dominguez is prepared for the task both mentally and physically, he is an experienced driver and ready for the task at hand.

Mario Dominguez on the accident: “I just lost the rear-end going into turn one. We’ve been fighting understeer there all week and working hard to stabilize the car.  This is a huge set-back for us.  Fortunately, I wasn’t going that fast at that point and I lost it early so I scrubbed a lot of speed.  The boys think they may be able to get it fixed in time to qualify today, if they can get the parts.  I am keeping my fingers crossed.”

Max Papis made contact in Turn 3 during the morning practice session in preparation for today’s qualifying session.  Max was seen in the IMS Medical Center and upon his release was cleared to drive.  The team owners along with Sam Schmidt Motorsports are assessing their options regarding the #44 entry and once a decision has been made on how they will proceed, the team will issue a statement.

Max Papis on the accident: “It was definitely a very unfortunate moment for the Rubicon LifeLock team.  We are trying to understand and analyze what happened but the bottom line is we don’t have a car to qualify right now.  I drove into Turn 3 and right when I was turning in, the car just came around.  It was a very, very unusual feeling as I had never had this problem before.  It was very, very unexpected.  I have a lot of confidence with my guys, they are coming up with a solution and we’ll see what happens.”

05/17/08 The carnage continues at Indy.  The odds of Mario Dominguez making this year's Indy 500 were in jeopardy Saturday morning. Dominguez, struggling to get up to speed in his PCM machine, has hit the turn one wall with heavy right side damage to his car.  Everyone is crashing in Turn 1 and causing millions of dollars of car damage.

Max Papis also hit the wall hard late in the session with heavy damage to the rear and left side of his car.

Saturday Qualifying Order


Saturday Indy Notebook - 3
Phil Giebler was taken to Methodist Hospital, was alert and talking with attendants.  AT 6:07 pm, the Speedway announced that Giebler has suffered pulmonary contusions ("bruised lungs") and was admitted.  The car is a total write-off, and the team is looking around in the garage for a replacement to salvage the weekend.  However, this is the former Playa Del Racing team, and they didn't exactly endear themselves to the IRL under the old name.  No word on either driver or replacement car possibilities. 



AJ IV took the track at 5:44 local time, but was waved off when the computer display in his car malfunctioned.  Marty Roth took the track at 5:50, and qualified at 215.506, filling the field.  He is almost 2 ½ mph slower than the next slower car. AJ is praying for better weather, and Marty Roth is praying for rain.

AJ Foyt IV  — two failed attempts today
Phil Giebler — Crashed hard in practice, at Methodist Hospital.  Team looking for replacement car and driver.
Max Papis  — Contrary to earlier reports, NOT going to a backup car.  They are repairing their car,
including new undertray, all 4 corners, both wings, and gear box.
Mario Dominguez — Car was repaired after morning crash, and almost had it ready to run today.  Should attempt qualification tomorrow.   


Weather forecast for Indy tomorrow calls for partly cloudy skies, cool temps (60 degrees) and much calmer winds.  It should be an entertaining Bump Day — the first in years. 


Charles Buckman, who was injured in the pits when he was hit by Danica Patrick's car on May 9, is now home.  He still suffers from vertigo, and has to wear a neck brace for a month, but is expected to make a full recovery. 


People who marvel at Mario Dominguez's team putting his car back together in an afternoon would be astounded to learn that PCM Racing only took delivery of their IRL cars the weekend of the Long Beach race.  The team didn't start putting their cars together until they got home from California.  Should they make the race it would be a major accomplishment for the team. 


I understand now why people who were part of the CART/CCWS/CART series loved it so much.  I've been welcomed into virtually every former CCWS garage, and made to feel like an old friend.  However, one playful PR rep told me that Paul Tracy had signed an 8-year agreement to drive Sprint Cup — it seems he reads the AutoRacing1 "Rumors" section. Tim Wohlford reporting from Indy


Saturday Indy crash photos

Mario Dominguez Mario Dominguez Mario Dominguez

Phil Giebler Phil Giebler Phil Giebler

Phil Giebler Max Papis
All photos courtesy of the IRL


Roth fills Indy field
Twenty-two drivers qualified for the 92nd Running of the Indianapolis 500, filling starting positions 12-33 on the grid and setting up a Bump Day that should feature three drivers attempting to earn their way into the field.

Townsend Bell posted the fastest qualifying effort of the day, averaging 222.539 mph in four laps around the historic 2.5-mile oval to earn the 12th starting position, the outside of Row 4.

The first 11 positions were determined May 10 when Scott Dixon won the pole with an average speed of 226.366 mph.

Row 5 will feature rookie Graham Rahal, A.J. Foyt Enterprises driver Darren Manning and 2002 pole sitter Bruno Junqueira. 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice qualified 17th, and 1996 winner Buddy Lazier is 32nd.

Three-time Indianapolis 500 starter Marty Roth qualified 33rd, averaging 215.506 mph in the final qualifying attempt of the day, nine minutes before the end of the session.

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Laguna Seca: Hinchcliffe Breaks Atlantic Track Record
James Hinchcliffe
Although temperatures were slightly cooler for Saturday’s final round of qualifying for the Monterey Festival of Speed, Canadian driver James Hinchcliffe turned up the heat on the competition and came away with the pole position for Sunday’s second round of the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Driving the No. 3 Indeck/TireRack.com machine for Forsythe/Petit Racing, Hinchcliffe posted a new Atlantic track record with a lap at 1:16.189 (105.748 mph) around the 2.238-mile permanent road circuit. The Canadian was already guaranteed a front-row starting position by virtue of his provisional pole-winning performance on Friday, but went a step further on Saturday. As a result, he will start from the pole position for the first time since Round 9 of the 2007 Atlantic Championship at Edmonton last July.

“It’s been since Edmonton since we’ve been on the front row and it was a poor end to last season and a poor start to this one, so it’s kind of nice to finally be back up here,” Hinchcliffe said. “We didn’t really test well here, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and obviously, Long Beach didn’t go well, so I think the whole team was thinking that, for us, the season really starts here. Long Beach was just a test that they gave points away for some reason. This is us getting back on track now and we’re really looking forward to it. The team has done such a good job and the guys did so much work between the first race and here to get us back up to speed. I feel bad for David (Garza), because he didn’t really get a good lap on the new tires, but he was really quick as well. The team did a great job. I’m just really looking forward to tomorrow now.”

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Giebler crashes hard at Indy
Phil Giebler slammed rear first into the turn 1 wall at Indy and it looks pretty bad. He is still in the car after 5 + minutes...We can't imagine him wanting to run anymore even if he didn't break his back. He was up to 218.336 in the space of 38 laps.  The SAFER barrier was damaged. Giebler was in an old Panoz - noted for back injuries when the car goes straight in like Giebler's did.  He was taken on a backboard to the ambulance.


Schumacher to start last for superbike race UPDATE Seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher will start from the last row for a superbike race after his Honda stalled in qualifying.  Schumacher was last among the 39 riders Saturday in afternoon qualifying for Sunday's German International Championship after his bike cut out with an electronic problem. Fighting rain, he finished 23rd in morning qualifying.

05/16/08 Seven-times Formula One champion Michael Schumacher has been riding practice rounds on a motorcycle ahead of this weekend's German International Championship races. He is listed among the starters for the race.  Organizers initially tried to register Schumacher under a false name - Marcel Niederecken - but later used his real name because of insurance issues.


Saturday Notebook from Indy - 2
With high winds, intermittent sunshine and rising temperatures, 21 drivers qualified for the 2008 Indy 500.  As of 4:00 Indy time, here is the qualification order:

12 - Townsend Bell - 222.539
13 - Graham Rahal - 222.531
14 - Darren Manning - 222.430
15 - Bruno Junqueira - 222.330
16 - Justin Wilson - 222.267
17 - Buddy Rice - 222.101
18 - Davey Hamilton - 222.017
19 - Alex Lloyd - 221.788
20 - Ryan Hunter-Reay - 221.579
21 - John Andretti - 221.550
22 - Sarah Fisher - 221.246
23 - Will Power - 221.136
24 - Jeff Simons - 221.103
25 - Oriol Servia - 220.767
26 - E. J. Viso - 220.356
27 - Milka Duno - 220.305
28 - Mario Morales - 219.716
29 - Enrique Bernoldi - 219.422
30 - Jaime Camara - 219.345
31 - Roger Yasukawa - 218.010
31 - Buddy Lazier - 217.939

Still to qualify —

AJ Foyt IV  — practicing at 220.9 after qualifications
Phil Giebler — Only Panoz on the track this month, they got their motor at 6:00 last night, and now practicing at 214.556. 
Max Papis  — going to a backup car after crashing primary this morning, not in practice yet
Marty Roth — perhaps wondering if John Andretti can be put in Marty's suit to qualify the car?
Mario Dominguez — car being repaired after morning crash
Ed Carpenter — practice speed of 219 before qualification attempts


Jeff Simons' first run was called off, or so we thought.  It turns out that team owner AJ Foyt simply forgot to wave the green flag to start the run after the warm-up laps.  He'd only given the "thumbs up" to start Darren Manning's run earlier, so perhaps AJ's thumb simply went unnoticed the second time.

