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Ambrose to make Sprint Cup Debut at Sonoma  The Australian born driver Marcos Ambrose (No. 21 Little Debbie Ford) will make his series debut this weekend driving for Wood Brothers Racing.

Ambrose has competed in the NASCAR Nationwide and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. In the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Ambrose has posted two top-five and nine top-10 finishes and one pole in 51 starts. He also started 22 NASCAR Craftsman Truck races with two top-five and four top-10 finishes and one pole.

Before making his way to Ambrose competed in and won the 1999 British Formula Ford championship, and in 2001, earned rookie of the year honors in the V8 Supercar Series. He backed up the Rookie of the Year Award with two consecutive titles (2003-04) in V8 Supercar winning 27 races.

NASCAR Family Fun Day at Pocono  On Saturday, August 2, the Pocono Mountains will host the 2nd annual NASCAR Family Fun Day.  The event is being held to show the NASCAR Sprint Cup Family the appreciation of the Pocono Community for the tremendous economic impact of Pocono Raceway’s NASCAR Sprint Cup events.

The invitees include all NASCAR Officials, Owners, Drivers, Team Members of Sprint Cup Teams, & their Families.  Scheduled activities for the fun-filled day will include a trip to Camelbeach, discounted shopping at The Crossings Premium Outlets, and numerous activities at The Inn at Pocono Manor, all free of charge.  More ...

California Highway Patrol sponsors Kvapil at Sonoma  Yates Racing announced that the California Highway Patrol (CHP) will serve as the primary sponsor of the No. 28 entry with driver Travis Kvapil for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Infineon Raceway on June 22nd.  The No. 28 California Highway Patrol Ford will feature a paint scheme similar to that of the CHP’s patrol cars along with the website www.chp.ca.gov.

“I think this is a very cool sponsorship for us this weekend,” stated Kvapil.  “The California Highway Patrol (CHP) works to keep everyone in California safe and I’m honored that they chose to partner with out No. 28 Yates Racing team this weekend at Sonoma.  I’m really looking forward to making them proud, as well as the state of California proud, on Sunday with our No. 28 California Highway Patrol Ford.  The paint scheme for our car this week is very unique and we hope to provide the CHP with a solid performance at our first road-course race of the season.” 

"The goal of this unique one-race sponsorship is to help publicize the California Highway Patrol and the career paths that are available to those qualified candidates interested in a career in law enforcement," said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow.  More ...

Dixon and Wheldon to Donate Prize Money to Iowa Flood Victims  
Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon
Target Chip Ganassi Racing announced today that drivers Scott Dixon (No. 9 Commit Honda Dallara) and Dan Wheldon (No. 10 Target Honda Dallara) will donate the prize money they earn from this Sunday’s Iowa Corn Indy 250 to the victims of Iowa’s devastating tornados and floods. 

“What has happened here in Iowa is an absolute tragedy and my heart goes out to all the victims of the horrific tornados and floods,” said Dixon. “Donating to this cause is the least that we could do and I hope that the race will provide at least a short respite from their struggles.”

“When you see the devastation there you can’t help but feel for all those victims,” said Wheldon. “We as athletes are lucky enough to be in a position to do things like this and I encourage others to do the same."

The severe weather that spawned deadly tornados and flooding has claimed the lives of at least 18 people and forced 38,000 from their homes in Iowa alone. At least 83 of 99 counties in the state are now considered disaster areas.

Dixon, the 2008 Indianapolis 500 champion, is currently leading the IndyCar Series championship race by 35 points after winning four poles and three of the first seven races this year. In addition, the New Zealand native has finished off the podium only once this season.

Wheldon, the 2005 Indy 500 and IndyCar Series champion, stands third in the championship points standings on the strength of his Kansas win and five top-5 finishes.

Dixon and Wheldon will contest the Iowa Corn Indy 250 this Sunday (LIVE, ABC, 1:00 pm ET) in the IndyCar Series’ second visit to the Rusty Wallace Signature Series Track in Newton, Iowa.

RLR blood drive a success  Rahal Letterman Racing opened its doors last week for its first-ever public Red Cross Blood Drive, and the public as well as team members stepped up to provide enough blood to benefit more than 100 individuals.

Even more encouraging to Red Cross organizers was the fact that nearly half of the donors over the two-day drive were first-time donors, including RLR co-owner Bobby Rahal.

"We are very cognizant of our role in the community, and we make every effort to do whatever it takes to help those in need," Rahal said. "The Red Cross and the medical profession in general has a greater need for blood during the summer months and we were lucky enough to be able to help. I am especially proud of those members of our team that stepped up to help.”

Sun-Rich International teams up with Dale Coyne Racing  Sun-Rich International has joined forces with Dale Coyne Racing and driver Mario Moraes as an associate sponsor in the No. 19 car. Moraes will promote the premium lines of coffee, tea, toffee, dessert toppings and praline pecans.
“Our 2008 sponsorship with Dale Coyne Racing, as the only premium gourmet foods sponsor within the IndyCar Series, has been an exciting experience for Sun-Rich International,” company president Mike Larson said. “We look forward to continuing to develop these relationships while fulfilling our mission of giving back to the underprivileged countries that supply our products.”
Founded on a desire to support the economic growth of under-developed countries, Sun-Rich International has explored markets such as Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Nicaragua, Nepal, India, Mauritius and more, discovering unique products of unparalleled taste and quality. As a growing international importer, Sun-Rich seeks partners who share their commitment to endorsing employee wellness programs and kind-hearted labor practices. To further their commitment to philanthropy, Sun-Rich collaborates with several charities in Africa and around the world.
IndyCar Series drivers participate in flood relief efforts  IndyCar Series drivers who fanned out across the state of Iowa this week in anticipation of promoting Sunday’s Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer instead found themselves in the midst of the massive relief effort centered around the historic flooding of recent weeks.
Ed Carpenter, A.J. Foyt IV and Bruno Junqueira assisted and encouraged Red Cross volunteers June 18.
Carpenter and Foyt visited the Red Cross mobile feeding kitchen at New Life Baptist Church in the Quad Cities area. The mobile feeding kitchen, a partnership between the American Red Cross and the Southern Baptists from North Carolina, has the ability to serve 10,000 meals a day. American Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles pick up meals at the kitchen and deliver them to affected areas along the Mississippi River and east to Iowa City.
Carpenter and Foyt met with volunteers, thanking them for their tireless service while signing autographs for them and posing for pictures with them. More ...
MotoGP Contract Extended to 2014  The sound of MotoGP race bikes will continue to reverberate from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at least through 2014, as Dorna Sports, organizers of the MotoGP World Championship, agreed to a five-year extension of the contract previously slated to end after the 2009 race.

The Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix featuring the MotoGP World Championship is Northern California’s largest motorsports event since it debuted in 2005.  MotoGP bikes are purpose-built prototype race bikes made by competing manufacturers Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki, Kawasaki, and Ducati.  Last year’s race winner, Australian Casey Stoner, also went on to win the World Championship.  The “Kentucky Kid,” American Nicky Hayden, won the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix in 2005 and 2006.

“This is tremendous news on so many levels,” said Gill Campbell, CEO of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.  “MotoGP is the world’s premier motorcycle racing series, and we now have the pleasure of hosting it for the next six years.  Everyone from the fans, to the track, to the local community will benefit greatly from this extension.” More ...

PCM to skip Iowa  The PCM team will skip this weekend's Iowa IndyCar race.

“I’ve decided to keep the team at our headquarters in California to re-evaluate and strengthen our program,” said team owner Tyler Tadevic. “Pacific Coast Motorsports and the Mexico City Tourism Board are committed to the IndyCar Series. PCM has a contract with Mexico City through 2009, and this has always been our building year. Along with our partners, we have determined we are going to take some time to re-evaluate our resources and determine  how to strengthen our 2008 program and better prepare for a competitive 2009 season.”

Press Releases aside, if Ethanol is not your sponsor why would you want to run a short oval and risk car damage when your sponsor's guests have no interest in visiting cornfields?

Tadevic continued, “In light of where we are in our effort and the limited resources available, there is no sense in taking risks which could put us further behind. We came into the series late and we cannot compete for a top-ten position in the championship this season, so we are taking this time to build our second car and to focus-on and prepare-for the job ahead. The transition has been extremely difficult, especially with the intensity of the IndyCar schedule. Despite our late start, we have been able to compete and garner publicity for our partners in Mexico City. We’ve also enhanced the fan base for the IndyCar series. The series has been very supportive and we look forward to our future in IndyCar,” said Tadevic.

