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Stewards examine disgusting Montoya Stewards examine disgusting MontoyaUPDATE Formula One's race stewards have deemed Montoya innocent and have taken no action against him despite the complaints from David Coulthard about him being blocked during qualifying.

A statement issued on Saturday night said: "The Stewards after hearing the explanation of both drivers, heard from the respective competitors' Team Managers, considered the data evidence and time sheets produced decided that the matter requires no further action."

Stewards probe 'disgusting' Montoya Jun.10 (GMM) Stewards at Silverstone will investigate an incident in qualifying between David Coulthard and McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya.

Coulthard emerged visibly annoyed from the cockpit of his Red Bull on Saturday and accused his Colombian rival of deliberately baulking his flying lap.

. Not only that, 'DC' said Montoya almost swiped his car as revenge for earlier slowing him down at the British venue near Northampton.

''We'll see what happens in the enquiry,'' the 35-year-old Scot, who has had run-ins with Montoya in the past, said, ''but to me it was deliberate.

''The way he drives is disgusting, it is not the mark of a man and I think it's unacceptable.''

At Monaco, stewards ruled that Michael Schumacher's 'Rascasse' block was deliberate and sent him to the rear.
Ferdinando ruled out of Sunday race Ferdinando ruled out of Sunday race"Ferdinando Monfardini is staying under medical observation tonight after his crash in today’s race," his Dams team have confirmed in a statement.

The Italian driver suffered a huge crash at Silverstone, calling an early end to his race. Although initially passed by the Circuit Medical Centre, it is understood that on returning to the paddock Ferdinando began to feel unwell again and was taken to Northampton hospital for observation. He had been running a high temperature all weekend, and it is his initial ailment, coupled with the shock of his accident which is believed to his admittance to hospital.

"The medical staff did not mention any major problem but preferred to keep him as a precaution and asked him to withdraw from tomorrow’s sprint race," the statement concluded.

Hamilton beats Glock at Silverstone Hamilton beats Glock at SilverstoneLewis Hamilton gave his competition a master class in controlling a race in Silverstone this afternoon, managing three safety car periods and his own pitstop to claim the race one victory ahead of Timo Glock and Adam Carroll.

Hamilton's fourth win of the season was set up at the start when he powered by polesitter Adam Carroll into Copse and effectively was never headed again, donating the lead only during the pitstop period in the middle of the race.

The Ulsterman's race got off to a poor start when he had a small fire onboard as he drove around to the grid, due to a faulty spark plug causing a brief flare up. It was soon out and the engine cleaned up, and as the lights went out Carroll made a very quick getaway. But Hamilton's was even better, and the two British drivers battled only until the end of the front straight.

Behind them Nelson Piquet Jr, feeling unwell all weekend from a combination of flu and hay fever, was slow off the line and soon passed by both Alex Premat and Glock, with the German also easily accounting for his French rival two turns later. zzzz

But the real action was further back down the grid, when Franck Perera was tapped into a spin at Copse by Ferdinando Monfardini. The Italian was able to continue but his teammate was out on the spot, along with Jose Maria Lopez, who seemingly spun out in sympathy.

The move prompted the first safety car visit, with the order at the front now Hamilton from Carroll, Premat, Glock, Piquet and Andreas Zuber.

The race went live one lap later, and Hamilton was immediately on a charge, setting the fastest lap and pulling out a one second lead over Carroll, who was dropping back in the pack and slowing up the drivers immediately behind him, but putting up an impregnable defense to them all.

Tires were always going to be an issue on the fast but technical British circuit, so it was no surprise to see the front runners hold off their stops for as long as possible. But strategies were always going to intrude, and Premat and Piquet came in together on lap ten before leaving in the same order.

Glock and Lucas di Grassi were in one lap later, with the latter narrowly avoiding an errant wheel in the pitlane from the German's car. Carroll was in next time around, but his pursuers had been able to use the one lap to their advantage: the Ulsterman reappeared on track between Glock and Piquet, with Premat ahead of them all.

ART's good pit work was called into play once again on lap thirteen, and once again they were up to the challenge: Hamilton was in and out so fast that he was able to re-emerge in third position, easily ahead of his teammate in fifth, who until then had been first among those who had made their stops.

It wasn't all wine and roses for the French team though: one lap later Premat was called in for a drive through penalty, the result of speeding in the pitlane, and the team's hopes of another one-two finish had evaporated in the baking heat.

At the front Giorgio Pantano was easily ahead of Felix Porteiro, running the opposite of his usual early stop and clearly reveling in it. He was still able to run as fast as anyone else on track when his team called him in on lap seventeen, the last of the front runners, re-emerging seventh and clearly looking on form.

Hamilton, Glock, Carroll, Piquet the timesheets said, but the gaps between the first four were measured and changing little lap to lap. Behind them, however, was Gimmi Bruni, who had been struggling with his gearbox from the very first turn in the race, and he now had a train of cars on his tail, with the first carriage being teammate Zuber.

Behind him Pantano was clearly enjoying his second set of tires as much as his first, and was climbing all over the rear of Zuber. But before he could make a pass stick Monfardini lost his car immediately behind them on the exit from Abbey, spearing luridly to the right and into the barriers, causing Premat to spin in avoidance.

It was a big hit, and what remained of the Italian's car was left stranded in the middle of the track as the field struggled to find a way past the wreck. There was no option but to bring out the second safety car as Monfardini was taken to the medical centre for a check up.

At the front Hamilton must have been annoyed to see his lead evaporate, but he put it behind him and waited for another chance to build it back again. The chance came on lap 25 as the race went green once more, and he easily controlled Glock and Carroll to hold onto his lead.

Pantano was back on the attack immediately, and would have easily moved up a spot but for Bruni's gearbox finally giving up the ghost, his car cruising to a halt at Bridge. He tried to push his car out of harm's way by himself, but was unable to do so before the safety car was on track once more.

Four laps later and the race was live once more, with the same results as previous: Hamilton easily controlled the restart to retain his lead, and Pantano was attacking Zuber once again. This time it worked out for the Italian: Zuber went off under pressure, through the gravel and into retirement, and Pantano was up to fifth.

But there was no time for any further heroics, as the laps rolled out to the checkered flag. Hamilton was the first man to see it, taking the victory by five seconds from Glock, while Carroll and Piquet came across the line nose to tail one second further back.

Pantano claimed fifth with a storming drive, well ahead of Premat, Clivio Piccione and Porteiro, with Hamilton handed a further bonus after setting the fastest lap of the race on the final lap.

It was this ominous display of speed to the end that will have his rivals worried for tomorrow's race two.


Pos Driver Team Time
 1. Hamilton ART Grand Prix 1:00:53.888
 2. Glock iSport International + 5.014
 3. Carroll Racing Engineering + 6.145
 4. Piquet Jr. Piquet Sports + 6.436
 5. Pantano FMS International + 8.728
 6. Premat ART Grand Prix + 12.985
 7. Piccione DPR Direxiv + 15.146
 8. Porteiro Campos Racing + 17.088
 9. Valles Campos Racing + 17.959
10. Hernandez Durango + 22.538
11. Conway DPR Direxiv + 23.061
12. Fauzy Super Nova + 25.174
13. Tahinci FMS International + 36.333
14. Villa Racing Engineering + 55.030


 Driver Team Laps
 Zuber Trident Racing 30
 Filippi BCN Competicion 29
 Jani Arden International 28
 Bruni Trident Racing 26
 Yoshimoto BCN Competicion 24
 Monfardini DAMS 20
 Viso iSport International 18
 di Grassi Durango 16
 Ammermueller Arden International 7
 Negrao Piquet Sports 1
 Perera DAMS 0
 Lopez Super Nova 0

Fastest lap: Hamilton, 1:32.505 on lap 35

Waltrip defines direction of teams Waltrip defines direction of teamsMOORESVILLE, N.C. –  In light of published reports of Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) abandoning their NASCAR Busch Series partnership with Fitz-Bradshaw Racing, MWR owner Michael Waltrip said the rumors couldn’t be farther from the truth.
“I think a lot of people got confused when we took the opportunity to move our NEXTEL Cup operation down the road to Jimmy Spencer’s old shop,” said Waltrip.  “We saw an opportunity to give Larry Carter and his team working on the Burger King Chevrolets, a location that allows them to stay totally focused on preparing for our upcoming five Cup races with Bill Elliott in 2006.  Our Busch Series program, along with our Marketing, Licensing and Business Affairs departments remain at Fitz-Bradshaw in Mooresville, NC.  Last Fall we partnered with Armando Fitz for the entire 2006 season and that won’t change.”
While everything is status-quo with Waltrip’s 2006 programs, there is eager anticipation for 2007.  In just a few weeks, the first phase of Waltrip Racing World will open for Toyota’s entry into the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.  Waltrip Racing World, scheduled to open to the public mid 2007, is a fan destination complete with entertainment and interactive experiences.  It will also house all of Michael Waltrip Racing’s Toyota backed teams. zzzz
“Phase One of Waltrip Racing World is essentially our fabrication and manufacturing facility,” Waltrip said.  “In some ways it could be viewed as the heart and soul of our entire campus.  Our first Toyota Camry was completed last week and we will build many more at the new location.  This building is exclusively dedicated to the preparation, testing, development and eventually racing of our 2007 Camry’s.
“We have a lot of innovative things going on at Michael Waltrip Racing,” continued Waltrip.  “We are nearing the launch of an ownership plan that dates back to the summer of 2005 when I first visited Toyota Racing Development in California.  This isn’t a start-up effort.  We have hired some of the brightest and most respected members of the NASCAR community and all of our steps leading to the 2007 Daytona 500 on right on target.  We understand and respect the challenges of succeeding at the NEXTEL Cup Series level.  When MWR and our sponsorship partners accepted this task, we set several benchmarks that we knew we had to achieve and everything we have announced to date were part of that.  As an organization, I am very pleased with where we are and where we are headed.”
Even for $280m, Button ’not for sale’ Even for $280m, Button ’not for sale’(GMM) Even for a staggering wad of cash, Honda says it would not sell Jenson Button to a rival squad.

''Not for 100 million (UK pounds),'' principal Nick Fry, faced with speculation that the Englishman is growing weary of Honda's lagging speed, told the Mirror.

He added: ''Not for 150 million.''

At Silverstone on Saturday, Button embarrassingly slumped out of qualifying in the opening fifteen minutes, with Fry blaming stewards' decision to call him into the weigh bridge at an inopportune moment.

But earlier this weekend, the 26-year-old racer suggested to the press that he might be ruthless in his quest to win the F1 title.

''Jenson's absolutely not for sale,'' Fry continued, hinting at a long-term contract signed by Button last year.

''We got married last year ... and divorce is not on the horizon.

''I'd be amazed if Jenson is looking around.''
Alonso’s rivals smile less broadly Alonso’s rivals smile less broadly(GMM) Fernando Alonso's British qualifying triumph is his fourth pole on the trot, but his Silverstone rivals were not smiling so broadly on Saturday.

''We were not so strong,' said the Renault driver's title opponent Michael Schumacher, third on the grid and a handful of tenths slower than Alonso.

''I was expecting to be a bit closer but we have to wait to see what all the fuel loads are.''

Ferrari's technical director Ross Brawn told reporters that he also was surprised with Alonso's pace.

But he said: ''I think our car should be very good in race trim, and perhaps we can do something with the strategy.

''Hopefully Kimi has a fast car, because we don't want to be stuck behind him.''

McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen - despite earlier ruling out victory and a shot at the 2006 championship - qualified on the front row, but his MP4-21 featured nowhere in the speed traps.

''We are losing some top speed in a straight line,'' the Finn explained, ''but the car is pretty good.''

A luckless Jarno Trulli, meanwhile, confirmed to reporters that his smoky moment in pitlane was indeed indicative of his Toyota V8 calling it a day.

''I am really upset,'' said the Italian, ''because at the moment everything, not just this, seems to always go wrong for me.''
Speedy Speed, Rosberg Speedy Speed, Rosberg(GMM) A couple of British grand prix rookies will leave Silverstone with empty wallets on Sunday evening.

Both Scott Speed (Toro Rosso) and Williams' German youngster Nico Rosberg have been clocked speeding in pitlane by the governing body.

Californian Speed was the first to trip the FIA's systems, the 22-year-old recorded at a whopping 18kph over the Silverstone limit of 60. For his troubles, the fine tips the scales at a whopping $4500.

Then, during qualifying, Rosberg caught the wrong attention by going ten clicks too quick, copping a $2500 FIA penalty.
Casey Mears leaving Ganassi at year end Casey Mears leaving Ganassi at year endGanassi Racing announced that Casey Mears will be leaving the No 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger after this year. After starting the year with three top 10 finishes, including a second place at Daytona, Mears has managed only one top 15 finish since. Last year Jamie McMurray left Ganassi Racing after only a single season with the team. "I'm not concerned about Casey giving 100 percent the rest of the season" commented Donnie Wingo (crew chief) "It's just like last year with Jamie. I wasn't really worried about that. These guys are racers like the rest of us. They don't have anything to gain by laying down and not doing their job. We're not even thinking about that."
Patrick does not anticipate merger Patrick does not anticipate mergerDanica Patrick said Friday that she doesn't think a merger will happen between the IRL and Champ Car.

"There has been 10 years of trying to work it out, and it hasn't happened yet," she said. "My opinion is nothing is going to happen, and one of them is going to go away. Honestly, I think we're going to hang around. We have the Indy 500."

But Patrick also said she thinks a merger would help everyone involved in both series.

 "It would be much easier for the fans to understand," Patrick said. "NASCAR is called NASCAR, and it would be so much better if Indy car was just called Indy car. And a couple of races the other series has are big fan-base races that would be nice to have in our lineup of tracks."

"Obviously, it would help from a sponsorship standpoint. I think it would get old sponsors excited again, guys that used to be involved and saw the decline and got out. It would help to draw them back in."  Dallas Morning News

Q and A with F1 technical directors Q and A with F1 technical directorsAfter FIA president Max Mosley was in the limelight at the British Grand Prix, technical directors from Ferrari, Red Bull, Williams and Renault were all called to the media room where they answered many questions from the awaiting press. The following is the transcript of the press conference with Ross Brawn, Adrian Newey, Sam Michael and Pat Symonds. More....
Cheever: Wasted time Cheever: Wasted timeEddie Cheever Jr. slumped in a chair Friday and tried to explain the media circus he got drawn into last week following contact with 19-year-old rookie Marco Andretti.

Cheever called it unnecessary.

"I wasted two days on that," he said. "I was negotiating with GEICO (about a race sponsorship) on one phone while the other (phone) was ringing with people wanting me to talk about (Andretti).
"Was it really worth that?"

Cheever understood the intensity that came from the Andretti family. They have been jabbing for years, but not just because he and Mario Andretti made contact during the 1992 Long Beach (Calif.) Grand Prix. He said the elder Andretti circulated a petition to get him thrown out of CART.

"(Team owner Chip) Ganassi told him what he could do with his piece of paper," Cheever said. Indy Star

TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday USA TV reminders for Sunday

Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Inside Drag Racing
11:00am-11:30am ESPN2
NHRA 2Day Joliet, IL
11:30am-12:00pm ESPN2
NASCAR RaceDay Pocono
11:30am-1:30pm (L) SPEED
American Dragster
12:00pm-12:30pm ESPN2
Formula 1 Silverstone
1:00pm-3:00pm (SDD) CBS
NASCAR Nextel Cup Pocono
1:30pm-6:30pm (L) FOX
Star Mazda Mid-Ohio
3:00pm-4:00pm SPEED
Movie: Six Pack (1982)
4:00pm-6:00pm FOX Movie Channel
Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race Long Beach
5:00pm-5:30pm (R) SPEED
NHRA Joliet, IL
5:00pm-7:00pm (SDD) ESPN2
GP2 Championship Series Silverstone
5:30pm-7:00pm (SDD) SPEED
Speed News Sunday
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Victory Lane Pocono
8:00pm-9:00pm (SDD) SPEED
Movie: Winning (1969)
8:00pm-10:15pm Turner Classic Movies
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Ward Burton (NASCAR)
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED
Movie: Speedway (1968)
10:15pm-12:00am Turner Classic Movies

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

British GP: Schumacher fastest in Practice 3 British GP: Schumacher fastest in Practice 3Silverstone turned on another uncharacteristically sunny morning on Saturday as grand prix drivers prepared to qualify.

Super Aguri's Takuma Sato was the worst victim of the final free practice session, the Japanese smacking his front right wheel against the tire barrier.

His teammate, Franck Montagny, also tasted the gravel, but he was in good company as several runners - like Kimi Raikkonen - continued to struggle on the slippery surface.

It was an all-German duo at the top of the times, however, with BMW-Sauber racer Nick Heidfeld oddly trailing only Ferrari's Michael Schumacher.

Seven time World Driving Champion Michael Schumacher has made himself and Ferrari a favorite to win the pole position for Sunday's British GP by leading the final practice session prior to today's qualifying by over 4/10ths of a second. Photo courtesy of Ferrari

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. M. Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:20.919 13
 2. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) 1:21.361 + 0.442 13
 3. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:21.633 + 0.714 15
 4. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:21.771 + 0.852 12
 5. Fisichella Renault (M) 1:21.859 + 0.940 12
 6. Alonso Renault (M) 1:21.870 + 0.951 13
 7. Barrichello Honda (M) 1:22.023 + 1.104 12
 8. Villeneuve BMW-Sauber (M) 1:22.229 + 1.310 14
 9. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:22.456 + 1.537 18
10. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:22.532 + 1.613 14
11. Button Honda (M) 1:22.596 + 1.677 15
12. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:22.681 + 1.762 15
13. Monteiro MF1-Toyota (B) 1:22.812 + 1.893 19
14. Klien Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:22.921 + 2.002 14
15. Montoya McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:23.412 + 2.493 7
16. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:23.459 + 2.540 13
17. Webber Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:23.964 + 3.045 12
18. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:24.010 + 3.091 11
19. R. Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:24.386 + 3.467 12
20. Montagny Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:27.229 + 6.310 10
21. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:27.525 + 6.606 12
22. Albers MF1-Toyota (B) No time 3

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Schu walks unscathed from 'GPDA' meeting
Honda admits fault for winless Button
FIA 'prepared' to lose carmakers, says Mosley
Mosley to quit before 2010
'Knockout' quali facing 5-minute chop
Williams' 'no comment' on Toyota rumor
Alonso sets course for Brit pole
Herbert now more involved at MF1
Klien vows to beat DC to '07 seat
Webber stays mum after Schu face-to-face
Hornish raises money Hornish raises moneyThe second Sam Hornish Jr. Celebrity Bowling Tournament raised $113,500 for the Texas Chapter of Speedway Children's Charities. Hosted by Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr., the event benefits more than 150 charitable organizations in North Texas. Included in the amount was a $25,000 donation from Hornish and donations from Roger Penske and Hornish's parents, Sam Sr. and Jo Ellen.

SAM HORNISH JR.: "This year was bigger and better than last year, so I'm really happy with how things have improved. I was particularly pleased to see the broad range of celebrities that participated because it shows we're reaching people outside of the racing community. The highlight of the night, of course, is that we were able to raise more than $110,000 for Speedway Charities. I'm looking forward to next year's event and raising even more money."

Herta to start last Herta to start last#7 Bryan Herta will move to the back of the field after an engine change following the last practice session at Texas Motor Speedway. Herta had qualified 11th.
Wheldon on TV Wheldon on TVReigning IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon will be the subject of ESPN's "Faces of Sports" series this weekend. "Dan Wheldon's Race For Indy" which airs at 8 p.m. on June 10 follows Wheldon as he joins Target Chip Ganassi Racing through the 90th Indianapolis 500 in May.

This program immediately precedes the Bombardier Learjet 500k at Texas Motor Speedway on ESPN which starts at 9:00 p.m. ET.

Newspaper supports Champ Car race Newspaper supports Champ Car raceChamp Cars would add special zing to downtown

Dale Jensen
Jun. 8, 2006 12:00 AM

Living in the Valley of the Sun are some of the most fortunate people in the world.

We have great weather, great people and great sports. We have NFL football, Major League Baseball, the NBA, NHL, NASCAR, drag racing, the PGA and LPGA, and the world's largest marathon /half-marathon.

We want to bring a new and different sport to the Valley - a Champ Car Grand Prix street race and three-day festival in downtown Phoenix - that people of all ages will enjoy.

Part of our active involvement in developing a vibrant downtown includes major investments in the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Phoenix Suns and the Dodge Theater. We are now working on a plan to develop an entertainment district south of US Airways Center that will be a world-class destination.

We are investing $300 million in downtown Phoenix to help develop the center of our city in a way that all of us can enjoy.

To show the world our new downtown, this inaugural Champ Car festival will occur Nov. 16-18, 2007, and will be televised on network TV and broadcast to 180 countries throughout the world.

Why Champ Car? Champ Car offers a unique experience in motorsports and has successfully staged over 100 street festivals throughout the world in the past 30 years. It makes good business sense.

We have the support of Phoenix City Councilman Michael Johnson and organizations of businesses and property owners who represent downtown Phoenix. They all understand the impact this event will have on the Valley, including more than $65 million of new business to Phoenix annually. We will continue to work with neighbors in the area to mitigate possible inconveniences that may occur during the race.

