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Interview with Kurt Busch
Kurt Busch
HERB BRANHAM: Thank you, and good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today’s NASCAR cam video teleconference. It’s in advance of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway, the LifeLock 400.

Our guest today, joining us from Penske Racing headquarters in Morrisville, North Carolina, is the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Kurt Busch. He’s the driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge. Current is currently 21st in points. He comes off a very solid eighth place finish this past Sunday at Pocono raceway. Kurt has won twice at Michigan, including last August. Kurt, things are obviously looking up after this past weekend. Michigan has been a good track for you in the past. What’s the outlook going into this weekend?

KURT BUSCH: Well, we’re excited about the run that we had last weekend at Pocono. It gives the team a boost of confidence to know that, hey, maybe we’re just missing a couple small things. Pocono has been a great track as well as Michigan. We’re really pumped up about this weekend. Hopefully last year, we won the last race there, and that will help us going into this weekend with just the knowledge that we have about the racetrack.

HERB BRANHAM: We’ll be ready for media questions now for today’s NASCAR cam guest, Kurt Busch.

Q: Thanks for joining us today. I just wanted to — I know you’ve probably been asked this a million times this year, especially with Kyle’s success this season, but was Kyle a hyperactive kid growing up? What kind of kid was he when you were growing up with him?

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TUMS Track Tour for Michigan
TUMS Racing is all about enjoying life on the racing circuit, from the fast action on the track to local cuisine in each race market.  Each week, motorsports insiders scope out their favorite restaurants in the host city, from the best barbeque, to the local diner or the greatest pizza places. 

TUMS conducted a survey among motorsports media members, drivers and team owners to determine the restaurants with the most local flavor, the most unique settings, the most down-home fare and the most TUMS-worthy menu items.

The TUMS Track Tour Guide provides a list of the favorite restaurants at each and every track in racing along with some insight from our experts on each establishment.  From well-known spots like the Tobacco Warehouse in Richmond to the local favorites around Lowe’s Motor Speedway, the TUMS Track Tour Guide offers a glimpse into all of the racing world’s best-kept dining secrets.  The TUMS Track Tour Guide is available at www.TUMSracing.com.

Topping the favorites at Michigan International Speedway in the TUMS Track Tour Guide are:

Jimmy’s Filling Station Restaurant
200 S Main St.
Brooklyn, MI
A cozy corner to fuel your racing craze.

Shoopers Restaurant & Pub
11551 Brooklyn Rd
Brooklyn, MI
A great stop for barbecue, seafood and everything in between.

BBQ Shack
3491 Page Avenue
Jackson, MI
Just off Highway 127, the BBQ Shack is a taste of the South located deep in the North.

New to the TUMS Track Tour Guide for 2008

Jerry’s Pub and Restaurant on the Lake
650 Eagan Hwy.
Brooklyn, MI
Features great food, live music and is located right on the lake. This is where you come to “Eat. Drink. Rock. Roll


TUMS Top 10 from Pocono
The 14th stop of the 2008 season at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., had the stars of the Sprint Cup Series experiencing heartburn.  From extreme heat to a conclusion that lacked suspense, a fair share of big-name drivers had several TUMS moments.  Each weekend PRN lead anchor Doug Rice picks the Top 10 TUMS Moments from the weekend’s racing activities.

This week’s Top 10 TUMS honors go to:

10.  Sam Hornish Jr. had an adventurous day at Pocono after being directly involved in at least three cautions; not the best way to earn TV time.
9.  Elliott Sadler had one of his best runs of the season, running consistently in the top ten only to have a late race flat tire spoil his day at Pocono.
8.  It was a real TUMS moment for all the drivers when they were trapped in their race cars on a sultry day for an eight minute red flag. The drivers were all completely spent after 500 miles at Pocono.
7.  After qualifying well, Dario Franchitti is involved in multiple spins at The Tricky Triangle; the transition to stock cars has proved to be a tough one for the veteran open-wheel star. 
6.  Carl Edwards was in position to challenge for a win when a flat tire on lap 181 moved him down to a ninth-place finish.
5.  Clint Bowyer and Juan Pablo Montoya made contact on the front stretch which took out both cars; Montoya’s car burned like a 4th of July grill with too much lighter fluid.
4.  Tony Stewart was going to finish in the top ten but got caught speeding on pit road and ends up in 35th, dropping to the bubble position in points.
3.  Kyle Busch wrecked his primary car in practice on Friday and the team was forced to roll out a back-up Toyota which forced him to start in the back of the field.
2.  Point leader Kyle Busch turned into Jamie McMurray on the front stretch and crashed. Kyle would finish last and see his point lead shrink of a miniscule 21 points over Jeff Burton. 
1.  Pocono Raceway continued to give drivers and crew chiefs heartburn throughout the weekend as they searched to find the right setup to handle the three unique corners at the 2.5 mile Superspeedway, including the past master of Pocono – Jeff Gordon. 

Stay tuned each week for the Top 10 TUMS Moments to see which drivers and teams are most in need of TUMS fast relief.  For more information on TUMS Racing, visit www.TUMSracing.com.


Petty Enterprises Announces New Business Structure UPDATE Dodge Motorsports Statement  -- Responding to Petty Enterprises’ announcement of a partnership with Boston Ventures, Mike Accavitti, Mike Accavitti, Director – Dodge Brand and Motorsports Global Marketing, Chrysler LLC, issued the following statement:

“Dodge fully supports Petty Enterprises as they take the steps they feel will put their organization back in the winners circle.  Petty Enterprises is an upstanding organization with exemplary values and is a pillar of NASCAR racing.  We are proud to be associated with the Petty family and their entire organization and look forward to working with them in the years to come.”

06/11/08 Petty Enterprises, the most successful organization in the history of American motorsports, today announced a partnership with Boston Ventures, a leading middle market private equity firm which invests in the entertainment, media, and communications sectors. This marks the first time since Lee Petty formed the organization in 1949 that an outside firm has invested in the legendary race team.  In addition to introducing new CEO David Zucker and a major investment by Boston Ventures, Petty Enterprises has also extended their contract with former NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Bobby Labonte and will integrate the operations of Petty Enterprises and the Richard Petty Driving Experience.

For more information on Boston Ventures

Boston Ventures, which has invested $2.4 billion in more than seventy companies, has agreed to a capital investment in Petty Enterprises and the Richard Petty Driving Experience.  This infusion of capital will allow Petty Enterprises to grow significantly and continue to invest in additional personnel, equipment, technology and testing. 

Barry Baker, Managing Director of Boston Ventures, will become Chairman of Petty Enterprises.  He brings more than 30 years of industry and operating experience to the firm. Prior to joining Boston Ventures, Mr. Baker was President and Chief Operating Officer of USA Networks, Inc.  Andrew C. Davis, Managing Director of Boston Ventures, will also serve on the newly-formed Petty Enterprises Board of Directors.  “The King” Richard Petty will hold the title of Chairman Emeritus and will continue to be actively involved in the business.   

“The time has come for Petty Enterprises to take the steps necessary to get back to Victory Lane,” said Petty.  “This is something I have taken a great deal of time to think about and I’m comfortable with the decision I have made and to have Boston Ventures as my partner in Petty Enterprises.  Boston Ventures will provide us with the capital necessary to compete for wins and championships.  Over the years, many of their investments have been partnerships with family-owned companies.  In each of those cases, Boston Ventures has stayed true to the family mission, while improving the overall well-being of the company.” 

“There is no doubt this is an emotional decision for our family, for my dad, my mother, for me, for my sisters, for the grandkids, for all of us,” said Kyle Petty. “We have labored over this decision for a long time, but it’s absolutely the right decision. And not just for our family but for the 152 families that depend on Petty Enterprises. My grandfather founded Petty Enterprises in 1949 and over the years we have won a ton of races and 10 championships, but most importantly created livelihoods for many families and the investment by Boston Ventures will secure the future of Petty Enterprises for many generations.

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Q and A with Will Power
Will Power
We have several guests joining us. Starting the call with us today is Vision Racing driver Ed Carpenter, and in a few minutes we'll be joined by KV Racing Technology driver Will Power.

We are joined now by Will Power. Good afternoon, Will.

WILL POWER: Good afternoon.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks for taking the time to join us. Will is a rookie in the IndyCar Series following two full seasons in Champ Car where he earned two victories. This season he finished eighth at St. Petersburg and won the Champ Car finale at Long Beach. Coming off a 13th- place finish in Texas and ranks 11th in points. You and your teammate, Oriol Servia, are the top-tanked drivers who have come over from Champ Car. Can you talk about the season so far and how your comfort level is increasing both with the Dallara-Honda package and racing on ovals?

