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Texas Friday Notebook
Although it is based in Indianapolis, Vision Racing could consider Texas Motor Speedway its home track. Driver A.J. Foyt IV, a native of Hockley, Texas, is the only Texan in the field, but Foyt, grandson of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt, isn't Vision Racing's only Texas tie this weekend. Bruce Rust, a resident of nearby Bedford, is again helping the team this weekend. Rust, who is a pharmacist at Medco Health, spent most of the Month of May as the front-end mechanic for Davey Hamilton's car, which was also fielded by Vision Racing.

John Andretti will attempt to make his first IndyCar Series start and 17th career start at Texas Motor Speedway. The veteran race driver made seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts on the 1.5-mile oval from 1997 to 2003 with a best finish of 12th in 1997 and nine NASCAR Nationwide Series starts from 1997-2006 with a best finish of 12th in 1997.

Upset drivers - Bruno Junqueira - "We have a bad car.".......Tony Kanaan - "We don’t have a good car!!! We are not ready this weekend!!! We don’t even have a good race car!"

Danica was mad at everybody Thursday and Friday, voicing complaints about her race car, which she called "average again" and Andretti Green Racing, which she thinks is "just missing something" and IndyCar TV ratings which "disappointed" her and even her sponsor Motorola that "I wish that they would do more than they do."


Chase Mattioli Qualifies for ARCA Pocono Debut
18 year-old ARCA-RE/MAX Rookie, Chase Mattioli, qualify his #10 Liquid Fence Chevrolet for his first event during Pocono's NASCAR Sprint Cup event.  The ARCA 200 at Pocono is set for 1pm on Saturday, June 7th, followed by the Pocono NASCAR Sprint event 500 on Sunday, June 8th.  Weis Supermarket Time Trails set the starting fields for both events today.  Mattioli will roll of in 21st position with a qualifying run of 158.242 mph.

Motor World (http://www.motorworldgroup.com/), serving the Wyoming Valley of Northeastern, PA, signed on today to be an associated sponsor on the car in Saturday's race.  Motor World is the premier destination for Mitsubishi, Toyota, Scion, Chrysler, Jeep, GMC Trucks, Cadillac, Mercedes Benz, Volvo, hosting 15 manufacturers under one roof, and is part of Mile One organization of 64 dealerships representing 28 brands.

"It was a solid run, but I know the car has a lot more," Mattioli commented. "I knew we would be fast enough to make the race and I was a little conservative to make sure I brought it home ready to race tomorrow," Mattioli concluded.

Mattioli, only 18 years old, has grown up at Pocono Raceway, his family's NASCAR Sprint Cup venue.  His talent, maturity and motor sports skills, both on and off the track, has attracted the attention of a numerous marketing partners, including the Bertil Roos Racing School, Fast Track Racing School, New Era Tickets, P.R.omotion, Ski & Company, Smith & Group, Velocity Money.com and WHUR Radio / 96.3 FM.

Mattioli is the grandson of Pocono Raceway, Drs. Joe & Rose Mattioli.  He will attend Fordham University this fall.  Chase's next event is a NASCAR Camping World Series race in Loudon, NH; on June 27th


Canadian GP: Friday team quotes


Kimi Raikkonen (3rd, 1:16.093): "I am quite satisfied with this first day of testing. We were always quick. The car turned out to be well balanced right from the morning and I think we can aim for the top spots over the rest of the weekend. From what we have seen today, there is not much difference in the performance of the two types of Bridgestone tire we have available to us, but the track conditions are bound to change over the next couple of days. At this track, it is very important to have the brakes sorted in the race and we also worked on this."

Felipe Massa (5th, 1:16.413): "My car seemed to suffer some sort of blackout: gradually all the systems shut down and I had to stop at the side of the track. Of course, that's not good but it's better to have a problem in free practice than in qualifying or, worse still, in the race! Even if we did not get through everything we wanted to do, this problem won't cost us anything. From what we could understand today, it is very close between us and our main rivals. As usual on a Friday in Montreal, the track was very dirty and will therefore improve bit by bit as the surface gets rubbered in. I hope I can have a great qualifying and claim a good position on the grid."

Read more & Comment...

Canadian GP: Friday Press Conference
DRIVERS AND TECHNICAL DIRECTORS: Fernando ALONSO (Renault), David COULTHARD (Red Bull), Pat SYMONDS (Renault), Geoff WILLIS (Red Bull)

Q: Pat, I can remember in Barcelona you were very happy as you felt you'd taken a step forward. In Monaco you were going to spring a surprise. What's been going on?