French GP: Thursday Press Conference  
Massa and Raikkonen listen
Drivers: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber), Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari), Felipe Massa (Ferrari).

Q: A question to all of you first of all. Looking back to Canada, your thoughts on that race, what you learned and your feelings after the race.
Kimi Raikkonen:
Not much to say, really. I didn’t score any points, so it was a bit of a bad weekend but those come sometimes.

Q: Anything to be gained or learned?
No, like I said it was not the weekend we were looking for but that’s racing, so hopefully we will do better here.
Felipe Massa: It was a strange race. I think it was a little bit harder to overtake. It was a difficult race and for sure people who stayed in the track was able to score points. That was also my case. I think it was possible to score a little bit more but in circumstances like that I think it was a good race. I remember after two races I was pretty much behind in the championship and now everything is open, so everybody is pretty close, so I think in a way not so negative a race for me.
Lewis Hamilton: I think it was a pretty cool weekend for me really apart from it not ending the way we wanted it to, but that’s racing.

Q: Anything to be learned or gained?
Not particularly, no.

Q: Robert, obviously a good one for you.
Robert Kubica:
Yeah, winning my first race in my F1 career and the first race win for BMW Sauber with Nick finishing second, so yes it was a great weekend. We had a bit of luck in the end with what was happening at the end of the pit lane. But this is racing. We were a bit unlucky in Monaco or Lewis was a bit more lucky in Monaco. In Canada I was more lucky, so a good weekend all in all. More ...
Iowa expecting 40,000 on Sunday  
Last year's finish
"One of the biggest assets the Iowa Speedway has is our relationship with the IndyCar Series," Iowa Speedway president Jerry Jauron said. "Our first race last year was just outstanding. This race is going to be even bigger and better. We're excited. We have the Indy Lights on Saturday and expect a crowd in excess of 20,000 and on Sunday we're looking at 40,000-plus people here for our Iowa Corn Indy 250. Next year, we're looking at 50,000.

"We think this race has no limits. The open-wheel popularity in the upper Midwest is, I think, the strongest of anywhere in the country. Our staff has been challenged by me that in three or four years down the road we want 70 to 75,000 people for our IndyCar race. Our short-term plans are to continue to make it happen, but as we exceed that 50,000 figure hopefully next year we would contemplate an immediate grandstand expansion that would incorporate about 60,000 permanent seats with the ability to add temporaries to get us to that 70 to 75,000 figure. We do not want our facility to limit our fan ability to watch the IndyCar Series."

Michigan TV Ratings same as 2007  Sprint Cup racing posted a 3.3/9 (5.1 mill.) this Sunday for racing from Michigan on TNT. In its first fair comparison to last year, NASCAR on TNT was flat among all Homes (3.3) and down among M18-34 (-13%), M18-49 (-8%), and average audience (-3%). Press Release
IndyCar Series Drivers to Sign Autographs  Danica Patrick, Helio Castroneves, 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon, Tony Kanaan, Graham Rahal and the rest of the field of IndyCar Series drivers will sign autographs for fans on Friday, June 27, at Richmond International Raceway.  Fans will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with all of the IndyCar Series stars from 5:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. in the Commonwealth Building, located next to the Capital One Corporate Hospitality Pavilion near the midway.

This unique opportunity is an exclusive part of the $15 ticket to NBC12 Day, featuring Pole Qualifying for the SunTrust Indy Challenge race and the USAC National Sprint Car Series “Showdown at Sundown” race.  Friday’s ticket also includes practice for the IndyCar Series, as well as practice and Pole Qualifying for the USAC National Sprint Car Series and Silver Crown Series. More ...

NASCAR feeling the pain at the pump too  Infineon Raceway in Sonoma is selling discount ticket packages to its NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday, and at next week's race, New Hampshire Motor Speedway will choose one lucky fan and pay the rest of their 2008 mortgage.

The reason: NASCAR has run smack into OPEC.

The record surge in gasoline prices, along with the nation's housing crisis and a sluggish economy overall, are taking a toll on stock-car racing fans and tempering NASCAR's popularity.

With Americans digging deeper to pay at the pump, some NASCAR tracks are seeing more empty seats and empty sites at their campgrounds, where thousands of RV owners park their gas-guzzling rigs on race weekends.

Chunks of vacant seats were evident at recent races at Michigan International Speedway, Dover (Del.) International Speedway and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Even Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte, N.C., home of most NASCAR teams, saw declines at last month's Coca-Cola 600.  More ...

Hamilton denies buying $400k number-plate  (GMM)  Lewis Hamilton on Thursday blankly denied reports he blew nearly $400,000 on a personalized number plate.

Reports earlier this week suggested the 23-year-old McLaren driver is now the owner of the plate 'LEW 1S'.

At a news conference ahead of the French grand prix, Briton Hamilton said the reports were untrue.

"No.  Absolutely no interest.  That sounds about the worst number plate I've ever heard of.

"I'm not stupid enough to spend a couple of hundred grand on a bloody number plate," he insisted.

"I wouldn't spend a hundred pounds on a number plate.  A number plate's a number plate.  It doesn't mean nothing to me."

Formula BMW
Ruiz Making the Most of Study Abroad, Formula BMW Style  
Alexandre Ruiz
Brazilian Alexandre Ruiz is taking the summer to do a study abroad program. But while other 15 year-olds may be doing the same thing this summer, it’s likely none of them are studying threshold braking, slip angles and weight transfer. And their campus certainly isn’t anything like the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. But for the Formula BMW Americas driver, that’s exactly what he is doing and enjoying every bit of it.

With two race weekends under his belt that have yielded three Top-5 finishes, one might say that his tutelage is going quite well. But Ruiz remains realistic. He knows that despite the encouraging results thus far, he has more to learn and more to offer.

“I’m really enjoying my time racing in Formula BMW here in North America. It’s been a great experience with all around. From racing at two great tracks (Laguna Seca, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve) to the team (Apex-HBR Racing) to the whole Formula BMW Americas program, I’m learning a lot,” beams Ruiz. More ...

Ecclestone - I can't run F1 breakaway  (GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone has once again raised the specter of a formula one 'breakaway' -- but warns that he will not be able to lead the sport if that does happen.

The F1 chief executive, at war with the out-of-favor FIA president Max Mosley over a new Concorde Agreement, is contractually bound to the Paris body through Formula One Management's (FOM) long-term lease of the sport's commercial rights.

But with the separate tripartite Concorde Agreement now out of date, 77-year-old Ecclestone says one solution to the current impasse for the teams is to simply go it alone without FOM or the FIA.

"I told the teams, if they wish to break away, then do it, but we couldn't be part of it," the Briton is quoted as saying by eatsleepsport.com.

MotoGP rider tries Williams simulator  (GMM)  MotoGP rider James Toseland this week got his first taste of life at the wheel of a formula one cockpit.

The 27-year-old, who is the only Briton in the premier two wheeled championship, visited Williams' Grove factory for a stint in the Toyota-powered F1 team's sophisticated driver simulator.

"Williams had its telemetry engineers there telling me what to do; it was interesting to see what you have to do in an F1 car compared to a motorcycle to get it round the circuit," he said, according to Reuters.

Toseland's outing was reportedly just for fun, but he said he would enjoy getting a chance to drive a formula one car for real.

"After 45 minutes in the simulator I was only three seconds a lap slower than Williams race driver Kazuki Nakajima so it wasn't too bad," he added.

MotoGP races at Britain's Donington Park this weekend.

8,888 free tickets given away for Vegas race  Jo Nell Coates has a stake in Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s rising NASCAR fortunes this year.  A very big stake. Coates, of Deerfield, Wisc., is one of 8,888 ticket buyers who will be refunded the price of her 2009 NASCAR ticket in Las Vegas if Earnhardt Jr. captures the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Earnhardt Jr. won Sunday's LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway and stands only 84 points behind series leader Kyle Busch. Coates and the others purchased their tickets for next year's race as part of "Dale Jr.'s South Point Jackpot" at LVMS.

"Our whole family has been fans of Junior for so long, so to say that his win on Sunday raised our level of excitement would be an understatement," Ms. Coates said. "We have 12 tickets in our family, and we want him to win the title so bad. The thought of us winning free tickets if he wins makes things even better."