WILL POWER: I think the biggest thing this year for me the month of May, just the mileage in the car really helped me. There's nowhere faster that we go to. Then went to Milwaukee, seemed a lot slower and you had a lot more grip. So I really enjoyed Milwaukee. I also enjoyed Indy. Even when I went to Texas, I felt very comfortable as soon as I went out.

So, we are progressing. The team is really progressing well with development, and I'm progressing as a driver. So it's all coming together now. We seem to be qualifying a little bit higher, and sort of working out well in each of the races, as well.

We are looking forward to the second half of the season to be honest because you have a mixture of short ovals and road courses, and I think that's going to help us in the points for sure.

THE MODERATOR: Our next two races are short ovals, Iowa and Richmond. What have you heard about each of those places and what kind of racing do you expect to see there?

WILL POWER: Well at Iowa I can see that it's a short-banked oval, and I'm not sure that you are flat all the way around during the race, but it looks like it's good racing because you can run high and low. But also it can catch you out. Until I go there, I don't really know, but I'm looking forward to it because you're running maximum downforce.

THE MODERATOR: You hinted that the second half of the season could play into your favor with more road courses and street courses coming in. Maybe expand a little bit upon that. What kind of opportunity do you think that presents to you in regards to moving up in the points and what kind of finishes do you anticipate?

WILL POWER: Well, it's not just road courses and street courses that we need to get our points on, and in this series, unless you're in the top-five really you're not getting big points. You can finish -- I finished 13th and I think Oriol finished 25th last weekend, and I only got five more points than him. But if you win a race, you get a big chunk of points. You get 50 points.

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Audi says they focused on race setup
Having been caught with their pants down after Peugeot made huge gains this year, Audi could do nothing in qualifying except work on race setups
Audi Sport Team Joest concentrated fully on race preparations during the first qualifying session for this weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours (start on Saturday at 3 p.m.). The three Audi R10 TDI prototypes are fourth, fifth and sixth on the provisional starting grid.

As it was raining during the official test day at Le Mans and similar weather is also predicted for Thursday’s second qualifying session, last year’s winners decided not to go out for the fastest lap times with a special qualifying set-up. Instead, the Audi team worked intensively on the set-up and the aerodynamics and tested various tire specifications for the race. In addition, all nine Audi drivers completed their mandatory laps in darkness.

The fastest time (3m 24.105s) was set by Allan McNish in the Audi R10 TDI with start number 2 shortly after 10 p.m. Mike Rockenfeller was just 182 thousandths of a second slower in the number 3 R10 TDI. The fastest lap at the wheel of the number 1 R10 TDI was recorded by Marco Werner.

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FreeCreditReport.com to back Kvapil at Michigan, Chicago
Yates Racing officials announced Wednesday that FreeCreditReport.com will sponsor the team’s No. 28 entry driven by Travis Kvapil in this weekend’s Sprint Cup race at Michigan and at the July 12 race at Chicagoland Speedway.

That means FreeCreditReport.com will sponsor both Yates Fords at Michigan and Chicago, as the company backs David Gilliland’s No. 38 entry.

“These are going to be great race weekends with David and myself running two FreeCreditReport.com Fords,” Kvapil said. “FreeCreditReport.com has been a wonderful sponsor to the No. 38 team this year as well as Yates Racing, so I’m flattered they chose to include the No. 28 team and myself in their sponsorship goal for these two race weekends.

“Our entire Yates organization has a lot of momentum right now, and we’re honored that companies are recognizing our efforts both on and off the track each week."


Teams head to Barcelona for testing
Nine of the 10 Formula One teams will take part in testing at the Circuit de Catalunya from June 12 to 14.  Force India are the only team that will be missing from the line-up in Spain over the next three days.


Honda hopeless, focusing on 2009
Honda are ready to turn their attention to their 2009 car after just seven races into the 2008 season.  The Brackley-based outfit are backmarkers and are a disappointing eighth in the Constructors' Championship.

"There are just two or three things we are doing with this year's car, so there will be a phased introduction of (new parts) that will start at Silverstone," team principal Ross Brawn was quoted by Autosport.  "It is just a question of making the bits now. The concept work has been done on these new areas and they are being detailed and manufactured at the moment."

Honda's F1 CEO Nick Fry says their poor performances this season left them with little option, but to focus on next year's car.

"What we need to be able to do to beat Ferrari and McLaren on a good day and it is clear we are not going to do that this year."


Corvette Racing Aims for Sixth Le Mans GT1 Title
Will Corvette get trounced by the tiny Aston Martin team again?
Corvette Racing is out for revenge. Competing in the world's greatest sports car race is motivation enough, but the memory of last year's runner-up finish in the GT1 class still rankles. A freak driveshaft failure sidelined the No. 64 Compuware Corvette C6.R at the two-hour mark, while a late-race deluge and an extended safety car period stymied the No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R drivers' run for the top step of the podium. But that's now ancient history, and the stage is set for the 76th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 14-15.

Five times in the last seven years, Corvette Racing has won its class at Le Mans. To win a sixth GT1 title against world-class rivals will require a flawless performance by America's premier production sports car racing team. With 10 entries in the GT1 class, the competition for the Le Mans prize is intense: Chevrolet's two-car factory team will face four Aston Martin DBR9s (including a pair of factory-backed entries), a Saleen S7R, and a Lamborghini Murcielago for class honors. But Corvette has strength in numbers as well, with Luc Alphand Aventures' two privateer Corvette C6.Rs also carrying the bow tie banner into battle.

"I'm ready to go and bring our Corvette into the winner's circle," said Max Papis, who joins American Le Mans Series champions Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta in the No. 64 Corvette C6.R for this long-distance event. "Between Daytona and Le Mans, this will be my 20th 24-hour race. I would have never thought in 1996 that I would reach that mark. It means a lot, and I hope it means we get a good result, especially after the disappointment of last year."

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Former F1 Drivers Compete at Toyota Race of Legends
Some of the most respected former Formula One (F1) drivers are ready to go wheel-to-wheel in this year’s Toyota Race of Legends at the 35th annual Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races, presented by Toyota. In addition to good-natured bragging rights, these drivers are looking to secure a $25,000 check that will be donated to the winner’s selected charity.

The Toyota Race of Legends is an exciting feature of the Monterey Historics taking place August 15-17 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and is the centerpiece of Toyota’s Celebration of History showcase.

Derek Bell (Britain) returns to defend last year’s inaugural win against an impressive lineup of F1 veterans looking to unseat him. Joining Bell on the starting grid will be Eddie Cheever (U.S.), Johnny Herbert (Britain), Jean-Pierre Jarier (France), 1980 World Champion Alan Jones (Australia), Danny Sullivan (U.S.), Patrick Tambay (France) and John Watson (Britain).

Adding to the race excitement will be Alain de Cadenet (Britain) of SPEED TV and former 24 Hours of Le Mans driver, who will provide fans and television viewers with a driver’s-eye race commentary from inside the cockpit. The tenth and final car will be driven by a charity auction winner held among Monterey Historics race participants. The winning bid last year was $16,100 and benefited the Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital Foundation.

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racing news

Just Marketing sells majority interest
Just Marketing International (JMI) [A motorsports agency that counts IndyCar and the Hall of Fame Racing NASCAR team as their clients] announced today it will  accelerate its existing global industry-leading position in motorsports marketing through an investment by private equity firm Spire Capital Partners (Spire) and Credit Suisse.  The world’s largest independent motorsport agency will receive strategic support and substantial investment led by Spire, which invests in the development of leading companies in the information services, business service and media and communication sectors.

“Just Marketing International has strategically positioned itself for continued global expansion and profitable growth,” said Zak Brown, founder and CEO of Just Marketing International.  “Our ability to aggressively pursue our immediate and long-term plans is significantly fortified and enhanced through the investment from Spire and Credit Suisse.  We fully anticipate the ability to mutually create and broaden new relationships.  Already, our collaboration has been beneficial and we expect Spire and Credit Suisse to be integral in enhancing the service to our existing clients and in reinforcing our business model through new resources and capabilities.”

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Hendrick adds test session at Milwaukee
Hendrick Motorsports team owner Rick Hendrick added Tuesday's test session at the Milwaukee Mile to an already intense midweek testing schedule because the team has been floundering as of late.

Although Dale Earnhardt Jr. admits he might grumble when he's asked to work more in the middle of the week than he did in previous years, he knows it's for the right reason: winning.

"I told Rick, 'I'm going to complain, but I'm going to do it anyway,"' Earnhardt said during a brief break Tuesday afternoon. "And I like to shoot off at the mouth and complain about things, but everybody likes to blow off some steam. I'll test as much as I need to test -- whatever we need to do as well as we need to do."

