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Drivers concerned about loss of traction control
Drivers believe the loss of traction control, which used computer software to reduce wheelspin, will be more noticeable in Monaco than at the previous five races.

“For sure, it is going to be tough,” said Giancarlo Fisichella in Wednesday’s press conference.

“Difficult. There are a lot of slow-speed corners and there are a few corners where we use first or second gear, so the power, when it goes on the torque, is going to be very strong.

“It is going to be easy to have a lot of wheelspin, so it is going to be important to manage it.”

While the ban on electronic driver aids has had a smaller impact than some predicted so far this year, it has yet to be tested in wet conditions.

The last wet Monaco GP was in 1997 but forecasters are predicting showers in the Principality this weekend.

Felipe Massa, who admits he is not a fan of Monte Carlo, believes the combination of the lack of TC and the rain would make the streets extremely treacherous.

When asked what would be the danger areas, he said: “Everywhere. For sure, maybe here it was already quite difficult with traction control.

“Without traction control it will be a lottery.

“Who is driving very carefully will maybe have a chance to win the race. The problem is that you start learning all the corners in the wet without traction control, but then you start to go every lap more and more to see the limit.

“And sometimes if you pass that limit a little bit you are already in the wall.

“It was like that with traction control. Without I don’t know how it is going to be but it will be very tough.”


Monaco GP: Wednesday Press Conference

With drivers: Sebastien Bourdais (Toro Rosso), Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India), Nelson Piquet (Renault), Felipe Massa (Ferrari).

Q. Nelson, your feelings about this circuit. Is it a home circuit for you?

Nelson Piquet: A little bit, yes. Obviously, I know the place quite well. I lived here for eight years until I was eight and then I went to Brazil. I feel quite comfortable here and have a few friends. I know the place quite well.

It is different coming here than other Grands Prix. At other Grands Prix we know some cities just by going there every year. This one I know a bit more by living and knowing the streets and knowing the good places to eat. Even having friends and being able to call somebody and go to their house. It is just a little bit different for me.

Q. What are the feelings about the race itself and the circuit when you are driving around and there is absolutely no margin for error? How do you approach this race?

NP: The first time I drove here I felt quite comfortable. I thought it was going to be tough but I mean I drove Macau in F3 and you know how tough a street circuit can be. Monaco is tough but the average speed is much lower than Macau, so I find it quite good. It is a nice, twisty little circuit.

It is not too quick and obviously the quicker the track is, the more difficult it is, especially street circuits. It is not too bumpy. Every year they try to make the surface the best they can. I didn't drive here last year, so I don't know how it is but from 2006 the track was pretty good. I feel really good. I like driving here.

Q. The track wasn't very kind to you in GP2.

NP: No, that's true. The first race I had to stop because of failures. But I still like it. I just need to put things together and hope the result will come.

Q. Do you approach it at all with any caution?

NP: Obviously you need to have a little bit of strategy. In the first practice if you damage the car you are probably going to lose the second one, so you need to be a bit careful and know when to risk at the right time. The grip on the track is going to be really poor at the beginning and lap after lap it is going to be quicker and quicker.

There is a right moment when to push and having a crash here is normal as you try and find the limits. If you are lucky you don't, but I think it is natural for the driver to push trying to find the limits. I remember Lewis Hamilton last year having an accident. I think Giancarlo did as well. It is natural and normal trying to find the limits and pushing to the edge.

Q. Sebastien, I guess it is a while since you've seen anything like Monaco? Is there anything similar in the United States at all?

Sebastien Bourdais: Obviously, there are a lot of street courses in the States but none really compare to what we have here. It is a very challenging and interesting one. It has been quite good to me in the past. I have always been very fast here and liked it. It is not France but as close as it can be without being France. I think it is a very special venue for me and obviously I want to do well. Toro Rosso have the new car here and we will see how it shakes up. But hopefully we will have a good weekend.

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Firestone Indy Lights drivers return to action
Firestone Indy Lights teams and drivers return to action at the world’s biggest racing stage – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Twenty-seven drivers are entered in the sixth Firestone Freedom 100. Practice and SWE Pole Qualifying are scheduled for May 22, with the 40-lap race on the historic 2.5-mile oval slated for May 23.
The record field features three more cars than last year’s race and includes 2006 race winner Wade Cunningham and Jeff Simmons, who also will compete in the 92nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 25.
J.R. Hildebrand, the series points leader following his first career victory at Kansas Speedway in late April, carries the most momentum into the event.
“Being a points leader coming in, you're able to come in with some confidence,” said Hildebrand, who drives the No. 25 RLR/Andersen Racing entry. “The team is able to come in with some confidence. We had a really good test here back in March, so I'm really looking forward to it.
“(Indianapolis) is a place like no other. And just being able to get out on track and in the practice session that we had here a little over a month ago, that really hit in a big way, I think, to all the competitors, particularly the ones that hadn't been here before, myself included. And so it's going to be a big race and a big weekend for us.”
Other drivers entered include Sean Guthrie, son of three-time Indianapolis 500 starter Jim Guthrie, Arie Luyendyk Jr., son of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, and Al Unser III, grandson of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser and son of two-time winner Al Unser Jr.
“I finished third here in 2004 with (Sam) Schmidt (Motorsports),” Luyendyk said. “I think the AFS/Andretti (Green Racing) guys have a better car. Hopefully, we can stick it up front and lead all day on Friday. That would definitely take off a lot of pressure. Looking just to do my best.”


Yamaguchi serving as honorary starter of Indianapolis 500
1992 Olympic gold medalist, popular professional figure skater and recent "Dancing with the Stars" winner Kristi Yamaguchi will wave the green flag to start the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 25.

As the first female honorary starter in Indianapolis 500 history, Yamaguchi will send the elite 33-car starting field into the quest for the checkered flag and racing immortality. The race will be broadcast live at 1 p.m. (ET) on ABC, the IMS Radio Network and XM Satellite Radio.

Yamaguchi replaces world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. as honorary starter after Mayweather was forced to relinquish his role due to a death in his family.

"Unfortunately I will not be able to attend this year's race due to the loss of my uncle," Mayweather said. "I wish all the drivers the best, particularly my friend Helio Castroneves, and hope that everyone has a safe race, too."

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McDonald's signs deal with Indy Speedway
McDonald’s has become the Official Quick Service Restaurant of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indianapolis 500 and Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

As part of the partnership, McDonald’s will sponsor the popular pit stop contest during the 92nd Indianapolis 500. The McDonald’s Pit Stop Challenge takes place Friday, May 23 at IMS, two days before “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“This partnership between McDonald’s and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a natural fit,” said Joie Chitwood, IMS president and chief operating officer. “Both are worldwide leaders in their businesses, both are global icons, and McDonald’s has a strong history of supporting racing.”

The partnership with IMS extends McDonald’s commitment to motorsports. McDonald’s has sponsored an entry fielded by championship-winning open-wheel racing team Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, which joined the IndyCar Series this season. Justin Wilson is driving the No. 02 McDonald’s Racing Team car this May at Indianapolis.


Fittipaldi to Participate in Ethanol Summit
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, ethanol refiner and driver of the Corvette Z06 Indy 500 pace car powered by E85 Ethanol for the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500, Emerson Fittipaldi will participate in the third annual Ethanol Summit and panel discussion held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday, May 22.


Topless Singer Jumps From Briatore's Boat
Two paddock personalities who enjoy their formula one celebrity-status have been spotted this week at France's Cannes Film Festival, which is just a short drive from the scene of the Monaco grand prix.

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren's 23-year-old race driver, was invited by filmmaker George Lucas to the new Indiana Jones movie premiere, and tabloid newspapers report that the Briton's date was none other than Miss Grenada.

Renault boss Flavio Briatore, meanwhile, hit the tabloid headlines when 23-year-old British pop singer Lily Allen was photographed jumping topless from his luxury yacht in Cannes.


Doornbos to driver AC Milan Superleague team
Robert Doornbos (NL), has been appointed to drive for Scuderia Playteam’s AC Milan team in Superleague Formula.

Today Scuderia Playteam is pleased to announce that it has signed on its driver for the 2008 Superleague season to drive for AC Milan. Scuderia Playteam’s V12, 750-horsepower car will feature the red and black colors of the prestigious AC Milan club.

25-year-old Dutch driver Robert Doornbos will race in the prestigious red and black colors of AC Milan. The car will make its race debut at the start of the season in August 2008 at Donington.

Robert Doornbos commented: “I am very pleased to have reached an agreement with Scuderia Playteam and to take on this important responsibility of driving for the team at the official tests in Barcelona and Montmelo in July. For me it is really exciting since I’ve always been a huge AC Milan fan.

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track news

Milwaukee Mile Rex Mays Classic Returns
After 25 years, the Rex Mays Classic name returns to The Milwaukee Mile in a new capacity on Sunday, June 1 in conjunction with the ABC Supply / A.J. Foyt 225 IndyCar Series race day activities.

Indy car race driver Rex Mays name was linked to the traditional open-wheel race that was held at The Milwaukee Mile from 1950-1983 the week after the Indianapolis 500.  This years Rex Mays Classic will feature over fifteen authentic vintage Indy cars, including one Mays captured the pole position for the Indy 500 in 1935 and 1936.

The first of two Rex Mays Classic exhibition sessions will take place shortly after 9:00 a.m., with another session scheduled at 1:30 p.m., which comes after the 100-mile Firestone Indy Lights race (start time 11:30 a.m. CST), leading into pre-race activities for the ABC Supply / A.J. Foyt 225 IndyCar Series race, set for a 3:00 p.m. green flag.

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TAG Eyewear supports Sarah Fisher
Sarah Fisher and her TAG sunglasses
TAG Heuer Eyewear is proud to continue support for IndyCar Series driver Sarah Fisher, the first female owner/driver in IndyCar Series history.  Fisher, a TAG Heuer brand ambassador since 2002, brings together sport and glamour while promoting TAG Heuer’s cutting-edge chronographs and timekeeping technology – as well as the motorsport-inspired TAG Heuer “Avant Garde” Eyewear worn internationally by racecar drivers.

“Sarah Fisher has the determination to move mountains,” said Guillaume Pottecher, president of TAG Heuer Eyewear. “She stands out from the crowd, just like TAG Heuer Eyewear. We wish her great luck this weekend, and we are behind her all the way.”

“TAG Heuer Eyewear has been a great partner of mine,” said Fisher, who qualified for her seventh Indianapolis 500 as a driver this past weekend and her first as a team owner.  “For them to believe in what we are trying to accomplish means a lot to our entire team.  I’m honored to represent them.” 

The 2008 Indianapolis 500 is set for Sunday, May 25, 2008, at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 92nd running of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” The hallmark IndyCar Series event will receive worldwide comprehensive coverage through ABC/ESPN in HD, with additional coverage available on the IMS Radio Network and XM Satellite Radio. Broadcast coverage summaries will be available at www.indycar.com and www.brickyard.com.

tv news

Monaco Grand Prix Highlights Memorial Day Weekend Racing on SPEED
Memorial Day weekend racing on SPEED opens with the 900-horsepower Advance Auto Parts World of Outlaws sprint cars taking on The Dirt Track at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Friday (8 p.m. ET) and concludes with the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series event Monday from historic Lime Rock Park (2 p.m. ET).