We are currently going through the due diligence process with the city of Phoenix so that they can independently verify what we are proposing. This process will be thorough and public. We are not asking for financial support from the city; we are financing this project with private investment dollars.

Unfortunately, the owners of Phoenix International Raceway - International Speedway Corporation/NASCAR - are doing everything in their power to stop this idea.

They do not want competition, even though our events appeal to different types of auto racing fans. They have hired a legion of lobbyists who asked the Legislature to pass a law that would ban any motorized competition (not on a track like theirs) that was louder than a lawnmower, anywhere in Arizona. That's like the Diamondbacks asking the Legislature to ban any professional games that are played with a ball, except for those played on a diamond.

We simply want to add to our diverse entertainment menu. We want to bring an event to downtown that will showcase the Valley of the Sun to the entire world.

We hope the Phoenix City Council agrees.

The writers are partners in the Arizona Grand Prix.  Arizona Republic

Don’t ever underestimate Kevin Kalkhoven Don’t ever underestimate Kevin KalkhovenObviously Mr. Kalkhoven and his partners have retained a very distinguished attorney to represent them. Since they retained Mr. Sun long before the ‘Phoenix Issue’ it is a testament to their patience that they have not fully unleashed the ‘heavy guns’ in prior matters.  It is also just as clear they have zero intention of allowing anyone, irrespective of their wealth & influence, to obstruct them from marketing Champ Car in a fair and lawful manner and certainly not by unfair monopolistic business practices coming out of Daytona. More.....
Hornish leads final practice at TMS Hornish leads final practice at TMSFORT WORTH - Marlboro Pole Award winner Sam Hornish Jr., and Scott Dixon, led the final practice sessions as IRL IndyCar® Series teams continued preparations for the Bombardier Learjet 500k at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway.

Hornish, driver of the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, recorded a lap of 24.4100 seconds, 214.584 mph in the final practice session before the June 10 race. Dixon, who will start fourth, led the day's earlier session with a lap of 214.020

The Bombardier Learjet 500k will be televised live by ESPN at 9 p.m. (EDT). The race will be shown immediately after ESPN's Original Entertainment special "Dan Wheldon's Race for Indy," which will be telecast at 8 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN. zzzz


SCOTT DIXON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone): ". Our car seems pretty quick. We seem to have a pretty good combination. We just need to figure out how much grip we need to dial in and see how much the car falls off during a full stint." (About the race conditions): "I think the weather has been pretty consistent during the night. It doesn't drop off in temperature that much. It will probably be in the 80s or even 90 when we go. It's still going to be more. The sun dropping (below the stands) will help the track temperature a little more and that will help grip. In the last few stints, it gets very close because the cars get easier to drive."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "So far, the Marlboro Team Penske car has been looking good. The banking of the track is one thing and makes it less difficult to find speed. Even if your car is 1 mph slower, the draft can help you catch up and run the same speed as the leader. It's a different challenge. You keep the pedal to the metal and you have more guys around. You have to trust the guys around you to keep the show nice. Otherwise, you and others could get in a lot of trouble."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "I don't think at 2 in the afternoon, that session has a lot of play on what happens tomorrow night at 8:30 pm once we are finally up and running. You try to just get out and mix it up in traffic. We did a little bit of that yesterday and thought we had a decent race car, then everyone starts to focus on qualifying. Now is the time, in these two sessions, where everyone really wants to be in traffic, wants to be behind other cars and wants to see if their car is consistent there. We're doing really well right now but we are also keeping in the back of our mind that conditions will change a couple times again before the race."

SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone): "The Marlboro Team Penske car has been really good in and out of traffic since we got to Texas, and today was no different. Helio (Castroneves) also has been pretty quick, so hopefully we'll be able to work together during the race and pull away from the rest of the field. The big key to the race is going to be making it to the end. We know we have a good car, so we just need to stay out of trouble in order to be in contention for the win."

Pos Driver Best Time Best Speed
1 Sam Hornish Jr (6) 24.4100 214.584
2 Helio Castroneves (3) 24.4307 214.402
3 Dan Wheldon (10) 24.4379 214.339
4 Scott Dixon (9) 24.4847 213.930
5 Scott Sharp (8) 24.5402 213.446
6 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 24.5793 213.106
7 Vitor Meira (4) 24.5822 213.081
8 Buddy Rice (15) 24.6079 212.858
9 Tomas Scheckter (2) 24.6154 212.794
10 Danica Patrick (16) 24.6338 212.635
11 Ed Carpenter (20) 24.6492 212.502
12 Jeff Simmons (17) 24.6574 212.431
13 Tony Kanaan (11) 24.6610 212.400
14 Felipe Giaffone (14) 24.7199 211.894
15 Dario Franchitti (27) 24.7945 211.257
16 Marco Andretti (26) 24.8232 211.012
17 Eddie Cheever Jr (51) 24.8523 210.765
18 Buddy Lazier (5) 24.9489 209.949
19 Bryan Herta (7) 24.9922 209.585

track news
Bourdais comments on major SJ upgrades Bourdais comments on major SJ upgradesCanary Foundation Grand Prix of San José presented by Taylor Woodrow announced today that the series of changes to downtown streets designed to improved the on-track action have been completed.

The improvements include resurfacing the street so it is flush to the curb at the rail track crossings on Almaden Blvd. and Market St. Turn #2 (old Turn #4) at the corner of Almaden Blvd. and Park Ave. has been widened. The circuit has been widened along Park Ave. and at the corner of Market and Balbach Sts. (Turn #6). In all, the changes will make the San José Grand Prix track wider, smoother and safer with the potential for more speed and passing.

Additional changes to improve the safety of the circuit included swapping the track and pit lane on Almaden, which will make exiting the pits safer for the drivers as well as provide spectators in the Gold Grandstands with a better view of the on-track and pit action. Also the runoff at the hairpin has been lengthened, which provides for greater safety, but also will permit the drivers to go faster up Almaden Blvd. heading into the hairpin and creating a potential passing zone. Zzzz

Event construction in the Boston Properties parking lot, across from the San José Convention Center, will begin on June 16th. Over the course of the next six weeks downtown San José will be transformed into a world-class racing circuit.

Among the event improvements that will directly affect the fan experience are better access around the site plus improved viewing areas for all spectators. Crossover bridge capacity has been doubled by widening the bridge on Almaden Blvd. and adding another on Balbach St. The increased bridge capacity will improve spectator flow around the circuit. Improvements have also been made to the grandstands providing better viewing of all on-track action. Gold #1 and #2 grandstands will be elevated; Silver #3A and #3B grandstands will be consolidated into one grandstand; Silver #4 grandstands will be moved closer to the track; and Silver #1 grandstand will become the closest to the new and expanded Champ Car paddock. In addition, new and improved general admission locations have also been created through out the circuit.

Commenting on the track changes San José Grand Prix defending champion, two-time defending Champ Car Champion and winner of the first four races of the 2006 season, Sebastien Bourdais said, "I think the San José Grand Prix staff has done a good job of addressing the concerns the drivers expressed about the track last year. They have made a lot of significant improvements to the circuit and I believe there will be more passing here in San José than on any other street circuit in the Champ Car World Series. In particular, I think what they have done to the hairpin (Turn #1) provides the best passing opportunity on the entire tour. The McDonald's Newman/Haas Racing team is looking forward to coming back to San José this year and defending our title."

Continuing its theme from last year, "More Than A Race," plans for the 2006 San José Grand Prix, set for July 28-30, 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.

Commenting on the track improvements Canary Foundation Grand Prix of San José Vice President and General Manager Bob Singleton said, "In an effort for continuous improvement, the San José Grand Prix has listened to both the drivers and the fans. Safety is the ultimate goal and we feel we have achieved that as well as making the whole circuit more accessible and convenient for our fans."

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."
Brilliant move Champ Car Brilliant move Champ CarA reader writes, Great move by Champ Car to manage to get a driver lineup that includes zero Americans at this point. That ought to really pack 'em in at Portland and drive the TV numbers through the roof. Paul Brittain, Hillsboro, MO

Dear Paul, We were surprised Ryan Hunter-Reay did not get the ride. He is the only active American that won his first two seasons in Champ Car, had front row starts and fast race laps - all in the horrible Reynard, and then when he moved to a Lola he dominated at Milwaukee and had a front-row start at Road America. He won at every level, and it was only when he drove for Rocketsports did he not have good results. It is no secret that Rocketsports needs more sponsorship and he and the team simply did not gel. For whatever reason he appears to have been blacklisted from the series because of his year with Rocketsports, and is not being considered by any of the teams that we know of. Amazing. There is a groundswell of anti-Champ Car sentiment building over their neglect of American drivers.

With that said, da Matta is also a good driver and will run well for RuSPORT, but you are right, without Americans (and just one isn't enough) the series will continue to see attendance and ratings suffer. Mark C.

Gomez to drive for Guthrie Racing Gomez to drive for Guthrie RacingCrown Point, IN- Guthrie Racing and the BMS Group are pleased to announce that seventeen year old Indiana native, Logan Gomez, will make his Indianapolis Motor Speedway debut this summer driving in the Indy Pro Series Liberty Challenge race supporting the Formula 1 World Championship. Gomez, who was born and raised in Crown Point, IN, is currently in his first full season of open wheel racing in the Star-Mazda Championship with Velocity Motorsports.

Q- Logan, how did you get involved in racing?
LG- I began karting as a hobby at the age of 9. I soon realized that being a race car driver was something that I wanted to pursue. What was once a hobby has now at the age of 17 turned into a career as I am in my first full season of open wheel racing.

Q- Around the Star-Mazda paddock are you called the INDYana Kid?
LG- Yeah, it is a name that my dad gave me and now, especially since we are going to be racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it has stuck!

Q- How long have you wanted to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
LG- Ever since I was a little kid watching the races each year on television with my family. zzzz

Q- You are joining Guthrie racing driving the #4 car in the Indy Pro Series race. Tell us your thoughts on joining the team?
LG- I am very excited to be joining Guthrie Racing for this year’s USGP race with the Indy Pro Series. I know the team has what it takes to run a car up front and I feel that having a teammate like Sean Guthrie who has taken the same steps to the Indy Pro Series as I have will enable me to adapt to the IPS car as quickly as possible.

Q- You are currently competing in the Star-Mazda Series. How is the season going?
LG- We have completed four races so far this season, everything from road, street and oval circuits. I feel we have some room for improvement with our qualifying and race setups. This is something that is different with every driver and I am hoping to develop a good baseline in the Star-Mazda Series to bring that data and experience over to help with our race in the Indy Pro Series.

Q- What is your goal for the IPS event?
LG- My number one goal is to win the race, but it is also very important to have a good showing of speed and hopefully to turn some heads in the paddock, especially when they hear how old I am.

Gomez began his 2006 season with a sixth place at the Star Mazda season opener in Sebring. His vast karting background has resulted in numerous wins and championships. Most recently in 2005, he placed first at the WKA “Kart Week” in Daytona in the ICC 125 Shifter Class and also placed first at the SKUSA Super Nationals in Las Vegas in the same class. He was also a semi-finalist in the Red Bull F1 Driver Search program. Gomez’s search for speed does not end on the race track since he also enjoys snowmobiling, skiing, flying, sailing and dirt bikes.

The Indy Pro Series will begin their official on track activities on Friday, June 30th with practice from 9am-9:45am and qualifying later that day starting at 12:30pm. The race will be held on Saturday, July 1st at 4:45 pm. All times are subject to change. The race will be televised on Thursday, July 6th at 2pm Eastern Time on ESPN 2. For sponsorship information on Logan Gomez, contact the BMS Group at www.burrismotorsport.com.

Q and A with Russo and da Matta Q and A with Russo and da MattaRuSPORT owner Carl Russo and his newest driver Cristiano da Matta answer questions on why da Matta is replacing AJ Allmendinger on the RuSPORT Champ Car team effective immediately. Transcript
ALMS notes ALMS notesBRASELTON, Ga. – Television viewership and Web site visits continue to surge for the American Le Mans Series. Through its first three telecasts (one broadcast on SPEED, two on CBS), the Series is averaging 637,667 viewers per show, an increase of more than 23 percent from a year ago. Last year after three races (one SPEED, two CBS), viewership was averaging 515,667 per telecast. … The newly designed American Le Mans Series Web site also is drawing increased interest. During the month of May, the site had 16,201,710 hits from 113,520 unique visitors, the best month on record in the history of the site. Online merchandise sales in May were up 30 percent from a year ago at the same time. …

Twelve teams from the Series will race at the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 17-18. Qualifying will be held Wednesday and Thursday from 7-9 p.m. and 10-midnight (local time). Teams from the American Le Mans Series have won three of four classes the last five years, including the first overall win by an American-based team in 38 years last year by Champion Racing of Pompano Beach, Fla., in its Audi R8. … zzzz

This year, Audi will field two R10 TDI (turbo diesels). LMP1 points leaders Allan McNish and Dindo Capello (plus seven-time Le Mans champion Tom Kristensen), who won at Sebring earlier this spring will pilot one car. The second R10 TDI will be driven by last year’s Series champions Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro (along with Marco Werner), who will return to Series competition beginning with Round 5 at Salt Lake City on July 15. … Kristensen holds the record for most career Le Mans wins (seven) and most Sebring wins (four). …

Corvette Racing has had an impressive run at La Sarthe. It has won four of the last five years with its only blip coming in 2003 when a Prodrive Ferrari 550 prevailed. Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta have won the past two years with Jan Magnussen, while Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell won for Corvette in 2001 and 2002. … Twenty-four-year-old Patrick Long, driving in a unique role as third driver for the Flying Lizards, has won all three of the endurance classics – Le Mans (2004), Sebring (2005) and Petit Le Mans (2005) with Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing. Long, America’s lone Porsche factory driver, is running eight races in the American Le Mans Series with Petersen/White Lightning and the two endurance events with Penske Racing. … Liz Halliday, driving with Clint Field and Duncan Dayton, is the only female in the Le Mans field and hopes to become the first woman in the modern era of Le Mans to capture a class podium position. Intersport Racing posted the third-fastest LMP2 class time last weekend in practice. … Halliday will jump from one horse-powered machine to another within a week. She will compete June 24th with horses Harry and Oscar at the Salperton Park Horse Trials in Gloucestershire, England. … This will be the 10th anniversary of the Panoz marque at Le Mans. It first raced at La Sarthe in 1997. …

Lime Rock Park is the first race after the return from Le Mans. The Connecticut road course has made a significant investment in track improvements from a year ago including more than 3,400 feet of new or replaced Armco barrier around the track, installation of more than 2,400 feet of catch fencing, additional paved paddock space, reconfiguration of the chicane to allow cars to navigate at a higher speed, extension of pit plane and relocation of the false grid, creation of significant runoff areas at the Uphill and paving of the West Bend crossover to give transporters easier Paddock access. … Rob Dyson (owner of Dyson Racing) ran his first professional race in a Porsche 962 at Lime Rock 21 years ago – and won! …

Birthdays Le Mans week include: Clint Field (June 16 – turns 23) and Dindo Capello (June 17 – turns 42). … Field was the youngest driver ever to win (in class) at Le Mans at age 20.  … Gunnar Jeannette, who turned 24 last month, is still the youngest driver to ever finish at Le Mans at age 18. ALMS

Q and A with Max Mosley Q and A with Max MosleyI'd like to thank you all for taking the time to come and I'd like to talk a little bit about the future Formula One engine regulations. First of all, the regulations that have been published state very clearly that engines will be homologated for three years, in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

There have been some discussions about whether the homologation should be relaxed to some degree, but in actual fact we've reached a situation where there are at least three and possibly more views on this.

Some teams think we should stick with completely homologated engines, with no changes at all. Some people like the so-called Maranello agreement and some would like a more liberal agreement than Maranello, but there is no consensus. Under those circumstances the 12 teams who have entered the championship from 2008 have done so under the regulations as published, so we intend to stick quite simply to the rules as they are, and as they were approved by the World Motorsport Council on March 22. More....

Carroll wins GP2 pole Carroll wins GP2 poleLocal heroes Adam Carroll and Lewis Hamilton will line up on the front row of the GP2 series grid for tomorrow’s race at Silverstone after posting times just 0.004 seconds apart in a close-run qualifying contest. The quickest lap of the session, however, was set by Nelson Piquet Jr, but the Brazilian will start fourth tomorrow as a penalty he received for overtaking under yellow flags in this morning’s practice session means he loses his best time of the afternoon.

Adam took control from the outset, setting a 1:29.104 on his first flying lap to lead the first half of the qualifying session. Lewis challenged, but it was a rejuvenated Timo Glock at his new birth of iSport International who was looking like the biggest challenger to the Racing Engineering driver. Nelson meanwhile was having a torrid time, spinning an ill-handling car and spending much of the first 15 minutes in the pits. He knew he would need at least two very fast laps to be anywhere near the front of the grid following the Stewards’ decision to dock his fastest lap.

Fired up and determined that’s exactly what he did, eventually taking top spot from Adam on a 1:29.029. His second quickest lap however was a 1:29.160… quick, but not quick enough. For while Fairuz Fauzy had crashed heavily, and the BCN pair of Hiroki Yoshimoto and Luca Filippi had ended their days early, the ART Grand Prix boys had been tweaking their rides and Lewis had set a time just 0.004 seconds off Adam’s best, which remained his first flyer of the day. Alex Prémat popped up to third on a 1:29.134 and so Nelson was pushed down to fourth. zzzz

With the front two rows assembled after Nelson’s penalty had been imposed, the rest of the top ten caused just as much intrigue. Timo will start from a season best grid placing of fifth, followed in sixth by the continually impressive Andreas Zuber for Trident Racing. Lucas di Grassi completed an excellent afternoon’s work at Durango to line-up seventh with Andreas’ team-mate Gimmi Bruni eighth, Clivio Piccione ninth for DPR Direxiv and Petrol Ofisi FMS International’s Giorgio Pantano tenth.

With the top 14 drivers covered by less than a second, tomorrow’s race once again promises to be a thrilling contest. Come tomorrow afternoon, the Silverstone crowds look set to have a tough choice – either watch the England football team play their first match of the World Cup, or witness at first hand two of their country’s brightest and most exciting young driver talents fight it out for a race win on home soil, and from the front row.

It’s a no-brainer, really.

1st Adam Carroll – Racing Engineering. 1:29.104
I like driving here, and I knew we could come here and do well. We've been creeping up to the front, and I know the results haven't been there but we've been getting much better. It's really, really good for everybody.

2nd Lewis Hamilton – ART Grand Prix. +0.004
I didn't even know what times had been done, and the last time I checked the board I was fifth, but it was extremely close. To be on the front row is great for me, and it's even better to have two British drivers on the front row at our home race.

3rd Alex Prémat – ART Grand Prix. +0.030
But I think the second row is alright for tomorrow, and I will push really hard because the race is really long, and we need to keep the tires during the whole race.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Carroll Racing Engineering 1:29.104 9
 2. Hamilton ART Grand Prix 1:29.108 + 0.004 12
 3. Premat ART Grand Prix 1:29.134 + 0.030 12
 4. Piquet Jr. Piquet Sports 1:29.160 + 0.056 13
 5. Glock iSport International 1:29.300 + 0.196 11
 6. Zuber Trident Racing 1:29.400 + 0.296 14
 7. Di Grassi Durango 1:29.404 + 0.300 14
 8. Bruni Trident Racing 1:29.546 + 0.442 14
 9. Piccione DPR Direxiv 1:29.548 + 0.444 10
10. Pantano FMS International 1:29.729 + 0.625 9
11. Ammermueller Arden International Ltd 1:29.869 + 0.765 11
12. Monfardini DAMS 1:29.890 + 0.786 12
13. Perera DAMS 1:29.903 + 0.799 13
14. Viso iSport International 1:29.937 + 0.833 15
15. Valles Campos Racing 1:30.351 + 1.247 14
16. Yoshimoto BCN Competicion 1:30.484 + 1.380 10
17. Negrao Piquet Sports 1:30.526 + 1.422 14
18. Lopez Super Nova International 1:31.097 + 1.993 12
19. Villa Racing Engineering 1:31.178 + 2.074 14
20. Conway DPR Direxiv 1:31.309 + 2.205 12
21. Hernandez Durango 1:31.321 + 2.217 12
22. Jani Arden International Ltd 1:31.334 + 2.230 13
23. Fauzy Super Nova International 1:31.506 + 2.402 8
24. Porteiro Campos Racing 1:31.624 + 2.520 12
25. Filippi BCN Competicion 1:31.836 + 2.732 4
26. Tahinci FMS International 1:33.834 + 4.730 14

TV News
Weekend TV Ratings Weekend TV RatingsUPDATE #2 The final ABC network rating for the IRL race at Watkins Glen was a 0.8/2 share, down from an overnight of 1.1/3 share.

The final rating of last weekend's NASCAR Busch Series race from Dover on FX was a 1.7/4share.

06/06/06 The overnight IRL TV rating from Watkins Glen on ABC fueled by Marcomania was a 1.1/2 share, up 37.5% from a 0.8/2 last year.  This is a bit higher than recent non-Indy 500 IRL ratings, but of course this may fall when the final ratings come out.

06/05/06 Overnight TV ratings for Sunday, June 4 will not be available until Tuesday due to processing problems at Nielsen.