Pat SYMONDS: I never said we would spring a surprise in Monaco.

Q: Somebody did.

Symonds: On the car we certainly had some improvements in Barcelona. I think the car ran well in Turkey as well. And Monaco was a very strange race. It is hard to read a lot into that. We are still confident that we made a step in Barcelona, there is no doubt about that I think. It is not a big enough step yet and we are not really clear of that midfield. We are certainly not fighting at the front and that's what we are after, so we are a still working at it and we still want to make the car better. There is a lot to do.

Q: What is the next step There is a test next week. Will you have some new bits there?

Symonds: It's Barcelona next week. More bits there. Every week there are new bits on the car, new bits we are testing. Some aerodynamic updates for the French Grand Prix, some quite big ones, so keep on moving.

Q: What about Nelson? What can you do to help him?

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Wheldon uninjured in big crash at dangerous TMS UPDATE #2 IRL vice president of public relations John Griffin said Wheldon has a sore right ankle. He is going to ice it this afternoon, then decide whether he can qualify the car during Friday's 5:45 p.m. qualifying session. Wheldon is scheduled to qualify eighth of 28 drivers. If he can't qualify and no replacement driver tries to qualify the car, he would be given a provisional spot and start last on Saturday night.

Wheldon hit the outside wall in Turn 4 and then barrel rolled into the infield grass.  Safety workers quickly turned the car over and pulled Wheldon out, but he was limping as he was helped to the ambulance.

"My left foot really hit the tub very hard," Wheldon said. "Unfortunately, we had some type of [mechanical] failure. Something just broke and shot me straight into the wall. It's a shame because that car was incredibly strong."

06/06/08 Wheldon's x-ray proved negative. They are icing his ankle. No report if he is cleared to drive.


Medics tend to Dan Wheldon's destroyed car
Shawn Payne
With Eddie Gossage watching and eating his words about how the IRL should race on 80% ovals like his Texas Motor Speedway, Dan Wheldon's car veered off line in the track's fourth turn and slid down the front straightaway. The wheels dug in the sod along pit road, sending the car flipping violently.

Wheldon hobbled out of his IndyCar Series machine with what appeared to be a right ankle injury, although information was not immediately available.


Canadian GP: Hamilton tops practice 2
Montreal claimed its first victims as the second 90 minutes of unofficial free practice played out on a dry Friday afternoon.

Robert Kubica scraped gently along the same piece of concrete and survived to be second quickest for the second time on Friday, but Timo Glock had to abandon his bent Toyota when he too made contact with a Circuit Gilles Villeneuve wall.

Marshals struggled to pull Felipe Massa's failed F2008 behind the protective fencing after his Ferrari ground to a halt with an apparent technical problem.

Fernando Alonso had to walk back to the pits when his R28 would not budge following his last of a couple of spins.

Renault teammate Nelson Piquet also had a bad session; dead last, after placing seventeenth in the morning, and then stuck at the pitlane entrance with smoking wheels following a problem in the final chicane.

Honda's Jenson Button will also want to forget his Friday at Montreal; twentieth and slowest in the damp morning, improving to just nineteenth on the dry afternoon tarmac, more than two seconds from the leading pace.

Championship leader and this event's 2007 winner Lewis Hamilton topped the final session and the day, delivering not one but two late laps good enough for P1.



Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:15.752   0.000 42
2. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:16.023 - 0.271 41
3. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:16.093 - 0.341 39
4. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:16.331 - 0.579 36
5. Massa Ferrari 1:16.413 - 0.661 27
6. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:16.589 - 0.837 43
7. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:16.604 - 0.852 39
8. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:16.767 - 1.015 37
9. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:17.019 - 1.267 43
10. Trulli Toyota 1:17.068 - 1.316 46
11. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:17.242 - 1.490 37
12. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:17.334 - 1.582 31
13. Barrichello Honda 1:17.462 - 1.710 39
14. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:17.508 - 1.756 39
15. Glock Toyota 1:17.549 - 1.797 31
16. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:17.559 - 1.807 38
17. Alonso Renault 1:17.644 - 1.892 30
18. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:17.813 - 2.061 37
19. Button Honda 1:17.842 - 2.090 39
20. Piquet Renault 1:18.076 - 2.324 17


Audi's road to LeMans
This year at Le Mans, Audi will make its 10th start in the world’s greatest motor race. The German marque debuted with third- and fourth-place overall finishes in 1999 with its R8R. But the year prior, the first on-track steps toward Audi’s dominance came with a McLaren GTR entry that had very little fanfare.

