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Crapwagons must go
A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I agree with Robin Miller's latest article that has become clear is that the CART (Pre-IRL) formula of ovals, street circuits and ovals was the right idea.  Aside from the political and administrative foibles, the product itself was not broken and did not need fixing, as attested to by the pre-split Neilson ratings.  Now, we have the same thing and the only thing that is missing is a proper race car instead of the horrid Crapwagons. The current car does not look right, sound right, or provide the platform for the best driver to be fastest. More horsepower, less wing, and you will see who can drive the car best.  Ira Freeman

Racing News

Daly Double at Mid-Ohio
Among the many long-brewing arguments in racing is the question of youth vs. experience.

This weekend, the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup will see a little bit of both in action as former Formula One and IndyCar driver Derek Daly and his 16-year old son Conor will both get behind the wheel of a Ford Mustang FR500S at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course during the Series’ test day on Thursday, June 19.

Conor Daly with his father Derek (L) and Mom (R).
The father-son combination will provide a unique perspective as they get their first taste of the Pony car racer on the Ohio circuit.  Conor will arrive on a hot streak, fresh off an outstanding Father's Day Doubleheader Weekend at Mosport International Raceway that saw him score victories in both Skip Barber National championship and Ontario Formula Ford competition. 

Derek and Conor Daly
“I have only driven open-wheel cars before getting this opportunity to try the Ford Mustang, and it will also be my first time driving at Mid-Ohio, so it should be a fun experience,” said Conor.

The last time Derek Daly raced at Mid-Ohio, it was right into the winners circle in IMSA GTP competition. “I think this is a great chance for Conor and his development as a racing driver to get some experience in a car with a roof,” said Daly,  the long time racing school owner and television personality.

The Ford Racing Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup is a new professional racing series co-developed by Ford Racing and Miller Motorsports Park. Utilizing the new Ford Mustang FR500S and sanctioned by the Grand American Road Racing Association, the Mustang Challenge series is a support series to major professional road racing events across North America.  A competitive point structure and generous purses make the Mustang Challenge the perfect affordable, challenging platform for racers who want to compete in a V8-powered, rear-wheel-drive car on a level playing field that will showcase driver ability in high-profile events.


Toyota, swimming in trucks, cuts Tundra output again
Toyota Motor Corp., the world's second-largest automaker, unveiled its second cut in U.S. production of Tundra pickups in four months as record gasoline prices slash demand for large trucks.

Tundra daily production at the company's San Antonio and Princeton, Indiana, plants will be slowed, spokesman Mike Goss said in an interview, without providing details. Additionally, San Antonio's truck line will halt production for 14 days between now and the end of October, while the Princeton factory is cutting six scheduled production days between now and the end of August on its line that makes the Tundra and Sequoia sport- utility vehicle, Goss said.

Toyota ``is considering all kinds of options to make sure we're making the best use of all our production facilities,'' Goss said. There are no plans to concentrate all Tundra and Sequoia assembly at the San Antonio plant, Goss said.


Chrysler recalls 6,692 3.5 L Journey
Chrysler LLC is recalling 6,692 Dodge Journey crossovers for the 2009 model year because of defects in the engine wire harness that may damage electrical circuits, the automaker said Monday. The recall affects vehicles equipped with 3.5-liter engines, in which the engine wire harness could be chafed by contact with the transaxle mount and create malfunctions of various electrical circuits, Chrysler said in a statement.


Iowa Corn IndyCar 250 entry list
Car Driver Hometown Car Name Entrant
2 A.J. Foyt IV Hockley, Texas Lilly Diabetes/Vision Racing Vision Racing
3 Helio Castroneves Sao Paulo, Brazil Team Penske Team Penske
4 Vitor Meira Brasilia, Brazil Delphi National Guard Panther Racing
5 Oriol Servia Pals, Catalonia, Spain KV Racing Technology KV Racing Technology
6 Ryan Briscoe Sydney, Australia Team Penske Team Penske
7 Danica Patrick Roscoe, Ill. Motorola Andretti Green Racing
8 Will Power (R) Toowoomba, Australia Aussie Vineyards-Team Australia KV Racing Technology
9 Scott Dixon Auckland, New Zealand Target Chip Ganassi Racing Target Chip Ganassi Racing
10 Dan Wheldon Emberton, England Target Chip Ganassi Racing Target Chip Ganassi Racing
11 Tony Kanaan Salvador, Bahia, Brazil Team 7-Eleven Andretti Green Racing
14 Darren Manning North Yorkshire, England ABC Supply Co./AJ Foyt Racing A.J. Foyt Enterprises
15 Buddy Rice Phoenix Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
17 Ryan Hunter-Reay Boca Raton, Fla. Rahal Letterman Racing Team Ethanol Rahal Letterman Racing
18 Bruno Junqueira Belo Horizonte, Brazil Z-Line Designs Dale Coyne Racing
19 Mario Moraes (R) Sao Paulo, Brazil Sonny’s Bar-B-Q Dale Coyne Racing
20 Ed Carpenter Indianapolis Menards/Vision Racing Vision Racing
23 Milka Duno Caracas, Venezuela CITGO/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
24 John Andretti Indianapolis Roth Racing Roth Racing
25 Marty Roth Toronto Roth Racing Roth Racing
26 Marco Andretti Nazareth, Pa. Blockbuster Andretti Green Racing
27 Hideki Mutoh (R) Tokyo Formula Dream Andretti Green Racing
33 E.J. Viso (R) Caracas, Venezuela PDVSA HVM Racing HVM Racing
34 Jaime Camara (R) Goiania, Brazil Sangari Conquest Racing
36 Enrique Bernoldi (R) Curitiva, Brazil Sangari Conquest Racing Conquest Racing
96 Mario Dominguez (R) Mexico City Visit Mexico City/PCM Racing Pacific Coast Motorsports
02 Justin Wilson (R) Sheffield, England McDonald’s Racing Team Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
06 Graham Rahal (R) New Albany, Ohio Hole in the Wall Camps Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing


Ford, swimming in trucks, idles truck plant
Sagging demand for large sport utility vehicles has forced Ford Motor Co. to close a Michigan factory for nine weeks starting next Monday.  The Michigan Truck Plant in Wayne makes the Lincoln Navigator and Ford Expedition. It will be idled until Aug. 25, Ford spokeswoman Angie Kozleski said Monday.

Expedition sales are down 31 percent for the first five months of the year, and Navigator sales are off 22 percent, according to Autodata Corp. Ford had a 124-day supply of Navigators and a 100-day inventory of Expeditions, according to Ward's AutoInfoBank.

Ford had previously announced that it would close the Michigan Truck Plant for five weeks during the summer, including the company's normal two-week summer shutdown in July.

"We are going to do what we need to do to make sure our capacity is in line with demand," Kozleski said.

The factory employs about 1,400 hourly workers. They will be laid off, but get roughly 95 percent of their pay under their contract with the United Auto Workers.

Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally said last month that the U.S. market had rapidly shifted from trucks to cars because of $4-per-gallon gasoline, and that Ford views the shift as permanent. The company plans to increase car production and decrease truck production, with specifics coming in July, he said.

Kozleski said the Michigan Truck Plant shutdown is not part of the July announcement.


Ford begins layoffs
The latest round of cost-cutting is under way at Ford Motor Co., which aims to slash 15% of its salaried-related costs by Aug. 1 in an effort to head off a toughening U.S. economy.

The effort started Thursday night, when more than 200 contract employees were called at home and told to hand in their badges the following day at their agency offices, a worker with knowledge of the plan told the Detroit Free Press. She did not want to be identified for fear of repercussions.

Another round of cuts for agency employees -- a group that includes engineers, designers and secretaries, among others -- is slated for Thursday, June 26, she said.

Ford goes on its regularly scheduled summer shutdown the following week, and when workers return the week of July 7, they can expect to begin learning who among them will lose their job involuntarily. The dismissals are to be carried out through Aug. 1.

"The pink slips are coming after shutdown," the worker said. "We all packed up. I took everything I had here of mine home."

Ford spokesman Mark Truby confirmed that there have been "some agency personnel reductions," but he declined to provide a number or say when salaried reductions might begin. He said the target date for all reductions is Aug. 1. Detroit Free Press


NASCAR admits screwing Vickers
NASCAR admitted to Brian Vickers that it made a mistake in placing the Red Bull Racing driver behind Dale Earnhardt Inc.’s Mark Martin prior to a restart during the waning laps of the LifeLock 400 Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

For Vickers, that admission was important. Vickers said he had passed Martin two laps prior to the caution coming out. He believes he could have had a chance to win the race if he hadn't had to restart behind Martin.

Vickers went to the NASCAR hauler after the race to talk to NASCAR officials.

“They said, ‘We made an honest mistake – the 8 car [of Martin] was supposed to be behind you,’ ” Vickers said Tuesday during a NASCAR teleconference. “That’s all you can ask for. It’s like when a driver on the race track gets into you, it makes all the difference in the world if they call you the next day and say, ‘Man, I’m sorry. I messed up. I’m sorry. Let’s just move forward from here on.’