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Edwards wins Star Mazda pole
Newcomer John Michael Edwards, the 2007 Atlantic Series racer who joined the 2008 Star Mazda Championship just in time for Round Two at Miller Motorsports Park thoroughly fulfilled the unexpected promise he showed in testing with a pole-winning performance in the #7 AIM Autosport Mazda during Saturday morning qualifying.  His lap of 1:43.650 (105.864 mph) was more than 1.5 seconds faster than his best test time and .691 seconds ahead of the 2nd-place qualifier, Sebring winner Joel Miller.

“The AIM team gave me a car so easy to drive that it took hardly any effort to set the pole time,” said Edwards.  “I did my pole time on my third lap on a set of brand new tires and immediately pitted to see if anyone could beat it, which they didn’t.  So I’ll be starting the race with tires that have only three laps on them, which is a huge advantage.  The improved lap times were in part due to the car and in part due to the track being faster with lots of ALMS rubber laid down.  It may be a little slower in the heat of the afternoon, but we’re feeling confident of our chances in the race.”

Joel Miller, starting on the outside of the front row with a lap of 1:44.341 (105.163 mph), suffered a suspension failure on the #20 JDC Motorsports/Mazda/K&N Air Filters Mazda and made heavy, head-on contact with the end of the tire barrier in Turn 8 during the closing minutes of the 45-minute qualifying session.  Though unhurt, Miller’s car had the suffered right front suspension and will keep the crew busy re-building it right up until race time this afternoon.

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Pagenaud keeps de Ferran team on top in Utah
Simon Pagenaud kept de Ferran Motorsports at the top of the timing sheets at the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by the Grand and Little Hotels. The youngest of Acura’s eight American Le Mans Series drivers went quickest in the first official practice session Saturday morning at Miller Motorsports Park with a lap of 1:32.639 (18.447 mph).

The young Frenchman is debuting in the Series this weekend with team owner and racing legend Gil de Ferran with the two piloting the No. 66 Acura ARX-01b. Pagenaud’s time on his final lap of the session and knocked Lowe’s Fernandez Racing’s Adrian Fernandez from the top spot. It gave Acura the first two positions at the end of the session with Fernandez turning a lap of 1:32.791 (118.253 mph). He will drive with Luis Diaz.

Acura is searching for its second straight LMP2 victory and first overall in the American Le Mans Series. Pagenaud gave it a leg up on Audi, which saw Frank Biela post the best LMP1 time and third overall. The German turned in a lap of 1:33.099 (117.862 mph) in the first of Audi Sport North America’s Audi R10 TDIs. Biela and Emanuele Pirro will try to replicate their 2006 overall victory in Utah, the first race for the American Le Mans Series at Miller Motorsports Park.

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Walker Racing Atlantics Welcomes New Sponsor
Walker Racing returns to familiar ground this weekend in Monterey, California as the Atlantic squad competes at the famous Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit May 16-18th.  What better way to kick off the race weekend than with two announcements. 

Walker Racing is happy to announce that VITAL Lifestyle Water (http/:www.vitallifestylewater.com) the new 100 percent natural, low calorie and truly functional enhanced water will be joining the operation’s sponsor/partner portfolio for the remainder of the 2008 season.  Not only will the VITAL Lifestyle Water logo be carried on all three Atlantic cars, but the team will stay refreshed at the tracks with their supply of VITAL Lifestyle water.

Vital Lifestyle Water is the only true functional water loaded with vitamins, minerals, all-natural supplements and the first beverage in North America to be naturally sweetened with the 100% natural fruit extract Fruit Up®.

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Vettel to get five-place penalty at Monaco
Sebastian Vettel
(GMM)  Toro Rosso racer Sebastian Vettel will approach next week's Monaco grand prix with both a new car and a penalty.

The new STR3 requires a different gearbox installation to its predecessor, the 2007-spec STR2B that has been raced by the German, and his French teammate Sebastien Bourdais, at the first five races of the season.

This year's rules stipulate a mandatory four-race life per gearbox, meaning that Vettel - to use a different gearbox at Monaco to the one that he drove to 17th place in Turkey - will receive a five-position demotion on the grid.

The same penalty will not apply to Bourdais, because the 29-year-old did not finish at Istanbul last Sunday.

"Monte Carlo is the last place you want a punishment like that," the Faenza based team's team co-owner Gerhard Berger lamented to the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport.

The Austrian great, meanwhile, slammed suggestions that F1's proposed budget cap could kick in at as much as 175 million euros in 2009.

"That is absolute insanity," Berger said.  "How can we save money like that?

"It doesn't even include driver salaries nor contain the engine costs.  In other words, the manufacturers don't want to save anything at all.

"175 million?  A real private team could never afford a budget like that."


Saturday Notebook from Indy - 1
- The weather at Indy is cool and windy, with dark clouds floating overhead.  The combination is playing havoc with some drivers, notably Mario Dominguez who found the wall in turn one after putting a left wheel on the grass.  No sooner did practice resume and Max Papis found the wall in turn 4.  Both cars have enough damage to make their return to the track this weekend doubtful.  Both drivers are cleared to drive, should their teams have cars for them to drive. 

- There were 26 cars on the track in morning practice, none of which are among the 11 already qualified.  Unless there is a surprise entry -- which is definitely possibility --  there will 4 drivers miss the race. 

- The quickest of the morning practice was John Andretti, who amazed the crowd with a 224.027 in a car that hadn't done more than 219 and change before he jumped into it last weekend.  John has a reputation for driving a clean, conservative race, and no doubt brings a ton of setup knowledge to Roth Racing. 

- If morning times are any indication, the following 4 cars will be going home:  Phil Giebler (literally putting the car together this morning), Jaime Camara, Mario Dominguez (crashed as noted) and Buddy Lazier (another second-weekend effort).  Lazier was 7/10 of a mile per hour slower than the next slowest car.  Anything slower than 220 mph should be viewed as suspect speed this morning. 

- The apocalypse is upon us.  Legendary auto sports writer (and editor emeritus of National Speed Sport News) Chris Economaki has traded his legendary typewriter (manual, not electric) for an Apple notebook computer. 

- Chic Report:  Both Sarah Fisher and Milka Duno posted speeds that should put them safely into the field.  Sarah was 13th fastest of today's non-qualifier practice session, and Milka was 20th fast.  While still not as fast as she needs to be, Milka looks decided less stressed than last year. 

- They're all road racers, says Ryan Hunter-Reay:  "If you can drive a race car, then you can drive a race car... I mean, look at Team Penske -- Castroneves, Briscoe -- you look at Ganassi — Dixon, Wheldon — All of these are road racers.  You don't do well in this championship if you don't have a road racing background."  When asked to compare his current Dallara ride with his former rides, he responded, "I've never driven the DP01.  I gotta compare it to the Lola and the Reynard.  One thing I can say about this car (Dallara) is that it makes for good oval racing, but obviously on a road course I'd much prefer the Lola or the Reynard."  Tim Wohlford reporting


Busch to test F1 car UPDATE (GMM)  NASCAR driver Kyle Busch has revealed that he is currently in talks to test a formula one car for the first time over the European winter period.

The 23-year-old, who was the Nextel Cup rookie of the year in 2005 and is the current championship leader, also refused to rule out making a full switch to the premier class of open wheeler racing some time in the future.

Busch, who has so far won two races in 2008 with his Toyota Camry, told reporters at the Charlotte track in North Carolina that the first step is talks with Toyota about a formula one demonstration drive in Japan.

"We're working on a test session right now at the end of November or beginning of December sometime -- going to Japan and doing a little exhibition sort of deal and see what it's like," he is quoted as saying by the Speed TV website.

Busch also indicated he would be interested in opportunities to race in formula one.

"I wouldn't mind it," the American said, albeit admitting some misgivings about F1's actual wheel to wheel action that apparently "isn't all that great".

"If I can do it and I'm good at it then I'll give it a shot and try it.

"We'll see how good I test, first.

"We'll see if my neck can withstand the g-forces of the braking and everything," he said.

05/16/08 Kyle Busch will test a Formula One car with Toyota later this year in Japan  As teams get ready for Saturday’s Sprint All-Star Challenge, Busch said Formula One is something that appeals to him, but not on the near horizon.

"I'm planning on retiring at 30 and going Formula One racing,” the 23-year-old Busch said at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

He also reveled his plan to drive an F1 car for the first time at the end of this year when he goes to Japan to do NASCAR exhibition runs for Toyota.

"We're working on a test session right now at the end of November, or the beginning of December, sometime going to Japan and doing a little exhibition, to see what it's like," he said. "We'll take a Cup car over there too and just run around there at either Twin-Ring or somewhere like that to show them what the Cup cars are like and try to get into a Formula One car too."