Dindo Capello and Emanuele Pirro, now legendary Audi works drivers, drove the McLaren with Dr. Thomas Bscher for Gulf Team Davidoff. The event wasn’t much of a success as the car retired after an accident in the 17th hour.

“It was like a dress rehearsal for Audi’s Le Mans debut the following year,” said Capello, a two-time Le Mans winner who made his debut that year. “Frank (Biela) did pre-qualifying with Thomas Bscher and me, but Frankie had to step down for the race because his wife was unwell, and Emanuele drove the McLaren GTR with us.

Read more & Comment...

Corvette team still asks 'What If?'
For the past year, the Corvette Racing trio of Johnny O’Connell, Jan Magnussen and Ron Fellows have had to wonder - what if?

What if the last couple of hours at Le Mans last year had been run in the dry? What if the safety car had not come on course for nearly an hour (much to the delight of Audi’s Emanuele Pirro … among others), only to leave with 10 minutes to go in the race? And what if Fellows had been able to catch the leading Aston Martin? Would he have been able to pass for the lead?

No one will ever know. The Corvette C6.R finished a lap behind the class-winning DBR9 of David Brabham, Darren Turner and Rickard Rydell. At times, Fellows was cutting nearly 30 seconds a lap off Brabham in the final three rain-soaked hours.

“It would have been very interesting,” O’Connell said. “We were strong in the wet. You don’t know how hard Brabham was pushing. But that late in the race when someone is eating away at your time, it’s hard to say how it would have shaken out. It would have been a much better finish to that race. But you look at the other guys’ perspective and they were saying, ‘We shouldn’t be racing in this.’”

track news

Sahlen's renews with The Glen thru 2010
Sahlen Packaging Company, the title sponsor of The Glen’s June Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series race since 2003, has renewed its partnership with the historic road course for another three years.  Sahlen’s will continue as the title sponsor of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and is currently the longest running, ongoing title sponsorship at WGI. The 27th Running of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen will be part of an action packed race weekend at The Soul of American Road Racing featuring five races and four different racing series, June 6-8.

“We are extremely proud of our relationship with Sahlen’s and happy to be continuing our partnership through 2010,” said Craig Rust, president of Watkins Glen International. “It’s been wonderful to work with Joe Sahlen and the Sahlen’s brand as he shares our commitment to continue to grow the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen as well as sports car racing throughout New York and the region.”

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Andretti compares the heat of two series
This weekend, IndyCar Series competitor John Andretti is preparing for Saturday night's Bombardier Learjet 550K at the Texas Motor Speedway.  Temperatures are expected to rise above 90 degrees both Friday and Saturday in Texas. The event is held at night which will lower the temperatures.

Sunday, however,  Bobby Labonte will be competing during the day in the Pocono 500 at the Pocono Raceway.  Temperatures are expected to reach near 90 degrees in what is one of the longest events on the circuit.

Andretti explains the difference of how heat affects both types of cars while Labonte, a three-time winner at Pocono, comments on conditioning for 500 miles at Pocono.
“The cockpit is open on the Indy car, so when you're running, there are no air ducts to pull the air because you have fresh air coming at you.  There are no helmet hoses because the air hits your helmet, so you run a totally different helmet that channels air into the helmet.  There are no cool boxes, but there isn't a need for them.  In a stock car everything is confined and the idea is to keep the air out of the car. They do duct some air in, but being all metal, and I sit in an aluminum seat in a stock car whereas I sit in a beaded seat in IndyCar, a lot of heat comes through that seat.  For sure, the stock cars are a lot hotter. 

“The dehydration level is higher in NASCAR, not just because of the heat, but also because the duration of the race.  Stock car races are quite a bit longer than IndyCar races, so there are some different challenges for sure.  I think that the biggest contributor to the heat is all the metal that's around you in the stock car, and when it gets hot outside, it becomes an oven on the inside.