Track News
Toyota to sponsor Historic races Toyota to sponsor Historic racesMonterey, CA (June 9, 2006)—Steven J. Earle, president of General Racing LTD and founder of the annual Rolex Monterey Historic, announced this week that Toyota will be the new presenting sponsor of the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races.  Now in its 33rd year, this year’s Historic will be held from Friday, August 18 through Sunday, August 20, 2006 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California.

“As one of the world’s finest automobile manufacturers with a strong commitment to motorsports, we are thrilled to have Toyota join us as the presenting sponsor of the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races,” said Earle.  “Toyota’s enthusiastic support of the Historic will not only enhance the event’s primary mission to present and preserve race cars from the past, but will also offer visitors the opportunity to explore Toyota’s own distinguished automotive history.”

Toyota’s sponsorship activities, shared with its luxury line Lexus, will benefit fans and competitors alike—ranging from new exhibits and displays to special events in the paddock, expo and on the track. zzzz

“This partnership with General Racing and the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races allows Toyota to look back at and to share with event visitors and participants its nearly 50-year history in America,” said James Farley, vice president of marketing, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. “We are looking forward to creating an exciting showcase of our most memorable automobiles, including ’58 Toyopet Crown and the ’67 2000GT, that have influenced American car culture.”

From timeless classics to multi-million dollar collectibles, visitors to the 33rd Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races Presented by Toyota will see some of the finest cars ever produced in action, as they compete in 14 race groups spanning nearly every era of motorsports history.  Historic IMSA, Trans-Am and Formula 1 cars and early Grand Prix greats like Maserati and Bugatti, will be among the more than 400 vintage race cars, from a wide range of makers, to tackle the historic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca track during the three-day Historic weekend.  

Tickets are on sale now for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s 50th Season of Racing including the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix July 21-23, the 33rd Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races August 18-20 and the Monterey Sports Car Championships featuring the American Le Mans Series October 20-22.

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

RuSPORT makes driver change RuSPORT makes driver changeRuSPORT has announced a change in its Champ Car World Series driver lineup.  Effective immediately, A.J. Allmendinger will no longer pilot the #10 RuSPORT Champ Car.  This change will be effective for the duration of the 2006 Champ Car World Series season.

“A.J. has been with us since we created RuSPORT late in 2002,” said team owner Carl Russo.  “During that time, we won the 2003 Formula Atlantic Championship and the 2004 Champ Car Rookie of the Year together.  However, as RuSPORT and A.J. have progressed, we believe a different environment will help A.J. to grow even faster, and so we have made this very difficult decision.  We expect that A.J. will be a winner in any category he competes in.  We thank him for all his efforts and we wish him well in the future.”

RuSPORT has also announced that 2002 Champ Car World Series Champion Cristiano da Matta has joined the team and will become the new driver of the #10 RuSPORT Lola / Ford-Cosworth / Bridgestone.  Da Matta’s first race with RuSPORT will be the upcoming G.I. Joe’s Presents the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland, which takes place June 16-18 at Portland International Raceway, in Portland, Ore. 

Da Matta returns to Portland as the event’s defending champion, and brings an impressive racing resume to RuSPORT. During his championship season in 2002, he won seven poles and seven races, including a record four consecutive wins at Laguna Seca, Portland, Chicago and Toronto.  Da Matta then spent two seasons racing in Formula 1, where he competed with Toyota F1 and scored a total of 13 championship points.  He was named the 2003 Formula 1 Rookie of the Year, as well as the 2002 SPEED Channel Driver of the Year. 

As a member of Dale Coyne Racing, da Matta has competed in all four races during the 2006 Champ Car season, and currently sits in ninth place in the championship standings.  He joins RuSPORT as a teammate to driver Justin Wilson, who is in second place in the championship, just 31 points behind the leader, Sebastien Bourdais.

“I would like to thank Dale Coyne for giving Cristiano the opportunity to display his desire, competitiveness and professionalism in front of all of us, this season,” said Russo.  “I would like to also thank Dale for allowing Cristiano to join RuSPORT at this time.  As for Cristiano, all I can say is a former champion with enormous experience is joining our team at a time when we are pushing to win the Champ Car driver’s championship, and that can only bode well for our chances.  As all are aware, Cristiano is a true champion on and off the race track and we welcome a competitor of this caliber to the RuSPORT family.”

“To say this is a great opportunity would be an understatement,” said da Matta.  “This is my sixth season in Champ Car.  Only in two of the previous five seasons have I felt like I could fight for a race victory every time I went to the track.  Now, I can say I have that opportunity again with RuSPORT.  I’m looking forward to getting started, and I plan to make the most of this opportunity.  I want to thank Dale Coyne and the entire team at Dale Coyne Racing for all of their hard work, and I would also like to thank Carl Russo and everyone at RuSPORT for giving me the chance to compete in the #10 Champ Car.” RuSPORT

More problems for Raikkonen More problems for Raikkonen(GMM)  Following his overheating problems at Monaco, Kimi Raikkonen has encountered yet another frustrating start to his GP weekend in Britain.

The Finn told reporters on Friday that he encountered a 'problem' after barely a handful of laps in the second practice session at Silverstone.  In the morning, he turned just a single installation lap in his MP4-21 McLaren.

Cheever picks up GEICO sponsorship Cheever picks up GEICO sponsorshipGEICO, the fourth largest private passenger auto insurer in the United States, will sponsor the No. 51 Cheever Racing car driven by Eddie Cheever Jr. in the Bombardier 500k on June 10 at Texas Motor Speedway.

"We are pleased to have GEICO on board with us at Texas Motor Speedway in what is always a fast-paced, exciting event," said Eddie Cheever Jr., who
won the 1998 Indianapolis 500 and recorded a 13th place finish at the Indianapolis 500 in May.

The green flag for the Bombardier 500k drops at 9 p.m. (EDT), with live television coverage on ESPN.

British GP: Kubica leads practice 2 British GP: Kubica leads practice 2
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Kubica BMW-Sauber (M) 1:21.082 29
 2. Fisichella Renault (M) 1:22.294 + 1.212 3
 3. Wurz Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:22.300 + 1.218 30
 4. Davidson Honda (M) 1:22.310 + 1.228 34
 5. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:22.437 + 1.355 17
 6. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:22.476 + 1.394 19
 7. Alonso Renault (M) 1:22.603 + 1.521 13
 8. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:22.825 + 1.743 14
 9. Webber Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:23.099 + 2.017 15
10. Barrichello Honda (M) 1:23.104 + 2.022 17
11. R.Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:23.114 + 2.032 22
12. Doornbos Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:23.140 + 2.058 25
13. Monteiro MF1-Toyota (B) 1:23.194 + 2.112 23
14. Montoya McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:23.199 + 2.117 10
15. Albers MF1-Toyota (B) 1:23.499 + 2.417 14
16. Mondini MF1-Toyota (B) 1:23.529 + 2.447 25
17. Button Honda (M) 1:23.707 + 2.625 18
18. Villeneuve BMW-Sauber (M) 1:23.750 + 2.668 13
19. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:23.816 + 2.734 16
20. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) 1:23.895 + 2.813 14
21. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:23.915 + 2.833 4
22. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:24.012 + 2.930 19
23. Klien Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:24.158 + 3.076 12
24. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:24.167 + 3.085 19
25. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:24.392 + 3.310 13
26. Jani Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:24.666 + 3.584 22
27. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:25.870 + 4.788 26
28. Montagny Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:26.248 + 5.166 22
29. Yamamoto Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:27.908 + 6.826 27
No deal over engine 'freeze', says Mosley No deal over engine 'freeze', says Mosley(GMM) Max Mosley delivered a blow to F1's recalcitrant carmakers on Friday, telling a Silverstone news conference that there would be no compromise over his controversial plan to 'freeze' engine development from 2008-10.

''There have been some discussions (with manufacturers) ... but there is no consensus,'' the FIA president said, despite reports that a deal had neared completion.

Mosley said the carmakers' proposed 'deal' was still going to be too expensive.

It is highly unpopular with outfits including BMW, Honda and Toyota, but Mosley's plan will require current-spec 2.4 liter V8 engines to be lodged immediately with the governing body as the blueprint for 2008.

In an odd twist, the arrangement will mean that teams will continue to develop engines in 2007, only to revert to the FIA-lodged June 2006-specs for the start of season '08.

But Mosley insisted: ''There (will be) no further discussion on the homologation point.''

And in comments which may reignite speculation about Volkswagen's intentions, he said he hoped the low-cost plan would entice 'another new manufacturer' into F1.

How much do the manufacturers really send? How much do the manufacturers really send?“People don’t know how much Ford is spending, or GM and Dodge.  We’ve been trying to get that information.  Nobody seems to have it” – Toyota Racing Development USA CEO Jim Aust, on speculation that Toyota will outspend its competitors when it enters the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series in ’07 DALLAS MORNING NEWS
Cosworth no longer class of '06 - Webber Cosworth no longer class of '06 - Webber(GMM)  Cosworth's V8 engine is no longer the class of the 2006 field, Mark Webber admits.

As speculation mounts that Williams will switch to a Toyota supply next year, the team's Australian driver retracted his view - expressed earlier this season - that independent British engine maker Cosworth's product was better even than those of huge rival manufacturers.

''At the start of the year we did have the best engine in the field, no doubt about it,'' Webber was quoted as saying by Melbourne's 'The Age' newspaper.

He added: ''But it's not possible for Cosworth to sustain that strength of development and budget against a Honda or Renault or Mercedes.''

Williams' Webber and teammate Nico Rosberg were the only drivers to not even turn an installation lap at Silverstone on Friday morning.

CAAO teams with Cleveland GP CAAO teams with Cleveland GPThe Consortium of African American Organizations (CAAO) will be partnering with the Grand Prix of Cleveland presented by U.S. Bank to help celebrate the event’s 25th Anniversary. Under new ownership, many new exciting activities have been added. “CAAO is celebrating its 5th Anniversary this year”, states Connie Atkins, Executive Director of CAAO. “We are looking forward to working with the Grand Prix of Cleveland this year and for years to come.”

CAAO will have a Family and Friends Day at the Grand Prix of Cleveland on Sunday, June 25, 2006. This will include grandstand seating, group recognition on the TV screens, group recognition on entrance signage, free paddock and pit pass, free 25th anniversary commemorative pin, seating together when ordered together, and sign ups that can be turned in at the group welcome tent for prizes. Tickets are discounted at $25.00 per person for those who want to sit in CAAO section. For more information on tickets, contact Kathy Burrows at 216-619-7223 Ext. 13. CAAO will also have an exhibit with giveaways for the kids on Saturday, June 24th and Sunday, June 25th.

Sunday’s racing will include Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship Series, Atlantics race, and the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland. There will also be a Family Fun Zone, Extreme Games, Health & Lifestyles Expo, Go Karts and more!

“This year will bring a whole new atmosphere to the race…a Fun Family Festival!” said the Grand Prix’s Kathy Burrows. “We are excited to have something that will appeal to every age group, including small kids, teens and adults. From Star Wars Characters to inflatables to kids’ rides to the Red Bull Extreme Game demonstrations to unbelievable racing, we will have something for everyone. We invite all CAAO members, families and friends to come down to experience one of the largest world-class events that Cleveland has to offer.”

Burrows continued, “This year we are celebrating our 25th anniversary in Cleveland. We look proudly at our history, but eagerly look to the future as we incorporate the many threads of Cleveland’s cultures to share and be a part of this great event. We are extremely excited to have begun this relationship with CAAO and look forward to working together for many years to come.”

Industry News
Ford shares fall to 52-week low Ford shares fall to 52-week lowFitch Ratings on Thursday downgraded the long-term debt ratings for Ford Motor Co. and its financing arm further into junk status, citing a "sparse product pipeline" and a restructuring plan that it said would be slow to kick in.

The announcement sent Ford's stock to a 52-week low. Shares fell 13 cents, or 1.9%, to close at $6.66 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Fitch lowered Ford's issuer default rating to "B+" from "BB" and its senior unsecured debt rating to "BB-" from "BB."

Fitch also assigned a recovery rating of "RR3" to Ford's senior unsecured debt, meaning that Fitch believes the automaker has a 50%-70% chance of recovery in the event that it files for bankruptcy protection.

The ratings service lowered Ford Motor Credit Co.'s issuer default rating to "B+" from "BB" and affirmed its senior unsecured debt at "BB" with a recovery rating of "RR2," which indicates recovery prospects of 70% to 90%.

The outlook on all of the ratings is negative.

Fitch said it expects the Dearborn automaker's revenue to deteriorate through at least 2006, saying expected market share decline and price competition will offset any gains made by its restructuring plan during the year.

Industry News
BMW reports sales increase BMW reports sales increaseIn the first five months of 2006, BMW Group sales rose by 9.8% compared with the same period last year to reach 567,903 automobiles (previous year: 517,249).
Briatore to decide future in July Briatore to decide future in July(GMM)  Renault boss Flavio Briatore says he will decide at the end of July whether or not to stick around in formula one beyond 2006.

The flamboyant Italian principal, who is being urged to sign a new contract by his French chiefs, explained that he is weighing up whether or not he is fully motivated to continue.

''The job is very demanding,'' Briatore told Daily Express.  ''If you are doing it, you must do it 100 per cent because it takes 90 per percent of your time.''

Button wears World Cup helmet Button wears World Cup helmet(GMM)  Jenson Button is wearing a special helmet design at the British grand prix.

Honda's Brit, presumably in order to nail his loyalty to the English World Cup football team, has modified his usual Union Jack-style livery to accommodate a St. George's cross and the word 'England'.

England will play Paraguay in its first game of the Cup, to be broadcast on big screens around the Silverstone circuit, on Saturday following qualifying.

26-year-old Button said he hoped the soccer action in Germany would not affect spectator numbers at the English venue.

''Sunday, we're not playing, so it should be busy, especially if the weather is like this,'' he said.

Former world champion Michael Schumacher, meanwhile, confirmed that he has already obtained a ticket for the Cup final in Berlin next month, while Toro Rosso's Vitantonio Liuzzi turned up for work on Friday morning in special football-themed 'Italia' racing boots.

British GP: Wurz quickest in practice 1 British GP: Wurz quickest in practice 1(GMM)  Friday-only test drivers dominated the opening practice session at Silverstone; Williams' Alex Wurz topping the times.

In a Toyota, Jarno Trulli was the quickest race driver, while Super Aguri newcomer Sakon Yamamoto, of Japan, brought up the rear nearly eight seconds off the leading pace and had one or two touch-and-go moments in traffic.

With 29 cars gracing the circuit in lovely Northamptonshire, which is turning on perfect weather in the mid-20s, only fourteen of them actually set a lap time.

MF1's Giorgio Mondini had a spin, as did Takuma Sato, while the other Aguri racer - Franck Montagny - brought out a five-minute red flag after pulling over at the end of the start-finish straight.

Michael Schumacher, with the second best race-driver time, had a harmless spin during his in-lap.

1998 and 1999 world champion Mika Hakkinen, meanwhile, was spotted in the McLaren-Mercedes garage.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Wurz Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:21.946 26
 2. Davidson Honda (M) 1:22.003 + 0.057 31
 3. Kubica BMW-Sauber (M) 1:22.365 + 0.419 30
 4. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:22.877 + 0.931 7
 5. M. Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:22.925 + 0.979 3
 6. Barrichello Honda (M) 1:23.128 + 1.182 5
 7. Button Honda (M) 1:23.415 + 1.469 6
 8. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:23.816 + 1.870 4
 9. Albers MF1-Toyota (B) 1:24.019 + 2.073 6
10. Monteiro MF1-Toyota (B) 1:24.070 + 2.124 6
11. Mondini MF1-Toyota (B) 1:24.087 + 2.141 19
12. Jani Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:24.145 + 2.199 22
13. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:27.724 + 5.778 10
14. Yamamoto Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:29.678 + 7.732 22
15. Doornbos Red Bull-Ferrari (M) No time 9
16. Montagny Super Aguri-Honda (B) No time 3
17. R. Schumacher Toyota (B) No time 2
18. Alonso Renault (M) No time 1
19. Fisichella Renault (M) No time 1
20. Klien Red Bull-Ferrari (M) No time 1
21. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) No time 1
22. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) No time 1
23. Montoya McLaren-Mercedes (M) No time 1
24. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) No time 1
25. Villeneuve BMW-Sauber (M) No time 1
26. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) No time 1
27. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) No time 1
28. Webber Williams-Cosworth (B) No time
29. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) No time

Bell to race for Vision part-time Bell to race for Vision part-timeTownsend Bell will race a third Vision Racing car at selected races this season after the team secured further sponsorship from jeans manufacturers Rock & Republic.

"We have a very dedicated group at Vision and I was very proud of our team for putting a competitive, three-car effort on track for the entire month of May," Vision Racing co-owner Tony George said.

"It would not have been possible to do in three weeks, as we did, without a dedicated, focused and committed partner."

track news
Vintage GP at Mid-Ohio Vintage GP at Mid-OhioThe 2006 Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio will feature several enhancements for spectators and competitors alike according to plans announced by TrueSports, Incorporated and the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA).

The event, scheduled for August 18-20 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, will now feature an open paddock for spectators and paddock parking for competitors. TrueSports, Incorporated and the SVRA will also cosponsor a Friday evening dinner for competitors. The schedule of events for the Vintage Grand Prix also has been expanded and will now feature a second Trans-Am Reunion Race exclusively for modern-era Trans-Am cars.  zzzz 

"We've always sought to bring something extra to the Vintage Grand Prix each season," said TrueSports, Incorporated President Michelle Trueman Gajoch. "This year will be no exception. We're pleased to be able to open the paddock to fans and competitors and to add even more excitement on the track with a second Trans-Am race. It's part of what's made this one of the biggest vintage racing events in America."

In addition to the Trans-Am Reunion races, the weekend will include 10 SVRA group races, the annual British Car Showdown and the popular Concours d'Elegance car show. The featured marque for the 2006 Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio is MG.

"Mid-Ohio is always an exceptional event, and this year's competitor and spectator enhancements will make it even more so," said SVRA Competition Director, Carl Jensen. "We're pleased not only with the growth and improvement of the event, but also the commitment Mid-Ohio has shown in continuously improving the facility. It should be another great race weekend."

In preparation for this year's events, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course underwent extensive capital improvements during the off-season, including a complete repaving of the track and pit lane. Turn One was widened and improved, with the wall moved back, the guardrail reconfigured and the gravel trap doubled in size. Gravel traps also were expanded in the Keyhole turn, while all of the old-style catch fencing was replaced and curbs were standardized throughout the circuit.

Tickets for the Vintage Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio are available now by calling 1-800-MID-OHIO or logging on to www.midohio.com.

Hard to root for skimpy Champ Car Hard to root for skimpy Champ CarWe're trying, Champ Car. We're really trying. We know you've had some difficult times, and we know the economy is tough right now for an open-wheel racing series.

But you make it so, so difficult for us to love you.

First you bring just 17 cars to the Milwaukee Mile. Granted, more doesn't always mean better, but 17 is cutting it thin, and then you lose one before qualifying and another three on the first green-flag lap of the race.

We know you've got talent, and those of us who've come to know Sebastien Bourdais and Justin Wilson and Alex Tagliani realize how engaging and insightful they can be. But let's look at the field overall.

Of the 17 drivers who showed up, six were rookies. Your most widely known star is Paul Tracy, and he was knocked out on the second lap along with Mario Dominguez, the face of your Mexican fan initiative, and Bruno Junqueira, one of your best oval racers. So of those remaining, nearly half were known only to students of the sport.

To reach this level, they must be pretty good, and - who knows? - maybe someday hundreds of thousands of people will brag of how proud they were to see the oval debut of Nicky Pastorelli or Jan Heylen. But it has taken us three years to care about Nelson Philippe, and that's only because of the way he played the role of Mr. Excitement on Sunday.  More at Milwaukee Journal online

Ambrose 19th for Truck start Ambrose 19th for Truck startTeam Australia’s Marcos Ambrose has qualified 19th for tomorrow’s ninth round of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.

Ambrose clocked a time of 30.086 seconds in his Team Australia/Aussie Vineyards Ford F-150 around the 1.5-mile (2.4km) circuit at an average speed of 179.485mph (287.176kph).

Defending pole sitter Mike Skinner broke his own qualifying record to again take pole for tomorrow’s race.

Skinner set a time of 29.475 seconds at an average speed of 183.206mph (293.1296kph). Terry Cook clocked a time of 29.512 seconds, while Kraig Kinser was third with a 29.522-second lap.

Ambrose, who won two V8 Supercar Championships for Ford in Australia, again has moderate goals for tomorrow’s race.  zzzz

"We're really pleased,” said Ambrose.

“We're just trying to turn laps right now. We're in a hole with three wrecks in three races, and we want to ride through the next couple here and get as much experience as we can and stay out of trouble again if we can."

“Dover felt pretty quick, but this place is really a challenge, too.

“I've been a little bit limited on laps here and I haven't quite done enough laps in practice.

“We're really excited about the race and the future. I've got a great team and a great opportunity, and I'm having a blast."

Team Australia concept creator, Craig Gore, said that whole of Australia was behind Ambrose’s efforts.

“The interest in our program seems to grow by the day and Marcos is doing a great job as an ambassador for Team Australia and his country,” said Gore.

