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Darnell edges Benson in MIS truck race
Popular local driver Johnny Benson, from nearby Grand Rapids, has one consolation. At least he can say he was a close second today in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Cool City Customs 200 at Michigan International Speedway.

How close? How about five one-thousandths of a second (or 0.005). In inches that’s about three, maybe two. It was also the closest finish under electronic timing and the second closest in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series history. It is the closest finish in MIS track history since electronic timing has been instituted at the speedway for NASCAR events in 1993.

And, yes, it was a photo finish as Erik Darnell edged Benson to give local team owner Jack Roush his 17th victory at MIS, including 10 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, four in the Craftsman Truck Series and three in the NASCAR Nationwide series.

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Harvick, Hornaday confront Kyle Busch
Kevin Harvick and Ron Hornaday were involved in a shouting match with Kyle Busch after Busch wrecked Kevin Harvick Inc.’s No. 33 truck on the last lap of Saturday’s Cool City Customs 200.

Television replays showed Hornaday running through the garage to confront Busch, then yelling at Busch along with Harvick, who angrily gestured at Busch. The Billy Ballew Motorsports driver yelled back and had to be restrained from getting closer.

“If he’s going to race that way, that’s pretty chicken,” Hornaday said. “He doesn’t deserve to be a racer. He’s got a lot of talent, but that is flat stupid. If Billy Ballew needs the [owners] championship that bad, then drive that way because he’s got the right driver. I don’t knock any other driver, but I tell you what, that kid is just about done to me now.”

Hornaday was en route to a top-five finish when Busch spun him out by nudging the nose of his truck into Hornaday’s KHI ride.

Busch drove around to a seventh-place finish while Hornaday finished 23rd, dropping KHI from first to fourth in owner points. Scenedaily.com


Brian France Q and A on lawsuit
Brian France, NASCAR's chairman and chief executive officer, met with reporters Saturday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway to discuss, primarily, a $225 million lawsuit filed by former Busch/Nationwide official Mauricia Grant. Here is a partial transcript of that session:

BRIAN FRANCE: I wanted to make a couple of comments regarding a couple of items that are in the news for us.

One of the comments is in respect to a lawsuit that was filed on Tuesday and a subsequent investigation we have under way to review those claims that were made. I think I mentioned earlier in the week that the most disappointing thing to me is that we found out about the alleged claims after you did in the media via a national lawsuit that seeks a lot of money.

That's very disappointing, because if any of those claims turn out to be accurate and have substance, we would have liked to have known about that two years ago so that we could have reacted and done something about it. It is inconsistent with anything from a policy standpoint of how a work environment for our officials should be. It is not consistent with anything - our values or what have you.

I would tell you the most disappointing thing that all of times that this plaintiff, Miss Grant, had in her time at NASCAR through diversity and sexual harassment seminars and training - our human resources people were explaining as we do multiple times during the year what our policy is and how the environment needs to be.

Everybody signs that and understands that and abides by that.

To have never, ever raised it other than in a lawsuit is disappointing to us. Nevertheless, we have started an investigation that is under way. We are treating in very seriously as we would when we have these types of investigations.

With thousands of employees and the nature of our business we're going to have claims that are made from time to time. It’s not uncommon for us. We investigate every one of these claims very thoroughly and we will continue to do that.

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LeMans Hour 10: Peugeot continues to lead
Leading No. 7 Peugeot
The N7 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP continues to lap at the head of the field after taking the lead shortly after the nine-hour mark (10.08pm). With Marc Gene and then Nicolas Minassian at the wheel, it has gradually pulled further clear of the N2 Audi and, with more than 2,200km covered since Saturday afternoon's start, the margin between the top two cars has been extended to more than two minutes. The top six hasn't changed since the last news bulletin, although the N8 car continues to gain ground on the leading pack after its long pit-stop earlier in the evening.

Observations: Just before midnight, the N8 Peugeot was slowed when its windscreen was covered with oil thrown up by another competitor. Wurz had to make an unscheduled stop to have it cleaned. The Safety Cars made their first appearance of the race at 00.10 after a crash involving the N6 Courage. All three Peugeots profited from the interruption to refuel before the race re-started at 00.42.