Earnhardt's victory also gives him at least 10 bonus points heading into the Chase for the Sprint Cup, which begins in September.  "This win probably gives him a lot of momentum heading into the rest of the season," said race fan Art Davoren of Las Vegas, also one of the 8,888 fans who took advantage of the promotion. "There are a lot of good tracks coming up for Junior, so maybe he could get a few more wins before the Chase. I think getting that first one is probably the hardest one. Maybe he will get on a roll now."

Kerkorian's Tracinda Increases Stake in Ford to 6.5%  Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda Corp. bought another 40.8 million Ford Motor Co. shares to build his stake in the second-biggest U.S.- based automaker to 6.5 percent.

The new shares were valued at $253.8 million based on yesterday's closing price and add to 100 million shares acquired earlier. Tracinda's latest purchases include 20 million shares acquired in a tender offer that concluded last week and 20.8 million more bought since June 16, according to a U.S. regulatory filing today.

The disclosure comes two days after Ford Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally and Chairman William Clay Ford Jr. met with Tracinda representatives to discuss the company's efforts to restore profitability.

``We continue to welcome confidence in Ford,'' said Mark Truby, a spokesman for the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker. Tracinda spokesman Tom Johnson declined to comment beyond the filing. Tracinda said in previous filings it endorsed Mulally's efforts to end losses and diversify Ford's product lineup.

Kerkorian disclosed in late April he had acquired 100 million shares, or 4.6 percent. The purchases reported today bring his stake to 140.8 million shares. Bloomberg.com

Corn prices soar - put Ethanol industry under pressure  Floods in the Midwest have wiped out much of the USA's corn crop.  Ethanol producers in the USA make the fuel from corn.  With corn edging toward $8 per bushel the price of Ethanol will rise as will the price of corn consumers eat.  There is much debate - is it more important we feed our families or use the corn for fuel to power our cars?

We have published numerous articles on the world outcry against using farm crops for fuel when people are starving in the world.  It's getting stronger by the day.  The use of alternate fuels is a good idea, but the IRL is of course playing with fire by latching onto the ethanol bandwagon - if the naysayers begin to become too numerous the IRL may find itself looking like a 'bad' guy in the consumers eye.

We like, instead, F1's idea of a hybrid car (KERS) whereby energy is captured and stored and then is available to use for short bursts of extra power when the driver calls for it.  Electric is the future......electric generated not from pollution causing fossil fuels, but from Nuclear power plants and from KERS type systems.  While a 100% electric car is not feasible for racing, a hybrid design that stores and uses electric to produce energy certainly is.

Q and A with McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh  
Martin Whitmarsh
Ahead of the French Grand Prix, McLaren Mercedes CEO Formula 1 Martin Whitmarsh discusses the MP4-23's performance levels, as well as the team's strategy in regards to Lewis Hamilton's ten-spot penalty on the starting grid following the 'Montreal gaffe.'

How confident are you that the MP4-23 will remain competitive once the F1 circus returns to Europe?

"Traditionally, we've always gone well at Monaco and we've recently enjoyed strong pace in Canada, and we remain encouraged by our performance. We feel like we've made substantial improvements to the MP4-23 and, while it didn't exactly pay off in Canada, we go into France in a very positive frame of mind. One of the aims of our winter development program was to improve the car's high-speed performance and we feel we've been able to do that - and both Magny-Cours and Silverstone will give us the opportunities to demonstrate that."

How will you tackle the race knowing that Lewis will be starting ten places further back than usual?

"Obviously, we go to France knowing we only have the capability to field one car on the optimum strategy, so our job will be a little different from normal. But we still expect to extract the very maximum performance levels from both cars. Both Lewis and Heikki are very confident about their chances and we will be working hard with the strategists and engineers in order to provide them both with the optimum strategy for the race."

track news
Speedway seeks OK for land rezoning  International Speedway Corp. is seeking city and state permission to change the zoning of a 214-acre pasture across Williamsom Boulevard from the new Daytona Beach Kennel Club and Poker Room.

However, the company has no special plans for the property except to continue using it for temporary parking during races, a Speedway official said.

The Planning Board will hold a City Hall hearing June 26 at 6 p.m. on whether the city's comprehensive plan should reclassify the land as a commercial amusement area. 

The plan currently reserves it for light industrial use.

The Speedway will build nothing there except a paved lot with 300 to 400 handicapped-parking spaces, said John Graham, Speedway's vice president of public affairs.

It will have access both to Williamson Boulevard and Bellevue Avenue Extension, and shuttles will transfer fans to the track every few minutes on race days.

Graham described the rezoning as a technical change that would give that parcel the same classification as other nearby land owned by ISC.

The land has been used for several years as a dirt parking lot during races. At other times, most of the acreage is used as a cow pasture and hayfield. More at  Daytona Beach News Journal

Dixon leads IRL into 6-week stretch  Brisbane-born Kiwi Scott Dixon will be looking to extend his points advantage over Helio Castroneves when the 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner leads the IndyCar Series field to Iowa Speedway’s Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer, this weekend.

The Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer is round eight of the IndyCar Series of which the ‘home race’ of Dixon, Sydney’s Ryan Briscoe and Queensland’s Will Power – Australia’s Gold Coast Indy 300 – is a part.

The pole winner of the corresponding round last year, Dixon is currently 35 points clear in the championship standings after taking the win in Texas earlier this month - with that win seeing him share the podium with fellow 'Trans-Tasman' driver Briscoe for the second race in a row.

While Dixon was the pole sitter, he isn't the only one with Iowa history on his side with Andretti Green Racing taking the race 1-2 in 2007 with Dario Franchitti leading Marco Andretti across the finish line of what was the inaugural Iowa hit-out.

Also one to watch will be Vitor Meira, who led 71 laps at Iowa last year before finishing ninth. The Panther Racing driver comes to Iowa on the heels of a second-place finish at Indianapolis and 12 led laps plus seventh in Texas where he led 38 laps.

Like Meira, Power also heads to Iowa on strong form, and is looking forward to the ‘maximum downforce’ set-up required at the short tracks such as Iowa and Richmond International Raceway which is next on the calendar.

New A1GP car test photos from Imola  
Albuquerque rates Algarve circuit  A1 Team Portugal racer Filipe Albuquerque reckons the new Poritmao circuit in the Algarve will prove a strong test for drivers when A1GP visits it for the tenth round of the 2008/09 season.

The Autodromo International do Algarve has just been announced as one of at least three new venues on the schedule for the coming season. The circuit is currently under construction and is due for completion in October. A1GP visits the track six months later, on April 12, 2009.

Albuquerque visited the construction site last week, and having seen the track layout taking shape first hand, the 22-year-old is very excited about the prospect of racing on a challenging circuit in the new A1GP Powered by Ferrari Car.

“It looks amazing,” Albuquerque enthused. “You can see the where the track will be because it is already marked out. I went round with a construction engineer and I realized how up and down hill it is – there are lots of elevation changes. More ...

Massa likes Ferraris chances in France  
Felipe Massa
"I am flying from Sao Paolo where have I been since the Canadian Grand Prix to Europe and the last thing I did before heading for the airport to fly to France is watching the France - Italy game in Euro 2008. I have enjoyed watching a few of the games while I have been here with my family. As for the actual championship, I would be happy if Portugal wins, but I think Holland has a great team.

"As usual when I come here I have a quiet time with family and friends. When I go out in Sao Paolo, I am recognized wherever I go, but that is not a bad thing, because the people here are really nice and give me my personal space. Okay, if I go in a really public place like a shopping mall or to a football game, it can get a bit difficult, but in normal restaurants or other places I go, I never have any problem. People come and ask me for an autograph or to have their picture taken with me and that's really nice.

"I was not at the last test that Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro carried out in Barcelona last week, but of course I was in touch with my engineers to find out how things had gone and the results seem reasonably positive. We had three good days there and that means I am expecting to have a really competitive car for Magny-Cours. It is a nice track that usually suits the characteristics of our car. In recent years, people would say that Canada and Monaco suited McLaren better than Ferrari, while it was the other way round in France and Britain, but I don't think that is really the case this year, as apart from any other factors, we have to consider the BMW team in this equation. This year in Monaco Ferrari had the whole front row of the grid, even though I think we had more fuel than McLaren and in Canada our race pace was very good too. In other races we have all been very close. But I hope we will be very competitive this weekend. I like Magny-Cours: I came second here last year, having started from pole, but then I lost a bit of time in traffic and I also came third in 2006. It's a good track for me. Let's hope we can repeat last year's one-two finish, but maybe in a different order!"