“And I totally respect that. I’ve made many, many, many mistakes in my life, and I probably will make many more. The important thing is to just own up to it and move on.”

Vickers ended up finishing fourth.

“I was pretty upset by it and rightfully so,” Vickers said. “I wanted an explanation of why that took place. I felt like in a lot of ways it cost us a shot at the race. There’s no guarantees what would have happened, but it definitely hurt us.”


Eury named Wypall crew chief of the race
Hendrick Motorsports' crew chief Tony Eury Jr. has been named the Wypall Wipers crew chief of the race following Sunday’s LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Eury, the crew chief for race-winner Dale Earnhardt Jr., took a chance on fuel mileage and opted not to pit in the closing laps when others did, and the driver nursed the car to the finish for the team's first victory this weekend.
“I told him to just save gas because worst-case scenario, we finish 25th, or we’ll wind up winning, if things just roll right,” Eury said.
Following the sixth caution of the day on lap 199, Eury Jr. instructed Earnhardt to cut off his engine and coast so he would have every ounce of fuel for a two-lap, green-white-checkered flag finish.
“Normally, we would not take the risk to trade the top-five for a possible win because half the time it doesn't work out, but he did the right thing today,” Earnhardt Jr. said of Eury's call.
The 2008 Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge is a season-long contest. Following each race, a panel will vote to determine which crew chief demonstrated the most outstanding strategy and leadership during the race. It isn’t necessarily the crew chief that goes to victory lane, but the crew chief who makes the biggest difference for his team.
Voters are representatives from the company together with Fox/Speed television analyst Jeff Hammond, and a panel including Todd Berrier of Richard Childress Racing’s No. 29 Kevin Harvick team, Bob Osborne of Roush Fenway Racing’s Carl Edwards team and Kenny Francis of Gillett Evernham Motorsports’ Kasey Kahne team.


TV ratings for Kentucky race up 7 percent
ESPN2's coverage of Saturday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kentucky Speedway earned a 1.3 rating, ESPN officials say.

The rating was 7 percent higher than the same race last year and marked the seventh straight series race on ESPN2 to show an increase over the ESPN2 coverage in 2007, according to the network. The race was viewed in 1.278 million households.

Network officials say that ESPN2 ratings for the series this season are up 17 percent, excluding the rain-delayed race in California that was run on a Monday.


Speedcar Series conducts first test of new season
Speedcar Series has just completed a day and a half of rigorous testing on new components for the stockcars this afternoon at the Dubai Autodrome ahead of the second season commencing in October this year.

The stockcar tested on the track has been set up with new and improved prototypes of the suspension, Brembo braking system, transmission and cooling system. The performance of the Speedcar is evaluated based on test drivers' feedback and lap timings among other things.

Jean Alesi, Sheikh Hasher Al Maktoum, Fabien Giroix, Nicolas Navarro and David Terrien, runner-up to the first Speedcar Championship title, are the drivers who have been out on the track testing the stockcars in Dubai, the home of the Series.

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track news

AMA Teams Test Open to Public
Fans are invited to attend the totally-free Moto Monday, June 23, when the top factory riders and teams from the AMA Superbike Championship will be conducting an important pre-race test at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Honda factory teams and riders are using the test session to prepare for two of the most significant AMA rounds of the 2008 season – the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix (July 18-20) and the season-ending Corona AMA Superbike Finale (Sept. 27 & 28).

Gates open at 8 a.m., and the paddock, grandstands and trackside viewing areas will all be open free-of-charge to the fans. The first 100 fans will receive a free Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix souvenir.  The track is open to AMA team testing between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

In addition to the testing, several FREE fan activities are planned including:

-          Free Fan Parade Lap (bikes and cars in separate group) – Noon
-          AMA Rider Q&A Session in Pit Row Suites – 12:30 p.m.
-          Q&A with motorcycle racing legend Wayne Rainey – 1 p.m.
-          Supermoto USA demonstration – 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
-          Latest Yamaha sportbikes on display
-          Moto Monday-only ticket special – At the track, fans can buy one Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix General Admission ticket and get a free Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix hat and a Sunday grandstand ticket.  On the phone, fans can get the same deal, minus the free hat.

“This is a great opportunity for fans to check out the AMA teams and meet some of the top AMA riders in a more casual setting than that of a hectic race weekend,” said Gill Campbell, CEO/General Manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. 

“We’re grateful to our friends at Yamaha who are renting the track that day, and the other manufacturers testing with them, for allowing us to piggyback their day with this great fan promotion.”

The Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix, July 18-20, features the MotoGP World Championship along with the AMA Superbike, Supersport and Red Bull U.S. Rookies Cup.


Firestone picks slightly faster tire for Iowa
Firestone Racing engineers selected a tire specification for Iowa Speedway based on results gathered at a test there in early May.  These tires use the same compounds on both the right and left sides as last year, with minor construction changes to all four tires compared to 2007.  This small change should result in slightly more grip from all four positions.  The left side tires will be used at Nashville Superspeedway later this season, while the right side tires have already been utilized at Homestead, Kansas and Texas.


NCTS Ratings Continue to Climb on SPEED
The dramatic photo-finish NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race from Michigan scored an average Nielsen Household Rating of 1.00 (725,000 households), up 39 percent from last year’s 0.72 (512,000 households). The race peaked at a 1.12 (808,000 households), up 27 percent from last year’s peak of 0.88 (628,000 households).

The Michigan race marks the sixth consecutive NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race with a year-to-year ratings increase on SPEED. Overall, ratings for the NCTS are up 23 percent year-to-year (1.02 vs. 0.83).

Again, much of the growth was driven by younger audiences, as ratings in the Men 18-49 demographic were up 139 percent (0.62 vs. 0.26) from a year ago.

The next race will be at the Milwaukee Mile on June 20 – live and exclusive on SPEED – with coverage beginning at 9 p.m. ET.


Danica Patrick, Hideki Mutoh Turn Test Laps at Richmond
Andretti Green Racing teammates Danica Patrick and Hideki Mutoh spent Monday testing their Honda Dallaras at Richmond International Raceway in advance of the upcoming SunTrust Indy Challenge IndyCar Series race at America’s Premier Short Track. Patrick, Mutoh and the rest of the stars of the IndyCar Series will return to Richmond International Raceway June 27-28 for an exciting weekend of open-wheel racing “under the lights,” featuring the eighth annual SunTrust Indy Challenge.

Patrick, who became the first female driver to win an IndyCar Series race earlier this season with her victory at the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, has made three career starts at Richmond International Raceway with a best finish of sixth last season. For Mutoh, who is in his first full season racing in the IndyCar Series, it was his first visit to Richmond International Raceway. During an afternoon press conference, both drivers stressed the benefits and importance of testing.

“It’s so rare to get to come to a track that you race at and practice before you actually come here [to race],” Patrick said. “All this testing is very, very useful. When we come back in a couple of weeks, you’ll be on Lap 100 and you’ll already be comfortable and of course it helps the team be able to have a good set up to start with so we can all progress from the first practice on. There are a lot of good things that come from testing.”

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Dino Toso leaves Renault F1
After eight highly successful years, ING Renault F1 Team is sad to announce the departure of Dino Toso. Dino was Director of Aerodynamic Technology and was instrumental in building one of the sport’s most successful aerodynamics departments, which he has led since 2003.

Under his lead, the aerodynamic department of Renault F1 managed to rise to the top of Formula One by securing a the driver's and constructor's championship title in 2005 and 2006. Furthermore, during his time at Renault, the team never finished lower than third in the world championship.

After delivering a revised aerodynamic package for Barcelona, which should help see the R28 competing with the top teams before the season’s end, Dino is now seeking new challenges in motorsport.

“I would like to thank Flavio Briatore and Bob Bell for their professional and personal support throughout my time with the Renault F1 Team, during which we have enjoyed great success together,” commented Toso. “My passion for motorsport has always centered on innovative aerodynamics, and been motivated by a thirst for competition. I’m looking forward to tackling new challenges that will allow me to fully express my technical creativity in the years ahead, and take me back to what I love most: the thrill of competition.”

Dino’s responsibilities for leading the Aerodynamics department were already taken over by Dirk de Beer in April. Source: Renault F1

racing news

Quotes of the week UPDATE #2 A quote from Tony Stewart has been added.

"Ask Mike Helton -- I don't know what we're allowed to say and what we're not. I'm just thankful we're allowed to be here and be a part of this. It's just a privilege for us to be here and, according to Friday, we've all got it a lot better than a lot of us think. We're not allowed to have opinions now. We've all got it made here. We've all got it great. At least that is what we've all been told." (After Tony Stewart finished fifth in Sunday's race at Michigan, he was upset with several things, including how bad his car performed in the race and how Earnhardt Jr. was allowed to pass the pace car several times during the final caution period. But when asked how he felt after the race, Stewart tweaked Helton and NASCAR with his comments.) Tony Stewart, NASCAR driver, Joe Gibbs Racing

06/16/08 "We're in a world -- 2008 -- the first time a woman ever came close to getting the nomination for the presidency," he said. "And a black man did. [With that in mind,] it would probably behoove NASCAR to really be into diversity. We know that America is changing, but we have to change all the important institutions within America for us to have respect not only for ourselves, but for other people to have respect for us. And we have to do it with a real eye toward doing the right thing.