"Rick personally wanted to add some tests, and I hear that that's not uncommon for him to come in and say, 'Guys, get to work for a couple of weeks and go to the racetrack during the week and see what you learn,"' Earnhardt said.

Hendrick had three of its four teams at Milwaukee on Tuesday, including Casey Mears and Jimmie Johnson.

"We work hard every year, but this year we've tested more than pretty much any other year," two-time series champion Johnson said. "I'd say my rookie year was the only year we tested more. We're running well, but we want to run better. We liked the success we had last year, and we're trying to find out the areas we need to work on."

Most top teams test frequently, but Earnhardt was surprised how much more testing he's doing at Hendrick.

"We've tested six, seven times in the last two months," Earnhardt said. "And I wouldn't test six or seven times in a year before."


Former Toyota Motorsport boss killed in accident
Ove Andersson
Toyota Motorsport GmbH expresses its profound sadness at the untimely death of Ove Andersson, aged 70.

He was involved in an accident whilst competing in the Milligan Vintage Trial, when the classic car he was driving suffered a frontal collision around a blind corner.

Toyota Motorsport GmbH extends its deepest condolences to Ove's family.

Tadashi Yamashina, Chairman of Toyota Motorsport GmbH, said: "Everyone at Toyota is extremely shocked and truly saddened at this terrible news. Ove was an inspiration to our team and to many in motorsport. His passion for motorsport was legendary and he is a great loss to our sport.

"The thoughts of everyone at Toyota Motorsport are with Ove's family at this difficult time."

Ove was instrumental in the founding of Toyota Team Europe, which grew out of his own Andersson Motorsport squad. Toyota Team Europe later relocated to Cologne, and became Toyota Motorsport GmbH in 1993.

Under his leadership, Toyota successfully competed in the World Rally Championship, winning four drivers' and three manufacturers' championships, and took second place at the 1999 Le Mans 24 Hours. He led Panasonic Toyota Racing into Formula 1 in 2002 before retiring as Team Principal in 2003 to work as a consultant for the team.


Ford to retool truck plants to build cars
Ford's gas guzzling large trucks and SUVs are leading to the company's demise.  And why do Americans buy these big trucks that fuel demand and drive up gas prices?  In many cases the driver is alone, so the only real explanation is that sitting up high makes them feel like "big" shots.
Ford Motor Co., long dependent on profits from pickups and sport utility vehicles, is assembling a plan to shift entire truck plants to car production in a bid to keep up with changing consumer demand in the United States, according to sources familiar with the company's plans.

Plant managers and local union leaders from around the country have been summoned to Ford's Dearborn headquarters Friday.

They'll discuss the challenges facing the automaker and the broader U.S. automobile industry as the price of gasoline continues to set record highs and consumers flee pickups and big SUVs for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles.

In what would be one of the most dramatic manufacturing transformations in Detroit's history, Ford would retool some of its North American plants to produce vehicles being built in Europe, where it is a leader in the small-car segment. Ford also is conducting a thorough review of its entire product pipeline in North America, hoping to accelerate the introduction of new, more fuel-efficient cars and to build more vehicles on fewer platforms.

"The best place to look is Europe," CEO Alan Mulally said recently, acknowledging that it would be too costly for Ford to import cars from across the Atlantic because of unfavorable exchange rates. "We can tailor the production to where we sell them."

Details of the plan are expected to be announced in July. They will likely include major moves like converting Ford's Avon Lake, Ohio, assembly plant from production of the older E-series van to the more modern and fuel-efficient Transit van Ford builds in Europe. But sources familiar with the situation say the company will not reveal the full scope of its manufacturing realignment for several months.

When complete, Ford expects to build more models on fewer platforms than any other automaker -- including Toyota Motor Corp., which has made such simplicity a recipe for success. More at Detroit News

[Editor's Note:  Talk about not seeing the forest through the trees.  Gas prices have been rising for quite some time now, but while Japanese automakers were building more and more fuel efficient cars, Ford (like GM) was riding high on the hog with their big trucks and SUVs.  Now, after drowning in dealer lots full of unsold trucks, are they realizing they are in big trouble.  So instead of being progressive with foresight, they are being reactionary once again, and losing still more market share.  And for this the CEO and board will get paid millions.  They should all be fired, every single one of them.]


Chrysler joins, cuts 196 dealerships
Chrysler LLC trimmed 196 dealers from its ranks nationwide in the past 12 months, while at the same time adding 70 "Genesis" stores, which sell all three of the automaker's brands.

Those numbers show the Auburn Hills automaker is making progress toward its goals of cutting the number of dealerships and selling all of its vehicles through a single channel. Most of the three-brand stores came from combining Chrysler-Jeep and Dodge dealerships. In the past five months, 37 Genesis stores have opened across the country.

Falling vehicle sales and Chrysler's shrinking product lineup is sparking further consolidation, said Steven Landry, Chrysler executive vice president for North American sales. Slimmer profit margins are causing some dealers to exit the business, while others are looking to add brands so they can maintain or increase their volumes.

Chrysler had 3,488 dealers at the end of May; 58 percent were Genesis shops -- that's up from 52 percent a year ago.


Honda's fuel-efficiency strategy pays off
In recent years, while many automakers were building bigger and brawnier trucks and SUVs, Honda Motor Co. stuck to its core business of making fuel-efficient vehicles. Unlike its leading Japanese rivals, Honda passed on developing a full-size pickup. It didn't offer a powerful V-8 engine for its premium cars and SUVs either, focusing its resources instead on designing better versions of its stalwart Civic compact and tiny Fit.

That strategy is now paying off. This year Honda has clocked the best performance of any major player in the U.S. market. Its sales are up 4.8 percent in a market that contracted 8.4 percent in the first five months of 2008. In May, the Civic became the top-selling vehicle in the United States, displacing the longtime champion, Ford Motor Co.'s F-Series trucks, as consumers traded in gas guzzlers for more frugal models.

"They have an array of products that is in tune with today's economic climate," said Jim Hossack, a consultant at AutoPacific Inc. in Tustin, Calif. "They don't have a Suburban, they don't have a Super Duty, but they have small, fuel-efficient vehicles. They're in good shape."

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E.J. Viso is a fast learner
E.J. Viso with team owner Keith Wiggins
In the past two oval races, E.J. (Ernesto Jose, named for his father) Viso has been one of the drivers you couldn't take your eyes off of for all the right reasons.

Making his first appearances on the flat track at Milwaukee and the high-banked Texas Motor Speedway, the HVM Racing rookie has impressed with speed, patience and tactics in the No. 33 PDVSA-sponsored car.

Under the stars in Texas, Viso advanced from the 28th (last) starting position to 10th by Lap 35 and ran as high as eighth on Lap 73. A shot at his first top-five finish began to unravel when he was caught speeding down pit lane (60 mph limit) during a green flag stop on Lap 100. He served a drive-through penalty that put him two laps down.

Viso moved to 13th by Lap 150 and settled for 14th place.

"The team gave me a great car and we had a strategy to finish in the top 10," said Viso, who is third in the Bombardier Learjet Rookie of the Year standings. "The first third of the race went very well as I was cruising towards the top five by Lap 100. But on the next pit stop, I had an issue with speeding in the pits, which hit us hard. The drive-through penalty that followed ruined our whole race.

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Yellow flag finish ruins another IndyCar race UPDATE #2 IndyCar and NASCAR team owner Chip Ganassi has suggested that the IRL should adopt the 'green-white-checkered' method of finishing races after a second consecutive event came to an anti-climactic close under caution.

Chip Ganassi
"I saw some of the fans walking out before the checkered even fell, and that is just disappointing," Ganassi reflected, after an accident between Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay three laps from home ruined the end of the Bombardier Learjet 550k at Texas Motor Speedway.

"They come to see a show, and they deserve to see a show. They deserve to see a good finish, they deserve to see an exciting finish. I understand the difference between IndyCars and stock cars, and why some people think you can't do it, but I think there's a way to do it. I just think we need to sit down and get our heads together and figure out how to do it so it makes it fair for everybody."

"Obviously, tonight, I wouldn't have liked to be in that situation but, maybe, last week in Milwaukee I would have liked a different situation, so it's going to come and go," said winner Scott Dixon, "I definitely didn't want to have a restart with maybe a white-checkered here because, with the Penske cars behind us, we were going to struggle to hold onto that position.

"But, yeah, I agree totally with Chip. It doesn't seem to happen too often with us, but that's two weekends in a row now where we finished on the caution, and the fans come first.