Raikkonen: "I need a good result"  
Kimi Raikkonen
I don't remember when I had such a great lust for winning! The Team had prepared a car, which was able to be strong on all the tracks, but it didn't go well during the last races. We especially had different problems during the last two races. I don't like looking back and think about what happened at the last race. I don't carry bad thoughts with me, because that would just make me loose time, as you can't change the result anyway. It's much better to concentrate on the upcoming GP and try to get the best result possible.

The last two races were a disappointment, caused by different problems. But I know that Ferrari has taken a great leap forward on this track compared to last year. It's a shame that the points we were able to gain do not reflect our real potential, but I think that we'll be very competitive on the upcoming street tracks at Valencia and Singapore.

Now we're heading back to Europe to tracks, which have been built to be used by racing cars. I think that things will look really different at Magny-Cours, compared to the last GPs. The smooth surface of the French track, its demanding corners and the quick changes of direction will underline the characteristics of the F2008.It was here in France last year that my season practically started all over again; and this is what I need now, after the two races with no points. I like this track and I think that it's perfect for our car. I think we'll be competitive and that we can go for the maximum result.

All the races are important and one point can make the difference, like in 2007. This year will be an equally balanced Championship and that's the reason why you always need to bring home something.  Kubica is leading the standings and, apart from the first race, has always collected some points. Hamilton will start further back, due to the penalty. But you should never underestimate McLaren: we have to give our best to keep them behind. We'll bring some new technology and here the Team is giving its best, but that is what also our competitors do.

Over the last days I had the possibility to chill out a bit, although I took part in some marketing events. It was great to spend some time by the sea with my best friends and I could also watch some football matches: I don't have a preferred team but I really like to watch a good match! 

French GP - A fixture of Formula 1 calendar  
Start of the 2007 French GP
The French Grand Prix has been a permanent uninterrupted fixture on the Formula 1 calendar since the World Championship began in 1950 and the first win for a car bearing the Prancing Horse emblem came two years later courtesy of Alberto Ascari. Traditionally, this has been a successful event for the Scuderia, with a total of 16 wins on French soil, seven since 1997, including a one-two finish for Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa last year. Another more recent tradition is speculation that the Gallic race will lose its place on the calendar, but whatever opinions people hold regarding the rural out of the way location of Magny-Cours, the tradition of maintaining continuity of the famous "Grandes Epreuves" is an important historical element worth preserving alongside the move to more modern venues.

Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro arrives in France having picked up just a meager ten points from the last two races. This sounds a familiar tale after the Monaco and Canada Grands Prix, which had not been strong races for the team in the past, but this year, while admitting to some minor mistakes from within the team, it's fair to say that bad luck and Safety Cars had something to do with the lack of points, because car performance certainly wasn't lacking. The frustration at failing to capitalize on the potential of the F2008 is tempered by the strengthened confidence that the team is currently moving in the right direction. More ...

Q and A with Toyota's Pascal Vasselon  
Pascal Vasselon
Q. Do you like Magny-Cours?

Pascal Vasselon: I do like Magny-Cours - I have to do otherwise it seems not many people do! From my point of view, it's a really good place to race because it has an anti-stress environment. There are no distractions and no extra pressures; everything is about the racing.

Q. After the city races in Monaco and Montreal, do you appreciate the contrast of Magny-Cours?

PV: Personally, yes, I look forward to working somewhere with fewer distractions. Funnily enough, things seem to get done much quicker in Monaco and Montreal and the team are leaving a bit earlier than usual.

That isn't the case in Magny-Cours - I don't know why! There is much more of a community feeling in the paddock there, which I really enjoy. Also, we are in a very French part of the season after French-speaking races in Monaco and Montreal so I have to say I appreciate that.

Q. Are you sad to hear this is the last Grand Prix at Magny-Cours for the foreseeable future?

PV: Of course I am sad if Magny-Cours drops off the calendar, but I am especially sad because we don't know what is happening next. It wouldn't be so bad if we knew the race was going to Paris or wherever but at the moment it doesn't seem like there is a clear plan.

Q. Can you imagine a Formula One season without the French Grand Prix?

PV: Considering the French history in Formula One and the French passion for motorsport in general it would be very strange to have no French Grand Prix. But I'm sure the people concerned are doing everything they can to make sure the French Grand Prix has a future and I'm sure the situation will be resolved soon. More ...

Karun Chandhok according to Proust  
Karun Chandhok
The famous Proust Questionnaire is a series of questions asked to people about their lives, thoughts, values and experience. It is an unusual way to discover or rediscover the GP2 drivers. When asked if he would accept to be the first one to answer the questionnaire, Karun said yes immediately with typical enthusiasm and genuineness.

What is your true virtue?
I’m quite an honest person I think and I am generally very straight and open with myself and the people I work with. If I’ve driven badly or made a mistake I’m the first one to admit it and I think generally teams in the paddock will tell you that I’ve always been quite open about any deals.

What is your main fault?
I’m a bit too honest! I get myself in trouble for putting my foot in my mouth quite often. I can sometimes be a bit too hard on myself I think which hurts my confidence.

What is your favorite occupation?
Uh… Let me think – Being a racing driver of course!

Who is your real life hero?
Alain Prost and Lance Armstrong. More ...

GP2 driver changes  Super Nova Racing announced that as from this week, driver Andy Soucek will replace Christian Bakkerud and joins the team for the balance of the GP2 2008 season.

A persistent back injury beset Christian during last weeks test at the Paul Ricard circuit in France. Reluctantly after advice from his doctor, the Dane wisely decided to take time out to fully recover before deciding on his racing future. The whole team wish Christian all the best and a speedy recovery.

Team Principal David Sears commented: “The Super Nova team are extremely sad that Christian Bakkerud has been forced to stop through his injury, and hope he gets better quickly. We would also like to welcome back Andy Soucek, who has already showed great form with the team in Istanbul. We believe Andy is a real charger, and will immediately be on the pace. We are all looking forward to him completing the rest of the season, and fighting at the front of the field for the championship.”

The team are already in Magny-Cours, preparing for the fourth round of the 2008 GP2 Main Series.

In other teams, Fisichella Motor Sport International welcomes Marko Asmer while 2007 GP2 runner-up Lucas di Grassi joins Barwa International Campos team. Finally, Michael Herck and Davide Valsecchi  – both injured respectively in Bahrain and Istanbul – return to the competition this weekend in France with DPR and Durango.

GM delays truck overhaul  General Motors Corp. has indefinitely put off plans to re-engineer a next generation of full-size pickups and SUVs amid plummeting sales of large trucks, the automaker said Wednesday.

Instead of overhauling big trucks like the Chevrolet Silverado pickup and GMC Yukon SUV in a few years, GM will save money and resources by improving on the current models launched in 2007. Delaying a remodel of the trucks also gives GM time to factor in the effects of new federal fuel economy mandates.

GM could save $250 million to $300 million by putting off that makeover for just one year, said analyst Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics LLP in Birmingham.

The next generation of full-size trucks was scheduled to go into production in 2013, according to GM's labor contract with the United Auto Workers.

"We're going to focus on improving the current trucks until we see where the market goes," GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said.

Drivers a bit irked at Helton's tone  Jimmie Johnson said that last week's drivers meeting called by NASCAR president Mike Helton may show a disconnect between NASCAR and the drivers, teams and car owners who are actually competing the races.

Helton told the drivers that NASCAR is tired of hearing drivers complain about the winged car. And Helton reminded drivers that they make a good living in the sport -- which is, after all, a family-owned business. Helton pointed out that fans are a big part of the equation, that they are spending good money to watch, and that drivers should takes the fans into consideration.

Some drivers accepted the edict, basically to "shut up and drive." Others didn't like the tone. Tony Stewart said he wasn't sure what Helton would allow him and other drivers to say now. Johnson said that drivers may know the fans -- and the big picture -- better than NASCAR officials do. More ...

Manchester welcomes BMW Sauber F1 Team Pit Lane Park  As the excitement builds for this year's British Grand Prix in July, motorsport fans throughout the region are in for a high-octane surprise, as Formula One comes to Manchester (GB) for the first time ever. To celebrate the highlight on the British motorsport calendar, the BMW Sauber F1 Team will install its interactive Pit Lane Park at the Trafford Centre from 4-6 July.