"You know, when people have already said to me and to her: Well, you probably knew what you were getting into when you went to NASCAR; you have to have thick skin and all of that. And you know what my response to that is? No and No. You don't have to have thick skin when someone's calling you 'Nappy-headed Mo.' You don't have to have thick skin when someone says, 'You're on colored people's time.' OK, you don't have to have thick skin when someone pulls their pants down and shows you their penis. You don't have to have thick skin. What you have to do is tell these people that are doing these outrageous things -- can you imagine that one of these officials said to her that [his buddy's daddy] is high in the KKK and he wanted her to know that. And I don't believe that she has to have thick skin. I believe they have to abide by the law.

"I'm a lawyer approximately 31 years; this case will not change my life. But I want to change the culture at NASCAR. And so does my client. You can't just hire women or people of color and not change the culture. You just can't get Magic Johnson and put his name to [NASCAR's Diversity Programs] and say you're diversified. You can't get one black woman, give her a job, and say you're diversified. You can't have five black officials out of 200 and say you're diversified. It doesn't make sense." Benedict Morelli, the lawyer for Mauricia Grant in the $225 million discrimination lawsuit against NASCAR

06/16/08 "The 2008 Le Mans 24 Hour race will become part of history as a unique race. It was a tense race for the whole duration of 24 hours. We didn’t enter the race as the favorite, but our success was the result of good performances and a faultless showing – and we achieved that against strong opponent. I think you couldn’t imagine a better race for the spectators. Audi once again showed that its slogan Vorsprung durch Technik [translation: Advancement through Technology] is true." Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Motorsport

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Two drivers better than Hamilton - Ecclestone
Lewis Hamilton - Ecclestone rates him only third best
(GMM)  At least two of Lewis Hamilton's key rivals would beat the 23-year-old British driver in the same car.

That is the belief of F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, who told The Times newspaper that he ranks former double world champion Fernando Alonso as the best current driver on the grid.

"If he was still in a McLaren he would be showing Lewis the way home -- I don't think there is any doubt about that," Ecclestone, 77, said.

Bernie said he sympathized with Spaniard Alonso, who moved back to Renault this year, after he fell out so spectacularly with McLaren as rookie Hamilton's teammate in 2007.

"I never asked the guy - I'm going to ask him one day - whether he was told (by McLaren) he was number one.

"Because if he didn't ask and he wasn't told, he would have assumed he was.  Having a guy that's never been in a F1 car in the team with him, he'd expect to be number one wouldn't he?

"And that's what the problem was.  When he found out, although he should have been number one, of course he wasn't," Ecclestone added.

The F1 supremo also rates Robert Kubica, the Canadian grand prix winner and new championship leader, very highly.

"If you saw him in a McLaren or a Ferrari, I think I'd put my money on him blowing away Hamilton," Ecclestone said.


Roth Racing retains John Andretti for Iowa
John Andretti will remain in the seat of the #24 Roth Racing Dallara-Honda for this weekend's Iowa Corn 250 IndyCar Series race in Newton, Iowa.

This will be Andretti's 4th consecutive race in the #24 Roth Racing entry. He joined the team at Indianapolis, where he moved up from his 21st starting position to finish one lap back in 16th, and qualified an impressive 7th at the last race in Texas, equaling the best ever IndyCar Series start for Roth Racing, set by Marty Roth earlier this year at Kansas.

This weekend will mark the first ever visit to Iowa Speedway by Roth Racing and its drivers.


NASCAR turns drivers into puppets
When NASCAR president Mike Helton held a meeting with Sprint cup drivers and team owners Friday morning, he told the drivers they should feel fortunate they are allowed to participate in this sport.

So after Tony Stewart finished fifth in Sunday's race at Michigan, he was upset with several things, including how bad his car performed in the race and how Earnhardt Jr. was allowed to pass the pace car several times during the final caution period.

But when asked how he felt after the race, Stewart tweaked Helton and NASCAR with his comments.

"Ask Mike Helton -- I don't know what we're allowed to say and what we're not," Stewart said. "I'm just thankful we're allowed to be here and be a part of this. It's just a privilege for us to be here and, according to Friday, we've all got it a lot better than a lot of us think.

"We're not allowed to have opinions now. We've all got it made here. We've all got it great. At least that is what we've all been told." SI.com


Q and A with Renault's Rob Bell
Q. Bob, the team was out of luck again in Canada. What will it take for the team's luck to change?

Rob Bell
Bob Bell - Technical director: I believe that you make your own luck; you can't just sit back and hope that it will change. When you analyze the last two races for the team, what on the surface may appear to be bad luck inevitably turns out to be an error on somebody's behalf.

And, as is normal practice for this team, we need to look carefully at the race weekend: what we did; what we didn't do; and what we could have done better. We will be very self-critical to understand what we need to do to make sure that we don't experience anymore of those issues that rob us from fully exploiting our true potential.

Q. Fernando and Nelson both delivered spirited drives in the race. How did you view their performances in Canada?

BB: Fernando was fantastic all weekend - he was right there and consistently at the front of the pack. He was happy with the car, even though he didn't get as much running as he would have liked and did an outstanding job, especially in qualifying. Ultimately he did make a mistake and lost the chance of some points, but that does happen when you are pushing to the limit.

Nelson's qualifying position was a bit disappointing and his performance did not really reflect what we thought he would do based upon practice. But then in the race he turned it around again - he was pushing hard, driving aggressively, although ultimately he retired with brake trouble.

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Q and A with Toyota's Tadashi Yamashina
Tadashi Yamashina is Chairman and Team Principal

Tadashi Yamashina
The French Grand Prix marks a year since you became Chairman and Team Principal, how has it been?
I have enjoyed it very much and I have especially enjoyed getting familiar with all the team members and the different cultures within our team. I know the performance and the team work of all my colleagues is getting better and better. Everyone is very motivated and one of the big jobs for me is to encourage all the people in our team, not only the race team but also the team members back at the factory, in every department. I want to encourage all of them and I am enjoying this job very much.

Is your role exclusively in Formula 1?
The main part of my job is Formula 1; I would say 90% of my time is focused on this but I must also take care of Japanese motorsport, with Super GT, Formula Nippon and Formula 3. NASCAR in the United States is taken care of by Toyota Racing Development USA.

What is your reaction to the news about Ove Andersson passing away?
This was very sad news. Ove was the first Team Principal of Panasonic Toyota Racing and he achieved a great deal with Toyota in rallying, Le Mans and in establishing the Formula 1 team. It was a big shock to hear about his accident and obviously everyone at the team is very sad.

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A lap of Magny Cours with Alex Wurz
Magny Cours
"What I like about Magny Cours is the fact that there is a bit more time at the end of each day. No-one rushes off anywhere because there's nowhere to go, so people have more time to sit and talk.

"The circuit is quite nice because of the fast chicanes, but it's always difficult to get the set-up right because a very small change in track temperature can affect lap times by as much as two seconds per lap. It can get very slippery.

"From a driving point of view, the circuit has a nice rhythm and throws up different challenges. The double left-hander after the start-finish straight is taken flat-out, before the long right-hander called Estoril. It's tricky because you get a lot of rear end instability on entry, understeer mid-corner and oversteer on the exit. You also have to floor the throttle without being able to see the exit.

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The technical challenges of Magny Cours
Round eight of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship takes the Honda Racing F1 Team to Magny Cours, a picturesque village situated in the Burgundy region of the Loire Valley, for the French Grand Prix. The 70-lap race takes place at the 4.411km (2.741-mile) Circuit de Nevers.

After the glamour of Monaco and the cosmopolitan city of Montreal, Magny Cours provides the F1 circus with a quieter, more rural backdrop. The French Grand Prix is the oldest Grand Prix in the world. The first race was staged in June 1906 and since the inception of the World Championship in 1950, the race has been staged at seven different tracks throughout France. It has been run at the Circuit de Nevers since 1991.

Michael Schumacher has the best record of any driver at the track, having won eight races between 1994 and 2006. Rubens Barrichello, meanwhile, has scored three podiums, while Jenson Button's best result is fourth in 2005.  CIRCUIT DE NEVERS - THE TECHNICAL CHALLENGE

The track surface at the Circuit de Nevers is very smooth, but the idiosyncrasies of the asphalt provide the teams with some of the biggest technical challenges of the race weekend. A small change in the track temperature can have a big influence on grip levels, so the engineers have to monitor any changes closely and alter car set-up accordingly.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • F1 fans push ahead with Fuji lawsuit
  • Alonso admits Renault departure possible
  • Aus GP boss short on detail after F1 talks
  • Hamilton blows $400,000 on number plate
  • Patrick yet to accept Honda test offer - Fry

F1 fans push ahead with Fuji lawsuit
(GMM)  More than 100 irate spectators have now filed legal action against new Japanese grand prix venue Fuji Speedway.