"That's why we're here. They pay to come see us, and that's the only reason why we can race. If they can do something to help that, I think it's going to be better for everybody, and it's going to work for you one weekend and it's not going to work for you the other."

06/09/08 Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon called on Indy Racing League officials to develop a NASCAR-like plan to settle IndyCar Series races under green-flag conditions after his series saw a second consecutive race end under yellow Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway.

NASCAR guarantees one chance to finish under green with a two-lap shootout. Dixon isn't sure that's the best model, but he said the fans deserve something. The fans come first. That's why we're here," he said after winning the Bombardier Learjet 550K at a reduced pace. "They pay to come see us, and that's the only reason why we can race.

"If (officials) can do something to help that, I think it's going to be better for everybody."

Dixon's team owner, Chip Ganassi, supported him because of what he saw in the grandstands as Saturday's final six laps passed under caution.

"I saw some of the fans walking out before the checkered even fell, that's all," he said. "It's just disappointing. They come to see a show, and they deserve to see a show.

"They deserve to see a good finish. They deserve to see an exciting finish."

There are several reasons why it's not practical in Indy-car racing, according to Brian Barnhart, the IRL's president of competition. He noted late Saturday that these machines do not carry onboard starters. Also, an extra session disrupts "the fluidity" of the race, he said.

Helio Castroneves agreed.

"In NASCAR, you're stopping on the racetrack, turning (the car) off, turning it on," he said.

"For us, it would be a little bit of a mess (by) stopping in the pits, turning off the cars. You'd have to have everybody checking the cars to make sure nobody touched the cars.

"But hey, it is the rules, and it's something that you cannot change (now)." Indy Star

06/08/08 Saturday night's Bombardier Learjet 550 ended with the cars coasting around Texas Motor Speedway at less than 90 mph.

That's a crawl for cars that reach speeds of 220 mph. What a downer.

Scott Dixon, the IndyCar Series' dominant driver, won his third race of the season. He was the fifth polesitter to win in 19 IndyCar races at TMS.

But he won it as the yellow and checkered flags waved together. Some fans were already leaving before Dixon crossed the finish line. It's the second time in a week that a late crash has forced an IndyCar Series race to end under caution.

That should not happen.

It's time for the series to do what NASCAR did a few years ago: go to a green-white-checkered finish.

"I think about the fans," said Chip Ganassi, owner of Dixon's team. "They come to see a show, and they deserve to see an exciting finish. I understand the differences between Indy cars and stock cars and why some people say we can't do it. I think there's a way to do it, and I think we need to sit down and come together and do it."

Dixon had mixed feelings. He wanted a two-lap sprint, a la NASCAR, last weekend at Milwaukee since he was second behind Ryan Briscoe as that race ended. On Saturday, Dixon had Helio Castroneves and Briscoe behind him and was happy to see the yellow.

"But the fans come first," Dixon said. "That's why we're here."

Series spokesman John Griffin said the league doesn't think it's feasible, because the cars don't have onboard starters, and it's time-consuming to restart them. We think that would slow things down and take away from the show," Griffin said.  Dallas News


Indy 500, Indy Racing League Donate $50,000 to Penske's race
Though IndyCar Series fans were sad to see the annual pit stop competition during Indianapolis 500 weekend washed away by rain, the cancellation turned a negative into a tremendous positive for Detroit as it resulted in a generous $50,000 donation for continued maintenance and improvements at Belle Isle Park.

As the Indy 500 teams, sponsors and members of the media gathered to honor driver Scott Dixon and Target Chip Ganassi Racing for their victory at the Indianapolis 500 Victory Celebration on May 26, it was announced that the total purse from the canceled 2008 McDonald's Pit Stop Challenge, scheduled for May 23, would be split among two worthy charities.

When the merger between the IndyCar Series and the Champ Car World Series was announced in February, longtime team owners Roger Penske and Paul Newman wrote a personal letter to Indianapolis 500 ticket holders inviting them back to the event this May. Demonstrating his thanks to these pioneers of racing, Indy Racing League Founder and Indianapolis Motor Speedway Chief Executive Officer Tony George offered to split the $100,000 pit stop competition purse between two charitable organizations close to the heart of each team owner. Belle Isle was identified as a beneficiary of the donation as Penske helped bring Grand Prix auto racing back to Detroit in 2007 on the Belle Isle street circuit, and he remains dedicated to the preservation of the public island park located on the Detroit River. The 2008 Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix will be held Aug. 29-31.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Dennis receives award on McLaren anniversary
  • Team mistake cost me Canada win - Alonso
  • Montreal mishap makes me stronger - Hamilton
  • Coulthard reflects on F1 past and future
  • Mosley right to keep job - Raikkonen
  • R28 not tainted by spy scandals - Symonds
  • Vettel confident despite unknown future
  • Alonso wants Renault to turn focus to 2009

Ron Dennis
Dennis receives award on McLaren anniversary
(GMM)  Following its disastrous Canadian grand prix, McLaren this week received some welcome good news.

On the forty year anniversary of the famous marque's first grand prix win, it emerged that team boss Ron Dennis has won the annual Prince Philip Medal for innovation and excellence in engineering.

"It's an award for all who work at McLaren, not just for me," he said.

40 years ago on Monday, founder Bruce McLaren won the team's first race at the 1968 Belgian grand prix.

Team mistake cost me Canada win - Alonso
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso told the Spanish press after crashing out of the Canadian grand prix that the team's "terrible" strategy mistake cost him a possible win at Montreal.

Although the Spaniard crashed out of third place on lap 45, he would have still needed to pit again, leading the 26-year-old to assume that seventh or eighth was the likely outcome at the checkered flag.

"That's why it was so important to overtake Heidfeld," said the Renault driver, who spun into the wall while trying a different racing line to attack his BMW rival.

"The strategy was a big mistake.  We could have won the race if we had stayed on the track rather than pitting with the safety car," he added.

Alonso told the Spanish newspaper Diario AS that he is particularly annoyed about his team's bad strategy call because opportunities to fight at the front will be scarce with his current car.

"What happened with Hamilton and Raikkonen is obviously not normal.  We will not have many chances to fight with BMW for the podium.

"It was presented to us but not collected," he added.

"I asked on the radio twice if they were sure that strategy was the best one, and they said yes.  But when I saw Heidfeld in front, I realized that I was right."

Renault's engineering boss Pat Symonds defended Alonso's strategy at Montreal by pointing out that race winner Robert Kubica also pitted with the safety car.

Alonso said: "I have not spoken to anyone at the team about it yet."

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Stoner again fastest in Barcelona testing
MotoGP riders completed their second afternoon of testing at Catalunya today, working between the rain showers. 


1. C.Stoner (Ducati) 1:42.180
2. C.Dovizioso (Honda) 1:42.222
3  N. Hayden (Repsol Honda) 1:42.555
4. C.Vermeulen (Suzuki) 1:42.590
5. R.De Puniet (Honda) 1:43.039
6. N.Canepa (Ducati) 1:43.683
7. S.Guintoli (Ducati) 1:44.074
8. T.Elias (Ducati) 1:44.538


LeMans also a home race for Michelin
As dominant as Michelin has been in the American Le Mans Series since 1999, the French tire manufacturer’s record at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is equally as impressive. This weekend Michelin will go for its 11th consecutive Le Mans victory with an army of personnel and equipment to supply more than 40 cars in the 55-car field.

Since 1998, Michelin-shod teams have recorded 29 of 42 class wins at Le Mans with three class victories in each of the last four years. In 2003, Michelin supplied tires to all five class winners in the world’s greatest endurance race.

“It's our home battlefield,” said Frédéric Henry-Biabaud, Michelin Motorsport Director. “Losing at Le Mans is out of the question. It’s true that we supply a lot of teams, but in the end it’s those teams that have chosen us, because we give them good tires and top-quality service. At the Le Mans 24 Hours, it’s important to have a tire partner that knows a bit about the race. Nonetheless, every year we are careful not to become complacent: all it takes is one false move for our reputation to suffer. Le Mans is one of the high points of the endurance racing season.”

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Kerkorian's Ford tender attracts huge response
Tracinda Corp. said today that its offer to buy up to 20 million shares of Ford Motor Co. stock for $8.50 per share drew a huge response: More than 1 billion shares of stock were tendered, meaning the holders of that stock are willing to sell at that price.

Tracinda said it still plans to purchase 20 million shares at $8.50 per share for a total purchase price of $170 million, or an estimated 1.9% of the shares tendered.

A Tracinda spokesman declined to comment on whether or not it would offer to buy additional shares given the response to its offer.

Tracinda, which is controlled by billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian, offered to purchase the shares on May 9 when Ford’s shares were trading at $8.20 per share.