“The heat still affects racing conditions for Indy cars, too.  When we go to Indianapolis (Motor Speedway) we're begging for cloud cover because it gives grip.  It's not so much the temperature as it is the sun.  When it beams down on the race track, it makes it slick.  It does for an IndyCar just like it does for a stock car and you feel it the same."


New AT&T paint scheme for Burton
Richard Childress Racing and AT&T unveiled a new paint scheme for their no. 31 AT&T Chevrolet driven by Jeff Burton to promote AT&T’s support for Team USA at the upcoming 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

The car features the AT&T USA five-ring logo and images of U.S. Olympic Team hopefuls gymnast Nastia Liukin and swimmer Michael Phelps. Burton will pilot the newly unveiled paint scheme during the NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Pocono Raceway.

Olympic paint scheme for Burton
Pete McCole
"We're in the midst of an exciting season, and the AT&T Racing team is thrilled about the new look,” said Burton. “The Olympic Games only come around every two years, and it's an honor to show our support for AT&T Team USA hopefuls."

"It's an amazing honor to be featured on Jeff Burton's race car and to know that we have great support from fans, AT&T and the AT&T Racing team as we prepare for the Olympic Games," said Liukin, a nine-time world medalist. "The new paint scheme looks awesome."

The race car will tour the country to promote excitement for the 2008 Olympic Games and support for Team USA until its race track debut at the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway in August. Pete McCole reporting


Dover NASCAR TV Ratings UPDATE The final TV rating for last weekend's Dover race was a 4.5/11 share.

06/03/08 Sprint Cup Racing on Fox concluded its 2008 campaign with a 4.2/10 for the race from Dover Sunday to rank as the top-rated event for the weekend. Last year's race which was rained-out and rescheduled on a Monday afternoon posted a 2.2/7 and was not included in the 2007 season average. For the 2008 season, Sprint Cup racing averaged a 5.2/11 in the meters for 13 races, flat with last year's average for just 12 races. Fox PR


Cheng to be first Chinese at LeMans
Cong Fu Cheng
On June 14th, 2008 Cong Fu Cheng is going to make history as the first Chinese driver to ever race Les 24 Heures du Mans. The 23 year old may be young, but his name is already well known in his home country and Cheng, Frankie to his mechanics, is ready to race.

The Beijing native made headlines last April as a bearer of the Olympic Torch in Greece, but currently Cheng is fully focused on Le Mans. "I'm looking forward to my first race in Le Mans with Saulnier-Reaing and I am hoping for a good result. Of course it's not easy starting on a racetrack that's new to me, and a legendary circuit as well. But so far, I've always been a very quick learner, so I'm optimistic."

Since his last A1 season where Cheng scored the first A1GP podium for China on home soil at Zhuhai in December, the slim, dark-haired Chinese driver did not have a lot of time to think about the future of his career. At the A1GP race at Brands Hatch the team manager for Saulnier Racing approached Cheng to ask if he would join the French team for the Le Mans test session and, as Cheng puts it, "the deal was done. As I was a fan of Le Mans it did not take long to convince me." 

Read more & Comment...

Canadian GP: More rain possible for second practice
(GMM)  The expected wet weather in Montreal greeted the visiting formula one world as it swung through the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve paddock gates early on Friday morning.

The asphalt was pretty wet when the lights turned green at 10am, thus ensuring that the busiest period of the initial 90 minute session was when it was at its driest at the end.

It is expected to remain very overcast for the afternoon session, with a 40 per cent chance of more - and possibly quite heavy - rain.

The temperatures at 2pm, the start-time for afternoon practice, should also climb from the morning's mild teens to 25-26C.

Qualifying-day Saturday, meanwhile, is expected to stay cloudy, but the probability of rain should subside significantly overnight.

As a dry line became clearer late on Friday morning, Ferrari's Felipe Massa ultimately set the fastest time from the BMW-Sauber of Robert Kubica, while championship leader Lewis Hamilton did the least number of laps of any driver, slotting into the sixth quickest spot.

Several drivers ran over grass verges or half-spun, but there were no significant incidents, such as contact with the barriers.


Lizard Math: One car vs. three for LeMans
It’s not as easy as just one car at Le Mans compared to three in the American Le Mans Series for Flying Lizard Motorsports. No, we’re talking about the 76th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans - a twice-around-the-clock classic enduro on one of the most demanding circuits in the world against sports car racing’s best from all over the globe.