“This weekend is all about versatility,” said SPEED President Hunter Nickell. “As we do with NASCAR all season long, we will have a huge presence at Charlotte in support of the Coca-Cola 600 with shows like NASCAR RaceDay, Trackside and Victory Lane, but we also will be all over the World of Outlaws event, the Monaco Grand Prix and the Rolex event from Lime Rock. There is something for every race fan this weekend and we’re having a blast with it.”

Rolling into the weekend, SPEED kicks off Thursday with a day of live practice sessions from F1, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series before ending under the lights at Lowe’s Motor Speedway with Pole Night qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600.

Bobby Gerould will handle play-by-play for Friday’s World of Outlaws race, with Brad Doty delivering analysis and Shane Andrews and Sarah Jane Hunt in the pits for the first of five multi-hour WoO shows in 2008.

On Saturday, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series takes to the half-mile oval at Mansfield Motorsports Park (1 p.m. ET; NCTS Setup at 12:30 p.m. ET) with Rick Allen and Phil Parsons in the booth and Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander in the pits.

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Webber helps friend in cycling smash
(GMM)  Mark Webber was the hero of the day on Tuesday after a dramatic bike ride near Monte Carlo.

One day before arriving in the nearby Monaco paddock for F1's signature event, the Red Bull driver was cycling in a group of three near Menton, France -- just a short ride from this weekend's formula one action.

Webber, 31, and Tour de France legend Lance Armstrong avoided the accident, but computer company AMD's marketing boss Morris Denton was struck head-on by a car.

Australia's Webber told the British broadcaster ITV in the Monaco paddock on Wednesday that he tried to stem the flow of blood from Denton's injured arm.

"I got covered in blood myself," he said, revealing that they called not only an ambulance but also the F1 team in Monaco for help.

Denton was taken to a Monaco hospital, where he received 90 stitches in his arm and leg and stayed overnight.

"I took it a bit easier when I went out on the bike this morning," Webber said.


AGR announces sponsor for Arie Jr.
Targus Fly & Feather is teaming up Andretti Green Racing/AFS driver Arie Luyendyk Jr. as the primary sponsor of the #26 Firestone Indy Lights entry for the remainder of the 2008 season, beginning with this weekend’s Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“I am really excited to have Targus Fly & Feather on board for the Freedom 100 and the rest of the 2008 season,” said Luyendyk. “Targus appreciates high performance, and makes fishing gear that is tuned for the best results in every situation, just like my Firestone Indy Lights car.”

Luyendyk, a Firestone Indy Lights veteran, leads the Indy Lights in top-10 finishes and qualified for the Indianapolis 500 in 2006. He has two top fives and three top 10s in the first four races of the 2008 season and is currently fifth in the championship standings. “We’re excited about our sponsorship of Arie’s #26 car at Indy and beyond,” said Wayne Richey, CEO of Targus. “The precision and technology of high performance racing matches up very well with the precision and technology of our high-performance fishing gear.”


Aflac announces multiyear contract with Carl Edwards
Aflac Inc. announced Wednesday it has signed a multiyear contract to serve as primary sponsor of Carl Edwards beginning in 2009.  Aflac had been an associate sponsor of Edwards (with an occasional race as primary sponsor) since last year and will continue as the official supplemental insurance company for Roush Fenway Racing.  It will replace Office Depot as the primary sponsor for Edwards, who has made the Chase in two of the last three years and has won three races this season.


De Ferran and da Matta make successful comebacks
Two of the most successful Brazilian drivers in American open-wheel racing of the late 20th and early 21st centuries made very different comebacks last weekend. That would be Gil de Ferran entering a new team in ALMS and Cristiano da Matta who returned to race in the Grand-Am series.  More at SPEEDtv.com

TV News

Top NASCAR Driver TV Exposure
Despite a third-place standing in the driver’s championship battle and joining a new team this season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. stands alone in terms of generating television exposure for his sponsoring brands through the first 10 events of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.  Altogether, Earnhardt’s sponsors amassed $150 million of comparable television exposure value from being associated with the popular driver, some $24 million more than the next driver’s overall sponsorship figure.

According to research conducted by Joyce Julius & Associates, Inc. — which specializes in measuring the impact of sponsorships across all forms of media — 33 brands appearing on locations such as  Earnhardt’s car, uniform and support crew’s uniforms have appeared clear and in-focus for a total of 12 hours, 45 seconds (12:00:45) during television coverage of NASCAR’s first 10 official points races.  Additionally, the sponsors have been mentioned by Earnhardt or the announcers 33 times.  Exposure value is calculated by comparing the on-screen time and mentions to the estimated cost of a commercial spot during each respective race telecast throughout the season. 

Earnhardt’s top sponsors, AMP Energy and National Guard, combined for nearly $78 million of exposure value, or 52% of the total in-broadcast exposure associated with Earnhardt thus far.

Kyle Busch, meanwhile, led all drivers in delivering TV time for the most brands with 59 sponsors appearing in conjunction with the driver.  Busch’s sponsors also enjoyed the most verbal recognition as a group, with his backing brands having been mentioned a total of 92 times.

Of the top-10 exposure-producing drivers, four are associated with Chevrolet, while Toyota (three drivers), Ford (two) and Dodge (one) are also represented by the leading drivers.  Jimmie Johnson had the single largest contribution to an auto manufacturer, generating $15.2 million of exposure value for Chevrolet.
Top Exposure Producing Drivers (After 10 Races):

Rank/Driver Number of Brands Total Sponsor Exposure Time Sponsor Mentions Total Comparable Exposure Value
1)  Dale Earnhardt Jr. 43 12:00:45 33 $150,123,885
2)  Jeff Gordon 52 9:35:39 39 126,436,385
3)  Jimmie Johnson 43 11:00:18 30 123,083,430
4)  Kyle Busch 59 8:54:49 92 116,043,930
5)  Carl Edwards 58 10:30:44 68 110,463,195
6)  Tony Stewart 47 6:36:13 34 84,668,695
7)  Ryan Newman 34 4:25:31 39 80,175,895
8)  Denny Hamlin 42 6:13:36 40 79,833,540
9)  Matt Kenseth 48 5:42:52 17 73,154,105
10) Kevin Harvick 44 5:58:21 15 62,653,780

Note:  Number of Brands refers to the number of unique sponsoring entities monitored in association with each respective driver.  Exposure received by brands monitored in association with more than one driver is credited to the driver/crew from whom the identity originated. 


Rossi has 'some regrets' after F1 snub
Rossi tests the Ferrari at Valencia in 2006
(GMM) Flamboyant MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi has admitted he would like to know how he would have fared had he decided to switch to formula one with Ferrari a few years ago.

The Italian tested for the famous Maranello marque several times, and seriously considered switching codes, but ultimately decided to stay on two wheels.

"'Sorry' is not the right word," Rossi, now 29, is quoted as saying by the publication Affari Italiani on Wednesday, "but I do have some regrets because I am still curious to know what I could have done."

Rossi, who at the Le Mans circuit last Sunday equaled motorcycle great Angel Nieto's tally of 90 victories, explained that he simply baulked at moving to F1.

"I was doing well in the testing -- it had always been my dream to race with Ferrari.

"But at that time I was not ready for the jump and I was in the middle of the motorcycles.

"Driving F1 cars is extremely satisfying," he added. "It is less a vehicle and more like an airplane, giving you great sensations.

"But for a motorcyclist it is also a strange feeling; putting your legs into a black hole."

Rossi refuses to rule out switching to four wheels at some time in the future.

"I want to do some more racing (in MotoGP) and then I want to spend some seasons with my passion; the cars. Perhaps rallying, maybe something else," he said.


'I'm just driving well' - Kubica
Robert Kubica
(GMM)  Robert Kubica has taken issue with suggestions that his teammate Nick Heidfeld is struggling simply with the setup of BMW-Sauber's 2008 car.

The 23-year-old Pole, who has outqualified his more experienced German teammate on all five occasions so far this season, insists he is just driving well.

Last year, in contrast, it was suggested that Kubica was struggling to keep up with Heidfeld because of the change to Bridgestone's control tire.

But in a recent interview, he said blaming tires is an oft-used "excuse" when comparing the performance of a team's drivers.

"I don't think it's a question of car," Kubica is now quoted as saying by F1's official website.

"I'd rather consider the fact that I now have one more year of experience and that I am working very well with my new race engineer, Tony Cuquerella," he added.

Kubica, meanwhile, offered no comment to speculation that - despite BMW's option on his services for 2009 - Ferrari may be interested in him for the future.

"I am currently a BMW-Sauber driver and my duty is to fight on track and try to beat everyone else," he said.


Mugello shakedown for Williams FW30
With Nico Rosberg at the wheel, Williams F1 last week conducted a 50 kilometer shakedown with its Monaco specification FW30 car at the Ferrari owned Italian circuit Mugello, located near Florence.

Meanwhile, with Giancarlo Fisichella marking his 200th race at Monte Carlo this weekend, and Rubens Barrichello to continue to build on his new record for Grand Prix longevity, it has emerged that Monaco will in fact be Sir Frank Williams' 600th event as a Formula 1 team boss.


Raikkonen: There's nothing like the Monaco Grand Prix
Ferrari drivers Massa and Raikkonen at Monaco
F1 Championship leader Kimi Raikkonen is excited about the upcoming race. Formula 1 travels to the legendary streets of Monaco for the 55th Monaco Grand Prix. The most prestigious race on the calendar every driver hopes to win one day.

Raikkonen managed to win the Grand Prix of Monaco just once so far. In 2005 Raikkonen won his first and only Monaco Grand Prix when the Finn finished with his McLaren well ahead of Williams drivers Nick Heidfeld and Mark Webber.

This weekend Raikkonen hopes to fight for his third win of the season. "For me every race is important for the Championship. But as a race there is nothing like the Monaco GP," Raikkonen said looking ahead of the upcoming race. "To race in the Principality is really different from everywhere else: it is really difficult to have a perfect weekend here. When you manage it you know the great feeling you get by winning the race here.

"The race in Monaco is the race. It's a legend amongst all the races. My success here in 2005 is maybe the most memorable of all my races. So to win it again would be just as special. The streets of Monte Carlo are very twisty and narrow and you have to be very precise and concentrated on every single meter you go. This year there is even less room for an error now that we don't have the traction control anymore. especially when it's wet.

Raikkonen is confident the team made a good step forward after having tested at Paul Ricard last week. "Last week we had a test at Le Castellet and it went very well. We tried a few new components and improved the set up. The car is stronger at this type of circuit - slow and bendy - compared to last year. I think that Ferrari has made a big step forward in the areas where we weren't strong last year," he said. "It is difficult to say how it will go in the end. Ferrari will be very competitive, but there's also McLaren and BMW. Having said that Monaco can always be good for a surprise; it's the most open of all the races this year. Last year we only got one point here in Monaco. I wasn't happy that day. But in the end it was a very precious point for me."


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Monaco not my favorite track - Massa
  • Graham Rahal not interested in F1 switch
  • Alan Jones wants A1 to replace Aus GP
  • Mugello shakedown for Williams FW30
  • More crashes likely at Monaco in '08 - Haug
  • Heidfeld also expects strong Monaco for BMW

Monaco not my favorite track - Massa
(GMM)  Two weeks after utterly dominating the Turkish grand prix at his favorite circuit, Ferrari's Felipe Massa has admitted that he is not similarly fond of Monaco.