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LeMans Hour 8: Peugeot extends lead
Leading No. 7 Peugeot
The first eight hours of the 24 Hours of Le Mans have lived up to expectations with lead-lap battles for the lead in three of four classes. American Le Mans Series drivers fared incredibly well with three class leads through the first third of the world’s greatest race. Corvette Racing in GT1 and Risi Competizione in GT2 led their groups by mere seconds.

In the class pole-winning Corvette Racing Corvette C6.R, Johnny O’Connell led Aston Martin Racing’s Antonio Garcia by just 38 seconds with the second factory Aston Martin DBR9 of Andrea Piccini on the same lap and within two minutes.

The second factory Corvette lost time with an alternator change and was a lap behind with Olivier Beretta behind the wheel.

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Saturday Notebook from Michigan

- Déjà Dew all over again!  Last August's MIS NASCAR race was finally run on Tuesday after a 2-day rain delay, and last July's IRL race was rain-delayed as well.  Tomorrow's forecast for MIS has a 40-50% chance of thunderstorms -- increasing through the day -- and 65% cloud cover during the race. 
-  Justin Lofton won the horsepower fest in the ARCA race in a car partially supported by Chip Ganassi Racing.  Roush developmental driver Rick Stenhouse came in second, followed by Frank Kimmel and Scott Speed. 
-  Team Red Bull driver Brian Vickers believes that tomorrow's Cup race might lead him to victory lane.  Toyota has obviously overcome any problems it had with its engines, and Vickers finished a strong 8th at MIS last August.  Vickers is only 112 points out of the top 12.  However, Vickers was 15th fastest in the final practice, and teammate AJ Allmendinger was 20th fastest, and the crew was clearly not happy with that result.
-  Jimmie Johnson was the fastest in final "happy hour" practice, 1/10th of a second (4/10 mph) faster than Greg Biffle.  Jamie McMurray was third fastest, followed by Matt Kenseth.  Jeff Gordon's slump continues, as he posted a 31st-fastest speed in happy hour.
-  A Scott Speed story is floating around the MIS press room:  "I'm finally getting recognized in NASCAR.  Today I went into the men's room, and written above the urinal were the words, 'Scott Speed is gay.'"
-  Fans who stayed awake through 95 snoozer laps were treated to a 5-lap shootout and a 6-inch win in the Craftsman Truck Series by Eric Darnell over hometown favorite Johnny Benson.  Scott Speed hung on to finish third.  Tim Wohlford reporting from Michigan


Piquet tops final day in Barcelona
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Piquet Renault 1:20.076 112
2. De la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes 1:20.402 82
3. Badoer Ferrari 1:20.680 63
4. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:21.037 92
5. Glock Toyota 1:21.158 86
6. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:21.295 88
7. Barrichello Honda 1:21.672 83
8. Hulkenberg Williams-Toyota 1:21.674 60
9. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:21.880 72


Michigan: Lofton wins ARCA race
ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Justin Lofton led the final 11 circuits Saturday at Michigan International Speedway to win the Racing For Wildlife 200.

Lofton, in the Lofton Cattle Dodge, capitalized on the late-race misfortunes of Sean Caisse and then kept Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. at bay to earn his career-first series victory in only his eighth series attempt.

"I came into this series as a young driver from California," said Lofton. "I knew that I had the talent to be successful here, but I came in a little too aggressive and trying too hard. The last couple of weeks I just relaxed, spent some off-time to myself, and regrouped. I came into this a lot more relaxed and just let the race come to me. Also, honestly I had Eddie Sharp as my crew chief the last two weeks, and Laurin Ranier as my spotter. Eddie Sharp is the best crew chief and car owner in the ARCA RE/MAX Series. This was an emotional win for us."

Lofton, who earned the SunTrust Highest Finishing Rookie of the Race award, became the eighth different winner after nine events in 2008. The Westmorland, California driver also established a new race record with an average speed of 150.596 mph, surpassing the old mark of 145.956 set by David Stremme in 2006.