The Formula One theme park will be open to all visitors, free of charge and offers unrivalled access to the sounds, power and dynamics of the world's most exhilarating and high-tech sport. Following the excitement of the team's maiden Grand Prix victory in Canada last weekend, the BMW Sauber F1 Team will be striving for another thrilling race at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, on July 6. The team's Polish driver Robert Kubica currently leads the Drivers' Championship, four points ahead of Lewis Hamilton (GB).

Situated in the car park of the Trafford Centre, the BMW Sauber F1 Team Pit Lane Park will feature a state-of-the-art 110-metre asphalt track, including two turning circles to create exciting tire-smoking theatrics. Throughout the three days, BMW drivers demonstrate their extraordinary command of both the Formula One and Formula BMW FB02 race cars.

Augusto Farfus (BR), competing for BMW Team Germany in the World Touring Car Championship (FIA WTCC), will be driving the BMW Sauber F1 Team car on each of the days. Marcus Ericsson (SE), reigning Formula BMW UK champion, will demonstrate his skills in the FB02 on Friday. Local hero Matt Howson (GB) will take over the wheel of the Formula BMW car on Saturday and Sunday. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Drivers threaten strike over license fees
  • Ecclestone daughter bags F1 paddock job
  • Rain possible for French grand prix
  • Coulthard muses 'plans' for life after F1

Drivers threaten strike over license fees
(GMM)  Formula one drivers are threatening to boycott the British grand prix next month, according to reports.

They claim the radical increase to the cost of their mandatory FIA superlicenses this year was unfair.

Previous to 2008, superlicences cost drivers just 1,690 euros plus 447 euros per point scored in the most recent world championship.

But the World Motor Sport Council in January approved an increase in the cost of a superlicense to 10,000 euros, plus 2,000 euros per point.

It means that reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen's 2008 license cost 230,000 euros.

The German specialist magazine Auto Motor und Sport reports that the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) is requesting an urgent meeting with FIA president Max Mosley prior to the forthcoming Silverstone race.

If Mosley does not agree to lower the cost of their superlicenses, the drivers are reportedly prepared to strike.

An unnamed proponent of the threatened strike action said the FIA's fee increase is particularly harsh for drivers like Robert Kubica, the new championship leader.

"He is not yet earning an awful lot, but his license costs nearly a tenth of his income," the driver said.

Ecclestone daughter bags F1 paddock job
(GMM)  F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone's 24-year-old daughter is now a regular in the grand prix paddocks of the world.

She is working for Italian broadcaster Sky, as a paddock reporter on the prowl for "interesting tales to tell", according to the British newspaper Daily Telegraph.

Ecclestone is English, and the daughter of Croatian-born former model Slavica Ecclestone, but she presents in Italian.

Tamara, who said she is determined not to be portrayed as a pointless socialite like Paris Hilton,  also speaks Croatian and French.

"I want a career.  A proper one.  I want to show people that I actually do something and that I'm good at it.

"I want there to be more to my life than being famous for getting out of a car with no knickers on," she added.

Rain possible for French grand prix
(GMM)  Rain could yet again be a factor as the formula one circus convenes for its next grand prix.

As the drivers and media congregate at the Magny Cours circuit on Thursday, a few scattered clouds will fill the sky, according to local reports.

Friday will also be cloudy but dry.

But on Saturday, there is up to a 60 per cent chance of rain for the afternoon, when qualifying for the French grand prix is scheduled to take place.

Sunday will be a warm 30 degrees (C), but there will also be a chance of thunderstorms, albeit slightly lower than on Saturday.

Coulthard muses 'plans' for life after F1
(GMM)  David Coulthard may be warming to the idea that his long career in formula one is nearing an end.

The German specialist magazine Auto Motor und Sport claims that only "a miracle" will now prevent Red Bull Racing from fielding its preferred lineup of Mark Webber alongside Sebastian Vettel in 2009.

Asked about the speculation, Scot Coulthard, who has contested 236 grands prix, coyly replied: "I have plans for the future."

He admits it is unlikely that his plans will involve a switch to another F1 team, and also played down the possibility of following his friend Jacques Villeneuve to NASCAR.

"I doubt it would satisfy me," Coulthard said.  "After formula one, everything else is a step down."

Auto Motor und Sport reports that the most likely next move for Coulthard is a management role at RBR, but it is also rumored that he has been offered a spot as an expert pundit for British television in 2009.

Tracy to appear on NASCAR Now  UPDATE A reminder that Paul Tracy will be a guest on NASCAR Now on Thursday night, June 19.  Tune in to hear Tracy discuss his future plans.  The program airs at 6:00 pm - 6:30 pm ET on ESPN2.

Paul Tracy
With the racing season in full swing, Paul Tracy has decided that it is his turn to jump on board.  The 2003 Champ Car champion has been idle since Forsythe Racing made the decision to forego the opportunity to join the Indy Racing League. 

Since the month of March, when Tracy was rendered rideless for the first time since his pre-school days, he has been relaxing with his family and taking advantage of different testing opportunities that have been presented to him. 

On Thursday evening, Tracy will be appearing live on ESPN’s NASCAR Now to talk about life, racing and his future plans.  If you know PT at all you know that he has a plan, and it is more than likely a great one.  More ...
Juan Pablo Montoya Transcript from Sonoma  
It’s been a year since your memorable victory in Sonoma.  Can you reflect on that win and this year’s race?

JPM: Last year was a very special moment for us. It was a tough race because we were really good in every practice, but went out in qualifying and really struggled.  We couldn’t really understand why.  We came from the back of the race and we knew from where we started that we really needed to play the strategy of fuel.  Fuel would be the key for the race.  We played it, and it came out perfectly.

What are your thoughts on this track?

JPM: It’s a cool racetrack. I actually did my driving school here in 1992 here when it was called Sears Point.  It was the old track when I did it.  I loved it when I did it. It’s funny that on TV you don’t see all the inclinations, uphill and downhill.  People don’t really see that on TV, and it’s a shame. You forget how much up the hill you go up Turn 1 and into Turn 2.  It’s cool.

A lot of drivers say that this is a tough place to pass.  Do you feel that your experience gives you an advantage when it comes to passing?

JPM: The thing is you’ve got to remember is that all these guys most of their lives run 90-percent of the time on ovals and 10-percent on the road courses.  For a guy like me, until I came to NASCAR, I’ve been racing since I was five years old. Before I came to NASCAR, I’ve done maybe 16 races on ovals, and every other race in my life was on road courses.  So, you learn to pick your places to pass maybe a little better and maybe you’ve got more experience, but that’s it. More ...

Robby Gordon still without a sponsor  NASCAR tracks aren't the only ones falling victim to these tough economic times. The teams are feeling it, too.

Even though he is a winner at Infineon Raceway, and has finished in the top 10 three times on the road course, Robby Gordon is bringing an unsponsored Dodge to Sonoma this weekend.

"It surprises me that we have an all-black (no sponsorship) car, especially with our record on the road courses and how competitive we were last year at Sonoma.  It probably shows you how tough the marketplace is out there right now as far as people spending money going racing and using it as a marketing outlet," said Gordon, a longtime resident of Orange. "I don't know how we've gone this far down the road with an open car. We have to step up and deal with it.  I think the biggest thing is that we'll show how good our race team is this weekend and sponsors will know that there is an open opportunity here." OCRegister.com

racing news
Bachelart to Drive for the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium  
Geoffroy Theunis and Eliott Bachelart
Eliott Bachelart has been chosen to represent his native country of Belgium in the highly-competitive Formul’Academy Euro Series rounds at Spa during the weekend of the 24 Hours of Spa later this summer. Bachelart, the son of Conquest Racing team owner Eric Bachelart, will drive for the RACB (Royal Automobile Club of Belgium) National Team on what many call the world’s nicest race track.

Every year, a few hours before the start of the Total 24 Hours of Spa, the Formul’Academy Euro Series race takes place in front of thousands of spectators. This year, two rounds of the single-seater spec-series will be contested August 1 and 2. With his participation in the double-header weekend, young Bachelart will join the likes of four-time Champ Car Champion Sebastien Bourdais and Frenchman Franck Montagny as drivers who have competed in the Formul’Academy Euro Series.