The purchase offer came shortly after Tracinda’s disclosure in April that it had purchased 100 million shares, or 4.7% of Ford’s stock. Detroit Free Press

track news

MIS Making Improvements to Current Outbound Traffic Pattern
After making huge strides to improve traffic following the June 2007 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway, the Irish Hills track is making a few improvements to the current outbound pattern, which will continue to help fans exit the facility in a timely manner.

The following changes will occur to the already existing outbound traffic pattern following the LifeLock 400 Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, June 15.

M-50 south from US-12 will be one-way to Onsted Highway.
Traffic at Vicary Road and US-127 will only be allowed to go North on US-127. (No left turn).
A 12’ paved shoulder on US-127 north from Vicary Road to M-50 has been finished and will be used for post-race traffic on June 15.

“Although there are just a few improvements to the current pattern, they are very important ones when it comes to getting fans home in a timely manner following the LifeLock 400,” MIS President Roger Curtis said. “We had great success last June with our improved outbound traffic patterns and are looking to capitalize on that for our NASCAR weekends in 2008.”

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Six NASCAR drivers complete Infineon test
Six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers completed a one-day test session on Tuesday at Infineon Raceway in advance of the Toyota/Save Mart 350, June 20-22. 

For one of the drivers, it was a return to familiar surroundings, albeit in a different type of racecar. Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge) posted a career-best finish of fifth in three IndyCar Series starts in the Sonoma Valley. Getting behind the wheel of a NASCAR stock car may be a different story.

“I’ve driven around this track before, but I’ve never seen this track configuration, so it’s different,” said Hornish, who tested in a Penske Racing Nationwide Series car.  “Any track that I really liked in IndyCar, I don’t seem to like in the stock car, so I’m trying to treat this like I’m coming out here for the first time. We’ll see if that helps.”

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Texas race breaks IndyCar record on ESPN2
Robbie Knievel jumps Hummers before a large Indy Car crowd Saturday night in Texas
The Bombardier Learjet 550k, won by Scott Dixon on Saturday night, ranks as the highest-rated and most-viewed IndyCar Series race broadcast in ESPN2 history.

The broadcast produced a 1.0 cable rating and reached 939,160 households to make it the most successful ever on ESPN2. The Bombardier Learjet 550k surpassed the 0.85 rating for this year’s season-opening race at Homestead that previously situated the top spot.

The Bombardier Learjet 550k also was the second most-viewed IndyCar Series race in ESPN and ESPN2 history, trailing only the 2005 event at Kansas Speedway. That race drew a 1.05 rating and attracted 970,450 households on ESPN.

The 1.0 rating for the Bombardier Learjet 550k also was a 44 percent increase over last year’s race that drew a 0.7 rating and reached 639,952 households.

“A full field of 28 cars as a result of the unification and the thrilling three-wide racing fans expect from Texas Motor Speedway translated into a very successful broadcast for our television partners at ESPN,” Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage said. “We also put forth more effort on the national level in terms of promotion and we hope that had an effect on the amount of viewers as well. This is a positive step forward for the league post-unification, but there is a lot more work to do on a national scale to make the IndyCar Series more prominent among sports fans.”


Australian event axed from A1GP schedule
The fourth season of A1GP World Cup of Motorsport will take place over 11 events and 22 races, but will not include Australia as one of its stops.

Having hosted an A1GP event at Sydney’s Eastern Creek since 2005, Team Australia boss Alan Jones had previously called for the event to be transferred to Queensland’s Gold Coast following less than expected crowds in recent times.

However, with the resurrection of the newly-formed IndyCar Series, following the merger of the Champ Car and IRL series, the Gold Coast event promoters would have been unlikely to instate the A1GP over a series that now boasts the likes of Australian’s Ryan Briscoe and Will Power, along with Brisbane-born Kiwi Scott Dixon amongst its draw cards.

"The fact of the matter is that A1 has been increasing in its interest internationally over the last three years,'' Jones said.

"They are at a stage now where they are actually being paid a sanction fee which of course is what Melbourne paid Formula One and Queensland paid Champ Cars. There are other countries now that have put their hand up to host a round of A1.

"If Sydney can't or won't come up with the required sanction fee, then unfortunately they are going to lose it to somebody who can. I can tell you one thing, it's considerably less than what Melbourne paid for Formula One and what Queensland paid for the Champ Car race.''

For the 2008/09 A1GP calendar there will also be at least three completely new events, with Portugal and Indonesia joining the previously announced season-opener in Italy.

The Portuguese round will take place on the 18-turn Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, currently being built in Portimao, Portugal.


Penalty for NASCAR cheaters upheld
On June 9, 2008, the National Stock Car Racing Commission heard and considered the appeal of Haas CNC Racing regarding the No. 66 car.  The appeal concerned four penalties issued by NASCAR stemming from inspection on May 24, 2008 at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. 

The infractions concerned Section 12-4-A of the NASCAR Rule Book “Actions detrimental to stock car racing” and Section “Wing mounting locations were not as specified by the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rule Book.”

The penalties assessed were:

• Loss of 150 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Car Owner Points, and confiscation of the racecar, for car owner Joe Custer.

• Loss of 150 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Driver Points for driver Scott Riggs.

$100,000.00 fine; suspension from NASCAR for the next six (6) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Events; suspension from NASCAR until July 9, 2008, and probation until December 31, 2008 for crew chief Bootie Barker.

• Suspension from NASCAR for the next six (6) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Events; suspension from NASCAR until July 9, 2008, and probation until December 31, 2008 for team member Derick Jennings.

The Appellants did not contest the rules violation, but argued that the penalties were too severe for the infractions.  They also argued that the infractions did not involve illegal parts on the car, and that the resulting higher wing location was a disadvantage.

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NASCAR penalizes Compton's truck crew chief
NASCAR officials announced Tuesday that Bryant Frazier, crew chief for the No. 4 Bobby Hamilton Racing-Virginia Dodge driven by Stacy Compton in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, has been fined and placed on probation for an infraction occurring during last week's  event at Texas Motor Speedway.

Frazier was fined $2,000 and placed on probation until Dec. 31 for violating a rule governing the rear-axle housing offset.

The infraction was discovered Thursday during prerace inspection for the Sam's Town 400.


Asian Le Mans Series Shanghai race put off until 2009
The race programmed on the Shanghai circuit at the end of 2008 has been put off until 2009.
At the beginning of this year the ACO announced that it was working with its Chinese partner, the S2M Company, to organize the first race in Shanghai under the Le Mans label.

The race, programmed on the Chinese circuit at the end of 2008, has been put off until 2009 as much because of the current world economical environment as the intensive mobilization of Chinese companies in view of the Olympic year in Beijing.

Nevertheless, the ACO is pressing ahead with the development of its Asian Le Mans Series due to be launched in Japan and China in 2009. 


Villa fastest at Paul Ricard
It has been a trouble-free day today in Le Castellet where the first half of a two-day test session took place. The session was joined this afternoon by Estonian Marko Asmer at Fisichella Motor Sport International.

The young Spanish driver, Javier Villa, set the fastest laptime this afternoon just ahead of teammate and championship leader Giorgio Pantano. Also quick was Pastor Maldonado – who set the pace this morning – in third, ahead of Luca Filippi. Both iSport International men finished 5th and 6th quickest, Chandhok leading Senna. Grosjean, Zuber, d’Ambrosio and di Grassi completed the Top 10.

Right at the end of the session, Lucas di Grassi posted a time under 1:13.000, but it was cancelled after it was proven that he had cut the chicane. The top twelve cars all posted times within one second.