"I have to admit that this is not one of my favorite circuits," the Brazilian said as he arrived in Monte Carlo ahead of the highly popular street race.

Despite insisting at Istanbul that he can be competitive at every circuit on the calendar, the 27-year-old concedes that the tight confines of the historic Principality are not to his liking.

"In terms of driving pleasure, I prefer the fast flowing places like Turkey, Bahrain and Barcelona for example.

"But that does not mean we cannot be strong here," Massa added.

"You always find tracks you like more than others, but this does not mean you cannot be competitive at those you are not so keen on."

Ferrari struggled to keep up with 2007 Monaco pacesetters McLaren last year, but Massa thinks the Maranello based team is in "better shape" ahead of this year's late May edition.

Graham Rahal not interested in F1 switch
(GMM)  As American racing's Kyle Busch (NASCAR), Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti weigh up futures across the Atlantic, another IndyCar hotshoe has revealed that he is not as keen on the idea of a career in formula one.

Graham Rahal, whose father Bobby raced a couple of grands prix in the 70s before leading the Jaguar team for a time in 2000, is currently preparing for his first Indy 500 -- the marquee event that paved the European futures of drivers like Jacques Villeneuve and Juan Pablo Montoya.

In the past, 19-year-old Rahal has enthused at the concept of racing at the pinnacle of open wheeler racing, but he now appears turned-off when contemplating a F1 foray.

"If you're not with McLaren or Ferrari, you're not going to win a race," he is quoted as saying by the Sun-Times News Group.

"I don't like that.  I couldn't go there with a backmarker team, because it's too tough on your self esteem, too tough knowing you can't win," Rahal added.

Even more strikingly, he told last Sunday's Indianapolis Star newspaper: "Maybe it's just me, and I have to be careful saying this, but I don't find formula one interesting.

"(If) you go over there with a top team, that would be really cool.  But if you don't, I find nothing cool about running for 15th every weekend."

Rahal said he has been buoyed by the unification of the previously separate American single seater categories, IRL and Champ Car.

"I can stay here my entire life," he said.

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Jonathan Bomarito Driver Diary – Laguna Seca
Jonathan Bomarito
I’d like to start off this Driver’s Diary by thanking all of the many friends and family who came out to support me and the Mathiasen Motorsports team over the weekend. Having grown up in Monterey and Salinas, it was just an amazing feeling to have such a huge group of people cheering and rooting us on.

Being a local guy to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, my race weekend started very early. On Wednesday we brought the car out to a local shopping center where the “Festival of Speed”. organizers had coordinated an appearance for about half a dozen of the Atlantic cars that were participating.  It was a successful event, and got the word out even further to people who otherwise might not have known about the series and the full race weekend.

Thursday was a fairly normal preparation day working with the team and engineers, but what really stood out most of all for me was the HEAT. For the Monterey peninsula it was extremely hot, and surprisingly it lasted right through the weekend.  Our track walk took place from 4-5pm and the heat radiating off the incredibly smooth black asphalt came right through your shoes. This unusually high track temperature was a challenge for all of the teams, and especially for our Cooper tires, to overcome.

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Jobless Mayfield visits Iraq
Jeremy Mayfield left May 6 for 12 days where even if he got offered another NASCAR ride, he wouldn’t be able to accept it until he returned.

Mayfield took a 12-day tour of Iraq where he, along with a few drag racers, visited three to seven bases a day to talk to troops stationed over there. Mayfield said he was impressed with what the soldiers are currently doing in Iraq in trying to rebuild the country.

“I thought it would be a depressing deal, but it really wasn’t,” Mayfield said in a phone interview Tuesday. “All the soldiers, everybody from the guy on the front line through the commanding general, was just really upbeat, in a great mood. Everything was positive. … What got me was how many people re-enlisted to come back over.”

A two-time Chase participant, Mayfield drove for Haas CNC Racing for the first seven events this year before parting ways with the team. He has had a few talks with other teams, but when the idea was presented to him, he opted to go on the goodwill trip to Iraq.

“It’s something I am proud to say I did,” Mayfield said. “It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I met a lot of great people there. As far as my career, I’ll go from here and see what happens.

“The timing was perfect on it. I was sitting here not having a ride, and I went and did it. I think I made a difference. I think it was more important than waiting around hoping somebody calls me. It’s hard for me to sit here and tell you what it means to the guys over there.” Scenedaily.com

track news

Milwaukee Mile Improves Fan Midway
The Milwaukee Mile may be the world’s oldest continually operated motor speedway, but that doesn’t stop officials at the historic speedway to continue to evolve and improve the fan experience at America’s Legendary Oval.

Fans will see some improvements in place on the fan midway when they attend the May 30 – June 1 ABC Supply / A.J. Foyt 225 IndyCar Series weekend at The Mile.

“To ensure the safety of our loyal fans, and in the interest of easing congestion, we’ve worked with the West Allis Fire Department and officials to map out a flow that frees up what has been a crowding issue at certain locations on our Grandstand Avenue,” explained Milwaukee Mile Chairman Craig Stoehr.

Grandstand Avenue is the roadway that is directly behind the speedway’s all-aluminum grandstand that was constructed in 2003.  In the past, vendors along one side of Grandstand Avenue and entry gates did create congestion issues closer to race start times.

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Ganassi fires crew chief
Jimmy Elledge, crew chief for Sprint Cup driver Juan Pablo Montoya and the No. 42 Dodge, has been released from his duties at Chip Ganassi Racing, team officials confirmed Tuesday. Brian Pattie, 32, will replace Elledge on a interim basis. Pattie was the crew chief for CGR’s No. 41 Nationwide car.

Elledge, 37, has been at CGR since 2003. He recently moved to Montoya’s car when Ganassi officials swapped crew chiefs with the No. 41 Dodge driven by Reed Sorenson.

Donnie Wingo moved from Montoya to Sorenson while Elledge switched to Montoya before the race at Talladega on April 27.


IndyCar ratings continue to rise for ABC, ESPN2
Ratings for ABC’s and ESPN2’s coverage of Third Day Qualifying and Bump Day at the 92nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 showed significant gains from 2007.
Saturday’s coverage from 4-6:30 p.m. on ESPN2 was up 25 percent, while ESPN2’s coverage of Bump Day, which included six qualifying attempts in the final 30 minutes, registered a 50 percent increase. The overnight ratings for ABC’s Bump Day coverage, which included two hours earlier in the afternoon, was up 18 percent from 2007.
Earlier this season, race broadcasts from Homestead-Miami Speedway in March and Kansas Speedway in April on ESPN2 generated the two highest-rated IndyCar Series races in the network’s history.


Mutoh honored at annual Indianapolis 500 Rookie Luncheon
Hideki Mutoh discovered a few minutes before addressing the crowd at the American Dairy Association of Indiana that he completed an Andretti Green Racing sweep of the Fastest Rookie of the Year Award.
“No pressure,” the driver of the No. 27 Formula Dream Honda-powered Dallara said.
Mutoh, who will start ninth in the 92nd Indianapolis 500, joins Marco Andretti (2006), Danica Patrick (2005), Tony Kanaan (2002) and team co-owner Michael Andretti (1984) as fastest rookies at Indianapolis. 
“When I competed at Indianapolis in the Freedom 100 last year, I remember being surprised by the number of people in the grandstands,” said Mutoh, 25, the 2007 championship runner-up in the developmental Firestone Indy Lights series. “This year, I’m an IndyCar Series driver and racing in the Indy 500 is like a dream come true. Receiving this fastest rookie award is a great surprise.”

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Without traction control Monaco will be a bigger challenge
Robert Kubica has only once battled for world championship points for the BMW Sauber F1 Team in Monaco. The Pole finished among the top five on his first attempt last year, and is full of confidence ahead of this year's race.

"I am really looking forward to Monaco", says Robert regarding the coming Grand Prix in the Mediterranean principality. He has good reason to be excited about the race: "I was very strong there in 2007 and I am a big fan of narrow street circuits with barriers right next to the track. Monaco is one of these tight and narrow circuits. There are three or four really nice corners like the swimming pool chicane or the Casino section."

Last year, Kubica qualified in 8th place for the race, and moved up three positions during the 78 laps of the difficult circuit. He crossed the finishing line in exactly 1:41:01,077 hours, having passed his testing premiere at the most demanding course on the Formula One calendar with flying colors.

In 2008 the Pole is facing a new challenge: "The track is quite tricky to understand and it is not easy to find the right set-up of the car in Monaco. Without traction control it will be an even bigger challenge to drive there," says Robert, who heads to the sixth race of the season full of confidence: "We will have to see how our car suits the track. I hope this works at least as well as last year and I expect a good result."  BMW Sauber

racing news

ESPN.com to name Top 25 All Time Drivers
ESPN.com has asked a panel of 19 experts and former drivers to vote for the top drivers that piloted anything with wheels and an engine, and from those votes has compiled a list of the Top 25 drivers of all time. Spanning a wide range of racing disciplines the list is being revealed in segments this week on the leading sports site.

The feature package launched Monday, by revealing the 25-21-ranked drivers and will reveal five drivers a day for the rest of the week, unveiling the 5-1-ranked drivers on Friday, leading into the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600.

The first five drivers on the list are:
25. Steve Kinser
24. Nigel Mansell
23. Don Garlits
22. Niki Lauda
21. Shirley Muldowney

The cross-media feature package includes driver profiles, video, ESPN NASCAR Now and IndyCar roundtables, a Jayski.com podcast, the top NASCAR fantasy steals of the last 20 years and SportsNation ranker and polls and conversations, allowing fans to provide their feedback.

The full package can be seen here:

The panel of voters was made up of wide range of drivers, as well as ESPN motorsports experts, including:

Richard Petty - Seven-time Cup champion in NASCAR;
A.J. Foyt - Four-time Indy 500 winner;
Jeff Gordon - Four-time NASCAR Cup champion;
Kenny Bernstein - Six-time NHRA champion with four Funny Car titles and two Top Fuel titles;
Tony Stewart - Two-time Cup champion in NASCAR and 1997 IRL champion;
Juan Pablo Montoya - Current NASCAR driver, 1999 CART champion, 2000 Indy 500 winner and former Formula One driver;
Rusty Wallace - ESPN NASCAR analyst and 1989 Cup champion;
Dale Jarrett - ESPN NASCAR analyst and 1999 Cup champion;
Ray Evernham - ESPN NASCAR analyst and crew chief for three of Jeff Gordon’s Cup championships;
Scott Goodyear - ESPN IndyCar analysis, former Indy car racer and member of the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame;
Tim Brewer - ESPN NASCAR commentator and two-time Cup championship crew chief;
Mike Dunn - ESPN analyst for NHRA events and one of only four drivers with 10 or more career victories in Top Fuel and Funny Car;
Mike Harris  Associated Press auto racing writer;
K. Lee Davis  ESPN.com Motorsports editor;
Terry Blount - ESPN.com motorsports writer;
Ryan McGee - ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com Motorsports writer;
Marty Reid - ESPN motorsports broadcaster;
John Oreovicz  ESPN.com Open-wheel racing writer;
Dan Knutson  ESPN.com Formula one writer.