Flying Lizard Porsche
Jörg Bergmeister, Johannes van Overbeek and Seth Neiman will drive the Flying Lizard entry at Le Mans for the second straight year in GT2. Each also drives in separate Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs in the American Le Mans Series. To get a sense of scale, Le Mans is the equivalent of more than eight standard Series races at two hours, 45 minutes.

“Running a single car at Le Mans as compared to running three cars in the American Le Mans Series decreases the workload for some team members but doesn’t provide much relief for some others,” said team manager Eric Ingraham. “For the mechanics working on the car, the workload changes minimally, and the added work of preparing a car for a race of this length replaces any let-up as compared to an American Le Mans Series race weekend schedule.”

Then he gives a few examples.

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Canadian GP: Massa leads Practice 1
On a damp track, Felipe Massa waited until late in the session to put his Ferrari atop the speed charts for Sunday's Canadian GP in Montreal.  Robert Kubica was 2nd in is BMW and Heikki Kovalainen 3rd in his McLaren.



Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Massa Ferrari 1:17.553 - 0.000 14
2. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:17.809 - 0.256 12
3. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:18.133 - 0.580 10
4. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:18.182 - 0.629 13
5. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:18.292 - 0.739 12
6. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:18.303 - 0.750 8
7. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:18.712 - 1.159 11
8. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:18.809 - 1.256 12
9. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:18.971 - 1.418 24
10. Alonso Renault 1:19.005 - 1.452 13
11. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:19.093 - 1.540 20
12. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:19.228 - 1.675 21
13. Glock Toyota 1:19.346 - 1.793 28
14. Trulli Toyota 1:19.568 - 2.015 31
15. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:19.815 - 2.262 16
16. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:19.888 - 2.335 15
17. Piquet Renault 1:20.091 - 2.538 23
18. Barrichello Honda 1:20.173 - 2.620 17
19. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:20.541 - 2.988 16
20. Button Honda 1:21.542 - 3.989 17

racing news

Air race circuit still eyes Indy
The Detroit Free-Press reported that fans watching last weekend’s Red Bull Air Race World Series along the Detroit River got a “thrill-chill.”

The crowd size assembled along the river banks might have thrilled Indianapolis Motor Speedway event promoters, who said last year they were considering bringing the unique air race to the Speedway as part of the track’s centennial celebration.

Red Bull Air Race officials reported that 170,000 paid to attend the two-day event, while the Free-Press reported another 500,000 or so crammed every square inch of the river bank on the Detroit and Canada sides to watch the sky-bound race unpaid. Crowd estimates came from the Detroit Police Department, Windsor Police Department and General Motors Security officials, said Red Bull Communications Manager Maddy Stephens.

“It was amazing,” Stephens said. “It shows there is a Midwest audience.”

The inaugural Detroit race followed the first U.S. stop of the 2008 series in San Diego on May 3 and 4, where it returned for a second year with 120,000 spectators. The Red Bull Air Race World Series has been extremely popular for several years in places like Rio de Janeiro and other markets worldwide. It is just taking off in the U.S.

The 5-year-old airplane racing circuit is hyped for combining the intrigue of a high-wire circus act, thrills of an alpine ski race, and cutting-edge technology of Formula One auto racing. IBJ.com 


Ford delays white-collar merit raises, cuts benefits
Ford Motor Co. told salaried workers in an e-mail Thursday that it would delay merit raises and cut some benefits -- in addition to reducing costs related to salaried employees by 15%, a move that will result in a still-unknown number of involuntary layoffs at the Dearborn automaker.

Ford also has sent letters to about 100 recent college graduates who had been offered jobs, telling them that their hiring would be deferred indefinitely. Ford is offering the would-be employees $5,000 to compensate them for their troubles.

"The vast majority of the offers are being deferred," Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans confirmed Thursday, declining to say precisely how many. "It's not across the board."

Ford is making these cost-cutting actions in the face of a suffering U.S. economy, which has resulted in an industrywide sales decline and an unprecedented consumer shift out of pickups and SUVs -- which are highly profitable to automakers -- to fuel-efficient cars.

In an e-mail obtained by the Free Press, Mark Fields, Ford's president of the Americas, said the company aims to have its salaried-related costs reduced by Aug. 1.

"This unfortunately will result in involuntary separations of Ford employees and agency personnel, as well as cost savings through attrition and the consolidation of open positions," he said.