"We'll see how well I test first," Busch added. "We'll see if my neck can stand the g-forces of braking and everything. I wouldn't mind. If I can do it and if I'm good at it then I'll give it a shot and try it."


Pedrosa wins French GP pole
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa took pole position from Colin Edwards at Le Mans, ahead of tomorrow's French MotoGP by turning the fastest lap of 1:32.647 in the last minute of the session.

Pedrosa came out on top at the end of a thrilling hour of action, the World Championship leader making crucial chassis adjustments to outpace his closest rival by just over one tenth of a second. As ever, the MotoGP pack is tightly packed with Hayden just six tenths off pole and the fastest 12 riders covered by just 1.076 seconds. Hard-working Hayden and his crew have focused on improving corner-entry performance at this tight and complex track. The American moved up to sixth fastest in qualifying but his crew will make further changes overnight in an effort to improve his pace in race trim.

Weather conditions at Le Mans have been very changeable so far this weekend, with this morning’s third practice session getting underway on a damp track and this afternoon’s qualifying outing run in cool and mostly overcast conditions with the occasional sunny spell. There is still a possibility of rain tomorrow.

Dani Pedrosa, pole position, 1m 32.647s
“I’m very satisfied with today’s result. It’s my first pole position of the season and that’s especially good at this track because it’s very important to have a good grid position here. Today we made some small chassis adjustments, fine-tuning the machine. This afternoon I wasn’t able to get the maximum out of my first two Michelin qualifying tires, so we made some more changes to the chassis settings and that allowed me to make a big step forward with my third qualifier. I didn’t expect to get pole with my fourth qualifying tire but I did, so we’re very happy. As far as race pace goes, I’m quite satisfied but there are a lot of strong riders going very fast here and the lap times are all very close, so I hope we can make another step forward for tomorrow. The other question mark is the weather. It’s been very changeable and we still don’t know what to expect for the race.”



Rider Bike Tire Time Behind
1. Dani Pedrosa Honda (M) 1:32.647 0.000
2. Colin Edwards Yamaha (M) 1:32.774 × 0.127
3. Casey Stoner Ducati (B) 1:32.994 × 0.347
4. Valentino Rossi Yamaha (B) 1:33.157 × 0.510
5. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha (M) 1:33.269 × 0.622
6. Nicky Hayden Honda (M) 1:33.286 × 0.639
7. James Toseland Yamaha (M) 1:33.396 × 0.749
8. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki (B) 1:33.400 × 0.793
9. John Hopkins Kawasaki (B) 1:33.628 × 0.981
10. Andrea Dovizioso Honda (M) 1:33.689 × 1.042
11. Loris Capirossi Suzuki (B) 1:33.707 × 1.060
12. Randy de Puniet Honda (M) 1:33.723 × 1.076
13. Shinya Nakano Honda (B) 1:34.077 × 1.430
14. Toni Elias Ducati (B) 1:34.561 × 1.914
15. Alex de Angelis Honda (B) 1:34.670 × 2.023
16. Sylvain Guintoli Ducati (B) 1:34.747 × 2.100
17. Marco Melandri Ducati (B) 1:35.082 × 2.434
18. Anthony West Kawasaki (B) 1:35.349 × 2.702


Pagenaud gets new Acura for Birthday
It would be easy for Simon Pagenaud to get caught up in the hype of de Ferran Motorsports' debut in the American Le Mans Series this weekend. After all, it's not every day that one of racing's brightest young stars makes his first Series start with one of racing's legendary names...on his birthday, no less.

So it's a good thing that Pagenaud is wiser beyond his 23 years. Well, come Sunday it will be 24. That maturity and focus are the primary reasons Gil de Ferran handpicked the Frenchman as his teammate in the de Ferran Motorsports Acura ARX-01b that starts its American Le Mans Series journey Sunday at Miller Motorsports Park in the Larry H. Miller Utah Grand Prix presented by the Grand and Little America Hotels.

An open-wheel standout and 2006 Formula Atlantic champion, Pagenaud and his boss jump head-first into an LMP2 class that features competition from three other Acura teams, four Porsche RS Spyders and a rapidly improving effort from Mazda.

"This is a big change for me," said Pagenaud, who began karting at the age of 10. "Having Gil besides me makes me better and every time we go on track we are improving. I don't want to be overly optimistic but don't want to be pessimistic either. There are so many details in this type of racing compared to open-wheel racing that make it more complicated."

Things like driver changes and the speed differences between the four classes of sports cars in the American Le Mans Series are just a couple of things that Pagenaud and de Ferran will learn as they go. Their comfort level with the No. 66 Acura will help ease the burden. Pagenaud agreed that the current P2 cars handle much like open-wheel ones - extremely nimble and stable under braking and during cornering while not losing much on a straight line.

"There is not much difference. I was really surprised and pleased that it is the same kind of car," Pagenaud said. "The cars are really well made and you can't feel the weight shift. The biggest thing will be the pit stops. It is a completely different way of anything I have done before. It's a big difference and will take a little while. We will see how it goes this weekend.

"We had a test the other day with some GT cars on track," he added. "It was really fun and I was pleased to pass cars that often. It's an interesting part of it. You need to make sure to pass the car in the right place so you don't get passed by the guy behind you."

Being a native of France, Pagenaud's desire to compete in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans naturally came up. Much like the Monaco Grand Prix and Indy 500 are the signature events of their respective series, he said, so is Le Mans the Promised Land for any professional driver. And before anyone asks, Pagenaud doesn't know when (or, in fact, if) Le Mans is part of the long-term plans for the de Ferran team. Honestly, it's hard to imagine that it isn't.

"When I was young, I went to Le Mans in 1992, a year Peugeot won, and I remember a lot about it," he said "I always have wanted to win Le Mans so I hope we have a chance someday."

But first thing's first, and that means getting through this weekend before entertaining expectations for the rest of the season. Friday's test session didn't do much to dampen the enthusiasm with de Ferran turning in the fastest time of the day.

"We will struggle on some points because we are so new." Pagenaud offered. "We will have to see where we are after this weekend. We have had very productive tests, and I'll be able to tell more after qualifying. We have a good car but you never know what will happen."


Mosley wants to keep lower-key role
(GMM) Even if Max Mosley wins the forthcoming confidence vote on June 3, he intends to step into the background as the FIA president and then quit as scheduled next October.

In a letter to FIA club presidents on Friday, a copy of which has been seen by this publication, the embattled 68-year-old Briton said he expects to be strongly supported at the crucial senate meeting early next month.

Mosley revealed that, of the 85 letters from voting member clubs, at least 62 want him to stay.

But he added that even if the formal vote turns out a victory, "I will continue until October 2009, leaving almost all public representation of the FIA to the two deputy presidents."

Mosley said the intervening year and a half as FIA president will give him time not only to pursue the sex scandal perpetrators legally, but to handle "complex negotiations" that are crucial to the future of formula one.

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Edwards tops Le Mans final practice
Yamaha rider Colin Edwards topped the times in the third and final MotoGP practice session at Le Mans ahead of this afternoon's qualifying for the French Grand Prix.


Pos Rider Bike Tire Time Behind
1. Colin Edwards Yamaha (M) 1:33.765
2. Valentino Rossi Yamaha (B) 1:34.114 + 0.349
3. Daniel Pedrosa Honda (M) 1:34.229 + 0.464
4. Casey Stoner Ducati (B) 1:34.353 + 0.588
5. Andrea Dovizioso Honda (M) 1:34.438 + 0.673
6. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki (B) 1:34.746 + 0.981
7. Randy de Puniet Honda (M) 1:34.767 + 1.002
8. John Hopkins Kawasaki (B) 1:34.828 + 1.063
9. James Toseland Yamaha (M) 1:35.107 + 1.342
10. Loris Capirossi Suzuki (B) 1:35.128 + 1.363
11. Shinya Nakano Honda (B) 1:35.190 + 1.425
12. Nicky Hayden Honda (M) 1:35.321 + 1.556
13. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha (M) 1:35.345 + 1.580
14. Toni Elias Ducati (B) 1:35.642 + 1.877
15. Alex de Angelis Honda (B) 1:35.700 + 1.935
16. Marco Melandri Ducati (B) 1:35.891 + 2.126
17. Sylvain Guintoli Ducati (B) 1:36.044 + 2.279
18. Anthony West Kawasaki (B) 1:36.228 + 2.463


TV Cameras Can't Hide Empty Seats
SPEED put on a brave face Friday as the network continued with on-track NASCAR action from 9AM until almost 11PM at Lowe's Motor Speedway. For TV viewers, SPEED's efforts were outstanding.

Unfortunately, one thing was also easy to see throughout the coverage. It seemed as if there was no one there. The grandstands at Lowe's Motor Speedway are huge, and vast sections of them were purposefully closed for this Friday program.