“His efforts to qualify 19th in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck field should never be underestimated. He is doing a terrific job.”

IRL tries to defuse Andretti-Cheever controversy IRL tries to defuse Andretti-Cheever controversyFORT WORTH, Texas -- The dust all but settled Thursday on last weekend's Eddie Cheever-Marco Andretti accident at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.

Indy Racing League president Brian Barnhart asked for a truce.

He met with Cheever and two of Andretti's team owners Thursday at Texas Motor Speedway and planned to meet with the 19-year-old rookie.

Barnhart said Cheever "absolutely, positively" did not bang wheels with Andretti intentionally, but he said Cheever made a mistake not seeing where Andretti was going to pass him on the road course. The contact sent Andretti into the retaining wall and the tire barrier.

Andretti, on the other hand, should learn from this.

"The next time such a situation presents itself, Marco probably won't put the car in the same position, and that just gets chalked up to (gaining) experience," Barnhart said.

Andretti continued to stress that Cheever should be held accountable.

"All I can say is it's one of two things," he said. "One, he did it on purpose, or two, he didn't see me. Which is worse?

"If he doesn't see me here (at the fast Texas track), what happens?" Indy Star

Phoenix politician denounces Champ Car race Phoenix politician denounces Champ Car raceThis Arizona Republic article was written by a Phoenix Republican Senator.   As we know, NASCAR and the France family are big supporters of the Republican party, so as you read this keep in mind that the author's pockets are probably being lined with cash as NASCAR/ISC pulls out all stops to kill the street race in Phoenix.  He too calls for a NASCAR downtown street festival when in fact PIR will not lose one of their two Cup races and move it to downtown city streets, so once again we have an article written against the race by someone who is lying through their teeth.  They will lose this battle.

Street race nothing but minor-league deja vroom

Robert Blendu

I am baffled by the attempt to reincarnate failed street races in downtown Phoenix that once wasted millions in taxpayer dollars, caused severe disruptions and embarrassed the Valley.

The proposed race is a misstep in the dance to invigorate downtown, and an unnecessary risk to economic engines in Arizona. It would involve "Champ Cars" and take place shortly after November's NASCAR championship series race.

The Champ Car organization was in bankruptcy three years ago. It was recently rated the least popular motor sport by ESPN.com.

It has a 20-year history of failures - paralyzing traffic, hindering offices and neighborhoods with noise, reneging on multi-year contracts, draining millions of taxpayers' dollars and ultimately delivering embarrassments to cities and regions.

The promoters of the Phoenix race are asking for $3.3 million in subsidies from Las Vegas taxpayers to try and make a race work in that city. Industry leaders question whether the organization will even be around in a few years.

The risks extend well beyond the city of Phoenix. zzzz

This state rallied to lobby NASCAR for a second Valley race. We committed to growing the sport locally through existing facilities, partnerships and quality organizations. The downtown Phoenix race defies the spirit of quality and partnership we guaranteed from Arizona.

These factors were critical in Phoenix's selection above Chicago, Las Vegas and Kansas City, sites also vying for the second race. And they are not the only cities that would still like a second race.

It defies logic that after the Valley was fortunate enough to get a second NASCAR race we're now going to jeopardize that achievement by parking, and even paying for, a minor-league event in such close proximity.

Perhaps some have forgotten the Formula One race fiasco in Phoenix in the 1990s, before TGen, new residential projects, light rail or the expanded Phoenix Convention Center. Today, the countless problems would be compounded. And now we have learned that the proposed route runs right by Maricopa County's 9-1-1 call center, posing a noisy threat to its operations.

Those who say we shouldn't automatically reject something that failed before have a point. It might be worse.

Downtown Phoenix is becoming a big-league place. It can start being selective with proposals, seeking world-class partnerships and aligning itself with successful concepts that don't hurt more than help. Affiliations with something like this race aren't going to facilitate redevelopment. They will impede it.

If Phoenix leaders are truly interested in greater opportunities with motorsports, aside from the tremendous benefits downtown Phoenix and the state get from PIR and NASCAR, then work with existing, major-league partners. A NASCAR Festival, much like the NFL Experience, would be a great fit for downtown. I would be happy to help in this regard.

But as for revisiting a failed street race concept? There is no need for deja vroom.

The writer, a Republican, represents the West Valley's District 12 in the Arizona Senate.

GP2 series reached midpoint GP2 series reached midpointThe GP2 series reaches the mid point of its 2006 campaign this weekend with rounds six of the season taking place at Silverstone, Great Britain. Races 10 and 11 of the year will take place around one of the drivers’ favorite tracks, one that presents a major challenge both physically, and technically. With Lewis Hamilton at his home circuit, the new championship leader will be hoping to continue his momentum in front of a partisan crowd. The Briton has never raced at Silverstone however, and the man looming large in his championship mirrors, Nelson Piquet Jr, has a wealth of experience at the track and will be hoping to take the fight back to Lewis.

The long and winding road: Silverstone has a long and emotional history with motorsport. The track, originally formed from the access roads around Silverstone airport, hosted the very first round of the Formula One World Championship back in 1950. Ever since then, despite changes to the venue of the British race and a major revamp of this particular track’s layout, Silverstone has always been the home of British motor racing.

The 5.141km circuit that the GP2 series drivers will contest this weekend has been the definite version of the Silverstone circuit since the turn of the millennium. Its opening section is the stuff of legend, as the track hurtles through Copse, into Maggotts, Becketts and Chapel before launching the drivers down the notorious Hangar Straight. There are overtaking opportunities aplenty, but it is the speed of this track and the brutal, unforgiving nature of its layout that excites the drivers. zzzz

The grid that will line up on Saturday for the first race of the weekend however will have a slightly different feel to it than normal however. Following accidents in Monaco, Nicolas Lapierre (Arden International) and Olivier Pla (DPR Direxiv) have both been forced to pull out of this weekend’s racing, Nicolas through a two compressed vertebrae and Olivier with to a broken wrist. Nicolas will be replaced by 2005 GP2 series race winner and current F1 third driver Neel Jani, while Olivier’s replacement is new British F3 championship leader Mike Conway.

ISport International’s line-up also has a different look to it as Timo Glock moves from BCN Competicion to replace Tristan Gommendy in Silverstone. Taking Timo’s seat at BCN is Luca Filippi who competed in the first three rounds of the 2006 GP2 series for FMS International.

What about the championship? Lewis leads the drivers’ championship on 49 points following his pole and victory in Monaco last time out. He is followed in second position by Nelson who is just 10 points adrift of his rival. Nelson finds himself in the middle of an ART Grand Prix sandwich however as Lewis’ team-mate Alex Prémat is in third place, six points behind Nelson on 33. Ernesto Viso lies fourth on 26 points with Arden team-mates Nicolas and Michael Ammermüller tied for fifth on 25.

In the teams’ championship it’s ART Grand Prix that leads the way on 82 points, with Arden International second on 50 points. Piquet Sports lies third on 43 with iSport International fourth on 32, Trident fifth on 24 and BCN Competicion sixth on 14 points.

Piquet Jr. tops opening practice Piquet Jr. tops opening practice
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Piquet Jr. Piquet Sports 1:31.012 17
 2. Bruni Trident Racing 1:31.094 + 0.082 16
 3. Carroll Racing Engineering 1:31.141 + 0.129 16
 4. Hamilton ART Grand Prix 1:31.153 + 0.141 14
 5. Di Grassi Durango 1:31.189 + 0.177 15
 6. Premat ART Grand Prix 1:31.389 + 0.377 16
 7. Glock iSport International 1:31.529 + 0.517 15
 8. Zuber Trident Racing 1:31.641 + 0.629 16
 9. Perera DAMS 1:31.687 + 0.675 16
10. Ammermueller Arden International Ltd 1:31.739 + 0.727 15
11. Viso iSport International 1:31.830 + 0.818 8
12. Lopez Super Nova International 1:31.970 + 0.958 14
13. Monfardini DAMS 1:32.147 + 1.135 15
14. Valles Campos Racing 1:32.247 + 1.235 14
15. Jani Arden International Ltd 1:32.376 + 1.364 16
16. Pantano FMS International 1:32.457 + 1.445 12
17. Negrao Piquet Sports 1:32.544 + 1.532 17
18. Yoshimoto BCN Competicion 1:32.809 + 1.797 10
19. Piccione DPR Direxiv 1:32.937 + 1.925 13
20. Filippi BCN Competicion 1:33.596 + 2.584 17
21. Hernandez Durango 1:33.676 + 2.664 14
22. Porteiro Campos Racing 1:33.788 + 2.776 18
23. Conway DPR Direxiv 1:33.809 + 2.797 17
24. Fauzy Super Nova International 1:34.038 + 3.026 12
25. Villa Racing Engineering 1:34.209 + 3.197 12
26. Tahinci FMS International No time 1
Rubens ’happy’ with Honda equality Rubens ’happy’ with Honda equality(GMM)  Honda's Rubens Barrichello says he is relieved that his days as a 'number two' formula one driver are over.

For six years until 2005, the Brazilian played second fiddle alongside Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, where the most famous side-effect of his lesser role was - in 2002 - a relinquished win in the Austrian grand prix.

''I feel extremely happy that I don't have to be the 'water carrier' any longer,'' he was quoted as saying by 'Bild' newspaper in Germany, in an article speculating as to why he might now be finally getting the upper hand on teammate Jenson Button.

Barrichello said: ''At Honda, there is no 'number one' driver.''

Schu won’t quit over Monaco gaffe Schu won’t quit over Monaco gaffe(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has rejected suggestions that the venom of criticism following his Monaco slip might cause him to quit F1.

The German, who is reportedly yet to sign Ferrari's offer of a new two-year contract beyond 2006, said it would be a mistake to base such an all-encompassing decision on a single event.

''If I thought like that, then you could call me short-sighted,'' 37-year-old Schumacher said at Silverstone.

''But I am not short-sighted.''

Former triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart, however, has said for a long time now that the Ferrari veteran should call it a day.

''If (Schumacher) wins the world title this year, fantastic.  Then: out,'' he told New York Times.

''If he doesn't win the title again: out.''

Like him or not, though, Schumacher is synonymous with F1.  To the 'sid' agency, Bernie Ecclestone, perhaps concerned that the Rascasse saga is still raging, urged the British public not to put any more pressure on 'Schummel Schumi'.

The 75-year-old said: ''He did something wrong and he served his punishment.''

Ralf Schumacher also stepped in to defend his big brother.  ''If Michael says he didn't do it intentionally then I believe him,'' he said.

The German also urged the drivers' union to think carefully about kicking Schumacher out.  Ralf said: ''Without Michael, there would not be a GPDA.''

Silverstone 'safe enough' for F1 race Silverstone 'safe enough' for F1 race(GMM) In between labeling Michael Schumacher a 'prat', former champion Jacques Villeneuve enjoyed a little post-wedding party at Silverstone on Thursday.

The French-Canadian, who married new wife Johanna following the Monaco race and referred to Silverstone as his 'honeymoon', will carry the words 'Just Married' on the rear wing of his BMW-Sauber racer this weekend.

Asked what he gave his teammate for a wedding present, Nick Heidfeld smiled: ''A warm handshake.''

But after continuing his assault on old nemesis Schumacher, Villeneuve - 35 - also hit out at those drivers who have moaned about lagging safety at the British grand prix venue.

''They should, you know, get a life,'' JV hissed. ''Whoever is scared, maybe it is time to stop.''

World champion Fernando Alonso agreed that the current cars are lapping even quicker than with V10-power, but said the track is 'safe enough' to race on.

Ferrari deny Silverstone weakness Ferrari deny Silverstone weakness(GMM) Speculation that Ferrari arrive at Silverstone with a clear disadvantage has been dismissed on all sides.

It is suggested that,
because the Maranello based team has not tested so far at the British venue - unlike nearly every other team, including pacesetter Renault - Ferrari could struggle to keep up.

''After two or three runs I think we will all be at the same level,'' championship leader Fernando Alonso said.

Ferrari's Schumacher, likely to be the Spaniard's main rival on Sunday, agrees. Actually, the fact that weather forecasters did not spot Thursday's beautiful weather could put everyone on the back foot.

Teammate Felipe Massa continued: ''Our car goes well at this type of circuit. I am not at all worried.''

McLaren has also been singled out as a team to watch on the old Northamptonshire airfield, but Renault's Alonso is of the belief that the cars in red will pose a bigger danger.

He said: ''They were very, very quick in Barcelona last week so they arrive as favorites.

''It should also be good for us.''

Quit Honda, DC tells Button Quit Honda, DC tells Button(GMM)  According to countryman and friend David Coulthard, Jenson Button should consider quitting Honda.

At Silverstone on Thursday, the veteran Scot was asked about a recent interview in which he advised 26-year-old Button - who has ruled out success at his home race - to be 'ruthless' about leaving a struggling team.

Coulthard smiled: ''I think it's a good quote, isn't it?''

Button, meanwhile, curiously didn't deny DC's logic.

'If things are going well, you want to be there.  If not, you don't.''

He said: ''But you can't just keep changing teams.  Where I am at the moment is the best thing for me for the future.''

Former ten-time grand prix winner Gerhard Berger, though, sees a bigger problem in Button's so-far fruitless hunt for a win.

The Austrian told 'Bild': ''Button does not have that killer instinct.''

LeMans TV coverage LeMans TV coverageSports car enthusiasts the world over will be able to see more television coverage of the 24 Hours of Le Mans than ever before. The world’s most famous endurance race runs for the 74th time June 17-18 from La Sarthe in the south of France.

The green flag flies at 5:00 p.m. local time (11:00 a.m. EDT, 8 a.m. PDT) on Saturday June 17th with the checkered flag exactly one full day later. 

This year’s worldwide audience will watch Danish-born Tom Kristensen vie for an unprecedented eighth Le Mans championship and his seventh consecutive.   Last year, Kristensen, JJ Lehto and Marco Werner piloted the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 to a two-lap victory.

SPEED, home to five American Le Mans Series races in 2006, will offer 20 hours of live coverage from Le Mans. SPEED’s presentation begins at 10:30 a.m. EDT on Saturday and continues to 3 p.m. Coverage resumes from 8 p.m. EDT and continues beyond the end of the race to 11:30 a.m. EDT on Sunday.  zzzz

Bob Varsha, Leigh Diffey and Greg Creamer will handle the call of the race. Dorsey Schroeder and David Hobbs provide expert analysis and booth commentary. Calvin Fish, Brian Till, Andrew Marriott and Chris Neville report from the pit lane.

SPEED reaches a total of 65 million United States households.

European viewers may tune in to MotorsTV for complete Le Mans race coverage, in addition to practice and qualifying sessions. MotorsTV is broadcast in 32 European countries in four languages (English, French, German and Greek). MotorsTV’s telecast will be available in over 45 million households.

Its race coverage will cover the entire 24 Hours of Le Mans. Motors goes on the air Saturday at 9 a.m. (European time) and will remain live until 5:30 Sunday afternoon.

MotorsTV also will carry live coverage of scrutineering on Monday and Tuesday, along with qualifying on Wednesday and Thursday, and the Friday parade. Mark Cole, Martin Haven, Carlton Kirby, Tony Delahunty, David Leslie and Diana Binks are the MotorsTV commentary team.

A total of 26 cameras will be used to televise the race. In addition, five cars will be fitted with a pair of on-board cameras to further dramatize the spectacle that is uniquely Le Mans. And for the first time in 24 Hours of Le Mans history, a balloon fitted with a close-up camera will film unusual shots from an altitude of 50 meters.

The production crew for the international feed numbers 190, including producers, directors, news editors, audio engineers, camera people, graphics coordinators, etc.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans may also be heard over the Internet via radiolemans.com. Scheduled commentators include John Hindhaugh, Graham Tyler, Joe Bradley, Jim Roller, Gary Champion, Paul Truswell and Alan Hyde.

Complete live television broadcast times (all times Eastern Daylight):

    Saturday, June 17, 2006
    10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
    8 p.m. – 11:30 a.m. (Sunday)

Motors TV:   
    Monday, June 12, 2006
    8:30 a.m. – 12 noon

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006
    2:30 a.m. – 6 a.m.
    8:30 a.m. – 11 a.m.

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006
    1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
    4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

    Thursday, June 15, 2006
    1 p.m. – 3 p.m.
    4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

    Friday, June 16, 2006
    12 noon – 2 p.m.

    Saturday, June 17, 2006
    3 a.m to 12:30 p.m. (Sunday)

No rest for Bourdais No rest for BourdaisHow does a 4-time winner relax on his weekend off?
Sebastien Bourdais is arriving tonight (Thursday) in San Jose for a media day tomorrow before he and Mrs. Bourdais head to Portland.
Seb and Claire will be the Grand Marshals of the parade on Saturday. Expected attendance - 500,000 spectators, making it the largest event in the Pacific Northwest. It is televised live by NBC and re-aired later that day for an estimated viewership of 3.5 million. He will be wearing his "work clothes." Later that day he will be making an appearance at the Burnside McDonald's from 3-4 PM.
Sunday night after the Portland race he will fly to Edmonton and arrive at midnight for a media day beginning early Monday AM. So far he will have done media tours for the Long Beach, Houston, San Jose, Portland and Edmonton races.
Portland to honor Champ Car champion Portland to honor Champ Car champion(Portland, Ore.)- In keeping with the long tradition of auto racing associated with the Portland Rose Festival, Sebastien Bourdais, 2004 Champ Car World Series Champion, will serve as the Grand Marshal of the 2006 Southwest Airlines Grand Floral Parade, it was announced Thursday.

Bourdais, (pronounced Bour-day) who was rookie of the year in 2003, has ten Champ Car wins in 32 starts, including the 2004 championship, which he won in only his second season. He became the first driver to start in the top-three 15 consecutive times, winning a total of 13 poles, and is the first driver in series history to win his oval debut from the pole position. Bourdais won the Portland race in 2004.

"As the Rose Festival approaches its Centennial Celebration in 2007, it seemed the perfect time to remind people that Champ Car racing got its start right here in Portland during the third annual Rose Festival," said Rose Festival President, Rita Bladow. A quote from the 1909 event program describes the race: "Forty of the fastest cars in America to contest, driven by some of the most noted drivers in the world."

A centerpiece of the annual Rose Festival, the Grand Floral Parade is the nation’s second-largest all-floral parade and has been ranked by USA Today as one of the top five parades in America. zzzz

"It is an honor to be chosen to represent my sport in such a wonderful event," said Bourdais. "I love racing in Portland, but it will be nice to slow down long enough to see the people who come out on parade morning."

Bourdais who drives for the Newman/Haas Racing team will participate in the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland a week after the parade, June 16-18. The largest auto race in the Pacific Northwest, the Grand Prix features the 200 mph turbocharged open-wheel machines of the Champ Car World Series.

This is not the first time a Champ car driver has served as Grand Marshal. In 1984, the first year of the event, Gordon Johncock and Al Unser, Jr. were tapped to ride in the parade.

Southwest Airlines Grand Floral Parade will take place in downtown Portland on Saturday, June 10 at 10:00 a.m. and will be broadcast live on KGW-TV.  Reserved seating for inside and outside the Memorial Coliseum is still available at www.rosefestival.org or at Ticketmaster locations.

track news
Tom Carnegie retires Tom Carnegie retiresINDIANAPOLIS - Tom Carnegie, whose smooth, baritone voice has become synonymous with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 1946, announced June 9 that the 90th Indianapolis 500 was his last race as Public Address announcer for the Racing Capital of the World.

Carnegie was hired to serve as Public Address announcer for the 30th Indianapolis 500 in 1946, the first "500" under late Speedway owner Tony Hulman's stewardship. Carnegie has called every race since then at the Speedway for millions of fans - 61 Indianapolis 500's, 12 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard races and six United States Grands Prix.

The 90th Indianapolis 500, won May 28 in thrilling fashion by Sam Hornish Jr. with a pass of Marco Andretti on the final straightaway, was Carnegie's last IMS event officially behind the microphone.

"To me, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a cast of thousands, and everybody associated with it is important," Carnegie said. "Everyone has a part in its success, and I just had a small part, and mine has been continuous. I think people appreciate that. It finally comes to the end of the road for active participation, but my heart will always be there at the track, and I'll be seen many times to say hello to the fans and be a part of what they see and appreciate." zzzz

Carnegie, 86, witnessed countless dramatic moments during his tenure at the Speedway. And he admitted that one of those moments, the sudden retirement of four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt on Indy 500 Pole Day in May 1993, provided a blueprint for Carnegie to announce he was stepping away from the microphone.

"It was time," Carnegie said. "(Wife) D.J. and I have always admired the way A.J. Foyt quit driving. When he made up his mind, he came forward and told the fans and the Public Address system, and that was it. He didn't prolong it and drag it out.

"Foyt has been one of my idols over the years, and that's what I did here."

In November 1945, Terre Haute, Ind., businessman Hulman purchased IMS from former World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker. The facility was dilapidated after going unused for four years during World War II. Hulman assembled the staff that managed to get IMS into racing shape in time to run the 30th Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day, 1946.