SPEED Earns Record Ratings with NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race
SPEED scored its highest rating in network history, earning a Nielsen Media Research mark of 3.74 (2,701,000 households), up six percent from last year’s 3.53 (2,480,000 Households), making it the No. 1 network in basic cable during its coverage of Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race XXIV. The event, in its second of eight seasons on SPEED, peaked at 4.75 (3,430,000 households) and drew a network record four million viewers.

“We are jacked up about seeing record ratings for the second consecutive year, and we are very aware that it is a total team effort that delivered these results,” said SPEED President Hunter Nickell. “Everyone at SPEED, everyone at Sprint, everyone at JHE Production Group, everyone at NASCAR, everyone at Lowe’s Motor Speedway puts maximum effort into this event and it shows. That said, we all will continue to set the bar higher each season, settling for nothing less than the coolest NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race experience possible.”

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Alonso - Briatore like a father to me
Alonso and Briatore
(GMM) Fernando Alonso on Tuesday said Renault team principal Flavio Briatore is more a "fatherly figure" to him than a mere boss.

The Spaniard, who won back to back drivers' titles with Briatore in 2005 and 2006, returned to Renault this season after falling out with his McLaren colleagues last year.

"I owe him so much because he believed in me from when I was 17; he brought me into formula one," the 26-year-old said in an interview with the Italian magazine Grazia.

"He is not just the boss but almost a fatherly figure to me," Alonso added.

In the interview, he also insisted that - despite his grand prix superstar status - he still regards himself as a completely "normal person" away from the track.

"For me, what matters most is my family and loyalty to friends. But I am not boring -- in my spare time I play a lot of sports; tennis, cycling, skiing. Or I just relax with my family.

"We are quiet and reserved; like all Asturians," Alonso explained, referring to his home region.

He said he struggled to adapt to life as a celebrity a few years ago.

"The sudden popularity was destabilizing for me, but then I realized that is the price of success.

"Now I have adopted systems that enable me to continue to have a private life, which is what I want. In Switzerland there is a strong sense of respect for privacy," Alonso said.


Button buys two $3.5m jets for new business
(GMM) British formula one driver Jenson Button is starting an aviation charter business.

The Japanese manufacturer Honda, for whom the 28-year-old races, revealed on Tuesday that Button is to be the first European buyer of its light business jet.

Honda said Button has ordered two of the twin-engine HondaJets, which reportedly come with a price-tag of $3.65m apiece.

They will apparently be delivered to European customers in 2012.


Heidfeld risks losing F1 drive - Stuck
Nick Heidfeld's ride may be in jeopardy.  In F1, unlike in America, if you cannot cut the mustard (i.e. too slow) you are toast.  In America racing is more of a popularity contest - if you have a pretty face and the fans like you, you get the best ride.
(GMM) Nick Heidfeld risks losing his BMW-Sauber cockpit if he cannot quickly get on terms with his on-form teammate Robert Kubica.

That is the view of Hans-Joachim Stuck, a famous German racing driver who started more than 74 grands prix in the '70s, and currently a motor racing official for the Volkswagen marque.

He told the German language spox.com that with BMW edging ever closer to the ultimate pace in formula one, team boss Mario Theissen will be seriously considering the driver lineup for 2009.

Theissen revealed in Turkey two weeks ago that he will announce the team's next driver lineup during the forthcoming summer.

Heidfeld, 31, has failed to outqualify the younger Kubica, from Poland, at any of the grands prix so far this season.

"If it continues like that, he could lose his seat," Stuck stated.

"I can well imagine that, to keep the progress moving forwards, BMW-Sauber may decide they need a more vigorous force.

"Mario Theissen knows how this business works -- he will already have made some links to the superstars. There will certainly already be secret talks," Stuck added.

"Nick is important from a German perspective, but he is not a superstar. It is a difficult situation for him."

Stuck clearly rates Kubica, who is 23, very highly.

"I could not even imagine Theissen replacing him with Raikkonen. He has absolutely the right stuff to be champion."

Interestingly, however, even if Heidfeld is moved aside, 57-year-old Stuck seemed unmoved by speculation that BMW-Sauber could be an ideal team for the former double world champion Fernando Alonso.

"I am not personally a big fan of his," the German admitted, "and I don't think he would fit well with BMW, even though he is one of the top-five drivers."


Klien preparing for Le Mans assault
(GMM) BMW-Sauber test driver Christian Klien is getting set to step up his preparation for the famous Le Mans 24 hour race.

Arriving in the Monte Carlo paddock to continue his role as BMW's F1 reserve driver, the 25-year-old admitted that his recent focus has also been on Le Mans.

Klien, an Austrian, said he came to Monaco direct from France, where he has been taking part in Peugeot's Le Mans training camp.

"Immediately after Monaco I have two days of testing for Le Mans," he explained, "another two F1 test days with BMW-Sauber in Italy, before I head to Le Mans for the first time at the end of May."

Peugeot's Le Mans lineup includes a plethora of other F1 names, including Alex Wurz, Franck Montagny, Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta.


Taming the streets of Monaco
For nearly 80 years, the Monaco Grand Prix has challenged drivers to tame the tight and twisty streets of the Principality. The Panasonic Toyota Racing Team can benefit from driver Jarno Trulli’s experience to face the mental and mechanical challenges the race track features, having won his first Grand Prix in Monaco in 2004. Drivers will need to pay particular attention to the tight curves and the close proximity of the walls next to the track to preserve their racecars' gearboxes, brakes and engines. See our home page latest video on the Panasonic Toyota Racing team preparing for the Monaco Grand Prix, and soundbites from Team Manager Richard Cregan, Chief Engineer Race and Test Dieter Gass, Senior General Manager Chassis Pascal Vasselon, and Head of Aerodynamics Mark Gillan.

The Mental and Mechanical Challenges of the Monaco Grand Prix

For nearly 80 years, the Monaco Grand Prix has challenged drivers to tame the tight and twisty streets of a race track which winds its way through the second smallest nation on earth.

At just two square kilometers, and with the highest national population density in Europe, Monaco is unique on the Formula 1 calendar. That 350km/h race cars still do battle on its treacherous turns in the 21st century is testament to the enduring fascination of the Monaco Grand Prix.

For most in Formula 1, Monaco is in equal parts a trial and a joy; with the tight confines challenging everyone in the paddock but the history, glamour and unrivalled atmosphere stoking the flames of passion in all motorsport enthusiasts.

Richard Cregan, Panasonic Toyota Racing Team Manager, sums it up: "Monaco is one of the great races of the year. It is an icon in terms of Formula 1 and a driver on a flying lap in Monaco, I believe, earns his salary for the year right there. But you also have the great atmosphere of being in Monaco; the glitz and the glamour combined with Formula 1 racing. You have an enthusiasm, a passion that you probably don't get at too many circuits in Formula 1."

Jarno Trulli has a passion for racing and some incredible memories of Monaco's legendary streets, having won his first Grand Prix in 2004 with a superb performance from pole position. Of course, that kind of result will always give happy memories but regardless, for Jarno, Monaco is always a special place.

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Bridgestone makes sure its tires look good
Formula One heads to the Mecca of the rich and famous, Monte Carlo, for the Monaco Grand Prix, where a lot of money is spent by people on their appearance.  Looking good is also something that Bridgestone plays particular attention to, especially in the case of its Formula One tires. Tire appearance is a valuable resource in Bridgestone’s toolbox of analytical devices which are used for Bridgestone’s engineers to impart their advice and wisdom to the teams and drivers.

You may think that all tires look alike, and whilst this can be said to be the case for tires of the same type in their unused state, once tires have been used on track they can look very different indeed.

In fact, tire appearance is a very important tool for Bridgestone’s tire engineers when they analyze how a tire has been working with the car.

“A tire which has been put through its paces by a Formula One car is subject to a lot of different forces and how the tire, and in particular the rubber of the tread, looks plays a very important part in our tire analysis,” explains Hirohide Hamashima, Bridgestone Director of Motorsport Tire Development.  So what do engineers look for in a tire?

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Q and A with Renault's Rob Bell
Rob Bell
While Nelson Piquet is having a tough start to his Formula One career with Renault, team-mate Fernando Alonso has been able to pick up some points for the team as they look to close the gap to the front-running teams.

Bob, the team has taken a big step forward in the last couple of races and scored some valuable points in Turkey. How does it feel to see the result of all the hard work?
"I feel immensely proud of the team and the huge effort that everybody has put in, which has been well rewarded by the step forward we have made. There has been a lot of work behind the scenes with everyone working long hours, but it has paid off, and that is remarkably satisfying for everyone."

Fernando had a strong race in Turkey to finish 6th. What did that do for team morale?
"It’s done a lot for the morale of the team, but we are not under any illusion in terms of the magnitude of our progress. We made it clear that we would take a step forward in Barcelona and Istanbul, but we remained realistic and knew that we were not going to jump in front of the top three teams. It was a case of lifting ourselves clear of the midfield bunch. So as a team we have delivered on that promise, and that’s a good morale booster for everyone."

Is it fair to say that Renault has emerged as the fourth fastest team in the pecking order?
"I think that is a fair assessment and we will look to consolidate that position in Monaco. But as the next few races unfold our clear objective is to move ourselves closer and closer to the leading group of cars. The recent progress is just the first of several steps that we are going to have to take this season."

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Monaco tech file
Cars climb hill as they exit Ste Devote at Monaco
Monaco may be the most unique race on the Formula 1 calendar, but for the engineers the challenge remains the same: fine-tuning their car to achieve maximum performance around the demanding street circuit. It’s an unforgiving place, and getting the most out of the R28 around the twisty streets will require an unusual set-up and commitment from the driver.

As a street course, the track surface is quite low grip in the early part of the weekend, but come Sunday, the track will be nicely rubbered-in and will continue to improve until the final lap of the Grand Prix.

Ride Heights
The roads in the Principality may feel billiard-table-smooth at the wheel of a road car, but they are incredibly bumpy for the rock-hard suspension of a Formula 1 car. To cope with the variations in track surface, ride heights are raised between 5 and 7mm relative to the norm. The public roads are also sharply cambered and very slippery – especially on the traffic markings that are dotted around the circuit.

In order to maximize the car’s grip, the team will use softer suspension settings than normal. They help the car to ride the bumps and changes of camber. The surface also means that the wheels must be able to move independently to cope with the bumps, and we soften the anti-roll bars to achieve this. Special attention is paid to suspension camber angles too. The key objective is to give the driver a neutral, drivable car that he can have confidence in around the circuit.

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Q and A with Red Bull's Christian Horner
Over a quarter of the 2008 season is complete and the Red Bull Renault team head to Monte Carlo fifth in the championship standings with ten points. Team Principal Christian Horner talks of the season to date and the forthcoming Grand Prix.

How do you sum up the first part of the season?
“The last four races have seen us running pretty much where we expected to be. We lost out in the first round, which was an atypical race in which, unfortunately, neither of our drivers was around to score points at the finish. Since then, Mark has scored points in every race and David has come close, with two ninth places finishes in Malaysia and Istanbul.”