It was the main grandstand along the dogleg in the frontstretch that served as the focal point of the TV cameras when "fans in the stands" needed to be shown. Like several other tracks, Lowe's has the multi-colored seats that appear to the TV cameras to be occupied when in fact they are not.

On this day, no fancy illusions or very tight camera shots could hide the fact that even for All-Star qualifying and the Craftsman Truck Series, the fans just were not there. Hardcore racing fans may have seen the Summer Shootout Series telecasts over the years as the Legends cars and other series take to the small oval built into the frontstretch and along pit road. This looked like a Shootout crowd.

As the Craftsman Trucks put on a great show, the SPEED crew tried very hard to keep the cameras off the grandstands. When the TV requirements needed a wideshot, it was almost startling to see the infield appear to be more populated than the available grandstand seating.  More at Daily Planet


Evernham still involved in GEM
Ray Evernham says he is still an essential part of Gillett Evernham Motorsports. Rumors have been circulating that the 50-year-old Evernham had sold his remaining interest in the organization that fields Cup teams for drivers #9-Kasey Kahne, #19-Elliott Sadler and #10-Patrick Carpentier. Evernham sold a majority interest in Evernham Motorsports to businessman George Gillett in August 2007 and the company was subsequently renamed Gillett Evernham Motorsports. “The way that whole program worked, I sold 80% of the company and I will continue to own 20% of the company until George and I decide we’re not going to be partners or whatever,” Evernham said May 10. Evernham says his position isn’t one that requires him to be in the office each day or at the track each weekend – earlier this year he agreed to serve as an analyst for ESPN’s NASCAR coverage, and he says his new schedule has allowed him to spend more time with his son, Ray J. SceneDaily


Utah notebook
It wasn’t perfect but Alex Figge’s first day back in the American Le Mans Series wasn’t bad either. The former open-wheel regular got his first taste of GT2 competition Friday at Miller Motorsports Park behind the wheel of Tafel Racing’s No. 73 Ferrari F430 GT.

Figge will partner with team owner Jim Tafel this weekend in the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by the Grand and Little America Hotels. After testing recently at Road Atlanta, Friday was Figge’s first time racing amongst four classes of sports cars since July 2005. The Ferrari finished Friday’s test session 11th in GT2.

“I think I’d give myself a middle of the road grade – maybe a C-plus,” said Figge, who calls Denver his home. “I did OK but made a few boneheaded mistakes in traffic but I should be able to correct them with no problems. One of the challenges is having to split the car with a teammate. It’s not quite enough time in one shot to really get comfortable. That’s the most difficult thing for me right now.”

Figge drove a Corvette C5.R for seven races in 2005 with Ryan Dalziel with a best finish of third in GT1 at Portland for Pacific Coast Motorsports.

“As far as the build quality, the Ferrari is incredible,” Figge said. “I’ve been around the cars for a couple of days now and once I come to grips with the car, I think the enjoyment will only be amplified. It’s a matter of hitting the reset button each lap for me. In the test session, my last lap was 1.1 seconds faster than the previous one so times are coming down in big chunks.”

CORVETTE CHANGE: Corvette Racing’s No. 4 Corvette C6.R of Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta put in only 20 laps in Friday’s test session, seven less than the sister car of Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen. Normally that might raise some eyebrows but there’s no need for alarm.

The crew of the No. 4 Corvette changed out the C6.R’s gearbox during the session, a planned move designed to compare different setups for Sunday’s race and next month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Gavin and Beretta scored a victory last year at Miller Motorsports Park en route to their third consecutive GT1 championship.

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Celebrities Unite For 27th Annual CARA Fashion Show
The belief that children’s charities are deserving of support has enticed several Indy notables to join the already star-studded lineup for CARA Charities’ 27th Annual Fashion Show at the Marriott Hotel on Thursday, May 22.

Joining two time Indy winner and “Dancing With the Stars” champion Helio Castroneves, will be 2002 pole sitter Bruno Junqueira, Rahal-Letterman’s Ryan Hunter-Reay and Pacific Coast Motorsports driver Mario Dominguez. Dreyer and Reinbold’s Milka Duno is also set to appear and CARA hopes to make her latest children’s book “Go, Milka, Go!” available for purchase. The book promotes the importance of education to children of all ages.

Rossana Fanucchi, wife of two time Indy winner and the 2008 pace car driver Emerson Fittipaldi, will appear along with Tatiana Fittipaldi Papis, daughter of Emerson and wife of driver Max Papis.

Community leader Charlotte Lucas will also take to the runway along with Brittany Mason, Miss Indiana USA, a top ten finalist in the recent Miss USA competition.

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Donohue Wins Rolex Series Pole at Laguna Seca
David Donohue
David Donohue saved his best for last Friday, running his fastest lap near the end of the session to win the pole for the RumBum.com 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Donohue ran a lap of 1:19.843, 100.908 mph, on his eighth of nine qualifying laps to win his second pole of the season in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 competition, driving the No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley.

The 112-lap, 250-mile race, with a two-hour, 45-minute time limit, takes the green flag at 1:45 p.m. Saturday (PT), and will be televised Sunday on SPEED beginning at noon (ET).

"When you win the race, everybody packs up and leaves," Donohue said. "Winning the pole is real important for the team, because it gives them an extra day of glory. They get a great deal of pride and prestige in front of all of the other people in the paddock."

Donohue will be joined on the front row by Jon Fogarty, who gave the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley its first front row start of the season with a lap of 1:19.951, 100.772 mph.

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Charles Buckman Returns Home
Charles (Chuck) Buckman returned home this week after spending five nights at Methodist Hospital after he was knocked unconscious and suffered a skull fracture last Friday when he was hit by Danica Patrick’s car while walking in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway pits during practice.

“The only problem I am having right now is a case of vertigo when I sit or stand up,” said Dale Coyne Racing Crew Chief Charles Buckman.  “Besides that my right arm is bruised all over, I have a fracture in my skull, my face is scrapped and I have to wear a neck brace for a month.  Other than that I feel fine and want to get back to work.”

Buckman has not seen the video of the accident and remembers very little of the event.

“All I remember at this point was walking down pit lane to get my jacket and I stopped off to talk with someone from Marco Andretti’s crew then everything after that is blank,” said Buckman.  “I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.  It was not Danica’s fault and I do not hold her to blame for what happened.  In my 35 years in auto racing this is the first time anything this bad has happened to me.  I’m just thankful that I’m still alive.” 

Mr. Buckman would love to be well enough to make it out for the race on May 25th.  “I would love for both Dale Coyne Racing cars to make the field and be there to see the race,” Buckman said. 

The Buckman family is very thankful for all the inquires and well wishes, but asks at this time for the media to respect their privacy until Charles makes a full recovery.


Eli Lilly and company joins Vision Racing
Expanding upon a strong health and wellness platform, Vision Racing is pleased to announce the addition of Eli Lilly and Company to the team’s sponsorship portfolio for the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 and the balance of the 2008 IndyCar Series season. [Editor's Note: Eli Lilly is based in Indy and the Tony George family (George owns Vision Racing) probably swung some in-town business-to-business deal to make this sponsorship happen.]

Lilly will become a strategic partner in the team’s recently announced Vision Racing Wellness Tour, which is bringing free cholesterol screening and diabetes education to IndyCar Series fans for the remainder of the season, including four more times at Indianapolis this month, as well as the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard and Red Bull Indianapolis GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In addition, the uniform of team driver A.J. Foyt IV and his No. 2 Vision Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone machine will display the branding of Lilly, including Lilly Diabetes.

Lilly -- a worldwide leader in diabetes treatment, research and education based in Indianapolis -- will be providing the diabetes education component of the Wellness Tour, while team partner Polymer Technology Systems, Inc. will provide its revolutionary CardioChek® home cholesterol test system to complete the cholesterol screening.


Sadler tops Sprint showdown practice
Gillett Evernham Motorsports' Elliott Sadler led the Sprint Showdown practice Friday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The session involved the 28 teams that will be vying for a spot in Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint All-Star race.

Sadler led with a lap of 183.256 mph. Robby Gordon Motorsports' Robby Gordon was second fastest with a lap of 181.745. Yates Racing's Travis Kvapil, Haas CNC Racing's Johnny Sauter and Penske Racing's Sam Hornish Jr. followed. Yates' David Gilliland, Gillett Evernham's Kasey Kahne, BAM Racing's Chad McCumbee, Red Bull Racing's AJ Allmendinger and Red Bull's Brian Vickers rounded out the top 10.

EM Motorsports' Tony Raines scrubbed the wall for the lone incident in the session.

The Showdown qualifying is scheduled for 5:10 p.m. EDT today, with the 40-lap race slated for 7:30 p.m. Saturday.


Oil sets record near $128; pump price at high, too
Oil prices shot to new highs again Friday as traders, unimpressed by U.S. and Saudi efforts to boost supply, kept buying on the belief that prices had more room to rise.