Test Times


Driver Team Time Laps
1. Javier Villa Racing Engineering 1:13.037 25
2. Giorgio Pantano Racing Engineering 1:13.235 34
3. Pastor Maldonado Piquet Sports 1:13.390 34
4. Luca Filippi ART Grand Prix 1:13.410 30
5. Karun Chandhok iSport International 1:13.436 30
6. Bruno Senna iSport International 1:13.465 45
7. Romain Grosjean ART Grand Prix 1:13.628 43
8. Andreas Zuber Piquet Sports 1:13.794 27
9. Jérôme D’Ambrosio Dams 1:13.862 24
10. Lucas Di Grassi Barwa International Campos Team 1:13.917 30
11. Alvaro Parente Super Nova Racing 1:14.017 39
12. Kamui Kobayashi Dams 1:14.028 34
13. Vitaly Petrov Barwa International Campos Team 1:14.075 25
14. Diego Nunes DPR 1:14.110 18
15. Alberto Valerio Durango 1:14.173 33
16. Andy Soucek BCN Competicion 1:14.192 38
17. Sébastien Buemi Trust Team Arden 1:14.283 37
18. Mike Conway Trident Racing 1:14.295 41
19. Ho-Pin Tung Trident Racing 1:14.383 47
20 Yelmer Buurman Trust Team Arden 1:14.512 39
21. Roldan Rodriguez Fisichella Motor Sport International 1:15.161 18
22. Michael Herck DPR 1:15.373 29
23. Christian Bakkerud Super Nova Racing 1:15.423 10
24. Marko Asmer Fisichella Motor Sport International 1:15.951 15


Cup Drivers Scheduled to test at Infineon Raceway
Six Sprint Cup Series drivers are scheduled to visit Infineon Raceway on Tuesday, June 10, for a one-day test session. NASCAR drivers expected to attend the test day include #96-J.J. Yeley, #77-Sam Hornish Jr., #6-David Ragan, #38-David Gilliland, #28-Travis Kvapil and #21-Marcos Ambrose. Most of the drivers will test the challenging 10-turn, 1.99-mile road course in late-model stock cars provided by a Northern California-based race team. Testing runs from 8:30am - 4:30pm/pt and is open to the public, FREE of charge. For more information call 800-870-RACE. Several NASCAR Camping World Series West teams and drivers are also expected at the test session, including Bennett Lane Winery drivers Mike David and P.J. Jones, Fairfield's Jim Inglebright and drivers from Bill McAnally Racing out of Sacramento. These teams are preparing for the Bennett Lane Winery 200, presented by Supercuts, on Saturday, June 21. The drivers will return for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 NASCAR weekend, June 20-22, at Infineon Raceway. For tickets, call 800-870-RACE or visit www.infineonraceway.com. Infineon Raceway


Ailing Paul Newman Turns Over $120M to Charity
Paul Newman
Movie star Paul Newman has quietly turned over the entire value of his ownership in Newman’s Own — the company that makes salad dressing and cookies — to charity.

Completed over a two-year period in 2005 and 2006, the amount of his donations to Newman’s Own Foundation Inc. comes to an astounding $120 million.

This is unprecedented for any movie star or anyone from what we call Hollywood. Of course Newman and actress wife Joanne Woodward have never been Hollywood types. They’ve lived their lives quietly in Westport, Conn., for the last 50 years. (They were married in January 1958. And people said it wouldn’t last!)

This column learned about this extraordinary gift as news started coming out recently about Newman’s battle with lung cancer. This is not news to my readers. I told you several months ago that Newman — who has five grown daughters — was seeing an oncologist, that he’d been in and out of Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital on many visits from Westport. Like everything else, the Newmans tried to keep Paul’s illness a private matter.

But a tip-off that he was maybe not doing so well came in late May. Newman announced that he would not direct a production of “Our Town” later this summer at the Westport Country Playhouse, where Woodward is the artistic director.

News of his illness seems to have been exacerbated by none other than neighbor Martha Stewart. She recently published pictures of Paul on her Web site from a party she hosted. He looks gaunt but nevertheless smiling his trademark smile. Nothing will set him back. This racecar driver and adventurer should not be written off as “dying.”

“He’s a fighter,” one of his close friends told me Tuesday morning. “And he’s going to keep fighting.” FOXNews.com


Patrick set for Honda joyride in November UPDATE #2 Nick Fry has denied reports that IndyCar race winner Danica Patrick is scheduled to test for Honda later this year.  According to reports in the Austrian media, Fry has agreed to test Patrick, who claimed her breakthrough Indy victory in Japan earlier this year, when the F1 season ends in November.

"We will put her into our car after the season at the latest and see how quick she is," Fry reportedly told Kronen Zeitung newspaper.

The Honda CEO, though, has denied ever saying this, stating that there are no plans in place to test Patrick.

"There has been no contact between us," he told Autosport. "But if Danica did want to test one of our cars, we would be more than happy to speak to her about it."

06/08/08 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, When does Graham Rahal get his F1 test?  He won his first IndyCar race on his first try with a first year team (took Danica over 50 tries and on the best team). He is the youngest IndyCar winner in history (higher potential long term upside). The race he won was on a road course while Danica's was on a "flat out" oval and F1 doesn't race on ovals. And he won his race on speed whereas Danica's was a fuel economy strategy win by her crew chief where the top 8 drivers all had to pit in the last 10 laps of the race.  Truly this is a publicity stunt for Danica, the IRL, Honda and F1, which as a hard-core fan, disgusts me.  D. Hughes, Atlanta, GA


Danica Patrick F1 bound?
Danica Patrick is likely to make her formula one test (read that PR stunt) debut later this year, the Honda team's chief executive Nick Fry has admitted.

Patrick, the 26-year-old American, said recently she is "dead set" on eventually joining the grand prix circus, following her recent breakthrough win in the IndyCar series.

Fry is quoted as telling Kronen Zeitung, Austria's largest newspaper, that a test for Patrick is likely to be held in November, after the close of the 2008 season.

"We will put her into our car after the season at the latest and see how quick she is," the Briton said.

Fry added that the winter test will probably take place at either Barcelona or Jerez, in Spain.


Audi team draws attention in LeMans
In Le Mans city centre on Tuesday, thousands of spectators followed Technical Scrutineering of the three Audi R10 TDI prototypes with which Audi Sport Team Joest will compete in next weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours. This means the Audi squad is ready for one of the greatest challenges in motorsport.

The three Audi diesel sports cars were engulfed by the fans and the nine Audi drivers were more than busy in writing autographs in bright sunshine. Especially sort after, as usual, was the signature of Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen who will pilot the #2 Audi R10 TDI together with Dindo Capello and Allan McNish.

Local hero Alexandre Prémat revealed a new helmet design at the Technical Scrutineering: The Frenchman’s helmet displays the layout of the Le Mans track including the names of the corners. Prémat starts at Le Mans together with Lucas Luhr and Mike Rockenfeller in the #3 Audi R10 TDI.

Last year’s winners Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro and Marco Werner will race with starting number 1 as the defending champions. Emanuele Pirro was presented with numerous frogs from his loyal fans as a gift which is supposed to bring him luck. The Italian collects frog characters.

"The fact that the Technical Scrutineering is taking place at Le Mans as early as Tuesday is one of the peculiarities of the race," says Frank Biela who has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans together with Emanuele Pirro and Marco Werner two consecutive times at the wheel of the Audi R10 TDI. "Le Mans is the most important race of the year. In no other race are you spending such a long period in the paddock and have so much time to think about everything. The pressure builds up slowly and gets bigger every day. At the start on Saturday it is bigger than in any other race."

First Qualifying at Le Mans takes place on Wednesday evening from 7 to 9 p.m. and 10 to 12 p.m. The race starts on Saturday at 3 p.m.


Johansson joins LeMans grid
Former Le Mans overall winner Stefan Johansson is returning to the 24 Hours this year with the inclusion of the Epsilon Euskadi-Judd in LMP1. The prototype coupe takes the place of the Italian Lucchini-Judd LMP1, which failed technical inspection today and withdrew. The addition of Johansson, who serves as a third driver for Patr¢n Highcroft Racing, brings the total number of American Le Mans Series drivers at Le Mans this year to 44.

Johansson took his overall win at the 24 Hours in a Joest Racing Porsche 935 with Michele Alboreto and Tom Kristensen, the first of the Audi legend’s seven career Le Mans victories. A famed ex-Formula 1 driver, Johansson posted class wins for Toyota in 1992 and in 2003 with Champion Racing and its Audi R8.

This will be Johansson’s 14th career start at Le Mans. He drove the works Courage LC70-AER last year and placed 12th. Johansson will drive the Epsilon coupe with Jean-Marc Gounon and Shinji Nakano. The car will go through technical inspections Wednesday morning at the Le Mans circuit.

In his lone American Le Mans Series start this year, Johansson came home fifth overall (fourth in LMP2) at Sebring with David Brabham and Scott Sharp in the Patr¢n Highcroft Acura ARX-01b.

The collection of drivers representing the American Le Mans Series this year at the 24 Hours has combined for 26 overall victories and 61 class wins in 250 starts.


Q and A with Timo Glock
Q. How do you feel after your best Formula One result?

Timo Glock: I am really happy because everyone on my crew has worked so hard for this. They have done a perfect job in the past few weeks, and all my mechanics have worked so hard. So it was a fantastic moment to finish fourth and score points for those guys, as well as everyone back in Cologne because I visit the factory quite often and I can see how much effort they are putting in.

Q. It's also your first points for Toyota, is that a relief?

TG: It was just a great moment to cross the finish line. I knew things would come together at some stage because my crew has been doing a great job and we have shown good pace. I had a really disappointing weekend in Monaco but this time everything worked perfectly. There have been a few races already this season when it looked like I could score points - Australia and Bahrain for example - but things didn't work out, so it was really satisfying to score five points.

