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Luyendyk picks up new sponsor Luyendyk picks up new sponsorBlue Star Jets has agreed to sponsor Arie Luyendyk Jr. at the Indianapolis 500.  The company’s logo will be featured on Luyendyk’s uniform, helmet and car, as well as on pit crew uniforms and the team’s gas tank. Blue Star Jets
Marco Andretti picks up another sponsor Marco Andretti picks up another sponsorJust three weeks after its presenting sponsorship of the Kentucky Derby, Yum Brands announced it will sponsor the No. 26 NYSE Dallara-Honda of IRL driver Marco Andretti for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.  The Yum Brands logo will appear on both front wings on the nose of the car, as well as on the back wing. Yum Brands
SunTrust team splits up SunTrust team splits upIndianapolis, Indiana …Riley Motorsports LLC of Indianapolis, Indiana, and Surrey Sport LLC of Apopka, Florida announced today that both businesses are expanding their operations in motorsports, but separately.

"As we approach the end of our third year with this program, we are delighted with the success we have achieved with the SunTrust Race Team, in great part from Bill Riley and the fine team we assembled,” said Wayne Taylor, car owner/driver of the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley and Surrey Sport LLC principal. “Nothing lasts forever, and through a mutual decision, we have plans to grow in different areas so we are both moving forward, but separately. The success we all achieved will go down in the Grand American history books and for that, we are very proud.”

“After three successful years with the SunTrust Race Team in the Grand American Road Racing Series, we will no longer oversee the running of the No. 10 car after the 2006 season, and are looking to expand in numerous areas, including within Grand American itself,” said Bill Riley, President of Riley Motorsports. “We are fortunate to have a number of opportunities present themselves which will allow us to expand our business in multiple areas of racing and now is the right time.”

The SunTrust Race Team and its drivers, Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli, won the 2005 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series Team and Driver Championships in the Daytona Prototype class with five victories, ten podium finishes, three poles and seven fastest laps. Additionally, in 2005, the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley became the winningest Daytona Prototype team in the history of Grand American with eight victories and completed every lap possible for the entire season, a total of 2,050 laps. So far this season, the team has already added another victory and two more podium finishes. The Riley Mk.XI chassis has won a total of 24 races, finished on the podium 68 times and won two Constructor Championships since its creation and first race in January of 2004.  zzzz

“We are really proud of the accomplishments we’ve made with both the success of the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac Riley team and the Riley chassis,” added Bill Riley, who has spearheaded the team operations since its inaugural 2004 season. “I want to thank SunTrust and Wayne Taylor for the opportunity to be a part of this success for the past three years. We have a great group of people who are very good at their jobs and truly focused on winning. Success comes from teamwork and we are pleased to have dedicated people on board, both with the accomplishments in the past and as we move forward.”

“We will be working vigorously to continue having successful cars in the Grand American Road Racing Series,” said Bob Riley, President of Riley Technologies.

“SunTrust and I wish the best to Bill Riley and his Riley Motorsports operation and we have a mutual desire to maintain a good relationship, both on and off the track,” said Wayne Taylor, who put together the SunTrust Race Team program. “My history together with the Rileys has entwined many times over the years in racing in the U.S. and we will always be part of a racing family, no matter what paths and turns we take along the way.

Racing News
Mugen Honda President found not guilty Mugen Honda President found not guiltySAITAMA (Kyodo) The Saitama District Court on Thursday cleared the president of Formula 1 racing car engine maker Mugen Co. of charges that he evaded 1 billion yen in corporate tax. The three-judge panel presided over by Judge Yasuo Shimoyama found Mugen President Hirotoshi Honda, 64, not guilty. Honda is the oldest son of Soichiro Honda, founder of major automaker Honda Motor Co., who died in 1991. But the court found Mugen guilty and ordered it to pay a fine of 240 million yen. Prosecutors had demanded four years in prison for Honda and a 300 million yen fine for the company. On Tuesday, the same court sentenced a former auditor of the company, Norio Hirokawa, 63, to three years in prison. After receiving the verdict, Honda told reporters that he was relieved. While regretting that the company was found guilty, Honda said he greatly welcomes his acquittal.

Honda and Hirokawa were charged in 2003 with conspiring to hide more than 2.84 billion yen in Mugen's income in the three business years through October 2000 and with evading some 1 billion yen in corporate tax. Prosecutors argued that the defendants moved the money to a company named MG Estate under the guise of payments for business transactions. Honda, who pleaded not guilty, accused Hirokawa of embezzlement and breach of trust and claimed the auditor conducted the series of transactions without his consent.

In a separate suit in which Honda accused Hirokawa of embezzlement and asked him to repay 2.6 billion yen to the company, both the district and high courts fully acknowledged Honda's claim, against which Hirokawa has filed an appeal. In 2004, Mugen handed over all of its operations, facilities and workforce to M-TEC Co., a company set up by a relative of Soichiro Honda. Mugen continues to exist as a corporation only to fight the court battle. Japan Times
Tissot announces Danica Patrick Watch Tissot announces Danica Patrick WatchSwiss watch brand Tissot, with more than 150 years of expertise in watch-making, is proud to unveil the new Danica Patrick T-Touch Limited Edition watch at the 2nd Annual Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix presented by Tissot.  The race will take place on June 4th in Watkins Glen, NY.  Tissot recently signed on as a sponsor of Watkins Glen International, deepening its footprint in motor sports.  Tissot will only produce 500 Danica Patrick T-Touch Limited Edition watches worldwide, making it an exclusive timepiece for fans and watch collectors, alike.  A Tissot ambassador since 2005, Indy Racing League driver Danica Patrick took home last season's IRL Rookie of the Year award.
Freedom 100 Front Row quotes Freedom 100 Front Row quotesWADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 1 Brian Stewart Racing, pole): (About confidence heading into Freedom 100): "Yeah, obviously we were very quick in the Open Test, as well. We've been working hard ever since I joined Brian Stewart Racing. Now we're really working together and kind of peaking toward as good as we can get, and everything went well today for us. We were quick in both practices, and we were confident going into qualifying. The other teams seem to be able to pull out a little something extra every time we went to qualify so we weren't 100 percent sure, but today we had enough." (About the competition): "When it comes to qualifying, our biggest threat is the Sam Schmidt team. They've had every pole on ovals all last year and then a few races into '04. Historically they have very fast cars, and we've been working very hard to try to catch them in qualifying, and now we've finally done that. It's a great achievement for the team more so than me because qualifying is often about the limitation of the car and setup." (What does Indianapolis mean to you compared to American-born drivers): "I think that it's an advantage for me. I don't think we carry much emotion into here. Obviously, it is the biggest race of the year, with the biggest purse, therefore the most important race. It's not the Indy 500, though. It's the Freedom 100, and it's certainly important for the entire year, but I don't think the race carries the stigma that the Indy 500 does. I think that will be better for us in the race and allow us to think clearer. It won't be messing us up, and maybe for the American drivers it will." (About hitting the rev limiter): "This year they've taken a lot of the soft limiter away. so it goes from revving to the limiter quite easily, so you just have to gear accordingly. You have to watch the wind shifts and pick your wind shifts precisely. Once you get into those top speeds around the 190's. we are very limited on the gears because the splits are so high. A lot of times you just have to run the car on the limiter."

JAY HOWARD (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, qualified second): "It's been OK since we've been here. Not great, to be honest. We know there's time in the car, and the guys are working hard and I have 100-percent faith they will get it right for the race." (How have you adapted to the oval?): "Very comfortable. For sure, when I first drove here, you couldn't really appreciate the speed. But I love it; it's a great place. I'm looking forward to a race. It's definitely going to be different from places like Miami where we raced at the start of the year. I've not been intimidated and don't plan on being. We'll see what happens." (On the legendary nature of the IMS): "As soon as I got here, there's a real buzz around this place, which is real different from anywhere else I've been. So I can appreciate why everyone loves this race so much and why everyone wants so hard to win this race and to be here. In Europe, most people are more focused on the Formula One thing, and that's why I came here. I didn't want to do that. I'm happy where I am, and I love this race and I'm planning on being here, hopefully next year in an IndyCar." (How has Dan Wheldon been an inspiration?): "Since I started karting at the age of 7, I knew Dan back then, so it's quite interesting that I may be against him some day. We've all raced together but we both went our own separate ways. It's been nice to get back in contact with these guys. The first inspiration for British guys would be Nigel Mansell, for sure. Then definitely when Dan came over here. I like to think of myself as a better Brit, and he likes it when we joke around about it. But he's 100 percent behind me and hopes I can get out there and win for England, as I hope he does. It's good for him if he can go out there and do well. Hopefully that will reflect well on me." (How are you going to stop Wade Cunningham this year?): "I'll just go with the flow. I'm looking forward to a good race. Everyone is telling me it's a long race. Whether me and Wade break away from everyone else and have our own race or what, I'll find out tomorrow. I'm trying my best to win, and I hope everyone else is, as well." (Are you happy with the car?): "No. No, I'm sure the guys are going to work hard as they always do, and I hope they're going to give me something a little bit better so I can win. Or at least the same, and then it's down to me to win."

Freedom 100 qualifying quotes Freedom 100 qualifying quotes
Rahal team inks new partnership Rahal team inks new partnershipRahal Letterman Racing (RLR) announced today a partnership with St. Pauli Girl Beer and Barton Beers, Ltd., the exclusive importer of the German beer.   The program will see the brand’s logo appear on the No. 16 Argent Mortgage Honda/Panoz of Danica Patrick for the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500. 

“We are pleased to establish this partnership with St. Pauli Girl,” said Bobby Rahal, the 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner and the founder of Rahal Letterman Racing.  “St. Pauli Girl is just the latest example of an established brand incorporating Danica’s RLR program and the Indy 500 into their marketing initiatives.”

“St. Pauli Girl Beer is thrilled to support Danica Patrick and Rahal Letterman Racing in their quest to win the Indy 500,” said Fred Graefenhain, national brands marketing vice president for Barton Beers, Ltd.  “Both Danica and the Indy 500 appeal to St. Pauli Girl consumers, so it’s a great partnership for our brands.”

Cunningham wins pole for Freedom 100 Cunningham wins pole for Freedom 100Wade Cunningham has history on his side in the Freedom 100. Every winner of the 40-lap race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has started from the pole position (Ed Carpenter and Thiago Medeiros, who both will compete in the 90th Indianapolis 500 on May 28) and Jaime Camara last year.

Cunningham put the No. 1 Brian Stewart Racing entry in the No. 1 starting spot after topping the speed charts in two practice sessions earlier in the day. The reigning Indy Pro Series champion recorded a two-lap average SWE Race Car Parts qualifying speed of 186.423 mph (1 minute, 36.5546 seconds) on the 2.5-mile oval.

Jay Howard, who started from the pole in the season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway and has three top-five finishes in as many races, will join Cunningham on the front row for the May 26 race (12:30 p.m. EDT). Camara, driving the No. 11 CELG car for Andretti Green Racing, will share Row 2 with Cheever Racing's Chris Festa.

"Wade is doing what we did last year," Camara said. "He found something on his car, and we're all trying to figure out how to catch him."

Cunningham won only one race - the season finale at California Speedway in 2005 - but earned the championship with 13 top-five finishes in 14 races, including seven seconds. The Auckland, New Zealand, native is focused on winning this year, which would boost his prospects of moving to the IndyCar Series.

"We've been working hard ever since I joined Brian Stewart Racing. Now we're really working together and kind of peaking towards as good as we can get and everything went well today for us," said Cunningham, who posted his second career pole and first on an oval.
"It's a great achievement for the team more so than me because qualifying is often about the limitation of the car and setup. We're confident going into tomorrow."

Qualifying Thursday for the Freedom 100 IRL Indy Pro Series event on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine and speed:
1. (1) Wade Cunningham, Dallara, 186.423
2. (7) Jay Howard, Dallara, 185.372
3. (11) Jaime Camara, Dallara, 184.681
4. (51) Chris Festa, Dallara, 184.084
5. (26) Alex Lloyd, Dallara, 184.036
6. (42) Tom Wood, Dallara, 182.898
7. (52) Nick Bussell, Dallara, 182.802
8. (25) Tyce Carlson, Dallara, 182.699
9. (27) Jonathan Klein, Dallara, 182.691
10. (24) Bobby Wilson, Dallara, 182.633
11. (76) James Chesson, Dallara, 181.542
12. (41) Sean Guthrie, Dallara, 181.446
13. (2) Matthew Hamilton, Dallara, 181.139
14. (4) Phil Giebler, Dallara, 180.209
15. (8) Mishael Abbott, Dallara, 179.880
16. (3) Brett Van Blankers, Dallara, 179.821
17. (6) Jon Herb, Dallara, 177.355
18. (9) Tom Wieringa, Dallara, 171.844
19. (33) Geoff Dodge, Dallara, no speed

Williams Cosworth generally satisfied with first day Williams Cosworth generally satisfied with first dayThe Williams team had a great start to the weekend with their test driver Alex Wurz putting in a good number of laps around the Monte Carlo track, finishing up in first position. New specification engines are being used for this weekend, hopefully resulting in better reliability and performance from the team.

“Today we worked mainly on race set-up, in order to get the car ready for Mark and Nico for Sunday. I went through my tire choice and I have to say the way the circuit is progressing, it is coming to us just as it did at the Nurburgring, which is good. This makes me quite confident and positive that we will have a good weekend. I am also happy with my own performance today because I made no mistakes despite pushing quite hard and I am pleased that at the end of the day my name is at the top of the timesheets.”

Driving an F1 car around the Monte Carlo track is no easy thing, especially for a new driver. However Nico Rosberg was impressive in his debut only slightly touching a barrier with no adverse consequences, finishing in 19th position overall.

“Driving on this street circuit in a Formula One car is an amazing experience. I completed my first day unscathed, despite touching the barriers slightly on one occasion, which marked my tires, but this is the best way to make a mistake here! Today has gone okay and we have improved quite a lot during the two sessions, thanks to a number of changes we have made. We now have an extra day without track running to consider all the information we have collected and get ready for qualifying.”

Webber had a busy day with red flags interrupting his work in the second session, but at least he had a good pace, and finished in 17th position.

“We got through our programme despite everybody being interrupted in the second session with the red flags but it is the same for everyone. We’ve got a fair bit on to try and find a better balance and some more pace, but it was a normal and uneventful Monaco Thursday for us, which is good.” zzzz

Sam Michael, Technical Director, WilliamsF1:
“We had much busier practice sessions than normal due to the laps needed around the Monaco circuit and our extended programme here. Alex worked through the tire assessments and it will be a difficult choice as Bridgestone have brought two good compounds, so we will study the data tonight and tomorrow to see which one to select. We had a problem with a suspension component on Alex’s car halfway through the afternoon session, so we decided to stop the race cars and make the same changes, which cost us about ten minutes of practice time. Everything else has gone to plan, including brakes and cooling although our set-up still needs some work, which we will study now.”

Chris Jilbert, Principal Engineer – Cosworth, F1 Race Engineering:
“There were no significant mechanical or drivability issues highlighted with the CA2006 engines during the two sessions today. Both Mark and Nico are using the latest 4 Series engines here in Monaco following successful testing at Vallelunga, and on the dyno in Northampton.” Williams Cosworth

Brawn dispels rumors Brawn dispels rumorsFerrari Chief Engineer Ross Brawn has dispelled any rumors that he might switch F1 teams.

“I’m very happy at Ferrari,” he told ITV Sport commentator James Allen. “I don’t want to comment at the moment. All I can say is that I won’t be with another Formula 1 team.”

Raikkonen hits out at track Marshals Raikkonen hits out at track MarshalsKimi Raikkonen criticized track Marshals in Monaco Thursday after a wiring problem caused his McLaren to catch fire in the first free practice session.

"There was just a fire near my engine and when I stopped the fire, marshals didn't want to do anything," Raikkonen said. "That is why the problem was much worse, as it burned some wiring and hydraulic equipment. It took much longer to fix everything than it should have."

Raikkonen was able to avoid a ten-place penalty on the grid as there was not enough damage to warrant a change of his Mercedes-Benz engine. And he was able to set the sixth fastest time in the afternoon's second free practice session.

Charlotte reject NASCAR’s request Charlotte reject NASCAR’s requestUPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I love it…the city and/or state’s taxpayers are gonna fork out tens of millions of their hard-earned dollars to build a hall of fame for a racing series owned by a family based in Florida worth billions and they won’t let the city of Charlotte use the phrase “NASCAR Valley” because it “might dilute the trademark.” This is, quite possibly, the LAMEST THING THAT I HAVE EVER HEARD!!!! NASCAR slaps its name on EVERYTHING - and I MEAN EVERYTHING for a buck (Moon Pies – the Official Marshmallow Pastry of NASCAR) –  and somehow that’s just fine and dandy, but by allowing “an entire region to use its name, that might dilute its trademark?” Said region, NASCAR/France family, is the home to virtually every team, driver, one of the sports most popular venues (Lowe’s Motor Speedway) and the NASCAR Hall of Fame, but by calling it “NASCAR Valley,” this somehow diminishes the brand? Give me a break!!! If I were a Charlotte/North Carolina taxpayer or politician, I would be pissed! Name Withheld By Request

05/25/06 NASCAR is not allowing the city of Charlotte to use the phrase “NASCAR Valley” as an official slogan, according to Scott Dodd of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, who notes Charlotte leaders “coined the phrase ... last year and repeated it countless times during the competition to land the NASCAR Hall of Fame.” NASCAR VP/Licensing Mark Dyer indicated that if NASCAR “allowed an entire region to use its name, that might dilute its trademark,” as it could set a precedent for other businesses and entities to use the NASCAR name. Charlotte city attorney Mac McCarley said, “It was simply too uncontrollable when put into the public use.” Dyer added, “I would never want to dampen the enthusiasm of [Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory], but the legal opinion was that it was just far too risky.” Dyer “thinks the issue is closed, but Charlotte leaders still hope to find a way around” the problem. Bank of America Global Treasury Services Exec Cathy Bessant said that an alternative like “Speed Valley, just doesn’t have the same pop.” Bessant: “I think that’s a missed opportunity. I’m hopeful that the topic is not closed” CHARLOTTE OBSERVER

A1GP attracts London financial backing A1GP attracts London financial backingAttracted by the success of A1 Grand Prix’s (A1GP) first racing season, major London investors have committed to providing full funding for the Series, assuring a strong future for the first ever World Cup of Motorsport.