In May 1946, Carnegie was invited to handle public address duties for the Indianapolis 500, calling George Robson's victory. Since then, Carnegie has become a beloved legend in the state of Indiana and among motorsports fans worldwide, coining renowned phrases such as "Heeeeeee's on it!" and "It's a new . track . record!" that boomed over the Speedway's public address system with the rich, instantly recognizable tone of his voice.

"I had a nice conversation with Tom on Wednesday (June 7), and he shared with me his decision to make the 90th his last Indianapolis 500," said Tony George, IMS chief executive officer. "I mentioned to him that I thought that his pipes sounded as strong as ever, but could certainly understand wanting to reduce his level of activity after 61 years. I think I convinced him that retirement was not the descriptive word I would like to see him use, as we would consider his participation, even in a reduced capacity, an honor.

"As long as he enjoys health that permits him to come out to the Speedway, he will be welcome to participate at the level he is comfortable. We will continue to grossly underpay him for the service he renders!"

Carnegie was born as Carl Kenagy in 1919 in Norwalk, Conn. His family moved to Raytown, Mo., when Carnegie was a boy. He participated in debating in high school and at William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo.

After college, Carnegie got a tryout as a radio announcer at WOWO in Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1942. He got the job, and his station manager suggested he use the radio name Tom Carnegie.

Carnegie moved to Indianapolis in 1945 to become sports director at WIRE radio, and he also wrote three or four sports columns per month for the Indianapolis Star.

He was invited to serve as public address announcer during a Firestone antique car demonstration during Indianapolis 500 qualifying in May 1946, and IMS President Wilbur Shaw invited Carnegie to return to announce the 500-Mile Race on the Public Address system.

The microphone stayed in his capable hands for the next 61 years, through 11 U.S. Presidents, 40 different Indianapolis 500 winners and the evolution of Speedway ownership from Tony Hulman to his grandson, Tony George.

"The importance of the Hulman-George family simply cannot be overestimated here in the state of Indiana and, in fact, in the entire drama that is IndyCar racing," Carnegie said. "The success of the Speedway is dependent on the love that is expressed by that family at Indianapolis. I sit back, and I admire their strength and their making decisions that reflect their love as it pertains to the Speedway."

Said George, "Regardless of his final decision, Tom will enjoy the love, thanks and best wishes from everyone that has ever once enjoyed 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,' especially the love, thanks and best wishes of the Hulman-George family."

TV News
USA TV reminders for Friday USA TV reminders for FridayUPDATE NASCAR Performance and Tradin' Paint (NASCAR)  were swapped by SPEED below.  The change has been incorporated below.

06/08/06 Courtesy of TVRacer.com

Formula 1 Practice Silverstone
9:00am-10:00am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Beyond the Wheel -Worth the Wait  
2:00pm-2:30pm SPEED
NASCAR Live! Pocono
2:30pm-3:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying  Pocono
3:30pm-6:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Pocono
6:00pm-7:00pm (L) SPEED
Trackside Pocono
7:00pm-8:00pm (L) SPEED
Tradin' Paint (NASCAR)  
8:00pm-8:30pm  SPEED
NASCAR Performance  
8:30pm-9:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Craftsman Truck  Texas
9:00pm-11:30pm (L) SPEED

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

Schumacher apologizes Schumacher apologizesMichael Schumacher on Thursday publicly apologized for an incident in the Monaco Grand Prix which saw him stop his Ferrari in a tight curve during qualifying, denying others the chance to improve their times.

'For those who lost their lap, I'm very sorry,' the world record - holder said in Silverstone.

The Ferrari star said he expected heated discussions about the incident at a meeting of the drivers union GPDA on Friday.

'I know a few mates have something up their sleeve,' he said, while describing the decision of race stewards to strip him of the pole and order him to the back of the grid as 'unfair.'

IRL Texas ticket sales down significantly IRL Texas ticket sales down significantlyThis Dallas Fort Worth Star Telegram article says, On Tuesday morning, via cellphone on his way to another meeting, TMS president Eddie Gossage didn't sound like his usual, upbeat, beat-those-tom-toms self. Fact is, Gossage genuinely sounded concerned, and a little beat-up, from the latest promotional blitz surrounding "America's Original Nighttime IndyCar Race."

Recall that TMS lost its coveted position as the first race after the Indianapolis 500 last summer, when Indy Racing League officials moved the IndyCar Series road-course event at Watkins Glen International -- which had yet to be run for the first time -- into what traditionally had been an open weekend. The league's idea was to capitalize on the tremendous mainstream interest Danica Patrick generated as the first woman to lead -- and almost win -- the 89th Indy 500 in May 2005 into a numbers spike during June 2006.

So, Gossage spent Sunday afternoon in front of his TV, watching the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix, "a new variable in the equation," as he termed it. He saw what I saw -- a race that because of a wet/dry track and miserable, 56-degree weather, was an artistic disaster. The race had no rhythm or flow, was cut from its originally scheduled 60 laps to 55 because of all the time-consuming yellows, and was played out before a fan turnout that was "scattered." Those are my observations, not Gossage's, and my long-standing love affair with The Glen dates to its Formula One heyday in the mid-1970s.

Promotional buzz from Sunday? None, except for Cheever getting called "a complete idiot" not once, but twice, on national television following incidents with Patrick and rookie Marco Andretti, son of open-wheel star Michael Andretti.

"What that event wasn't about was anything we do at Texas," Gossage said. "That's not comparing apples and oranges. That's comparing apples and sausages -- two completely different products. And I'm a road-course fan. The fact is we're down very significantly [in ticket sales], and it was never promoted harder. So what's different? It's not the first race after Indy."

"We've never bought a spot during the Indy 500 before, and it was a monster buy," Gossage said. "Our staff is simply exhausted because we've never worked harder promoting."

TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday USA TV reminders for Saturday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Formula 1 Qualifying Silverstone
7:30am-9:00am (L)  SPEED
NASCAR Live! Pocono
12:00pm-1:00pm (L) SPEED
ARCA RE/MAX Series Pocono
1:00pm-3:00pm (L) SPEED
Inside Grand Prix Silverstone
3:30pm-4:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Busch Qualifying  Nashville
5:00pm-7:00pm (L) SPEED
NHRA Qualifying Joliet, IL
5:00pm-7:00pm ESPN2
NASCAR Nextel Cup Happy Hour Pocono
6:30pm-7:30pm (SDD) FX
Speed News Saturday  
7:30pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Busch Series  Nashville
7:30pm-11:00pm (L) FX
Dan Wheldon's Race For Indy  
8:00pm-9:00pm ESPN
IRL Texas
9:00pm-11:30pm (L) ESPN

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

Notes and quotes from Texas Notes and quotes from Texas
. This is Sam Hornish Jr.'s third pole position this season and the ninth of his IndyCar Series career. He also won the Marlboro Pole Award at Homestead-Miami Speedway and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
. This is Hornish's second pole at Texas Motor Speedway. He started first for the fall race in 2001 after the lineup was set by points due to rain.
. This is Marlboro Team Penske's fifth pole position of the season and its 24th pole in the IndyCar Series. The team has started on the pole for five of the six IndyCar Series events in 2006.
. Dan Wheldon qualified second, his first front-row start of the season and his best-ever start at Texas Motor Speedway.
. Helio Castroneves qualified third, his sixth top-five start this season and his third consecutive top-five start.


SAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, Marlboro Pole Award winner): "Everything is going really good for the Marlboro Team Penske car. Our run was pretty good, even though we slowed down from where we thought we'd be. The car ran really good earlier today when we were running in practice. We got around a couple of cars and we ran really well. Hopefully, the Marlboro Team Penske car will run as good on Saturday. The big thing for us is to make sure we don't get ourselves in any trouble and make sure the car handles well in traffic, because that's how it will be on race day."

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified second): "I think it was a relatively clean and good run. This year, we've been just a little shy. I think we have a car that is certainly reasonable for the race. That is something we worked on this morning. I think this year's race is very close. I think the fans are in for something that will be very entertaining."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified third): "I'm happy with how we qualified tonight. We were looking for speed earlier today in the second practice session, and we just couldn't find it. I have to say, the Marlboro Team Penske guys did a great job for me this evening, and I'm very satisfied with our qualifying position - the car was great. We're in the top-five, and I'm very content with that, and I'm  definitely looking forward to an exciting race on Saturday night."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified fourth): "It was pretty decent. Saturday night, with the temperatures going down, it will be a lot nicer. Our team has had a ton of confidence all year. The car has been quick, but we haven't capitalized on it."

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified sixth): "We've spent most of our time working on our qualifying setup. Team 7-Eleven always has good race cars here. If you look back at my record, it's pretty good, apart from 2003 when Helio (Castroneves) took us out. We have a good qualifying position so now we can focus on getting ready to go racing."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified seventh): "It's time for us to step forward as a team. I think the guys have done really well preparing the cars. We had two really good practice sessions. We felt really competitive. Texas is a unique track. It doesn't matter where you qualify here because it's completely different for the race."

DARIO FRANCHITTI (No. 27 Klein Tools/Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/ Firestone, qualified eighth): "The Klein Tools/Canadian Club car has been comfortable all day, it's just not terribly fast.  It wasn't a bad performance, and it gives us something to work on tomorrow.  We've got a long day ahead of us tomorrow to try and have a good car for this race because it's a hard race when you're back in traffic, so it's important to get the balance right."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone, qualified ninth): "I think my engineers could qualify the car here, but this is about where I thought I'd qualify the NYSE car, so I have to say that I'm pleased. I found out in practice that I'm definitely going to have to drive the car during the race. There are going to be two or three guys outside of you when you have somebody in front of you, so we've got to get the car to where I can go flat out when I'm running behind somebody."

Hornish wins pole in Texas Hornish wins pole in TexasSam Hornish Jr. claimed the Marlboro Pole Award for the June 10 Bombardier Learjet 500k at Texas Motor Speedway.

The reigning Indianapolis 500 winner posted a lap of 24.5197 seconds, 213.624 mph, in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Honda-powered Dallara. Hornish's time was .0041 of a second faster than reigning IndyCar® Series champion Dan Wheldon, who recorded a lap of 24.5238, 213.588 mph, in his No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda-powered Dallara.

Hornish's teammate Helio Castroneves was third-quickest at 24.5706, 213.182 mph in his No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Honda-powered Dallara while Wheldon's teammate Scott Dixon (212.929 mph) and defending race winner Tomas Scheckter (212.823 mph) were fourth and fifth, respectively in their Honda-powered Dallaras.

Preparations for the Bombardier Learjet 500k will continue on June 9 with two scheduled practice sessions. The Bombardier Learjet 500k will be run at 9 p.m (EDT) on June 10.

Qualifying Thursday for the Bombardier Learjet 500k IRL IndyCar Series event on the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine and speed: 
1. (6) Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara-Honda, 213.624
2. (10) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 213.588
3. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 213.182
4. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 212.929
5. (2) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 212.823
6. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 212.313
7. (8) Scott Sharp, Dallara-Honda, 212.242
8. (27) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 211.933
9. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 211.923
10. (55) Kosuke Matsuura, Dallara-Honda, 211.545
11. (7) Bryan Herta, Dallara-Honda, 211.532
12. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 211.395
13. (4) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 211.284
14. (15) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 211.163
15. (16) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 210.981
16. (17) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Honda, 210.445
17. (51) Eddie Cheever Jr., Dallara-Honda, 209.414
18. (5) Buddy Lazier, Dallara-Honda, 209.152
19. (14) Felipe Giaffone, Dallara-Honda, no speed

track news
Long Beach teams with Formula Drift Long Beach teams with Formula DriftAfter 32 years of successfully promoting full speed ahead racing, the marketing arm of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach (GPALB) will soon be promoting - sideways!

The GPALB, which stages America's premiere street race, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, has inked a contract to act as the exclusive sponsorship marketing agent for Irvine, Calif.-based Formula Drift, Inc., which organizes the North American professional drifting championship series.

The fast-rising new motor sport is featured in the upcoming Universal Studios movie release "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" opening in theaters June 16. Formula Drift, now in its third season, features drivers sliding sideways through corners on smoking, screaming tires. Points are given not for time, but for speed and - more importantly - driving style and skill.

"It's a natural for us," said Jim Michaelian, CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. "Our race fans, who are pretty sophisticated, fell in love with the sport when the drifters demonstrated their on-the-edge style at the 2005 Grand Prix.

"Since then, we have watched as drifting has grown by quantum leaps. We feel like this is the ideal time for the sport to begin maximizing its potential, and we want to help make that happen." Zzzz

"Our partnership with the GPALB is a natural progression as we have worked closely with their entire organization on what has become our most successful drifting venue," said Jim Liaw, Managing Director and co-founder of Formula Drift. "We feel their expertise will be instrumental in helping us take the Formula Drift Championship to the next level."

Drifting originated in the mountains of Japan more than 15 years ago before finding its way to the shores of the United States. The first official Formula Drift event on American soil was held in April 2004 at Road Atlanta.

Today, Formula Drift oversees a seven-event schedule. Formula Drift opened the 2006 season last April 2, using Turns 9-11 of the Grand Prix course, then came back the following weekend to compete during the Grand Prix's 33rd annual race weekend.

The series, which is also sanctioned by SCCA Pro Racing, travels to Chicago's famed Soldier Field June 10, then will compete at Infineon Raceway (Sonoma, Calif., July 8), Evergreen Speedway, (Monroe, Wash., Aug. 19), Wall Speedway (Wall, N.J., Sept. 9) and Irwindale Speedway (Irwindale, Calif., Oct. 14).

The GPALB is recognized as one of the most innovative promoters in the motorsports industry. Past projects have included marketing for the PPG Firestone Indy Lights Championship and Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca. The GPALB is also credited with assisting Firestone in its return to open-wheel racing in 1991.

"The demographics for drifting nationwide are superb," says Mike Clark, vice-president, marketing for the GPALB. "A full 80% of the drifting audience is in the much-sought-after 16-29 age group, and that's an attractive market segment for virtually any type of sponsor.

"We see drifting as the next big action sport, much like Freestyle Motocross and snowboarding. The sport is definitely X Games-worthy."

Keys to drifting are driver skill, good tires, suspension tuning, brake upgrades and lots of horsepower. This season, no less than eight tire companies - most of any U.S. motorsport - are Formula Drift sponsors, including BF Goodrich, Bridgestone, Dunlop, Cooper, Falken, Maxxis, Nitto and Toyo.

"The tire companies compete for points and, of course, bragging rights," added Liaw. "That translates into better sales to motorsports fans."

The agreement calls for the GPALB to provide sponsorship strategy, marketing concepts and materials and negotiating sponsorship contracts, among other provisions.
British GP Thursday Press Conference British GP Thursday Press ConferenceParticipating: Jenson Button (Honda), David Coulthard (Red Bull), Mark Webber (Williams). Transcript
Forsythe Atlantic Team Wraps Up Two-Day Sebring Test Forsythe Atlantic Team Wraps Up Two-Day Sebring TestSEBRING, Florida – Last week on the mega-bumpy “Modified” road course at this former Army Air Corps base and training center, Forsythe Championship Racing’s four-car entry in the 2006 Atlantic Championship completed nearly 1,000 miles in a two-day test session for drivers Richard Philippe, James Hinchcliffe, Leonardo Maia and series points leader Andreas Wirth.  At Sebring, with its suspension-breaking rough surface, the joke among local racers is that the bumps are due to the hundreds of World War II B-17 Flying Fortress pilots who were trained there and “dropped a lot of bombs in the wrong places”.

The purpose of the test was to work on car setups for the upcoming Cleveland event, which takes place on a similar fast and bumpy layout at Burke Lakefront Airport on the shore of Lake Erie in the shadows of downtown, June 23-25.  The Cleveland event will be pivotal in the outcome of the championship since it is the only two-race round, with one race each on Saturday and Sunday.

Lee Bentham 1998 Atlantic Champion Forsythe Atlantic Driver Coach
“Testing over the two days went very, very well.  Our testing schedule and procedure allowed us to accumulate a phenomenal amount of data which should prove to be useful for Cleveland.  Richard was incredibly impressive right out of the box.  The speed he was able to carry into Turn 17 was nothing short of brilliant.  Although he has had some bad luck in the first 3 races, expect to see the young gun at the front any day now. zzzz

Andreas and his engineer Nick went through an extensive list of changes in a relatively short period of time giving the team a great deal to work with for the upcoming events.  I must say that I’m impressed in the way with which Nick systematically eliminates any questions about what will and will not work on a car, which lends itself to the consistent and focused driving of Andreas.

Leo made some big strides as well and on the second day, found his groove and ended with a car that he can go confidently into Cleveland with.

Hinch was also impressive as usual with his test program, and in addition completed some valuable standing start data to round off his sessions.  He also showed the way through some of the corners where others were struggling, which just proves even more that a four car team can be a very productive thing. 
Each driver has their own style and preferences with the car and we are able to capitalize on this when one car may struggle in a certain section of track but is quicker than others somewhere else.  We are able to borrow all of the good and bad aspects of each car and put it all together to have the most competitive package available to us, and I believe we more than accomplished this in Sebring.

Because of the results of this test I am anxious to get to Cleveland and see if we can turn all of the hard work into a few podiums!  Before that, we should have a good event next week at Portland (June 16-18).”

Andreas Wirth
“The test went very well!  In all I did 267 miles on my test day, which is a lot for the modified course.  It’s very bumpy and we learned a lot about what the car likes for this type of track.  There’s no other test track that is so similar to Cleveland so it was perfect for us to test here.  With Cleveland being a two-race round it’s going to be very important to have a good weekend there and now we’re very prepared.”

Richard Philippe
"The test went well. We've improved the car so I'm very pleased. Unfortunately I had to end my day early as I had a pretty big crash. Overall the team did great, the mechanics were very fast to repair my car and get me back on track after my off.  Now it’s on to Portland and I’m determined to get the good results that I should have had by now."

Leonardo Maia
“The test was really productive for me and my teammates.  We learned a lot about the car over the two days at Sebring.  We threw a lot of different setups on the car to see what worked best on the bumps.  The car performed flawlessly throughout the test thanks to a great FCR team.  I am feeling more and more confident in the car and I am really looking forward to Portland!”

James Hinchcliffe
“The test went really well for us.  We were working hard on a good setup for Cleveland.  Since we get to test at Portland before, we were focusing on a good setup for the airport circuit. I started a program on the Thursday and then Andreas picked up where I left off and I think we got a lot accomplished. We also got the chance to get the car out in the rain and I was surprised how good she was.  This car likes the wet conditions for sure.  So we will take it all one day at a time from here and try to bag a good result in Portland to redeem ourselves for Monterrey!”

Next up: June 16-18, the Trinity Carpet 100K at Portland International Raceway near the Columbia River and downtown Portland, Round Four as Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.  This 1.964-mile road course in the heart of the Pacific Northwest always produces spectacular racing with the vista of snow-capped Mt. Hood framing the front straight.  The race can be seen live over the Internet by visiting the official Atlantic website at www.champcaratlantic.com, and will be broadcast on Speed Channel the following weekend, June 24th at 4pm ET (check local listings). To learn more about Forsythe Championship Racing, please visit our team website at www.forsythe-racing.com. Forsythe Racing

Rahal to run Indy Pro race at USGP Rahal to run Indy Pro race at USGPINDIANAPOLIS - Graham Rahal, son of legendary open-wheel driver and 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, will drive for Kenn Hardley Racing in the Indy Pro Series Liberty Challenge on July 1 on the 2.605-mile road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Rahal, who will be 17 years, 178 days old July 1, will become the youngest competitor in Indy Pro Series history. He is not subject to the minimum age requirement of 18 because the IndyCar Series is not running at the event. The 25-lap event is part of the support series lineup for the United States Grand Prix Formula One event.

Rahal already made history earlier this year when he became the youngest winner in Champ Car Atlantic series history, winning at Monterrey, Mexico.

"We're excited to have Graham on board for this great race," team owner Kenn Hardley said. "With Bobby Wilson as Graham's teammate, we have a very strong team and are looking for great results from both drivers." zzzz

Kenn Hardley Racing drivers have won two of five Indy Pro Series races in 2006, with Wilson winning from the pole June 4 on the 3.37-mile, 11-turn Watkins Glen International circuit.

"I think it will be challenging, but I'm with a great team and can't wait to test later on this month with the guys at Kenn Hardley Racing," said Rahal, who will participate in an Open Test on the circuit June 20. "My goal is to reach the highest level as a professional race car driver. The Indy Pro Series will give me a very valuable experience which will help me move up the ladder in open-wheel racing."

The Indy Pro Series is the premier ladder series for drivers, teams and sponsors striving to compete in the IndyCar® Series and the Indianapolis 500. The 12-race schedule in 2006 features six races on ovals and six races on road courses, including competing on both circuits at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Teams compete for $3 million in prize money in cars that generate 420 horsepower and speeds in excess of 190 mph. The races are telecast to more than 88 million homes in the United States on ESPN2.

Rahal competed in the final three rounds of the inaugural season of the A1 Grand Prix last year with A1 Team Lebanon and is set to compete in the 2006-07 A1 Grand Prix series starting this October.

He began his racing career at age 12, racing 80cc shifter karts. In 2003, he captured his first national championship race with the ICC main event win at Road America. In 2004, Rahal made his debut in the inaugural Formula BMW Series at the age of 15. He finished third in the Formula BMW USA Rookie of the Year battle, and seventh overall in the championship. He competed in the two Formula BMW races at IMS during the 2004 United States Grand Prix, finishing ninth and 10th.