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LeMans Hour 4: Audi leads, then Peugeot takes over
The Risi Ferrari led the GT2 category
Risi Competizione charged through the GT2 field and into the lead after four hours at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Gianmaria Bruni holding the point in the No. 62 Ferrari F430 GT he shares with Mika Salo and Jaime Melo. The Ferrari was one of two American Le Mans Series entries to lead their classes.

At the front of the grid, Audi’s Le Mans strategy was working perfectly as the diesel-powered R10 TDI of Dindo Capello, Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen led by just over 30 seconds over the leading Peugeot 908. The Audi had made five stops through four hours compared to six for the Peugeot, enabling the R10 to take the lead in the third hour.  However, by the 5th hour Peugeot was back on top.

The Audi R10 led overall for awhile but then Peugeot just drove right past them
At the 4th hour Capello led Nic Minassian by 34 seconds with Audi seeking its third straight victory with the R10 TDI and eighth since 2000. Two other Audis were on the lead lap with Alexandre Premat running fourth and Marco Werner, looking for his fourth consecutive win, in fifth place.

In addition to the overall lead, the American Le Mans Series had drivers leading the three other classes.

In LMP2, the Team Essex Porsche RS Spyder of Penske Racing’s Sascha Maassen along with Casper Elgaard and John Nielsen led by 15 seconds over the Van Merksteijn Motorsport Porsche.

The GT1 battle was as close as expected. Aston Martin Racing’s David Brabham drove the factory Aston Martin DBR9 to lead past Corvette Racing’s works Corvette C6.R of Johnny O’Connell. Entering the fifth hour, Darren Turner led Olivier Beretta in the No. 64 car by four seconds with the pole-sitting 63 another 12 seconds back with Ron Fellows at the wheel.

Back in GT2, Bruni led the Team Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Wolf Henzler, who drives for Flying Lizard Motorsports in the American Le Mans Series. Bruni held the advantage by less than a minute.

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Huge crowd for ARCA race - Not
So far Scott Speed is making the ARCA race (rescheduled from last night due to rain) into a boring show in front of 100 (give or take 10) fans.


Lawyer thinks NASCAR is in real hot water
Former NASCAR official Mauricia Grant has filed a $225 million racial discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit against NASCAR. Yahoo! Sports legal analyst Craig Silverman discussed the suit, its merit and its potential damaging impact on NASCAR.

Y! Sports: You’ve read the suit. What do you make of it?

Craig Silverman: It’s a well-done lawsuit. It tells a compelling case, which if true, will have serious repercussions.

This is what stands out for me: The number of sensational allegations against a huge number of NASCAR officials. It can be expected that any organization has one or two bad apples, but according to this lawsuit nearly the whole bunch is bad.

Y! Sports: The allegations she makes are extremely detailed. Is that typical in a discrimination case like this?

CS: Let me start with a disclaimer. Allegations like this are easy to make and tough to defend, especially in the court of public opinion. Miss Grant was fired by NASCAR. It’s possible she made this stuff up in reaction to being fired.

That said, I see quality and quantity allegations in this lawsuit. In other words, these are not statements subject to possible misinterpretations. These are prejudicial and sexist statements that nobody can deny. She not only has quality allegations of prejudice and sexism, she has a whole bunch of them from a whole bunch of NASCAR officials. That’s what makes this unusual.

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LeMans Hour 3: Peugeots falter
With just three hours into the 76th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the favorite Peugeot team for the overall win have struck trouble. At the two-hour and 15-minute mark, Stephane Sarrazin brought the leading No. 8 Team Peugeot Total 908 HDi-FAP into the pits for service and the car was wheeled into the garage for apparent gearbox problems causing the diesel machine to fall 7 laps behind.  The  new race leader is Dindo Capello in the No. 2 Audi Sport Team Joest R10 TDI.