"We won't know the exact number of job reductions until each function examines its business needs and determines how best to meet their specific cost-reduction target."  More at Detroit Free Press


Pedrosa tops Friday practice in Spain
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa set an impressive pace on the opening day of Catalan Grand Prix practice today, topping the first two sessions, just six thousandths ahead of his closest rival Loris Capirossi.

Track conditions were more slippery than usual today following heavy rain throughout much of yesterday. Seven riders crashed during the morning and afternoon sessions, Pedrosa sliding off in the final minutes of the second outing, after he already had ridden his best lap.


1 D. PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team 1'43.017
2 L. CAPIROSSI ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP × 0.006
3 V. ROSSI ITA Fiat Yamaha Team × 0.073
4 C. STONER AUS Ducati Marlboro Team × 0.082
5 A. DE ANGELIS RSM San Carlo Honda Gresini × 0.216
6 C. VERMEULEN AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP × 0.351
7 S. NAKANO JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini × 0.425
8 J. TOSELAND GBR Tech 3 Yamaha × 0.462
9 N. HAYDEN USA Repsol Honda Team × 0.597
10 C. EDWARDS USA Tech 3 Yamaha × 0.651
11 A. DOVIZIOSO ITA JiR Team Scot MotoGP × 0.690
12 R. DE PUNIET FRA LCR Honda MotoGP × 0.725
13 J. LORENZO SPA Fiat Yamaha Team × 0.984
14 J. HOPKINS USA Kawasaki Racing Team × 1.026
15 T. ELIAS SPA Alice Team × 1.593
16 S. GUINTOLI FRA Alice Team × 1.661
17 M. MELANDRI ITA Ducati Marlboro Team × 1.689
18 A. WEST AUS Kawasaki Racing Team × 1.848


Rossi's M1 in 'Azzurri' livery
Rossi’s YZR-M1 with new livery
Valentino Rossi’s YZR-M1 will carry a one-off livery for the Grand Prix of Catalunya this weekend in celebration of the European Football Championships, which begin on Sunday. The championship leader’s bike has been specially painted in the style of the shirts of the Italian national team, the ‘Azzurri’, ahead of their opening game against Holland on Monday. Rossi will also wear leathers designed in the same vein and even his famous number 46 has undergone a change for the weekend.

The special livery of the Fiat Yamaha Team star was officially unveiled at 09.50 in the pitlane of the Montmelo circuit just before first free practice this Friday.


Atlantic Championship race videos available online
While the television package for the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship is still being finalized, Atlantic fans can now catch the on-demand video of the 2008 season-opener at Long Beach on the official Atlantic web site, www.atlantic-championship.com.  Video of the entire Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge of Long Beach—won by Simona De Silvestro, the second woman in series history to win an Atlantic race—is available in the video player located on the front page of the Atlantic site. Video of last month’s Monterey Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, which was won by Canadian racer James Hinchcliffe, is currently being processed and will also be available online shortly.


Alonso backs France test for new Safety Car rule
(GMM) Double world champion Fernando Alonso has backed news that a new system for the deployment of the safety car will be trialled during practice for the French grand prix in two weeks.

The current SC rules are highly controversial, because the automatic closure of the pitlane upon deployment can penalise those drivers who are out of fuel and need to pit.

When asked about the Friday practice test scheduled for Magny Cours, Renault driver Alonso told the Spanish newspaper Diario AS: "A change would be better for everyone, because at the moment the safety car can ruin your race."

Before France, teams - who will then decide about officially implementing the rule only after Magny Cours - will also test the necessary ECU software at the forthcoming Barcelona test.

The precise details about the SC software are yet to emerge, but it is believed that drivers will activate the alternate ECU setting from the cockpit.


Hamilton laughs off father's Porsche crash
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton on Thursday laughed off his father's crash at the wheel of a $600,000 sports car.

On Wednesday, Anthony Hamilton - who is also the 23-year-old McLaren driver's manager - crashed a borrowed Porsche Carrera GT through a hedge and into a children's playground near his UK home.

"I got Dad's email yesterday and I just laughed," Hamilton was quoted as saying from the scene of the Canadian grand prix by The Sun.

"He is a very good driver but I don't know what he was up to," the championship leader added.

To The Mirror, Lewis also said: "My dad's my manager and loves cars. But, whenever we go somewhere, I'd always rather go by train."


