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Rain washes out Iowa IndyCar qualifications
A storm passed over Iowa Speedway, washing out qualifications for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer.  Of course the minute they announced that qualification was canceled the sun came out.

The 24-car field was set by entrant points. Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon and Team Penske's Helio Castroneves will share the front row for the second year in a row.

Starting Lineup


Driver Team Chassis Points
1. Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi Honda Dallara 284
2. Helio Castroneves Team Penske Honda Dallara 249
3. Dan Wheldon Target Chip Ganassi Honda Dallara 217
4. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 204
5. Ryan Briscoe Team Penske Honda Dallara 169
6. Danica Patrick Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 164
7. Hideki Mutoh-R Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 159
8. Marco Andretti Andretti Green Racing Honda Dallara 154
9. Ed Carpenter Vision Racing Honda Dallara 154
10. Oriol Servia KV Racing Technologies Honda Dallara 150
11. Will Power-R KV Racing Technologies Honda Dallara 147
12. Vitor Meira Panther Racing Honda Dallara 136
13. Ernesto Viso-R HVM Racing Honda Dallara 133
14. Ryan Hunter-Reay Rahal Letterman Racing Honda Dallara 132
15. Buddy Rice Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Honda Dallara 132
16. Graham Rahal-R Newman Haas Lanigan Honda Dallara 127
17. Enrique Bernoldi-R Conquest Racing Honda Dallara 125
18. A.J. Foyt IV Vision Racing Honda Dallara 123
19. Darren Manning A.J. Foyt Racing Honda Dallara 119
20. Justin Wilson-R Newman Haas Lanigan Honda Dallara 117
21. Jaime Camara-R Conquest Racing Honda Dallara 102
22. Milka Duna Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Honda Dallara 102
23. John Andretti Roth Racing Honda Dallara 102
24. Mario Moraes-R Dale Coyne Racing Honda Dallara 89
25. Bruno Junqueira Dale Coyne Racing Honda Dallara withdrawn (crash)
26. Marty Roth Roth Racing Honda Dallara withdrawn (crash)


Iowa: Saturday Notebook 1 UPDATE - Thunderstorms, some severe, are building in the Newton, Iowa area, threatening qualification runs.  Dan Wheldon has just started his attempt, but skies are very dark.

-  A heartbroken Arie Luyendyk, Jr. lead everything this weekend at Iowa except the last 15 laps of today's Jen-Weld 100 for the Firestone Indy Lights race.  With 15 laps to go, Luyendyk got caught in traffic, and was passed by Dillon Battistini for the win. 

- Bruno Junqueira had the lower suspension on one side fail and that is what caused him to spin.

- Marty Roth lost control of his car when his rear suspension broke and hit the wall in Turn 2 in morning practice.  Roth stated that shortly before the crash, the rear sagged and one of the front tires actually lifted off of the ground.  The car hit the wall hard enough to punch a hole in the SAFER barrier, breaking the engine block.  He was cleared to drive, but his car sustained too much damage, and he won't race tomorrow. 

-  In the second morning practice, Bruno Junqueira spun in the same spot, and collected Dan Wheldon en route to the SAFER barrier.  All are cleared to drive, but both cars were heavily damaged.  Wheldon went to a backup car, but Bruno broke the tub (and most of the rest of his car), doesn't have a backup car, and won't race. 

- With the withdrawal of Roth and Junqueira, the car count is down to 24 for tomorrow's race.  Mario Dominguez's Pacific Coast Motorsports team (PCM) decided to take a week off to regroup.  Crashes at Indy and Texas, failure to make the Indy 500 and a miserable day at Milwaukee no doubt have the team reeling. 

- If the Ethanol people were looking for bang for their sponsorship dollars, then they've gotten it from the Indy Racing League.  In 2004, the Ethanol industry found that the largest barrier to acceptance of ethanol was a perception that it didn't give good performance.  Paul Dana was able to convince the ethanol industry groups that involvement in the IRL would cure that problem.  Indeed, polls now indicate that performance concerns are no longer thought to be a problem in most of the USA.  In addition, the PR boost has bought the ethanol industry the name recognition that they need to get continued funding for R&D. 

-  Vitor Meira  is the best Indy driver no one has ever heard of, including second-place finishes in the Indy 500 in 2005 and 2008.  After crashing his car at Milwaukee, his team thrashed all night to get it to run on Sunday.  Vitor stayed with the team, at one point going on a coffee run causing his Bimmer to smell like coffee for a week after making a Starbucks run during the late-night thrash ("23 epressos please...").  He's been running in the top 5 in practice, and should he win tomorrow it shouldn't come as much of a surprise to AutoRacing1 readers. 

-  There are two Ferraris in the driver's parking lot.  AutoRacing1 is hard at work to find the owner of the F430 (red) as well as the older 300-series black model.  Stories are also abounding in the press room of rental cars being abused in the hands of IRL drivers who are testing the limits of their vehicles, a la Cole Trickle in "Days of Thunder." 

- Who says that Indy car people don't enjoy good racing?  There are lots of bleary eyes in the garage area as many drivers and crew members went to see the midget cars at nearby Knoxville in the 7th annual Knoxville Midget Nationals. 

- Cedar Rapids is as bad as the TV coverage claims.  IF you can imagine an entire city with all of their belongings -- soaked with filthy water — stacked out on the curb, then you've got the right idea.  Now that the river has gone back to normal levels, the entire downtown is covered with dried mud and dust, and the locals are praying for a day or two of rain to wash the dirt away.  This race is being staged only because hundreds of EMTs and law enforcement officials from surrounding stated volunteered their time in Iowa over the past two weeks.  Tim Wohlford reporting from Iowa


Road racer Battistini mops up Indy Lights field again
European road racer trained Dillon Battistini has won another Indy Lights oval race, beating polesitter Arie Luyendyk Jr. by 1/2 second.  More to Follow.....



Driver Start Pos Diff Gap Status
1 Dillon Battistini (15) 2 ... ... Running
2 Arie Luyendyk Jr. (26) 1 0.4948 0.4948 Running
3 Ana Beatriz (20) 6 2.7089 2.2141 Running
4 Brent Sherman (16) 5 2.8920 0.1831 Running
5 Pablo Donoso (22) 10 2.9664 0.0744 Running
6 Jeff Simmons (2) 3 3.2590 0.2926 Running
7 Raphael Matos (27) 8 3.5227 0.2637 Running
8 JR Hildebrand (25) 7 3.5400 0.0173 Running
9 Richard Antinucci (7) 14 4.3933 0.8533 Running
10 Marc Williams (24) 18 4.6108 0.2175 Running
11 Franck Perera (55) 9 4.9390 0.3282 Running
12 Andrew Prendeville (5) 17 5.1897 0.2507 Running
13 Micky Gilbert (54) 20 5.7559 0.5662 Running
14 Logan Gomez (23) 15 5.8181 0.0622 Running
15 James Davison (11) 13 7.3363 1.5182 Running
16 Bobby Wilson (17) 4 10.5639 3.2276 Running
17 Robbie Pecorari (43) 11 1 lap 1 lap Running
18 Cyndie Allemann (18) 12 3 laps 2 laps Running
19 Jonny Reid (9) 16 10 laps 7 laps Contact
20 Sean Guthrie (4) 21 37 laps 27 laps Handling
21 Travis Gregg (34) 19 48 laps 11 laps Handling
22 Mark Olson (8) 22 56 laps 8 laps Handling