First it was the No. 7 entry of Jacques Villeneuve, who pitted out of sequence because of a slow puncture. Then one lap later, the No. 9 car was in to change the front nose because its headlights malfunctioned. Ricardo Zonta's stop was not nearly as lengthy of the No. 8 car's, but it still lost valuable time, giving the early advantage to Audi.

Hour 3 Standings (Top 10)


# Class Drivers Team Car Laps Behind
1. 2 LM P1 R.Capello, A.McNish, T.Kristensen Audi Sport North America Audi R10 50 0.000
2. 9 LM P1 F.Montagny, R.Zonta, C.Klein Peugeot Sport Total Peugeot 908 51 -1 Laps
3. 7 LM P1 M.Gene, N.Minassian, J.Villeneuve Team Peugeot Total Peugeot 908 51 4.374
4. 3 LM P1 L.Luhr, A.Premat, M.Rockenfeller Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R10 50 0 Laps
5. 1 LM P1 F.Biela, E.Pirro, M.Werner Audi Sport North America Audi R10 50 24.471
6. 11 LM P1 D.Ito, Y.Tachikawa, T.Kataoka Dome Racing Team Dome S102 Judd 49 1 Lap
7. 5 LM P1 S.Ayari, L.Duval, L.Groppi Team Oreca Matmut Courage-Oreca LC70 Judd 49 18.039
8. 16 LM P1 J.C.Boullion, E.Collard, R.Dumas Pescarolo Sport Pescarolo Judd 49 45.828
9. 17 LM P1 H.Primat, C.Tinseau, B.Treluyer Pescarolo Sport Pescarolo Judd 48 2 Laps
10. 6 LM P1 S.Pagenaud, O.Panis, M.Fassler Team Oreca Matmut Courage-Oreca LC70 Judd 48 9.637


LeMans: Peugeot leads first hour
The three Team Peugeot Total cars have pulled clear at the top of the provisional leaderboard after the first two hours of racing. Their closest challenger (CarN°2) is more than one minute behind (at 17.07). The pace was immediately quicker than 2007, with Lamy (Peugeot 908 HDi FAP N°8) starting from pole position and posting a 3m 22.449s on only his second lap as he headed Peugeot's charge at the front of the field, ahead of team-mates Montagny (N°9) and Minassian (N°7.)

After the first round of driver changes, Sarrazin posted a 3m 21.872s to establish a new benchmark time and leads at just after 5pm in the N°8 car…