Last year, Rahal finished fourth in Star Mazda, winning at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Ore., to become the youngest race winner in the history of the series at the age of 16. He also scored six podiums in 12 events.

Industry News
Porsche Shifts Into First in Vehicle Quality Survey Porsche Shifts Into First in Vehicle Quality SurveyPorsche of Germany powered into the passing lane, for the first time landing the top spot in a widely watched auto quality report issued Wednesday.

The maker of expensive sports cars and luxury sport utility vehicles rose in the annual J.D. Power & Associates rankings, analysts said, after addressing customer complaints and adding a highly rated compact model.

The survey was notable as well for what didn't change, as Toyota Motor Corp. of Japan and the rising Hyundai Motor Co. of South Korea again scored high marks for overall dependability and in individual vehicle categories. zzzz

Models from Toyota's mainstream brand and Lexus luxury line topped 11 of 19 categories, including compact car (Corolla), mid-size car (Camry) and six classes of premium cars and trucks.

In its report, Power found that Porsche was the top-scoring brand for model year 2006, with 91 problems per 100 vehicles. The automaker was followed by Lexus (93), Hyundai (102) and Toyota (106). The industry average was 124.

Among U.S. brands, General Motors Corp.'s Cadillac ranked highest, tied at No. 7. Vehicles from GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group were rated best in four categories: large car (GM's Pontiac Grand Prix), large pickup (GM's Chevrolet Silverado LD), mid-size pickup (Ford's Ranger) and van (Chrysler's Town & Country). More at LATimes

Champ Car announces penalties Champ Car announces penaltiesChamp Car World Series driver Mario Dominguez of the Forsythe Championship Racing team has been penalized seven (7) championship points after being found in violation of Champ Car Rule 6.27 in last weekend’s Time Warner Cable Road Runner 225 in Milwaukee.

Champ Car Race Operations found Dominguez in violation of Rule 6.27, which concerns avoidable contact. Dominguez’ penalty covers the points that he earned in Sunday’s race after a 14th-place finish.

The rule states: Any driver who in the opinion of the Officials initiates avoidable contact which results in the interruption of another competitor’s lap time or track position will be subject to a penalty per Chapter 10. Should the contact result in the immediate retirement of the other competitor, further penalties may be assessed. Judgmental decisions by the Officials in this regard are not subject to protest or appeal.

Dominguez has also been placed on probation for the next three (3) Champ Car events.

Ecclestone wants 20 races Ecclestone wants 20 racesBernie Ecclestone wants to see twenty races on the Formula One calendar in the future. There are many countries that have already shown their interest to host an F1 race, but the teams didn't always show their support to be away from home even longer.

Ecclestone believes the twenty races shouldn't be scheduled in the same period such as the calendar we know these days (starting in March and ending in October) but it should cover a longer period, and thus a shorter winter (testing) period. "It would be good to have 20 races, provided we spread them out over a longer period," Ecclestone told German magazine Auto Motor und Sport. "These back-to-back races are a killer. And provided that we put on races in places which are good for the people who compete.

"I was called a lunatic to run races in China or Turkey. I put these grands prix on because they are good for the manufacturers."

Michelin plan more events around USGP Michelin plan more events around USGPMichelin is “augmenting its ticket program” for this year’s F1 U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway by “scheduling a series of fan events leading up to the July 2 race,” according to Steve Ballard of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. An autograph session with the 12 drivers who use Michelin tires on June 29, followed by a Q&A with ’05 F1 champion Fernando Alonso, are part of the plans. The initiative comes after the tire company advised its seven teams last year to withdraw from the race stemming from safety concerns on the track. Michelin was forced to help refund ticket buyers to last year’s race and “is paying for two additional tickets for those who reorder the same number this year.” The company is also donating $5 to a charity “for every tire sold at participating dealers.” Meanwhile, IMS Dir of PR Ron Green did not disclose how many tickets have been sold but said that “renewals are better than expected” INDIANAPOLIS STAR
Ryan Lewis to drive for Mi-Jack Conquest Ryan Lewis to drive for Mi-Jack ConquestIndianapolis, Indiana – Mi-Jack Conquest Racing (MJCR) announced today that it has signed British F3 driver, Ryan Lewis, to their Atlantic Team for the remainder of the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship season. 22-year-old Lewis will drive the #30 Insport Swift / Mazda-Cosworth / Yokohama car starting next week at the Trinity Carpet 100k at the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland.

“It’s good to be back in a position where I know I’m going to be racing for the rest of the year,” said Lewis. “I think America is where the best opportunity is at the moment and I’m really glad to be part of the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Team. They’ve shown with Graham that they are a winning team and if Graham and I start pushing each other, I think we can have at least a few podiums, obviously I want to be on the top step as much as possible!”

Lewis, who tested with the team back in December in the 014 car, received another chance to demonstrate his talent last week at Sebring International Raceway, and he didn’t disappoint. The Hertfordshire-native impressed Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Team co-owner Eric Bachelart.

“At the test last week in Sebring, Ryan confirmed the potential we saw in him in December. He was doing lap times close to those of Graham’s and it was his first time in the new Atlantic car, it was a remarkable performance from someone with zero experience in that car,” said Bachelart. “We are more than pleased to have him join our team. He is a fun person to work with and to have on the team. I know that Graham and Ryan will work well together on and off the track and that we can expect great things from them.” zzzz

Lewis’ new team-mate is also excited about having the Brit join the team. “Ryan’s a good guy, we got along very well during the test in Sebring,” said Graham Rahal. “He showed he can drive a car fast and give good feedback, which in return will make both of us faster.”

The young British driver will also be working with experienced engineer Lee Dykstra. “Lee and I worked really well together in Sebring, we’re on the same sort of wave length. He made it easy for me, the car was set up really well and I was comfortable in the car straight away. I look forward to working with him the rest of the season.”

Crowned British F3 Scholarship Champion in 2004 with 17 wins, 15 pole positions and 17 fastest laps in only 24 races, Ryan was selected a ‘BRDC Rising Star’ at the end of the 2004 campaign. In 2005, Lewis ran in the British F3 International Series (Championship Class), placing has high as second, twice, and finishing the season in eighth place in the final standings. He also won the 2003 Formula Palmer Audi Championship.

Ryan Lewis will join his new team and his Atlantic Series competitors next Wednesday at Portland International Raceway for an Open Test before taking to the track Friday morning for the first practice session of the Trinity Carpet 100k. Mi-Jack Conquest Racing

Toyota eyes Vickers Toyota eyes VickersHendrick Motorsports Nextel Cup driver Brian Vickers has asked for and received permission from his team to explore other driving opportunities next season, Hendrick spokesman Jesse Essex confirmed Thursday.

In the meantime, Vickers remains under contract with Hendrick and will be at Pocono Raceway this weekend as scheduled.

Vickers, 22, was traveling Thursday and unavailable for comment.

As a result of Vickers' request, Hendrick Motorsports has also started the process of looking for another driver for its No. 25 Chevrolet next season, if needed, Essex said.

Vickers is among Team Red Bull's top prospects for next season, the Observer has learned. Red Bull plans to field to full-time Toyota Cup teams next season. ThatsRacin.com

Heidfeld calls time on Schu saga Heidfeld calls time on Schu saga(GMM)  Countryman Nick Heidfeld has called for an end to the seemingly endless 'Rascasse' saga involving Michael Schumacher.

''For me, it's over,'' the BMW-Sauber pilot told 'sid' at Silverstone on Thursday.

While his teammate Jacques Villeneuve renewed the vitriolic attack, Heidfeld backed away from speculation that drivers will demand Ferrari driver Schumacher's resignation from the 'GPDA' at a meeting on Friday.

'Quick Nick' said: ''What he did was intentional, but he served his punishment.  Anyway, safety is the focus (of the drivers' body).''

But Villeneuve, an old Schumacher adversary, was in no mood to throttle off, advising the German to own up to his error in the Friday meeting.

''Sometimes you have to admit that you have been an idiot,'' said the Canadian, ''and be big enough to then say 'that was really stupid' and then life goes on.''

Schumacher's title rival for the 1997 championship also admitted that he would like to see him step down as president of the GPDA.

But Villeneuve insisted: ''I don't know what is going to happen -- I haven't spoken to anyone else about it.''

NASCAR gets religion NASCAR gets religionDon’t be surprised if Tom Cruise becomes a NASCAR fan. Scientology is getting into the wildly popular race sport.

“Dianetics,” the book written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, is sponsoring a racing team — dubbed “Ignite Your Potential” — that will tour the NASCAR circuit. A Dianetics Racing Web site is being set up for fans.

Driver Kenton Gray credits Hubbard’s work with making him a good driver. “It’s markedly improved my focus and my consistency,” he said in an announcement from Hubbard’s publisher. “Through ‘Dianetics’ I’ve handled stress and increased my performance and ability to compete—both on the track and in life.” More at MSN.com 

[Editor's Note: We remember years back when Scientology wanted to sponsor Mario Andretti, but when Mario found out they wanted him to endorse principles he did not believe in, he told them to keep their money.]

Industry News
GM FlexFuel Vehicle Sales Increase GM FlexFuel Vehicle Sales IncreaseCHICAGO– General Motors Corp. today reported an increase in sales of its Chevrolet and GMC flexible-fuel vehicle (FFV) line-ups in the Chicago-Rockford and Minnesota markets during May 2006 compared to year-ago levels. The two Midwest markets are heavily targeted areas of GM’s E85 ethanol marketing campaign and are also the markets where GM is offering its $1,000 E85 fuel card promotion which began on May 2, encouraging the use of E85 ethanol, a renewable fuel containing a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

The $1,000 E85 fuel card markets realized a 222 percent sales increase in FFVs sold in May 2006 compared to May 2005. There were 2,238 Chevrolet and GMC FFVs sold in Minnesota and Chicago-Rockford markets for an increase of 1,543 units compared to May 2005. Nationally, GM FFV sales increased 128 percent for the same period. FFV sales contributed to a strong Impala performance with sales up 15 percent in Chicago and 25 percent in Minneapolis. In Chicago, Tahoe, Suburban and Yukon realized significant sales increases over May 2005 with Yukon showing an impressive 61 percent sales increase.

“Our recent sales data would indicate that consumers are interested in the choice of operating their vehicles on a fuel that burns cleaner, supports the domestic agriculture industry and reduces our nation’s dependence on petroleum,” said Lori A. Williams, regional sales manager, General Motors Corp. “With GM producing an industry-leading number of flexible-fuel vehicles, we are helping further the movement towards the use of alternative fuels.”

Aguri Suzuki announces Sakon Yamamoto Aguri Suzuki announces Sakon YamamotoSakon Yamamoto has raced in SUPER GT and All Japan Formula Nippon Championship in Japan. SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM would like to thank Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., NISSAN MOTORSPORTS INTERNATIONAL CO., LTD., and KONDO Racing for kindly releasing Sakon Yamamoto to be its third driver.

Sakon Yamamoto
“I am very happy to be coming back into Formula One with SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM and I would like to thank everyone who has supported me. I will try to do my best in my new role as SAF1 Team third driver and give the team good feedback from my time in the car.”

JV shares wedding with F1 friends JV shares wedding with F1 friends(GMM)  Jacques Villeneuve last weekend sealed his new marriage to French wife Johanna Martinez.

The pair were married in a small civil ceremony in Switzerland the day after the Monaco grand prix, but last weekend invited about 200 guests - including some familiar F1 faces - to a church service.

In Paris, not far from the famous Champs d'Elysees, the 35-year-old French-Canadian shared his day - and late-night reception - with friends including David Coulthard, Jean Alesi, Felipe Massa, Olivier Panis and Mika Salo.

Rahal switching to Dallara chassis Rahal switching to Dallara chassisHILLIARD, Ohio - Rahal Letterman Racing will switch to the Dallara chassis this weekend ending the team’s nearly three year run with Panoz.  The Panoz chassis has served the team well as Buddy Rice used the chassis to win three races, including the Indy 500, in 2004.  The Panoz also was a force in qualifying as the team won nine pole positions with the Panoz chassis led by Buddy Rice (5) and Danica Patrick (3). 
However the competitive advantage that Panoz enjoyed in ‘04 has eroded and the Dallara has demonstrated repeatedly that it is the more successful of the two chassis available for use in the IndyCar Series.  Dallara has won 20 of the last 23 IndyCar Series races.  Of those three Panoz wins, two have come on the road course at Watkins Glen, a track where Panoz is acknowledged to hold a slight advantage.
“It is hard to compare apples and oranges,” said Ray Leto, General Manager of Rahal Letterman Racing and the race engineer for Danica Patrick.  “All the wind tunnel data from the two show that they are pretty close, but in practice and on the race track with a Panoz we have to add more downforce than the Dallara’s do to have a stable car in traffic.”
Team co-owner Bobby Rahal made the decision at Motegi to switch the RLR program to the Dallara chassis.  The decision was based first on the competitive disadvantage the Panoz chassis would be at on the majority of the IndyCar Series track after Indianapolis and secondly on economics.  After the No. 17 Team Ethanol car of Jeff Simmons was badly damaged in a practice accident, Rahal decided to purchase Dallara’s instead of  new Panoz chassis. 
“We have to purchase new cars to replace the ones we have ruined,” said Leto.  “Why would we invest in a chassis that we felt would be at a competitive disadvantage over the second half of the season?  We felt coming into 2006 that Motegi and Indianapolis would be the oval tracks were the Panoz was at an advantage.”
“We ran the Dallara chassis in 2002 at Indy and in 2003 with Kenny Brack and we have data from that season.,” said Leto.  “We have run this car in this mechanical form before.  All of our engineers here have experience with the Dallara chassis.  We have been able to amass plenty of information from Dallara and we have picked up some tips from some of the other teams, but it will still be a challenge.  There is something to be said for testing all winter and having run three or four races with the car.  You learn a lot about the car and how the driver wants the car to feel. The car will feel different to the drivers.  We have to get ourselves used to that. “
“The change in chassis removes issues that we had that were related to the chassis, but it still presents the same set-up challenges we have had every weekend,” said Leto.  “You still have to get the car to handle, its not just chassis and the aerodynamics.  At least now we are on even footing with everybody, but it doesn’t guarantee that we move up the grid at all. It just means it will be easier to compare ourselves with the other teams.”
The chassis transition has come at the busiest time of the IndyCar Series season.  After traveling to Motegi in April the Rahal Letterman Racing returned home to make final preparations for Indianapolis.  Following the month of May at Indy the team headed to Watkins Glen and now to Texas.  While the team was running the cars on track, the shop based crew and the trackside crew were busy preparing the three new Dallara cars for this weekend as well as maintaining and repairing the Panoz chassis.
The crew has had one off day (May 15) since the beginning of May. 
“I have been involved in some pretty ambitious projects under tight deadlines in my years in racing,” said Steve Dickson, Race Team Manager for RLR.  “This might be the toughest of the projects, but the upside is tremendous.  Our crews have done a fantastic job under difficult circumstances.”
Dempsey to be Grand Marshal Dempsey to be Grand MarshalPatrick Dempsey, star of the critically acclaimed ABC-TV drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” will be the grand marshal for the Bombardier Learjet 500k at Texas Motor Speedway on June 10 (9 a.m. EDT on ESPN, IMS Radio Network affiliates, XM Satellite Channel 145 and www.indycar.com).  Marlboro Pole Qualifying can be heard exclusively on indycar.com at 8:15 p.m. (EDT) June 8.
Conway in for Pla at DPR Direxiv Conway in for Pla at DPR DirexivIt has been discovered since Monaco that DPR Direxiv™ driver, Olivier Pla, has suffered a more extensive and serious injury to his left hand than previously thought.

The injury occurred after a GP2 qualifying accident at the Ste Devote corner when Ernesto Viso’s car bounced off the barriers into the path of the DPR Direxiv™ car. The unfortunate Frenchman, who bravely took the start of the race despite being in considerable pain, has in fact broken two bones in his wrist and will be out of action for up to four weeks. He is expected to be back behind the wheel with his team of two years at the Paul Ricard GP2 series test in the third week of June.

DPR Direxiv has been fortunate to secure the services for the Silverstone round of the GP2 Series of 22-year-old British F3 championship leader Mike Conway.

The Briton was one of several drivers who tested with the team last December so he not only knows the team but also has valuable, albeit limited, experience of the 4-litre, V8 engined GP2 car.

Currently lying second in the British F3 Championship, the Räikkönen Robertson Racing driver is delighted to have got the chance to showcase his abilities at a track familiar to him: “I had a short run out with the team last year and I’m very happy to have this opportunity to work with them again. It’ll be a great experience racing at an F1 weekend, particularly at the British Grand Prix. I like the Silverstone GP circuit - it flows nicely, with some extremely fast corners, which will be exciting to take with the extra power. "I’m really looking forward to racing the GP2 car. The half-hour free practice on the Friday will be the first time I’ll have taken it out on slick tires and I’m hoping to get up to speed pretty quickly before qualifying that afternoon, but my aim is to have a consistent weekend and to get a lot out of the experience.”

DPR Direxiv Press Release

Webber fears Williams behind Webber fears Williams behindAustralian Mark Webber will treat this weekend's British Grand Prix as a second home race, but he expects Williams to find the going tough at Silverstone.

Webber was the star of the show in Monaco two weeks ago, running third until a mechanical problem robbed him of a podium finish. However, despite that encouraging display, the 29-year-old expects Williams to slide back down the grid in Northamptonshire this weekend.

He said: "Barcelona is not dissimilar to Silverstone and, based upon our performance there in the Spanish Grand Prix, we have a lot of improving to do. Unfortunately, our Monaco pace will have no relevance whatsoever to next weekend at Silverstone as it requires totally different characteristics from the car."

Even though he expects a hard three days, Webber is nevertheless looking forward to a race on his doorstep.

He added: "Of course, having lived in England for the past six or so years, Silverstone is almost like a second home grand prix for me.

"It's good to be able to go home each night and enjoy the familiar comfort of my own house, and also being able to share the weekend with friends and family which I don't often get to do.

"Being a British-based team, this race is always an important one for Williams too, both in terms of entertaining sponsors and enabling the factory-based members of staff to be a part of the weekend."

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Monaco shocker gives Ferrari Brit boost
Schu will face GPDA inquisition
Finn not guaranteed Alonso's seat
Moss slams Schu
Newey update is not 'large step'
Quote of the Week Quote of the WeekUPDATE Quote from Marco Andretti:  "Absolutely blatant move!  If a guy like that (referring to Eddie Cheever) doesn't want a 19 year old to beat him, he's in the wrong business.  Get out of here!"  

Quote from Roger Penske:  "I don't think this little dating game between Tony and Kevin is going to work," he said. "What we need to do is get all the (team) owners in a room, see if we can hammer out a schedule and go from there." 
Quote from Sebastien Bourdais:  "I did it once and that was enough," Bourdais, who finished twelfth at Indy in 2005, said in Houston last month. "Those (IRL) cars are dangerous."

06/07/06 If Champ Car (and the IRL for that matter) doesn't recognize that NASCAR and ISC are enemies, not allies, then American open-wheel racing is in even deeper trouble than any of us ever imagined. John Oreovicz, NSSN
NASCAR/ISC’s Mafia-like behavior in Phoenix NASCAR/ISC’s Mafia-like behavior in Phoenix
USGP support race schedule USGP support race scheduleINDIANAPOLIS - The United States Grand Prix Formula One race will start at 1 p.m. (local time) Sunday, July 2, the highlight of three days of on-track action at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The schedule also includes racing in three support series - the Indy Pro Series, Porsche Michelin Supercup and Formula BMW USA - giving fans an interesting variety of competition over three days of action on the 2.605-mile road circuit at IMS.

The first six United States Grands Prix at Indianapolis have taken place in front of some of the largest crowds in the Formula One World Championship.

"We're excited about the schedule for the United States Grand Prix," said Joie Chitwood, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and chief operating officer. "Every day is filled with on-track action for our loyal fans, and there are plenty of fan-friendly activities off the track, making this a truly world-class event."

On-track activity starts Friday, June 30 with practice for Formula One and practice and qualifying for all three support series. Cars will be on track, with few breaks in the action, from 8:45 a.m.-6:20 p.m. zzzz

Two one-hour Formula One practice sessions, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., are the highlights of the Friday schedule. F1 cars are the most exotic, high-performance racing machines on Earth, and the field for the USGP includes defending World Champion Fernando Alonso, seven-time World Champion and four-time USGP winner Michael Schumacher, 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya, 1995 Indianapolis 500 winner and 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve and Scott Speed, the first American driver in F1 since 1993.

The Indy Pro Series, the development series for the IRL IndyCar® Series, will begin track action Friday with a practice session from 8:45-9:20 a.m. for the second annual Liberty Challenge race. Qualifying for the Liberty Challenge will take place from 12:30-1:15 p.m. Friday.

Porsche Michelin Supercup sports cars will return to Indianapolis for the seventh consecutive year, with practice from 3:30-4:15 p.m. and qualifying from 5:45-6:25 p.m. Friday.

Formula BMW USA open-wheel, winged formula cars, competing at Indianapolis for the third consecutive year, will practice from 9:50-10:20 a.m. and qualify from 4:45-5:25 p.m. Friday.