Mutoh tops Sat. practice 1, Briscoe practice 2
Practice 1 Results
Pos Driver Team Time Behind
1. Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green 17.4023 + 0.000
2. Ryan Briscoe Penske 17.4326 + 0.0303
3. Dan Wheldon Ganassi 17.4371 + 0.0348
4. Marco Andretti Andretti Green 17.4429 + 0.0406
5. Vitor Meira Panther 17.4577 + 0.0554
6. Tony Kanaan Andretti Green 17.5025 + 0.1002
7. Danica Patrick Andretti Green 17.5053 + 0.1030
8. Helio Castroneves Penske 17.5141 + 0.1118
9. Scott Dixon Ganassi 17.5254 + 0.1231
10. Ryan Hunter-Reay Rahal Letterman 17.5768 + 0.1745
11. Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan 17.5801 + 0.1778
12. Ed Carpenter Vision 17.5808 + 0.1785
13. AJ Foyt IV Vision 17.5876 + 0.1853
14. Buddy Rice Dreyer & Reinbold 17.6100 + 0.2077
15. John Andretti Roth 17.6262 + 0.2239
16. Oriol Servia KV 17.6553 + 0.2530
17. EJ Viso HVM 17.6593 + 0.2570
18. Will Power KV 17.6673 + 0.2650
19. Darren Manning Foyt 17.6822 + 0.2799
20. Justin Wilson Newman/Haas/Lanigan 17.7941 + 0.3018
21. Bruno Junqueira Dale Coyne 17.7071 + 0.3048
22. Enrique Bernoldi Conquest 17.7198 + 0.3175
23. Jamie Camara Conquest 17.8042 + 0.4019
24. Mario Moraes Dale Coyne 17.8132 + 0.4109
25. Marty Roth Roth 18.0544 + 0.6521
26. Milka Duno Dreyer & Reinbold 18.8063 + 1.4040

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Pantano wins Magny Cours - GP2 - Race
Giorgio Pantano has claimed yet another win at the Circuit Magny-Cours, outlasting Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean in scorching conditions to cross the finish line well ahead of series returnee Lucas di Grassi and Pastor Maldonado.

The Italian, who historically does well at the French circuit, applied constant pressure to Senna and Grosjean throughout the race, claiming the top spot when both men's cars failed to last the race, leaving the road clear for Pantano's emphatic victory.

Polesitter Senna was fast off the line when the lights went out, with Pantano slicing his way past Grosjean who was under immediate pressure from di Grassi, while behind them Andy Soucek was very slow to get away and Kamui Kobayashi stalled next to him, scattering the field as they tried to find a way by the pair and get on with their own races. Senna could already sense the pressure behind him from Pantano, and the pair was soon swapping fastest laps as they built up a gap back to the rest of the field.

Jerome D'Ambrosio was stuck in traffic in the middle of those following the top pair, and soon came in to make an early stop and get some clear air and make up some time: the gamble paid off handsomely as the rest of the field made their pitstops and then re-emerged behind him until Andreas Zuber finally stopped from seventh and came out just ahead the Belgian. The pitstops came and went, but all eyes were on the top pair as we waited to see what they would do.

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Five drivers meet with Ecclestone
(GMM)  Five formula one drivers on Saturday met with Bernie Ecclestone after qualifying for the French grand prix.

Upon request, the F1 chief executive met with GPDA stalwarts Pedro de la Rosa (McLaren test driver), David Coulthard and Mark Webber (Red Bull), Fernando Alonso (Renault) and Robert Kubica (BMW-Sauber).

It is almost certain they discussed the thorny issue about the rising cost of their F1 'superlicenses', the mandatory FIA document sanctioning their participation at official grand prix events.

Drivers determined in their regular GPDA meeting at the Magny-Cours circuit on Friday that meetings with the sport's officials should now become a priority.

But Grand Prix Drivers' Association chairman de la Rosa insists that reports of a threatened strike for the Silverstone race in two weeks were "just rumors".

"One thing that is clear is that we never suggested a strike," he added.

"We're just not happy about the way (the price increase) was implemented.  All of this talk of strike has just been rumors."


Kubica - No 2009 contract talks yet
(GMM)  Championship leader Robert Kubica on Saturday confirmed that he has not yet clarified his future with the BMW-Sauber team.

It is believed that a contract option exists for the 23-year-old Pole to have his stay at the Hinwil based team extended for 2009.

BMW motor sport director Mario Theissen recently admitted that Kubica's performances this year have attracted "covetous glances" from elsewhere in the paddock, but he does not intend to settle the driver question for a few more weeks.

"We're not talking about next year yet because there is a long way to go and still I think, at least for me, and for BMW it's not necessary to have a deal already done," Kubica said at Magny-Cours.

"We have time," he added.


Stoner takes pole in wet at Donington
Casey Stoner takes pole in the rain
Casey Stoner will start the bwin.com British Grand Prix from pole position, after an amazing qualifying performance.

As the rain continued to fall on Donington Park, Casey Stoner performed the MotoGP equivalent of walking on water in the Saturday afternoon qualifying session. The Ducati Marlboro rider was unstoppable in an amazing hour-long demonstration of 800cc riding en route to his second consecutive pole position of the year, continually lowering his times right up to the final moment.

Stoner eventually settled on a 1´38.232 lap as his ultimate offer, some six tenths of a second ahead of nearest rival Valentino Rossi. After dominating in the dry on Friday, the reigning World Champion has proved that he is ready for any eventuality when the lights go out on Sunday. Rossi, however, is the current series leader, and a rider who has also proved his worth at Donington Park in previous years.

Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen makes his maiden appearance of the season on the front row at the bwin.com British Grand Prix, aiming for a repeat of his 2007 podium, his presence on the front line also marks the first time this year that Bridgestone have taken all three top spots for a MotoGP race.

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Danica Patrick bad for the IRL in long run
Danica spreads it wide for FHM Magazine.  Selling sex is making money for her, but she is ruining IndyCar Racing in the long run according to the study.  In essence sex is not a sport and does nothing to make you a better athlete.  Some say if she spent more time behind the wheel and less time taking her clothes off in front of the camera she would be a better driver
It has been quite a year for Danica Patrick. She became the first woman to win an Indy Car race, coming in first at the Indy Japan 300 on April 20. She also became the first race care driver to pose for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

The good people at Sports Illustrated (SI) never thought to give us Richard Petty in a speedo, but Danica, bent over in a white ruffle bikini, must for some reason have seemed like a winner. In accomplishing this dubious double play, Patrick has revived a debate as old as Sonia Henie skating figure eights at the 1926 Olympics: Does sex sell -- or perhaps more aptly phrased, does sexism sell -- women's sports? Does objectifying women athletes, highlighting their bodies over their skill, putting them in swimsuits or on the covers of yuppie porn like FHM or Stuff, actually increase the interest and fanbase of women's sports? The debate has always had Faustian overtones: Is it worth turning proud women athletes into frat house cheesecake if it's for the greater good, the greater exposure, of the games themselves?

Thanks to Dr. Mary Kane, this is no longer a moral question. The sports sociologist from the University of Minnesota has produced a far-reaching study that shows sex certainly does sell, but alas, it sells only magazines, not sports. Kane and her research team showed a series of images of women athletes putting their bodies on display for a wide-ranging focus group of men and women and found out a very basic truth:

"It alienates the core of the fan base that's already there. Women both aged 18-34, and 35-55, are put off by these images. And older males, fathers with daughters, taking their daughters to sporting events to see their favorite female athletes, are deeply offended by these images."
As for the young men excited to see Danica in leather, spread out on a car: "They want to buy the magazines but they didn't want to consume the sports," Kane said to me. In the end, she feels the research is unequivocal: "Does it increase the interest in women's sports? At least for the seventy-plus people we spoke to, the answer is a resounding no. It does not."

This should be an earth-rattling revelation for every executive in the Women's Tennis Association, the WNBA, and the LPGA tour, who have for decades thought that a little leg goes a long way. Without their leadership, Maxim and company would have to be content with whatever half-wit from the Hills strolled into their studios half-naked that week. But the leadership of women's sports, as Kane argues pervasively, will need more than logic to move away from the abyss of abject objectification.

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Kovalainen to move five places down grid
Heikki Kovalainen
(GMM) Heikki Kovalainen will move five places down the French grand prix grid.

The McLaren driver qualified just sixth at the Magny-Cours circuit on Saturday, but stewards adjudged that he should be penalized for travelling too slowly on an out-lap and holding up Mark Webber.

Both McLaren drivers were penalized for a similar infringement at the close of qualifying in Malaysia earlier this year.