A1GP has engaged Nomura to raise an institutionally targeted debt financing prior to an Initial Public Offering (IPO), to support the growth of the Series over the coming years.

RAB Capital plc, a leading investment manager listed in London, acting as lead investor along with other financial institutions, has committed sufficient capital through equity investments and convertible stock to complement the debt financing arranged by Nomura with the intention that A1 Holdings Ltd will IPO in the forthcoming months. Through this financing, A1 Grand Prix is able to commit to a long term future with sponsors, suppliers, promoters and national A1 teams.

Commenting on the new financing, A1GP Deputy Chairman and Co-Founder, Tony Teixeira said: ‘Since the launch of A1GP in March 2004, the company has gone from strength to strength. I am delighted that after a strong first season, A1 Grand Prix has attracted the support of high profile investors committed to progressing the Series to the next level. In A1 Grand Prix, we have a unique and innovative product, a fact which has been recognized by RAB Capital plc and Nomura. I would like to thank all parties involved and look forward to a bright future for A1 Grand Prix, supported by these established City institutions.’

A1 Grand Prix is now finalizing the race calendar for the 2006/07 season ahead of an announcement to be made shortly. Demonstrating the popularity of the Series, grandstand tickets for the first race of the season at Circuit Park Zandvoort in the Netherlands on 1 October 2006, sold out in just five days.

Newman: People identify with NASCAR Newman: People identify with NASCARActor Paul Newman, who has a passion for auto racing that includes a distinguished driving career as a road racer as well as a Champ Car World Series team owner, gave a simple answer to why NASCAR is so popular Wednesday during a visit to Lowe's Motor Speedway.

"It became popular because it's a hell of a sport," Newman said. "People can identify very quickly with the cars. ... The schism between [open-wheel series] Champ Car and the IRL made it a lot easier. But it's a very good product, and I think we do [have one] as well," referring to Champ Car.

The 81-year-old Newman was at the track to promote the premiere of "Cars." The Disney Pixar movie premiere is Friday at the track and will play to a sold-out audience of 30,000.

Ferrari fears tire woes could doom them Ferrari fears tire woes could doom themRoss Brawn says that Ferrari is hoping that the Bridgestone tires will become more competitive as more rubber goes down during the Monaco weekend.

"The thing about Monaco is there are quite dramatic changes to the track surface between Thursday, Saturday and Sunday," said Ross. "The track surface changes enormously. So you're trying to hit the sweet spot on Sunday, and we hope we've got the tires that will work properly on Sunday, because they weren't working terribly well today.

"The soft is a bit too soft and is graining, and the hard seems to have a good level of grip. We're kind of falling in between. But we're optimistic that as the track improves both tires in fact will start to work better, so we can try to pick the tires that we think are correct for Saturday qualifying and Sunday race.

"A few years ago it was dramatic with Michelin. On Thursday they were graining very badly and we were 1.5-2secs faster, and by Saturday and Sunday they came back and we much, much stronger in the race. So we've seen that before here.

"Obviously there's a lot of running between now and then. We've still got Saturday morning to have another look at the tires. We had a quick look at both tires with Felipe today, and he's now got those tires that he can do another comparison on Saturday morning. Michael just used one lot of tires today, and will probably try the other type on Saturday morning."

tv news
NASCAR Darlington TV Rating NASCAR Darlington TV RatingUPDATE #2 This year's final rating for Darlington was a 4.8, down 14% from last year's 5.6 final rating.  Almost all the NASCAR races this year have come in with lower TV ratings, which is sure to be causing major concerns in Daytona that NASCAR is past its prime and on a downward slide.

05/22/06 The final TV Rating for the Darlington NASCAR Nextel Cup race on FOX was a 4.8/10 Share.

05/16/06 The NASCAR Dodge Charger 500 from Darlington Saturday night pulled in a 4.3 overnight TV Rating on FOX, down 9 percent from last year. The drop in ratings for yet another race indicates NASCAR's popularity in the USA has peaked.

Edmonton making long lasting changes Edmonton making long lasting changesThis Edmonton Sun article talks about some of the changes being made to the Edmonton circuit for this year and for future years.  Our hats off to a promoter who makes an effort to not only make improvements for the fans, but also for the competitors.  The track changes should make the great airport circuit even better.
Track News
Government seizes control of Spa Government seizes control of SpaThe local government at the Belgian region of Wallonia has seized control of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, autosport.com reports.

The Wallonia province government has underwritten millions of euro in losses from the last two Belgian Grands Prix. Now the government has seized control of the track after the current promoter, the Societe de promotion Francorchamps, has defaulted on pending debts.

Electronic problems cause Kubica crash Electronic problems cause Kubica crashAlthough the drivers of the BMW Sauber F1 Team were happy with the balance of the BMW Sauber F1.06, they did not complete their scheduled programme for free practice.

This was due to the team trying to trace the source of an electronic failure that caused test and reserve driver Robert Kubica to clip the barrier at Rascasse.

Villeneuve would end the second session of the day 20th fastest with Heidfeld 22nd and Kubica 26th.

Jacques Villeneuve
“The car is fairly competitive here, but due to the problem on Robert’s car we had to stop early so we don’t really know where we are yet. We have quite a lot of work to do.”

Nick Heidfeld
“I was quite happy with the balance of the car, but it is unfortunate I was only able to do ten laps. This was a shame as it is very important to do as many laps as possible here in the practice sessions. On the positive side, we were still able to collect some data and also do a few practice starts.”

Robert Kubica
“I am a great fan of street circuits so it was a good experience to drive an F1 car here. From the start I think I was on the pace as regards lap times. Unfortunately we never managed to complete our planned programmes in either practice session. We did some important tire testing, even though the long runs were interrupted by red flags. But then the electronic problem caused me to crash and the session was over for us.”

Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director
“Robert’s incident cannot be blamed on driver error, but an electronic failure. This was also why he stopped in the morning practice. Currently we are trying to figure out the reason for the failure and, as a precaution, we kept the cars in the garage. This meant we couldn’t complete our programme, but we still collected enough data to make our tire choice.”

Willy Rampf, Technical Director
“We have done set-up work today based on the data we collected at the Paul Ricard test. The drivers were very happy with the progress despite our problems. In Monaco it is important to have a car with very precise steering because here there is no room for errors. An electronic problem curtailed our programme, but we are confident we already have enough information.” Source BMW Sauber

Chat live with Rahal today Chat live with Rahal todayComing off his first victory in the Yokohama Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, Graham Rahal will be joining Champ Car fans live at http://www.champcaratlantic.com/Chat/.  Rahal became the youngest driver to win in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship after claiming victory at Monterrey, Mexico
Schu on wrong road to victory Schu on wrong road to victory(GMM) Michael Schumacher's flashy and colorful new Ferrari racing suit has failed to set him on a course for a sixth Monaco victory.

The German, fifteenth on Thursday's afternoon timing sheet, explained that the red and orange suit - with starry flashes and 'Schumi' printed on the back - was team cigarette sponsor Phillip Morris' idea.

''It's just for a change,'' Schumacher smiled in Monte Carlo, ''and Monaco is always a good place for something new.''

New suit or not, however, the 37-year-old's '248' race car did not appear particularly quick on practice day.

Indeed, Schumacher admitted that he is not happy with his apparent pace.

''I don't know what is wrong,'' he told reporters, ''but we are too slow. Probably part of it is that we did not use new tires, but even in the past - with old tires - we were closer to the pace than this.''

Wurz puts Williams Cosworth on top in practice 2 Wurz puts Williams Cosworth on top in practice 2(GMM) A flurry of red flags characterized Thursday's afternoon practice session in Monte Carlo.

In lovely warm Monaco weather, the first stoppage was to clear an errant marker bollard that had found its way onto the racing line after being clipped by Anthony Davidson.

The next was also caused by the Honda reserve driver, after the Briton crunched his left front wheel and wing at turn-1 (St. Devote).

Then, about half-way through the hour-long session, a third red flag waved when Davidson's BMW-Sauber counterpart Robert Kubica lost it in Rascasse.

The Pole's unhappy conversation with the tire barrier tore a rear wheel off, but it is understood that the crash was triggered by a traction control problem.

Kimi Raikkonen failed to appear in his McLaren until later in the session, but the suggestion in the Principality's pitlane is that McLaren had repaired a wiring loom after morning practice rather than change his V8.

Behind a couple of spare-car drivers, Kimi's teammate Juan Pablo Montoya was the quickest racer, although Renault's Fernando Alonso - who so nearly grazed a barrier late in the session - still looks quick.

Despite a solid practice programme, meanwhile, Michael Schumacher's Ferrari languished down in fifteenth.

Thursday afternoon practice times from Monaco. There is no racing activities on Friday. Qualifying is Saturday.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Wurz Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:15.907 27
 2. Davidson Honda (M) 1:16.075 + 0.168 15
 3. Montoya McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:16.138 + 0.231 24
 4. Alonso Renault (M) 1:16.221 + 0.314 18
 5. Doornbos Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:16.292 + 0.385 36
 6. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:16.707 + 0.800 18
 7. Fisichella Renault (M) 1:16.721 + 0.814 23
 8. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:16.870 + 0.963 19
 9. Button Honda (M) 1:16.903 + 0.996 20
10. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:17.251 + 1.344 25
11. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:17.325 + 1.418 25
12. Monteiro MF1-Toyota (B) 1:17.439 + 1.532 30
13. Barrichello Honda (M) 1:17.456 + 1.549 24
14. Mondini MF1-Toyota (B) 1:17.497 + 1.590 30
15. M. Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:17.603 + 1.696 25
16. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:17.638 + 1.731 31
17. Webber Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:17.744 + 1.837 19
18. R. Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:17.793 + 1.886 26
19. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:17.845 + 1.938 15
20. Villeneuve BMW-Sauber (M) 1:17.874 + 1.967 13
21. Klien Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:18.123 + 2.216 22
22. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) 1:18.257 + 2.350 10
23. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:18.420 + 2.513 29
24. Albers MF1-Toyota (B) 1:18.430 + 2.523 24
25. Montagny Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:18.731 + 2.824 19
26. Kubica BMW-Sauber (M) 1:19.273 + 3.366 12
27. Jani Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:19.445 + 3.538 27
28. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:19.803 + 3.896 31

TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday USA TV reminders for Saturday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Formula 1 Qualifying Monaco
8:00am-9:30am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Charlotte
1:00pm-2:00pm (L) SPEED
Indy 500 Indianapolis
1:00pm-3:00pm -1981
3:00pm-5:00pm -1982
5:00pm-7:00pm -1987
7:00pm-9:00pm -1992
9:00pm-11:00pm -2005 ESPN CLASSIC
NASCAR Craftsman Truck  Mansfield, OH
2:00pm-4:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Practice Charlotte
4:30pm-5:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Charlotte
5:30pm-6:00pm (L) SPEED
AMA Motocross 250cc Sacramento, CA
(5/21/06) 6:00pm-7:00pm OLN
Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade Indianapolis
6:00pm-7:30pm ESPN2
Inside Grand Prix Monaco
6:30pm-7:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Happy Hour Charlotte
6:30pm-7:30pm (SDD) FX
Ready To Race -The 90th Indianapolis 500 Indianapolis
7:30pm-8:00pm ESPN2
Speed News Saturday  
7:30pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Busch Series  Charlotte
7:30pm-10:30pm (L) FX
NHRA Qualifying Topeka, KS
8:00pm-9:00pm ESPN2
SPEED World Challenge Mid-Ohio
8:00pm-9:00pm -Touring (5/21/06)
9:00pm-10:00pm -GT (5/20/06) SPEED

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

Tony Kanaan in Barrichello's seat? Tony Kanaan in Barrichello's seat?(GMM) Fear not, fans of Rubens Barrichello -- Honda have not replaced him with a Brazilian IRL driver at the Monaco GP.

Barrichello, 34, exited pitlane on Thursday morning wearing the helmet colors of Tony Kanaan, who this weekend contests the fabled Indianapolis 500.

Countryman Kanaan, in turn, will drive the famous 500-mile race in America wearing Barrichello's familiar red and white helmet livery.

''At the beginning of the year, I asked a friend (Kanaan) where he would like to race in F1 and he told me Monaco,'' Rubens explained.

''This is just because Monaco is so special and I think Indianapolis is special.''

Barrichello's former teammate Michael Schumacher, meanwhile, turned up for work in Monte Carlo wearing a special set of Ferrari overalls, featuring white stars, flashes of orange and the embroidered word 'Schumi'.

No tech trouble, says Heidfeld No tech trouble, says Heidfeld(GMM) BMW-Sauber's Nick Heidfeld has denied that technical trouble prevented him from setting a single lap time at Monaco on Thursday morning.

The German told 'Premiere' in Monte Carlo that he was simply 'preserving tires'.

Heidfeld added that he did not know what had gone wrong with the third car of Robert Kubica.

He said: ''We only know that it is a technical problem.''

City to examine impact of a car race downtown City to examine impact of a car race downtownPHOENIX - Before Indy-style cars speed through downtown streets, race promoters have to figure out how the noise and street closures will affect area residents and businesses.

That was the message from a City Council subcommittee on Wednesday to Arizona Grand Prix, a group that wants to bring a Champ Car World Series event to downtown Phoenix for at least five years starting in November 2007.

The subcommittee voted 3-1 to allow staff to explore race details, including cost for street improvements and closures and police service. advertisement

Race promoters say they aren't asking for subsidies and plan to invest $15 million the first year and about $8 million the following years.

"It's on our dime," said Brad Yonover, one of the race promoters. "It's something that we believe in that much."

Dale Jensen, part owner of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Phoenix Suns and the Dodge Theatre, is also behind the Champ race proposal.

They describe the event as a three-day festival that happens to have a race, which will draw national media attention and crowds to downtown.

Bryan Sperber, president of Phoenix International Raceway that hosts two NASCAR races, doesn't believe the Champ brand belongs in Phoenix and would rather see a NASCAR festival.

He said that if the focus is on highlighting downtown Phoenix, they shouldn't be working with a "rinky-dink race (but) with NASCAR, the premier brand in motorsports." Arizona Republic

[Editor's Note: Sperber wants NASCAR to add a third race in Phoenix, two at his oval plus a downtown street race? Hogwash, NASCAR will never give him a third date and he is not about to give up one of his dates for a street race. This is just NASCAR and the France family trying to kill off any competing competition. When is the general media going to see NASCAR's tactics for what they are and call a spade a spade? We suspect the open wheel leaders, Kalkhoven and George, are eventually going to have to slap them with another antitrust lawsuit or something similar. Like we said, this should get very interesting as open wheel racing merges back together and starts to become a threat to NASCAR's fiefdom.]

Bernie backs Rossi's decision Bernie backs Rossi's decision(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has backed Valentino Rossi's decision to stay away from formula one for now.

The F1 supremo, although a fan of the 27-year-old MotoGP champion's flair, commented that switching codes would have been a 'big unknown quantity' for him.

''It is not a problem,'' FIA president Max Mosley, also in Monte Carlo this weekend, similarly told 'Gazzetta dello Sport'.

''He is still young, he can still come to us in two or three years' time.''

1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, however, called Rossi's continued stay on two wheels a 'shame'.

''On a motorcycle he has got nothing left to prove,'' the Canadian said.

And Rubens Barrichello added: ''I am convinced that he would have done a good job, but he would probably not have been as good as he is on a bike.''

Alonso tops practice 1 in Monaco Alonso tops practice 1 in MonacoFernando Alonso and Renault have picked up at Monaco where they left off at Barcelona a fortnight ago, dominating a sunny opening session of practice on Thursday morning.

With more action than usual characterizing the opening day of running, the Spaniard set the quickest time of all, with teammate Giancarlo Fisichella the next best race pilot.

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher was fourth, while Kimi Raikkonen languished way down in 27th place after setting a paltry installation lap with seconds to run in the one-hour practice session.

Honda's Jenson Button was eighth, 1.6 seconds off Alonso's leading pace.

''We're not going to be as quick as the Renaults or the Ferraris, no way,'' he told reporters on Thursday.

BMW-Sauber's Nick Heidfeld, meanwhile, was the only driver who failed to set a time at all, after he did a single installation lap.

BMW-Sauber's Thursday-only driver Robert Kubica seemed a little ragged on track, and ultimately stopped his car in the middle sector.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Alonso Renault (M) 1:16.712 13
 2. Davidson Honda (M) 1:16.872 + 0.160 31
 3. Fisichella Renault (M) 1:16.888 + 0.176 12
 4. M. Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:16.973 + 0.261 8
 5. Montoya McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:17.458 + 0.746 7
 6. Kubica BMW-Sauber (M) 1:17.869 + 1.157 19
 7. Wurz Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:17.949 + 1.237 28
 8. Button Honda (M) 1:18.329 + 1.617 12
 9. Doornbos Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:18.394 + 1.682 23
10. Barrichello Honda (M) 1:18.406 + 1.694 12
11. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:18.447 + 1.735 10
12. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:18.480 + 1.768 15
13. Webber Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:18.571 + 1.859 17
14. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:18.695 + 1.983 15
15. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:18.703 + 1.991 11
16. R. Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:19.021 + 2.309 14
17. Villeneuve BMW-Sauber (M) 1:19.246 + 2.534 16
18. Klien Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:19.543 + 2.831 10
19. Jani Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:19.651 + 2.939 25
20. Mondini MF1-Toyota (B) 1:19.669 + 2.957 29
21. Monteiro MF1-Toyota (B) 1:19.730 + 3.018 17
22. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:19.857 + 3.145 16
23. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:20.137 + 3.425 13
24. Albers MF1-Toyota (B) 1:20.552 + 3.840 17
25. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:21.144 + 4.432 23
26. Montagny Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:21.594 + 4.882 21
27. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 2:06.592 + 49.880 3
28. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) no time 1

An Interview with Unser Jr. and the Frisselles An Interview with Unser Jr. and the Frisselles
Cheng signs up for A1 Team China drive Cheng signs up for A1 Team China driveCongfu Cheng has been confirmed as the first of two new drivers signed up to join Tengyi Jiang and Qinghua Ma, racing for A1 Team China in the 2006/07 A1 season.