What about the car’s performance?
“In general, we have made a significant step forward from last year, both in performance and also in reliability. The battle to finish fourth in the championship seems every bit as intense as the one to win it, with our major rivals being Renault, Toyota, Williams and, on occasion Honda. We have seen over the last three or four races that we have been very competitive when compared to the works Renault team and Mark and Fernando (Alonso) have had some good races.”

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STR3 is a go!
Toro Rosso STR3 at recent testing in Barcelona
One race later than originally planned, the new STR3 will make its race debut this weekend and as such the team spoke to Scuderia Toro Rosso Technical Director, Giorgio Ascanelli to find out what their expectations are for its debut….

What improvement in terms of performance can we expect from STR3 over STR2?

I don't like to be dragged into talking numbers, but the car will be similar to the Red Bull car at the start of the season so hopefully somewhere between three tenths and half a second quicker than our old car around Monaco.

Why will it only be the same as the Red Bull car in its launch specification and not identical to the one that team is using now?

To start with, the two cars can never be identical as we have different engine suppliers. The car is late because we were unable to have all the parts we wanted and the main aerodynamic updates are not available to use this weekend.

Has the fact you have a different engine supplier to your sister team further complicated matters?

The areas where we might have run into some problems and the recent Ricard test highlighted these, is indeed in terms of engine installation, but they are not down to Ferrari. It is down to us. Both ours and their engines are V8s but the similarities stop there! The engine environment is completely different and of course, we would have liked longer tests with all the systems. But I am happy with what we have achieved so far. Of course, this is an area where we are stepping into the unknown because we have had limited testing mileage.

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Schumacher to attend Monaco GP
(GMM)  Following his motorcycle outing in Germany last weekend, former seven time world champion Michael Schumacher will now make his way to Monte Carlo to attend the Monaco grand prix with Ferrari.


Wet week expected in Monaco
(GMM)  Wet weather is likely to affect the otherwise glamorous running of the Monaco grand prix this week.

Weather forecasters are predicting mild temperatures at or below 20C all week, including Saturday and Sunday, and a possibility of rain throughout the coming days.

The highest probability for dry weather is ironically on Friday, when formula one teams do not practice following Thursday's traditional first day of official action.

Another weather source predicts a dry race for Sunday, explaining that the forthcoming rain for the area may have cleared by the morning.


F1 celebrities at Cannes festival
(GMM)  Two paddock personalities who enjoy their formula one celebrity-status have been spotted this week at France's Cannes Film Festival, which is just a short drive from the scene of the Monaco grand prix.

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren's 23-year-old race driver, was invited by filmmaker George Lucas to the new Indiana Jones movie premiere, and tabloid newspapers report that the Briton's date was none other than Miss Grenada.

Renault boss Flavio Briatore, meanwhile, hit the tabloid headlines when 23-year-old British pop singer Lily Allen was photographed jumping topless from his luxury yacht in Cannes.

racing news

Quotes of the Week UPDATE "I tell you what, I think some of those guys are going to be pretty strong in the race. They may not have the cars with that last little tenth or hundredth for qualifying, but in the race it's all about balance and consistency and good stops, good judgment and good strategy calling on the pits. Those guys are as good as anybody in that respect.

"Now, qualifying, they're going to be down and out for a while, especially this race. This is different than Kansas. You've got to have a setup. There's a lot of smart guys here. (But) you're a mile and a half off the best of Andretti Green? That's nothing. That's a tenth and a half or two tenths of a second, which I know sounds like something in qualifying, but in the race, that's nothing. It's not going to be that big of a separation come race day. These guys are catching up fast. KV Racing Technology is going to be strong. The good teams in Champ Car, I think they're damn close to already being there. Race day is a whole different animal."  Bobby Rahal on how long it will take the former Champ Car World Series guys to be equals with the Indy Racing League regulars

Can you describe how you’re feeling now of getting bumped?: “No. It’s not possible. I feel terrible for me, for my sponsors, for the team. The only thing that makes me feel good is that we tried until the end. We tried as hard as we could. And that’s the only thing that makes me feel good. We gave it our best effort. At the end, we just trimmed the car out, and the car didn’t take that downforce, and I just lost it.” (About team): “It’s a great team. I think it’s the best team out there. We’ve been together since we’ve started the year, and they’ve done a fantastic job. I feel terrible I could not qualify for this race.” Mario Dominguez, Pacific Coast Motorsports, IndyCar driver

"One thing we're looking forward to is winning this [Indy 500] race.  There are other races, and God knows eight championships is nothing to be sneezed at, but we'll be there one of these days.  I may be someplace else watching from above, but we're going to win this son of a bitch one way or the other."  Paul L. Newman, co-owner, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing IndyCar team.  Newman/Haas drivers have led 791 laps at Indianapolis, but have never been to victory lane.

"The 'I am Indy' decals are being replaced with the new Gene Simmons slogan, 'I am Indecent'."  Robin Miller, Open Wheel Racing Analyst commenting on IRL spokesman Gene Simmons' sex tape 

“The key to the victory was the race strategy.  They brought me in during the second yellow and put me out of sequence so I had a clear run to the end. I was pushing quite a lot. It was hard because I couldn’t see the other people from the P2 class so all I had was the split time on my dash and I knew I just had to keep pushing.” Timo Bernhard, Penske Racing, winner, along with teammate Romain Dumas, Utah Grand Prix ALMS race

“I certainly feel like a rookie again.  There are so many aspects to this type of racing that we have been trying to get acquainted with. Team ownership and everything else that goes along with this program has been a big challenge and something I am enjoying very much.”  Gil de Ferran, de Ferran Motorsports owner and driver, ALMS, comments on preparing to make his ALMS debut

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Petty Comments on the Passing of Lloyd Moore
“I was saddened to learn of the passing of Lloyd Moore yesterday.  He was a joy to be around.  Lloyd was a connection to the origin of NASCAR.  Talking to him was like taking a trip down memory lane, for me, because he raced against my dad.  I still have memories of those races.  He would come by the house after a lot of the races because he and daddy were good friends.  So I knew Lloyd from the time I was a young kid and I am proud to say that we developed a great friendship over the years.  Lloyd was a great driver and a great person.  He will truly be missed.”  -“The King” Richard Petty


Grand-Am team's transporter and car destroyed
The transporter used by Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series team Wayne Taylor Racing was severely damaged Monday afternoon as it traveled east on Interstate 40 in Texas.  The transporter caught fire while it was returning to its headquarters in Indianapolis from the Rolex Sports Car Series race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca near Monterey, Calif.

There were no injuries and no other parties were involved, but the team’s transporter drivers reported major damage to the tractor, trailer and its contents, which included equipment, spare parts and the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Dallara race car.

Wayne Taylor Racing transporter drivers Larry Harmon and Buddy Johnson were approximately an hour east of Amarillo when they heard a noise from the trailer.  They immediately moved the transporter safely away from the lanes of travel, and after exiting the cab, discovered that the trailer was on fire.

The following is a statement from Wayne Taylor, owner of Wayne Taylor Racing:

“First and foremost we’re very thankful that everyone is okay.  It was obviously a scary situation that our transporter drivers, Larry Harmon and Buddy Johnson, handled extremely well.  We’re still trying to gather all the facts as to what caused this catastrophic accident, but the most important thing is that no one was hurt.”

A follow-up statement regarding details of the damage to the transporter and the team’s plans regarding the next race, June 7 at Watkins Glen, N.Y., will be made available upon further assessment.


Despite crash, PCM plans to soldier on
After missing the Indianapolis 500 when Mario Dominguez crashed on Bump Day as the 6 p.m. gun sounded, Pacific Coast Motorsports is not in jeopardy. The team had announced it would run the entire schedule beginning at Indy and owner Tyler Tadevic said those plans remain in place.

“It’s disappointing,” Tadevic said. “It’s our first event in the IndyCar Series, and we just went ahead and picked the Indy 500 as our first event. It’s the biggest show on earth, and we didn’t get to make it this year.

“But it’s just another race just like all the other races we do, and we’ll be in Milwaukee and we’ll represent Mexico City and Mario’s still our guy. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Mario is OK; the car is OK. We’ll be all right. We’ll be back in Milwaukee. We’ve had this car all of three weeks. To get here and make rookie orientation then get out there and be the last car; we were qualified if we could finish those last laps. That’s how it goes.”

Dominguez was unhurt in the crash but tried to fight off the disappointment of not making the race.

“I feel terrible for me, for my sponsors, for the team,” Dominguez said. “The only thing that makes me feel good is that we tried until the end. We tried as hard as we could and that’s the only thing that makes me feel good. We gave it our best effort.

“At the end, we just trimmed the car out and the car didn’t take that downforce and I just lost it.” Yahoo Sports

track news

ISC signs deal with StubHub to help fill empty seats
Int'l Speedway Corp. (ISC) today announced that it has signed a partnership agreement making StubHub the preferred fan-to-fan ticket marketplace of ISC and six of its tracks. Per the deal, StubHub will receive promotional endorsements, on-site will-call booths from each track and branding at ISC events via SprintVision portable video screens. StubHub will help promote ISC events through online and direct-to-customer marketing and will build co-branded Web pages for each event  ISC PR


Teams collect first Superleague Formula chassis
New Superleague cars lined up  at Elan factory.
Elan Motorsports Technologies have released the first batch of Superleague Formula chassis to the championship's race teams with German squad GU Racing the first to collect their new machine.

While the chassis and components are constructed at Elan's base in Atlanta, Georgia in the USA, the final assembly is taking place at the headquarters of Norfolk headquarters for renowned Formula Ford constructor, Van Diemen - also an Elan owned company.

The first ten chassis are now ready for collection - each team able to collect their first car.

Development of the Superleague Formula prototype chassis has been undertaken by reigning British Formula 3 Champions, Hitech Racing.

With test sessions at Donington Park, Monteblanco, Estoril and Magny-Cours – the definitive spec of the car has now been finalized.

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IndyCar Series Drivers to Participate in "Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix Night"
Just days before competing in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” two of the brightest stars in open-wheel racing will visit the Motor City to celebrate Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix Night at Comerica Park with the Detroit Tigers baseball club. Oriol Servia and Will Power of the KV Racing Technology IndyCar Series team, will participate in the evening’s festivities on Tuesday, May 20 as the Tigers play host to the Seattle Mariners in a 7:05 p.m. contest.  Both Servia and Power will be in town to promote the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix – August 29-31, 2008 – just a few days before competing in the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 25.

Servia and Power will sign autographs for fans at Comerica Park prior to the game. In addition, both drivers will be introduced to the crowd on the field in pre-game ceremonies before Power throws out the ceremonial first pitch. Both Servia and Power will be available for media interviews before staying to enjoy some Tiger baseball that evening. Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix show cars will be on display during the game and fans will have the opportunity to win free tickets to the Grand Prix throughout the evening.

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tv news

Motorsports This Week on ESPN and ABC
92nd Indianapolis 500 Live Sunday on ABC; Expanded Pre-Race on ESPN2

After three weeks of practice and qualifying, preceded by months of anticipation due to the reunification of American open wheel racing, the 92nd Indianapolis 500 is set to take the green flag. ESPN on ABC will have live, high definition coverage from Indianapolis Motor Speedway beginning with pre-race at noon ET on Sunday, May 25. The race starts at 1 p.m., with the telecast presented by GoDaddy.com.