The five place penalty puts Kovalainen, a Finn, tenth on the grid, three places ahead of his teammate Lewis Hamilton, who was penalized for his Montreal crash two weeks ago.


Massa: I screwed up
Felipe Massa put his failure to secure pole position for the French Grand Prix down to the fact that he was pushing too hard on his final flying lap, and overdriving his Ferrari.

"I was overdriving the car a bit too much I think in the final lap and lost a bit of time because of that, just trying to push too hard," Massa said.

"I think front row is good and looking forward very much to the race tomorrow," he added. "The car feels very good. We've had many good races this year where the car has been very strong in similar configuration. I think we got the best out of the car today."


NASCAR monitoring heat and carbon monoxide inside cars
The thermometer hovered at 102 degrees just prior to Friday's qualifying at Infineon Raceway, which means the temperature inside the Sprint Cup cars was much hotter. Not to worry. NASCAR is monitoring the situation. The governing body began last week at Michigan International Speedway monitoring the heat inside the new cars after several drivers complained that they were hotter than the old cars. They also began doing random tests for carbon monoxide to guarantee nobody was at risk. The findings were just what officials anticipated, that cars with proper ventilation, vents and insulation had no problem. For example, the temperature inside the car of Brian Vickers was 130 degrees, compared to 105 for another. "You start looking at the cars and say how can this be, they're all the same?" series director John Darby said. "Well, the 105 degree car didn't have a lot of vents and stuff in it, but they did take the time to insulate the floorboard and put insulation around the exhaust pipes. There's so many little things that make a difference that if you want to do them you can do them." Darby said none of the eight to 10 drivers tested for carbon monoxide at Michigan showed a dangerous level. ESPN.com


No grip from new Mid-Ohio surface
Slippin' and slidin' were the buzz words after Friday's qualifying for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car races today at Mid-Ohio. Pavement at the picturesque 2.258-mile facility has some drivers scratching their heads about the best way to get around the 13-turn layout.

"[The track] is throwing a lot of curveballs at us," said David Donahue, who will start on the pole for today's 5 p.m. Grand-Am prototype feature after posting a top speed of 104.372 mph in his Porsche.

The tires are taking a long time to heat up and the drivers are not feeling any grip. Defending champ Jon Fogarty said he doubted there was much wear on the tires after afternoon practice and qualifying and didn't see the need for a tire change in the race.

"This surface is interesting," Fogarty said. "Definitely strange. I don't know what it is, but it feels really smooth."

The track was repaved in 2006.

Donahue is looking for his first victory of the season despite qualifying no worse than fourth in the first seven races. Cleveland.com


Biffle Re-Signs With Roush
Greg Biffle has reached an agreement on a three-year deal with Roush Fenway Racing. Biffle met with Roush Fenway officials this week to iron out final details. He said a formal announcement, including a new deal with 3M, could be unveiled next week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. espn.go.com


Räikkönen fined for tardy FIA appointment
(GMM)  Despite playing down rumors of a driver strike over the issue of exorbitant FIA fees when he finally arrived, world champion Kimi Raikkonen received a 5000 euro fine from the governing body for being late to Thursday's official press conference at Magny-Cours.

Also with lighter wallets at the scene of the French grand prix are local driver Sebastien Bourdais, who was fined 2,400 euros for pitlane speeding, and Williams' Kazuki Nakajima (400 euros).


Earnhardt Jr. admits he's not a great driver
At Sonoma on Friday, a road course, Dale Earnhardt Jr. admitted what the rest of the world outside of his fan club already knows - he's a very mediocre race car driver at best, riding largely on his late father's coattails.

“It’s impossible to pass. Where do you pass? There’s a couple braking zones, but that’s about it. You just wait on people to screw up.”

In eight career starts at Sonoma, Earnhardt Jr. has never finished in the top 10. He’s finished in the top 15 only three times, and has led a lap in only one event.

“We’re struggling a little bit,” he said. “We always do. I’m not very good at road racing, so we just try to do the best we can. ... I’m just trying to get through the weekend.”

Earnhardt Jr. said he's glad to be sitting third in points with a huge buffer back to the cutoff for the Chase. After all, he believes he won't make it through the Sonoma race without a mistake.

"I'm gonna screw up," he said. "Trust me, I'll screw it up. It's good to know you've got a cushion."


Record Purse At New Hampshire
Featuring one of the most lucrative purses per-mile in NASCAR racing, drivers competing in the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 week of events at New Hampshire Motor Speedway will race for their share of a record purse that totals close to $7 million. The posted prize money of $6,977,328 awaits competitors among four NASCAR touring divisions. The purses for all series have increased from last June's races, and are the highest in New Hampshire Motor Speedway history.

"Our NASCAR Sprint Cup purse is the sixth largest, per-mile, on the series schedule to date," said Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager for the speedway. "They are racing in the seventh largest market (Boston) for a big payout in front of very loyal New England race fans. I can't wait for the green flag to drop next weekend!"

Competitors participating in the NASCAR Sprint Cup LENOX Industrial Tools 301 on Sunday, June 29, will race to claim their take of $5,383,710.

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Scott Pruett Double-Duty Diary - Friday
Scott Pruett
Scott Pruett currently leads the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series with four wins in the season’s first six races in his #01 Telmex Lexus.  He’ll be racing in this weekend’s EMCO Gears Classic Rolex Series race at Mid-Ohio, as well as the Toyota/Savemart 300 Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma, Calif. in the #41 Target car for Chip Ganassi Racing.  Each day, he’ll provide a diary of his attempt to run two races across three time zones.

Friday, June 20

Not surprisingly, today was a busy day.

I arrived at the track here in Sonoma about 7 a.m.  Right off the bat, I had to register and upgrade my Nationwide membership up to a full Cup membership.  Once things in credentialing were squared away, I went and visited with the guys on the team.  We talked about our day and what we wanted to get done in the #41 Target car and then put all of our focus on going racing.

In practice, we just worked on the race set-up and did some long runs.  I think we have a reasonable car.  The consistency was pretty good and overall we ran pretty well. 

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F1 guys won't 'do a Senna' for pole
(GMM)  Jenson Button has played down suggestions that a formula one driver might 'do a Bruno Senna' to capture pole position for the French grand prix.

Senna, the nephew of the legendary late Ayrton Senna, aced qualifying at Magny-Cours on Friday fractions of a second before slamming into the barriers on the exit of the final corner.

It is suggested that - given the proximity of the finish line - the fastest way to complete a qualifying lap at Magny-Cours these days is to literally throw the car through the final bend.

There is no suggestion that Senna deliberately crashed to set pole, but Honda's Button doubts that spinning out of the last corner at Magny-Cours is faster in a formula one car.

"Most of us come off that second curb and if you just try and plant the throttle, you just get wheelspin," he said, according to Speed TV.

"So you don't gain any time from it, even if you drive off to the right on the green stuff.  I don't think it's quicker for us, especially, and I don't think it's quicker for a formula one car."


Theissen dismisses KERS weight fears
(GMM)  BMW-Sauber team boss Mario Theissen has dismissed suggestions that electing not to use a KERS energy-recovery system next year might be the most competitive option.

Teams can voluntarily use the innovation next year, where energy captured under braking can be released by the drivers in the form of a 'boost button' under acceleration.

But with the devices likely to weigh nearly 40kg, it has been suggested that some teams are considering whether they would gain a competitive advantage by simply saving the extra weight and living without the boost in power.

"It is extra weight, but it is an exciting technology because we can apply it to road cars," Theissen is quoted as saying by Spain's Diario AS newspaper.

"I don't think the cars (running KERS) will be slower, because every lap we will have about 85hp extra, perhaps for seven seconds," he added.

BMW driver Robert Kubica, however, believes the arrival of KERS next year will put a higher than normal premium on weight.

"To have a light car will cost the teams a lot of money," he speculated.

"It will maybe even be more dangerous because the parts will be lighter and more fragile and I'm worried that some teams will chose light drivers because it's more advantageous.

"I don't think this is the way to go," he added.