Shortly after the A1 Grand Prix of Nations, Shanghai International Circuit, A1 Team China announced plans to add two new drivers to their line up next season, each of whom will take part in a full training schedule to run throughout the summer months. Twenty-two year-old Cheng from Beijing, is currently competing in the British Formula Renault Championship where he lies sixth in the drivers' table on 63 points.

Tengyi Jiang will compete in a number of F3000 races in Europe and Qinghua Ma will race in the 2L Northern European Championship over A1's off-season. A1 Team China is planning to build up a base in China to train young drivers. Currently Renault 2L and F3000 cars might be on the purchase list and Zhuhai International Circuit is more likely to be the track chosen by the team.

Two more Chinese mechanics will be selected from Chinese Universities as part of A1 Team China Technical Personnel Training Program, who will follow the team in 2006/07 season that kicks off at Circuit Park Zandvoort in the Netherlands on 1 October. A1GP

Toyota TF106B updates Toyota TF106B updates
Designer: Pascal Vasselon
Drivers: Jarno Trulli (7), Ralf Schumacher (8 )

After having run the first 6 races of 2006 with the TF106, Toyota moves in the updated B version which completes the major development steps in 2006. Apart from changes with the fuel tank, an updated aero package and a revised front suspension, the cars characteristics are the same as its predecessor, the Toyota TF106.

The TF106B represents the final step of the evolution that started at last year's Japanese GP when the new front suspension was introduced on the TF105B model. It has a new chassis with no keel in the middle in an effort to exploit all the aerodynamic advantages of the new layout. It also has new suspension geometry with a different push rod angle. This forced the introduction of small "alligator eyes" on top of the chassis for the rocker pick up point."

The Toyota TF105 and TF106 kept the same wheelbase with the addition of a spacer between the engine and chassis (2) to cope with the shorter V8 engine for 2006, reducing the general stiffness of the assembly.

The new TF106B chassis has a longer fuel tank (1) to compensate for the difference in length so the chassis length remains unchanged.


The technical specifications are identical to those of the Toyota TF106:

Monocoque construction: Molded carbon fiber and honeycomb construction
Fuel tank: ATL safety cell
Front suspension: Carbon fiber double wishbone arrangement, with carbon fiber trackrod and pushrod. Pushrod activates rocker, torsion bar, damper and anti-roll bar assy
Rear suspension: Carbon fiber double wishbone arrangement, with carbon fiber toelink and pushrod. Pushrod activates rocker, torsion bar, damper and anti-roll bar assy
Dampers: Penske
Wheels: BBS forged magnesium
Tires: Bridgestone Potenza
Brakes calipers: Brembo
Brakes master cylinders: Brembo
Braking material: Hitco (carbon/carbon)
Steering: Toyota power-assisted steering
Steering wheel display: Toyota carbon fiber wheel with Toyota/Magneti Marelli instrument
Driver seat: Carbon fiber construction, molded to driver's shape
Driver restraints: Takata
Driver HANS device: Toyota design
Electronic systems: Toyota/Magneti Marelli
Transmission: 7-speed unit plus reverse. Toyota-designed maincase with Toyota/Xtrac internals. Gear selection is sequential, via driver controlled electro-hydraulic actuation
  • Wheelbase: 3,090mm
  • Overall length: 4,530mm
  • Overall height: 950mm
  • Overall width: 1,800mm
  • Overall weight: 600kg including driver and camera

Engine designation: RVX-06
Cylinders:90° V8
Capacity: 2398cc
Horsepower: Approximately 740bhp
Revolutions: Approximately 19,000rpm
Valve actuation: Pneumatic
Throttle actuation: Hydraulic
Spark Plugs: DENSO
Fuel: Esso
Lubricants: Esso

Drawings by Toyota F1

Hamilton leads opening practice in Monaco Hamilton leads opening practice in MonacoLewis Hamilton topped the timesheets in the opening free practice session of the GP2 weekend on the streets of Monte Carlo, by over half a second over Jose Maria Lopez.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Hamilton ART Grand Prix 1:23.116 16
 2. Lopez Super Nova International 1:23.636 + 0.520 18
 3. Premat ART Grand Prix 1:23.647 + 0.531 19
 4. Perera DAMS 1:23.988 + 0.872 18
 5. Pla DPR Direxiv 1:24.058 + 0.942 19
 6. Piccione DPR Direxiv 1:24.176 + 1.060 19
 7. Pantano FMS International 1:24.267 + 1.151 10
 8. Valles Campos Racing 1:24.494 + 1.378 18
 9. Yoshimoto BCN Competicion 1:24.562 + 1.446 18
10. Bruni Trident Racing 1:24.826 + 1.710 15
11. Gommendy iSport International 1:25.081 + 1.965 18
12. Monfardini DAMS 1:25.239 + 2.123 16
13. Di Grassi Durango 1:25.280 + 2.164 19
14. Piquet Jr. Piquet Sports 1:25.321 + 2.205 17
15. Glock BCN Competicion 1:25.457 + 2.341 17
16. Porteiro Campos Racing 1:25.508 + 2.392 13
17. Carroll Racing Engineering 1:25.537 + 2.421 17
18. Viso iSport International 1:25.640 + 2.524 17
19. Ammermueller Arden International Ltd 1:25.787 + 2.671 15
20. Zuber Trident Racing 1:26.120 + 3.004 16
21. Fauzy Super Nova International 1:26.260 + 3.144 17
22. Lapierre Arden International Ltd 1:26.433 + 3.317 13
23. Hernandez Durango 1:26.455 + 3.339 16
24. Villa Racing Engineering 1:27.845 + 4.729 19
25. Tahinci FMS International 1:29.330 + 6.214 15
26. Negrao Piquet Sports No time 3

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Rubens wants revised system for Monaco Q
Newey package not silver bullet, says DC
Rubens blames Honda for '06 struggle
Heidfeld dampens danger debate
Kimi admits chance of Monaco repeat
Alonso, not Kimi, to be Schu heir - DC
Rossi's call sparks mixed reaction in F1
Schu denies Toro Rosso advantage
Alonso won't charge for 'crazy' Monaco win
Fisi hopes for better Michelin tires
Carmakers ready with 'freeze' alternative
BMW didn't want Webber, says Theissen
track news
Dover to undergo facelift Dover to undergo faceliftDover International Speedway is set to undergo a multi-million dollar refurbishment programme.

Owner Dover Motorsports confirmed this week plans for a new five-year capital improvement project at the track to provide new offerings and upgraded amenities for fans, competitors and the media.

Construction on the project will begin after the upcoming June 2-4, NASCAR weekend.

Said Denis McGlynn, CEO and president of Dover Motorsports: “The renovations and new offerings will modernize our facility, help us provide a greatly improved experience for all fans and the NASCAR teams who have put on such a great show in Dover for the past 37 years, and provide new revenue opportunities for the company.”

McGlynn added that the capital projects will be funded from existing cash flow and the company would continue to reduce its overall debt during this period.

TV News
USA TV reminders for Thursday and Friday USA TV reminders for Thursday and Friday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com


Formula 1 Practice  Monaco
8:00am-9:00am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Practice Charlotte
4:30pm-6:00pm (SDD) SPEED
Sports Center at the Indianapolis 500 Indianapolis
5:30pm-6:00pm (L) ESPN2
NASCAR Live! Charlotte
6:00pm-7:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Charlotte
7:00pm-9:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Series Qualifying Charlotte
9:00pm-11:00pm (L) SPEED


Inside Grand Prix Monaco
12:30am-1:00am SPEED
1985 Indy 500 Indianapolis
2:00pm-4:00pm ESPN CLASSIC
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Charlotte
3:00pm-5:00pm (R) SPEED
IRL -Indy Pro Series Freedom 100 race & Indy 500 Carb Day
3:00pm-5:30pm (SDD) ESPN2
SportsCentury -Rick Mears  
4:00pm-5:00pm (R) ESPN CLASSIC
Sports Center at the Indianapolis 500 Indianapolis
5:30pm-6:00pm (L) ESPN2
Trackside Charlotte
7:00pm-8:00pm (L) SPEED
Tradin' Paint -Nextel Cup  
8:00pm-8:30pm SPEED
NASCAR Performance  
8:30pm-9:00pm SPEED

All times listed are ET.  For a complete listing of Thursday and Friday's TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.

Rudd tests Rolex car, could race Rudd tests Rolex car, could raceOn the heels of this morning's announcement that Al Unser Jr. will co-drive the #8 GlycoMax Porsche Doran with brothers Burt and Brian Frisselle in next weekend's Sahlen's Six Hours of The Glen, NASCAR star Ricky Rudd turned laps in the Synergy Racing Daytona Prototype at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course today with an eye toward competing in future Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve events. On Wednesday, Rudd turned laps in the #8 GlycoMax Porsche Doran at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, which will host the Rolex Series next month, for the EMCO Gears Classic presented by Key Bank, on the weekend of June 23-25. No deal has been announced for Rudd to drive in any 2006 Rolex Series events. Rudd was joined at Mid-Ohio by 2005 EMCO Gears Classic winner Elliott Forbes-Robinson, who is an instructor at the course. "I love the track," said Rudd. "I've always enjoyed road courses and I really like the new surface at Mid Ohio, even though this is my first time here. I've always been fascinated with Grand-Am. Right now, I'm just trying to get rid of all of the habits I learned in NASCAR, because these cars are so different from stock cars. I am lucky that Elliott took me around the track today because there's really nobody better to learn this place from than him." The Virginia native is also no stranger to other Rolex Series circuits, as Rudd posted a season-best runner-up NEXTEL Cup finish at Infineon Raceway last year. The Infineon circuit was also the site of Rudd's last NASCAR victory, which came in 2002. The Sonoma, Calif. venue will host to the Rolex Series in 2006 for the season's penultimate race on the weekend of August 24-26. Grandamerican.com
Kangaroo TV deal with F1 Kangaroo TV deal with F1Montreal-based Kangaroo Media and Formula One Management today announced a six-year license agreement to provide Kangaroo TV devices at all F1 events. The handheld device, which will make its F1 debut on a limited basis at the U.S. Grand Prix on July 2, offers in-car camera and audio channels, race telemetry and timing data, and access to team communications. Kangaroo Media
Rocketsports Racing Signs Tonis Kasemets Rocketsports Racing Signs Tonis KasemetsWith all the rumors that have been whispering throughout the paddock concerning Rocketsports Racing running two cars in 2006 and the possibility of the 2005 Toyota Atlantic runner-up, Tonis Kasemets, Rocketsports is proud to announce that a deal has been made to run the Estonian-American in six events in the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford 2006 season.

Kasemets chose the long road to the USA and proved his worth recently by scoring the second place trophy in the Toyota Atlantic Champ Championship last year.  Only 17 points separated him from first place.  Additionally, he was awarded the 2005 “Toyota Atlantic Ohlins Shock Technician of the Year” trophy for his excellence in handling the many chores required on his entry, the #6 Flexovit Abrasives Products/MK Industries/TMI/Red Line Oil/Team Tonis “Yellow Magic”, as he often refers to her (the car).

Hailing from Parnu, Estonia, Kasemets joined wife Ilona as they migrated to America over the course of two years so that Tonis could follow his dreams.  The 32-year-old driver caught the racing ‘bug’ at an early age, from his Cross Country Rally Driver father Toomas; via ice racing in the Baltic States and go-karting.  He began racing European Karts at the age 8.

After completing the 1995 European Championship in Opel Lotus, he made his move to the states.   During the years of 1996 and 1997, Kasemets sat out of professional competition while getting him and his family (wife Ilona, son Ayrton, and daughter Adry) settled.  Kasemets got his first “break” in the U.S. in 1998 by purchasing a 1988 Reynard Formula Continental.  He took command quickly by winning 8 out of 10 SCCA races.  His next step to the top was his partnership with engineering legend Ove Olsson in a 1999 Formula Continental Carbir.  zzzz

In 2000, Kasemets purchased a DSTP/Mygel Formula Continental to compete in the U.S. Formula Ford series, and took five race wins and four poles.  2002 and 2003 Kasemets entered the U.S. Formula Ford Championship driving in a Formula Zetec Van Diemen.  Continuing to compete in the series in 2003, Kasemets was recognized as “One of the Top 10 Drivers in the WORLD to keep your eyes on.”

2004 marked the start of Kasemets’ road to Champ Car.  Joining Brooks Racing to compete in a partial season in the Toyota Atlantic series, he would impress enough to earn a full-ride in the series in 2005.  Kasemets earned his first front row starting position in only the second race of the ’05 schedule, in Monterrey, where he went on to finish on the podium for the first time with a second place finish.  Subsequent to that great finish, Kasemets found himself on the podium again in Portland, this time claiming his first Toyota Atlantic Victory.  In a double-header event at Portland last year, he landed his first pole position in the second race, sweeps the weekend and won again by a landslide.  Kasemets went on to earn two more pole positions that year, totaling eight front row starts, six podium finishes (three wins, three second place finishes), out of 12 races.

“I would like to thank Paul Gentilozzi for the opportunity this season to drive for his Rocketsports Racing team,” said Kasemets.  “I am extremely looking forward to climbing into the #18 Rocketsports Champ Car in Portland and working with the team.  This has always been a dream for me to drive in the Champ Car World Series.  It is a wonderful series, there are a lot of great drivers, challenging venues, the cars are so fun to drive, and it just has an overall great atmosphere.  I will do the best job that I can with the main goal to have the best finishes that we can as a team in the #18 car.  I would also like to thank my sponsors: Flexovit Abrasives, MX and TMI for all their support in my career and I know in return they would like to thank Paul for this opportunity to be exposed in such a high-profile sport.”

Driving the #18 entry for Rocketsports Racing, Kasemets is scheduled to make his Champ Car debut in Round Five of the 2006 Champ Car World Series in Portland, Oregon, a track that he dominated on last year in a Toyota Atlantic car.  In addition to Portland, he is scheduled to run in at least five other events this year, including Cleveland, Toronto, Edmonton, Road America, and Mexico City. 

“We are very proud to bring another car to the 2006 Champ Car field and give Tonis this opportunity,” said team owner Paul Gentilozzi.  “He is an extremely talented guy who has worked very hard to get here, and truly deserves this opportunity.  We are excited to have him join us and our honored to help him achieve his dream.”

The primary sponsor on the #18 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone will be Flexovit Abrasives, supporters of Kasemets’ racing career since 1998.  The New York-based company is a manufacturer and marketer of high productivity abrasive products for the industrial, welding, and construction trades.  In addition to manufacturing, Flexovit USA offers a complete range of technical and product support services for users of abrasives, and for distributors of Flexovit products.

Kasemets will team up with current driver of the #8 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, Nicky Pastorelli, starting in Portland for the G.I. Joe’s Presents The Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland, June 16-18.  For more information on the team and driver, please check out www.rocketsportsracing.com and www.toniskasemets.com.

Monaco Wednesday Press Conference Monaco Wednesday Press Conference
2006 LeMans schedule 2006 LeMans schedule
Friday 2nd June 9.00 am to 5.00 pm: Administrative checking and scrutineering
Saturday 3rd June 9.00 am to 3.00 pm: Administrative checking and scrutineering
Sunday 4th June 9.00 am to 1.00 pm / 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm: Test day "24 Heures du Mans"

Monday 12th June  2.30 am to 6.00 pm: Administrative checking and scrutineering (Jacobins) 
Tuesday 13th June  8.30 am to 5.00 pm: Administrative checking and scrutineering (Jacobins) 
Wednesday 14th June 10.00 am : Team Managers' Briefing
1.00 pm : Traffic interruption - Beginning of track preparation
2.00 pm to 4.00 pm: Pitwalk
4.00 pm: Drivers’ Briefing “24 HEURES DU MANS”
7.00 pm to 9.00 pm: 1st qualifying practice session "24 Heures du Mans"
10 pm to midnight: 1st qualifying practice session "24 Heures du Mans"
Thursday 15th June  9.00 am to 1.00 pm: Administrative checking and Scrutineering
“ACO CENTENARY RACES” (Quinconces des Jacobins)
1.00 pm: Traffic interruption - Beginning of track preparation
2.00 am to 4.00 pm: Pitwalk
3.00 pm: Drivers’ Briefing “ACO CENTENARY RACES” 
4.00 pm: Pre-Grid “ACO CENTENARY RACES“
4.30 pm to 6.30 pm: Timed Practice Sessions “ACO CENTENARY RACES” 
7.00 pm to 9.00: 2nd qualifying practice session "24 Heures du Mans"
10.00 pm to midnight: 2nd qualifying practice session "24 Heures du Mans"  zzzz 
Friday 16th June  10.00 am to 8.00 pm: Pitwalk
11.00 am: ACO Press Conference – Handing over of “Spirit of Le Mans” Trophies
6.00 pm to 7.00 pm: Drivers’ parade (city centre)
Saturday 17th June  6.00 am: Traffic interruption - Beginning of track preparation
6.30 am: Setting up of safety facilities
7.00 am: Deadline for access to the track for safety facilities
7.30 am: Track Opening
9.00 am to 9.45 am : Warm-up "24 Heures du Mans"
9.30 am: Pre-Grid “ACO CENTENARY RACES” (1st Race)
10.00 am: Ear of corn positioning “ACO CENTENARY RACES”
Start behind the Pace-Car
10.15 am: Rolling Start “ACO CENTENARY RACES” (1st Race)
10.15 am: Pre-Grid “ACO CENTENARY RACES” (2nd Race)
10.55 am: Finish & Podium “ACO CENTENARY RACES” (1st Race)
11.30 am: Rolling Start “ACO CENTENARY RACES” (2nd Race)
12.10 pm: Finish & Podium “ACO CENTENARY RACES” (2nd Race)
12.30 pm to 1.30 pm: Pitwalk
12.30 pm to 1.00 pm: Motoring Cavalcades (3 Laps) + Ear of corn positioning
1.45 to 2.30 pm: Ear of corn "24 Heures du Mans"
2.30 to 3.45 pm: Drivers’ Presentation
3.45 pm: Official Opening of the Track
4.00 pm to 4.10 pm: Broadcasting of Drivers’ and Competitors’ anthems
4.00 pm to 4.10 pm: Official Homage
Presentation of the “24 HEURES DU MANS” Trophy
4.22 pm: Beginning of starting procedure "24 Heures du Mans"
5.00 pm: Start of the 74th "24 Heures du Mans" race
Sunday 18th June  5.00 pm: Finish of the 74th race "24 Heures du Mans" race
Price-giving ceremony on the podium

Oddsmakers pick Castroneves to win 500 Oddsmakers pick Castroneves to win 500According to oddsmakers at sportsbook.com, two-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves will be chugging milk in victory lane at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this Sunday. Castroneves posts 7-2 odds to win the legendary race, but Danica Patrick (10-1) - the 2005 Indy fourth place finisher - could easily drive her way into the history books as the first woman to win in Indianapolis.