The 109 plaintiffs claim organizers failed to provide adequate toilet, convenience and other spectator facilities for the formula one event - the first at the venue for years - last September, the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun said on Tuesday.

It also emerged following the 2007 Japanese grand prix, now hosted at the Toyota owned facility following years at Suzuka, that some badly planned grandstand seats featured obstructed views.

The suit filed with the Tokyo District Court on Tuesday also alleges that spectators were stranded outside the circuit in the rain at one point due to transport problems.

The plaintiffs are seeking 32 million yen (about $300,000) in damages.

Alonso admits Renault departure possible
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has left open the possibility that he will leave the French owned formula one team Renault at the end of 2008.

"I do not know what is going to happen," the Spaniard told reporters in Madrid, where he received the 'V Premio Dialogo' prize, celebrating the burgeoning friendship between Spain and France.

"We have improved the car a bit and I hope that by the end of the year we will be aiming for podiums and victories," the 26-year-old former double world champion added, according to the news agency EFE.

"At the end of the year we will see where Renault is and then make a decision," he said.

Alonso said his R28 single seater will sport some improvements at Magny Cours this weekend, but he admits that he was expecting better this year after switching from McLaren in 2007.

"The truth is that we have not been so good so far," he explained.  "It's worse than we expected because we are far away from where he wanted to be."

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Daly also adds FF1600 win in Canada
Conor Daly celebrates one of his two wins, on the top step of the podium, on Father's Day in Canada
In addition to winning the 6th round of the Skip Barber National championship at Mosport Park, Ontario Canada on Father's Day, Indeck/Cytomax driver, Conor Daly also added the sixth round of the Ontario Formula Ford 1600 to his win column.

Having led convincingly on Saturday, June 14th, from his front row starting spot, the top three cars all left the road at high speed when they hit oil from a blown engine of a lapped car.

On Father's Day it all came good for Daly in the Formula Ford 1600 race as he went on to win his second race of the weekend. After a race long tussle between championship leader, Matt White and Shannonville winner, Shane Jantsi, Daly won his first Canadian FF1600 race of the season after finally taking the lead with a daring outside pass at the high speed turn eight at the end of the Andretti straight. Daly, who set a new race lap record for FF1600 cars at Mosport in May, also set fastest lap of the race.


Great LeMans photos
A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I was just looking at your photos by Gary Parravani from the 24 Hours of LeMans.  They are exceptionally well done.  They capture the allure that makes LeMans so great.  I didn't see those photos of Tom Kristensen celebrating after the race anywhere else.  Thank you.  Mike Smith


Dennis pays tribute to the late Ove Andersson
Ron Dennis has paid tribute to the late Ove Andersson, heralding the former Toyota team boss as “a true gentleman”.  Andersson, a former world rally driver, and later team owner and boss of Toyota, was killed last week in a classic rally crash, aged 70.

McLaren Group Chairman and Chief Executive Ron Dennis expressed his deepest condolences to Andersson’s family describing the Swede as one of motorsport’s most passionate and loyal supporters.

“While Ove Andersson forged his reputation in the world of rallying, I came to know him better during his role as Team Principal of the Toyota Formula 1 team,” said the Englishman.

“The entire motorsport world mourns the passing of one of its most passionate and loyal supporters - a man who was always a true gentleman off the track and a fierce competitor on it. On behalf of the McLaren Group, I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to his family and friends during this difficult time.”

The Swede crashed while competing in the Milligan Vintage Trial. He had a frontal collision around a blind corner.


ACO to look into flying cars
The Automobile Club de l'Ouest, organizer of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, promised an urgent investigation into a series of aerial accidents that have befallen prototypes this year.

The ACO made the pledge after another car flipped, this time during qualifying for the 24 Hours. Hideki Noda took off in the Kruse Schiller Motorsport Lola-Mazda LMP2 car after getting sideways into the Dunlop Curve. Noda's Lola was the sixth car to take off so far this year. The RML MG-Lola became the seventh when it went into the air during the race.

"We have to work urgently with the FIA to make sure the cars remain stable," said Le Mans sporting boss Daniel Poissenot. "Our first thought was only to modify power outputs for next year, but we realize we will have to look at the aerodynamics as well."

Poissenot suggested that a downforce reduction to lower cornering speeds was one way of increasing cars' stability. He said that there would be no knee-jerk reaction without a thorough investigation of all of the recent accidents.

ACO boss Jean-Claude Plassart also said he was "hoping" to have a level playing field between diesel- and gasoline-powered cars for next year. AutoWeek


I've never given up hope to re-enter F1
With his NASCAR career over, Villeneuve longs for a return to F1, a return that will never happen - he's too slow now.
Former World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, who finished second in this weekend's Le Mans race, said that he would love to return to F1 if the opportunity would occur. The Canadian driver ended his F1 career during the 2006 season after BMW Sauber opted to give Robert Kubica a chance in the F1.06.

Jacques Villeneuve said to Italian racing magazine 'Autosprint': "I'm not saying that I don't want to return to Formula One. I'm open to the idea, certainly with the new technical situation. To be honest, I have no idea if it would be possible. I have never given up hope to re-enter F1. I have driven in some other series, but that was only because there were no vacant seats in F1. If the opportunity would occur, certainly with the new regulations, I would love to get back to work."


Kubica unfazed by Alonso or Rosberg to BMW rumors
Robert Kubica is refusing to comment on rumors that Nico Rosberg could be heading to BMW next season.  With Nick Heidfeld under pressure to perform after failing to match his teammate's pace this season, rumors are doing the round that he could be replaced at the end of the year.

This has led to speculation as to who would take his race-seat with Kubica recently being questioned about reports that it could be Fernando Alonso.

"I do not know what the future holds but, if we do both drive for BMW, we would have a lot of fun," he told El Pais.

However, now there are reports that Heidfeld's replacement could in fact be Williams driver Nico Rosberg.

Kubica, though, says it doesn't really make a difference to him who occupies the second BMW next season.

"For me it doesn't change anything if it's Nick or Nico: my teammate is just one of 19 other drivers who I must beat," he told La Stampa.  "Regarding contracts, that is not my job, it is taken care of by someone else."


Lawyer behind discrimination suit talks
Brian France called a lousy CEO
Benedict Morelli -- the lawyer for Mauricia Grant in the $225 million discrimination lawsuit against NASCAR -- took note that there was one other intriguing headline over the weekend: Nationwide Series officials Tim Knox and Bud Moore were both suspended, with pay, for what the sport's CEO, Brian France, called "violations in NASCAR policy." France didn't give specifics on what prompted the action while defending his company on Saturday, but both are accused in the lawsuit of exposing themselves to Grant -- an African-American co-worker of theirs who was fired in October 2007. In a 45-minute interview with SI.com before those suspensions, Morelli shared some of his thoughts on the case. "I look at this as an opportunity for NASCAR," he said from his offices in Manhattan. "There are a number of things that have to go on. NASCAR ultimately has to pay a lot of money -- but they have to do more than that. They have to try to legitimately change the culture. In a lot of ways, a lawsuit like this could benefit them if they make the necessary changes." Morelli says his client is willing to take a stand, and knows it will be a long fight. More at Sports Illustrated


Jewish Ecclestone again attacking Nazi loving Mosley
Alleged Nazi lover Max Mosley heads up the FIA
Jewish Bernie Ecclestone heads up the commercial side of F1 and  is not going to stand still for a Nazi-lover to run the FIA.  The war is on!
Last week Bernie Ecclestone seemed to be relatively conciliatory towards the FIA, but this week he is back on the attack again, banging on the drum of a breakaway Formula 1 series.

"What the FIA doesn’t have, which is the most important thing for them, is an agreement with the teams which they would have with a Concorde Agreement," Ecclestone told The Times. "The teams can do what they like. At the moment what we are trying to do, to keep sponsors happy, is say we can’t break away, but it could well be that that will happen. There is no agreement between the teams and the FIA. There is a commercial agreement that has been signed by the teams and FOM, so the teams can do what they like."

Ecclestone went on to say that Mosley cannot be involved in the percentages of the profits that go to the teams.

"Max has nothing to do with finance," he told the newspaper. "The FIA has a clear, clear, clear agreement and signed agreement with the European Commission that they are the regulators of the sport. They are not anything to do with money. If Max comes back and says we should give more money to teams, I will tell him to mind his own bloody business."

Be that as it may, Mosley does have the right to veto a change of ownership if the FIA is not happy with a new commercial rights holder.

Ecclestone says that F1 cannot make any decisions at the moment.

"People don’t know what’s going on," he said.. "If you are a big, big organization, you don’t know what decisions to take. I am responsible to our shareholders, the teams and the manufacturers, who have an awful lot of money invested. Max is responsible to the people in wherever who have got no money invested and nor has the FIA got money invested - all they’ve got is money that comes from Formula 1. If there was no Formula 1, the FIA would be in serious trouble."

Ecclestone has also suggested to the newspaper that Jewish businessmen with an involvement in F1 do not want to be associated to the FIA President because of allegations that he was involved in a Nazi-themed orgy. Mosley is taking legal action in France over the suggestion that there were Nazi connotations in his activities.