“Eliott is the perfect kind of driver that we are looking for for this program,” said Geoffroy Theunis, a representative for the RACB Sport. “At only 16, without a lot of single-seater experience, he has already demonstrated his talent.” More ...
NASCAR.COM and TNT Launch 'RaceBuddy'  When NASCAR fans across the country gather this summer to watch NASCAR on TNT, they'll have one more way to watch the drama on the track unfold – with RaceBuddy, NASCAR.COM's live online companion coverage for TNT's six-race NASCAR Sprint Cup Series telecasts, which begin June 8th with the Pocono 500 presented by EA Sports NASCAR '09.  RaceBuddy is an animated character (click link below for image) who lives on NASCAR.COM, the official site of NASCAR, and also will make appearances on TNT to remind fans of the unprecedented live coverage available on the site during all six of the TNT races, including live feeds from the Pit Road Cam, In-Car Cameras, Battle Cam, Race Robo and Mosaic View.  RaceBuddy will ride shotgun with viewers during the race by showing fans how to interact through online chats, answering poll questions and submitting questions to "Ask the Booth" which will be answered during the pre-race coverage and the race telecast by TNT announcers Bill Weber, Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach.  From on air to online, RaceBuddy serves as a multiplatform companion designed to bring fans closer to the race action.

Click here for a link to RaceBuddy:  www.nascar.com/tnt

"The integration between TNT and NASCAR.COM allows NASCAR fans to become completely engaged in the race before, during and after the television coverage by providing an opportunity to interact with the telecast and with other NASCAR fans online," said Lenny Daniels, senior vice president of Turner Sports production and new media.  "Turner Sports is a leader in utilizing technology to offer fans innovative ways to consume the sports they love via cutting-edge multiplatform experiences." More ...

"I would like to contact NASCAR, does anyone have a stamp?"  It certainly is an interesting time to be an executive with NASCAR. Suddenly, the public's attention has turned from fascination with the drivers to scrutiny of the management team.

Here at The Daly Planet, we talk NASCAR TV and have done so every day since February of 2007. Lots of diverse topics, both good and bad, have passed through our website and been discussed by our readers.

The Internet is our direct access to NASCAR fans around the world. This Google blog site was free of charge and took about one hour to set-up.

Meanwhile, NASCAR is standing at a true communications crossroad. The company is struggling with new media issues and is years behind in its approach to Media Relations. There was no better example of that than Mike Helton's recent driver meeting. More ...

Grant paints picture of 'ignorant' NASCAR culture  "Mo" Grant spent nearly three years as a race official in the Nationwide Series, working for NASCAR as the only African-American female in such a role. Now she's at the center of a $225 million lawsuit filed against the organization, in which she alleges sexual and racial discrimination, sexual harassment and wrongful termination. She claims she was called demeaning names, subjected to sexual advances -- including two male co-workers allegedly exposing themselves to her -- and made the brunt of graphic and lewd jokes. In her first face-to-face and most extensive interview since the lawsuit became public, Grant, 32, spoke to SI.com this week about some of the background of the suit. During the two-hour, sometimes emotional interview (including an animated discussion about last week's NASCAR race at Michigan), her passion for the sport was evident. More at SI.com
Indy Racing League to make donation to relief efforts in Iowa  The IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights visit the Iowa Speedway this weekend, becoming temporary residents and sharing in the challenges of the devastation that has occurred throughout the state as a result of the recent flooding.
As a small way of giving back to the local Iowa community, the Indy Racing League, IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights teams are combining efforts and will make a donation of $60,000 to the local Iowa chapter of the American Red Cross.
“It was only appropriate that we help anyway we can the people of Iowa who have been through so much in recent weeks,” said Brian Barnhart, president of competition and racing operations for the Indy Racing League. “We ask that you please keep the local fans and community in your thoughts and prayers through this very difficult time.”
On Tuesday, a group of Iowa-based businesses announced a major effort to raise money for Iowans trying to recover from the recent flood and tornado disasters that have devastated more than 80 of the state’s 99 counties. Race2Recovery is established under the Iowa Speedway Foundation, a non-profit tax-exempt entity.
“The recent weather has left many Iowans without food, water, or even a decent place to live,” stated Jerry Jauron, President of Iowa Speedway. “The goal of all the businesses backing Race2Recovery is to jump-start the rebuilding efforts while letting the recent flood victims know they are not alone.”
Joining the Iowa Speedway in spearheading the fundraising campaign are Iowa Telecom, Learfield Sports, WHO Radio and Vantus Bank, in conjunction with a number of other area businesses and radio stations, including DISH Network and Radio Iowa. With several well-known Iowa-based businesses coordinating the Race2Recovery efforts, the group ensures the funds raised will go directly to aid local communities as they begin to recover throughout the summer and fall.
With a goal of raising $1,000,000 before Sept. 20, Race2Recovery fundraising will thrust into high gear this weekend during the Iowa Corn Indy 250 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton. The Hawkeye Radio Network’s Gary Dolphin and the Cyclone Radio Network’s John Walters and others will broadcast live from the Speedway this Saturday morning between 9 am and 11 am.  They will lead the call for donors to pitch in to help their friends, neighbors and fellow Iowans as they recover from the recent floods, tornados and storms.
In addition to donations being collected on-site at the Iowa Speedway, those wanting to donate online are directed to visit www.Race2Recovery.com.
With the IndyCar Series race this weekend, drivers are already in Iowa with media tours scheduled today in Des Moines (Bruno Junqueira) and Quad Cities (A.J. Foyt IV and Ed Carpenter). The speedway and league are working with the Red Cross in Des Moines and Quad Cities to have drivers go out and sign autographs for volunteer workers as well as those at shelters in addition to their previously scheduled media interviews. As of right now, most agencies in Des Moines & Quad Cities can only use trained volunteers to assist in the physical relief efforts.
On Thursday, the Ethanol Promotion & Information Council had previously scheduled to hold one of its pump tours in a suburb of Des Moines. Plans continue to move forward with the pump tour and EPIC is working with the Salvation Army to solicit donations on-site of non-perishable items to aid in disaster relief. Anyone stopping by to take advantage of the low fuel price is encouraged to donate canned food, clothing, etc.
Roush Fenway swaps Nationwide Series crew chiefs  Roush Fenway Racing officials announced Tuesday the team will swap crew chiefs for its No. 17 and No. 60 Nationwide Series entries, effective immediately.

Drew Blickensderfer moves from the part-time No. 17 Ford shared by Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray to the No. 60 Ford of defending series champion Carl Edwards.

Pierre Kuettel, who guided Edwards to the series title last year, will move to the No. 17 Ford.

Busch to drive fans around Kansas Speedway  Former NASCAR Cup champion Kurt Busch will host an Oct. 12 Richard Petty Driving Experience event at Kansas Speedway to benefit the Kurt Busch Foundation to support Victory Junction Gang Camp.

Busch and Mark Martin are scheduled to drive riders around Kansas Speedway as part of the fundraiser.

Rides are $2,000, and spectator admission is $200. Check-in will start at 1 p.m. CDT, followed by a welcome from Busch and Martin at 1:30. The drivers will sign autographs from 1:45 to 2, and the rides will begin at 3. Riders and spectators will also receive gift bags that include an autographed die-cast car and a Busch T-shirt.

Details are available at www.kurtbusch.com.

Aerosmith to serve as primary sponsor for Ganassi's No. 40 Dodge  Chip Ganassi Racing officials announced Wednesday that the video game "Guitar Hero: Aerosmith" will sponsor the team’s No. 40 Dodge driven by Dario Franchitti in the June 29 Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The sponsorship is in conjunction with longtime Ganassi partner Target and Activision, makers of the Guitar Hero video game.

“Historically, Chip Ganassi Racing has partnered with many iconic brands,” team President Steve Lauletta said in a news release. “Once again teaming with Target and now with Activision’s Guitar Hero franchise only adds to the list. But then coupling that with rock legends Aerosmith is icing on the cake. I think we would be hard pressed to find a promotion that is this much fun and with as much fan appeal inside the garage as it does outside.”

As part of the sponsorship, the Guitar Hero consumer bus will be parked in the display area behind the NHMS grandstands on race weekend. Franchitti and Ganassi driver Reed Sorenson will make an appearance at the bus Sunday to try their hand at the game.

Financial terms of the sponsorship were not disclosed.
track news
Ex-ISC employee pleads guilty to extortion conspiracy  William Kilgannon, a former International Speedway Corp. employee, has pleaded guilty to one count of extortion conspiracy in association with the failed attempt to put a race track on Staten Island.

Kilgannon will be sentenced Oct. 9 in U.S. District Court in New York, according to court records.

Kilgannon and one of the people he supervised, Todd Polakoff, were among 62 people indicted in February as part of a wide-ranging, 80-count federal indictment that targeted alleged Mafia members, including three high-ranking members of the Gambino crime family.