Light, sweet crude for June delivery jumped $2.17 to settle at record close of $126.29 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier in the session, prices surged to $127.82 a barrel, also a new high. It was the eighth time in the past 10 sessions traders rewrote the record books, and the first time prices topped $127 a barrel. Investors shrugged off news from Saudi Arabia's oil minister, Ali Naimi, that the country increased its production by 300,000 barrels a day last week in response to requests from customers. The market also had little reaction to the Energy Department's announcement said it would cancel shipments into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve for six months beginning July 1.

Oil industry observers questioned whether either move would have a significant effect on soaring energy prices.

"It's ridiculous because I don't think this is going to bring the price down," said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Alaron Trading Corp., of the Energy Department's move.

The effect of Saudi Arabia's move was also not immediately clear. The increase, which went into effect last Saturday, is relatively small, lifting total output from the world's leading producer to 9.45 million barrels per day by June.

The addition of "300,000 barrels won't make a lot of difference," said Mir Yousufuddin, who monitors crude prices for the U.S. Energy Information Administration.


Entergy Announces Partnership with Newman Wachs Racing
Officials from Entergy Nuclear today announced enhancements to its partnership with the Nuclear Clean Air Energy Campaign, which kicked off in April at the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season-opening Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge of Long Beach. Entergy is the second-largest owner and operator of U.S. nuclear energy plants.

An associate sponsor for the season-opener at Long Beach, Entergy has ramped-up its commitment to the No. 34 car driven by Simona De Silvestro in an effort to put additional energy into public awareness of nuclear power and build a strong recruitment platform to fill their ever growing need for industry professionals. De Silvestro, as a brand ambassador committed to a proactive university campaign, will aid in fulfilling these goals.

At Long Beach, De Silvestro earned her first career victory in the Atlantic Championship, becoming just the second woman to win in the 34-year history of the series.

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De Ferran debuts on top
Gil de Ferran already has made himself right at home in the American Le Mans Series by posting the fastest time in Friday’s test session for the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by the Grand and Little America Hotels. De Ferran, whose de Ferran Motorsports team is debuting this week, toured Miller Motorsports Park in 1:32.424 (118.772 mph).

De Ferran, a former Indy 500 winner and two-time CART champion, will drive his Acura ARX-01b with Simon Pagenaud for the balance of the 2008 season in LMP2. This is his first race since winning his IndyCar finale at Texas in 2003 and he hardly showed any rust whatsoever. Four of his last five laps in Friday’s session were better than anyone else on the 3.048-mile, 15-turn circuit just outside of Salt Lake City.

“The run and the handling was quite good,” de Ferran said. “The grip was low because the track is hot. We kept the tires on to test the balance of the car on a long run. It was good to be so competitive with all the cars on the track.”

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Hinchcliffe Scores Provisional Pole in Monterrey
With an air temperature of 97 degrees Fahrenheit and a track temperature of 125, it was unseasonably hot for the first day of practice and qualifying at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, but Canadian racer James Hinchcliffe scorched the 2.238-mile road course with a lap at 1:17.541 (103.904 mph) to score the provisional pole for Sunday’s Monterey Festival of Speed.

The performance enabled Hinchcliffe to guarantee himself a front row starting spot for the second round of the 11-race 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. It will be the first time since Round 9 of the 2007 season at Edmonton that Hinchcliffe will start from the front row. Hinchcliffe’s Friday performance in the No. 3 Indeck/TireRack.com also went a long way toward helping him and his Forsythe/Petit Racing teammates put a 10th-place performance in the season-opener at Long Beach behind them.

“Long Beach was a really tough weekend for us,” Hinchcliffe said. “It was pretty gutting to be so far down. We had a little bit of a problem with the car in terms of the setup, so we kind of reshuffled the engineering department before this race. I think we’re kind of seeing the benefits of that now. We’ve finally figured out qualifying. The best thing to do is to go quicker than the other guys. Now that we’ve got that sorted, we’re really looking forward to more success in qualifying. We’ve seen how competitive this championship is, and qualifying means so much when it comes to the race. The session was pretty standard. We really struggled this morning, so I was a little skeptical coming into the qualifying session, but right out of the box, the car was just awesome. The whole Forsythe/Petit team worked really hard since Long Beach to get this car sorted. A guaranteed front-row starting spot is nice, but the job’s not done by any means. Hopefully, we can get a legitimate pole tomorrow, just keep up the pace, and see how the race unfolds. It should be a good one.”

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Variable ratio steering wins BorgWarner Louis Schwitzer Award
Bishop Steering Technology’s variable ratio rack-and-pinion steering, new to the 92nd Indianapolis 500, received the 42nd annual BorgWarner Louis Schwitzer Award today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The variable ratio rack-and-pinion steering technology developed by Bishop offers a number of driver performance benefits, including reduced fatigue through improved ease in steering, more efficient pit entry and exit, and improved maneuverability for hazard avoidance.

Engineers Andrew Heathershaw, Soungjin Wou and Nick Belonogoff of Bishop Steering Technology and Andrea Toso from Dallara Automobili were honored for their work in the development and implementation of this technology for the IndyCar Series. Bishop’s North American facility is based in Indianapolis, while vehicle dynamics work on the system was performed in Sydney, Australia.

The award, presented to engineers by engineers, honors early racing pioneer Louis Schwitzer, and acknowledges individuals with the courage and passion to explore and develop new concepts in racing technology. BorgWarner sponsors this prestigious $10,000 award, which is presented by the Indiana Section of the Society of Automotive Engineers.

SAE International also supports the Louis Schwitzer Award by providing a $2,000 scholarship to the engineering school of the winner’s choice, which this year is Purdue University in W. Lafayette, Ind. The winner’s names will be added to a permanent trophy on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum.

The variable ratio rack-and-pinion steering system combines a range of steering rack teeth into one compact, efficient system that is manufactured with a high-tech machining process that creates gear tolerances of 1 to 2 microns. In the past, teams had to select one steering-rack tooth size for an event.

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Changed track conditions causing havoc with Indy drivers
Four drivers hit the Indy wall today and only out of pure luck was Justin Wilson not the fifth according to his accounts of the day.  A track washed clean of rubber form the rain and wind appear to be catching many teams and drivers off guard.

“We were working on the race set up earlier in the day and the McDonald’s car was pretty good when we started so I was pleased with that.  We tried to change to qualifying trim towards the end and went out and the balance wasn’t too good.  I had a big moment in Turn 1.  I think it was more luck than judgment that the back came back in line.  I basically crashed but didn’t hit anything.  It was the crash that never happened but should have.  We thought that was enough luck for today so we put the car away.  We’re going to try to sort out the qualifying setup in the pre-qualifying practice session tomorrow.  We’ll just take a big breath and try to sort it out.  The car has been good but the track conditions have changed so much since we last ran the setup and that has made an impact on the handling.” Justin Wilson

“The car was pretty quick and we were trying to do a qualifying run simulation when I white-walled the tires.  It was due to wind.  I had lifted already and at that point there is not much you can do.  You turn the wheel and you’re off the throttle and it’s tough to get the front end back.  Unfortunately I went a little wide and just touched the wall.  We have a pretty good qualifying car and we’re ready for tomorrow.  Obviously we hope the wind dies down.  I think we can be pretty quick.” Graham Rahal


Atlantic Refugee Edwards Tops Star Mazda Practice at Miller
Newcomer John Michael Edwards, the 2007 Atlantic Series racer who found himself without a ride in the wake of the open-wheel unification and joined the 2008 Star Mazda Championship just in time for Round Two at Miller Motorsports Park this weekend, completed his march to the top of the time sheets during the two official practice sessions on Friday, May 16. 

His climb began with a 9th-fast time in the first session of yesterday’s promoter test day, improving to 6th-fast in the second session and up to 4th in the final session of the afternoon.  In the morning session on Friday, he moved up to 2nd.  And, in the final practice session in the afternoon, under conditions similar to those expected for tomorrow’s race, he turned the fastest lap of the session, a 1:45.526 (103.982 mph) in the #7 AIM Autosport Mazda.

“Pretty good result, especially since I couldn’t be at the series test here last week and we only had thirty miles of shakedown testing on the car at a completely different track before we started running Thursday morning,” says Edwards.  “This is the best car we’ve had all weekend because it feels really stable even when the track gets greasy in the afternoon.  There are a lot of factors that can affect qualifying, traffic, a yellow flag at just the wrong time, but we’re feeling confident about our chances.”

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Andretti Green completes purchase of Grand Prix of Toronto assets UPDATE #2 Bob Singleton, who was general manager of the race during the successful Molson years, thinks the race can be successfully revived.

"I think they have to focus on energizing the city again, getting some sponsorship and turn the thing into more than a race; make it an event.

"I always maintain you're going to get the race fan. You have to get the event going."

Singleton said he doesn't think the absence of a race this year will affect the success of an event next year.

"I think this gives them 14 months to get ready for the race. They aren't running this summer, so they can start work tomorrow.''

Toronto-born driver Paul Tracy, one of the top drivers on the Champ Car circuit and one of Andretti's arch rivals, was excited to hear his hometown event is on the verge of being revived.