"The Jewish community controls an awful lot of the finance which comes into Formula 1, directly or indirectly," Ecclestone says. "They say the FIA shouldn’t let somebody like Max represent them." Grandprix.com

[Editor's Note: What the author fails to mention is that Bernie Ecclestone himself is Jewish, so if Mosley is indeed a Jewish hating Nazi lover like the allegations are against him, Bernie will indeed throw Mosley under the bus.  This should get interesting.]


Busch gives up full time Nationwide run
Kyle Busch said on TNT's pre-race show he won't race a Nationwide car next weekend in Milwaukee. The Cup series is in Sonoma, Calif., and getting back and forth is taxing on drivers. Busch also mentioned he won't compete in the Nationwide event at Memphis, which is the same October weekend the Cup series is in Atlanta. Busch said he's cutting back his schedule slightly because he's too far back to win the Nationwide title, so there's no need to make such trips. Roanoke Times

racing news

FCC Chief Recommends Approval of Sirius-XM Merger
U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin is recommending his agency approve Sirius Satellite Radio Inc.'s purchase of XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. The shares of both companies rose.

The only two U.S. pay-radio companies agreed to not raise rates and to sell smaller packages of channels at lower prices, Martin said in a statement. They'll also set aside channels for noncommercial and minority programmers, he said.

``On balance, this transaction would be in the public interest,'' Martin said.

Martin hasn't received assurances his proposal will gain the needed majority vote from the five-member commission, said two FCC officials who declined to be identified. The agency poses the final regulatory hurdle for the all-stock deal, valued at $3.85 billion based on today's closing prices.

Sirius and XM executives told the FCC they won't raise prices for 36 months if the combination is approved, the agency officials said.

Other promises include allowing any manufacturer to make radios, letting consumers purchase individual channels, providing 12 channels for noncommercial use and 12 channels for competing, minority broadcasters, the officials said.

XM spokesman Chance Patterson had no comment. Sirius spokesman Patrick Reilly didn't return a phone call.

Sirius, based in New York, rose 8 cents, or 3.2 percent, to $2.62 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. XM, based in Washington, advanced 43 cents, or 4 percent, to $11.30. Bloomberg News


Risi: Winning LeMans was equal to championship
Risi Ferrari at LeMans
All the hard luck and heartache in the first half of 2008 has been washed away. No matter what happens the rest of the season, Risi Competizione can claim the GT2 championship at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Houston-based team and drivers Mika Salo, Jaime Melo and Gianmaria Bruni scored an eight-lap victory for Risi's first win since closing 2007 with a triumph at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to clinch the American Le Mans Series GT2 title.

"It's a lifetime achievement, especially to do it with Ferrari, and if you are a professional in the automotive world, there is no greater achievement. I can't say enough about it," said team owner Giuseppe Risi, who was a partner with the class-winning Doyle-Risi Racing Ferrari 333SP in 1998. "To me, winning Le Mans is worth winning a whole championship. One talks about Le Mans in very light terms but until you come here and have to grind through the night, hoping that the car holds together, racing against other people you respect and who are highly qualified to come here...and you see drivers who are top level but who have accidents and fall by the wayside."

The manner in which the Risi Ferrari won Sunday was methodical and in a way surprising. Having two of the leading Porsches - Flying Lizard Motorsports and IMSA Performance - crash into each other certainly didn't hurt. Melo drove the opening two stints into the second hour as the Ferrari took a firm hold on the class lead. The trio didn't relinquish the lead except on pit stops and seized control when the second-place Virgo Motorsport Ferrari retired with less than three hours left.

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Short field for Milwaukee
Thirty-four trucks, two short of a full field, are entered in Friday's Camping World RV Sales 200 Craftsman Truck Series race at The Milwaukee Mile.


Q and A with Ed Carpenter

Ed Carpenter
: 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.

Good afternoon, Ed. Thanks for joining us. Ed is in his fifth full season in the IndyCar Series season and fourth driving for Vision Racing and currently ranks ninth in points following a ninth-place finish at Texas. He has five top-10 finishes in the first seven races of the season, including fifth-place finishes at Homestead-Miami and Indianapolis. You've had some pretty good results so far this season, are you happy with how things have gone?

ED CARPENTER : I'm happy with our performance of the race cars we've had on track. To be honest, we should have a couple more top‑five finishes than what we do. You know, we've had some bad things happen to us so far this season, I've had good races going at Milwaukee and got caught up in an accident and could have had a better result than what we ended up with in Kansas having someone stopping in our pit.

We're having a great year. We're really competitive on track. We just need to catch a break on some of these things and see if we can't find ourselves into victory lane or at least on the podium.

THE MODERATOR: Yeah, that's where my next question was going to lead. You've been running up front a couple of times, some of those things out of your control and out of the team's control but what is it for a team, Vision is a great example, but there's others we can probably lump in there as well; but for a team like Vision, what is the next step to really get over the hump and get some podium finishes and even victories?

ED CARPENTER : Well, at Texas we had a bad pit stop, so that was something we controlled. We had other things, not catching breaks, but we were close to getting over the hump. We need a race where we don't have to overcome any adversity or make up for anything that happens, and as soon as we have one of those races where everything just kind of goes our way, I think we should be in position to ‑‑ I should at least in position to fight for a win, where mostly this year I've just been fighting for a top‑five.

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I'll decide on my future at the end of the year - Alonso
Fernando Alonso declared, during a press conference at Madrid, that he will decide on his future towards the end of the season. Last week, it was rumored that the Asturian has to make his decision, whether to stay or to leave the French outfit, before the end of July.

Alonso said during the news conference: "I don't know if I will stay with Renault. It's not been a good year so far and it has been worse than we expected. We have not been on the podium, let alone won a race.

"We have a lot of work to do. I will take a decision on my future towards the end of the year when we'll be able to see how far we have come."


IRL/Watkins Glen race news
In celebration of Independence Day and the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen, Watkins Glen International has teamed up with WENY-Newschannel 36 and the IndyCar Series to sponsor the Indy-Pendence Celebration at Clute Park in the village of Watkins Glen. The celebration will begin at 12:00 PM on Friday, July 4 and will last until the conclusion of the fireworks display that evening. Admission to the Indy-Pendence Celebration is FREE.

"This is the perfect way for us to kick-off our IndyCar Series event weekend and to showcase the wonderful fans that we have in the Southern Tier, to the IndyCar community," stated Craig Rust, president of Watkins Glen International. "We appreciate WENY-Newschannel 36 for offering us the opportunity to partner with them and we are looking forward to making this event a big, must attend, annual festival for everyone to enjoy."

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Helping Montoya connect with fans
Unless your last name is Petty, Earnhardt or Allison, it's difficult for a new race car driver to build a fan base in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Being a foreign-born, open-wheel transplant makes that task even tougher. That's the scenario that Juan Pablo Montoya faces in his second year of Cup competition. 

Wrigley's, one of his sponsors, is helping him build a relationship with the fans. Prior to Sunday's LifeLock 400, Montoya traveled into the infield at Michigan International Speedway and passed out neckties with Big Red chewing gum logos on them, greeted fans, posed for pictures and signed autographs.

"It's a cool event to get closer to the fans, get to meet them and experience a little bit what they go through here," Montoya said. "The passion for the race here is incredible."

The neckties were a Father's Day promotion, but for 15 races this season, when a Wrigley's product is the main sponsor on his No. 42 Dodge Charger, Montoya will participate in this type of fan meet-and-greet. And it seems to be working out well. Accompanied by friend and fellow driver Dario Franchitti, around 50 fans swarmed the Colombian-born driver.

"It's incredible because there are a lot of Spanish-speaking fans here now, everywhere we go," he said of the broadening fan base. "And that's pretty cool to see."

Montoya joined the Cup circuit last season, became only the third non-American driver ever to win a Cup event and took home Rookie of the Year honors. He made a name for himself in open-wheel racing as the 1999 CART champion and winner of several Formula One and IndyCar races.

So how do fans of other forms of racing compare to NASCAR?

"They are probably more passionate and very loyal here to the sport and the drivers," Montoya said. "In Europe there are more fans of the car than the driver. Over here it's more driver than the car." Detroit Free Press


IRL moves awards banquet to Las Vegas
The stars of the IndyCar® Series and Firestone Indy Lights will travel to Las Vegas for the annual Indy Racing League Championship Celebration, league officials announced. The Celebration will take place Nov. 5, the second night of the 43rd annual SEMA Show, the premier automotive accessories trade show in the world.

The Celebration will take place at The Pearl, a start-of-the-art theater located in The Palms resort. The Pearl seats up to 2,500, with the farthest seats just 120 feet from the stage.

The Palms is a first-class resort and will be an outstanding venue to celebrate our 2008 season, said Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division of the Indy Racing League. Coordinating our celebration with the SEMA Show is a great way to showcase the league and its series to the automotive industry. Many of our drivers, teams, manufacturers and sponsors participate in the show. I have no doubt that Las Vegas will make for one of the more memorable stops for the celebration.