"I've put my views to the FIA, also the GPDA, but I think their answer was quite negative, but we will see."


Andrea Dovizioso fastest in wet at Donington
A wet Donington from the air
Andrea Dovizioso put himself in the driving seat for this afternoon’s MotoGP qualifying run, recording the fastest wet time of the weekend in the final free practice.

A frantic finale to the third MotoGP free practice session saw Andrea Dovizioso walk away with the fastest time of the Saturday morning run. The JiR Team Scot rider was the only participant unable make improvements in yesterday’s afternoon outing, but was back on form as the soaked Donington track threw up a new challenge for the riders.

Dovizioso's quickest time was a 1´43.957 lap of the British circuit, ahead of another rider whose ability to compete to the fullest was in doubt. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa had taken a heavy bump in Friday’s second session, but continued unabated on the spring valve engine-supported Repsol Honda RC212V at just 0.038 slower than Dovizioso.

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French GP: Piquet tops Practice 3
In a surprise, Nelson Piquet Jr. put his Renault atop the time sheets in Saturday morning's third practice session for Sunday's French GP at Magny Cours.  Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel were 2nd and 3rd followed by Nico Rosberg in the Williams Toyota.  All four were assumed to be on qualifying setups. 

Meanwhile Kimi Raikkonen was 5th, but it was assumed he was running in race trim.



Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Piquet Renault 1:15.750 + 0.000 19
2. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:15.759 + 0.009 14
3. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:15.827 + 0.077 21
4. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:15.974 + 0.224 17
5. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:16.003 + 0.253 18
6. Trulli Toyota 1:16.147 + 0.397 20
7. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:16.182 + 0.432 16
8. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:16.235 + 0.485 18
9. Massa Ferrari 1:16.256 + 0.506 17
10. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:16.282 + 0.532 18
11. Glock Toyota 1:16.344 + 0.594 20
12. Alonso Renault 1:16.437 + 0.687 20
13. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:16.545 + 0.795 16
14. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:16.617 + 0.867 20
15. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:16.644 + 0.894 16
16. Button Honda 1:16.651 + 0.901 20
17. Barrichello Honda 1:16.658 + 0.908 17
18. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:16.687 + 0.937 19
19. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:17.365 + 1.615 23
20. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:17.612 + 1.862 21


BMW to announce 2009 drivers in August
(GMM)  BMW-Sauber will likely determine its driver lineup for 2009 in August, team boss Mario Theissen said at Magny-Cours.

It is believed that struggling Nick Heidfeld has a contract for next year, while the status of his teammate Robert Kubica is less clear.

Theissen was asked by Spain's Diario Sport about rumors linking Fernando Alonso to the team for 2009.

"I will not talk about this or any other matter relating to contracts.  We have an agreement with our drivers that prevent us from talking about it," he explained.

The German did, however, acknowledge that Alonso, 26, is one of the F1 drivers he most highly rates.

"Raikkonen, Hamilton, Alonso and Kubica," he said, when asked to list F1's best drivers, "and Massa close to them."

On the same topic, Theissen issued a clear "no comment" to a correspondent of the Spanish newspaper AS.

"We have a very clear policy to not say anything until August.  We will make an announcement then."

But he did say of Alonso's season with Renault this year: "Obviously it is not good for a champion to have a bad season."


Heidfeld - I'm not Kubica's no.2
(GMM)  Nick Heidfeld has rejected suggestions his flagging form in 2008 has made him 'number two' driver to BMW-Sauber teammate Robert Kubica.

Kubica is narrowly leading the drivers' world championship while 31-year-old Heidfeld lags 14 points behind.

But the German told Sport Bild: "The situation has not in itself changed anything.  There has not been and there still is no number one or number two status.

"Robert is driving a strong season," Heidfeld explained, "but it pays to have two strong drivers, in case one has problems, and also so that your teammate has a high benchmark."

Heidfeld said he is getting to the bottom of his current troubles with the 2008 car.

"Yes and no," he explained.  "The last race was not bad -- my problem is that I cannot bring the car far enough forwards in qualifying.

"The numbers in the race are still very good," Heidfeld said.


Donahue wins pole in Mid-Ohio
Running with a new Porsche engine and limited practice time, David Donohue waited until the final minutes of qualifying to shatter the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course track record in qualifying for the EMCO Gears Classic presented by KeyBank, Round 8 of the 2008 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 season.

Competitors will take the green flag Saturday at 5:10 p.m. ET (live, SPEED). The race will run 250 miles, 111 laps on the 2.258-mile circuit, with a two hour, 45-minute time limit.

It was the series-leading third pole position of the season for Donohue, who co-drives the No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley with Darren Law. His fastest lap came on his ninth of the 15-minute session

"During our first practice session today, we had a wheel bearing fail and had to change an upright. That's why we spent most of the session in the garage," said Donohue, who won his eighth Daytona Prototype pole. "Then, we changed engines before the second and final practice, and got in only one lap at the end. Altogether, Darren and I each got in about four hot laps each today. I was very pleasantly surprised to win the pole, because we really didn't get to do much to the car today. It's almost the way it rolled off the truck. But the crew really worked hard to do it - they didn't get a break all day today."

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Danica tops practice as rain hits UPDATE Danica Patrick led 26 drivers in an IndyCar Series Open Test at Iowa Speedway as preparations began for Sunday’s Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Pioneer.

Patrick lapped the 7/8-mile oval in 17.4612 seconds, 184.317 mph in the No. 7 Motorola entry. Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe were second and third with fast laps of 183.419 mph and 183.291 mph, respectively.

Patrick’s rookie teammate, Hideki Mutoh, was fourth, while IndyCar Series points leader Scott Dixon, last year’s polesitter at Iowa, was fifth.

The drivers combined for 1,380 laps in two hours of testing. A second two-hour session scheduled for late afternoon was cancelled due to a mid-afternoon rain storm.

Milka Duno was uninjured in the only accident of the day. Duno’s No. 23 car spun in Turn 2 and made moderate contact with the SAFER Barrier. Duno’s team was forced to pull out its backup car due to the incident.

Additional practice and PEAK Motor Oil Pole Qualifying for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 are scheduled for Saturday.

Heavy rain pounds Iowa Speedway
Dana Garrett/IRL
Like flooded Iowa needed more rain!  Rains soaked the 0.894-mile track after two hours of testing for this weekend’s Iowa Corn Indy 250 and that reduced track time from 4 hours to two hours Friday as the IndyCars took their first laps around the short oval.  Andretti Green's Danica Patrick was fastest followed by the Penske duo of Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe.



Car Driver Team Time Behind To 1st Speed
1. 7 Danica Patrick Andretti Green Racing 17.4612 0.0000 0.0000 184.317
2. 3 Helio Castroneves Team Penske 17.5467 0.0855 0.0855 183.419
3. 6 Ryan Briscoe Team Penske 17.5590 0.0123 0.0978 183.291
4. 27 Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green Racing 17.6041 0.0451 0.1429 182.821
5. 9 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing 17.6160 0.0119 0.1548 182.698
6. 26 Marco Andretti Andretti Green Racing 17.6793 0.0633 0.2181 182.043
7. 17 Ryan Hunter-Reay Rahal Letterman Racing 17.6906 0.0113 0.2294 181.927
8. 10 Dan Wheldon Chip Ganassi Racing 17.6924 0.0018 0.2312 181.909
9. 20 Ed Carpenter Vision Racing 17.7188 0.0264 0.2576 181.638
10. 8 Will Power KV Racing Technology 17.7674 0.0486 0.3062 181.141
11. 4 Vitor Meira Panther Racing 17.7762 0.0088 0.3150 181.051
12. 14 Darren Manning AJ Foyt Racing 17.7969 0.0207 0.3357 180.840
13. 24 John Andretti Roth Racing 17.8013 0.0044 0.3401 180.796
14. 02 Justin Wilson Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing 17.8175 0.0162 0.3563 180.631
15. 5 Oriol Servia KV Racing Technology 17.8223 0.0048 0.3611 180.583
16. 06 Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing 17.8350 0.0127 0.3738 180.454
17. 34 Jaime Camara Conquest Racing 17.8541 0.0191 0.3929 180.261
18. 11 Tony Kanaan Andretti Green Racing 17.8818 0.0277 0.4206 179.982
19. 15 Buddy Rice Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 17.9186 0.0368 0.4574 179.612
20. 36 Enrique Bernoldi Conquest Racing 17.9193 0.0007 0.4581 179.605
21. 33 EJ Viso HVM Racing 17.9237 0.0044 0.4625 179.561
22. 18 Bruno Junqueira Dale Coyne Racing 17.9382 0.0145 0.4770 179.416
23. 25 Marty Roth Roth Racing 18.0802 0.1420 0.6190 178.007
24. 23 Milka Duno Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 18.0830 0.0028 0.6218 177.979
25. 2 A.J. Foyt IV Vision Racing 18.3505 0.2675 0.8893 175.385
26. 19 Mario Moraes Dale Coyne Racing 18.5272 0.1767 1.0660 173.712