ABC is covering the Indianapolis 500 for the 44th year in 2008, extending the second-longest relationship in television history between a sporting event and television network. Weekend coverage of the Masters has been on CBS for 53 years.

An expanded pre-race show airs at 11 a.m. on ESPN2, leading into the ABC telecast.

Brent Musburger hosts the telecast, while Marty Reid will call the race with analysis by former IndyCar Series star Scott Goodyear and 1998 Indy 500 winner Eddie Cheever. Jack Arute, Jamie Little, Brienne Pedigo and Vince Welch will report from the pits.

Coverage of the Indianapolis 500 also includes a 30-minute preview show, Ready to Race: The 92nd Indianapolis 500, airing Saturday, May 24, at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2. Welch hosts the program.

ESPN2 also airs highlights of the Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade, held on the day before the race, at 5 p.m. Saturday. Bob Jenkins and Marlo Klain co-host the telecast, with reports by Mike King.

ESPN2 Goes Live for Indy Carb Day, Pit Stop Challenge, Indy Lights Race

ESPN2 has expanded its Indianapolis 500 coverage to include a live telecast of Indianapolis 500 Carburetion Day, the final practice for the 92nd running of the famed event, and the Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge. The telecast begins Friday, May 3, at 11 a.m. ET and airs until 4 p.m. with a simulcast on ESPN360.com.

Lead announcer Marty Reid and analysts Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever will be in the ESPN booth, while Jack Arute, Jamie Little, Brienne Pedigo and Vince Welch will report from the pits.

Also included in the five-hour telecast will be live coverage of the Freedom 100 Firestone Indy Lights race. The race features the Indy Racing League's developmental series.

ESPN Classic Airs Indianapolis 500 Marathon Saturday

Open wheel racing fans can rev up for the Indianapolis 500 as ESPN Classic presents three classic runnings of the event as well as a profile of one of the top Indy 500 drivers of all time, all airing Saturday, May 24, the day before ABC's live coverage of the 'Greatest Spectacle in Racing.'

The special day of programming begins at 1 p.m. ET with an airing of the ESPN Classic signature series SportsCentury featuring four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser. The 1987 Indianapolis 500 airs at 2 p.m. as Unser wins his fourth Indy 500, finishing just ahead of Roberto Guerrero and Fabrizio Barbazza. Mario Andretti started on the pole.

The 1991 race airs at 4 p.m. with Rick Mears joining the exclusive four-winner club, winning from the pole. Michael Andretti and Arie Luyendyk pick up second and third.

The day concludes with the event that started Danica Patrick's rise to IndyCar stardom, the 2005 Indianapolis 500, airing at 6 p.m. Dan Wheldon passed Patrick in the race's closing laps to take the victory.

ESPN Classic also will replay Sunday's 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 on Monday, May 26, at 9 a.m.

Indianapolis 500 TV Schedule 

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Montoya plays down NASCAR rival's F1 test
(GMM) Former grand prix winner turned NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya has warned his American rival Kyle Busch about getting too excited about a forthcoming opportunity to test a formula one car.

Busch, a NASCAR frontrunner, revealed that he is in talks with Toyota to try the Japanese manufacturer's F1 single seater this winter, and he also refused to rule out making a full switch to the premier class of open wheel racing.

But Montoya, who was disillusioned with F1 as he moved to American stock cars in the middle of the 2006 season, warned Busch that lining up a F1 test may be more complicated than he believes.

The Colombian said there is a difference between a demonstration test and a "test for real".

Back in 2003 at Indianapolis, NASCAR's Jeff Gordon tried Montoya's Williams for a publicity stunt prior to the US grand prix.

Montoya recalls: "The car had no rpms. I told them, 'You can't do that' -- I actually convinced them to put in all the rpms like we normally would when we race it.

"Jeff did really well actually. We were very impressed. But going from a demonstration to an actual test is a big difference."

Montoya believes it will be impossible for Busch to go straight from racing predominantly on NASCAR's ovals to a "proper" F1 test.

"The first problem is your neck. You need to train for months to be able to hold it up," he said.

"They give you a day or a half a day, but you're not going to do anything and nobody is going to look at you."

Montoya recalls his first formula one test, when he was a full time hopeful racer in the F1 support category at the time, F3000.

"I trained for two and a half months non-stop. I had equipment against a bed and I could move the bed with my head.

"When I went into a formula one car, I couldn't do five laps in a row," he added.


Monaco, a tough test for gearbox
The BMW Sauber F1 Team drivers will change gear over 4000 times at the Monaco Grand Prix. The BMW G1.08 gearbox will really be put through its paces. New regulations introduced at the start of the 2008 season stipulate that a Formula One gearbox must last at least four race weekends in succession.
In view of the extreme workload and numerous gear changes that this sensitive component is subjected to, this was a welcome pre-season challenge for the BMW Sauber F1 Team's drive engineers.

Their response was the BMW G1.08 gearbox. It has been designed to make a decisive difference on the racetrack. Where conventional transmissions inherently interrupted the power surge of the engine for approximately 50 milliseconds whilst its gears were changed, the BMW G1.08 permits seamless shifting. The result is that Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica are now able to use the full power of the BMW P86/8 engine throughout the race - even whilst changing gears. "When you accelerate out of corners you lose little or no torque", says Robert. "Due to seamless transmissions helping enormously in reducing lap times, all teams now fit them."

The BMW G1.08 is indispensable in Monaco, with over 4000 gear changes required per race. Compared to conventional gearboxes, the quick-shift gearbox will allow Nick and Robert to gain several seconds over the course of the 78 laps of the "Circuit de la Principauté". This can be decisive in the fast world of Formula One. Source BMW Sauber


Honda hires ITV's Goodman for website
The Honda Racing F1 Team is pleased to announce that ITV-F1's Louise Goodman has joined HondaRacingF1.com, the team's award-winning website, as guest presenter for Honda Racing TV.

HondaRacingF1.com offers fans a truly engaging online experience and central to the website is Honda Racing TV - Formula One's first online TV channel - which takes viewers into the heart of the Honda team with a series of behind-the-scenes features created specifically for the site.

Louise, best known for her role as pit lane reporter for ITV-F1's coverage, will bring almost twenty years of motorsport experience to the role. She began her career as Press Officer for the Leyton House team and worked with Honda race driver Rubens Barrichello at Jordan Grand Prix at the very start of his F1 career.

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Gibbs tested own engines in All-Star race
Joe Gibbs Racing used its engines in the all-star race as opposed to the engines it receives from Toyota Racing Development. The team plans to go back to TRD motors for the Coca-Cola 600. Since the all-star race is a non-points race, it provides teams a chance to test equipment without fear that a failure will hurt them in the points. Roanoke Times


The MAHLE Engine Builder Showdown
Four teams of a record 23 have made it to the semi-finalists after the first two rounds of the ninth annual MAHLE Engine Builder Showdown held May 5 - 8. Competing in this year's Showdown semi-finals set for Monday at the NASCAR Technical Institute (NTI) in Mooresville, N.C., are:

1. Trey Davis and Brian Buttrick from Roush Yates Racing Engines versus Dennis Borem and Darrell Hoffman from Pro Motor Engines

2. Jim Snyder and Mike Kasch from Roush Yates Racing Engines versus Mike Maiwald and Shane Parsnow from Hendrick Motorsports

The two winning teams will face each other on Tuesday at the Showdown finals, also at NTI. The MAHLE Engine Builder Showdown, presented by MAHLE Clevite Inc., pits top NASCAR engine builders in a race to build and successfully run a Sprint Cup 357-cubic inch Ford engine in the shortest time possible. Through a process of three rounds of preliminary and semi-final eliminations, the competition culminates in a final showdown between the two fastest teams.

MAHLE Clevite presents the winning team with the Showdown's grand prize - the prestigious Randy Dorton Memorial Trophy, plus a cash prize of $26,000. The Showdown runner-up team receives $9,000. Overall, the competition awards a total prize package of over $50,000. MAHLE Clevite hosts all preliminary rounds of the MAHLE Engine Builder Showdown at the NASCAR Technical Institute (NTI), in Mooresville, NC. The final round of the competition takes place on May 20, also at NTI.


Troxel tops Funny Car field at Thunder Valley
Melanie Troxel became the first female driver and 14th overall to win in both nitro classes, beating Mike Neff in the Funny Car final Sunday night in the rain-delayed O'Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals.  Troxel, a five-time winner in Top Fuel, won with a backpedaling 5.06-second run after Neff's Mustang fireballed at 400 feet at Bristol Dragway.


Man pays record £5.5m for Ferrari
Chris Evans has paid £5.5million ($11 million) for a vintage Ferrari – a world record for a car at auction.  The multi-millionaire broadcaster outbid rivals to land the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder.  Bidding in the front row, while sipping beer from a bottle, the 42-year-old's successful bid topped more than £5million.

A ten per cent buyer's premium took his final bill to more than £5.5million at the sale organized by RM Auctions and Sotheby's in Maranello, Italy.

The dark blue sportscar used to belong to James Coburn, star of The Magnificent Seven and The Great Escape, who died in 2002. He had bought it second-hand in 1964.

Hollywood stars Steve McQueen and Clint Eastwood also owned similar cars.

Evans is a huge car fan and owns several expensive vehicles, including another Ferrari.


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Disease outbreak at Ferrari F1 factory
  • Schu suffers fall in German motorbike race
  • Mosley plea 'ridiculous' - Stewart
  • Founder plays down pre-Monaco BMW hype
  • Hamilton wins 'Britain's Best' award

Disease outbreak at Ferrari F1 factory
(GMM)  Workers at Ferrari's formula one factory in Italy have been told to keep working despite an outbreak of the infectious disease tuberculosis.

The British newspaper The Sun reports that a staff member was rushed to hospital and diagnosed with TB, a common and deadly disease that - if untreated - kills up to half of its victims.

The Sun said the staff member was a carbon fiber specialist, and Ferrari confirmed that he has a "mild form" of tuberculosis.

It is reported that the 25 technicians whose job it is to build Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa's cars for each grand prix are currently undergoing blood tests to see if they have also been infected.

Ferrari said Raikkonen and Massa will not need tests.

"We're not happy," a British employee is quoted as saying from Maranello.

"We think the lab should be shut down until we get an all-clear.  It feels as if Ferrari are putting cars before people."

Schu suffers fall in German motorbike race
(GMM)  Michael Schumacher finished one race in 28th place and had a fall in the other as he made his guest debut in the German motorbike championships at the Oschersleben circuit last weekend.

After his intended pseudonym - Marcel Niederhausen of Stuttgart - was revealed by the press, the 39-year-old German ultimately raced under his real name and attracted hordes of media.

The seven time F1 world champion encountered technical trouble in qualifying and started the morning race 37th of the 39 starters, eventually finishing 28th.

He then climbed up to 21st in race two before falling and sliding into the gravel.

"There are just a few scratches on the bike and probably some good shots for the photographers," Schumacher smiled.

The former Ferrari driver said the fall had left him unfazed.

"I am a racer.  I find motorcycles such a lot of fun, but I do not have any plans to enter a race series properly.

"Perhaps I will race from time to time, but always as a guest runner and without ambitions for another career."

Elsewhere on Sunday, Michael's younger brother Ralf finished the DTM race at the Lausitzring fourteenth, while his Mercedes stablemate Paul di Resta won from pole.