Kilgannon and Polakoff were former employees of ISC subsidiary North American Testing Co., which handles design and construction for ISC.

Polakoff worked for NATC between November 2005 and December 2006 as a project manager on the Staten Island development project. Kilgannon worked as director of construction for NATC from May 2005 to December 2006 and was Polakoff's supervisor, according to ISC.

The proposed track site required large quantities of dirt fill, thus requiring trucking contracts that were controlled by the Gambino family, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release issued at the time of the indictment. According to The Associated Press, those charged in the indictment allegedly forced the owner of a cement business to give $9,000 to the two workers affiliated with ISC.

Kilgannon pleaded guilty last week to the count accusing him of accepting the $9,000 check. Polakoff has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

ISC spokesman Wes Harris said the company had no comment. Kilgannon's attorney did not respond to an email request for comment. Scenedaily.com

McNish on XM Radio Thursday  
Allan McNish
Hot off his second victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans – and first since 1998 – three-time American Le Mans Series champion Allan McNish will be a guest on XM’s Powershift program at 9:25 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 18. McNish won at Le Mans for the first time with Audi and took a 4:31 victory with Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen as the diesel-powered Audi R10 TDI won the world’s greatest race for the third year in a row.

McNish and mates drove a flawless race to beat the factory Peugeot of Nic Minassian, Marc Gene and Jacques Villeneuve. The No. 2 Audi led seven times for 178 of 381 laps in setting a modern-day distance record of 5,192.649 kilometers to set a distance record for the current version of the Circuit de la Sarthe. Audi won the race with pitwork and efficiency as it made 32 stops (four less than the Peugeot) that covered just 31:56.

The Series will have a constant presence on Powershift with guests appearing at 9:25 p.m. ET each week with host Joe Costello. Series President and CEO Scott Atherton will be a featured guest on the June 26 show.

XM Satellite Radio is a corporate partner of the American Le Mans Series and the primary sponsor of the Andretti Green Racing Acura ARX-01b. XM Channel 144 also will carry live coverage of the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix from Lime Rock Park starting at 2 p.m. ET.

Over 20 drivers to test at The Glen  Drivers of the Indy Racing League (IRL) including both the IndyCar® Series and the Firestone Indy Lights are expected to test at Watkins Glen International on Wednesday, June 25th. The test is in preparation for the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen and Corning Duels, July 4-6. 

18 competitors of the Firestone Indy Lights are preparing for the Corning Duels at Watkins Glen International on Saturday, July 5 while three IndyCar Series competitors will be preparing for the weekend’s featured race. The Camping World Grand Prix takes place on July 6th at 3:30 PM and will air live on ABC.

IndyCar Series drivers expected to test include Will Power, former Champ Car World Series competitor, in the #8 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia Dallara for KV Racing Technology owned by former Champ Car World Series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven.  Power joined the IndyCar Series following the series unification and won earlier this year on a street course in Long Beach, CA.  Oriol Servia will also testing be testing for KV Racing in the #5 KV Racing Technologies/Plantronics/HP Dallara.  Lastly, one of the IndyCar Series female competitors, Milka Duno, will be testing the #23 CITGO Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara.  Duno is not a stranger to The Glen - and has competed here before with the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. This will be her debut run in an Indy car. More ...

BDR confirms departure of Caterpillar as sponsor  Bill Davis Racing (BDR) announced today that Caterpillar, the team’s sponsor for the past 10 seasons, will not return as primary sponsor of the No. 22 Bill Davis Racing team following the conclusion of the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

“Caterpillar and Bill Davis Racing have enjoyed a long and successful partnership throughout the last 10 seasons, and we are proud of everything we’ve accomplished together, including wins in both the Daytona 500 and Southern 500,” stated Team Owner Bill Davis.  “This is an exciting time for our team, and we are looking forward to the future.”

The No. 22 Bill Davis Racing team continues to impress on the track, and the team remains in the 29th spot in the Sprint Cup Series Owners’ point standings.  The team, led by veteran crew chief Tommy Baldwin, picked up 10 championship point positions over the course of five events and has posted two top-10 finishes and six finishes of 22nd or better in the past eight races.

An announcement regarding the second Bill Davis Racing car for 2009, the No. 23 Sprint Cup Toyota, will take place in the coming weeks. See related rumor

F1 Frenchmen fear for French GP future  (GMM)  Two French formula one luminaries hope their country does not drop off the sport's annual calendar.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has warned that this weekend's event will be the last to be held at the isolated and unpopular Magny Cours venue.

He wants the French grand prix to shift to the vibrant capital Paris, but it looks unlikely that a solution will be ready for 2009.

"It would only be for 2010, and then what happens in 2009?" quadruple world champion Alain Prost is quoted as saying by the news agency Press Association.

Prost said he thinks it would be a "mistake" for formula one to keep moving away from its traditional venues in Europe.

Magny Cours, located in rural central France, is seldom cited as a favorite venue, but Toyota technical boss Pascal Vasselon - another Frenchman - enjoys what he describes as the "anti-stress" atmosphere there.

"I am especially sad because we don't know what is happening next," he said.

"It wouldn't be so bad if we knew the race was going to Paris or wherever but at the moment it doesn't seem like there is a clear plan."

Second man dies after being hit by truck outside NHRA race  MUSKOGEE, Okla. -- A Muskogee man who was struck by a pickup truck outside an NHRA race in Kansas has died.  Kristi Pankratz, a spokeswoman for the Topeka, Kan., police, confirmed Tuesday that James C. "J.J." Jenkins, 52, was the second person to die from injuries sustained when a truck hit several pedestrians who were walking back to their car following the NHRA Summer Nationals in Topeka on June 1.  Jenkins' wife, Joy, told the Muskogee Phoenix her husband suffered a major brain stem stroke Saturday and died at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.  Judy Brewster, 55, of Muskogee, died at a Kansas hospital shortly after the accident. ESPN/AP
Tickets on sale for inaugural Superleague race  
New Superleague car
Football and race fans can now purchase tickets for the opening round of the inaugural Superleague Formula championship at Britain's Donington Park circuit.

Tickets went on sale yesterday for the inaugural event which will be staged on August 30/31.

The Superleague Formula championship will feature the colors of the world's leading football clubs adorned on 300km/h, 750 horsepower, V12-powered single seaters.

Tickets for the two-day event range from as low as £20 (24 euro) for a weekend pass. A weekend advance purchase ticket for a family (2 adults and 2 children) is only £70 (88 euro).

Football and motorsport fans can purchase tickets online at http://www.ticketcorner.com or http://www.donington-park.co.uk/

"After many years of planning and development and a very intensive past 12 months, we are delighted to open ticket sales for our first event," Superleague Formula President and CEO, Alex Andreu said.

"We have had daily calls and emails enquiring about ticket sales from right across Europe. We have a lot of new fans to motorsport that are really looking forward to seeing their club colors in action at more than 300km/h."

Advance Booking
Gold Category (Grandstand seat)
General Admission
Paddock Passes
Family Pack
Normal Sale - Sunday

Gold Category (Grandstand seat)
General Admission
Normal Sale - Weekend

Gold Category (Grandstand seat)
General Admission
Paddock Passes
Family Pack
U.S. sales plummeting, Chrysler's chief says  After months of confident talk that Chrysler LLC anticipated the economic downturn better than other automakers, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Nardelli told employees Tuesday, in a memo obtained by the Free Press, that the last few months -- and this month in particular -- have been even worse than Chrysler anticipated.

Industry-wide sales so far in June have been about 20% worse than Chrysler's expectations for the year, according to the memo.

Nardelli didn't indicate or threaten any job or production cuts like those under way at rivals, but experts saw the message as an ominous sign that the privately held automaker may have to do more.

"I don't think he would really address that unless they were getting some pretty dismal signals that said that we're going to have to prepare for the worst," said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research.

Chrysler sets price of hybrids  UPDATE A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I agree with you that many of the new hybrids will probably not be worth the money when compared to the overall savings in gasoline.  But I remember the oil crisis of the '70s and the very poor responses that came out of Detroit.  My father, with the best of intentions, spent the considerable extra money to buy a diesel Cadillac.  After only 18 months and 3 transmissions he had the car towed back to the dealer and threatened to sue them unless they provided a more reliable car (as compensation my father received a "regular" Cadillac that got 10 miles to the gallon with a strong tailwind).  My point is that while the first attempts to create fuel economy in the '70s were disastrous, our nation would be in much better shape had the fuel economy efforts continued into the '80s and '90s. So while a lot of hybrid cars may not be worth the money now, it's the advance in reliable fuel saving technology that will prove to be greatly worth some of the inevitable missteps. John Ellis

06/17/08 Chrysler LLC has set the price for its first two hybrids--gasoline/electric versions of the 2009 Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango sport/utility vehicles.