Las Vegas will be the seventh city the Indy Racing League Championship Celebration has visited since 2000, when the champion was crowned at the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis, home of the Indy Racing League corporate office. The following year the celebration took place at The Speedway Club in Fort Worth, Texas, while the 2003 event was staged at the House of Blues in Chicago. Disney's Epcot Center and the cruise ship Disney Wonder hosted the Championship Celebration in 2003 and 2004, respectively, and Paramount Theatre in Hollywood, Calif. was the site in 2005. For the last two seasons, the Championship Celebration has taken place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Drivers, teams and sponsors will experience a social atmosphere during the awards ceremony, which will be highlighted by the presentation of the IndyCar Series Championship Cup and $1 million bonus to the IndyCar Series championship-winning team and driver.

Afterward, guests will continue the celebration at Rain, a club at The Palms that features waterfalls and an elevated dance floor lit up by fireballs.


Toyota cars to feature black bands in France
Toyota will honor Ove Andersson at French GP
(GMM)  Toyota's formula one cars will feature black this weekend as the Japanese marque mourns the death of Ove Andersson, its first team principal.

Swede Andersson, 70, was killed while competing in an historic rally in South Africa last week.

"To mark his passing, both TF108s will feature a black band around the monocoque while the design of the team garage will also include black," Toyota on Monday revealed in a preview of the French grand prix at Magny Cours.

A book of condolence, to subsequently be given to Andersson's family, will be available in the Toyota motor home for F1 personnel to sign, the Cologne based team added.


Trulli stops in at NASCAR race
Is Jarno Trulli NASCAR bound?
(GMM)  Following in the footsteps of David Coulthard, fellow F1 veteran Jarno Trulli has become the next grand prix star to stop in at a NASCAR event.

The Toyota driver's first stop on Sunday, after entering the Michigan International Speedway almost unrecognized, was to visit his former formula one rivals Juan Pablo Montoya and Scott Speed.

"They were the first two people I visited with," Trulli, 33, is quoted as saying by Detroit Free Press.

"They were surprised to see me," the Italian, who last weekend contested the Canadian grand prix, added.

He refused to rule out switching to the popular American stock car categories at some point in the future, even though he admitted that Sunday was his first trackside visit.

"Maybe one day -- a test or something," Trulli said.  "It's all sound and feeling.  Everything is exciting and unexpected."

"It's all so different from formula one," Associated Press also quoted him as saying.

He said he respects NASCAR drivers.

"It's not so easy as people think," he insisted.  "Juan is having a bit of a hard time.  The racing is very tough."

Trulli also enjoyed the anonymity of his Michigan experience, after normally attracting a lot of attention at motor races.

"A few people asked me for autographs when I first arrived but it basically cooled down," he said.

"In Italy or France, you would basically be surrounded."


Petty: NASCAR is not a sport for women
NASCAR is about to pay for not having some common sense, specifically in reference to how the sport responded to Richard Petty's comments in 2006 that NASCAR is not a sport for women.

Now, I'm not comparing his comments to the blatant racist and sexist charges levied by former Nationwide official Mauricia Grant. But why didn't Brian France, Mike Helton, Jim Hunter, anybody, come out with a strong rebuke of Petty's comments?

Sure, he's entitled to his opinion. But his argument, that the past record of female drivers proved they couldn't cut it, was ludicrous. No woman had been in a top-tier ride and given the time to succeed, so the report card was incomplete. Why the hell do you think the Drive for Diversity started?

And don't you think, after NASCAR refused to shout down Petty, that those in the garage with much blacker souls maybe felt emboldened? Isn't it possible that they saw NASCAR refusing to deal with a notable elder statesman's backwards comments and felt secure that their boorish behavior would be overlooked as well?

You can print out HR manuals all day with "zero tolerance" references, but it makes no difference if the real-world culture doesn't match up to those stated standards. When NASCAR refused to slap Petty on the wrist, it at least contributed to a culture that led to this mess. You reap what you sow. Long Island Press


Earnhardt Received Warning From NASCAR
Earnhardt gets a push back to pits from crew after doing post-race celebration and running out of gas
Mark Scheuern/AutoRacing1
Dale Earnhardt Junior broke his winless streak at Michigan Sunday. Not many expected him to win at MIS nor did many figure the team would win the race on a fuel mileage gamble, yet they pulled it off.

In order to do so he had to conserve fuel. When the race had a late caution and set up for a green white checkered flag finish with Earnhardt in the lead, he took steps to save every drop of fuel. While running under caution, Earnhardt would shut his car off then restart it and go past the pace car, turn the engine off and coast allowing the pace car to pass. He would then repeat the procedure.

The procedure Sunday brought back images of a move by Greg Biffle at Kansas last season when he ran out of gas on the last lap and yet stopped before the line.

With that in mind, Earnhardt said he did wonder if NASCAR would have any problem with the move.

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Interview with BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen
Mario Theissen
What does this one-two result mean for you personally and for the BMW Sauber F1 Team?

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen: "Montreal was a first for the BMW Sauber F1 Team: now we all know how sweet victory tastes - not just a victory, but a one-two, of course. This was reward for the enthusiasm, the commitment and the expertise which marks us out as a team. It has been less than three years since the decision was taken to put the team together. We set ourselves ambitious goals and embarked on a two-year development program which has laid the groundwork for achieving these aims. As things stand we are right on schedule - and in this respect, the result in Montreal represents confirmation of the work we've been doing. We are heading in the right direction and will continue along this path."

The one-two means you have already achieved the aim for the season of recording a race win. Are you now setting your sights higher?

Theissen: "Our target for the 2008 season was to turn the two-horse race at the top of the standings into a three-way battle and to win our first race. Our one-two result in Montreal means we have achieved both goals after just seven races of the season. Clearly, we are not about to sit back and relax now. The whole team is hugely motivated and is looking to build on our success so far. However, that does not mean that we will be deviating from our course. The next goal is always the next race, and that is where our focus lies. For us it is all about using our strengths and ensuring that we are there to take advantage if our rivals make mistakes. With this attitude within the team, I think we have a good chance of exceeding expectations again this season."

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • No confirmation yet for new Aus GP deal
  • Ecclestone admits F1 breakaway possible
  • BMW-Sauber chiefs ponder title tilt
  • Hamilton has 'different mindset' - Kubica
  • Schu falls off motorbike again
  • Gascoyne hopes Force India is final stop

No confirmation yet for new Aus GP deal
(GMM)  Ron Walker and Bernie Ecclestone, the central players in talks about the future of the Australian grand prix, are both silent in the face of reports that Melbourne's contract is to be renewed through 2015.

Both, however, are in London, where the negotiations are undoubtedly now in full swing.

But the Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC), of which Walker - the renowned Melbourne businessman - is chairman, would not expand on the unconfirmed reports, while F1 chief executive Ecclestone's office said the 77-year-old is unavailable for comment.

The Melbourne newspaper The Age claims that two issues are central to the finalization of a deal -- the local Victorian government's refusal to host races after sunset, and Ecclestone's request for a substantially higher annual promotion fee.

Ecclestone admits F1 breakaway possible
(GMM)  Despite refusing to admit responsibility for the 'breakaway' rumors, Bernie Ecclestone concedes that splitting with the FIA is a possible solution to formula one's current troubles.

The F1 chief executive initially sided with his former friend and ally of 40 years, Max Mosley, when a British tabloid newspaper exposed the FIA president in a sadomasochistic romp with prostitutes.

Since then, however, 77-year-old Ecclestone has come under immense pressure from elsewhere, including Mosley's key adversaries who have used his allegedly Nazi-themed sex antics as ammunition.

Ecclestone also revealed that Jewish investors, who control much of the money flowing into formula one, are unhappy with Mosley.

"They say the FIA shouldn't let somebody like Max represent them," the Briton said in an interview at the weekend with The Times.

Ecclestone admits that taking F1's ten teams, sponsors, promoters and TV broadcast deals to a separate series - probably to be called 'GP1' - is one possible outcome.

"At the moment what we are trying to do, to keep sponsors happy, is say we can't break away, but it could well be that that will happen," he said.

Ecclestone and the teams are currently pushing for a new Concorde Agreement with the FIA, but Mosley is refusing to agree to their terms and the previous contract has lapsed.

It is clear that Ecclestone and Mosley fundamentally disagree about F1's income.

"If Max comes back and says we should give more money to teams, I will tell him to mind his own bloody business," Ecclestone said.

He accuses Mosley of "time-wasting" because the FIA has no commercial investments in the sport.

But Ecclestone warns: "All they've got is money that comes from formula one.  If there was no formula one, the FIA would be in serious trouble." 

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track news

Bruton to add 50,000 seats at Kentucky
Bruton Smith said Sunday he spent $80 million to buy Kentucky Speedway and plans to invest another $20 million in the track (for a total investment of $100 million), which would include adding 50,000 additional grandstand seats.


F1 wages coordinated attack on LeMans UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I agree 100 percent with the title of this article. The hype and buzz in advance of Le Mans this year was at the highest level I can remember and the race certainly lived up to expectations. Ask anyone at Audi, Peugeot, Corvette or Aston Martin if they were not pushing the entire distance. We are in a new era of endurance racing where races are a series of one-hour sprints. Those who saw what we saw over the weekend will undoubtedly agree, even if they pay the slightest bit of attention.