Fans should arrive early Saturday, July 1, as the first of two 14-lap Formula BMW USA races during the event starts at 8:40 a.m. The final Formula One practice before qualifying takes place from 10-11 a.m., with another Porsche Michelin Supercup qualifying session set for 11:30 a.m.-12:10 p.m.

The unique, new "knockout" qualifying format for Formula One will take center stage from 1-2 p.m., setting the starting grid for the United States Grand Prix.

In the "knockout" format, all 22 drivers can run as many laps as they want in the first 15-minute session. The slowest six cars are eliminated and fill the bottom six places on the starting grid.

After a five-minute break, all times are erased. A second 15-minute session knocks out the next group of the six slowest cars, which fill 11th through 17th on the grid.

Times again are erased, and after a five minute break, the final 10 drivers go into a 20-minute shootout session. They can run as many laps as they want, and the top 10 grid places are determined by their fastest lap times during that session.

Racing will round out Saturday afternoon. The Liberty Challenge starts at 2:30 p.m., with Indy Pro Series competitors racing 25 laps. The first of two 16-lap Porsche Michelin Supercup races during the event starts at 3:30 p.m.

Two support series races will usher in a complete day of competition Sunday, July 2. The second Formula BMW USA race starts at 9:30 a.m., followed by the second Porsche Michelin Supercup race at 10:25 a.m.

The Race Day buildup for the United States Grand Prix Formula One race starts with the drivers' track parade at 11:30 a.m., followed by the grid presentation from 11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

The seventh annual United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis is scheduled to start at 1 p.m., with a race distance of 73 laps.

Off-track activity is centered around the popular United States Grand Prix Pit Walkabout, which is returning for a fourth consecutive year for Race Day ticket holders. Gates will be open from 7 a.m.-4 p.m., with the F1 pit lane open from 8 a.m.-noon. Other fan-friendly activities, such as driver autograph sessions and driver interviews, will take place all day.


(All times local; subject to change)


7 a.m.-4 p.m.
Pit Walkabout: Gates open

8 a.m.-noon
Pit Walkabout: F1 pit lane open

FRIDAY, June 30


8:45-9:20 a.m.
Indy Pro Series

9:50-10:20 a.m.
Formula BMW USA
First practice

11 a.m.-noon
Formula One
First practice

12:30-1:15 p.m.
Indy Pro Series

2-3 p.m.
Formula One
Second practice

3:30-4:15 p.m.
Porsche Michelin Supercup

4:45-5:25 p.m.
Formula BMW USA
First qualifying

5:45-6:25 p.m.
Porsche Michelin Supercup
First qualifying



8:40-9:15 a.m.
Formula BMW USA
First race (14 laps)

10-11 a.m.
Formula One
Third practice

11:30 a.m.-12:10 p.m.
Porsche Michelin Supercup
Second qualifying

1-2 p.m.
Formula One

2:30-3:05 p.m.
Indy Pro Series
Liberty Challenge race (25 laps)

3:30-4 p.m.
Porsche Michelin Supercup
First race (16 laps)

SUNDAY, July 2


9:30-10 a.m.
Formula BMW USA
Second race (14 laps)

10:25-11 a.m.
Porsche Michelin Supercup
Second race (16 laps)

11:30 a.m.
Formula One
Drivers' track parade

11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Formula One
Grid presentation

1 p.m.
Formula One
United States Grand Prix (73 laps)

Merger thoughts Merger thoughtsUPDATE  Another reader writes, Responding to your various readers posting "Merger Thoughts.."
What simply amazes (even awes) me when I read the stuff being posted by these "merger specialists" is that they actually think that they have something intelligent to say.

I am in the business world myself - dealing in International transactions and negotiations on a daily basis.

Do these guys actually think that Kevin Kalkhoven is a bloody idiot - or maybe they mistake him for Tony George, whose fortune literally fell into his lap. Mr. Kalkhoven earned his millions - and not by being a bloody idiot.

If these yahoos who write you and think that KK needs a facilitator actually knew something about the process of negotiation, maybe I would not get as riled up as I am.

KK is not in this business to lose his first major business deal - as a matter of fact he has consistently outmaneuvered Tony George and the IRL at every single step of the way. KK has equity in Champ Car, as much as some of these morons refuse to believe this. KK has a plan, a strategy and a direction. He will also outmaneuver NASCAR as needed. Fast forward to the year 2008. Open wheel racing is not unified. Who is left standing? My money goes to Kalkhoven and Friends. The Honda money and sponsors left the IRL after 2007. Champ Car opened the Month of May for any team to compete in the Indy 500 who desired to. Not a bad strategy, since before the split all the teams needed to have a special car just for Indy anyway. So it's a different chassis and engine - so what? The sponsor paint scheme is still the same, the casual fan does not care. For the rest of the Champ Car series you have the short track/road racing chassis - just like they had in 1996.
What has Tony George demonstrated as far as business savvy is concerned? What business deals did he generate to warrant playing on the same court as KK?

- Created the Split that has put US Open Wheel racing into its current state - although there are those who insist that CART/CCWS's refusal to surrender actually seems to be at fault! And right in time for NASCAR to walk in and take over the "Big Dog" position. The timing was sheer genius - and maybe not just coincidental for TG and NASCAR.
- Poured millions into Bernie Ecclestone's pockets for the egotistical privilege of running the USGP. The grateful response from the F1 circus has just been overwhelming, huh?
- Built a road racing circuit at huge expense to the IMS coffers - see above point.
- Managed to come up with consistent revisions to his "Vision" that morphed IRL into the CART that he despised and used as the excuse for the Split. That takes sheer Harvard genius, doesn't it? In the process poured more money into Penske and friends pockets. Seems like those "friends" are slowly edging toward the door and that bar will soon be empty. Who picks up the tab then?
- Managed to single-handedly relegate the Indy 500 below the Brickyard 400 as the most popular race at Indy. That takes serious business genius. Benefit: NASCAR and the France Family. The empty seats at Indy 500 qualifying and on race day are silent accusers. One of those empty seats would normally have me in it.
And this is the guy that the readers would pick over Kevin Kalkhoven? Does there need to be a single "unified" series? Yes, but not in a desperate lunge at a solution.
Why all this insane accusation of Kevin Kalkhoven and Champ Car!? Wake up people, May is over - it's June - your buzz should be gone by now! Werner Fritz, Trevor, Wisconsin

06/07/06 A reader writes, I have been reading the last few days that merger talks are slowing and not to expect anything for 2007.  I also read that Kevin has stated that they have no timeline since a merger needs to be done "right". 
That's great rhetoric for the media but as a businessman he surely knows you MUST put timelines on decisions otherwise it drags on forever because new information surfaces or players change or NASCAR has time to create dissention or one side has some success so they get greedy, etc. They should inject some methodology and process into this and hire a facilitator to get moving. 
The facilitator would probably recommend a phased approach (to reuse Penske's phrase "dating").   Phase 1 - "dating". In 2007 share common equipment and two venues for each others championship.  Both get the benefit of 100% more competitors in two events and the media buzz around that and CC also gets benefit of the Panoz DP01 chassis being common so costs come down from 100% more sales.  Phase 2 "engagement" - in 2008 seven to nine total venues are shared for each others separate championship.  Each gets a board seat on the others company and they share some administrative staff such as Marketing for those events.  Phase 3 - "Marriage".
Get on with it already! Name Withheld by Request

Dear Name Withheld, A 'neutral' facilitator or arbitrator would probably be a last resort.  A retired judge might be a good candidate assuming progress is slowing to a snail's pace. Mark C.

Panoz sells St. Andrews Resort Panoz sells St. Andrews ResortBraselton, Ga. - Scott Atherton, President and CEO of Panoz Motor Sports Group, confirmed today that Dr. Don Panoz has sold his St. Andrews Bay Resort - one of three resort properties that Panoz and wife Nancy have developed.

"I think it is important to make very clear, however, that Don's hospitality holdings and the motorsports group are completely autonomous," said Atherton. "This is simply a case of a very successful businessman acting on a good opportunity that was right for Don and his family at this time.

"We want to confirm that there is nothing for sale within the motorsports division. This sale pertains to one of Don's hospitality holdings. Motorsports is entirely removed from this part of Don's business, and this transaction has no bearing on the Panoz Motor Sports Group."

St. Andrews Bay, one of Scotland's top five-star resorts, was conceived, built and operated by Panoz since its opening in 2001. The purchase was made via a partnership agreement between Apollo European Real Estate Fund II, L.P. and Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, one of the world's premier hotel and resort corporations that will manage the property.

While the purchase figure was not announced, Apollo and Fairmont have committed to a 10 million pound refurbishment program that will include guest rooms, public areas, meeting rooms and technology upgrades.

For more information: www.apollorealestate.com or www.fairmont.com

Q and A with Max and Bernie Q and A with Max and BernieIn a revealing and rare interview, conducted by Auto Motor und Sport's Michael Schmidt and released by the FIA, F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and FIA president Max Mosley open up on the sport's most polarizing issues.

We know it's a bit long, but it's a must read for anyone who considers themselves to be a serious fan of the sport. Enjoy. More....

Danica Merchandise Continues To Be Hot Seller Danica Merchandise Continues To Be Hot SellerIRL driver Danica Patrick is the only driver on the circuit with her own merchandise trailer and her “collectible items easily outsell any other IRL driver,” according to Terry Blount of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. MainGate President & CEO Dave Moroknek said of the gap between Patrick and the second-highest seller, “I would say it’s close to 10 to 1, and it’s growing.” Beckett Media Dir of Communication Elon Werner said 1,500 die-casts of Patrick’s No. 16 car were produced before the Indianapolis 500 last year, and all sold before the race. Werner added that Greenlight Collectibles “produced 10,000 more Patrick cars that were sold before the end of the 2005 season,” and 2,500 more were ordered to commemorate her Rookie of the Year award. Beckett Racing Editor Tim Trout said, “That’s something they never had done before. And of course, they sold all of them.” Blount notes Patrick is the only driver included in a “limited edition vintage set” of 15 sports stars that Topps is producing this year. Beckett has produced nearly 150 racing magazines over the past 11 years, and Trout said, “Only three covers have not been a NASCAR driver. One was Al Unser Jr., but Danica was two of those in the last year.” T.J. Patrick, Danica’s father, cited an AOL poll for role models among athletes that ranked Danica third as an example “of his daughter’s popularity outside of the motor sports world.” T.J. Patrick: “Tiger Woods was first, and Lance Armstrong was second. ... [Danica] ranked ahead of [Patriots QB] Tom Brady, [Yankees SS] Derek Jeter, [Cavaliers F] LeBron James and Michelle Wie” DALLAS MORNING NEWS
SCCA Exploring Sale of SCCA Enterprises Subsidiary SCCA Exploring Sale of SCCA Enterprises SubsidiaryTOPEKA, Kan. -- At its May face-to-face meeting, SCCA’s Board of Directors elected to move forward with the potential sale of Sports Car Club of America Inc. subsidiary SCCA Enterprises, which distributes the SCCA Spec Racer, Formula SCCA and SCCA Sports Racer.

“The Board came to the decision that we needed to look into a potential sale,” SCCA President and CEO Jim Julow said.  “The next logical step was for us to get a third party valuation of what Enterprises might be worth on the open market. A third party recently completed a full evaluation of Enterprises and the Board determined that it was prudent to proceed with the next step in the process of divesting itself of the subsidiary.”

The Board established several objectives that had to be accomplished before they would consider selling Enterprises.  They were:  zzzz

  • Any offer to purchase Enterprise must include plans for protecting the interests of existing members involved in racing these cars.  This protection plan must include specifics regarding (but not limited to): production plans and new vehicle price controls, service and parts availability and pricing and Technical and homologation support.
  • Any offer to purchase must clearly delineate the buyer’s plan to respect existing contracts between Enterprises and: current suppliers and employees, existing Customer Service Representatives, corporate sponsors and existing contracts for sales and service/parts deals with current racers.
  • A successful bid should include significant experience in race car production and race series support.
  • Finally, all offers should specify in writing the exact terms of sale for Enterprises, including how much cash, debt and in-kind payment is included in the transaction.
  • All potential buyers need to perform their due diligence and be in a position to forward a sealed bid to Julow no later than August 31, 2006.  Should an on-site visit of SCCA Enterprises (Centennial, Colo.) be necessary, it can be arranged through Julow’s office as well.

A task force has been formed regarding the sale of SCCA Enterprises consisting of Jim Julow, Jeff Dahnert (SCCA CFO) and Board members Mike Sauce, K P Jones and R J Gordy.  The task force has been charged to open all sealed bids submitted by August 31, review and evaluate all offers, and submit recommendations to the SCCA Board of Directors by no later than October 1, 2006.

Toronto and Montreal races to be live on XM Radio Toronto and Montreal races to be live on XM RadioINDIANAPOLIS – The reach of the Champ Car Radio Network will get a nationwide extension for the Champ Car races in Toronto and Montreal as it was announced today that those events will be carried live on XM Satellite Radio throughout North America.

The broadcasts of the racing events, which can be found on XM 205, were made possible through an agreement made with XM Satellite Radio Canada and includes six hours of coverage from each event. There will be two hours from Saturday’s final qualifying at Toronto and Montreal and four hours live coverage on race day for each event.

“We are excited about the possibility that this agreement holds for the events in Toronto and Montreal,” said Champ Car President Steve Johnson. “Anything we can do to bring Champ Car action to our fans is important to us and we look forward to doing that with XM Satellite Radio.”

The Molson Champ Car Grand Prix of Toronto takes place July 7-9 while the Grand Prix of Montreal will be contested August 25-27. Both will be available to each of XM Satellite Radio’s 6.5 million subscribers both in Canada and the United States.

"XM Canada is very pleased to add two of the biggest open-wheel racing events in Canada to our industry-leading lineup of major league sports," said XM Vice President of Programming Ross Davies. "We are committed to providing compelling Canadian sports content and the Toronto and Montreal Champ Car World Series races are the latest reason why more listeners who want the best in sports coverage wherever they go in Canada are tuning in to XM."

Newey doubts he'll ever work with Schu Newey doubts he'll ever work with Schu(GMM)  Adrian Newey doubts that he will ever get to work alongside seven time world champion Michael Schumacher.

The highly respected Briton, formerly at successful British squads Williams and McLaren, suspects he will see out his last days in formula one with his new employer, Red Bull.

''I have a three year contract,'' Newey told Motorsport Aktuell magazine, ''but I would like to stay here for longer than that, before I finish my career in motor sport.''

Newey has worked with top drivers including Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Mika Hakkinen, but he always admitted wanting to share a team with Schumacher, and at one time was even linked with a switch to Ferrari.

He laments: ''It would have been great to work with 'Schumi'.''

In fact, Newey even rules out linking up again with a driver like Kimi Raikkonen, after admitting that Red Bull Racing is not yet 'attractive enough' to nab a truly top pilot.

Second Schu steward declines to comment Second Schu steward declines to comment(GMM) A second F1 steward of the Monaco grand prix has refused to join his colleague in defending their decision to penalize Michael Schumacher's Rascasse slip.

Not following the lead of Spain's Joaquin Verdegay, Paul Gutjahr - of Switzerland - said he would refrain from publicly adding to the verdict that sent Ferrari's number one driver from pole position to the very rear of the Monte Carlo grid.

But he told Motorsport Aktuell magazine that, as a result, the German's ultimate failure to win the race could cost Schumacher the 2006 world championship.

''Mathematically the title is still open,'' he acknowledged, ''but (Fernando) Alonso is going to be difficult to beat.''

Gutjahr did, however, deny that the stewards' call, overseen by British permanent chief steward Tony Scott-Andrews and sparking an outbreak of criticism, will motivate Schumacher to quit the sport.

''I do not believe he will base his decision on a single race,'' he said, ''and, anyway, I assume that he has already decided when to retire.''

Racing News
SPEED Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking SPEED Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking
Updated 6-7-06
Pos. (LW) Driver (Series) Pts
1. (1) Fernando Alonso (F1) 10.124
2. (2) Sebastien Bourdais (CCWS) 9.446
3. (4) Matt Kenseth (NASCAR) 7.900
4. (3) Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR) 7.820
5. (8) Justin Wilson (CCWS) 7.751
6. (24) Scott Dixon (IRL) 7.511
7. (9) Jeff Burton (NASCAR) 7.112
8. (6) Mark Martin (NASCAR) 6.963
9. (12) Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NASCAR) 6.950
10. (13) Greg Biffle (NASCAR) 6.654
11. (17) Jamie McMurray (NASCAR) 6.634
12. (NR) Kevin Harvick (NASCAR) 6.616
13. (NR) Kyle Busch (NASCAR) 6.583
14. (20) Helio Castroneves (IRL) 6.575
15. (7) Kasey Kahne (NASCAR) 6.529
16. (14) Denny Hamlin (NASCAR) 6.337
17. (16) Tony Stewart (NASCAR) 6.146
18. (NR) Jeff Gordon (NASCAR) 6.139
19. (10) Carl Edwards (NASCAR) 6.098
20. (18) Michael Schumacher (F1) 5.951
Dropped out: Sam Hornish Jr (IRL), Dan Wheldon (IRL), Tony Kanaan (IRL), Jeff Green (NASCAR)

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.

Penske says George and Kalkhoven won't agree Penske says George and Kalkhoven won't agreeDALLAS - In a perfect world, more than 30 cars would line up on the starting grid this weekend for the Bombardier Learjet 500.

Fans at Texas Motor Speedway would see Paul Newman sitting on the pit box, glaring over at old rival Roger Penske as they got ready to watch their drivers compete.

Sebastien Bourdais, possibly the best open-wheel racer in America, would go wheel-to-wheel with the last two Indy 500 winners - Sam Hornish Jr. and Dan Wheldon.

Danica Patrick would try to show a thing or two to Katherine Legge.

Indy-car racing would be one big happy family again for the first time in more than a decade.

Unfortunately, American open-wheel racing is not a perfect world. Far from it.

Dario Franchitti, who competes in the IRL, is one of several drivers who have raced in both leagues. He is cautiously optimistic of seeing the merger come to fruition.

"I would love for it to happen," Franchitti said. "I don't think having two different series is helping anybody at this point. We want to race against all the best drivers in open-wheel racing. And we want to go to all the best venues.

"It just makes so much sense for everybody concerned - drivers, teams and sponsors. If were up to us, it already would have happened. I just hope the guys trying to do this can get it together. I'm keeping my fingers crossed."

The two men trying to work this out are IRL founder Tony George and Champ Car boss Kevin Kalkhoven. They continue to discuss the ramifications of a possible merger.

Kalkhoven attended the Indianapolis 500 last week as George's guest. It was his first trip to the Brickyard since 1966 when Graham Hill won the event.

George won't say how the talks are going. Kalkhoven spoke about it before the Houston Champ Car race last month, but didn't give many details.

"The best thing people can do is leave us alone and let us work on it," he said.

Penske disagrees with that idea.

"I don't think this little dating game between Tony and Kevin is going to work," he said. "What we need to do is get all the (team) owners in a room, see if we can hammer out a schedule and go from there."

Some people would say that's what caused the breakup. Team owners had too much say in how CART, as Champ Car was known then, was run.

"This thing needs to be unified," said Al Unser Jr., the two-time Indy 500 winner who also has raced in both leagues. "We all have to go in the same direction. The split has definitely hurt open-wheel racing. It needs to be rectified, and it needs to happen soon."

Even if George and Kalkhoven agreed to do it, which they haven't yet, getting it done is a major undertaking.

The cars look the same to the casual fan, but they are completely different. The chassis and engines are different styles and different manufacturers.

The leagues need to agree on a common formula, which also requires getting the manufacturers to agree.

Honda president Robert Clarke has said repeatedly that he's a big proponent of unification. Honda supplies engines for the IRL, but Honda used to build engines in Champ Car.

Kalkhoven recently purchased Cosworth, the division of Ford that builds racing engines. Cosworth supplies the Champ Car motors.

Both engine manufacturers could compete in a combined league if they can agree on an engine formula. The IRL uses normally aspirated motors; Champ Car uses turbo-charged engines.

Another problem is the schedule. The IRL and Champ Car have only one common venue - the 1-mile oval in Milwaukee. The principals must agree on a combined schedule that keeps the best locations of both series.

Some tracks would get left out. That presents another problem if those tracks have multiyear agreements with either league.

The leagues use different TV networks, but the IRL has the better deal with ABC/ESPN.

Clearly, there's a lot to overcome.

"I don't know that it will ever happen," said TMS president Eddie Gossage. "But I wish it would. I love Indy-car racing. I'm very passionate about it. I feel we've done things here that have been incredibly good for the IRL. I just want Indy-car racing to succeed."

No one thinks a merger would change things overnight, but it could begin to change public perception of two rival leagues heading in opposite directions.

"To me, it's the only chance open-wheel racing has of getting the attention it deserves," Michael Andretti said last week at Indianapolis. "So much has been lost. We have to put this back together."  Full article at Mercury News

Andretti reiterates that Bourdais deserves F1 shot Andretti reiterates that Bourdais deserves F1 shotSt. Petersburg's Sebastien Bourdais is tearing up the Champ Car circuit again, and people are wondering what that says more about - his ability or a lack of competition.