DANICA PATRICK (No. 7 Motorola, fastest): “I think that anybody watching could see we were running a more traditional racing line around the track instead of around the bottom. I was able to drive on the bottom for some of the track when I did a sticker (tire) run at the end, but I couldn't do it the whole way around. The racing is going to be a lot more exciting with a lot more passing and just better, in general, than last year.” (What kind of passing do you think we'll see?): "I think it will be easier to pass cars that aren't very good. Last year, everyone was on the bottom, and the trick was you had to go around the top to pass. It seems like it may be more like Richmond, where you have a more traditional line. Everyone still wants to go to the bottom, but you are running more against the wall on the straight. That gives you the opportunity to go mor e underneath. It will make that part a lot better. It will still be difficult to pass, because you can't stick your nose underneath. It won't be like a mile-and-a-half, but it will be a lot easier than last year.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 6 Team Penske, third): “Despite having only one session this afternoon, I think we were able to learn a lot. We made some solid progress with the race setup of the Team Penske car, and I think today was an encouraging start to the weekend. It's my first time running at Iowa Speedway, and so far I'm having a great time. It's a challenging track, and I'm really enjoying the layout of the circuit.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Team Penske, second): “We were working on the basics of setting the car up – fixing little problems here and problems there. We were fixing little by little to keep the consistency, and we seemed to have that. Obviously Ryan (Briscoe) was working on different things, some race setup, and we’re very optimistic for both cars. It’s so tight that we’re looking for thousandths of a second, and everything you change in the car, it makes a difference. It shows on the lap time.” (About tires) “I think we have more grip. Firestone seemed to do a good job with the tires here. I have not tried new tires after a few laps, but it seems to be holding pretty good, and hopefully the weather will cooperate as well Sunday and we won’t have any cold tire issues or anything like that.” (About six consecutive race weekends) “It&rs quo;s going to be grueling. It’s going to be tough on everyone, especially on the guys. But it’s the same for everyone. I’m prepared, and Team Penske is prepared. It’s similar to Indy. You spend a month in Indy and then on to Milwaukee and Texas. It wasn’t six weekends, but it felt like it.” (About the rain) “When it rains, it always cleans a little bit of track. But it is what it is. We’ve had this situation many times before. The good news is everybody was able to spend some time on the racetrack and understand what it is we need to do.”
HIDEKI MUTOH (No. 27 Formula Dream, fourth): “Today was a very productive day for the Formula Dream team. We were able to try most of the things we wanted to do before it started to rain. It would’ve been better if we had more time on the track, but we still have two practice sessions tomorrow, so I am confident that we will be able to do well in qualifying.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing, fifth): “We didn’t run as many laps as the others before the rain came today. In the amount of time we had today on track in the Commit car, our focus was on balancing. Since the last time we were here, there is definitely less grip and a few more bumps to negotiate.”


Luyendyk wins pole for Firestone Indy Lights
Qualifying Friday for the Jeld-Wen 100 Firestone Indy Lights event on the .875-mile Iowa Speedway, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver and speed:
1. (26) Arie Luyendyk Jr., 160.397
2. (15) Dillon Battistini, 159.921
3. (2) Jeff Simmons, 159.845
4. (17) Bobby Wilson, 159.671
5. (16) Brent Sherman, 159.666
6. (20) Ana Beatriz, 159.548
7. (25) J.R. Hildebrand, 159.354
8. (27) Raphael Matos, 159.337
9. (55) Franck Perera, 159.228
10. (22) Pablo Donoso, 158.923
11. (43) Robbie Pecorari, 158.896
12. (18) Cyndie Allemann, 158.874
13. (11) James Davison, 158.663
14. (7) Richard Antinucci, 157.937
15. (23) Logan Gomez, 157.755
16. (9) Jonny Reid, 157.661
17. (5) Andrew Prendeville, 156.778
18. (24) Marc Williams, 156.492
19. (34) Travis Gregg, 156.294
20. (54) Micky Gilbert, 155.978
21. (4) Sean Guthrie, 153.865
22. (8) Mark Olson, no speed


Fiat Drops After Chief Calls Market `Disastrous'
Fiat SpA, Italy's largest carmaker, dropped to the lowest since September 2006 in Milan trading after Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne forecast a ``disastrous'' car market in Italy this month.

Fiat dropped 6.5 percent to 11.75 euros, the lowest since Sept. 11, 2006. That was the stock's biggest decline in almost five months. The shares have slumped 34 percent this year, leaving the Turin, Italy-based company with a market value of 14.4 billion euros ($22.5 billion).

The Italian car market will continue to be weak in June, Fiat's CEO Marchionne told reporters last night in Milan. ``It's the same kind of disaster we have seen in May,'' he said.

Car registrations slipped 18 percent in Italy in May, their fifth straight monthly decline. Fiat's sales of its Alfa Romeo, Lancia and Fiat brands fell 13 percent to 66,827 units last month, with the group's market share rising to 33 percent from 31 percent a year earlier.  Bloomberg.com


AGR/MAF Team Up For Iowa Support
Andretti Green Racing teamed up with The Michael Andretti Foundation this week to gather support for the people of the state of Iowa in the wake of severe storms and flooding that have left much of the state in need.

With the help of AGR's four IndyCar Series drivers, the team staged an online auction for its sponsors this week and raised $10,000, which will be donated to the American Red Cross. Each driver donated one signed item and sponsors were allowed to submit bids for two days.

Michael Fux of Andretti Green-backer oso*fresh set the pace in bidding by acquiring a Randy Owens print featuring and signed by Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti and Dan Wheldon for $3,100. Jim Gehr of Exel laid claim to a signed, race-worn helmet from Marco Andretti for $3,000, while Brian Lauber from Indianapolis-based OneAmerica bought a signed, race-worn helmet donated by AGR rookie Hideki Mutoh for $2,000. Go Daddy.com's Nima Kelly rounded out the charity auction by securing a signed, Danica Patrick-themed Randy Owens print for $1,200. 