Castroneves' teammate and 2006 Indy 500 pole-sitter Sam Hornish Jr., along with Dan Wheldon, the defending Indy 500 champion, are both listed at 4- 1. Tony Kanaan, listed at 7-1, rounds out the top five favorites.

"Everybody bets on auto racing, especially the Indy 500," said Alex Czajkowski, Sportsbook.com. "This year's race looks like it's going to pack a lot of punch with Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing going head to head. And don't rule out Danica Patrick - she brings a lot of attention to the race and is a solid contender."

Odds to win the Indianapolis 500:
Helio Castroneves 7-2
Sam Hornish Jr. 4-1
Dan Wheldon 4-1
Tony Kanaan 7-1
Danica Patrick 10-1
Michael Andretti 12-1
Scott Dixon 12-1
Dario Franchitti 12-1
Bryan Herta 18-1
Kosuke Matsuura 20-1
Vitor Meira 20-1
Buddy Rice 20-1
Tomas Scheckter 20-1
Scott Sharp 25-1
Al Unser Jr 35-1
Marco Andretti 40-1
Buddy Lazier 60-1
Jeff Simmons 60-1
Ed Carpenter 100-1
Field (all other drivers) 12-1

For updated odds please visit sportsbook.com

Q and A with Gentilozzi and Kasemets Q and A with Gentilozzi and KasemetsRocketsports team boss Paul Gentilozzi announced that he will field a 2nd Champ Car for rookie Tonis Kasemets who will pilot the #18 car. The two answered questions on today's Champ Car media teleconference. Transcript.
Schu admits crossed wires at Ferrari Schu admits crossed wires at Ferrari(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has explained that mixed messages about when to expect news about his plans beyond 2006 was the result of a 'communication problem' between himself and Ferrari principal Jean Todt.

The world's press went into overdrive a couple of weeks ago when the 37-year-old said he could wait until the last grand prix of the year before making a decision.

But Todt later threw a spanner in the works when he suggested that Ferrari's full 2007 line-up could be expected weeks earlier than that, at Monza for September's Italian grand prix.

Now Schumacher, who arrived in Monte Carlo on a motorcycle on Wednesday, agrees: ''Monza is probably the suitable moment.''

He cheekily added: ''Monza is not far away from the end of the season, is it?''

The German driver also called Monaco the 'most dangerous circuit' in F1.

''The safety has improved maybe a little bit,'' Schumacher added, ''but it is always a concern.''

The next race, at Silverstone, is the scene of Schumacher's worst shunt in his F1 career; in 1999, he broke his leg at Stowe corner.

But Michael insisted: ''I don't usually think about it; unless I am asked questions like that ... '

Paul Newman Driving toward sunset Paul Newman Driving toward sunsetToday's USA Today has a front page article about Champ Car team owner Paul Newman.  The article is about Newman but it talks about the IRL/Champ Car split:

Once the USA's most popular form of auto racing — highlighted by the Indy 500 — open-wheel competition used to be confined to one circuit, known as Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART).

That's what Newman and his partner, Chicago-based businessman Carl Haas, bought into in 1983 — a time when A.J. Foyt, Al and Bobby Unser, Mario Andretti and Rick Mears were motor sports' dominant stars, still overshadowing NASCAR's top names, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough.

But open-wheel racing endured an internal schism in the mid-'90s that divided its teams, diluted the 500 and opened a door through which NASCAR charged.

Open-wheel racing remains split into two circuits, each of which uses its own type of cars. To the casual observer, the machines look the same. But the engines, chassis and tires are different on each circuit. One holds most of its races on ovals; one holds most of its races on temporary city-street courses.

The Indy 500 is part of the oval-dominated Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar Series, so it's essentially off limits to the Newman-backed Champ Car World Series teams. (Champ Car teams have raced in, and even won, the Indy 500 since the split, but because they have to buy cars that meet the IRL series' specifications, most don't bother with it.) zzzz

Newman's adversary in the rivalry is Tony George, whose family bought Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1945 and brought the 500 to prominence. Upset about his lack of influence over CART's drift toward more street races and non-U.S. venues, George used the 500's prestige as a lever to create the IRL. There have been talks about a merger of the circuits since December. But nothing is imminent, and feelings remain raw on both sides.

Newman hasn't attended the Indy 500 since 1995, even though his team has been in it twice. With a smirk and his signature, gravelly deadpan, Newman explains, "I have a problem with the management."

Staying the Champ Car course

George, who remains Indianapolis Motor Speedway's CEO, gently counters that Newman "always has been a big fan of Champ Car and what Champ Car was. CART was a diversified series with top drivers and top teams. I'm clearly biased, but that's what the IndyCar Series represents and what a unified series would represent. I don't know why he would have a problem (with IndyCar or a merged series)."

As far as a merger goes, Newman sees George as a hindrance.

"Listen, I'm just like Fox News. I'm fair and balanced," he says, playfully mocking Rupert Murdoch's cable network. "But for this merger to occur, Tony must first think about what is fair and realistic. He can't load the gun, point it at us and expect us to make a deal. I know what the offer was, and it was neither fair, nor balanced."

Newman didn't go into detail, but he would be unhappy to see a merged circuit abandon newer street races in San Jose, Calif., and Edmonton. "Over a whole year we averaged 150,000 people per race weekend," he says. "I would challenge rivals to make any such statement without going straight to hell."

IRL spokesman Fred Nation and Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven say no offer to merge has been made by either side.

Newman has been unwavering in his support of Champ Car, even as the series has lost some of its most prominent teams — including those owned by Bobby Rahal and David Letterman, Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi — to the IRL.

His loyalty has come at a cost to his and Haas' pocketbooks. Even for a famous actor with a team that has won six titles — including two Champ Car season titles in a row by Sebastien Bourdais — there is a financial burden. Only one of the team's two cars has full sponsorship. Newman and Haas cover the remaining operating costs.

Newman says everyone in open-wheel racing "is surviving," and he insists Champ Car is "getting stronger." He is quick to add, however, "it's not strong enough."

Track News
Road America To Host Colossal Cycle Weekend Road America To Host Colossal Cycle WeekendElkhart Lake, Wis.--The AMA Suzuki Superbike Doubleheader returns to Road America, June 1-4, 2006, to headline a huge weekend of motorcycle racing. The weekend will include Superbike, Supermoto and Sidecar races. Road America's turns, curves, changes in elevation and scenic beauty make the track a unique favorite among riders and fans.  

In the Superbike series, four classes will run on the 4.048 mile track: Superbike, Supersport, Superstock and Formula Xtreme. Current point leaders include Ben Spies, Matt Mladin, Miguel Duhamel, Neil Hodgson and Aaron Yates. Practice, qualifying and final rounds will be held Thursday through Sunday. The Suzuki Superbike Doubleheader will run final rounds on Saturday and Sunday.  

AMA Supermoto, Unlimited, and Supermoto Lites will tackle Road America's .94 mile, purpose-built track at the Briggs & Stratton Motorplex. Riders will be challenged by its combination of dirt and paved sections, long, high-speed straightaways, jumps and corners. Top riders will include Doug Henry, Jeff Ward and Wisconsin- native Ben Carlson. Supermoto events are being held on Friday and Saturday of the event weekend. Friday, June 2, is a promoter test day for all the groups and classes.  zzzz

Superside America is the only motorsport that requires two racers to act and react together. Both racers (driver and passenger) are fully exposed to the elements at up to 170 mph without roll cages or safety harnesses. The passenger moves across the back of the Sidecar with split-second timing.  

The Sentry Insurance Salute to Cycles gives fans an awesome opportunity to experience the track on their own motorcycles. Registration is necessary with a fee of $25 on Saturday and $25 on Sunday plus daily ticket admission. Fans can also visit the Sentry Insurance booth to register to win a 2006 Big Dog Pitbull motorcycle.  

Road America offers diverse racing venues, amazing viewing opportunities, fantastic concessions and high- speed excitement to thousands of spectators each year. Located midway between Milwaukee and Green Bay in  

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, it offers 628 grassy, rolling acres which include the 4.048 circuit and the .94 mile purpose-built paved and dirt supermoto track.   Daily track admission during the AMA Suzuki Superbike Doubleheader event is $10 on Thursday, $20 on Friday, $35 on Saturday and $35 on Sunday. Daily tickets include paddock access and autograph sessions. Toyota Truck Day on Sunday will allow the driver and one adult passenger in a Tacoma or Tundra free admission to the AMA Suzuki Superbike Doubleheader on Sunday. This promotion is not applicable with previously purchased tickets or other discount programs. There is a limit of one pair of tickets per Toyota Truck owner.  Children age 12 and under are admitted free at Road America.  For more information, please visit www.roadamerica.com or call 800/892-RACE (7223).

Al Unser Jr. to join Frisselles at Watkins Glen Al Unser Jr. to join Frisselles at Watkins GlenA new chapter in the long racing history between the Frisselle and Unser families will open with the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen next weekend, as two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Al Unser Jr. will co-drive the Porsche-powered GlycoMax Doran with Burt and Brian Frisselle in the Watkins Glen round of the Rolex Sports Car Series.
The two racing families have a long history in the sport together going back to the very start of Unser’s racing career. Unser, who won the 1982 Can-Am Championship in the Frissbee GR2, a car designed by Burt and Brian’s father Brad, has a long history of success in endurance racing with two overall wins in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and is looking forward to making his Daytona Prototype debut.
"I love racing...I just really, really love it,” said Unser. “I learned that you can take the boy out of racing, but you can't take racing out of the boy. I have always enjoyed endurance racing, and I have known Brad for a long time, and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun to go racing with his boys.  My dad had great success driving with Brad in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Running at such a drivers track like the Glen is going to be a great follow up to the Indy 500 and my return to racing, and I am glad that A1 TEAM USA has also signed on to be a part of the effort.”  zzzz
Brad Frisselle, who was the IMSA GTU Champion in 1976 and won the 12 Hours of Sebring twice as a driver before starting his own team, oversaw the design, construction, and development of the Frissbee Can-Am car, which was a revolutionary design and enjoyed considerable success including Unser’s run to the championship in 1982.
Despite stepping out of the motorsports world to start a family in the 80’s, Brad still passed on the passion to his young sons, and in 1988 took the family to see the 1988 Long Beach Grand Prix. The race was the first that Burt and Brian had ever attended, and sparked an immediate desire to become racers themselves as the watched Unser Jr. win.
“It was the fulfillment of a long time dream for Brian and I to get to race together, and now, we are sharing the car with a guy who was our hero growing up, so it’s incredibly exciting,” said Burt.
Burt also raced against “Just Al” Unser in the Barber Dodge Pro Series in 2003, and is looking forward to sharing the car with Unser Jr. at Watkins Glen, a track that has seen Burt on the Rolex podium before.
“Our families have known each other for so long, that its going to be a bit like a reunion for everyone at the Glen weekend,” said Brian. “I feel very fortunate to get the chance to share the car with a legend like Al, and I just can’t wait for the weekend to get started.”
GlycoMax will once again adorn the No. 8 Synergy Racing machine, with A1 TEAM USA  also stepping up as a sponsor for the effort as well.
The Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen will open with practice sessions on June 1st, with the race taking the green flag at 2:30 PM ET on June 3rd. The race will be broadcast LIVE on Speed.
Racing News
SPEED Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking SPEED Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking
Updated 5-24-06
Pos. (LW) Driver (Series) Pts
1. (1) Fernando Alonso (F1) 9.506
2. (2) Sebastien Bourdais (CCWS) 9.023
3. (3) Helio Castroneves (IRL) 8.066
4. (4) Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR) 8.053
5. (5) Matt Kenseth (NASCAR) 7.866
6. (6) Tony Stewart (NASCAR) 7.522
7. (14) Justin Wilson (CCWS) 7.260
8. (7) Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NASCAR) 7.088
9. (8) Jeff Gordon (NASCAR) 7.079
10. (9) Mark Martin (NASCAR) 6.964
11. (10) Dan Wheldon (IRL) 6.808
12. (11) Greg Biffle (NASCAR) 6.759
13. (12) Jeff Burton (NASCAR) 6.752
14. (13) Kyle Busch (NASCAR) 6.712
15. (15) Michael Schumacher (F1) 6.601
16. (17) Denny Hamlin (NASCAR) 6.330
17. (18) Tony Kanaan (IRL) 6.292
18. (19) Kasey Kahne (NASCAR) 6.068
19. (20) Sam Hornish Jr. (IRL) 5.881
20. (21) Casey Mears (NASCAR) 5.872
Dropped out: Mario Dominguez (CCWS)

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

Elliott to run Yates Busch entry Elliott to run Yates Busch entryRobert Yates Racing has decided to put Nextel Cup veteran Elliott Sadler back in its No. 90 Busch Series Ford.  Less than two weeks after announcing that Sadler would step out of the car to give more seat time to development drivers Matt McCall and Stephen Leicht, the team has decided that Sadler will now race in the Carquest Auto Parts 300 on Saturday at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Playa Del Racing team secures FedEx backing Playa Del Racing team secures FedEx backingIRL IndyCar Series team Playa Del Racing have secured sponsorship from FedEx for next weekends Indianapolis 500. The two-car team co-owned by Gary Sallee and Susan Schafer have already secured a deal with electronic gambling industry game Videopoker.com and their two Panoz-Honda entries will now boast FedEx Kinko's colors as well.

FedEx, who have shifted their sponsor focus away from open-wheel racing towards NASCAR in recent years, also partnered with the Playa Del Racing squad in their inaugural Indy 500 attempt last season.

Berger denies Monaco boost for Toro Rosso Berger denies Monaco boost for Toro Rosso(GMM)  Gerhard Berger has scoffed at suggestions that Toro Rosso could be heading for an unfair podium at Monaco.

The team's Austrian co-owner described the claims, which say Toro Rosso's controversially performance-limited Cosworth V10 engine could shine on the tight street layout, as 'bullshit'.

''We do not have at this circuit fewer advantages or disadvantages than we have anywhere else,'' the former F1 driver insisted to the 'Salzburger Nachrichten' newspaper.

Ferrari bag $25m sponsor Ferrari bag $25m sponsor(GMM)  'Alice' will replace departing Ferrari sponsor Vodafone for the 2007 season, the Italian team announced on Wednesday.

The brand, to be shown on the red livery for at least three years, is owned by Telecom Italia.

Speculation of the deal earlier in 2006 estimated it to amount to about $25 million a year.

The Ferrari-Marlboro-Alice combination in F1, meanwhile, will be eerily similar to the corresponding Ducati-Marlboro-Alice line-up in MotoGP.

Toyota already driving NASCAR costs up Toyota already driving NASCAR costs upUPDATE Toyota officials have maintained they will spend at a level commensurate with other manufacturers, but Ford Racing boss Dan Davis is skeptical.

He said Team Red Bull, one of three teams fielding Toyotas next year, recently hired away a Ford Racing engineer at a salary increase of 200% to 300%.

Davis estimates Toyota is spending four times as much as Ford in the Craftsman Truck Series and agrees with Roush that Toyota subsidizes teams lacking big-ticket sponsors.

"Given their previous behavior in the truck series, it's hard to think it'll be any different in Cup," Davis said.  More at  USA Today

05/07/06 Roush Racing president Geoff Smith isn't as concerned with the reportedly large salary increases Toyota is offering to lure personnel as he is the discounts being offered to Nextel Cup sponsors.

"They're attacking price points by offering radical discounts to the sponsorship values that are out there today as a means of attracting corporate sponsors to those teams,'' Smith said before Saturday night's race at Richmond International Raceway.

Smith is afraid Toyota will drive up the cost of racing just as it did in the Craftsman Truck Series the past few years.

"You can see what their impact is on the sponsorship environment there,'' he said.  More at NASCAR.com  [Editor's Note: As they say, you ain't seen nothing yet baby.]
Industry News
GM today announced its “GM Fuel Price Protection Program” GM today announced its “GM Fuel Price Protection Program”This regional program caps what consumers pay for gas at $1.99 a gallon when they purchase select 2006 and 2007 GM full-size utilities and mid-size cars.

“This program gives consumers an opportunity to experience the highly fuel-efficient vehicles GM has to offer in the mid-size segment,” said Dave Borchelt, GM Southeast regional general manager. “It helps protect consumers against rising fuel prices by providing them with a partial credit for their fuel purchases for one year.”