"Hopefully it strengthens my position to get a decent ride next year," he said. Tracy lost his ride this season when Forsythe declined to enter a team in the IRL series.  Toronto Star

05/15/08   Toronto's Indy car race will return in 2009. Andretti Green Racing told a news conference in Indianapolis on Thursday it has finalized an agreement to purchase the assets of the Grand Prix of Toronto, with the first event scheduled for next summer.

Terms of the agreement will not be disclosed.

Start of 2007 Toronto GP Champ Car race
"As a driver, Toronto was always my favorite race of the year, and it will be no different as a promoter," said AGR co-owner Michael Andretti, who won the event seven times. "The fans are some of the most enthusiastic you'll ever be around and we're looking forward to building on the great history of this event."

Held annually since 1986, the event was dropped from the calendar this year after the amalgamation of the Indy Racing League and Champ Car. The IRL was unable to juggle its schedule to accommodate the event, or one in Montreal.

A race already set for Edmonton will still be run, though the date has not been listed on the IRL website.

Andretti announced in March his intent to purchase the assets of the Grand Prix Association of Toronto.

Since then, he and racing team co-owners Kim Green and Kevin Savoree have been in negotiations with the city, and Ontario and federal governments over grants and other financial relief.

Race's estimated worth to local economy is $50M.

While impacts are hard to gauge, Toronto Coun. Joe Pantalone, who heads the board of Exhibition Place where the event is held, estimates the race's contribution to the local economy at $50 million.

"It's not small change, and it provides a venue for residents who enjoy the sport plus a major signature attraction in the month of July for people who come from the United States and beyond," he said.

The final date for the letter of intent by Andretti Green was to run out on April 30, but was pushed back twice to allow final negotiations.

Pantalone said it was his understanding that Tourism Toronto and the provincial government have agreed to economic incentives to allow the race to proceed.

Exhibition Place certainly has, though he would not say to what extent.

"We're still going to make money," Pantalone said. "We have given [Andretti Green] breaks, but we have made a good business deal as well." CBC

05/15/08 Andretti Green Promotions, LLC announced today it has formed a wholly-owned Canadian company, Andretti Green Toronto, ULC (AGT), and has completed the purchase of the assets of the Grand Prix Association of Toronto Corp. The terms of the purchase agreements will not be disclosed. Andretti Green Toronto is operating out of a Toronto-based office and will run its first IndyCar Series event in 2009.

The Grand Prix Association of Toronto owned and operated the Grand Prix of Toronto. Throughout its history, the event was one of the marquis stops on the North American Indy car racing landscape, running from 1986 through 2007. AGT is part of an Andretti Green family of companies that includes Andretti Green Racing -- the winningest team in IndyCar Series history -- and Andretti Green Promotions. The promotional arm of the company was founded in 2004 when it announced it would stage the Indy Racing League’s first non-oval event ever on April 3, 2005. Since then, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has become a cornerstone of the IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights and American Le Mans Series schedules.

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Briscoe hits wall
Ryan Briscoe has just made heavy contact with the outside wall at Indy. There is heavy damage to the rear of his Penske car. He joins Will Power and Ernesto Viso who have found the wall today during practice.


Martin does not like All-Star qualifying format
Later today, Mark Martin will qualify his car for the Sprint All-Star Race by driving one lap, stopping on pit road for a four-tire stop and zooming off again for his second lap. It's the only time during the season when qualifying is conducted in such a format, and Martin doesn't seem to be much of a fan.

"That's marginally ridiculous, to be honest with you, the way we do that qualifying," he said Friday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "We don't really do anything like that, and I don't subscribe to that, but it has made for a lot of tire smoke and a lot of heartbreak."

Martin noted that the all-star race always seems to have rules or formats that make it harder for the fastest cars to bring home the $1 million prize. Wrinkles such as double-file restarts and built-in breaks that close up the field are roadblocks for the best cars.

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Pilgrim Fastest In Opening SPEED GT Practice at Miller
Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., was fastest in Friday morning’s opening practice session for this weekend’s SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championship Round Three race, part of the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix Presented by the Grand and Little America Hotels at Miller Motorsports Park. Eric Curran, of East Hampton, Mass., and Ritch Marziale, of Tempe, Ariz., completed the top three.

Driving the No. 8 Remington Shaving Cadillac CTS-V, Pilgrim turned a fastest time of 1:57.398 (93.466 mph) around the 15-turn, 3.048-mile circuit. Miller Motorsports Park has not been kind to the former series champion, and despite pacing practice, Pilgrim’s expectations for the weekend are modest.

“We’re happy because we made a little bit of progress on the car from the times we got yesterday,” Pilgrim said. “I’m not sure why a lot of people aren’t quicker. We’re just flat out. I would say there’s a little bit of gamesmanship going on, let’s put it that way.

”I got a good draft on that lap. I was behind James Sofronas for three laps and was slowly catching James. I had two laps where I had a great draft behind him and I’m sure that helped. When I was on my own I couldn’t run within a half second of those times.  But still, we made some progress over yesterday so I’m happy.”

Curran, back in his primary No. 30 Whelen Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette for the first time since his accident at Sebring, was second fastest with a 1:57.514 (93.374 mph).

Marziale was fastest of the Dodge contingent in the No. 56 All-Cut Concrete Cutting Dodge Viper, turning a 1:57.558 (93.339 mph). Point leader Randy Pobst (No. 1 K-PAX Racing Porsche 911 GT3) and the most recent race winner at Long Beach, Brandon Davis (No. 10 ACS/Sun Microsystems Ford Mustang Cobra), completed the top five.

The second practice for Sunday’s race will take place this afternoon at 5:30 p.m. (MDT). Log in to the SCCA Pit Board to follow live timing and scoring and live session notes.

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VICI Racing expanding to two cars
VICI Racing is wasting little time expanding its American Le Mans Series program. The Miami-based team will roll out a second Porsche 911 GT3 RSR for this weekend’s Larry H. Miller Dealerships presented by the Grand and Little America Hotels at Miller Motorsports Park in the highly competitive GT2 class.

Nathan Swartzbaugh and Craig Stanton will pilot VICI’s No. 5 Porsche, the entry with which the team started the 2008 season at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The Utah round sees the introduction of Nicky and Francisco Pastorelli (the former a past European F3000 champion and Champ Car pilot) in the No. 18 entry with Ruben Carrapasoto, who has been with the team since St. Petersburg.

“After two street races we will be on a much faster track where aerodynamics will play a much more important part; this is an area I will have a close focus on,” said VICI’s Roland Wall, Technical Director & Chief Engineer. “I’m looking forward to having the second car, this will give us much more scope to gather data and broaden our approach. It’s also a two-and-three-quarter hour-long race so strategy will play a much bigger part.”

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Indy Pole Day TV Rating UPDATE The final rating came in at 0.9/3 share.  Nothing to write home about compared to NASCAR ratings, but a reasonable rating considering how far Indy Car Racing has fallen since the split.

05/12/08 The overnight TV rating for Indianapolis 500 Pole Day on ABC was a 0.9.


Will Power hits Indy wall
The fastest non-qualifier for this year's Indy 500, Will Power, hit the wall just 15 minutes after Ernesto Viso hit the wall today.  Power's No. 8 KV Racing Technology car was running high in the first turn when it did a half-turn and smashed into the wall.  Power is OK but he did a lot more damage to his car than Viso's hit.  He took off the front and rear wings, left side suspension (front and rear) and the car has minor damage to the left sidepod and underwing.


As predicted by Wheldon, Viso hits Indy wall
Yesterday Dan Wheldon said he was "nuts" out on the track at Indy and it was only a matter of time before he hit the wall.  Well his predictions came true just 30 minutes after the session started.  On cold tires Viso's car got loose in the middle of Turn 1.  He looped around, wheels locked, and backed into the short chute wall, just past the end of the safer barrier.  He took off the rear wing and the attenuator, but did not appear to damage the rear suspension.  Viso was examined at Clarian Medical Center and cleared to drive.

Conditions at Indianapolis Motor Speedway were mostly sunny when the green flag dropped at noon.  The forecast calls for sunny skies to continue, which would make today just the second time in the last week that the track did not close early due to rain.


Stepney - I no longer watch F1 races
(GMM)  A year after the espionage saga of 2007 broke, Nigel Stepney on Friday said he no longer even watches formula one races on television.

The Briton, the former chief mechanic of Michael Schumacher, was sacked by Ferrari last year for alleged sabotage and passing information to the Italian team's chief rivals, McLaren.

He has since become technical chief at the FIA GT team Gigawave, and told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "Live, I have only seen the grand prix of Australia.  For me it isn't interesting."

Stepney refused to say more about the notorious spying controversy, but did reveal that he hopes his former team, which is based at Maranello, successfully defends its world championships in 2008.