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Iowa: Luyendyk tops opening Indy Lights practice
Pos Car Driver Team Laps Time Gap To 1st Speed
1. 26 Arie Luyendyk Jr. AFS/Andretti Green Racing 40 20.0775 - - 160.299
2. 15 Dillon Battistini Panther Racing 35 20.1064 0.0289 0.0289 160.068
3. 20 Ana Beatriz Sam Schmidt Motorsports 44 20.1664 0.0600 0.0889 159.592
4. 4 Sean Guthrie Guthrie Racing 36 20.2210 0.0546 0.1435 159.161
5. 55 Franck Perera Guthrie Racing 39 20.2305 0.0095 0.1530 159.087
6. 43 Robbie Pecorari SWE Racing 46 20.2445 0.0140 0.1670 158.977
7. 22 Pablo Donoso Team Moore Racing 26 20.2473 0.0028 0.1698 158.955
8. 16 Brent Sherman Panther Racing 37 20.2507 0.0034 0.1732 158.928
9. 17 Bobby Wilson Team E 36 20.2580 0.0073 0.1805 158.871
10. 27 Raphael Matos AFS/Andretti Green Racing 42 20.2689 0.0109 0.1914 158.785
11. 18 Cyndie Allemann American Spirit Racing 48 20.2707 0.0018 0.1932 158.771
12. 9 Jonny Reid Integra Motorsports 44 20.2771 0.0064 0.1996 158.721
13. 23 Logan Gomez Guthrie Racing 52 20.3090 0.0319 0.2315 158.472
14. 7 Richard Antinucci Sam Schmidt Motorsports 35 20.3637 0.0547 0.2862 158.046
15. 11 James Davison Sam Schmidt Motorsports 28 20.4095 0.0458 0.3320 157.691
16. 2 Jeff Simmons Team Moore Racing 20 20.4122 0.0027 0.3347 157.670
17. 54 Micky Gilbert Guthrie Racing 41 20.4210 0.0088 0.3435 157.602
18. 24 Marc Williams Alliance Motorsports 44 20.4610 0.0400 0.3835 157.294
19. 25 JR Hildebrand RLR/Andersen Racing 4 20.4800 0.0190 0.4025 157.148
20. 5 Andrew Prendeville RLR/Andersen Racing 11 20.6259 0.1459 0.5484 156.037
21. 8 Mark Olson Michael Crawford Motorsports 57 20.7475 0.1216 0.6700 155.122


RBR to make driver decisions in 'summer'
(GMM)  Red Bull Racing is likely to settle its 2009 formula one driver lineup "in the summer", team boss Christian Horner has said.

The Briton did not, however, want to respond to rising speculation that David Coulthard will be replaced at the end of the season by Sebastian Vettel.

"I would not like to say much about it at the moment," Horner explained to the newspaper Kleinen Zeitung.

"The decision however could be made in the summer," he added. [Note: 7:30 PM ET tonight marks the beginning of summer]


BLIMPIE Announces Sponsorship of Star Mazda's Charles Hall
Reflecting BLIMPIE'S position as a pacesetter for other sandwich shops across the country, the BLIMPIE brand announced today that it has entered into a marketing partnership with race car driver Charles Hall, a rising star of the sport.

Hall, the current point leader in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, will represent BLIMPIE and its theme of "America's Sub Shop" in races in the United States and Canada, said Kate Unger, BLIMPIE's vice president of marketing.  The Star Mazda Championship Series is a proven training ground for future open-wheel superstars.  Supported by both Mazda and Goodyear, all of its races are televised on SPEED.

Hall's car will be affixed with the brand's logos and local store owners will take the partnership a step further by sampling product at regional races across the country.

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Safety car test draws mixed reaction
(GMM)  The proposed change to the safety car rules drew a mixed reaction from the drivers as it was tested at the Magny-Cours circuit on Friday.

After the checkered flag of the afternoon practice session for the French grand prix, race control simulated a safety car period, with marshals holding out 'SC' boards.

Utilizing special software for the standard ECU, each driver was sent a message by race control and had five seconds to respond by pressing a button.

A target minimum lap-time was then calculated and displayed on the driver's dash, which they then had to monitor as they slowly made their way back to the pits.

The proposed system is an alternative to the current situation, where drivers can be unfairly penalized due to the pitlane closing upon immediate deployment of the safety car.

Some drivers, however - such as McLaren's Lewis Hamilton - said after the trial that constantly monitoring the 'delta' lap-time was distracting.

"It still needs a little more work at the moment," he added.

Williams' Nico Rosberg agreed: "It's a bit strange because you have to look at your dash quite a lot and at the same time you're probably going to be passing the incident and everything.

"But we really need to find something to improve the current thing -- it could be a step forward, we will see."

Toro Rosso's Sebastien Bourdais, meanwhile, explained that despite his delta lap-time, the car in front of him was travelling too slowly.

"We will see how it plays out," the Frenchman said.

Reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen seemed happier with the system following the Friday trial.

"I think it could be a good solution because it puts everyone in the same situation and that way, you can't be penalized just by unfortunate circumstances," he said.


NASCAR star fined by State of Tennessee for illegal dumping
Sterling Marlin
Sterling Marlin has agreed to pay fines for two instances of allowing fill dirt to be dumped into a stream, according to a state order. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Marlin came to an agreement Tuesday for Marlin to pay $8,655 for violating water quality laws, spokesperson Meg Lockhart said. According to TDEC’s order, Marlin’s development on Nashville Highway and Columbia Rock Road dumped fill dirt into Haley Branch. The violation was discovered at a TDEC inspection on Feb. 14, 2007. Marlin’s construction operation stopped dumping fill dirt into the stream by March 2007 and a permit was issued by TDEC. Marlin and his Nashville attorney William Penny met with TDEC officials and agreed on the fine for the Nashville Highway violation and one other on Cranford Hollow Road, Lockhart said. Columbia [TN] Daily Herald


Stoner tops practice day at Donington
On a chilly day and a bit of a dirty track, Casey Stoner turned the fastest lap in practice Friday for this weekend's MotoGP race at Donington Park in England.  He beat American Nicky Hayden who was using HRC’s pneumatic-valve engine at a race for the first time. The 2006 MotoGP World Champion worked hard at dialing in the engine, which has a 1000rpm higher rev ceiling than the valve-spring RCV engine.

1. C. STONER AUS Ducati Marlboro Team 1'28.253
2 N. HAYDEN USA Repsol Honda Team + 0.576
3 V. ROSSI ITA Fiat Yamaha Team + 0.656
4 C. EDWARDS USA Tech 3 Yamaha + 0.716
5 A. DE ANGELIS RSM San Carlo Honda Gresini + 0.739
6 D. PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team + 0.954
7 S. NAKANO JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini + 0.954
8 J. TOSELAND GBR Tech 3 Yamaha + 1.088
9 C. VERMEULEN AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP + 1.157
10 R. DE PUNIET FRA LCR Honda MotoGP + 1.180
11 J. HOPKINS USA Kawasaki Racing Team + 1.188
12 A. WEST AUS Kawasaki Racing Team + 1.413
13 A. DOVIZIOSO ITA JiR Team Scot MotoGP + 1.469
14 M. MELANDRI ITA Ducati Marlboro Team + 1.603
15 T. ELIAS SPA Alice Team + 2.015
16 J. LORENZO SPA Fiat Yamaha Team + 2.037
17 B. SPIES USA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP + 2.513
18 S. GUINTOLI FRA Alice Team + 2.678


Constructed:  1931
Latest modification: 1985
Length:  4,023m
Width:  10m
Pole position:  Left
Right corners:  7
Left corners:  4
Longest straight:  564m
Race: 30 laps


GP2: Senna takes pole, then crashes
Senna just before crashing to pole position
Bruno Senna took pole position in the most dramatic way possible this afternoon in Magny-Cours by crossing the line a fraction of a second before hitting the wall heavily after bouncing over the curbs in the final complex, claiming the top spot fractionally ahead of Romain Grosjean and Giorgio Pantano.

The Brazilian's final lap time of 1:22.250 was just 0.037 ahead of Grosjean, who in turn beat the Italian by just 0.014 in one of the most frantic qualifying sessions ever seen in the series. The top three drivers alternated at the top of the timesheets throughout a scorching hot session: with temperatures soaring compared to this morning's free practice there was little to separate most of the drivers, seventeen of whom ultimately lapped within a second of the eventual pole time.

The biggest problem for most of the drivers was traffic: Ho-pin Tung, Alvaro Parente and Luca Filippi all spun on track but continued, and with so many drivers on the short circuit at the same time getting a clear lap was almost impossible before the stop for fresh tires. The three way battle at the front continued until the 25th minute, when Senna's heavy shunt brought out the red flags.

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Kimi, Hamilton, met in Ferrari motor home
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen met privately inside the Ferrari motor home on Thursday.

It is believed the pair discussed how to handle their joint appearance at the FIA press conference later that day at Magny-Cours.

It was inevitable that attending reporters would ask the pair, in contention for the 2008 world championship, about their clash in the pitlane during the Canadian grand prix two weeks ago.