Pos Team Class Laps Gap BestLap Stops
1 9 Peugeot Sport Total LMP1 21 3:22.765 2
2 7 Team Peugeot Total LMP1 21 13.108 3:22.918 3
3 2 Audi Sport North America LMP1 21 45.147 3:25.533 1
4 8 Team Peugeot Total LMP1 21 1:06.497 3:22.449 2
5 1 Audi Sport North America LMP1 20 1 Lap 3:26.628 1
6 3 Audi Sport Team Joest LMP1 20 4.566 3:26.441 1
7 16 Pescarolo Sport LMP1 20 1:01.409 3:31.114 1
8 10 Charouz Racing System LMP1 20 1:24.270 3:29.354 1
9 11 Dome Racing Team LMP1 20 1:30.893 3:29.504 2
10 5 Team Oreca Matmut LMP1 20 1:47.573 3:31.431 1
11 6 Team Oreca Matmut LMP1 20 2:35.796 3:34.356 1
12 17 Pescarolo Sport LMP1 20 3:13.300 3:34.682 1
13 18 Rollcentre Racing LMP1 19 2 Laps 3:39.081 1
14 20 Epsilon Euskadi LMP1 19 14.642 3:39.361 1
15 34 Van Merksteijn Motorsport LMP2 19 24.968 3:39.799 1
16 31 Team Essex LMP2 19 26.218 3:39.171 1
17 14 Creation AIM LMP1 19 49.842 3:40.756 1
18 24 Terramos LMP1 19 59.608 3:41.589 1
19 45 Embassy Racing LMP2 19 1:34.666 3:44.609 1
20 21 Epsilon Euskadi LMP1 19 1:46.601 3:38.498 1
21 32 Barazi Epsilon LMP2 19 1:53.407 3:43.686 1
22 40 Quifel ASM Team LMP2 19 1:56.035 3:42.990 1
23 12 Charouz Racing System LMP1 19 2:28.263 3:44.540 1
24 35 Saulnier Racing LMP2 19 2:35.242 3:46.097 3
25 33 Speedy Racing Team Sebah LMP2 19 2:42.159 3:42.196 2
26 63 Corvette Racing LMGT1 18 3 Laps 3:51.924 0
27 4 Saulnier Racing LMP1 18 4.492 3:46.302 1
28 64 Corvette Racing LMGT1 18 13.223 3:51.194 1
29 009 Aston Martin Racing LMGT1 18 22.607 3:51.607 1
30 007 Aston Martin Racing LMGT1 18 29.063 3:51.525 1
31 50 Larbre Competition LMGT1 18 54.377 3:53.359 1
32 26 Bruichladdich Radical LMP2 18 1:26.007 3:50.898 1
33 72 Luc Alphand Aventures LMGT1 18 1:32.375 3:54.631 1
34 59 Team Modena LMGT1 18 2:19.294 3:55.721 1
35 73 Luc Alphand Aventures LMGT1 18 2:19.839 3:57.217 1
36 53 Vitaphone Racing Team LMGT1 18 2:20.599 3:56.233 1
37 44 Kruse Schiller Motorsport LMP2 18 2:38.163 3:49.142 2
38 23 Autocon LMP1 18 2:52.484 3:46.495 1
39 19 Chamberlain Synergy LMP1 18 3:09.356 3:41.859 2
40 80 Flying Lizard Motorsports LMGT2 17 4 Laps 4:01.704 1
41 82 Risi Competizione LMGT2 17 0.614 4:02.118 1
42 76 Imsa Performance Matmut LMGT2 17 19.445 4:02.717 1
43 77 Team Felbermayr-Proton LMGT2 17 44.324 4:03.786 1
44 97 BMS Scuderia Italia LMGT2 17 1:16.235 4:04.510 1
45 78 AF Corse SRL LMGT2 17 1:18.249 4:04.807 1
46 85 Snoras Spyker Squadron LMGT2 17 1:21.014 4:07.225 1
47 90 Farnbacher Racing LMGT2 17 1:26.784 4:03.774 1
48 96 Virgo Motorsport LMGT2 17 1:33.308 4:03.696 1
49 94 Speedy Racing Team LMGT2 17 1:57.547 4:08.923 1
50 99 JMB Racing LMGT2 17 2:51.112 4:06.446 1
51 41 Trading Performance LMP2 16 5 Laps 3:53.214 2
52 83 Risi Competizione LMGT2 12 9 Laps 4:06.199 1
53 22 Tokai University YGK LMP1 11 10 Laps 3:58.375 3
54 25 RML LMP2 9 12 Laps 3:43.082 1
55 55 IPB Spartak Racing LMGT1 8 13 Laps 3:55.713 2


Surtees, Priaulx, honored by Queen
(GMM)  1964 world champion John Surtees has been awarded an OBE -- one of the highest honors of chivalry of the British empire.

The 74-year-old was named in the Queens Birthday Honors List, for services to motor sport and charity.

Surtees won the 500cc championship in 1956, and several successive world motorcycle titles, but four years later, at the age of 26, he switched to four wheels with the famous F1 team Lotus.

The Briton made an immediate impact, finishing second in his second grand prix, scoring pole in his third, and winning the title with Ferrari in 1964.

In the 1970s, Surtees ran his own eponymous team.

Reigning world touring car champion Andy Priaulx, meanwhile, secured an MBE, the initial class of the Order of the British Empire.


Ecclestone denies insulting Africa
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has flatly denied insulting African motor racing officials in recent comments about the Max Mosley confidence vote.

After FIA president Mosley escaped with his job in Paris, F1 chief executive Ecclestone was quoted by the British tabloid newspaper Daily Express observing that "just because he got a few more votes from Africa doesn't mean the King of Spain will want to shake his hand".