The credit is based on the consumer’s estimated fuel usage each month. Fuel consumption is calculated based on the mileage driven, as recorded by OnStar and the EPA city fuel economy mileage rating for the vehicle.

Using the calculation of the consumer’s estimated fuel usage each month, they will be credited for the difference between the average price per gallon of premium fuel in their state, as published by the Automobile Association of America (AAA), and the $1.99 gas price protection cap. zzzz

The credit will be applied each month to a pre-paid card, which will be issued to the consumer. The credits are good until December 31, 2007 and may be used for any type of purchase at any location that accepts MasterCard. There is no mileage limitation.

“This is a unique offer that only GM is making,” said Mike Jackson, GM North America vice president, Vehicle Brand Marketing/Advertising. “This program leverages some of our greatest strengths, including great new GM vehicles, often with some of the best fuel economy ratings in their class, and leading edge OnStar technology. To top it off, we’re now offering consumers in Florida and California protection against rising fuel prices.”

A California resident who purchases a 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe and drives it 1,000 miles a month, would realize an estimated $103.75 monthly credit, based on the current average premium fuel price of $3.65/gallon (as of May 15). A Florida resident who purchases a 2006 Buick LaCrosse with the standard V-6 engine and drives about 1,000 a month, would see an estimated monthly credit of $60, based on the current average premium fuel price of $3.19/gallon in that state.

“The services offered by OnStar are another example of how GM is using technology and innovation to deliver added value to its customers,” said Chet Huber, president, OnStar. “The diagnostic e-mail service is a GM-exclusive and enables only GM to offer consumers a credit for their gas purchases based on the actual mileage that they drive .”

Racing News
New Head-Neck Restraint Certified New Head-Neck Restraint CertifiedSafety Solutions has just announced the New Hutchens Hybrid head and neck restraint. The Hybrid is already SFI 38.1 Certified. The testing was witnessed by NASCAR Head and Neck Restraint Committee member John Melvin who commented that he liked the device. The Hybrid was officially submitted to NASCAR for evaluation last week. The device has already been in use in NHRA Funny Cars and borrows a number of attributes from Safety Solutions and LFT Technologies R3 and Hutchens II. The device features a low back to help get into and out of the race car and a short back section with a wide chest strap and two front buckle attachments to make it the most secure head and neck restraint on the market. For more information on the device see www.hutchensdevice.com. Safety Solutions PR
Goodyear Supports Tire Choice for Coke 600 weekend Goodyear Supports Tire Choice for Coke 600 weekendComments from Greg Stucker, Goodyear director of race tire sales and marketing:

Q: Describe the tire to be used this weekend for the Busch and Nextel Cup races. How has it changed?
A: We have a completely redesigned right side tire. It utilizes a new mold shape to address the tremendous loads that we measured in our tire test last fall. When this is combined with our harder tread compound, we get the more conservative setup.
Q: How did these tires perform, from your perspective, in last weekend's All-Star events?
A: We continue to see what we expected from our Goodyear Eagle tires in terms of tire wear, temperatures and appearance following last weekend's NASCAR racing at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Because of the new track surface and the changing conditions that you expect to experience between day and night racing, our tire selection was designed to err on the side of safety.
Q: Some drivers and teams have said your tires are too hard and cause handling problems due to less grip. What is your reaction to this?
A: Things went well in our recent tire tests, as well as throughout all of the racing activities last weekend. We're seeing that the conservative nature of these tires may require some teams to make changes in car setups and some drivers might have to adjust their driving styles.  zzzz
Q: What challenges do the new track surface present?
A: The fact is that during the day, the sun brings out some of the oil in the fresh asphalt, causing it to get slick. We recognize that. But, overall, new pavement generates a lot of grip and a lot of heat. We must design a tire that works for all 43 different cars and drivers racing in both the daytime and in cooler evening conditions.
Q: How does the racing change as the sun goes down and it gets cooler at a night race?
A: We know the cars will be faster at night than during the heat of the day. We saw this last weekend. While teams are able to change setups from afternoon to evening, the tire has to work in all conditions, so that may necessitate the need for car setup and driving style adjustments.
Q: What do you anticipate as we head into NASCAR's longest race on Sunday?
A: We're comfortable with what we've seen with our tire recommendation and feel very good going into next weekend's Busch Series race and Nextel Cup Coca-Cola 600. Goodyear PR

Two die in violent Ferrari crash Two die in violent Ferrari crashA man who authorities said may have been an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer and a second man who has not been identified were killed Tuesday in a rollover accident involving a Ferrari, the second high-profile Ferrari crash this year in Los Angeles County.

The accident on Cornell Road in Agoura Hills occurred about 3:15 p.m., when the silver 1993 Ferrari Testarossa spun off the road and flipped, the CHP said.   Both victims, believed to be men in their 30s, died at the scene, authorities said.

The Ferrari may have been traveling at high speed when the driver lost control, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Sgt. Phil Brooks. "It came off the corner and went into the air and hit a pole and rocks before flipping upside down," he said.

Brooks said evidence at the scene indicated that one occupant was an off-duty CHP officer. But CHP officials said late Tuesday that they were awaiting results of fingerprint tests to confirm the victims' identities and declined to say more.

They also declined to name the Ferrari's owner until the victims' identities were confirmed.

The Ferrari was traveling south on the narrow road when the driver apparently lost control and hit a telephone pole, said CHP Public Information Officer Leland Tang.

The pole crashed through the passenger compartment and the car then flipped, flinging a large boulder from its resting place, neighbors said.

The car stopped in a corral owned by actress Morgan Brittany. "I heard a screaming engine coming around the curb, and the next thing I heard was a horrific crash," she said.

In February, the nonfatal crash of a $1-million Ferrari Enzo drew national attention. LA Times

Technical setup for Monaco Technical setup for Monaco

Ride heights: Monaco is not only a very twisty circuit, but it is also extremely bumpy, sharply cambered and slippery, particularly early in the weekend when little rubber has been put down on the racing line. We therefore raise ride heights by between 5 and 7 mm relative to normal in order to cope with the surface variations on the circuit.

Suspension: In order to obtain the best possible level of grip, we use soft suspension settings, which also help the car ride the bumps and cope with the sharp cambers. The bumpy surface means the wheels must be able to move independently to ride the bumps, and we soften the anti-roll bars to achieve this. Camber angles are also a focus of special attention, and we run them fairly high – but not so much as to make the car unstable in the bumpy, high-speed braking zones.

Aerodynamics: Monaco sees us run the highest downforce level of the year, and the cars often sprout extra appendages for this race to claw back even more aerodynamic advantage. The downforce brings benefits not just in the corners, but under braking and acceleration. Straight-line speed is of little importance at this circuit, and we sometimes runs higher drag levels than normal in order to get more downforce.

Steering angle: The Grand Hotel hairpin is the tightest of the season, and demands the highest steering angle of the year. It is, for example, two times more than anything required at the last race in Barcelona. We also calibrate the traction control system and differential to help the car turn on the throttle. zzzz


Performance: Monaco does not initially seem a demanding engine circuit, as the drivers spend just 50% of the lap at full throttle – the lowest value of the year. However, that is something of an urban myth, and numerous challenges must be tackled to get the maximum from the RS26. The bumpy surface means there is a real risk of over-revving. In terms of performance, it is important to have a drivable engine with good torque, even from very low revs, in order to launch out of the slow corners.

Gearbox: We use closely-spaced gear ratios at this circuit in order to optimize acceleration, and get the most from the engine at slow speeds.

Cooling: The absence of significant straights makes cooling the engine difficult, especially as the short gear ratios mean the engine is often running at high revs even though the car is moving relatively slowly through the air. This presents a challenge for cooling the car effectively, and we sometimes have to open up the bodywork to ensure the engine does not overheat. However, with aerodynamic efficiency less of a priority here than elsewhere, this does bring its usual lap-time penalty, should it be required.

Source Renaultf1

Ralf dampens Monaco prestige Ralf dampens Monaco prestige(GMM) Ralf Schumacher has played down the prestige of the Monaco grand prix for formula one's drivers.

The German, a staunch opponent of the street circuit's lagging safety standards, agreed that - for some - the historic event is the jewel in F1's crown.

''For the media and VIPs, Monaco is the ultimate stage,'' Ralf, who drives for Toyota, said.

''But for us drivers it is just another race on our busy annual calendar (and) it's not really my favorite track.''

Schumacher, 30, crashed heavily during qualifying in the Swimming Pool section last year, and had to start the race from the rear.

He continued to say: ''There are hardly any run-off zones, and errors are nearly always punished by the arm-co.''

Stick with Jacques, GP veteran tells BMW Stick with Jacques, GP veteran tells BMW(GMM)  Former grand prix driver Hans-Joachim Stuck has advised BMW-Sauber to stick with Jacques Villeneuve for the 2007 season.

The 55-year-old German, who contested 74 grands prix in the 70s, insisted that he is 'not surprised' that Villeneuve is keeping up with teammate Nick Heidfeld.

''I've always been a fan of his,'' Stuck, referring to the French-Canadian who in 1997 won the championship, told the Credit Suisse 'emagazine'.

''I believe he is an important part of the team.''

Stuck, son of the great pre-World War II driver Hans Stuck, therefore hopes that BMW resist the urge to replace 35-year-old 'JV' with Friday tester Robert Kubica.

On the other hand, he reckons the F1 clock of 105-grand prix veteran Nick Heidfeld 'is ticking'.

''(Nick) is still waiting for his first win,'' Stuck said, ''and if he doesn't become champion with BMW, he probably won't get another opportunity.''

MF1 play down Aguri defeats MF1 play down Aguri defeats(GMM) Midland's F1 team has played down its now regular start-line defeats to its closest rival, Super Aguri.

'MF1' technical director James Key argued that the common sight of Christijan Albers and Tiago Monteiro trailing their competitors is not because Aguri's four-year-old racer is better.

He also denied that the M16 is particularly slow to the first corner, but vowed to become 'more aggressive' in this area.

''It could be that they have some help from Honda or (they) design their strategy around maximizing the starts and compromising performance elsewhere,'' Key said.

''(That) is the only performance advantage those cars have right now.''

Key also blamed F1 newcomers Super Aguri for the fact that, once ahead at the start, Takuma Sato and co. prove difficult to re-pass.

He insisted: ''They don't have much downforce so I assume they have less drag as well.''

Red Bull adopt 'Superman' theme Red Bull adopt 'Superman' theme(GMM) Red Bull is hoping that a red cape and Kryptonite can help its F1 team find form in Monaco this weekend.

The energy drink-owned squad, formerly racing in the Jaguar/Ford guise, will continue the recent tradition of promoting a new movie in the famous Principality.

Last year, a Star Wars theme was adopted, which saw mechanics dressed as Storm Troopers while the car was dressed in a special livery.

In 2006, new Hollywood blockbuster 'Superman Returns' will get the Red Bull treatment, with the team currently putting the final touches on a spectacular adaptation to its huge motor home, which is floating in the Monte Carlo harbor.

The Energy Station's front entrance now resembles the headquarters of Clark Kent's 'Daily Planet' building.

Red Bull and Jaguar also promoted the 'Terminator 3' and 'Ocean's Twelve' movies.

Kevin Spacey, who acts in the Superman remake, is tipped to attend the race as a Red Bull guest.

Driver Has 18 Times Legal Alcohol Limit Driver Has 18 Times Legal Alcohol LimitLithuanian police were so astonished when they pulled over a truck driver and his breathalyzer test registered 18 times the legal alcohol limit, they thought their testing device must be broken. It wasn't.

Police said Tuesday 41-year-old Vidmantas Sungaila registered 7.27 grams per liter of alcohol in his blood repeatedly on different devices when he was pulled over for driving his truck down the center of a two-lane highway 60 miles from the capital, Vilnius on Saturday.

Lithuania's legal limit is 0.4 grams per liter.

"This guy should have been lying dead, but he was still driving. It must be an unofficial national record," Saulius Skvernelis, the director of the national police traffic control service, told the AP. "He was of high spirits and grinning the whole time he was questioned."

Medical experts say anything above 3.5 grams per liter of alcohol in the blood is lethal for most people.

"A person this intoxicated should be in an intensive care unit, not behind the wheel," said Tautvydas Zikaras, head of the dependence illness center in the country's second-largest city, Kaunas. Zikaras said he had never heard or read of someone being so drunk.

Hill backs Button to claim British Grand Prix podium Hill backs Button to claim British Grand Prix podiumDamon Hill, the newly elected President of the BRDC and last British driver to win the FIA FORMULA 1™ World Championship, joined rock legend Rick Parfitt, of Status Quo, and Silverstone Managing Director Richard Phillips, at the London Marriott Hotel, County Hall, on Tuesday 23 May, as the build up to this year’s FORMULA 1™ Foster’s British Grand Prix (9 to 11 June) went into over drive.

With just over two weeks to go until the British Grand Prix – one of the biggest events on the British sporting calendar – Hill was making his first public appearance since taking over from Sir Jackie Stewart as BRDC President, and was keen to get behind the jewel in the crown of British motorsport, “It is a real honor to be elected as President of the BRDC - it’s a big job, but our immediate focus is on delivering another successful British Grand Prix in just over two weeks time.” Hill, the youngest ever President to be elected by the prestigious club’s members, continued, “This has been one of the best starts to an F1 season for some time. Alonso and Schumacher are locked in battle at the top, but it would be great to see Jenson get on the podium at Silverstone. He’s under pressure from the British media and public to get that elusive first win, and if Honda can move up a few places in Monaco, he could definitely make it on to the podium at Silverstone in front of a hugely passionate home crowd. Maybe even get his first win – it’s a serious possibility.”

Circuit bosses recently announced that this year’s British Grand Prix was unlikely to sell out, due to hype surrounding the football World Cup and the change of date – the event was moved forward a month to prevent clashes with TV schedules for the World Cup. However, ticket sales have soared in recent weeks and, whilst a sell out is still only a possibility, Silverstone will be opening its gates to an 80,000 plus crowd on raceday, which will be just a few thousand off capacity. zzzz

Richard Phillips, Managing Director of Silverstone Circuits Limited, commented, “We have gone to great lengths to communicate the June 11 date for this year’s British Grand Prix, but there are still people out there who think the event is a month later. The public and media focus has been on the World Cup and Mr. Rooney – understandably – but, with the British Grand Prix just over two weeks away, public interest is growing and there’s been a significant increase in the number of people purchasing tickets.

“Fans coming to this year’s British Grand Prix will benefit from a number of improvements to the circuit’s viewing facilities. The 2005 British Grand Prix took place in front of a 100,000 sell out crowd. The atmosphere was incredible, but we recognized that comfort levels and the viewing experience of fans could be improved. As a direct result, we decided to reduce capacity to 85,000 for this year. In addition to freeing up space for our General Admission ticket holders, we have also built a brand new grandstand at Club corner, and have either updated or increased capacity in almost every other grandstand around the circuit.” Damon Hill continued, “Richard and his team have done a fantastic job preparing for this year, and fans coming to the British Grand Prix will enjoy a fantastic weekend in a far more comfortable environment. The new road system has made Silverstone one of the easiest and quickest circuits to get in and out of in the world, and the hard standing car parks, traffic management system and Park & Ride scheme have made traffic problems a thing of the past. The facilities around the circuit rival many of the circuits in Europe; while the reduced capacity, and new and improved grandstands, will significantly improve the fans’ viewing experience. I came in by car last year and it was fantastic.

“While the circuit remains one of the fastest and most challenging in the world, the venue and its facilities have changed beyond recognition since I was a driver. We are currently in year two of a five year deal between the BRDC and FOM, and we know what needs to be done to keep Formula One and the British Grand prix at Silverstone. Over the next few weeks and months we will be working as a Club to outline a plan for the long term future of both Silverstone and the British Grand Prix. But there will certainly be a British Grand Prix at Silverstone until 2009.” Rick Parfitt and legendary rock ‘n’ roll band Status Quo will be ‘Rocking All Over Silverstone’ at this year’s Grand Prix Party. The traditional post-race celebration, which takes place on a purpose built giant stage in the centre of the circuit, and is FREE to all ticket holders, was attended by 18,000 fans in 2005, and featured a host of driver and celebrity appearances.

Speaking ahead of the British Grand Prix, Parfitt commented, “We actually played for fans at the first Grand Prix Party to be staged at Silverstone in 2003. We had an absolute blast in front of a huge crowd, and can’t wait to do it again. We’re all big F1 fans, so to meet the drivers at the Party, and play at Silverstone was a massive buzz for us. It should be a fantastic finale to a great weekend.” Richard Phillips continued, “The Grand Prix Party has become a firm favorite with fans at the British Grand Prix. Its blend of music and appearances from drivers and F1 personalities provide fantastic entertainment for the fans and a perfect end to the British Grand Prix. We expect a great turn out again this year and I’m sure fans will flock to the event.” Silverstone has also made arrangements to ensure football fans, heading to the Northamptonshire based circuit, won’t miss a single kick of England’s opening game of the World Cup, scheduled to take place on the same day as qualifying for the British Grand Prix. 65,000 fans are expected to head to Silverstone for qualifying on the Saturday where they will be able to watch the whole match ‘live’ on three giant screens located in prime locations around the outside of the track, including Pits Straight, Stowe and Abbey.

With just over two weeks to go until the lights go out at Silverstone, tickets for the 2006 FORMULA 1™ Foster’s British Grand Prix are still available, with transferable three day passes priced from as little as £99 (£49 for children*) - effectively £33 per day. Source British GP

Q and A with truck driver Jourdain Jr. Q and A with truck driver Jourdain Jr.Mexico City native Michel Jourdain, Jr. will attempt to make his Craftsman Truck Series debut this weekend at Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Speedway behind the wheel of the No. 50 Roush Racing Ford F-150.   Jourdain is scheduled to pilot the No. 50 Roush Racing Ford in nine truck series events throughout the 2006 season.   Jourdain, who also has 21 Busch Series starts to his credit, discussed the challenges that accompany his truck debut.

MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR. -- No. 50 Roush Racing Ford F-150 – THIS WEEKEND’S RACE WILL MARK YOUR FIRST NASCAR RACE SINCE THE BUSCH SERIES EVENT IN MEXICO CITY.  “It feels like it has been forever, but I’m very happy and very excited about this opportunity.  I’m sure it will come back pretty quick.  I’m very excited about the race this weekend.  I hear good things about the track.  It’s short-track racing and it’s going to be hard, but I’m really, really looking forward to this opportunity.  Roush has very good equipment in the truck series this year, so I hope that we get a good result.”

THERE ARE A NUMBER OF FIRSTS FOR YOU THIS WEEKEND, INCLUDING YOUR FIRST START IN A TRUCK AND YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE AT MANSFIELD MOTORSPORTS SPEEDWAY.  “I haven’t done much short-track racing.  Pretty much the only short track that I’ve done is Bristol, which is completely different because the speeds are so much faster there than any other short track.  For me, it’s going to be a very new experience, short-track racing and also being in the truck.  Just looking from the outside, it looks like the truck races are very different than the Busch races.  It’s just going to be a new experience, but I hope that I’ll learn pretty quick.”

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES THAT YOU HAVE NOTICED BETWEEN BUSCH RACES AND TRUCK RACES?  “Because the truck races are shorter, you have to be much more aggressive all of the time.  I also think the traffic, it seems to me like they are running in traffic a lot more all the time, so you have to be very aggressive in traffic. Probably more aggressive all day long to have a good result.”  zzzz

SHORT-TRACK RACING IS ALSO CHARACTERIZED BY SHORT TEMPERS.  HOW DO YOU BALANCE BEING AGGRESSIVE AND KEEPING YOUR NOSE CLEAN?  “It’s not like I’m to try to go out there and wreck people.  I’m just going to try to go out there and do my thing.  The last thing I want to do is go in there and make everyone mad.  I want to be good, I want to be smart, and I want to finish the race.  You don’t finish the race by wrecking, so the plan is to be there at the end.  The 50 truck team is something that we’re still putting together, so for us it’s very important to finish races and come back with a truck.  We’re still building trucks, so we’re catching up.  I see everybody being more aggressive, and, of course, you have to be out there on the track to be at the same level, but it’s very important for us to finish every race, but especially the next one to make sure we don’t fall further behind with equipment and things like that.”

DO YOU FEEL THIS NINE-RACE DEAL WILL HELP YOU ADVANCE YOUR NASCAR CAREER??  “I hope so.  I think it’s the right team to be doing it with.  I think we have a good mixture of short tracks and mile-and-halfs that I hope we can get good results and get back on track.”

THE TRUCK SERIES IS BECOMING THE GATEWAY FOR INTERNATIONAL TALENT WITH DRIVERS LIKE YOURSELF AND MARCOS AMBROSE.  “Well, I don’t think much about that because I’m used to racing with people from all over the world.  Racing with Marcos will be good.  He’s a very, very good driver and he’s going through the same thing as me learning the stock car scene.  I think lately a lot of international drivers are trying to get into NASCAR because it’ so big, and probably the best way to do it right now is through the truck series, and maybe that’s why it has the international flavor that it’s getting.” Ford Racing

Q and A with Matt Kenseth Q and A with Matt KensethMatt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, captured the first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series win of his career as a rookie in the 2000 Coca-Cola 600.  Kenseth, who ranks third in the point standings, recalled that race and why it’s one of his favorite events of the season.

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion -- YOUR FIRST NNC WIN WAS IN THE 600.  “I always like coming to Charlotte.  The World 600, I think, is one of the most fun and challenging events of the year.  You start during the day and you end at night.  The track goes through a lot of changes and it’s a really long race, so it’s probably the one I look forward to and enjoy more than any other race.  For me, it’s one of the biggest races of the year.  It’s close to home so all the crew’s families get to come out and watch and it’s just a fun atmosphere.”

LOOK BACK AT THAT TIME, YOU ALMOST WON AT CALIFORNIA A FEW WEEKS BEFORE THAT SO WAS IT A SURPRISE THAT YOU WON AT LOWE’S?  “I think it’s still a surprise when you win your first race no matter what.  We had a great car at California.  We got four tires at the end and got beat on two tires.  That’s happened to us a few times.  We had a great car, but caught some short cautions there at the end.  We did dominate that race, but in the 600 we didn’t really have the best car when we won our first race.  We had a third or fourth-place car most of the night and the 8 car was actually the best all night, but he got a set of tires he didn’t like at the end and we were able to get up through there and hold off Bobby (Labonte) at the end.  So it was an exciting win and we weren’t really expecting it because we didn’t lead all that many laps.  We just had it good when we needed it.”

DOES THE EXTRA 100 MILES ON THIS RACE TAKE A TOLL PHYSICALLY ON A DRIVER?  “It depends on the whether because you’re sitting in the car for a long time.  If it’s a hot night, it definitely feels longer than a 500-mile race.  It’s gonna be a little bit of a mess with the small fuel cell, but if you get a lot of greens here it’s probably just as fast as 500 miles at Darlington really because 500 miles at Darlington is a long time too.”  Ford Racing

Rahal: Watching Graham win was the best feeling I've ever had Rahal: Watching Graham win was the best feeling I've ever hadIt took Bobby Rahal the better part of two years to win his initial Atlantic Championship Series race at age 23. It took Graham Rahal three starts. He's 17.

"I think he's got a lot more on the ball than I ever did," beamed the elder Rahal on Sunday afternoon following his son's dominating and impressive victory in Monterrey, Mexico. Photo right by Hector Serrano/AutoRacing1.com of dad hugging son after win Sunday

"He's so smooth and poised. I know he's my son but I think he's a special kid and I think he's going to have a lot of success."

"He doesn't act like any 17-year-olds I know," said Don Halliday, the veteran engineer who worked with Bob and is now guiding Graham. "He's so mature for his age and very, very calm.

"He acts more like he's 27 than 17."

Quick all weekend at Long Beach, Graham debuted with a fifth place and two weeks ago at Houston he was going for the lead when he tangled with Raphael Matos.

"I was being aggressive, Matos ran a little wide and came back down on me but I think any driver makes the same move I did," said Rahal. "You're out here to win."  zzzz

This past weekend was a dream. Fast time in practice, Graham captured the pole and led all 32 laps to become the youngest winner in the history of this storied series

"I like the track a lot because it was kind of like a temporary circuit, kinda slippery and kinda technical, but an enjoyable track that suits my style," said Rahal, who beat France's Simon Pagenaud by three seconds.

"Simon was right on me for quite a while but I kept running consistently quick laps and I think it wore him out. I set my fastest lap, three laps from the end and it was quicker than I qualified."

The elder Rahal, who worked his son's pit board on Sunday, said it was his proudest moment in motorsports.

"There's nothing worse than racer dads so I had to do something instead of watching or I'd have chewed off all my nails," he said. "Watching Graham today was by far the best feeling I've had.

"He drove fantastic all weekend and I'm so proud of him." More at  Champ Car Atlantics

More mods for Williams Cosworth at Monaco More mods for Williams Cosworth at MonacoSpanish Grand Prix afforded Williams Cosworth a four day test session in Vallelunga, Italy, last week. Mark Webber, Alex Wurz and Narain Karthikeyan carried out an extensive program, including the evaluations of aero and mechanical specifications in preparation for the Monaco Grand Prix.

Over the four days, the trio covered nearly 2,500 kilometres. A quick trip to Santa Pod in the UK for starts practice with Narain Karthikeyan on Tuesday this week finalized the team’s homework for the race. Both the team’s race drivers made their regular trips to Grove between the races to catch up with staff, before consultations with their engineers ahead of the Grand Prix.

As part of the team’s scheduled development program, Webber and Rosberg’s FW28s will have further aerodynamic upgrades and Monaco-specific devices.

Last year the team took a double podium position at Monaco with Nick Heidfeld taking second position, just ahead of Webber.

Mark Webber
“Monaco is certainly a very special race on the calendar for everyone involved in Formula One. It’s an historic event and one we all want to do well at. We had a good result there last year and I hope we can improve on the previous race in Barcelona by quite some margin and get some solid points for the team. I love the challenge of Monte Carlo and, as a sporting event, the atmosphere is absolutely amazing. I really hope it will prove to be a turn in fortunes, and form, for the team. It can’t come soon enough after the last race and I’m just looking forward to getting there.” zzzz

Nico Rosberg
“Monaco will be a special weekend for me. Racing in the town where I have lived all my life, and with all my friends supporting me on such a fascinating circuit, will be great. I had a great race here in GP2 when I finished third and, although the track will be quite different in a Formula One car, I'm going into the weekend with a strong belief that we can do well.”

Sam Michael, Technical Director
“Last week we were at the Vallelunga circuit, near Rome, where we spent the four days mainly testing tires for Bridgestone, but also working on mechanical and aerodynamic set-up for Monaco’s maximum downforce circuit. Because Monaco is a street circuit, the increase in grip levels over the race weekend is significant. Formula One tires are very soft for Monaco and therefore a lot of rubber is laid down on the track. Also, as with any street circuit, there is a lot of oil and other contaminants on the road surface."

"Overtaking is extremely difficult in Monaco, but not impossible, as Williams showed in last year’s race, so qualifying and race strategy are key to a good result here. We have an aerodynamic upgrade on the FW28 especially for this race to ensure we get the best out of this maximum downforce track.”

Simon Corbyn, Cosworth Head of F1 Race Engineering
“Monaco presents a unique challenge for Formula One engines due to the nature of the circuit, it also places maximum demands on engine drivability and effective control strategies rather than outright engine performance. It is vital to qualify well here to maximize the opportunity of a good race result and the 2006 qualifying format will no doubt make Saturday afternoon pretty exciting."

"Both Mark and Nico are scheduled to start the event with fresh CA2006 Series 4 engines fitted with the latest performance and reliability updates. Cosworth had a good test last week in Vallelunga and we’re looking forward to Monaco.” Source Williams Cosworth

Yates releases GM D'Hondt Yates releases GM D'HondtRobert Yates Racing has severed ties General Manager Eddie D'Hondt, according to a statement released by the team.  D'Hondt had been with the team since the end of the 2003 season, and his departure comes on the heels of Dale Jarrett's announcement he is leaving to go to Michael Waltrip Racing to run a Toyota.

Team co-owner Doug Yates said in a statement that the decision to make a change at the management level is a result of the Yates family reasserting themselves as the managers of their family-owned business.

"Eddie did a good job for us," Doug Yates said. "But this is our company, and Robert and I have decided we need to get our arms around our company. We're not happy with where we're at as a race team. We need to reassert key people. including ourselves."

Jarrett won the 1999 title with the team, and the team put a driver in the top five from 1996 to 2001, but since then, RYR has done no better than ninth.

"We are re-evaluating the way we are doing business from the top down," Robert Yates said. "This is a performance-based business, and we have to evaluate the performance of where our cars are now. That begins with understanding our cars."

Sadler has not won in his last 58 starts, and Jarrett has won only once in his last 81 starts.

"Right now we are a victim of our own success," Robert Yates said. "For so many years we were successful with the formula we used to run this team. We stayed small and didn't grow as fast as the technology in the sport has grown. What worked five years ago doesn't work now. We know we've fallen behind in that respect.

"Our goal is to figure out a technical direction and find the right people to lead that direction, This isn't a quick fix, and it is going to be a process for us. This decision is a first step in the evaluation process."  zzzz 

In other RYR changes, Raymond Fox III will leave his position as crew chief of the No. 90 Busch Series team to work with the No. 38 Nextel Cup team and serve as a liaison among the Cup and Busch teams. Jerry Pitts, who was the crew chief of RYR's ARCA team, will be the crew chief the No. 90 car.

"We know we have good people that work for us," Doug Yates said. "Despite what may appear as a lack of performance we have our teams sitting 12th and 15th in the point standings, and that's because we have people that are good at their respective jobs.

"We haven't had the part failures whether it is the brakes, shocks, whatever, and it's because of the efforts of the individuals who work in those respective departments. We need to let the key people we have in place perform the jobs for which they were hired and have faith in their talents and abilities."

San Jose GP doubles corporate partners San Jose GP doubles corporate partnersSAN JOSE, CA - The San José Grand Prix presented by Taylor Woodrow, today announced the first 31 companies that have signed agreements to become corporate partners of the 2006 event, which is scheduled for July 28-30 on the streets of downtown San José.

Today’s announcement more than doubles the corporate participation for the event over the 15 partners that were on board at this time last year. It is also a strong indication of the support and growth that the San José Grand Prix is experiencing in its second year.

The corporations which have committed to become partners range from companies traditionally associated with racing to local businesses that appreciate the value of an affiliation with the most successful sporting event in the history of San José and one which is sure to expand and grow in the coming years.

Leading the parade of companies signing agreements is presenting sponsor, Taylor Woodrow Homes.

Joining Taylor Woodrow as 2006 corporate partners are:  zzzz

AAA Towing – Auto Club Membership IKON Office Solutions
Allied Waste, Inc. Il Fornaio
Autobahn Motors Mercedes Benz – Luxury Cars KNTV NBC 11 – TV
Barracuda Networks Krispy Kreme
Bonita Magazine Poor House Bistro
Bud Light – Bottomley Distributing San José Mercury News – Newspaper
Chipotle Smoke Tiki Lounge
City of San José South Bay Segway
Clear Channel – Radio (KFOX/WILD 94.9) Telemundo – Hispanic TV
Comcast Cable The Sainte Claire Hotel
Draper and Esquin Togo’s
Executive Transportation Tony Soprano’s Pizzeria
FedEx Toyota – Automobile Manufacturer
Garage Doors Inc. Westfield Corporation
Hertz Corporation Yellow Checker Cab Company – Taxi

Each of the 2006 San José Grand Prix corporate partners has a strong business and marketing presence in the greater Bay Area and specifically San José. All of the companies will enjoy tremendous exposure for their products and brands. In addition, most will augment their on-site product and marketing programs with corporate hospitality, advertising plus customer and employee entertainment.

“We are extremely happy with the number and quality of sponsors that have signed on to date for this year’s San José Grand Prix,” said President Dale Jantzen. “The fact that we have doubled our corporate partner commitments is especially pleasing to us and shows the solid support we have from local and national businesses. We look forward to continuing to add quality corporate partners in the coming weeks.”

The San José Grand Prix, which proudly supports the Canary Foundation, is the ninth stop on the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford schedule. The Champ Car World Series features some of the greatest race car drivers in the world competing in the most diverse and exciting series in the world. Champions Sebastien Bourdais, and Paul Tracy, along with San José native A. J. Allmendinger, Mexican star Mario Dominguez and rising star Katherine Legge are among the drivers that compete in the series.

San José Grand Prix Vice President and General Manager Bob Singleton noted that, “We are also very excited with our hospitality suite and advance ticket sales. At this point suite and ticket sales are on track and we are looking forward to having the 2006 San José Grand Prix be even more successful than last year’s inaugural event.”

Continuing its theme from last year, “More Than A Race,” plans for the 2006 San José Grand Prix include the addition of Freestyle Motorcross exhibitions as well as music, interactive displays, a family fun area and charity events. The three-day festival of speed, which will be contested on the significantly improved 1.5-mile, seven-turn downtown San José temporary street circuit, will draw over 150,000 spectators generating another significant economic benefit for northern California’s largest city. In 2005, the economic impact exceeded $40 million. This year, the race will be televised live on NBC with a second airing five days later on SPEED Channel. It will also be broadcast in 160 other countries thus showcasing the City of San José to viewers around the world. With more bridges, more viewing, more passing, more excitement and more fun, the 2006 San José Grand Prix will be more than it’s highly successful 2005 debut.

Canary Foundation, which was founded by Don Listwin, is dedicated to advancing the science of the early detection of cancer and is the Official Social Cause of the Champ Car World Series.

Tickets for the 2006 San José Grand Prix can be purchased online at www.sjgp.com, www.Ticketmaster.com, by visiting a Ticketmaster ticket center or by calling 408-998-TIXS (8497), 415-421-TIXS or 510-625-TIXS. Tickets start at $25 for general admission and go up to $160 for a three-day Gold Grandstand seat.

Aaron’s/Waltrip Partnership Breaks New Ground Aaron’s/Waltrip Partnership Breaks New GroundAaron Rents, Inc., the nation’s leader in the rental, sales and lease ownership, specialty retailing and rental of residential and office furniture, consumer electronics, home appliances and accessories, today announced that three-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Darrell Waltrip (D.W.) will unveil his version of the No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine NASCAR Busch Series entry this Saturday at Lowe’s Motor Speedway’s media center at 2:30 p.m. Eastern. Waltrip is scheduled to race the car with a special paint scheme in the Goody’s 250 at Martinsville Speedway on July 22.

After a 14-year hiatus from racing in the series, the elder Waltrip will make his return this time behind the wheel of the Dream Machine. Waltrip has been the focus of a longstanding storyline in Aaron’s marketing campaigns, where he consistently asks his brother Michael to drive the Dream Machine. Michael always found some way to deny D.W.'s request until recently.

Two months ago, the Waltrip’s proved this marketing campaign was no gimmick as Michael along with Darrell’s wife Stevie surprised him with his own Dream Machine helmet complete with their permission to drive the Aaron’s car in a NASCAR Busch Series race at Martinsville Speedway this July.

“Well, I guess Michael got tired of me bothering him about running the No. 99 Aaron’s Dream Machine, “ said Waltrip. “He finally gave in and I’m going to be able to drive it after all.  I’ve never driven a Busch Series car in Martinsville.  In fact, I think the last time I drove a Busch car anywhere was in 1992. It’s been a long time – does that mean I’m a rookie and I’ll get rookie practice?”