For the first time in several years, Le Mans is relevant again. The number and name of the manufacturers involved speaks volumes about where the sport is heading. I can't help but feel that Bernie and the FIA feel threatened; after all they appear to be trying to damage Le Mans just as they did at the end of the Group C and CART in the '90s eras. Once again Le Mans is a viable and more practical alternative for constructors wishing to expand and display their technological advances in a series that operates far from the spec platform that F1 is becoming. Audi and Peugeot are locked in with Porsche and Acura being rumored to join P1 in the next couple of years. How long until Mercedes or Ferrari decide to rejoin the fray? Robert Smithson, back from LeMans

06/15/08 On the weekend of its biggest race, all of a sudden key figures are coming out and making disparaging remarks about the 24 Hours of LeMans and its endurance racing.  The attacks remind me of the ones Bernie Ecclestone coordinated against CART in the '90s.

On the weekend of the race widely referred to as being ‘the toughest in the world', leading Formula 1 figures have belittled both the challenge and the appeal of the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours, describing it variously as ‘no race' and ‘a kind of different sport'.

The 2008 edition of the legendary French round-the-clock endurance classic may be a fraught Audi vs. Peugeot affair, but despite no fewer than 30 former F1 aces amongst the 165 drivers entered, current members of the uppermost echelon seem to have little affection for La Sarthe.

“No comparison,” bluntly stated McLaren team principal Ron Dennis – whose Woking-based concern developed the car that went on to win the 1995 race – in an interview with the International Herald Tribune. “You have to have phenomenal reliability, but also the drivers play such a key role, primarily in not falling off.

“It's rarely a race that's raced from beginning to end. You don't race for 24 hours; you compete for 24 hours, and it requires a different strategy.

“There's no race. They all suddenly realize that survival is the important thing. It is counter to the spirit of Formula 1; you very rarely slow down in Formula 1.”

The 61-year-old's sentiments were echoed elsewhere in the grand prix paddock, with both Honda counterpart Ross Brawn and BMW-Sauber star – and new world championship leader – Robert Kubica backing up Dennis' views.

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Skip Barber

Newgarden & Daly Win at Mosport
Gabby Chaves didn't win either of the two BFGoodrich/Skip Barber National Presented by Mazda races at Mosport International Raceway. The 14 year old Colombian had been three-for-three in his Skip Barber National starts – he had missed round two due to prior commitments, a race won by Fabio Orsolon – but at Mosport, Josef Newgarden and Conor Daly had the measure of Chaves. Nevertheless, Chaves had as good a chance to win both races as any of the other major players; the four aforementioned, plus Connor De Phillippi.

Race 1: Different laps, different leaders. This is Newgarden, ahead of De Phillippi and Chaves.

Saturday's race one saw polesitter Chaves take the lead at the start yet before half a lap was done, we saw a three-car breakaway: Chaves, Newgarden and De Phillippi. Heading up the long back straight, Chaves virtually lane-tossed his car to break the draft, but all that did was let Newgarden and De Phillippi fly by him. Now Newgarden led and guess what he did next time up the back straight? Yep, tried to ''break'' the draft with his own version of emergency lane change. So of course that gave De Phillippi the lead – and he actually held the lead for two consecutive laps.

But the next six laps saw a different leader each time, a terrific display of nose to tail and side by side racing. Chaves led, then Newgy, then De Phillippi, then Newgy, then De Phillippi… you get the picture. It was clearly going to come down to the last lap, the usual scenario for a Skip Barber National race De Phillippi led Newgarden and Chaves out of Five, the tight uphill-downhill, double-apex right-hander leading onto the back straight. Newgarden and Chaves drafted past De Phillippi, which meant one last chance for Chaves. He made his move to pass Newgarden for the win by trying to dive underneath in 10, the right-hander onto the front straight. Not only did it not work (and he bent his left-front wing in the attempt), but the move opened the door for De Phillippi to get past Chaves for second place. (Following some dreadful results in the championship's first four races, De Phillippi, this year's Skip Barber Karting Scholarship Shoot-out winner, finally gets a result more reflective of his talent.)

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Brno: Tarquini beats Zanardi in race 2
Gabriele Tarquini held off a charging Alessandro Zanardi to salvage a valuable victory for SEAT Sport from the weekend in Brno, and extend his lead in the championship. It was a breathtaking race. Once the start had shaken out, Yvan Muller held onto his lead from Tarquini in second and James Thompson in third. Chevrolet’s Robert Huff had a good start up from ninth to fifth, as did BMW Italy-Spain’s Félix Porteiro who ended the first lap in fourth.

Tarquini overtook Muller early in the race, as he appeared to struggle for pace, and then attempted to build up a healthy lead, which eventually saved his race. There was a fierce fight for other points' positions as Zanardi, Jörg Müller and Huff clashed on the track, the latter losing his rear bumper; Alain Menu managed to take advantage and slip through. Zanardi moved up to fifth and Müller slipped down the field ending up finishing eighth. There were further notable overtaking moves by Menu on Muller, Zanardi on Thompson and Augusto Farfus overtaking Rickard Rydell and Porteiro on his way to fourth position.

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Brno: Zanardi wins race 1
The BMW cars played with their opposition in the first race at Brno. Taking four of the top five positions the German manufacturer dominated, with only Alain Menu’s Chevrolet in third to upset the party. Alessandro Zanardi took his first win from pole position, but it wasn’t as easy as that. At the start Félix Porteiro came up from third to take the lead into the first corner. Tiago Monteiro clashed with Gabriele Tarquini, which caused him to fall back down the grid. Chevrolet’s Robert Huff also lost places as the race began to settle. James Thompson on the other hand had a good start moving up to sixth to fight with Huff on the first lap and soon managed to overtook him. During the rest of the race Huff lost further positions to Yvan Muller, Augusto Farfus and later Jörg Müller. Another Brit to struggle in the race was Andy Priaulx who, unlike the other BMW cars, seemed to lack pace and ended up battling with the independent drivers in the closing stages.

Zanardi and Porteiro began the race from the front and remained there throughout, ahead of Menu. However, mid way through Porteiro was struggling with understeer and handed the lead to his team-mate who had more speed in his car. The top three drivers edged out a seven second lead over the rest of the field by the checkered flag. Farfus and Jörg Müller who made their way through the field from eighth and fifteenth to finish fourth and fifth demonstrated the potential of the BMW cars.

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Hamilton team hopes to overcome grid penalty
McLaren Mercedes team kicks off the summer’s seven-race European stint by travelling to the Magny-Cours circuit ahead of next weekend’s French Grand Prix.

The French race has become one of Formula One’s perennials, missing just a single appearance on the calendar in 1955. Taking place at the event’s seventh home - Magny-Cours has hosted the race since 1991 - the French Grand Prix has previously been held at Reims, Rouen, Clermont-Ferrand, Le Mans, Paul Ricard and Dijon. This year marks the 58th running of the historic event.

Fresh from celebrating the 40th anniversary of McLaren’s first Grand Prix victory, when Bruce McLaren won the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps on June 9 1968, the team travels to France in a nostalgic mood. Friday sees the official unveiling of ‘McLaren - The Cars 1964-2008’, a sumptuous book that chronicles the marquee’s illustrious technical history.

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Corvette team takes defeat on the chin
For the second consecutive year, Corvette Racing finished second in the GT1 class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Johnny O'Connell, Jan Magnussen and Ron Fellows completed 344 laps in their No. 63 Compuware Corvette C6.R, finishing on the lead lap with the winning No. 009 Aston Martin DBR9 of David Brabham, Antonio Garcia, and Darren Turner. The No. 64 Compuware Corvette C6.R driven by Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Max Papis finished third with 341 laps completed.

The twice-around-the-clock race featured a hard-fought battle for the GT1 title between Corvette Racing and Aston Martin Racing. The No. 63 Corvette C6.R and the No. 009 Aston Martin DBR9 were in lockstep from the start, trading the lead and separated by less than a lap in the running order for hour after hour. Rain arrived at the Circuit de la Sarthe before sunrise and returned as the race drew to a close, compelling teams and drivers to develop new strategies and make difficult tire decisions in the rapidly changing conditions.

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Dutch team wins LMP2 class at LeMans
(L to R) Jos Verstappen, Jeroen Bleekemolen, and Peter van Merksteijn
Twenty years after Jan Lammers’s victory and 37 and 32 years after Gijs van Lennep’s achievements in 1971 and 1976 respectively, the team Van Merksteijn Motorsport by Equipe Verschuur has written a new chapter in Dutch motor racing history by becoming the first-ever Dutch team to score a class victory with a prototype in the Le Mans 24 Hours. In the 76th running of the endurance classic at the 13.629 kilometers long circuit, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Peter van Merksteijn and Jos Verstappen took their Porsche RS Spyder to victory in the LMP2 category in front of 258,500 spectators. For Porsche, this success was historic, too: ten years after the brand’s last overall Le Mans win with the 911 GT1, the Le Mans debut of the Porsche RS Spyder now ended with a commanding class win thanks to the Dutch team.