Kenyan Automobile Association chief David Njoroge took offence, describing Ecclestone's comments as a "derogatory, demeaning and uncalled for" attack "based on ethnicity".

But Ecclestone, 77, insists that "the comments concerning Africa were not from me".

Sensitivities aside, it is however true that Africa is a powerful force when it comes to FIA senate votes.

While the multiple African clubs wield 24 votes in total, America's AAA has just one.

"This is the structure of the FIA and is not the fault of the clubs that voted.  Had I been a president of one of the (African) clubs, I would have voted in support of Max being loyal to the FIA and the benefits it provides," Ecclestone said.

"I hope that we will be able to bring back formula one to Africa in the not too distant future," he added.


NASCAR looks like Soviet Russia
A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, First the racism lawsuit now the drivers are told not to speak out on the CoT and the AMA series (also owned by the France family). It just looks like old Soviet Russia where if you speak out you're shipped off to Siberia. We have free speech in America but not in NASCAR, only the Code of Silence and heavy-handed bully boy tactics. The lawsuit is only the tip of the iceberg.  Mike Neubauer


Penske Racing teams up with Cunningham Motorsports
Penske Racing teams up with Cunningham Motorsports: Helping to pave the way for its continued success in stock car racing, Penske Racing today announced an official developmental partnership with Cunningham Motorsports. With the consistent growth of Penske Racing, which currently competes with three Dodge Chargers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and one Dodge Charger in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition, the 2008 Daytona 500 championship team is eager to add to its history of motorsports success.

As it looks for talented personnel to join the team in the future, Penske Racing will partner with Cunningham Motorsports, an established and proven team across the developmental racing ranks. Through this partnership, Penske Racing will work with the Cunningham Motorsports teams racing in USAC Midget, ARCA RE/MAX Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series competition. Penske Racing will also help develop the talented young drivers in the Cunningham Motorsports program as well as identify potential crew and team members to add to its staff in the future. In addition, the partnership will provide Penske Racing another source for testing as well as engine and chassis development as it continues to enhance its program.

Over the past several years, Cunningham Motorsports has played a key role in the Dodge Motorsports driver development program. By establishing the relationship with Penske Racing, Cunningham Motorsports aligns itself with one of Dodge's top teams competing in NASCAR. Cunningham Motorsports was founded in 1996 by Briggs Cunningham and Kerry Scherer. During the time since, the team has run in the ARCA RE/MAX Series and in NASCAR in the Craftsman Truck, Nationwide and Sprint Cup series. Since 2001, Cunningham Motorsports has partnered with Dodge to develop drivers for NASCAR. Among those who have driven for the team include Chase Miller, Josh Wise, Steven Wallace, Scott Lagasse Jr. and Marc Mitchell - all of whom are racing in either the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series or the Nationwide Series.  Penske Racing PR


IRL could easily adopt Green-White-Checkered rule UPDATE #2 Another easy way to do it - Yellow comes out in the final 5 or 10 laps?  Everyone pits in their pit box and shuts down. Fuel can be added if so desired. (Those on a strategy run: tough luck. Makes for shitty racing anyway)

Teams then push cars forward, in pitlane, into race order. Lapped cars to the back - no point in having them in the way.

When the track is ready, start cars, do 2 pace laps and then back to green for the final however many laps. Mark C.

06/14/08 A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, Two races in succession have ended under yellow because of the same driver making high risk moves that are against the rules.  Before everyone concludes new rules and procedures have to be implemented how about trying to enforce the rules that are already in place and see if that fixes the problem.

Race officials emphasize before every race ‘pick a lane and stay in it or else’.  Well, the ‘or else’ never happens.  Take the last race at Texas, where Hunter-Reay had the low line down the backstretch and going into the corner where the wreck occurred.  Andretti was obligated by the rules to ‘hold his line’ which was the high line.  Instead he is moving over on Hunter-Reay down the backstretch and then when it became obvious Hunter-Reay had the speed to pass him in the corner Andretti pushed RHR down on the apron.  Andretti’s car is 50% in the established low line, way out of the high line he was obligated to stay in by the rules and the Race Directors instructions before the race.  Let Barnhart review it and if he determines there were violations of the rules or his pre-race race instructions issue a severe penalty.