Q. Do you have a special liking for the Montreal track after your good results there?

TG: I have a good record in Canada but it's not because I particularly like the track or anything. It just happens that I have had some of my best results there, with points on my Formula One debut in 2004, second in Champ Car a year later and now this. It's a bit unusual that these results all came in Canada because there are several other tracks which I like more and which I feel suit me more.

Q. How did it feel to lead a Grand Prix for the first time?

TG: Obviously it was quite a special moment to see P1 on my pit board but I knew I had to pit. It was nice but it wasn't really so significant overall. My ultimate goal in Formula One is to see that on my pit board much more often but I know we've still got work to do before we reach that stage. We know where we are at the moment and fourth place is a good result for us.

Q. Now you have scored your first points of the season, do you expect more in the French Grand Prix?

TG: There's no reason we cannot score points again in Magny-Cours. My first goal will be to get into Q3 because I have been so close to that in the last few races but just missed out. If I can get into Q3 then I can fight for the points, although it will be very hard to repeat this fourth place. My goal for the rest of the season has to be to regularly finish in the top eight.

Q. Was it a hard race, considering the track conditions?

TG: It was very tough out there; one of the hardest races I have driven. The track was really difficult and after about 20 laps the grip just went away and that made it extremely hard. I had to really concentrate on not making any mistakes because it was so easy to go off line and have an accident. I was focusing 100% but unfortunately I made a small mistake at turn two towards the end.

Q. What happened in that incident?

TG: I just got on the curbs and the car stepped out so I ran wide. I had to move back on to the line to avoid losing positions and it was unfortunate that this caused Jarno to lose a place to Massa. It's a pity for him but it was a racing incident. I apologized to him and everything is okay; we have a good relationship and the important thing is that we scored a lot of points for the team.

Q. Earlier in the race you had been close to Jarno, was it a close battle?

TG: I lost three places at the first corner and then spent the first part of the race directly behind Jarno. I was a bit quicker than he was but with the track conditions it was nearly impossible to overtake. I got close but it was destroying my rear tires, so I waited until the pit stops because I knew I had more fuel.

Q. Brakes are often a concern in Montreal, was that the case on Sunday?

TG: No, we had no issues with the brakes. Everyone knows in advance that brake cooling is an issue in Montreal so we prepared for that and it paid off. They were consistent but with those track conditions the car was still tricky to drive. Toyota PR

tv news

NASCAR Pocono TV rating up 27%
Turner Sports hit the track this past Sunday with the first of it’s six 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Summer Series races on Turner Network Television (TNT) and unveiled RaceBuddy, NASCAR.COM’s live online companion to the network’s televised coverage, with both platforms delivering strong early results. TNT’s coverage of the Pocono 500 earned a 3.9 US rating, up 27% over last year’s coverage on the network. NASCAR.COM’s RaceBuddy shined in its debut, garnering 712,000 live streams to NASCAR’s official site during the race.

“At Turner Sports we pride ourselves on successfully delivering an enjoyable and high-quality multi-platform experience to our audiences for the sporting events we cover; be it NASCAR, NBA, MLB or PGA,” said David Levy, Turner Sports President.  “We are thrilled at the early feedback on both our telecast and online offerings and look forward to continuing the momentum this weekend in Michigan.” 

Other TNT Ratings and Demo Highlights from the Pocono 500:

The race was also the top-ranked program for the week on cable among total viewers (6,098,000), households (4,393,000), adults 18-49 (2,780,000) and adults 25-54 (3,271,000).

TNT saw tremendous growth in Total Viewers +22% (6,098,000 vs. 4,987,000), Adults 18-49 +18% (2,780,000 vs. 2,348,000), Adults 25-54 +26% (3,271,000 vs. 2,605,000) Men 18-49 +17% (1,848,000 vs. 1,581,000), Men 25-54 +24% (2,179,000 vs. 1,756,000).

RaceBuddy, which offered live feeds from the Pit Road Cam, In-Car Cameras, Battle Cam, Race Robo and Mosaic View, also guided fans to online chats, answered poll questions and submitted questions to “Ask the Booth” which were answered during the pre-race coverage and throughout the race telecast by TNT announcers Bill Weber, Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach. 

tv news

NCTS Ratings Up Big for Fifth Consecutive Race
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series on SPEED continued its significant upward ratings trend, scoring a Nielsen Household Rating of .94 (677,000 households) at Texas, peaking at a 1.14 (826,000 households). The average household rating is a 40 percent increase from last year’s .67 (477,000 households) and marks the fifth consecutive NCTS race on SPEED that has received a ratings increase this season.

The increase was driven, in part, by double-digit growth in the younger audiences. Nielsen ratings for Men 18-34 were up 41 percent (0.48 vs. 0.34) against last year’s race, while Men 18-49 was up 35 percent (0.70 vs. 0.52)

The next NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, live and exclusive on SPEED, is scheduled for June 14 at Michigan International Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET).


Rosberg says crash penalties justified
(GMM)  Nico Rosberg has acknowledged that his penalty for crashing in the pitlane during Sunday's Canadian grand prix was deserved.

The German, who drives for Williams, ran into Lewis Hamilton at Montreal, after the McLaren driver failed to spot the red pitlane traffic light and careened into the duly stationary Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen.

Both Rosberg, 22, and Briton Hamilton will be punished with a ten position demotion on the Magny Cours grid, and Hamilton on Tuesday is quoted as deriding his penalty as "harsh" and the closure of the pitlane "silly".

According to the French language La Presse newspaper, Rosberg said: "I think I deserve the penalty, the same as Hamilton.

"He didn't stop, and neither did I, so we deserve the same fate.

"I saw the red lights too late, so it is natural that there is a penalty.  I made a mistake," Rosberg added.

It is true, however, that while Hamilton failed to see both the red light and the stationary cars of Raikkonen and Robert Kubica, Rosberg's mistake was slightly different.

Rosberg agrees: "Of course, if Hamilton had slowed, I would have been able to better understand what was going on.  But he kept going, and then suddenly ... (hit Raikkonen's Ferrari)."

To another publication, Rosberg insists that stationary cars at the end of a pitlane is not a normal phenomenon.

"In my whole career I have never watched the lights at the pit exit," he is quoted as admitting to motorline.cc.

Rosberg also said the penalty effectively destroys his chances for the French grand prix.

"I can almost forget about Magny Cours," he insisted, "because I will be starting probably in 18th or 19th place."


Waltrip: NASCAR would trump Derby
Darrell Waltrip planned to attend his first Kentucky Derby last year, but NASCAR's top series was in Virginia that weekend and he couldn't get away.

Now it's possible the three-time NASCAR champion and FOX analyst could see a Sprint Cup Series race in his home state before the Run for the Roses. Either way, the Owensboro native believes a Cup race at Kentucky Speedway would trump the Derby.

"I know that doesn't sit well with my old Kentucky home," he said, "but that's a fact." [Editor's Note: Given the TV Ratings for the Derby vs. any NASCAR race, clearly Waltrip must have worn his helmet too tight on one too many occasions]

The pending sale of Kentucky Speedway to Speedway Motorsports Inc. has Waltrip excited about the possibility of NASCAR's marquee series coming to the Sparta track either next year or by 2010. The 61-year-old even interrupted a vacation with his wife just to talk about it Monday.

"How can you not think that Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati could be a great market?" he said. "Toyota is there. Cintas is there. Procter and Gamble is there. With Louisville and Cincinnati and all the surrounding areas, it's a great market and it proves it by selling out that (Nationwide) Series every year."

Track officials announced Monday afternoon that about 2,000 tickets remained for the Meijer 300 on Saturday. The speedway boasts enough grandstand seating for 66,089 and has averaged an announced capacity crowd of 70,952 for its seven previous races featuring NASCAR's No. 2 series.

Waltrip once worked as a paid consultant for Kentucky Speedway and contributed to its design. He still stays in touch with track officials.

"Kentucky is as nice a facility as has been built in this modern era," he said. "With all the conveniences, it's a great race track. Everything is first class."

Waltrip cited Concord, N.C. as a relevant example of what Cup racing can do for a community. Located about 15 miles outside Charlotte, it is home to Lowe's Motor Speedway.

"That area has just grown by leaps and bounds," he said. "There are malls. There are restaurants. There are hotels. It's just a little community all of its own. And for the most part that's what a race track that has a cup date does.

"When you bring a couple hundred thousand people to town to attend the race - you bring the teams, the NASCAR people and everybody into town for the race - it's not just what it does for the people that are involved in the sport but what it does for the community as well." Cincinnati Enquirer


Proposed NASCAR site could be sold for environmental reserve
Can a former oil tank farm go from potential NASCAR race track to nature preserve?