Marco Andretti honored as fastest rookie Marco Andretti honored as fastest rookieMarco Andretti followed his grandfather and father as competitors in the Indianapolis 500, and he's followed them as the fastest rookie.

Andretti was the recipient of the 32nd American Dairy Association of Indiana Fastest Rookie of the Year Award. Joining Townsend Bell, Thiago Medeiros, Arie Luyendyk Jr. and P.J. Chesson as rookies in the May 28 race, Andretti will begin his attack from the outside of Row 3. Mario Andretti was the fastest rookie in 1965, and Michael followed in 1984.
"This means a lot to me because every family member of mine that has competed has won this award," Andretti said. "I want to set my goals even bigger and bring home Rookie of the Year this year at Indy."

But the 19-year-old IndyCar Series driver is aiming higher.

"Obviously, I want to win this race," he said. "If we can roll back onto the track on race day with what we just had, the NYSE car has a very good shot of being successful. If we set our goals high, then hopefully good things will follow. We need to be consistent, but find ways to get to the front." zzzz

Three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Johnny Rutherford congratulated Andretti and his peers. He said the apple doesn't fall far from the Andretti family tree.

"He's another Andretti," Rutherford said. "They've all got talent and are great race drivers. Marco is still out to make his mark, but he's certainly showing well thus far."

Rutherford added that this year's rookie crop has shown great success and knows that they can be successful on race day.

"They've all done well and made the race," Rutherford said. "They've joined the ranks as Indy 500 racers, and that's quite an honor for them. Now it's time to show what they can do in the race itself."

Andretti took home numerous awards, including a $5,000 check from the American Dairy Farmer's Association of Indiana.

 Track News
NASCAR drivers on TV tonight (USA) NASCAR drivers on TV tonight (USA)NASCAR driver Tony Stewart is scheduled to be a presenter at the 41st Academy of Country Music Awards, which will air on CBS at 8:00pm ET.

NASCAR drivers Kurt Busch, Mike Skinner, Kyle Petty, Hermie Sadler and Boris Said will participate in The Golf Channel’s “The Big Break All Star Challenge” at 10:30pm ET.

Indy 500 pitstop competition news Indy 500 pitstop competition newsINDIANAPOLIS - A new format and an increased purse will add even more excitement to one of the most popular events of the Indianapolis 500, the 30th annual Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge on Miller Lite Carb Day, Friday, May 26.

The Challenge, which determines the fastest pit crew in the IndyCar® Series, starts at 1:30 p.m. (ET) during an action-packed day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Television coverage of the Challenge will start at 3 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2.

Ten pit crews will compete this year in the Challenge for a $50,000 first prize from a $100,000 purse, up from $30,000 and $80,000 last year. Crews include the defending Challenge champion, the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske crew of 2006 WorldPoints Visa Card Pole winner Sam Hornish Jr. It was the record eighth victory in the Challenge for Marlboro Team Penske.

Nine of the qualified 2006 Challenge crews earned their spots through speedy pit work at previous IndyCar Series races, starting at the 2005 Indianapolis 500 through the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in April 2006.

The 10th participant, the No. 10 crew of Target Chip Ganassi Racing and 2005 Indy 500 winner and IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon, was added to the Challenge as a promoter's option.  zzzz

Other crews participating in the 2006 Checkers/Rally's Pit Stop Challenge: No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske (Helio Castroneves), No. 7 Andretti Green Racing (Bryan Herta), No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Scott Dixon), No. 11 Andretti Green Racing (Tony Kanaan), No. 15 Rahal Letterman Racing (Buddy Rice), No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing (Danica Patrick), No. 26 Andretti Green Racing (Marco Andretti), No. 27 Andretti Green Racing (Dario Franchitti).

An exciting, new structure was created for this year's Challenge, splitting competition into a Qualifications Round and Eliminations Rounds.

All 10 crews will complete a simulated pit stop in the Qualifications Round, with the fastest and second-fastest crews automatically advancing to the semifinals of the Eliminations Round. The crews with the third- through sixth-fastest times will move to the quarterfinals of Eliminations.

The four slowest crews in Qualifications are eliminated and will earn sixth through 10th place based on their Qualifications Round times.

Crews with the third- through sixth-fastest times in Qualifications will participate in the quarterfinals of Eliminations. Those winners will advance to the semifinals against the two fastest crews from the Qualifications Round, with the winners of those pairings squaring off in the finals.

During every pit stop in Qualifications and Eliminations, crews must change all four tires while making a simulated fuel hose connection to the car. Fuel is not used in the Challenge.

Time penalties of various lengths will be assessed for violations, such as running over an air hose, leaving the pits before the wheels are properly tightened and pit crews and equipment straying from the marked pit box during the stop.



Helio Castroneves
Marlboro Team Penske

Sam Hornish Jr.
Marlboro Team Penske

Bryan Herta
Andretti Green Racing

Scott Dixon
Target Chip Ganassi Racing

Dan Wheldon*
Target Chip Ganassi Racing

Tony Kanaan
Andretti Green Racing

Buddy Rice
Rahal Letterman Racing

Danica Patrick
Rahal Letterman Racing

Marco Andretti
Andretti Green Racing

Dario Franchitti
Andretti Green Racing

* -- Promoter's option


No. 3 Qualifications vs. No. 6 Qualifications
No. 4 Qualifications vs. No. 5 Qualifications
Note: The losing crew in each pairing will be ranked by time for fifth and sixth place overall.

No. 1 Qualifications vs. Winner of No. 3-No. 6 Quarterfinals pairing
No. 2 Qualifications vs. Winner of No. 4-No. 5 Quarterfinals pairing
Note: The losing crew in each pairing will be ranked by time for third and fourth place overall.

Two winners of Semifinals pairings
Note: The losing crew will earn second place overall. IMS

Track News
Dover truck race picks up sponsorship Dover truck race picks up sponsorshipOne of northern Delaware’s most popular eateries, the 2FatGuys American Grill, has signed on as an associate sponsor of the Key Motorsports #40 Chevrolet Silverado race truck for the running of the AAA Insurance 200 NASCSAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Dover International Speedway on June 2.

Operating in Hockessin, DE, the 2FatGuys American Grill has become a stopping ground for regular customers in both Delaware and Pennsylvania looking for good food, good drink, exceptional service and a great, casual family atmosphere all at affordable prices. Offering a diverse menu from burgers and sandwiches to full-course meals, the 2FatGuys American Grill is located at 701 Ace Memorial Drive.

The restaurant opened its doors in June of 2005 and is an offshoot of 2FatGuys Catering, a company whose unique culinary expertise has benefited such well-known companies over the years as JP Morgan Chase, Nemours, Calico Corners, Genesis and Astra Zeneca Pharmaceuticals. 2FatGuys Catering also provides catering services to celebrities, entertainers and film crews at special events and film shoots out of their fully equipped portable kitchen and has operated under the motto “We are only limited by your imagination and budget”.

Long joins flying Lizard team for LeMans Long joins flying Lizard team for LeMansSonoma, Calif. - American Porsche factory driver Patrick Long will join Flying Lizard Motorsports principals Johannes van Overbeek and Seth Neiman at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the team announced today.

The California-based team will field its PortalPlayer-sponsored No. 80 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in the world's most prestigious motor race for the second year in a row. This season in the American Le Mans Series, Flying Lizard has one GT2 victory - at Mid-Ohio last weekend - to go along with runner-up finishes at Sebring and Houston. van Overbeek also leads the GT2 drivers standings.

Last year at Le Mans, the Lizards fought to a hard-earned third-place finish in GT2 with the trio of van Overbeek, Neiman and Lonnie Pechnik. "We are honored to be able to return to Le Mans again this year," Neiman said. "It was an incredible experience to be part of such an historic race last year."

Track News
Miller Brewing extends deal with Indy Speedway Miller Brewing extends deal with Indy SpeedwayINDIANAPOLIS - Miller Brewing announced May 23 that it has agreed to a four-year contract extension with Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the legendary track's Official Malt Beverage sponsor. The new deal extends Miller's sponsorship through 2009, encompassing IMS' 100th anniversary celebration in 2009.

Miller Lite will continue as the Official Malt Beverage of the Indianapolis 500 and the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, as well as Miller Lite Carb Day leading up to the Indianapolis 500. Miller has had a presence at IMS since the 1973 Indianapolis 500, when Miller High Life sponsored the car driven by Jim Hurtubise.

"Our partnership with the Speedway epitomizes Miller's commitment to sports alliances that enable us to build our brands and our business," said Tom Long, Miller's chief marketing officer. "Indianapolis Motor Speedway is an icon in American motorsports, attracting hundreds of thousands of fans each year, with millions more watching on TV. We'll aggressively leverage this sponsorship to ensure that whenever legal-drinking-age consumers think of Indy, they'll also think of Miller Lite." zzzz

Long said Miller's new partnership with IMS is a prime example of the brewer's new strategy for sports and alliance marketing. The company's objectives with sports marketing properties are to: 1) Build upon a particular brand idea, 2) Provide Miller with a leadership role wherever necessary, and 3) Establish alliances that focus on the varying passions of our target consumers. By accomplishing these objectives, Long said, Miller will provide memorable experiences for consumers that increase their loyalty to Miller brands.

In addition to signage, advertising, promotions and hospitality, Miller's alliance with IMS will continue to feature the Miller Lite Party Deck during the Indianapolis 500 and Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Located in the fourth turn, this 300-person capacity viewing area gives lucky fans a unique perspective on the races.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway President and Chief Operating Officer Joie Chitwood said the commitment of partners such as Miller is pivotal to the track's continued success.

"We're pleased to extend our long-running partnership with Miller Brewing," Chitwood said. "It provides us with a strong, long-term platform from which we will continue to promote our events at the Speedway and increase our loyal fans' strong allegiance to Miller brands."

This year, the 90th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 28, and the 13th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard is slated for Sunday, Aug. 6.

As one of America's oldest brewers, Miller Brewing Company continues the commitment of founder Frederick J. Miller to brew 'confoundedly good beers' with 'uncompromising quality.' Through more than 150 years of innovation and brewing excellence, Miller has built a broad portfolio of award-winning beers that capture approximately 18 percent of the U.S. beer market.

Miller's flagship brand, Miller Lite, is the great tasting, less filling beer that defined the American light beer category in 1975. The company also brews smooth, golden rich Miller Genuine Draft using a unique cold-filtering process Miller introduced in 1985. Miller's oldest brew is Miller High Life, the champagne of beers. Miller imports Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Pilsner Urquell and Foster's, and brews regional craft beers Leinenkugel's and Henry Weinhard's. Near-premium beers include Milwaukee's Best Light, Olde English 800, Mickey's Malt Liquor, Icehouse and Sharp's, a non-alcohol brew.

Miller is a wholly owned subsidiary of SABMiller plc, the world's second-largest brewer. For more information, visit www.MillerBrewing.com.

Racing News
New Wind Tunnel planned in Concord New Wind Tunnel planned in ConcordA second incentive grant is in the works for the $40 million Haas CNC Racing wind tunnel proposed for a site near the Concord Regional Airport. Coming on the heels of a three-year, $626,668 incentive grant given the green light last week by Cabarrus County, Concord City Council on Monday set a public hearing for a second incentive grant for the project. The public hearing is slated for June 8. Concord City Manager Brian Hiatt said the incentive would come in the form of the city’s committal to provide electrical service and a $4 million investment towards electrical infrastructure at the Ivy Cline Road site. Hiatt said the city had plans to build an electrical substation at the site in the future, but the city will expedite its construction for the wind tunnel. He said because of the project’s size, the substation would be needed for the site. A fire station is also planned for a portion of the property where the wind tunnel would sit. The wind tunnel would be for commercial use, allowing motor sports and car manufacturers to perform aerodynamic testing and research on cars. Haas officials said that only 10 of its kind exist worldwide. Last year, Haas received up to $400,000 in incentives from Cabarrus County and Kannapolis when Haas moved its race car shop from Harrisburg to Kannapolis Gateway Business Park. Kannapolis Independent Tribune
Another Busch falls afoul with the law Another Busch falls afoul with the lawKyle Busch was fined $150 plus court costs after being found guilty of improper driving this morning in Henrico General District Traffic Court. Busch was originally ticketed for reckless driving after an incident near the corner of South Laburnum Avenue and Williamsburg Road on April 12. He appeared in court this morning with attorney Toby Vick and pleaded guilty to the lesser charge. Richmond Times Dispatch
Earnhardt documentary to debut next year Earnhardt documentary to debut next yearNASCAR Images and CMT films will release an authorized Dale Earnhardt documentary titled "Dale: The True Story" before next year's Daytona 500, Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal reports.

Plans call for airing the 90-minute film narrated by Paul Newman in markets where NASCAR races are scheduled. National Cinema Vice President/Digital Programming Dan Diamond, whose company is promoting the film, says the company also expects limited runs in major non-race markets such as New York Denver and Seattle.

Paramount Home Video will handle the film's DVD release late next year, while CMT will air it after it runs in theaters.

Track News
Sam's Town to sponsor truck race Sam's Town to sponsor truck raceBoyd Gaming Corporation’s Sam’s Town Hotel & Casino has signed a multi-year agreement to serve as title sponsor of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event held annually in June at Texas Motor Speedway as part of the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Bombardier Learjet 500k race weekend, speedway president Eddie Gossage announced today.

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at “The Great American Speedway!” is scheduled for Friday, June 9, and will be titled the Sam’s Town 400. Financial terms of the three-year agreement were not disclosed.

“The Sam’s Town 400 may well be the biggest NASCAR Craftsman Truck race of the season with perhaps the biggest crowd of the truck race season,” Gossage said. “And it is such an important market. Sam’s Town’s sponsorship demonstrates how healthy the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is on the American sports scene.” zzzz

Sam’s Town Hotels and Casinos, which are owned and operated by the Boyd Gaming Corporation, have locations in Las Vegas, Shreveport, La. and Tunica, Miss.

This agreement increases Sam’s Town title sponsorship involvement with NASCAR to three races a year. The gaming casino currently serves as the title sponsor for the NASCAR Busch Series races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March and the Busch event at Memphis Motorsports Park in October.

“We are truly excited to add yet another NASCAR title sponsorship to the two NASCAR races Sam’s Town currently sponsors. We’ve always loved the excitement that NASCAR provides for its audience and our customers. I think you’d be hard pressed to find more fans passionate about the sport than those in the Lone Star state!” said Dan Stark Vice President, Corporate Marketing for Boyd Gaming Corporation. “We look forward to continuing our support of NASCAR and can’t wait to see what happens next in this exciting relationship.”

Industry News
Toyota marks start of Camry production in China Toyota marks start of Camry production in ChinaToyota Motor Corporation announced that Guangzhou Toyota Motor Co., Ltd., a joint vehicle production and sales company established with Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., Ltd. (Guangzhou Automobile) in China in 2004, held a line-off ceremony today for the Toyota Camry ("Kaimeirui" in Chinese) sedan at the company's plant in Guangzhou Nansha, Guangdong, China.

Approximately 1,400 people attended the event, including local and central government officials, Japanese government officials, various suppliers and dealers, media representatives, Guangzhou Automobile Chairman Zhang Fangyou, TMC President Katsuaki Watanabe and GTMC President Toru Kuzuhara and Executive Vice President Yuan Zhongrong.

At the beginning of the ceremony, Kuzuhara made the following remarks on behalf of the company: "We will strive to continually set and achieve high goals without losing sight of the need to approach learning with a sense of modesty. With your help and cooperation we hope to grow and be recognized as a good corporate citizen as soon as possible by the people of Nansha, Guangzhou and indeed all of China. We will work to build a bright, fun and energetic workplace so that we can contribute to further development of society and better lifestyles for all concerned."

Industry News
BMW goes stop-start BMW goes stop-startBMW is to introduce a stop-start system - which cuts the engine when stopped and restarts it when the driver's foot comes off the brake - from next year.  Various four- and six-cylinder 1-series, 3-series and 5-series models will use a Bosch-developed system, which promises fuel savings of around five per cent. It will be the first time an upmarket manufacturer has offered such a device.
Industry News
Porsche stock rating increased Porsche stock rating increasedPorsche AG, the carmaker with the world's highest profit margins, was raised to ``overweight'' from ``equal-weight'' by analysts at Morgan Stanley on optimism about growth in new markets. The shares rose as much as 4.4 percent.

New, more expensive models including versions of the 911 sports car, ``hyper-normal'' growth in new markets such as Russia and cost-cutting will help Porsche's shares rise, Adam Jonas and David Cramer said in a note to investors today. The analysts have a price target for the shares of 1,030 euros.

Stuttgart, Germany-based Porsche, which earned more than 4,000 euros per vehicle sold in the six months ended Jan. 31, more than any other of the world's top carmakers, introduced new 911 and Boxster models in 2004 and added the Cayman sports car last year to make up for slowing sales of the Cayenne sport utility vehicle. Chief Executive Wendelin Wiedeking has boosted earnings 11 years in a row at Porsche, helped in the past three years by the Cayenne.

The shares rose as much as 30.49 euros to 728 euros and were up 3 percent to 718.20 euros as of 9:27 a.m. in Frankfurt. Bloomberg

Racing News
GP cars on the streets of Paris GP cars on the streets of ParisThe Federation Française du Sport Automobile will be organizing an exceptional historic Grand Prix car exhibition to honor 100 years of Grand Prix racing in France. The event takes place 3rd - 4th of June at the base of the Avenue Champs-Elysées to experience this once in a life time event.

This exhibition will feature historic cars demonstrating 100 years of Grand Prix racing evolution from it’s creation in France in 1906 to the last Formula One season.

Open from Saturday morning until Sunday evening, the Grand Prix car display will feature such famous cars as the Darac 1906, Bugatti, and Renault. There will be Formula One animations, Grand Prix de France information team, 2006 Formula One show cars, and circuit marshals on site to explain the sport.