Honda/earthdreams announces first NA partnership
As the Honda Racing F1 Team prepares for its Canadian Grand Prix challenge in Montréal, its earthdreams program today announced a major two year funding partnership with Clean Air Champions in association with Honda Canada.

Clean Air Champions (CAC) is a Canadian charity that works with respected athletes to educate and inspire Canadians to adopt practices and lifestyles that enhance personal and environmental health. The Champions are made up of over 120 national team, Olympic and Paralympic athletes, each passionate about our environment and the health of Canadians. CAC’s school program, Clean Air Achievers (CAA), is at the centre of this new partnership.

Honda Canada and earthdreams have committed up to $200,000 CDN to the program over the next two years. The funds provided will expand the CAA program into three new provinces, including Quebec, 14 new cities and 100 new schools. CAA targets young people in grades 6 to 9 and educates them about the interconnections between air quality, climate change and health. The program’s two main goals are to encourage young people to choose less polluting forms of travel and to increase their level of physical fitness by walking or cycling to their destinations.

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Kimi Raikkonen: "Good enough speed to win here"
Kimi Raikkonen
In a new Media Centre, part of a major refurbishment of the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit in Montreal, Kimi Raikkonen was one of the first drivers to meet the press, in this afternoon's official FIA Press Conference. In typical Kimi style, the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver quickly dismissed the last race, when asked about the Monaco Grand Prix. "As I said before, it's one of the races that didn't really work out. I got no points from there. But, it's in the past and hopefully we will have better results here."

The Finn was far more forthcoming when asked about the challenge of tackling this unusual and low downforce circuit in the post-electronic aids age. "I guess it's going to be more difficult than in the past years but probably we at Ferrari have a better car than last year," reckoned Raikkonen. "It really depends on how well you get your car working but I don't think it's going to be quite as different as everyone expects. People thought that every circuit this year should be more difficult, but there hasn't been a major issue, nor much difference speed-wise. I guess the first few laps on Friday are going to be quite slippery but once we get some rubber down it should help." 

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"Consistency is the key" says Massa
Felipe Massa
Felipe Massa flew into Montreal having spent time since the last race back home in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Slightly earlier than usual on a Thursday, to help with European newspaper deadlines, the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver met the press at the Montreal circuit, located on an island just outside the centre of Montreal.

Looking back at Monaco, Massa reckoned that although he had hoped for better, a third place finish was not too bad. "I drove a good race, using my head in difficult conditions," he maintained. "Really, the win escaped me because Lewis (Hamilton) was lucky with the timing of the Safety Car and because I lost time at my final pit stop. But all the same, it was good to finish on the podium and pick up six important points." Indeed, the need to score at every race was pretty much the theme of what the Ferrari man had to say this afternoon. "After six races, it's clear the championship fight will be close all the way to the last race, so it is really important to get a good result every time. At Ferrari, I know we have a big potential a good car and an excellent team and those factors give me the confidence to fight for the win at every race. Sure, I can't win every time, but at least I should score points."

According to the Brazilian, part of that confidence he mentioned stems from his close relationship with the team. "I love to have a good relationship with the whole team, not just the engineers and mechanics who work on my car," he said. "Having mutual respect and friendship is the best way to work and to move forward together." And this weekend? "Last year here in Montreal was not a good weekend for me as I had that incident with the black flag," he recalled. "Without that, I could have been second or third. This year, for sure I will be trying to win. We will do our best, but as I said before, if the win is not possible then it is still very important to score points, because consistency is the key to success in this season."


Canadian GP: Thursday Press Conference
Participating: Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber), Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), Adrian Sutil (Force India), Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso).

Q. Sebastian, a great debut for the new car in Monaco, your thoughts on that?

Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, I think we were a bit lucky with the weather conditions. If you look at the results of Thursday's free practice, we were not very happy about that, but I think it was very important to introduce the new car in Monaco already. To introduce a car on a street circuit is not ideal, for sure, but it was important to get to know the car and therefore we ran it on a circuit as soon as possible. On Sunday, the race was very chaotic, it was all about not making a mistake and staying on the track. I was very pleased with the result and the points.

Q. What's been the atmosphere and the feeling within the team since then?

KR: It's great. Obviously everybody was very happy. With the car we have at the moment, or the car we had in the past, it was not normal to get into the points, so it was a very good extra boost for all of us in the team, good motivation. Yesterday we did some karting just outside Montreal, it was also a lot of fun, everybody was happy. The atmosphere's great.