The state plans to include the 600-acre NASCAR site on its revised open space plan — a land acquisition list that makes it possible to purchase and preserve private lands with public money.

Inclusion on the list indicates the state’s interest in buying all or portions of the sprawling industrial, waterfront site where an 80,000-seat race track was once planned. But it’s no promise of a purchase, especially for a site that cost more than $100 million when International Speedway Corp. (ISC) bought the former oil tank farm in 2004. ISC dropped its race track proposal in 2006 in the face of mounting political opposition, and a deal last year to sell the land to warehouse developer ProLogis fell through.

The open space plan, meanwhile, can be more than just an acquisition wish list. It allows the state to pool a variety of public funds to buy such lands. Large chunks of Mount Loretto were purchased and preserved by the state after they were listed on the open space plan, as were the woodlands surrounding St. Francis Friary on Todt Hill.

“Being on the priority list allows the state to use environmental protection fund money to acquire the property, and that’s why it’s really important,” said Arturo Garcia-Costas, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which will release the final version of its revised open space plan early next year.

Sensitive wet and grasslands made the NASCAR site an attractive candidate for the open space plan, but some local leaders are objecting to the site’s placement on the list. A representative for Borough President James Molinaro told the state that the site’s potential economic development should keep it off the open space plan.

“I need jobs — that’s what I need, especially when times are getting tougher,” said Molinaro.  More at silive.com


HANS advancements approved by NASCAR
HANS Performance Products announced that NASCAR has approved the use of the new Vision Advantage PLUS sliding tether system and the HANS Device Sport Series. The new Vision Advantage PLUS sliding tether system permits improvements in left and right visibility by allowing easy but controlled rotation of a racer’s helmet. The proven results are tethers that allow over four times the field of view of competing head and neck restraints. The HANS Device Sport Series provides drivers with class leading performance at a value price. Starting at $595 for youth sizes, the Sport Series features a revolutionary carbon fiber composite combined with an innovative and proprietary molding process. NASCAR did extensive testing to ensure their driver’s protection. Sales Director Howard Bennett said, “We’re very pleased that NASCAR approved the Vision Advantage Plus sliding tether and HANS Device Sport Series. We recognize they trust us to keep NASCAR participants secure.” Introduced at the PRI show in December of 2007, the Vision Advantage Plus sliding tether and HANS Device Sport Series have been approved by the SFI Foundation and the FIA. HANS PR


New car tops 180 mph
The Superleague Formula prototype hit more than 300km/h for the first time in testing last week in Estoril, Portugal.

The Estoril test was the final three-day development test for the prototype before the specifications are frozen for the 2008 championship.

"The gearing was still a little bit off, but the data showed a top speed of more than 300km/h for the first time," test driver Bruce Jouanny said.

"The engine from Menard is now at full spec. It is very powerful with incredible torque - the car has really come a long way since our debut in Donington in March.

"All the suppliers and the guys at Hitech have a done a great job - we have now run at Donington, Monteblanco, Magny-Cours, Jerez and Estoril - a great combination of circuits.

"This a real driver's car - the guys are really going to enjoy competing in Superleague Formula."


Hamilton was warned about red light
Lewis Hamilton was told about red light, but still crashed into the stationary Ferrari
A change in race strategy by the McLaren-Mercedes team was a major contributory factor to Lewis Hamilton's ignominious retirement from Sunday's Canadian grand prix in Montreal, when he ran into the back of the world champion Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari as he accelerated down the pit lane following a routine refueling stop.

Martin Whitmarsh, the McLaren chief executive officer, revealed yesterday that Hamilton took on slightly more fuel than his immediate rivals at the fateful pit stop, intending to run a long middle stint of the race before trying to vault back into the lead at the final round of refueling stops.

He also claimed that Hamilton had been specifically told over the radio that he should watch out for a possible red warning light coming on at the end of the pit lane. At that moment in the race the safety car had been deployed to slow the pace of the field while an abandoned car was moved.

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Hamilton pans red-light rule
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton has blasted his ten-position grid penalty for the forthcoming French grand prix as "harsh".

In quotes published in the British press on Monday, the former championship leader also dismisses the current rule whereby traffic lights indicate whether the pitlane is open or closed as "silly".

"We are in a race.  How can you see a red light at the end of the pit lane?

"But that's the rule and I accept it," said the 23-year-old McLaren driver, who was penalized by stewards after smashing into the stationary Kimi Raikkonen after a pitstop in Montreal on Sunday.

The Guardian newspaper claims that Hamilton was told over the radio to "watch out" for the red light by his team prior to the smash.

Even so, the Briton told The Mirror that he thinks the resultant Magny Cours penalty is "a bit harsh really".

"I didn't aim to ruin anyone's race."

But Hamilton's reluctance to simply admit his mistake, apologize and move on is showing no signs of winning him new supporters.

A writer for The Daily Mail wrote: "Shame on you, Lewis, not for an exhibition of driving which would have cost you your no-claims bonus on the streets outside your Geneva home, but for a lack of contrition."

Even Sir Jackie Stewart, one of Hamilton's staunchest supporters, is questioning his level of maturity in the wake of the Montreal howler.

"When he looks back in four or five years he will question himself about what sort of person and driver he was in 2007 and 2008," the Scot said.


Injuries sideline Lorenzo UPDATE Fiat Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo will leave hospital within the next 24 hours after undergoing successful surgery on his injured right hand and further neurological checks in Barcelona today.

The 21-year-old has undergone a skin graft on the fourth and fifth fingers of his right hand. Renowned hand specialist Dr Xavier Mir carried out the operation in the Dexeus Institute, using skin from Lorenzo's right wrist.

A final CAT scan also confirmed that the MotoGP rookie has fully recovered from concussion, although he still cannot entirely recall the moments immediately before the accident in the second free practice session of the Grand Prix of Catalunya last Friday.

Dr Mir has recommended a further night under observation before a full week of complete rest.

06/06/08 Following examination at the Institut Dexeus, Jorge Lorenzo has been ruled out of any further participation in the Gran Premi Cinzano de Catalunya. The Spaniard, who took an awkward fall in the second MotoGP free practice session on Friday afternoon, will be kept under observation for at least 48 hours as a result of a concussion picked up in the incident. Such a timescale obviously prevents the Fiat Yamaha rookie from riding on either Saturday or Sunday.

Doctor Xavier Mir of the University Institut Dexeus in Barcelona commented as follows:

`I can confirm that Lorenzo will not be able to compete this weekend after the tests done here at the Institut Dexeus have confirmed the following injuries:
`1. He suffered head trauma and lost consciousness. We made a neurological examination with a CAT scan and an MRI scan and from this we can confirm that there is no cranial haemotoma or hemorrhage. However, he now needs to stay under observation for between 48 and 72 hours to see how this develops.

2. He sustained an injury to the 4th and 5th finger on the right hand, where he has lost some skin. He also has an abrasion of the extensor tendon. We need to see how this develops but it could be possible that he needs a small skin graft. 3. Various other bruises and grazes.´

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Two major test sessions planned
A1GP teams will have two multi-day test sessions to get to grips with the new A1GP car.

As part of the calendar announcement, the testing program for the off-season was also confirmed as two official sessions.

With all nations getting a new car, powered by legendary Italian sportscar manufacturer Ferrari, for the fourth season of A1GP World cup of Motorsport, the teams will be keen to learn as much as they can about how it performs and the intricacies of its set-up.

The first test will take place at Silverstone in Great Britain on Monday 18 to Wednesday 20 August. The Silverstone test has quickly become a traditional part of the A1GP off-season and is also a chance for teams to try out potential new drivers for the coming season.

The second test will take place in Mugello, Italy on Wednesday 17 – Thursday 18 September, immediately prior to the A1GP event there, the opening round in the fourth season of A1GP World Cup of Motorsport.


Grand-Am Banquet date announced
Grand-Am Road Racing officials announced today that the luxurious Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas will be the location for this year's Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 Champions Banquet on Monday, Sept. 22.

The Rolex Champions Banquet comes on the heels of the season-ending Sunchaser 1000 event at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City, Utah. Attendees wishing to maximize their experience of this premier event are encouraged to stay at The Bellagio.

"Las Vegas continues to be a popular location for the entire Rolex Series community and we are please to return there for our fifth-annual Champion's Banquet," said Grand-Am President Roger Edmondson. "The Bellagio is one of the finest resorts in Las Vegas. It will be a perfect location in which to honor our champions and celebrate another outstanding season of Rolex Series competition."

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