Meanwhile, world championship leader Kimi Raikkonen spent his spare weekend on the verges of the FIA GT race at Monza, on invitation by his friend and countryman Toni Vilander.

At Monza, the Finn also caught up on the progress of the F3 team - Double R Racing - that he formed in 2004 with his manager Steve Robertson.

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Indy 500 post-qualifying tidbits
- There are four former Indianapolis 500 winners in the starting field: Buddy Lazier (1996), Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002), Buddy Rice (2004) and Dan Wheldon (2005). Between them they have five victories. The record for most former winners in the field is 10, in 1992. The fewest, other than the inaugural race in 1911, is zero in 1912.
- Dan Wheldon has led 204 career laps in the Indianapolis 500, more than any other driver in this year’s field. Tony Kanaan is the only other driver in the field who has led more than 200 career laps in the Indianapolis 500. Kanaan has led 202 laps.
- There is a combined 104 previous Indianapolis 500 starts among the 33 drivers in this year’s field. The record is 260 years of experience, set in 1987 and 1992. There were 160 years of combined experience in last year’s field.
- The oldest driver is Marty Roth, 49. The youngest qualifier is Graham Rahal, 19.
- This is the 10th-closest matched field by time in Indianapolis 500 history. 5.3748 seconds separate fastest qualifier Scott Dixon and slowest qualifier Marty Roth. The record is 3.2422 seconds set in 2001.
- Troy Ruttman became the youngest Indianapolis 500 winner when he won the 1952 race at age 22. Ruttman started the 1952 race from the seventh position. Marco Andretti will start the 2008 Indianapolis 500 from the seventh position. Marco Andretti is 21.
- Buddy Lazier qualified for his 16th Indianapolis 500. This will be his first start from the Last Row. Previously, his lowest starting position was 28th in 2004.
Lazier is the most experienced driver in the field, with 15 previous Indianapolis 500 starts. The record is 35, set in consecutive years from 1958-1992 by A.J. Foyt.
- Eleven rookies have qualified for the Indianapolis 500, the most since 13 in 1997. This year’s rookies are Hideki Mutoh, Graham Rahal, Justin Wilson, Alex Lloyd, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power, Oriol Servia, E.J. Viso, Mario Moraes, Enrique Bernoldi and Jaime Camara. Mutoh is the fastest rookie at 223.887 mph.
- In addition to the 11 rookies in the race, there are two drivers (Townsend Bell, Bruno Junqueira) who did not start in last year’s race.
- There are nine graduates of Firestone Indy Lights in the field. They are Marco Andretti, Jaime Camara, Ed Carpenter, A.J. Foyt IV, Alex Lloyd, Hideki Mutoh, Graham Rahal, Marty Roth and Jeff Simmons.
- If a driver is going to win the Indianapolis 500, he or she will most likely do it in either their third or fourth start, based on past results. Thirteen drivers won for the first time in their third start, and 13 drivers won for the first time in their fourth start. The 2008 Indianapolis 500 will be Danica Patrick's fourth Indianapolis 500.
- The 2008 Indianapolis 500 will be Tomas Scheckter's seventh Indianapolis 500 start and his seventh start from the fourth row. Scheckter is starting the 2008 race from the 11th position.
- Townsend Bell qualified a career-best 12th for the Indianapolis 500. He qualified 15th in his only other start in 2006.
- Darren Manning qualified a career-best 14th for the Indianapolis 500. His previous best was 15th in 2004 and 2007.
- Davey Hamilton qualified 18th, his best start since starting 11th in 1999. Hamilton started 20th, 26th and 28th in his last three Indianapolis 500s (2007, 2001 and 2000, respectively).
- Milka Duno qualified 27th, bettering her rookie effort of 29th last year.


Hinchcliffe Sweeps Weekend
When James Hinchcliffe made the decision to return to Forsythe/Pettit Racing prior to the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, he returned to the team with which he celebrated his first and only Atlantic race victory.

On Sunday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Hinchcliffe doubled his win total after coming out on top in a battle with Pacific Coast Motorsports racer Carl Skerlong. Hinchcliffe started from the pole position and was also the fastest qualifier in Friday's first round of qualifying, but it was Skerlong who led the field into Turn 1 immediately following the race's standing start. However, Hinchcliffe got his revenge on a restart six laps later and took the lead in Turn 2 with a thrilling, side-by-side maneuver.

From there, Hinchcliffe kept his No. 3 Indeck/TireRack.com machine at the front of the field and held on for a 2.391-second victory over Skerlong. It was Hinchcliffe's first win since the Atlantic event at Portland in 2006, a span of 23 races. The win also moved Hinchcliffe into the lead in the Atlantic Championship standings by two points over Simona De Silvestro, 44-42.

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Indy 500 Lineup
Qualifying Sunday for the 92nd Indianapolis 500 IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine and speed:

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. (2) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, 219.184
32. (91) Buddy Lazier, Dallara-Honda, 219.015
33. (25) Marty Roth, Dallara-Honda, 218.965


Indy Bump Day - Roth in as Dominguez crashes
Mario Dominguez's day ended against the wall
Mike Young/IRL
When the dust settled, Max Papis, Phil Giebler, Roger Yasukawa and Mario Dominguez went home, while AJ Foyt IV, Buddy Lazier and Marty Roth made the 2008 Indy 500. 

Bump day Happy Hour started at 5:30 pm, when Buddy Lazier waved off a run at 217.191, over 8/10 mph slower than the bubble speed of Roger Yasukawa (218.010). 

Following Lazier's run, Mario Dominguez qualified at 218.620, putting him into the field, albeit on the bubble.  This bumped Roger Yasukawa, who was already in tech by the time Dominguez took the green flag.  Dominguez appeared to be on the edge of control the entire run, so it was safe to say there was nothing left on the track in terms of speed, a point that Dominguez would prove at the end of the day.

AJ Foyt IV hits the wall hard
Mark Reed/IRL
Yasukawa's next attempt also verged on disaster the entire four laps, and while his speed was some 6/10 mph faster than his previous qualifying speed he failed to bump Dominguez by a only .061 mph -- perhaps the effect of hitting a bug during the run. 

Immediately after that run, Buddy Lazier was pushed through tech, and with 13 minutes to go he started another qualifying attempt.  This time the 1996 Indy 500 winner made no doubts about being in the show, putting down a knuckle-biting run of 219.015, bumping Dominguez from the field and putting Marty Roth on the bubble. 

Yasukawa took the track again with shadows growing and the wind slightly less than earlier in the hour, but failed to match his earlier speed or come close to the speed posted by Marty Roth.

As the gun was readied to end qualification attempts, Mario Dominguez pulled onto the track for one last attempt.  With all of Mexico rooting him on, he put down a first lap of 219.780, but crashed in turn one on his 2nd lap.  Checkers or wreckers, and this weekend, the wreckers always won, and this is the second time in 2 days that the car hit the wall.

At the end, Bump Day didn't change much — the only change is the substitution of AJ IV for Roger Yasukawa in the lineup.  Marty Roth will still start in 33rd spot, Dominguez had a wrecked car, and Buddy Lazier will start in 32nd.  It wasn't the high drama of previous years, but it certainly highlighted the agony of defeat. Tim Wohlford reporting from Indy

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Bump Day update
At 4:30 pm Indy time, Mario Dominguez waved off a qualification attempt which ran at some 1/4 mph slower than that posted by Roger Yasukawa's 218.010.  Dominguez had previously posted 218.324, which would put him on the bubble in place of Yasukawa.   Winds have subsided from their 35 mph gusts, and we could see lots of action in the last hour as conditions improve. 


Indy Bump Day - Mid-Day report
It's bump day — and the bumping has begun.  A little after noon, AJ Foyt IV put his car into the field at 219.184, easily bumping Marty Roth from the show.  However, Marty came back later and re-qualified at 218.965, bumping Buddy Lazier from the show and putting Roger Yasukawa on the bubble.  Still to make qualifying runs are Mario Dominguez, who has reached 218.324,  and Max Papis, who has only seen 214.549 in his rebuilt car. 

Sometime after noon, American Dream Motorsports announced that they indeed were pulling out of the show.  Yesterday their Panoz (formerly known as G-Force) driven by Phil Giebler backed into the wall at over 218 mph.  Onboard telemetry showed an impact of over 110 G's, and Phil remains hospitalized with bruised lungs.  The car — probably the last Panoz of its generation to ever run at Indy, suffered a broken tub (with much of the gearbox reduced to Chiclet-sized pieces) and will be lucky to survive as a show car.  American Dream is basically a reincarnation of the Playa Del racing team (the Indy credentials even say "Play Del"), which became embroiled in lawsuits over bills that went unpaid.  As such, any support that might've been given to another team was not forthcoming, and many are not sad to see them go.  UPDATE — Phil Giebler was released from the hospital, but was not cleared to drive due to a cervical sprain. 

Bad luck continued to plague AJ IV, as he suffered a freak accident around 2:45.  He had a fuel cover come off, starting a fire at the start of the backstretch.  With flames shooting out the back of the car he ended up in the SAFER barrier in turn 4.    Tim Wohlford reporting from Indy


Indy Bump Day - Morning report
-  We've had a Honda (Ilmor) motor failure at Indy.  The last time one of these motors failed was at Kansas in 2007, and most of the motors here will be used at Milwaukee before being rebuilt.  In seemingly unrelated news, there are shepherds and wise men standing near the Davey Hamilton pits, looking for the car with the failed motor that was just towed back to the pits.  In fairness to Honda, the Hamilton car lost a gear box in morning practice yesterday, and the motor might've been damaged in either the incident or in the repair process. 

- WRECK REPORT:  Mario Dominguez's crew has the car back together, and it ran in morning practice.  Max Papis' crew literally pulled an all-nighter putting his car back together, but it didn't show for morning practice.  One bleary-eyed Papis crew member told me that Max's helmet sensor showed over 70 G's in his impact.  Mutoh's car was put through its paces by Tony Kanaan, posting a fast lap of 217.764.  Still a mystery is the American Dream racing team, whose driver Phil Giebler is still in Methodist Hospital with bruised lungs from his crash yesterday — they were looking for a bargain-basement car yesterday in the garage area. 

-  The weather at Indy is just as windy as yesterday with winds gusting to 35 mph.  The skies are sunny so far, with no rain forecast until the end of the day.  Drivers continue to struggle because of the wind, and the speeds show it.  AJ Foyt IV posted the fastest time in practice, 219.379, but that still would not put him safely in the field.  Mario Dominguez ran at 216.755, which is good enough to bump Marty Roth, but puts him on the bubble instead. 
- One rookie driver, who shall remain nameless, confided in me that he simply can't figure this place out.  I told him that his complaints, about finding it difficult to be fast here, were also shared by men with 4 Indy 500 wins.  He's probably safely in the race, but he told me, "Right now I'm glad to be walking."    Tim Wohlford reporting from Indy


Rossi wins LeMans race
Valentino Rossi made another historic step in his incredible career today when he took his 90th career victory in Le Mans, equaling the record set by the great Angel Nieto, to move into second in the all-time winners list behind Giacomo Agostini. It was an outstanding display from the Fiat Yamaha Team rider and he celebrated in fine style when Nieto joined him on his slow-down lap, the Spaniard taking charge of the bike with Rossi riding pillion behind him.