The young Frenchman is well on his way to a third consecutive title, having won the season's first four races. Sunday at Milwaukee, he overcame a tire puncture that put him a lap down and still led 117 of 197 laps en route to beating Justin Wilson by 3.6 seconds.

Either Bourdais is ridiculously good or Champ Car's talent is thinner than anyone thought.

We'll put that question to somebody who should know.

"I think he is ridiculously good," Mario Andretti said Tuesday. "I think he's one of those very rare, special talents that come along once in a very great while. His mistakes over the past few years have been few and far between, and the ones he has made haven't been stupid.

"When I assess talent, I look at someone who's really fast and rarely makes mistakes, and he fits that profile."  zzzz

Before the 2005 season, Andretti lobbied Frank Williams to test Bourdais for his BMW-Williams Formula One team. Williams previously had said Bourdais wasn't under consideration because of the suspect competition level in Champ Car, and Andretti believed Bourdais deserved a shot.

"That [comment] frosted me because I agree that on both sides [Champ Car, Indy Racing League], there's a lot to be desired as far as overall talent," Andretti says now. "But each side does possess really good talent up front. For Frank Williams to make that statement, he showed that he was totally misinformed. I thought he needed to be set straight, and I picked up the phone on my own. And he just listened."

Williams never did give Bourdais a test. He put Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld in his two seats for 2005 and brought on Nico Rosberg for this season.

With Newman/Haas Racing, Bourdais has won 10 of the 17 races since the start of the 2005 season. This year, he has opened a huge lead in the standings on all but his closest challenger, Wilson, who has stayed within striking distance by managing three runner-up finishes.

Never overconfident, Bourdais worries that a slump similar to the one he had in the beginning of last season could swing the momentum to Wilson.

"There is nothing to say it can't happen again, but in the other way," Bourdais said from his home.

"I've been through seasons where everything seemed like it was going to be just like rock and roll, and it didn't happen." TBO.com

Watkins Glen wants IRL later in year Watkins Glen wants IRL later in yearA few hours before Sunday's Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix, Craig Rust, president of Watkins Glen International, stood in the misty rain near Victory Circle. Bobby Wilson had just won the IRL Indy Pro Series race, the Corning 100. Rust took a moment after he'd relocated inside the dry media tower to speak with freelance sportswriter Stephen P. Jensen about the Indy Racing League's IndyCar race weekend and the upcoming WGI schedule.

Craig, you can't do anything about the weather. But all things considered, can you offer an overview of how the weekend's gone?

Things have gone well. We've been operating fine. We're getting people out there camping, as we usually do. Other than what you said with the weather, we've done OK.

What's been your biggest challenge this week?

This week? (laughs) Well, it's been the situation with the underage driver (Colin Braun, who was granted an injunction to race in Saturday's Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen, but who was replaced by Boris Said by the Krohn Racing Team), which kicked things off on an odd note. I spent a lot of time dealing with that. Other than that, we've been trying to make the facility as fan-friendly, under the conditions, making sure people's cars don't get stuck, putting mulch on the walkways ... just taking care of people and giving them the best experience you can.

With the weather a factor, you'd have to guess attendance would be down. What's your take at this point?  zzzz

We're anticipating we may be down a little bit due to the weather. At these events, especially with our local and regional fans who like to buy the general admission tickets to come out and walk around, we may lose some of them. I'm anticipating there will be an effect.

This is the first time the IndyCar event's being here in the spring (after last year's inaugural event in September). What are the differences involved with having it here now, versus the fall, and is there a plan to keep it a spring event?

Really, what's affected the most is the marketing side of things. We didn't find out from Argent that they'd only sponsored the event for one year until November, and that's really late to find that out. You need to be able to communicate a new date and you need to get that out to fans, who may not listen to press conferences or check Web sites. We really haven't gotten into our special-event season, other than the (LPGA) Corning Classic, to showcase the area. Obviously, we lost time to do that.

But the event will be back?

They will be back. They WILL be back. They're very happy being here -- the teams, the drivers, the league -- and they see the enthusiasm from the fans. But I'm trying to move this later into the schedule. We've either got to be in late June or July, but I don't know where. I might not be successful, but I have let them know that I'm trying to push it back a bit.

With these events coming earlier in your season, do you hope to attract more attention for the upcoming events (Porsche Clash this weekend and the Historic Sports Car event June 17 and 18)?

I guess. Those are pretty niche events. You have people who tend to seek those (events) out. The one we really tend to have success and we get people out to see is the Zippo U.S. Vintage Grand Prix (Sept. 8 to 10).

So after this weekend, do you immediately look ahead to August and NASCAR?

Oh, absolutely. The first thing we do is take a look at things from this weekend. Did we miss anything? Can we do better in any particular areas?

Any other things you need to focus on right away?

The wine festival, which is operationally pretty intense, and I'll get out ahead of the 2007 schedule. We'll mostly be looking at improvement projects and scheduling.

Regarding improvement projects, is there anything you can talk about at this point?

We've built the new race control tower for this season. And we need to sit down and see where we need improvements, whether it's paving, run-off in certain areas, or parking. We'll prioritize and basically look for approval, and to corporate for the funding. Star Gazette

Kalkhoven likes Champ Car’s position Kalkhoven likes Champ Car’s positionUPDATE A reader writes, Just saw the comments from Kevin Kalkhoven - very disappointing to say the least (although both TG and KK stressed caution on this).  I have to say I fail to see how hard it can be to do this, as a former CART supporter it pains me to say this but - just roll the best of whatever is left of CCWS (and there isn't much) into the IRL and let Tony George run the thing with Kevin Kalkhoven doing the business part of it - and just be done with it, once and for all. Otherwise this will drag on a for a few more years and there will be nothing left worth unifying! Derek Parkinson

Dear Derek, Anybody you talk to in both paddocks sees the need to merge as soon as possible, however, there are many at work from both sides to stop a merger by whatever means possible because it would not be in their self-serving interest.  Both sides appear to have dug their heels in, and as Paul Newman said, "The IRL is holding a gun to our heads,"  meaning they are willing to merge under their terms. Mark C.

06/06/06 In this Toronto Sun article, Champ Car boss Kevin Kalkhoven is bullish on Champ Car's position, and stresses that the talks with Tony George are slow but steady.

Kevin Kalkhoven sat down with The Toronto Sun inside his luxury motor home in Milwaukee to talk about the merger, the series and the Canadian Champ Car races.

He said that despite the enormous pressure from media, fans and team owners, talks with George have not reached the urgent stage.

"I would describe the progress of the talks with Tony on a merger of the two series as slow but steady," Kalkhoven said. "I think everyone agrees that open wheel racing would be better off with only one series."

That being said, Kalkhoven was quick to point out that Champ Car is not reeling at the prospect of soldiering on in its present format.

"Does Champ Car need unity to survive?" he said. "I can tell you right now that the answer is no."

Kalkhoven said that in spite of the current talks with the IRL -- which he insisted were important -- it was necessary that his group carry on with the business of making sure Champ Car can succeed.

"I look at our calendar for 2007 as it sits right now without unification and I can tell you at the end of that season we will be at the break even point," he said.

Audi fights for Le Mans victory with TDI Power Audi fights for Le Mans victory with TDI Power
Corporate sales booming for Lexmark 300 Corporate sales booming for Lexmark 300The race is on for companies, large and small, to secure their position at one of Australia’s largest and most popular events on the annual corporate calendar.

It is the Lexmark Indy 300 where, this year, more than 300 local, national and international businesses will be represented in more than 160 corporate facilities located right around the 4.47km Surfers Paradise street circuit.

Corporate hospitality is a feature at the Lexmark Indy 300 on Queensland’s Gold Coast, this year being held from October 19 to 22.

Each day over the four days, more than 7000 guests of these 300-plus companies will attend and experience Queensland’s premier event.

Over its 16 years, the Lexmark Indy 300 has developed into a prime opportunity for small businesses to multinational corporations to host important clientele, network with other companies, seek new business and form partnerships.

Companies that have made corporate hospitality at the Lexmark Indy 300 an annual business activity include Lexmark, Fosters, Gillette, Bartercard, Coca Cola, Conrad Jupiters, carsguide.com.au, Falken, Gold Coast Tourism, Acer, Gold Coast Bulletin, Triple M and Sea FM. zzzz

This year corporate hospitality packages include a variety of Syndicated Clubs and Private Suites to cater from one person to 288 over four days, with flexibility to incorporate company theming requests.

Syndicated Clubs are shared facilities ideal for individuals or small groups, while Private Suites are exclusive facilities that can be tailor-made for the company to seat between 10 and 72 people per day.

Syndicated Clubs include:

• Norco Business Club – situated on the back straight at the VB Chicane, individual passes.
• Accor Premiere Vacation Pole Position Club – situated above the Pit Garages, individual passes.
• VeryGC Pit Lane Club – situated on the exit from Pit Lane, individual passes.
• Coates Hairpin Club – situated at Lexmark Hairpin, individual passes.
• Falken Chicane Club – situated at Lexmark Chicane, individual passes.
• Indy Champions Club – situated above the Pit Garages, individual passes.

Private Suites include:

• Pit Straight Platforms – situated opposite the Pit Garages, 10 passes per day.
• Pit Entry Pavilions – situated between the V8 Supercar and Champ Car Pits, 16 passes per day.
• Villas on the Esses – situated at the Bartercard Esses on the back straight, 21 passes per day.
• Beach Pavilions – situated on the Beach Side of the VB Chicane, 42 passes per day.
• Hairpin Pavilions – situated at the Lexmark Hairpin, 47 passes per day.
• Chicane Rooftop Pavilions – situated at the Lexmark Chicane, 32 passes per day.
• Riverview Super Suites – situated at the Lexmark Chicane, 40 passes per day.
• Chicane Super Suites – situated at the Lexmark Chicane, 32 passes per day.
• Pit Garage Suites – situated above Pit Garages, 47 passes per day.
• Sky Pavilions – situated on the Beach Side of the back straight, 50 passes per day.
• Premier Pit Suites – situated on Pit Straight, 72 passes per day.

All guests are able to watch the action within meters of the cars and through the broadcast on Indy FMTV – the exclusive on-track television network. There are a variety of other incentives depending on which package is selected including pit passes, first-class catering, merchandise and private suite theming opportunities.

One of the companies that has increased its corporate presence in recent years and tailors its suite to meet their needs and branding guidelines is carsguide.com.au .

Tony Burrett, the General Manager of carsguide.com.au, said the there are numerous benefits of taking up a corporate package at the Lexmark Indy 300.

“The corporate package gives us a great opportunity to strengthen current relationships and create new partnerships. It’s a fantastic event and we look forward to attending this year.”

Lexmark Indy 300 General Manager and IMG Director of Motorsport Ken Freer said companies need to book soon to avoid disappointment on their preferred hospitality option.

“We are finding that more and more companies are returning from year to year,” said Freer.

“They come, experience the atmosphere and the associated benefits from a business perspective, and make it a tradition. That is why it is so important for companies to decide on their best hospitality option early and then book before demand exceeds availability.”

Enquiries on Corporate Packages can be directed to the Lexmark Indy 300 Sales Team on phone 07 5588 6800.

The annual Lexmark Indy 300 on the Gold Coast is a partnership between the Queensland Government and IMG.

Industry News
Fiat to buy back Ferrari Fiat to buy back FerrariIn recent years FIAT has let its control of Ferrari slip to just 56%, selling off shares to help raise money to get the parent company back on track financially. The Ferrari family has always retained 10% of the company but in 2002 FIAT sold 34% to Mediobanca, the Italian investment bank, for $768m, valuing the company at $2.25bn. This was much higher than most analysts believed the company was worth as Mediobanca was a major FIAT creditor and so the move helped to protect the overall Mediobanca investment.

The latest FIAT plan is to exercise a call option that it has on the Ferrari shares at a price agreed in 2002. FIAT has until the end of the month to do this. This would value the company at $3.4bn, a much higher valuation than previously, although it should be noted that the dollar is much weaker than previously. The word in Italy is that FIAT would buy back 29% of the shares, leaving the Mubadala and the Ferrari family as the only other investors and that the purchase would be partially funded by FIAT selling its 1.8% stake in Mediobanca, which is worth around $300m. More at Grandprix.com

Pruett to pull double duty Pruett to pull double dutyChip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced today that 2004 Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Daytona Prototype co-champion Scott Pruett will make the switch from sports cars to stock cars to compete in the first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series road course race of the season at Infineon Raceway on June 25. Pruett will pilot the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge entry for the Cup race.

Pruett is no stranger to NEXTEL Cup racing, with 37 career starts under his belt. He has had six starts over the past five seasons for Ganassi, producing three top-five and four top-10 finishes. Two of those starts came at Infineon Raceway, with a best showing of third in 2004. "The relationship I've had with Chip and the whole Ganassi organization over the past few years has been outstanding, and I love the balance of running the Rolex Series with the NEXTEL Cup races," said Pruett. "We've had a lot of success this season in the Daytona Prototypes already, but a personal goal of mine has always been to get a NASCAR win under my belt."

For the third consecutive season, Pruett is running in the Rolex Series for CompUSA Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates in the No. 01 CompUSA Lexus-Riley. Teaming for the second straight year with co-driver Luis Diaz, the duo currently leads the Rolex Series team points standings on the strength of three wins and two poles in eight races. With the commitment to the Infineon NASCAR weekend, Pruett will pull double-duty, commuting back and forth from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course where he'll compete Saturday afternoon in EMCO Gears Classic presented by Key Bank.

In 2005, Pruett drove the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge at Watkins Glen International when he subbed for Sterling Marlin. After a fourth CGRFS-prepared car was unable to qualify for the race due to inclement weather, Pruett stepped into Marlin's car, started 43rd and finished fourth - marking the highest finish for the No. 40 car in 2005. The Dodge/Save Mart 350 is scheduled to start at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday,

June 25th and will be broadcast on FOX and PRN Radio. The EMCO Gears Classic at Mid-Ohio is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. ET on Saturday June 24th and will be broadcast on SPEED.
Florida Location Set For NASCAR Banquets Florida Location Set For NASCAR BanquetsDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The champions of the NASCAR Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series will hold their banquets at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort in Orlando, Fla., Dec. 8 and Dec. 10, respectively. The resort is just outside the gates of Disney's Magic Kingdom Park on the grounds of Walt Disney World.

The Busch Series banquet will wrap up the celebration of the series's 25th anniversary celebration.

track news
VIR expanding VIR expandingVirginia’s Richmond Int’l Raceway is expanding. Since a 2001 expansion approval by county officials, the 3/4-mile track has slowly expanded seating by some 5,000 to its current total of 107,097.  Approval has been granted for as many as 150,000.
track news
Chicagoland Speedway reap economic success Chicagoland Speedway reap economic successEvery year since 2001, for one weekend in July, the Chicagoland Motor Speedway in Joliet has become the center of the NASCAR universe. And the Joliet area reaps the economic benefits not only in tax revenues but also with restaurants, hotels and other service establishments filled to the overflowing. NASCAR (National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing) has become a U.S. sports staple on summer weekends. Spectators and fans come from miles away, some traveling across several time zones, to watch the big-name racers who have become iconic to their hard-core fan base. Some compare NASCAR entering a town to the likes of a Grateful Dead concert. NASCAR aficionados are not by means an army sporting tie-dyed T-shirts, psychedelic paraphernalia, and the masses preaching 60s ideals, but travel in the same spirit as a culture of dedicated followers willing to put the miles on their own vehicles to watch their favorite NASCAR circuit stars. Instead of preaching “peace and love” they are crowing about “Jr’s” (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) last race. Instead of wearing tie-dye they are wearing t-shirts and hats supporting their drivers. It is a culture unto itself, and once a year Joliet is its capital, ready to capitalize on the event. “Life changes here during the four days leading up to and during the race,” said James Haller, community development director for Joliet. “It really is something to behold.” The $130 million track is a 1.5 mile oval-shaped course and sits on approximately 930 acres of land. It was originally scheduled to be built in Plano, but when the plans fell through a group of Joliet-area businessmen put the wheels in motion and had the track built next to the Route 66 Raceway, which is primarily used for drag racing. Full story at Business Ledger
Schumacher shooting for win Schumacher shooting for winWith Michael Schumacher 21 points behind Fernando Alonso in the championship, it is crunch time for the Ferrari star this weekend at Silverstone if he is to make a run for his eighth World Championship.

The Monaco Grand Prix saw Schumacher recover from his qualifying penalty to finish in fifth position and pick up four points but now Schumacher needs nothing but wins over the remainder of the season.

Testing last week in Barcelona went well for Ferrari with the exception of a massive accident for test driver Luca Badoer. Schumacher held the upper hand over Renault by half a second and he will be hoping that the testing advantage is translated into pace at the British Grand Prix.

Felipe Massa is sixth in the championship, just three points behind Juan Pablo Montoya and seven behind Kimi Raikkonen.

Michael Schumacher
"Silverstone is one of the circuits with the longest traditions in our sport. I have always enjoyed it and this time too I cannot wait to take on the track. It is a fantastic circuit and one on which the car needs to be set up and balanced well. 

I enjoy challenges like this and I am sure that we will be able to perform admirably in our single-seater. What I also like about Silverstone is that the fans are very knowledgeable. They are supporters who really love Formula One and there are lots of them so it is natural that you want to do your best.”

"We have to try to do well considering the current situation in the world championship. It is obvious that we have to close the gap in the standings and we are determined to do it from the next Grand Prix on. Last week's test session went well and we have every reason to be optimistic for the weekend. Let there be no doubts: our aim in going to England is to win!" Source Ferrari

Williams would sign Button again Williams would sign Button again(GMM)  Even after the unseemly two-year tug of war for his services, Sir Frank Williams says he would still welcome Jenson Button back into his team.

''If Father Christmas ever delivers Jenson to (us) gift-wrapped,'' the team principal told the Guardian newspaper in Britain, ''I'd be delighted.''

Williams plucked Button, then a teenager, out of F3 at the end of 1999 and gave him his grand prix debut.

In the debate about whether JB - now a works Honda driver - can ever win races and championships, Frank is adamant.

''There is no doubt in my mind that (he has) the ability.  He almost never makes a mistake ... and is almost in Michael Schumacher's class when it comes to sheer all-round talent.''

Williams, whose comments about Button were also echoed by 1996 world champion Damon Hill this week, insists that the 'Button-gate' saga is now behind him.

And he said: ''I would like to think that Jenson feels the same way although I'm sure he thinks that we drove a hard bargain.''

At the end of 2000, Williams plumped for Juan Pablo Montoya over Button, who is now 26.  At his new home, Benetton/Renault, he then struggled.

And, now after more than 100 grands prix, Button is still yet to win even a single grand prix.

Triple world champion Niki Lauda, then, does not think Button has what it takes to win the title.

''My other judgment is that both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen are fundamentally quicker than Jenson,'' said the veteran Austrian, who also noted that teammate Rubens Barrichello is now starting to get the upper hand.

Lauda said: ''Even if Jenson was driving something like the current Renault I would still have my doubts.''

'B' Toyota to be judged at Silverstone - Ralf 'B' Toyota to be judged at Silverstone - Ralf(GMM)  Toyota will get a better idea about the 'b' car's potential at Silverstone, according to the team's race drivers.

Ralf Schumacher said it was difficult to really assess the new chassis and monocoque when it debuted two weeks ago at Monaco, an atypical and twisty street circuit.

The German explained: ''We should have a clearer picture at Silverstone and I'm sure we will have better results.''

Teammate Jarno Trulli agrees that Monaco 'was not the right place to judge' the TF106B model.

''I'm confident the car is a step forward but we can't yet say how much,'' the Italian added.

Michelin try to right Indy wrongs Michelin try to right Indy wrongs(GMM) Michelin will attempt to right last year's wrongs at Indianapolis' United States grand prix next month.

The formula one tire supplier, which prohibited all fourteen Michelin-clad cars from taking the start twelve months ago for safety reasons, later pledged to refund the cost of every race-goer's ticket.

However, in a further attempt to win back fans, the French company has arranged an autograph session at the Speedway -- featuring every Michelin-shod driver on the grid.

A spokesman admitted to USA Today that the effort is partly to put Michelin's image right after one of the bleakest days in F1 history.

He said: ''There are several rationales for it; that's a piece of it, obviously.

''It just seemed like some effort should be made.''

While Michelin is pulling out of formula one at the end of 2006, Indianapolis' F1 future beyond this year is unknown.

With the 2005 debacle clearly enraging US GP chiefs, a Speedway spokesman reiterated that the issue about a new contract will be discussed 'after we see how this year's event goes'.

Bernie's company launch F1 merchandise Bernie's company launch F1 merchandise(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone's company, Formula One Management, has launched the first ever range of official formula one merchandise.

But while there is something for everyone's budget, those with even deeper pockets will not be disappointed.

One of the more expensive items is a mouse pad made out of carbon fiber by a specialist F1 composite monocoque maker in England; with a $489 price-tag.

Also around the $500 mark is a document folder, but it does come complete with paper.

A carbon key-ring, meanwhile, can be snapped up for $95, while the feature of a pricy $236 cap is 'over 300 Swarovski Crystals' that spell out the F1 logo.

For the more budget-minded, a blank notepad will set you back $11 (US), but a leather photo frame is nearly $160.

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