Trulli fastest as rain hits Paul Ricard UPDATE (GMM)  Rain affected the final day of the Paul Ricard group test at Le Castellet, located near Marseille, on Friday.

For the third consecutive day of action in France, the course had switched from a tight Monaco-style layout to the '1EV2 SC' configuration, so that F1's ten teams could simulate the chicanes and straights of Canada.

But not long after Friday's action got running in the morning, the outbursts of rain - often heavy - began.

In a statement, Ferrari said Felipe Massa only managed "a few laps" in the dry.

"In the middle of the afternoon, given the limit on the number of kilometers the rules allow for testing and the worsening weather at the track, it was decided to end the test slightly ahead of schedule," the Italian team explained.

05/16/08 After two days of favorable conditions, rain finally arrived in southern France today, washing out the final day of testing at the Paul Ricard HTTT. With all preparations for the Monaco Grand Prix complete, attention switched to the Canadian round, with little progress being made as a result of the weather.

By the time the teams broke for lunch, Toyota's Jarno Trulli had clocked the fastest time, a 1m31.360s, three tenths quicker than Renault's Nelson Piquet in second, with McLaren's Pedro de la Rosa a further half a second adrift in third.

Unofficial morning times from Paul Ricard

1. Jarno Trulli (Toyota) - 1:31.360, 26 laps
2. Nelson Piquet Jr. (Renault) - 1:31.634, 36 laps
3. Pedro de la Rosa (McLaren-Mercedes) - 1:32.143, 36 laps
4. Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso-Ferrari) - 1:32.480, 49 laps
5. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) - 1:33.246, 19 laps
6. Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber-BMW) - 1:33.371, 30 laps
7. Sébastien Buemi (Red Bull-Renault) - 1:34.064, 16 laps
8. Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India-Ferrari) - 1:34.071, 31 laps
9. Jenson Button (Honda) - 1:36.501, 16 laps
10. Nico Hülkenberg (Williams-Toyota) - 1:44.741, 23 laps


Liuzzi to race DTM car in Czech Republic
Vitantonio Liuzzi
(GMM)  Force India test and reserve driver Vitantonio Liuzzi is set to make his return to competitive action this weekend.

The 27-year-old Italian, who has tested for his formula one employer in France this week, will on Saturday race a Mercedes-Benz DTM-spec car in the International Circuits Championships of the Czech Republic, in the city of Most.

Also driving for the Czech team Charouz Racing System will be Tomas Enge, who raced in F1 for Prost in 2001.

The three hour event will be Liuzzi's first competitive outing since the Brazilian grand prix with Toro Rosso last October.


A matter of thousandths: Scheider and Schneider with equal times
Audi A4 on the main straight at EuroSpeedway.
It couldn’t have been any closer: in the second DTM test on Friday, Timo Scheider and Bernd Schneider occupied first and second place with equal times. For both drivers, the stopwatch showed an identical fastest lap time of 1.19.688 on their fastest lap at the 3.478 kilometers long track in the Lausitz region. Scheider was first from Schneider, because he achieved his fastest lap time earlier than the DTM record champion, Schneider closed up.

For the drivers who followed the leading duo, it was also a close call: in the second test, the first 13 drivers ranged within one second. Only Susie Stoddart in 14th place was over one second slower than the front runners. After Katherine Legge had outpaced the Scottish lady racer, Stoddart did one better in the second 90 minutes’ test and eventually was more than four tenths of a second faster than Legge.

Bruno Spengler, who ended up third in the test, came 0.113 seconds short of the time set by Scheider and Schneider. Spengler was followed by two further drivers from the HWA team: Paul di Resta in fourth place and Jamie Green in fifth position. Martin Tomczyk, Tom Kristensen and Mattias Ekström occupied sixth through eighth place from Markus Winkelhock with the best-placed year-old car. Gary Paffett was tenth.

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Pedrosa tops Friday MotoGP practice at LeMans
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa made a great start to his French GP weekend by setting the pace in today’s opening practice sessions aboard his RC212V. Team-mate Nicky Hayden had a more difficult day, ending up 12th fastest, but the American is confident of improvement tomorrow, so long as the forecast rain stays away.

With showers predicted for tomorrow, there was extra pressure on the team to find the best-possible set-up during today’s two one-hour outings, Pedrosa looking superbly smooth and controlled around the historic French circuit, while Hayden worked to improve corner-entry performance.

Le Mans has been slightly modified for this year’s event. The Garage Vert hairpin at the bottom of the circuit been adapted to improve run-off.

“We worked very hard today because we heard that the weather forecast for tomorrow isn’t so good," said Pedrosa. "At least we did get two hours of dry track time, which we dedicated to quickly finding a good basic set-up and then doing some work on tire choice for Sunday’s race. The revised part of the circuit seems quite bumpy, so I ran straight on there several times during the day, same as a few other riders. Overall I’m feeling quite happy about my machine after this first day but we must keep our heads down and keep working hard because the top few riders are all very close together on lap times.”

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Q and A with Panasonic Toyota Racing President John Howett
John Howett
How do you assess the season so far for Panasonic Toyota Racing?
The start to the season has been quite encouraging. Over the first five races the car has been relatively quick, and we have had some positive race results. Jarno is very positive about the baseline of the TF108 while Timo has shown a lot of flashes of high performance and future potential and it is obvious he is becoming more relaxed with the car as the season progresses. However in Turkey we didn't get the result we expected and we have to fight to find more performance from the car.

What about the season in general?
I truly believe that Formula 1 is generally in very good shape, scandals excluded. People have a tendency to talk down Formula 1 but we have one of the strongest and most popular sports in the world and I think it is more competitive now than it has been for a long while. If you look at the gap between teams, it is very close this year and that is something Formula 1 should be happy about. Obviously the loss of Super Aguri was a shame but in general Formula 1 is commercially very strong; we have some of the biggest corporations in the world involved and the global reach is greater than all other sporting events, with the exception of quadrennial events such as World Cup football and the Olympics. Formula 1 may not be perfect, it certainly can be improved, but it has plenty of reasons to be positive. Perhaps more focus should be placed on this.

Is there one particular reason why Toyota's results are better this season?
Our results this season are an improvement on 2007 because the car is basically better, there is no question about that. The ideal operating window on the TF107 was small and getting the car set-up for optimum performance was difficult at a lot of tracks last year. When we got it set-up in that zone we looked pretty good, better than our results at the end of the season suggested in fact. This year's car has a much wider operating window and this helps the drivers and the engineers to get the most out of it. Both drivers saw this immediately at the Bahrain test, when they felt the car was more stable and drivable.

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Fisi to mark landmark race with '200' helmet
(GMM)  Giancarlo Fisichella will celebrate his 200th grand prix at Monaco next weekend.

The formula one veteran, who switched to Force India from Renault for the 2008 season, is to mark the occasion with a special set of overalls and a '200'-logoed helmet.

"I still feel young, I still feel happy to work in F1, to be an F1 driver," the 35-year-old Roman said in a media statement distributed by his team.

"The only problem is travelling around the world all the time!  But apart from that, I still enjoy F1.  I wouldn't still be here if I didn't," Fisichella added.

His tally of 200 races does not include the ill-fated US grand prix of 2005, when he was among the 14 Michelin runners who pulled out, or France 2002, when he crashed heavily in qualifying and did not start.


Monaco, FIA, rejects grand prix snub reports
(GMM)  The Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM) on Friday denied reports that FIA president Max Mosley will not be attending the prestigious formula one race next weekend with his normal official status.

It was reported that the scandal-gripped Briton would be replaced as the federation's official Monaco representative by deputy FIA president Marco Piccinini.

But in a statement on Friday, the ACM said Piccinini, an Italian, was always scheduled to be the official FIA representative at Monaco in 2008, as he was at the Monte Carlo Rally prize giving and gala dinner, which took place before the Mosley's sex scandal broke.

"The ACM was informed some time ago that it was agreed between Mr. Mosley and Mr. Piccinini that the same procedure would be adopted for the Monaco grand prix," the statement said.

"Mr. Mosley will be in attendance throughout the event in the normal way in his capacity as FIA president and any suggestion to the contrary is entirely erroneous."

The British news agency Reuters, meanwhile, quoted an FIA spokesman as saying 68-year-old Mosley would be "attending throughout the Monaco grand prix in his capacity as FIA president on a business-as-usual basis".


Kubica to drive F1 car to Bandini prize
(GMM)  Robert Kubica will arrive in style when he accepts the annual Lorenzo Bandini trophy in the Italian town of Brisighella on Sunday.

We reported last month that the 23-year-old Pole would receive the prize, which is an ongoing tribute to the leading Italian driver of his period.

His team, BMW-Sauber, announced in a statement on Friday that Kubica will drive the 11 kilometers from Faenza to Brisighella, the late Bandini's home town, in a formula one car.

"This is a big honor for me, and it comes as a surprise given the rather disappointing season I had in 2007," he said.

Also honored in Brisighella will be the Swiss based team's founder Peter Sauber, for his lifetime achievements.