It was a superb day for Yamaha in general as Jorge Lorenzo once again defied his injuries to ride into an astonishing second place behind his team-mate and Tech 3 Yamaha rider Colin Edwards joined the pair on the podium in third place.

Rossi had an average start and was tailing the lead group in fifth at the end of lap one. It was soon clear how well his Yamaha-Bridgestone package was working however and he picked off first Nicky Hayden then Edwards and Dani Pedrosa to move into second behind Casey Stoner, before passing him too on lap eight. From then on Rossi was too strong for the chasing pack, stretching his lead lap after lap until some spots of rain forced him to slow slightly in the last third of the race. The sun soon came back out however, allowing the riders to continue without changing bikes and the Italian to cross the line 4.997 seconds in front to take his first back-to-back victory since 2006.

The 29-year-old's 90th win moves him two points clear at the top of the championship with 97 points, whilst Lorenzo and Pedrosa are just behind him with 94 points each. Rossi will now stay here for two days of testing to ready himself for his home race at Mugello in Italy in two week's time, when he will be looking for his 7th consecutive win at the track.

Valentino Rossi 1st 44'30.799;
"To arrive at 90 wins like this and equal Angel's record is a dream for me. I had quite a lot of pressure because Angel was waiting with the special leathers to join me on the bike, so I really needed to win! It was great to ride with him - I think maybe with some practice he can be as fast as us! 180 victories together on one bike is quite impressive I think!

Race Results
1 V. ROSSI ITA Fiat Yamaha Team 44'30.799
2 J. LORENZO SPA Fiat Yamaha Team × 4.997
3 C. EDWARDS USA Tech 3 Yamaha × 6.805
4 D. PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team × 10.157
5 C. VERMEULEN AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP × 21.762
6 A. DOVIZIOSO ITA JiR Team Scot MotoGP × 22.395
7 L. CAPIROSSI ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP × 27.806
8 N. HAYDEN USA Repsol Honda Team × 27.995
9 R. DE PUNIET FRA LCR Honda MotoGP × 29.344
10 S. NAKANO JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini × 30.822
11 T. ELIAS SPA Alice Team × 35.154
12 A. DE ANGELIS RSM San Carlo Honda Gresini × 36.216
13 S. GUINTOLI FRA Alice Team × 52.038
14 A. WEST AUS Kawasaki Racing Team × 1'29.307
15 M. MELANDRI ITA Ducati Marlboro Team 1 Lap
16 C. STONER AUS Ducati Marlboro Team 2 L

Fastest Lap (new record) V.Rossi (Yamaha) 1'34"215
Circuit best lap 2008:  D.Pedrosa  (Honda) 1'32"647


Pagenaud fastest in morning warm-up
After watching his boss just missing out Saturday on the overall pole position for the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Utah Grand Prix presented by the Grand and Little America Hotels, Simon Pagenaud put de Ferran Motorsports’ Acura ARX-01b out front in Sunday’s warm-up at Miller Motorsports Park.

Pagenaud, celebrating his 24th birthday today, posted a lap of 1:33.661 (117.154 mph) on his next-to-last lap of the 25-minute session. He is making his Series debut with team owner Gil de Ferran, who is returning to the cockpit after a nearly five-year absence.

De Ferran qualified second for today’s race, just behind Penske Racing’s Timo Bernhard in one of the team’s Porsche RS Spyders.

Sunday morning, Pagenaud was 0.208 seconds in front of Audi Sport North America’s Marco Werner, the fastest of the LMP1 cars. He qualified the No. 2 Audi R10 TDI sixth overall and first in P1. Werner and Lucas Luhr are looking for their third straight overall Series victory and must be having a sense of déjà vu – they started sixth at Long Beach but still managed to take victory.

Next was Penske’s Romain Dumas, Bernhard’s teammate, with the third-fastest lap overall at 1:34.456 (116.168 mph). He was 0.079 seconds ahead of Frank Biela in the second Audi that he will share with Emanuele Pirro.

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Hakkinen flees burning house in France
(GMM) Former world champion Mika Hakkinen had to flee one of his homes on Saturday after it caught fire while he slept, according to reports.

The 39-year-old Finn, and two women - one believed to be his new girlfriend - escaped the blaze in southern France, but a dog reportedly perished.

They were taken to hospital as a precaution but later discharged without injury.

Two of the villa's three storeys were extensively damaged, and the fire is believed to have been traced to an electrical fault in a cabinet displaying the trophies of the former McLaren driver.

Hakkinen's $12m, ten-bedroom villa was located in the village of Callian, in the Provence region.


Things are looking up for Indy 500
It is springtime for Tony George. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner turns 50 later this year but looks younger. He works out daily, sometimes running up and down the Speedway's grandstands football player-style. He has his hair.

These days when George moves through the Speedway, fans point reverently. Even the market forces align in George's favor: Scalpers are back to getting twice face value for choice Indianapolis 500 tickets.

Says his friend Jim Irsay, who was in his 30s when he took over his family's Indianapolis Colts, the same age George was when he took over his family's racetrack: "Tony's drifting into middle age with grace, which is good, because a lot of people get torn up out there."

George, who is famously guarded (he declined to be interviewed for this story), did get torn up out there. He has survived a tremendous pounding. Shortly after he formed the breakaway Indy Racing League in 1994, fans booed him -- booed the man at his own track. Many saw him as the man who wrecked Memorial Day weekend.

The legendary racer Mario Andretti, whose pit cred is unrivaled, joined them at the barricades, raging against George's decision to form the IRL.

"Do I agree with it?" Andretti said in 1996. "Never. I can't support anything they're doing." Today, with open-wheel racers once again unified, Andretti describes himself as "Tony George's biggest fan."

Through the worst of it, George seemed to never come unglued, his facial expression rarely anything but serene. Or blank -- it depended on your take. George inherited the Speedway, after all; he didn't work his way to the top. His public speaking style, though improved, is wooden, monotonous. Those who know him well say he's bright, just not spontaneous. "He's very different from his public perception," says Kent Baker, an Indianapolis businessman who has fielded race teams in the past. "Tony always engages his brain before his mouth," Baker says, "something few of us can say."

Says Paul Gentilozzi, one of the principals of the drain-circling Champ Car World Series, the IRL's rival series that bent to George's will earlier this year: "He doesn't shoot from the hip. He doesn't amplify a lot. So people jump to assumptions he doesn't understand the subject."

George is often compared to his similarly reserved grandfather, the late Anton J. "Tony" Hulman, the wealthy, Yale-educated Terre Haute businessman who bought the IMS in 1945. Hulman was president of Terre Haute-based Hulman & Co., best known for its top-selling Clabber Girl baking powder. The Indianapolis Star


Rahal sees future in IndyCars not F1
Graham Rahal is mature enough to admit when he's wrong and has the smarts to realize a Formula One future doesn't make sense unless it's with an elite team.

After qualifying for his first Indianapolis 500 on Saturday, the 19-year-old rookie showed why he's an atypical teenager in a fast-paced world. He humbly apologized for a pit road outburst toward his team on pole day and offered some foresight in acknowledging his career should be in the IndyCar Series and not F-1.

"I really do feel bad about my comments last week," said Rahal, who had questioned the preparedness of his Newman/Haas/Lanigan team after the No. 06 car was pulled from the qualifying line during happy hour. "This is a team that's always been known for its preparation and I think, in the past, we've shown that because of how many championships these guys have won."

The eight-time Champ Car World Series titlists put both cars in the 92nd 500 field. Rahal qualified for the inside of row five with a four-lap average of 222.531 mph. Rookie Justin Wilson's No. 02 car was directly behind on the inside of row six with a 222.267 run. The Indianapolis Star


Edwards Wins Star Mazda at Miller
Joel Miller’s dominant win at the 2008 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear season-opener at Sebring seems a distant memory in the heat of the Utah afternoon as newcomer John Edwards and the AIM Autosport team celebrate a clean sweep of Round Two at Miller Motorsports Park with the pole, leading every lap, and a 14.514-second margin of victory over 2nd-place finisher Charles Hall and a 22.136-seconds gap back to Miller in 3rd. 

Rounding out the top-5 were Irishman Peter Dempsey, who started 5th and finished 4th in the #21 Andersen Racing/Center Jewellers.ie/Quayside.ie/Allied Mazda and Tom Gladdis who qualified 4th and drove the #5 Andersen Racing/Law firm of Marrache & Co./Allied Mazda to a 5th-place finish.

Combined with the results from the Sebring, Joel Miller continues to lead the driver championship battle with 82 points, Hall is in second with 80, Dempsey is third with 71 and Gladdis is fourth with 64.

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Today's Indy Bump Day explained
Any qualifying attempt on the fourth day (Bump day) that is faster than a qualified entrant in the 33 positions in the starting field will bump the slowest qualifier from the field. The “bumped” entrant will be removed from the field of 33, and the remaining field will move ahead one position in the starting field as the newly qualified entrant will take the 33rd position, or a higher position if faster than the other fourth day qualifiers.

formula BMW

Gianmarco Raimondo wins opening Formula BMW race
BMW Junior and Rookie driver Gianmarco Raimondo (Autotecnica), 17, of St. Catherines, Quebec won the opening round of the 2008 Formula BMW Americas Championship, finishing 2.97 seconds ahead of fellow Junior driver Ricardo Favoretto (Eurointernational), 19, of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Raimondo led only the final five turns of the 17-lap race around the 2.38-mile Laguna Seca Raceway after a race-long battle with the more experienced Favoretto, but that was all he needed to secure the most important win of his young career. Quebecer and Rookie Mikeal Grenier (Apex-HBR Racing Team) finished third for an all BMW Junior top-three.

The race was only decided on the final lap with front row starter Favoretto inheriting the lead on lap 14 after polesitter and race leader Alexander Rossi (Eurointernational) dropped out with mechanical problems. Favoretto led the pair across the finish line on the penultimate lap as a hard charging Raimondo pushed too hard and went wide in turn four. Two turns later Favoretto slid off the track and Raimondo took the lead and the win.

Apex-HBR Racing teammates Maxime Pelletier and Alexandre Ruiz finished fourth and fifth respectively. Seventh place finisher David Ostella (Eurointernational) was credited with the race's fastest lap (1:28.790 minutes) on lap 14.

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Weekend USA TV Reminders UPDATE The final TV reminders for Sunday are shown below.
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
NHRA Raceday Bristol 
11:00am-11:30am ESPN2
Rolex Sports Car Series Rum Bum.com 250 Laguna Seca
12:00pm-3:00pm (5/17/08) SPEED
IndyCar Bump Day Qualifying Indianapolis
1:00pm-3:00pm (L) ABC
American Le Mans Series Utah Grand Prix Tooele, UT
3:00pm-6:00pm (L) SPEED
IndyCar Bump Day Qualifying Indianapolis
4:00pm-6:30pm (L) ESPN2
MotoGP World Championship French Grand Prix
6:00pm-7:00pm (SD) SPEED
NHRA O'Reilly NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Bristol
6:30pm-10:00pm (SD) ESPN2
SPEED Report 
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Denny Hamlin (NASCAR)
Jason Meyers (WoO)
Robin Miller (Open Wheel Analyst)

All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV Programs, see TVRacer.com

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