Finn Raikkonen, who drives for Ferrari, was critical of Hamilton's inattention at Montreal immediately following the incident, but at Magny-Cours he insisted that he had "not much to say".

"I didn't score any points, so it was a bit of a bad weekend but those come sometimes," he added.

Hamilton, meanwhile, dismissed the crash - for which he will be pushed back ten places on the grid at Magny-Cours - as "such a silly, small incident".


McCain agrees with AutoRacing1
A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, I read with interest your article back in May on more use of Nuclear Power Plants and electric energy to power our cars of the future and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign oil.  Does Presidential candidate John McCain read AutoRacing1.com?  Today I read the following:

Sen. John McCain called Wednesday for the construction of 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030 and pledged $2 billion a year in federal funds “to make clean coal a reality,” measures designed to reduce dependence on foreign oil.

In a second straight day of campaigning devoted to the energy issue, the Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting also said the only time Democratic rival Barack Obama voted for a tax cut was for a “break for the oil companies.”

McCain said the 104 nuclear reactors currently operating around the country produce about 20 percent of the nation’s annual electricity needs.

Every year, these reactors alone spare the atmosphere from the equivalent of nearly all auto emissions in America. Yet for all these benefits, we have not broken ground on a single nuclear plant in over thirty years,” he said. “And our manufacturing base to even construct these plants is almost gone.”

Even so, he said he would set the country on a course to build 45 new ones by 2030, with a longer-term goal of adding another 55 in the future for a total of 100 new reactors.

“We will need to recover all the knowledge and skills that have been lost over three stagnant decades in a highly technical field,” he conceded.

Bravo John McCain and bravo AutoRacing1.com!  Nuclear power is here, it's now and we know it works.  Let's do more of it ASAP, recognizing that it won't completely reduce our demand on fossil fuels, but it certainly will go a long way.  Every American should vote for John McCain for this suggestion alone.  Ken Reynolds, New York

Formula BMW

Formula BMW Americas expands 2008 Championship
Earlier this month it was announced that next month's British Grand Prix will be completely sold out on race day. On Friday the track also announced that all tickets for the official F1 test, taking place next week, are all sold out now as well.  The test at Silverstone will take place from 24 to 26 June. The three-day test will be attended by the ten Formula 1 teams to prepare themselves for the British Grand Prix.

True to the goal of Formula BMW of maximizing on-track experience in the most cost-effective way, the addition of these races to existing events, as done in the Formula BMW Pacific series, will provide competitors in the Formula BMW Americas series with more wheel-to-wheel racing experience this season without having to travel to additional race venues.

With the addition of these races, the full 2008 Formula BMW Americas schedule is now as follows:

Date Event Track Rounds

18th May

Festival of Speed Laguna Seca 1 & 2
8th June GP Canada Montreal 3 & 4
22nd June EMCO Gears Classic Mid-Ohio 5 & 6
12th July Northeast Grand Prix Lime Rock Park 7, 8 & 9
10th August Generac 500 Road America 10,11 & 12
28th September ARCA Thunderbolt Raceway 13,14 & 15
2nd November GP Brazil Interlagos 16 & 17

Licensing courses for the 2009 season are scheduled for July 28-29 and August 4-5. They will be held at the Formula BMW Racing Center at the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo, in Valencia, Spain.


Silverstone F1 test sold out
Earlier this month it was announced that next month's British Grand Prix will be completely sold out on race day. On Friday the track also announced that all tickets for the official F1 test, taking place next week, are all sold out now as well.  The test at Silverstone will take place from 24 to 26 June. The three-day test will be attended by the ten Formula 1 teams to prepare themselves for the British Grand Prix.


GP2: Grosjean fastest in free practice
Romain Grosjean has set the pace in free practice at his home circuit of Magny-Cours this morning, taking the top spot by less that two tenths from Andreas Zuber and Javier Villa.

The Frenchman's best lap time of 1:22.676 was set just after changing to his second set of tires, with his rivals unable to match his pace for the remainder of the session or, indeed, Villa's time, which was set in the opening minutes before he put his car into the wall at turn 3, putting him out of the session on the spot.

The session took place under ominously heavy clouds, but the top drivers were immediately on the pace and setting faster times than last year. Andy Soucek, Giorgio Pantano and Zuber were the early pacesetters, but further back a number of drivers were pushing over the limit: Pastor Maldonado had a number of off track excursions, along with Alberto Valerio and Villa, who at least set a fast time before finding the wall.

After running baseline laps on his first set of tires Grosjean made the change and was instantly on the pace, claiming the top spot with 12 minutes remaining and just as Soucek spun into retirement at turn 12. Bruno Senna was determined to catch his rival but spun off the last curb and briefly stopped just ahead of the finish line, putting paid to his chances, while teammate Karun Chandhok and Giorgio Pantano also spun at the close of the session as they looked to improve their times.

Read more & Comment...

In effort to keep French GP Magny Cours announces upgrades
Endangered formula one venue Magny-Cours on Friday unveiled plans to improve the circuit and retain the French grand prix beyond this weekend's race.

Organizers have branded the project 'Magny-Cours 2', acknowledging the rising standards for hosting and retaining a spot on the annual grand prix calendar.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has said his sport will now move away from the isolated rural venue, and possible alternative hosts including Rouen, Le Mans and Paris have emerged.

But in a statement issued in French on Friday, Magny-Cours vowed to build 27 new stands, widen the pitlane and start-finish line, build a new media centre, improve paddock facilities and support local hotel infrastructure.

"Magny-Cours 2 is essential to maintain this great international circuit at a level of excellence, reflecting the position of our country, its sporting federations and athletes on the world sporting scene," the statement said.

Press Release

Magny Cours
The Magny-Cours 2 project is more than a construction project. It is a commitment distinguished by a desire to modernize, innovate and anticipate in order to maintain a leading position in the world of motorsport and increase the attractiveness of the local area through an approach involving economic development and the creation of sustainable jobs. Magny-Cours 2 consists of work to modernize and bring up to standard the bloc formed by the main building, the pit lane, the starting straight and the pit straight grandstand.

The aims of the project are to improve:
- facilities and working conditions for the teams ;
- facilities in the paddock reception spaces ;
- facilities and working conditions for the media ;
- facilities for the general public;
- working conditions for the organizers, sports federations and race control.

Read more & Comment...

Hamilton rules out joining driver strike
Lewis Hamilton
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton on Friday said he will not be taking part in a formula one driver strike -- despite saying at Magny Cours one day earlier that he supported his colleagues' push for lower superlicense fees.

Media reports on Thursday from the scene of the French grand prix said Hamilton, McLaren's 23-year-old British driver, backed the threatened strike action for his home grand prix at Silverstone next month.

When asked in the FIA press conference about the possible strike, Hamilton answered: "They have my support and it's something I agree with as well."

But in a statement on Friday, he clarified that he is "not involved in any strike talks".

"I am here to race, to do my job for the team, for myself and for the fans of formula one," Hamilton insisted.

The former championship leader also said he doubts the drivers' concerns about their exorbitant FIA credentials will actually result in industrial action.

"I don't believe for one minute the drivers will take such drastic measures," Hamilton said.

"We have the British grand prix in a couple of weeks' time and other grands prix to follow, and I'm certainly not planning on missing any of them."


Consumer Reports rips Chevy Aveo a new one
Consumer Reports isn't known for completely trashing cars in its reviews. In fact, the publication is more often criticized for going too easy on them and finding something to like in everything that passes through the CR garage. But dang if they didn't just tear apart the 2008 Chevy Aveo sedan, going so far as to say its big-bro Cobalt is an all-around better car and better deal for bargain shoppers. They cite Cobalt's comparable fuel economy, better handling, quieter more refined interior and, after discounts, better price.  The magazine calls the Aveo a "miserable little car" and, since they couldn't find the name "Aveo" anywhere in the car's interior, thinks GM might think so, too. CR says it readers certainly thought the Aveo was miserable, rating the hatchback and sedan variants at the very bottom of their classes. Autoblog.com [Editor's Note: And you wonder why the Big 3 are headed for bankruptcy?]