Last year's winner of the Trofeo Lorenzo Bandini was Felipe Massa, and before him Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Michael Schumacher, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jenson Button, Jarno Trulli, Alex Wurz, Giancarlo Fisichella, Jacques Villeneuve and David Coulthard have been honored.


French MotoGP Preview
MotoGP is as competitive as ever
Four races into the 2008 Moto GP season and we have had four different race winners. The race for the title is wide open and this weekend's French Grand Prix at Le Mans gives one of the 'big four' a chance to stamp themselves on the championship.

Dani Pedrosa currently leads the way after putting himself on the podium in every race so far, but rookie sensation Jorge Lorenzo lurks just seven points behind, while Valentino Rossi, fresh from his drought-breaking win in China a fortnight ago, is another two points back.

But the big question is whether Casey Stoner, who is currently 25 points adrift of the lead, can resurrect his title defense. The championship hits top gear over the next seven weeks with five races and Stoner can not afford to be off the pace or he risks losing touch with the top three.

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Hornish has no regrets leaving IndyCars
Tired of playing second fiddle in the PR department to IRL poster girl Danica Patrick, the IRL's best driver has no regrets leaving IndyCars for NASCAR
Sam Hornish Jr. could hear the sound of Indy cars through the telephone line Thursday, but he insisted he has no regrets in choosing NASCAR over the 500 this year.

"I was afraid I would wake up one morning wondering if I could have made it (in stock car racing)," the three-time IndyCar Series champion said. "I've said this is either going to be my biggest success or my biggest failure, but at least I'll know one way or another."

Hornish said he has been too busy to keep up with this year's 500, but he watched a few minutes of qualifying and has received "quite a few" text messages from friends who are at the Speedway this month.

His goal is to excel in NASCAR to the point he can drive in the 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day some year.

"Hopefully I've got a lot of years left," the 2006 Indy winner said. "I'd love to do the double one day." Indy Star


LMS Goodyear Notes
Teams in all three NASCAR series will run the same tire codes throughout Charlotte Speedweeks . . . this is the first time NASCAR teams will race on these tire codes at Charlotte . . . teams in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series successfully tested on this tire set-up at Charlotte over the past several weeks . . . compared to the tire codes run at Charlotte in 2007, this left-side code (D-4128) has more grip, while this right side code (D-4130) contains incremental changes to enhance durability . . . Charlotte is the only track at which NASCAR teams are scheduled to run this specific combination of left- and right-side tires this season, though teams in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series raced on this right-side code with a different left-side at Darlington . . . as on all NASCAR ovals greater than one mile in length, teams are required to run inner liners in all four tire positions at Charlotte . . . air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire. The estimated pit window for Sprint Cup cars is every 50-55 laps, based on fuel mileage. Goodyear PR

Racing News

Dunlop killed in crash
Robert Dunlop
Robert Dunlop, a former winner of the Isle of Man TT, has died after being involved in a crash during practice race at the North West 200 in Northern Ireland.

Dunlop suffered serious chest injuries when his bike appeared to seize as he approached the Mathers Cross section of the course near Portrush in County Antrim. He went over the handlebars and was rushed to a nearby hospital where he died a short time later.

Another Northern Ireland rider Darren Burns, who was travelling behind Dunlop when the accident occurred, was unable to avoid hitting his fellow competitor and suffered a suspected broken leg and concussion.

"Coleraine & District Motor Club members and myself as clerk of course are devastated by the news that Robert Dunlop has died following a fatal incident during the second practice night of this year's North West 200," said Mervyn Whyte, clerk of the course at the North West 200.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Robert's family and we extend our deepest sympathies to his wife Louise, children William, Daniel and Michael and wider family circle.

"The MCUI (UC) - Motor Cycling Union of Ireland and PSNI are in the process of fully investigating the incident which happened during the 125, 250, 400 practice session on the first lap.

"The other rider involved in the incident is in a stable condition in hospital.

"Robert was one of Northern Ireland's best known and most experienced riders who will always been remembered for his infectious personality and love for road racing."

Dunlop was seriously injured at the Isle of Man TT in 1994, but he recovered and returned to the sport in 1996 at the Cookstown 100 and in February 2005 became the first person to be elected to the Irish Racer Magazine Hall of Fame.

His brother, the legendary Joey, was killed in a similar accident in Estonia in 2000.


F1 has two big issues for 09
Two important changes are slated in Formula One next season. Alongside the return of slick tires, F1 will see the introduction of aerodynamic innovations and the Kinetic Energy Recovery System, KERS.

However, BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen stated that unless teams are already hard at work on both these issues, they will find themselves in trouble with the development of their car for the 2009 season.

"The two big issues are KERS and the 2009 aerodynamics package,” he said on the team’s official website. “Anyone who has not yet started to work on aerodynamics will really struggle to be ready in time."

Theissen also knows what the main focus of development on the successor to the F1.08 will be…

"The main difference is definitely the omission of all additional aerodynamic elements. This will result in the bodywork having a different appearance."


Some teams experiencing bad graining of their Bridgestones
Force India's Monaco Grand Prix preparations continued on Thursday at the Paul Ricard HTTT track in the south of France. Adrian Sutil took over from Tonio Liuzzi for the morning's run on the 2D-SC configuration of the track, designed to simulate the bumpy, twisty conditions of the Principality.

He completed 66 laps in the morning and tested the supersoft and soft tire compounds available for the race. The German's fastest lap was a 1min 07.104.

'This morning went without any problems and we ran through our program to prepare for Monaco. We tried the tire options available for the race and again with the softer tire we struggled to get the temperature into them on the first lap,” Adrian said. “There is some bad graining and it's not easy to drive, but we have managed to work with them better than we did in Turkey. The aero package for Monaco feels good and, although you can never completely tell how it will perform on a different circuit with different corners and surfaces, it does make you more prepared and you can predict in certain circumstances what it will do. Tomorrow we will move to the longer circuit and the Canada package with longer straights and some more chicanes.'

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Wheldon warns Viso to respect ovals UPDATE With regards to Wheldon’s comments: Viso might not have hit the wall yet, but he did do this (Accident in Europe) So, he's quite used to cars that fly through the air, something not too uncommon with the design of the current IndyCar.

Wild man Ernesto Viso
Gail Miller/AutoRacing1
05/15/08 Ernesto Viso of Venezuela is one of the new drivers to the IndyCar Series this year but has already stood out to many of the veterans for his erratic driving style.

“The craziest by far is Ernesto Viso,” Wheldon said. “Dude, he looks nuts. You can tell he hasn’t hit the wall yet. When he hits the wall, you will know because he will pull out slowly from the car in front and move back nicely. You can tell he hasn’t hit yet. You can tell the guys that haven’t hit hard.

“In 2003, I came out of the box swinging. Then you hit the wall and you just start to calm down a little bit, then you start to hit the wall a bit more and then you really start to calm down because you realize it’s not a nice feeling.”

Viso is certainly enthusiastic as he tries to learn the foreign art of high-speed racing on ovals in an IndyCar.

“It’s nice to be back at work and I look forward to every day that we are here at the Speedway,” Viso said. “Even though it’s a long month, I’m really enjoying it.” Yahoo Sports


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Hamilton reveals shiny helmets for Monaco GP
  • Dennis confirms driver equality for Monaco GP
  • Mallya - Indian GP on track for 2010
  • Mosley stripped of official status for Monaco

Hamilton reveals shiny helmets for Monaco GP
(GMM)  As per usual on the glamorous streets of Monte Carlo, McLaren's two race drivers will wear diamond-studded helmets throughout the forthcoming Monaco grand prix weekend.

Lewis Hamilton, the 23-year-old British driver, gave his newly-sparkling yellow helmet the thumbs-up at a media event on Thursday to launch the diamond sponsor Steinmetz's Monaco promotion.

His and teammate Heikki Kovalainen's autographs are spelt out with hundreds of gems on their respective helmets for next Sunday's marquee race.

"Sometimes you get some of the nice quirks and bonuses and I guess this is it," Hamilton, who like Kovalainen will also receive a diamond ring, declared at McLaren's Woking factory.

It also emerged this week that Honda driver Jenson Button will wear a special helmet design penned by one of his fans at his home grand prix at Silverstone in July.

Dennis confirms driver equality for Monaco GP
(GMM)  McLaren boss Ron Dennis has confirmed team driver Lewis Hamilton's call for equality ahead of the Monaco grand prix next weekend.

"We're a team and I want it to continue as it is, fair and square," Hamilton said recently.

The 23-year-old Briton's call for equality follows the Monaco grand prix of one year ago, when he was ordered to finish behind his then teammate Fernando Alonso.

Dennis said in 2007: "I don't like to slow drivers down, I don't like them to be frustrated but it is the way you have to win the Monaco grand prix."

This week, however, with Heikki Kovalainen now occupying the second car alongside Hamilton, Dennis is quoted as saying by Reuters: "The reality is we pride ourselves on providing equality to both drivers."

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