The Durango starts at $45,340 and the Aspen starts at $45,570, including shipping fees. The automaker says buyers are expected to get a tax credit worth $1,800.

The four-wheel-drive SUVs will arrive in showrooms in August. They are Chrysler's first use of the Two Mode hybrid technology it developed with General Motors, Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

Some of GM's Two Mode hybrids, including the GMC Yukon and Chevrolet Tahoe, are already on the road. Chrysler says its Two Mode vehicles are about $8,000 less. AutoWeek Magazine

[Editor's Note: Do the math before buying a hybrid.  Depending on the difference in fuel mileage, the cost of a gallon of gas, the price difference of the non-hybrid version and how many miles you drive a year, you may not recoup the extra cost of the hybrid in the time you own the car.]

Zippy has an out if Stewart leaves  Car No. 20 crew chief, Greg Zipadelli insists he doesn't know what Tony Stewart will decide about his future, which, according to his contract, should include at least another year at JGR. But Zipadelli believes a decision is all but made and sounds like a man resigned to a split. "I truly have tried not to get wrapped up in that, questioning about the unknown in my mind,'' he said. "When that comes, I'll worry about that. Right now, I need to worry about me, my guys, my family and this race team and being in the top 12 in points.'' Should Stewart leave, Zipadelli could go with him and extend the longest crew chief-driver reign in Cup. The long-term extension he signed with JGR last season has outs in it if Stewart is not with the organization. But Zipadelli doesn't sound like a man seeking to start over as Stewart would be doing to some degree if he joined a fledgling race team such as Haas. He is happy at JGR and enjoys the security the company offers him and his family, which expanded by one this past Wednesday with the birth of his second son and third child. ESPN.com
NASCAR has image problem to fix  For the better part of two decades, NASCAR has been trying to distance itself from the image of rebel flags and rednecks with a brew in their hands, turning to the Madison Avenue gurus who determine where advertising dollars are spent.

This past week, NASCAR took a proverbial kick in the gearbox when a former technical official with the Nationwide Series filed a $225 million lawsuit, alleging racial and sexual harassment by other officials.

NASCAR had been patting itself on the back extolling its diversity program, but all of that grandstanding just went right down the tubes.

Not only was the complaint filed by a female technical inspector, but she also happened to be black, probably one of the few faces of color among the hundreds of people employed by NASCAR.

It doesn’t matter that NASCAR plays television commercials with blacks, Hispanics and women in racing settings. The truth of the matter is that there are no black Americans in the driver’s seat and no women. Bill Lester made an attempt to climb into the top tier of stock car racing, but was unable to secure sponsorship. More ...

French GP: Braking Analysis  To the right is the Brembo ID Card of the Magny Cours circuit, offered by Brembo, which contains some very interesting information and data about the circuit and the technical features of the braking systems.
Buddy Rice sponsor for Iowa  
Buddy Rice
The No. 15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car driven by Buddy Rice in the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer will be sponsored by Express Auto Delivery of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Rice enters the race with three consecutive top-10 finishes. Last year, he finished fourth in the inaugural IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway.

"This is an exciting announcement for us," Dreyer & Reinbold co-owner Dennis Reinbold said.  "We've got some momentum built up on the race track with our latest string of top-10 finishes, and an announcement like this helps us build some more momentum for the team off the racetrack."

Express Auto Delivery president and CEO Kirk Taylor said the sponsorship will provide a platform to showcase itself regionally and nationally through the TV broadcast.

"I've always been a fan of IndyCar racing, and my interest continues to increase," Taylor said. "I really believe that this IndyCar sponsorship provides a tremendous amount of visibility for our company." Indycar.com

Rahal Conference speaker, blood donor  
Bobby Rahal
Rahal Letterman Racing co-owner Bobby Rahal is scheduled to speak at the International Fuel Ethanol Workshop in Nashville, Tenn.

More than 4,000 attendees are expected this week at the 24th annual conference. A Rahal Letterman Racing display, featuring the No. 17 Ethanol car to be driven by Hunter-Reay this weekend at Iowa Speedway, is part of the convention.

Rahal was among the first-time donors last week as Rahal Letterman Racing hosted its first public American Red Cross Blood Drive.

"We are very cognizant of our role in the community and we make every effort to do whatever it takes to help those in need," Rahal said. "The Red Cross and the medical profession in general has a greater need for blood during the summer months and we were lucky enough to be able to help. I am especially proud of those members of our team that stepped up to help."

Donations will result in helping 117 individuals in Central Ohio and across the nation if circumstances warrant.

Iowa Corn Indy 250: Parking has been tweaked  Iowa Speedway president Jerry Jauron called the traffic woes many fans faced at last year's Iowa Corn Indy 250 "a perfect storm." Now he and other track officials plan to offer solutions.

"We are at a much more improved position than we were a year ago," said Jauron, whose track will host Indy Racing League events Friday through Sunday.

Last year, several parking areas became untenable because of more than five inches of rain that besieged Newton within 48 hours of the race. Traffic bottlenecked because of what Jauron termed "miscommunication," and each issue begat another.

"We had so many things that could have worked perfectly that kind of dominoed," said Jauron, who said ticket sales have not been adversely affected by the devastating flooding the state has endured.

"When one thing went wrong, we had four or five different things - kind of a worst-case scenario. The backup plan can't even be put into effect."

This year, Jauron said, track officials have conducted at least a dozen meetings to discuss parking and traffic plans. More than $500,000 has been spent on improvements - with up to 95 percent of that cost going to create gravel lanes into more mature grassy parking areas. More at Des Moines Register

Live chat today: IRL driver Justin Wilson at noon  IRL driver Justin Wilson joins the Register's Rob Gray for a chat at noon to discuss this weekend's Iowa Corn Indy 250 in Newton. Des Moines Register
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Toyota boss to miss French GP
  • Renault confirm Dino Toso departure
  • Renault will not write off 2008 car
  • Villeneuve would 'love' F1 comeback
  • Alonso cools rumors of BMW-Sauber switch
  • Le Mans winner Audi again rules out F1
  • Mercedes' Haug backs Hamilton after gaffe
  • Aus GP loses support of hosting council

Toyota boss to miss French GP
(GMM)  A significant figure will be missing from the Toyota pitwall as the 2008 season continues at Magny Cours this weekend.

Team boss Tadashi Yamashina, who this time last year replaced his Japanese countryman Tsutomu Tomita in the role, will be attending a Toyota stockholders meeting in Tokyo rather than watching the action trackside in France.

"Actually there was a long discussion because I really, really want to be in France," he said.

"I am sorry to miss this race but I will watch everything from Magny Cours on TV.  I will be supporting the team from a distance and calling the team members regularly to find out how we are doing," he insisted.

Renault confirm Dino Toso departure
(GMM)  Renault has finally confirmed the departure of its aerodynamics chief Dino Toso.

We reported in April that the engineer, promoted to lead the Enstone based team's new CFD centre just last year, would be replaced by Dirk de Beer.

Toso joined Renault from Jordan in 2001, before he began a battle with cancer in 2004.

The team this week said Toso is "seeking new challenges in motor sport".

"My passion for motor sport has always centered on innovative aerodynamics, and been motivated by a thirst for competition," Toso is quoted as saying in a statement.

"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."

Renault will not write off 2008 car
(GMM)  Renault will not be abandoning development of its current car, technical director Bob Bell insists.

After Pat Symonds recently admitted the dilemma posed by the sweeping 2009 regulation changes, lead driver Fernando Alonso suggested it might be a good idea for the French squad to turn all its focus towards designing next year's single seater.

But Bell this week insisted that the R28 is not now performing too badly.

"We're under no illusion that we're going to have to work very hard to keep that level of competitiveness up, but we have an aggressive development program for the rest of the season, and we are confident that we have an adaptable baseline to work from," he said.

Interestingly, in the same official Magny Cours team preview, 26-year-old Alonso is quoted as agreeing that "we must now continue our efforts because we can see the rewards".

"I know that everybody in the team is doing their best to improve our performance, and that will pay off in the end," the Spaniard added. More ...

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