Sunday at 11:00 CET, Parisians can discover the excitement of these same Grand Prix cars driving in the heart of Paris. Following closely behind a pace car, these historic glories will parade over 9 kms through the city centre driving past the most famous monuments in Paris; Les Champs l’Elysées, Trocadéro, Tour Eiffel, Champs de Mars, Invalides, l’Assemblée National, and la Place de la Concorde.

“What better way to bring the show to the public then to give them the sounds and sensations of Grand Prix cars on the streets of the nation’s capital," stated Jacques Regis, President of the Federation Française du Sport Automobile. "The public will experience 100 years of race engine development."

“Through this exhibition we hope to illustrate the history and the evolution of Grand Prix automobile racing, Regis continued, “And honor the manufacturers involved in automobile racing past and present." Source FFSA

Heylen battles through pain to finish Monterrey race Heylen battles through pain to finish Monterrey raceThe Muermans/BergHOFF sponsored #11 Dale Coyne Car, did great during the Practice and Qualification runs on Friday and Saturday in Monterrey, Mexico.  The team did an impeccable job sorting out the brake issues that plagued Heylen in Houston and were also able to get the car in perfect balance.  Heylen: “I am excited about this car, after only 2 races configuring, this is the best the car has ran and I feel we can certainly achieve something good this race”
100-110F ( 37-43Cº) temperatures made for a scorching track, but Heylen proved true to his goal in after just two races qualifying Saturday for position 11th in front of his teammate Cristiano da Matta.
Sunday after an uneventful start Heylen initially lost 2 places due to a difficult exit on the #2 turn where da Matta took the opportunity to position in front of Heylen.  The Coyne car performed flawless and Heylen was easily able to keep up with the group including amongst others, Servia, Junqueira and da Matta. 
At the fifth round Heylen started developing a pain on his left shoulder right on top of the collar bone.  What started as a minor nuisance became rapidly a scrutinizing pain and by Heylen’s first pit stop it was almost certain it would only be a matter of time before this would affect his performance in Monterrey.  Heylen in what’s arguable “the best physical condition of his life” fought thru this pain until he was not longer able to  move his arm which was now completely numb by what was immediately after the race diagnosed by the doctors as “a pinched nerve caused by his Hans device.”  Heylen finished the race at a reduced pace to get at least some points for his performance at Monterrey.

Heylen is now looking forward to his first “oval’ race at the Milwaukee Mile in Wisconsin on June 4th.

Raikkonen: We will be pushing hard for victory Raikkonen: We will be pushing hard for victory"Monte Carlo is a completely different challenge to the Barcelona track we will be pushing hard for victory. To lay the foundation for a good result you have to perform well in qualifying. In Monaco overtaking is almost impossible as the track is so twisty and narrow. Because of this, I am sure we will see some interesting strategies from all the teams. Also Monaco is all about the car being responsive, particularly the front end. You are less aggressive under braking here into the corners because the barriers are so close and you need to be precise, and a responsive front end means the car is better in the mid corner and exit performance, allowing you to get on the throttle without having to wait for the car to turn the corner. At Monaco this is where you can find time, so the handling of the car and the mechanical grip are more important than other areas, such as aero efficiency."
Monaco: 40th anniversary of McLaren Monaco: 40th anniversary of McLarenThe 2006 Monaco Grand Prix marks the 40th anniversary of McLaren, with the team making its Formula 1 race debut at the event in 1966 with founder Bruce McLaren at the wheel of the M2B. Bruce, who had previously won the event in 1962, became the youngest ever Formula 1 Driver / Constructor to enter a race, at the age of 29. At right Bruce McLaren with Mario Andretti and their 1967 Sebring winning Ford.

Since this time McLaren has won the prestigious race on 13 occasions, which is more than any other Formula 1 team. McLaren’s first Monaco Grand Prix victory occurred in 1984 with Alain Prost and the team went on to win every single year, apart from 1987, until 1993.

Ayrton Senna won the event a record six times, for which five of those victories he was driving for McLaren. Since the partnership with Mercedes-Benz began, Team McLaren Mercedes has won the Grand Prix on four separate occasions. Mika Hakkinen in 1998 and David Coulthard in 2000 and 2002. Last year Kimi Raikkonen won the race with a dominant victory from pole position. As Juan Pablo Montoya took victory in 2003 (with BMW Williams), Team McLaren Mercedes is the only current team that has two drivers who have won the legendary race.

"The Monaco Grand Prix is the most prestigious event of the year, this is partly the location but also the heritage. The race holds particular significance for the team, as McLaren made its Formula 1 debut at Monte Carlo 40 years ago,” said CEO Martin Whitmarsh. “Whilst we are pushing hard to develop the performance of the MP4-21, we are aware we have a challenge ahead on the streets of Monte Carlo if we are to build on this record.” McLaren

Renault F1 voted World Team of the Year Renault F1 voted World Team of the YearThe Renault F1 Team took a significant honor in world sport yesterday evening at the annual Laureus World Sports Awards when they were voted the World Team of the Year. Often dubbed ‘the sporting Oscars', the Laureus Awards are a recognition of achievement from the world of sport. The awards were voted for by a panel of 42 sporting legends, including Pele, and motorsport legends Giacomo Agostini and Emerson Fittipaldi.

Renault F1 Team Managing Director Flavio Briatore was present in Barcelona to accept the award on behalf of the Renault F1 Team…

"This is a wonderful award for the whole Renault F1 Team. Formula 1 is a world in which the fundamental role of the team in achieving success is not always fully appreciated. At Renault, we know that a team has a heart, and that heart is its people. This award reflects the dedication, commitment and ambition of the more-than 800 women and men who made last year's world championship success possible. Congratulations to each and every one of them."

The Renault F1 Team currently leads the 2006 FIA Formula 1 Constructors' World Championship, with a total of 78 points. Fernando Alonso leads the Drivers' Championship with 54 points, while team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella lies 4th in the standings. Renault

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
F1 stuck with engine 'freeze', Flav insists
Clear weather for Monaco race
Hamilton hopes for McLaren seat
Alonso misses Laureus prize
Schu visits local World Cup squad
Villeneuve plays down Kubica flair
Ide unlikely to make F1 return
Newey input to hit Red Bull at Silverstone
Mansell fumes at young racer
Monterrey TV reminder Monterrey TV reminderReminder that the Grand Prix of Monterrey Champ Car race will be replayed on SPEED tomorrow, Wednesday, May 24, 12:00 pm-2:30 pm ET in the USA.
Q and A with Flavio Briatore Q and A with Flavio BriatoreAs we approach the seventh round of the 2006 season, the RenaultF1 team’s title defense year, Managing Director of the French squad, Flavio Briatore, has discussed recent events involving the team, such as their announcement in Spain two weeks ago that they were committed to Formula one beyond 2008, and the continual topic of reducing costs in the sport.

Flavio, at the last race in Barcelona, the Renault F1 Team committed to Formula 1 beyond 2008. How important was that act?
It sent out the message that Renault is strong and is staying in Formula 1. That was important for our people in the company, and those outside too. Ever since Mr. Ghosn arrived last year, he has said that if the results we get are in proportion to the investment, then we will stay. But there had been a lot of rumors that there were doubts for the future. So it was important to send a strong sign, that Renault is committed.

You have been outspoken on the need for cost-cutting in Formula 1 from 2008 onwards. Can you explain your vision?
Everybody needs to be more cost-efficient. Whether it is Honda, Toyota, Renault or Ferrari, we are here to make a good show, and race. Not to have a development competition between the manufacturers. I think we can put on the same show, for much less money.

You talk a lot about the show, and the need for cost-cutting. What makes you think this would work?
I look at the race weekends. We have Formula 1 and GP2, both putting on a fantastic show. From the fastest guy in GP2 to the slowest in Formula 1, you have maybe seven or eight seconds per lap. But one team is spending $2 million, the other half a billion. There's something not right there, don't you think? zzzz

So what is the solution?
We need to look at Formula 1 in a different way. We have to take care of the event, respect the public, and give them the product they want – not just what the engineers think we should have.

You talk about drastic cost reductions. Where can the money be saved?
The big issue for the costs is the technical side of the sport. There is potential for a drastic reduction of costs on the engine side, and in other areas like testing. But what people don't seem to realize is that time is running out. We talk, and talk, but the 2008 rules are already done. They can only be changed with unanimous agreement, and people don't seem to realize that. We have one month to sort out the technical situation.

Of course, there has been speculation that your concern for the future of F1 is also self-interested: namely, that there is financial pressure from Renault to reduce spending…
Renault wants a team that is healthy, and competitive. There are these rumors that Renault doesn't have the money, or Renault won't spend the money. Just pick up the balance sheet for Renault-Nissan, and you will see that there are no money problems. That is not the issue. What we have is a vision for Formula 1: to be more efficient, and to have the results and investment in proportion. We don't see the point in going racing with a blank checkbook, the challenge is to win with efficiency.

The other concept that is often mentioned is "technology" and that it must be maintained at a high level. What do you think?
If somebody should complain about cutting technology, it is Renault. We are winning, which means we have winning technology. So why throw away our advantage? All these other people are talking about technology, but some have never won a race, others have not won a championship for years. The fact is that the teams who have dominated in Formula 1 in the past six years, are in agreement. Renault is in line with Ferrari, on wanting the same show for less cost. It is a simple vision: to make Formula 1 a centre of profit, not a centre of loss.

But people say technology is a key part of the appeal of Formula 1…
For sure, they are right, and even with lower costs, we will still have the high level of technology. But what do you think gets more interest: developing a twin clutch that you then hide away from the people, or having Sylvester Stallone on the grid in front of the TV cameras? We need to entertain people, and understand that Formula 1 is an event. With the manufacturers, we are there to build their image and help their communications. We want to discover new markets, and to be ambassadors to help sell a product. I think Formula 1 needs to start to look at the big picture, not just worrying about technology.

Have you decided on your own plans for the future?
That is not relevant for me at the moment. Whatever I do in the future, I need to be doing the best thing now for the company I represent, Renault. I need to make sure that we have a healthy, competitive team for the future. That is the priority.
Next year's Renault F1 Team will be without Fernando Alonso. Will it be a big loss?
Of course. But he is young, he has won a lot with the team, and he has been here for five years. So he wanted a new challenge and motivation. If he had talked to me, I would have given him a different opinion on what he should have done for his future. In the end, though, maybe this change is good for the team as well. You get into a cycle, and if you don't change, the winning ends. It happened to Benetton ten years ago, with Ferrari last year, and maybe it could have happened to Renault as well. Now, we have a fresh motivation for 2007: to make sure Renault is beating McLaren and Alonso.

When will you announce your driver line-up for 2007?
The situation has not changed. In our car, today, there are three or four drivers who could win races. Michael Schumacher, Alonso, Raikkonen and Fisichella, who has shown he can win races with us. For the future, there are drivers like Hamilton, or Kovalainen who could possibly win championships. Our job is to make sure we have the car to attract those drivers, and to do that, we need to be quicker than the opposition. That is the priority and at the moment, we are delivering.

Now we arrive in Monaco, the jewel in the crown of Formula 1. What are your expectations?
Monaco is what Formula 1 is all about: putting on a fantastic show for the fans, for the TV, for everybody. Renault will be strong, and we want to win there – like we did two years ago with Trulli. But the important thing is that people are excited by this season, and we are having a fantastic battle with Ferrari. We need to look at everything in a simple way: what matters is the show on the track, not the talking. So far, I think we are entertaining our public, and we want to continue doing that in Monaco. Renault

Racing News
Top 10 athletes Americans don’t know Top 10 athletes Americans don’t knowThere is a very large pool of young, successful, international sports stars, similar to the crop in North America. Just because they do not receive the same amount of airplay over here, doesn't mean we shouldn't give them the same attention.

Here are the top 10 famous international athletes that are all but unknown in North America.

10. Padraig Harrington PGA Tour - Ireland
He currently sits at No. 29 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

9. Martynas Andriuskevicius NBA prospect - Lithuania
He was selected in the second round of last summer's draft, and he currently holds the distinction as the only player on the Cleveland Cavaliers' roster who is younger than LeBron James.

8. Hicham El Guerrouj Middle distance runner - Morocco
Won four consecutive 1500m world titles (1997, 1999, 2001, and 2003) In Athens as El Guerrouj took home the gold medal not only in the elusive 1500m race, but also in the 5000m race. The last time somebody won a medal in both of these races was in 1924. As they say, victory is sweet.

7. Luke Donald PGA Tour - England
He's currently ranked 10th in the Official World Golf Ranking. With more heralded names like Ernie Els and Retief Goosen consistently in the field, Donald is often overshadowed. However, if he keeps up this pace, that will not continue much longer.

6. Ricky Hatton Boxer - England
Has a career record of 41 wins (30 by knockout), 0 losses and 0 draws

5. Wayne Rooney Soccer player - England
Scored 99 goals in his last season at Copplehouse (boys' league)
After a dazzling stretch of four goals in four games at the Euro 2004 tournament, it was only a matter of time before Manchester United, one of the richest franchises in the world, coughed up approximately $46 million for the young striker.

4. Sebastien Bourdais Champ Car driver - France
In most professional sports, there is talk of a sophomore slump in the second year of a career, but Bourdais was unfamiliar with this clich; in 2004, he led Champ Car in victories, poles, laps led, and qualifying average, becoming the Champ Car champion. And in 2005? He was the champion again. And in 2006?  Looks set to win for a third straight time

3. Adriano Soccer player - Brazil
Scored 22 goals in 36 games with Parma of the Italian League in 2002. Considered the long-term successor to Ronaldo by many.

2. Fernando Alonso Formula One driver - Spain
Third-youngest Formula One driver to ever start a race.  Youngest driver to win a Formula One pole position and a race. In Formula One racing, it has been Michael Schumacher in the front, and everybody else in the back. But Alonso ended Schumacher's five-year championship reign last year and is now being hailed as the next coming of Schumacher.  He has 11 career victories and is sitting atop the standings this year as well.

1. Ronaldinho Soccer player - Brazil
Ronaldinho (Little Ronaldo) is universally regarded as one of the top soccer players in the world. The current FIFA World Player of the Year is a member of FC Barcelona of the Spanish League, a team that he has helped build into a powerhouse. These days, when soccer is discussed, his name is usually in the first sentence. FOX Sports 

Hildebrand Extends Points Lead Hildebrand Extends Points LeadLexington, Ohio. – J.R. Hildebrand’s dominance of the Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship continued this past weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The 18-year-old rising star from Sausalito, Calif., qualified his #2 Formotion/Spy Optics/Mockett.com/Cape Motorsports Van Diemen RF05 on the pole and was never seriously challenged during either of the two 30-minute races.

Jason Byers, from Livonia, Mich., enjoyed a pair of runner-up finishes in the #28 A&B Refrigeration/St. Clair Motorsports Van Diemen, and was comfortably on top in the Cooper Masters category (for drivers over 35 years of age).

Teenager Cole Morgan, from Lighthouse Point, Fla., took another clean sweep in the Cooper Gold Cup class (for older Pinto-engined cars) with his trusty #11 Morgan Homes/Lee Racing/10-Tenths Motorsports Swift DB-6.

As had been the case in the season-opening pair of races one week earlier at Road Atlanta, Hildebrand was the man to beat from the moment the 28 FF2000 cars rolled out onto the recently repaved 2.258-mile road course. And his task was eased within a few moments of the start of Saturday’s race when the second- and third-fastest qualifiers, Cape Motorsports teammates Dane Cameron (#19 Finlay Motorsports/Jim Russell Racing School/Red Line Oil Van Diemen) and Chris Meredith (#3 MII Security/Bertil Roos Racing School/Primus Racing Van Diemen), tangled in the Esses. Cameron was out on the spot, as were Slade Miller, who had qualified a strong fifth in the #16 Kechi Energy/Quantum Mechanics Van Diemen, and Doug Kniffin (#13 Greisiger Motorsports Van Diemen).  zzzz

Meredith held onto second at the restart but could do nothing about Hildebrand, who romped away to secure his third consecutive victory by more than 13 seconds.

Byers executed a fine move to pass Meredith for second with just a couple of laps remaining. Meredith held on for third ahead of Nick Haye, who made a welcome return to the Cooper Series in a JDC Motorsports Van Diemen, and Englishman Dominik Jackson, who was the best-placed of the three G.FRO teammates in fifth.

The starting grid for Sunday’s race was determined according to each driver’s fastest lap set during the opening encounter. Hildebrand once again started from the pole with Byers alongside on the front row.

Hildebrand made another exemplary start and went on to maintain his unbeaten record this season.

"The team did an awesome job this weekend," he related. "The car was perfect so we were able to focus on race tactics. The rest of the season is anybody’s bet; some of the teams struggled here [with the new pavement] that I know will be tough at other places. We just need to keep improving so we’ll be ready when they get faster."

Byers chased gamely in second but was unable to catch the flying Californian: "It was a good weekend for me but I would have liked the gap [to Hildebrand] to have been a little closer. J.R’s car was working well, his tires came up to temperature quicker and he was a little bit faster everywhere. He did a good job."

The star of the race, meanwhile, was Cameron, who fought his way from 26th on the grid to third, finishing hard on the heels of Byers.

"The car was really good and the Cape Motorsports team did a terrific job," said Cameron. "They were here until 2 a.m. fixing the damage from the first race. It’s always awesome to start at the front and run well, but it was a lot of fun to come from the back and pass all of those cars."

New Zealander Andy Knight (#33 NAPA/G.FRO Van Diemen) took fourth after a race-long battle with Haye and JDC Motorsports teammate Noah Bystrom.

Four wins from four starts have taken Hildebrand into a commanding lead in the points table, 127 to 74 over Cameron. Byers and Knight both have 70 points to their credit.

The Cooper Tires FF2000 Championship will continue with two more races at Portland International Raceway, in Portland, Ore., June 16-18 in support of the Champ Car World Series.

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