NASCAR expects others to lower their prices, not them
Is there any organization (NASCAR, ISC, SMI, etc.) more greedy than the billionaires that run NASCAR?  With fans staying away from their races in droves because of the high fuel prices, they refuse to lower their ticket prices to soften the blow for the fans.  Instead they want other local businesses to lower their prices. Their greed is appalling.

The question begs to be asked: with the economy seemingly worsening every day, what is NASCAR and its International Speedway Corp. subsidiary doing to make things easier for fans to come to races?

While ticket and concession stand prices (this is where the greedy billionaires makes most of their money) remain the same, tracks have tried to follow NASCAR chairman Brian France’s suggestion earlier this year to work with local businesses to give fans a little more bang for their buck.

That could mean anything from convincing hotels to lower their race weekend prices to convincing businesses to give away things like $20 gas cards to help soften the fuel hit.

While Curtis and NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston claim there’s been some progress, NASCAR can’t demand that hotels, rental car companies and other businesses radically reduce their prices.

“All we can do is to try and engage them,” Poston said, “to make sure these local business communities understand the larger issue here, not just making a lot of money on one particular weekend.

“Particularly in towns where there are limited numbers of rooms, places like the Martinsvilles of the world, we want to make sure they’re being fair to the fans and are charging a fair price. If hotels and rental car companies are gouging fans and charging too much, then they’re not going to come back and are not going to continue to patronize these places. That has an effect on everybody, the races and the local economy.”


French GP: Massa tops practice 1
Felipe Massa of Brazil and his wife Anna Rafaela at Magny Cours
Ferrari driver Felipe Massa was fastest by seven tenths of a second in opening practice session for the French Grand Prix.

The McLarens were second and third quickest, with Lewis Hamilton fractionally quicker than teammate Heikki Kovalainen, while Kimi Raikkonen completed the top four in the second Ferrari.

Massa expects a better race this weekend.  He began by refuting media comment that the last two races had been bad for him. "Of course, in terms of points, we missed some we should have scored, but overall I do not see them as negative. In fact, for Monaco, the guys in the factory had done a fantastic job and we were also on the pace in Montreal. What was negative was the fact I had a bad start to the season, but now the championship is very close again and so I cannot consider the last races to have been that bad." As for this weekend, the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro man, who took pole and finished second in '07, is expecting to do well. "Magny-Cours has always been a good track for us and even if our opponents should be more competitive than before, I think we can fight for the win. It is difficult to choose between us and McLaren and BMW as we are all very similar in performance terms and we have all had races where we have not shown our true potential. If you look at the results, Ferrari has sometimes finished first and second in races this season, but we are only just in front of the others by three points."

Having found the good side of Monaco and Canada, the Brazilian did however admit to being glad to be in Magny-Cours. "Even if it is too early to say how we will compare to our rivals, I am glad to be back on this type of real race circuit, because usually you can have a more normal sort of race and if you start well up the grid you can expect to finish well. We can fight back here but we must remember there are still many races to go and the face of the championship can change in just one race. 



Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Massa Ferrari 1:15.306 + 0.000 22
2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:16.002 + 0.696 22
3. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:16.055 + 0.749 20
4. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:16.073 + 0.767 21
5. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:16.377 + 1.071 19
6. Alonso Renault 1:16.400 + 1.094 23
7. Trulli Toyota 1:16.758 + 1.452 32
8. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:16.838 + 1.532 27
9. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:16.870 + 1.564 21
10. Glock Toyota 1:16.886 + 1.580 31
11. Piquet Renault 1:17.063 + 1.757 31
12. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:17.234 + 1.928 21
13. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:17.269 + 1.963 22
14. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:17.394 + 2.088 30
15. Barrichello Honda 1:17.491 + 2.185 25
16. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:17.683 + 2.377 27
17. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:17.696 + 2.390 25
18. Button Honda 1:17.928 + 2.622 21
19. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:18.072 + 2.766 27
20. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:18.673 + 3.367 13


Thoughts on Iowa UPDATE Finally, did you know this is one of the IRL’s favorite stops on the circuit? In Kansas I was told by an IndyCar employee that when they came into Newton and saw posters in every window and “I am Indy” flags flying around the square, along with the hospitality our city provided, they were overwhelmed.

They know the series has something special here. We can help improve our reputation by all of the season ticket holders getting to the track very early on Sunday.  This will help to alleviate traffic problems. IndyCar has worked hard to improve their part of the event, let’s do the same for them.  Newton Daily News

06/19/08 A reader writes, I just wanted to pass along my thoughts regarding Iowa Speedway. I was a die-hard CCWS fan and am trying to take unification in stride but tracks like Iowa make the process more difficult.

The second installment of the Iowa Corn Fest/Crash Fest will take place this weekend at the tiny Iowa Speedway. Unless you are a freak who likes crashes and numerous cautions last year's race was a bore to say the least. Hopefully the future will bring change and leave Iowa Speedway in the cornfields. Unification (I use that word loosely) has brought a renewed hope to open wheel racing in America. Now is the time to capitalize on that hope and bring the Indy Car Series to tracks that deserve to host Indy Car Series events.

Sorry Iowa, but your track is not one of them. Rusty Wallace designs a race track for Indy Cars about as well as he commentated Indy Car Series events on TV. With successful venues such as Road America, Portland and Cleveland available it makes no sense to continue racing at such a hokey circuit as Iowa. Continuing to race at Iowa Speedway makes the task harder of presenting the Indy Car Series as a world class event.

Tiny ovals like Iowa make the Indy Car Series seem irrelevant in the world of motorsports. Hopefully 2009 will see the real race venues back on the schedule and the full throttle miniature ovals left where they belong. In the cornfields.    Chris Kleibor

Dear Chris, Some fans like the short bullrings and do not get dizzy watching cars going in circles.  They like seeing the cars all the time, something they cannot do on street and road circuits.  Mark C.


Rosberg disappointed with team admission
(GMM)  Nico Rosberg on Friday said he was "disappointed" with his team following the pitlane incident in Canada two weeks ago.

Like McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, Williams driver Rosberg was penalized ten places on this weekend's Magny Cours grid after he missed a red light and crashed in the Montreal pitlane during the Canadian grand prix.

In subsequent media reports, a Williams team member revealed that Rosberg had actually been warned on the radio about the hazard before he hit the rear of Hamilton's car.

"I am disappointed about the comment," Rosberg, the 22-year-old German, is quoted as saying by Switzerland's Motorsport Aktuell.

"I would have expected that the team would deal with it internally," he explained.

In the immediate aftermath of the Montreal crash two weeks ago, Rosberg accepted the blame for the crash.


Scott Pruett Double-Duty Diary - Thursday
Scott Pruett
Scott Pruett currently leads the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series with four wins in the season’s first six races in his #01 Telmex Lexus.  He’ll be racing in this weekend’s EMCO Gears Classic Rolex Series race at Mid-Ohio, as well as the Toyota/Savemart 300 Sprint Cup Series race at Sonoma, Calif. in the #41 Target car for Chip Ganassi Racing.  Each day, he’ll provide a diary of his attempt to run two races across three time zones.

Thursday, June 19

I’m real excited about getting the opportunity to run both races this weekend.  The priority within the team was can we balance this without taking anything away from our chances for a championship in Grand-Am?  We had an hour-long conference call early in the week and we all decided we could do that.  In looking at the schedule and the track time available, we all agreed that it was possible to run at a high level in both races. 

If we thought this would take anything away from our Grand-Am program, we wouldn’t have done it.  We’re working too hard on the Grand-Am side to let up this weekend.  Lexus has really stepped up with a great engine, Telmex has raised their commitment and the whole team has just worked extremely hard and we’re having a dream season so far. 

After the decision was made, it’s been non-stop working on all the logistics and it’s no easy feat.  Just taking care of credentials, tickets, accommodations at both tracks, etc., is a major task.

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