Teams and drivers know they will be given at least a warning or two before nothing is done so they instruct and encourage their drivers to block, chop and do what they can to impede the progress of the car attempting to pass.  In the last ten percent of the race it gets worse as everyone knows there is not enough time to issue a warning and comply so they drive dirty with impunity.

It used to be that if a driver brought out a yellow during practice they were penalized 10 minutes of track time.  It happens during a race and no penalty?  Certainly, the IRL can enforce the existing rules more stringently in the last 10% of the race to encourage compliance.

Force the drivers to race clean.  NO Warnings.  Cotman implemented precisely that policy in Champ Car and within two races everyone was magically cured of chopping and blocking because Cotman reviewed a replay then immediately issued a penalty on the fly making such tactics worthless and word spread throughout the paddock like wildfire ‘Race Control acts immediately’.  Then a driver knew his best chance was to let the driver pass and attempt to re-pass.  Just what fans want to see and drastically reduced wrecks.

Enforcing the ‘no move’ rule made the ‘racing’ a lot better for the spectators at the track, the viewers at home, and deliver a more deserving result instead of ‘I’m Marco Andretti if you try and pass me I will run you off the circuit’ mentality resulting in lots of crashes and everyone else suffering the consequences.

Race control should review every incident that occurs within the last ten percent of the race and if a driver is found to have violated the rules a heavy fine ($25,000.00 like Franchitti got for his post race shunt) and a 25 place grid penalty for the next race.

Bet you incidents in the last 10% of the race become rare within two races. D.B. Cooper, Vail, Colorado

06/13/08 After two straight weeks of races ending under yellow, don't expect the IndyCar Series to institute a green-white-checkered finish anytime soon, even though it would be simple if they could see the forest through the trees.

Though series officials acknowledge that they would love to have their events finish under green, adopting the NASCAR model just isn't feasible at the moment for a myriad reasons they say - excuses we say.  This isn't rocket science guys, this is just common sense easy - read on......

1st Excuse - halting the race under a red-flag condition and then trying to restart the race would be chaotic. Unlike stock cars, Indy cars do not have automatic starters or ignition switches. They are started manually through the back of the cars.

2nd Excuse - Another reason is fuel strategy plays a role a lot more often. Teams could be allowed to come in for a quick splash of fuel, but they would lose their track position and not have enough time to make it up in two laps. Plus, then the race is in the hands of pit crews and not the drivers.

We fell out of our chair laughing when we heard this. 

Easy solution - In the event a caution comes out preventing the race from finishing under green (say within the last 10 laps) the pace car would immediately pick up the field and laps would cease to be counted.  Then the pits would be opened and anyone who wanted to pit for tires and fuel can, but when all the cars are back on the track they would line back up in the same order they were when the yellow flew, regardless of the order off of pit road.  Essentially the race would resume in the same order as they were running when the yellow waved......just the way NASCAR does it.  They would then get the green, then white and then checkered flag and race fans would go home seeing a race to the finish.

Another solution could be what CART/Champ Car used during the Chris Pook era – they would bring the cars into pit lane, stop and wait for the incident to be cleaned up.  The cars would be restarted, go back on track, and finish the race.  This is just another option and reduces the risk of cars running out of fuel as there wasn’t a need for “extra” non-counted laps.  I think Champ Car stopped this practice when they reduced their TV time from 2+ hours to just 2 hours and then finally making all the races timed events.

There you have it - excuses solved.  Now let's see how long it takes for them to procrastinate over this before implementing it.  Mark C.