“I still can hardly believe it, this is just fantastic. This is what we have all been waiting for”, uttered team owner, Peter van Merksteijn after the checkered flag dropped just after three o’clock in the afternoon and the Dutch team was confirmed as the class winner with the Porsche RS Spyder. “Of course, we had hoped for this, but in such a long race, anything can happen, so that you can never be sure. We had to cope with changeable weather conditions and quite a lot of rain during the night and the early morning hours, and again in the closing stages of the race. However, together with everyone involved, the team has done a tremendous job! Porsche has given us a great car and Michelin provided us with the best possible tires for these conditions.”

Jeroen Bleekemolen, who just like van Merksteijn raced for the third time at Le Mans, called it  “the biggest success of my career”. At the start of the race, Bleekemolen had taken care of the first stint and convinced during the race with his consistency. Ex Formula 1 driver, Jos Verstappen, raced at Le Mans for the very first time. “Taking part in such a race is a very special experience. There is nothing you can compare this with: the differences in speed, the length of the track, driving at night…”

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Aston Martin victorious at Le Mans again
The sister car to this No. 007 Aston Martin beat the Corvette team again
Rolex / Jad Sherif
One year on from Aston Martin's first victory in the GT1 class in 2007 -- which was the first Le Mans win since the company triumphed overall in 1959 -- the 009 DBR9 of David Brabham, Antonio Garcia and Darren Turner has claimed another GT1 win at the La Sarthe circuit.

Just like last year, the 009 car -- this time resplendent in the iconic Gulf livery -- took the class victory at Le Mans, for sports cars based closely on their road-going equivalents.

The race was one of the closest in history, in all the classes. The 009 car took the lead within the first three hours of the endurance classic, but it was shadowed constantly by its Corvette rival. Intermittent rain and safety car periods made the duel closer still: at one point halfway through the race 009 and its pursuer were separated by less than four seconds. Even at the finish, the two cars were less than five minutes apart -- having covered more than 4,500 kilometers.

The suspense remained right up until the end of an epic race. More rain fell within an hour of the finish at 3pm on Sunday, making every decision crucial. A wrong tire choice, or the smallest mistake from any of the drivers, would have cost the coveted victory.

As it was, all the drivers as well as the car were flawless throughout the 24 hours. Brabham, Garcia and Turner represented the perfect blend of youth and experience, each bringing their own area of expertise to the challenges of the 14-kilometre circuit.

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Peugeot takes defeat in stride
The No. 9 Peugeot soldiered home in 3rd place
The 2008 Le Mans 24 Hours produced one of the most exciting finishes in years and ended with Team Peugeot Total securing its second consecutive second place with the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP in the famous endurance race. The N°7 car shared by Marc Gené/Nicolas Minassian/Jacques Villeneuve emerged from the rainy early morning as the team's best chance for victory and the trio never gave up the chase.

The N°7 car was joined on the podium at the finish by the N°9 sister car of Franck Montagny/Ricardo Zonta/Christian Klien, while the third Peugeot 908 HDi FAP made it three cars in the final top-five. Inevitably, however, there was a sense of frustration within the team for not having succeeded in pulling off what it saw as its principal challenge of the 2008 season.

Despite the disappointment of not reaping the rewards of all the effort and energy invested in what was always seen as the highlight of Team Peugeot Total's 2008 program, the Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs lost no time in revealing their competitive potential by qualifying on the first three places of Saturday afternoon's grid. The Peugeot 908 HDi FAPs then went on to practically dominate the first 14 or so hours of the race.

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Sunday Notebook from Michigan - 1
If you get into motor sports, you need a weatherman on your staff.  Already storms are brewing to the west of MIS on Lake Michigan, north of Chicago.  The most recent MIS weather forecast now has a 60% chance of thunderstorms, starting around 2:30 pm local time, and the area is already under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch.  The race starts at 2:00 local time.


Ron Fellows to Pilot No. 01 at Sonoma
Ron Fellows
Veteran road course specialist Ron Fellows will pilot the Dale Earnhardt Inc. No. 01 Chevrolet in the Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway on June 22 with a goal of scoring maximum car owner points in the event.  Leading rookie-of-the-year candidate Regan Smith will be back in the car the following week at Loudon.

“We’re very proud of the job Regan is doing and our commitment to him has not changed,” said John Story, Dale Earnhardt Inc. vice president of motorsports. “The progress of the No. 01 team has been significant.  We have a team around Regan now that communicates well together and we expect to see more of the improvement they’ve already made in the second half of the season.

“Our goal for Regan remains winning the rookie of the year title and building momentum that we hope will carry us into 2009.  Ron has a successful history with DEI and he certainly knows his way around Infineon. The opportunity to capitalize on his experience and abilities against some of the other road course experts is our objective.” 

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LeMans: Audi R10 TDI leads after the rain at 21 Hour mark
The battle between Audi and Peugeot keeps thrilling the spectators at the Le Mans 24 Hours. During the night, Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish remained in contact to the leading Peugeot before they retook the lead in the early morning hours when it started to rain.

On the wet track, the Audi R10 TDI cars were a class of their own on early Sunday morning. Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish were able to put almost a full lap on the second placed Peugeot 908. Shortly after 9:30 a.m. Dindo Capello lapped the Peugeot.

The two other Audi R10 TDI prototypes threatened the third placed Peugeot in the rain. Five hours before the end of the race, the top five was covered by just two laps.

The overnight rain is almost a distant memory as the track dries quickly and slicks begin to replace the full wet and intermediate tires that were used for most of the morning's action. With the exception of the N°8 Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (Lamy/Sarrazin/Wurz) which has moved into the top-five, the positions at the sharp end of the leaderboard are unchanged. However, the drying conditions have given the Peugeot team hope that it can retrieve the supremacy it enjoyed before heavy rain began to fall shortly after four in the morning. The N°7 908 HDi FAP is back on the same lap as the leading N°2 Audi. What will surely be remembered as one of the most fiercely fought Le Mans 24 Hours ever is heading for a cliff-hanger ending.

Audi Sport Team Joest’s three Audi R10 TDI cars continued to run without any technical problems throughout the whole night. All pit stops were perfect, and the Audi drivers were almost faultless in the difficult conditions.

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tv news

Andrettis, Patrick featured in Father's Day special UPDATE A reminder that this Father's Day special featuring the Andrettis and Danica Patrick will be shown tonight.

06/14/08 An all-star tribute to famous sports figures and their fathers will air on CBS on Father's Day.  Mario, Michael and Marco Andretti along with Danica Patrick will be featured in the special "Who Made You, An All-Star Tribute to Fathers."  They will share touching and humorous tributes to their fathers.  The program will air at 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm ET on CBS on Sunday, June 15.  Please check local listings for your time zone.  CBS Press Release.

tv news

Weekend USA TV Reminders UPDATE The final TV reminders for Sunday have been added to the schedule below.
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
24 Hours of Le Mans France
12:00am-9:30am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Performance Michigan 
9:30am-10:00am (R) SPEED
Movie: The Racers (1955)
9:30am-11:00am FOX Movie Channel
Check local listings for your time zone
NASCAR in a Hurry Michigan 
10:00am-10:30am SPEED
10:00am-11:00am ESPN2
NASCAR Raceday Michigan
10:30am-12:30pm SPEED
Championship Off Road Racing Primm, NV
12:30pm-2:00pm (05/2008) NBC
NASCAR Sprint Cup LifeLock 400 Michigan
12:30pm-2:00pm (L) -Pre-race
2:00pm-5:30pm (L) -Race TNT
Superbike World Championship Germany
2:00pm-3:00pm (SD) -Race 1
3:00pm-4:00pm (SD) -Race 2 SPEED
World of Outlaws Knoxville, IA
4:00pm-5:00pm (6/6/08) SPEED
Who Made You? An All-Star Tribute To Fathers (2008)
Including Marco, Michael, Mario Andretti and Danica Patrick
5:00pm-6:00pm CBS
Check local listings for your time zone
AMA Motocross Monster Energy Freestone Motocross National Wortham, TX
6:00pm-7:00pm (6/8/08) SPEED
SPEED Report
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Victory Lane Michigan
8:00pm-9:00pm SPEED
Documentary: Birth of a Racer (2007)
Profiling Michael Czysz, who is building a superbike
capable of competing at the Laguna Seca MotoGP
8:00pm-10:00pm Discovery HD Theater
Check local listings for your time zone
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Bruton Smith (Speedway Motorsports, Inc.)
Tim Wilkerson (NHRA Funny Car)
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED
When the Dust Settles - Profiling the Herbst Racing team
as they compete in the Baja 1000

10:00pm-11:00pm (R) Discovery HD Theater
Check local listings for your time zone Discovery  HD Theater
Monday (Partial)
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Replay Cool City Customs 200 Michigan
12:00pm-12:30pm (R) -Pre-race
12:30pm-3:00pm (R) -Race SPEED
All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV Programs, see TVRacer.com

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