Q. Coming here, neither of you drivers have raced Formula One cars here. But you have been here?

KR: I was here last year but I didn't drive on the track.

Q. So how difficult is that going to be for the two of you? New car, new circuit?

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'Bridge' wings get makeover in Montreal
(GMM)  Formula one teams' newly revised 'bridge' wing features were on display in the Montreal pitlane on Thursday.

It emerged earlier this week that the FIA had requested those teams that are using variants of the aerodynamic devices to make the change for this weekend's Canadian grand prix, following suggestions that the wings illegally flex at speed.

In the pitlane on Thursday, it was clear that Toyota, Renault, Williams and the two Red Bull-designed cars had responded to FIA delegate Charlie Whiting's request by attaching the underneath of the bridge wing to the centre of the cars' nose.

McLaren's solution is slightly different, with the attachment looping from the top element of the bridge wing to the nose.


Toyotas 1-2 in truck qualifying in Texas
JUSTIN MARKS, No. 9 Construct Corps Toyota Tundra, Germain Racing Qualified:  1st Can you talk about the improvements your team made between practice and qualifying to get this pole? “We struggled a little bit off the hauler.  We couldn’t find the balance in the truck.  These guys did a really good job digging deep after practice putting a setup underneath it for qualifying.  Jason (Overstreet, crew chief) did a great job making the calls on the changes.  The truck felt awesome in qualifying trim.”

Can you talk about the start tomorrow with so many veterans around you? “I think, more than anything, as a rookie in this series you’re trying to get respect from the veterans and guys that have been in this series for a long time.  You want to race them hard, but race them clean and be predictable.  Earning the pole is a great feather in my cap and a feather in the cap of the team, but to prove myself as a driver in this series with these other guys is going to be how I race.  I’m not nervous about it.  We’re up there because we’re fast and we deserve to be.  I think the big thing is to not force the issue early.  Just get a good, clean start.  If one of those guys has a good truck early on, and they’re really hounding me, I don’t have to race them that hard.  We have 167 laps tomorrow night, and I just have to keep remembering that tomorrow night.”

Do you think you were going to be affected by the early qualifying draw and warmer track temperature? “It was pretty hot out there.  I wasn’t sure how much the track would cool down for the trucks going out later.  Maybe we got a little lucky with the wind gusts, but at the same time, these guys worked hard to get this truck real good for qualifying.”

What did the wind do to affect your truck in qualifying lap? “You get a headwind going into turn one, and it slows you down and the truck is down on the ground, so you feel like a hero going into that corner.  It just gets a little sketchy going off into turn three because you have the tailwind.  If you get a good enough gust on the frontstretch, it could improve you 10 or 15 spots out there.”

MIKE SKINNER, No. 5 Toyota Tundra, Bill Davis Racing Qualified:  2nd Did you get everything you could have gotten out of the truck in qualifying? “We held it wide open all the way around the race track.  We never touched the brake.  I did everything I could do.  That’s all she had.  That’s just as fast as our truck was.  One thing that hurt us really bad was when we came off of turn four and got on the straightaway and a big gust hit it and knocked about 200 RPM out of it.  I thought it was going to blow it over.  Without that big gust of wind, I thought we would’ve run a decent lap.”


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Texas Thursday Notebook
Robbie Knievel in the 2-seater
Steve Snoddy/IRL
Dapper Dan's new paint scheme
Chris Jones/IRL
One of Dale Coyne's cars lost a mirror again.  They sure are having trouble keeping them attached.........Overheard one driver say to a crew member, "This place is suicidal.  I feel like a Kamikaze pilot.  Why are we here?  Someone could die.".........The wind was causing drivers a lot of trouble tonight, so maybe this driver won't feel like death is right around the corner if the car settles down, however, high winds are forecast for Friday and Saturday too........Darren Manning lost a fuel pump in his Honda engine and will require an engine change for tomorrow.......Robbie Knievel went for a ride in the IndyCar 2-seater.  Knievel will be jumping over something with his motorcycle this weekend to entertain the fans......Dan Wheldon will trade his traditional No.10 Target paint scheme for a black Polaroid car for the Bombardier Learjet 550k. Wheldon and the No.10 crew members will also switch out their traditional Target apparel for black Polaroid fire suits complemented with red, orange, green and purple detailing. The most excited about the paint scheme? The fashion-minded Wheldon.

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