NASCAR puts muzzle of drivers
The new Car of Tomorrow Sprint Cup car is so bad drivers criticize it every race, so Friday in Michigan NASCAR decided to put a muzzle on its drivers and essentially told them to "shut up and race, we're working on the problems."  Some call it the Car of Yesterday since the technology on the new car dates back to the 50s and 60s and in terms of passing it's a huge step backwards.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. says that today's closed-door meeting with NASCAR officials made him think about some of the comments he has made concerning NASCAR's new model Sprint Cup car.
Earnhardt Jr. said that he listened and recognized the impression fans get from the negative talk about the car that is being used in all Cup races this season. He also said that NASCAR is doing more behind-the-scenes work with the new model than he was aware of.
The car, which debuted on intermediate tracks this season after being run in 16 races last year, has drawn constant fire from drivers who feel passing is too difficult in the new model and the heat inside the cockpit is unbearable at times.  It's funny - NASCAR claimed the new car would make passing easier so the fans would see more of it, instead they engineered the car to make passing less frequent.  Fire those engineers will ya.
Earnhardt Jr. has not been a fan of the model, though he has run well in it and is third in the driver standings this season.
Still, the Hendrick Motorsports' driver said that the private talk made an impression on him. He did not reveal the specifics of the conversation but did offer his impression of it.
"My interpretation was that the drivers should be thankful for the position they're in and should be more positive in where this car is going to be in a year or two and more … it reminds me a lot of working with video-game developers. And the reason why the analogy works is because the public wants to know how good the game is. The public wants to know what's being fixed. Once the game is released, there's a lot of buzz and stuff, just like with this race car, and the public wants to know when it's going to be fixed, what's being worked on, what's going to be added, and a lot of companies are not eager to give that information out until it's done and Finished, and I see NASCAR with that same attitude," he said. "I think they do a lot of work behind the scenes, and they probably agree with us more than we tend to believe.
"They understand that the car is new, and that it's going to evolve, and we're going to learn more, and maybe three years from now we'll look back at what we have today and say, 'Man, can you believe that's the way we did it'  because there will be some things we'll find that will just be like, 'Man, that's way better; let's go in that direction.' So I think they're doing more than we give them credit for. They're thinking and working and trying and wanting to improve and that we should, us drivers, should do less complaining.

"I was pretty critical and overly critical at times, and the only reason why the drivers are like that is because they want, we feel like our best avenue is through the media because it's very effective … but at the same time not only NASCAR reads those opinions, and it's not good for the sport," he said. "If I enjoy what I do and I'm having fun and want to be here and want to be around for a while, I shouldn't tell people not to buy tickets."
"As a driver you just pent up the anguish that you had about the situation, and you misinterpret NASCAR's position and their approach and what they're really doing," he said. "They're doing a lot with the car now. They're coming up with some new ideas and new ways to make the car not quite as sensitive in dirty air, and they'll be testing that soon, hopefully.... I think it's great that they feel like the car can evolve. It should, as every car that's been involved in the sport has evolved. This car should as well. I feel like they know that, and they're open to it … You want to make the car where it has more front grip and drives better in dirty air and turns down in the corner better, at the same time, I like the way the rules are stricter on this car. It's a very difficult situation to have both."


LeMans: Peugeot 1-2-3 in morning warm-up
The drivers and teams successfully completed this morning's 45-minute warm-up session for today's start of the 24 Hours of LeMans which started at 9am sharp. The three French Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs machines once again topped the timesheets, with fastest times ranging from 3m 20.332s for car N°9 to 3m 22.348s and 3m 22.874s for cars N°8 and N°7 respectively, while their closest rival, Audi,  produced best laps in the 3m 23.319s to 3m 25.811s bracket.

The endurance classic starts at 3pm this afternoon with the N°8 Peugeot on pole-position, followed closely by the N°9 and N°7 sister cars in second and third places on the grid. The Team Peugeot Total drivers for the start of the race will be Pedro Lamy (N°8), Franck Montagny (N°9) and Nicolas Minassian (N°7) who did all the driving this morning.

The signal for official start of this year's Le Mans 24 Hours will be given simultaneously by two astronauts present at the circuit and by a cosmonaut orbiting above the planet in the International Space Station.  Dry weather is expected for the start. During the race, however, it might start to rain.

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