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Narain Karthikeyan switches gears Narain Karthikeyan switches gearsDespite a busy season ahead, India's only Formula One driver Narain Karthikeyan on Monday launched the Amaron NK Racing Academy that would identify, nurture and groom a new generation of young racers.

Promising to be closely associated with the academy in “most of his free time”, Karthikeyan, the brand ambassador for Amaron, said the academy, the first of its kind in the country, would provide “vital leverage to the existing racing infrastructure in the country”. zzzz

While all initial activities, including regular racing workshops and training programmes for aspiring and promising drivers, would be held at the Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore, the programmes would be gradually extended to other cities as well, he told reporters here. “It is easier for me to operate in Coimbatore and the promoters too have all the equipment ready there,” Karthikeyan said.

A few “dedicated people” would look after the Academy, but “I will also be there most times, unless, of course when it clashes with my Formula One commitments”, he added.

Aspirants will be put through a rigorous selection process; four young drivers will be chosen and allowed to represent the two teams - Amaron and Speed - in the JK Tires Formula ROLON Championship beginning in the third week of August. “The objective is to learn and win,” said Karthikeyan, “I have gained experience over the years. Hopefully, I will be able to guide these youngsters in a better way.”

The academy will be an independent institution and besides providing training programmes to promising young drivers, would manage and run teams in racing championships and promote events which would identify talent and encourage participation of youngsters in motorsport.

Industry News
Top DCX execs to attend Pepsi 400 Top DCX execs to attend Pepsi 400DaimlerChrysler AG Chairman Dieter Zetsche and Chrysler Group CEO Tom LaSorda are expected to attend the Pepsi 400 on July 1 in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Chrysler Group officials would not say what Zetsche and LaSorda planned to do while at the Pepsi 400, but LaSorda said Thursday a new incentive program would be detailed on June 30 or July 1.

The automaker is considering bringing back an employee-pricing program in which customers get the same price as company employees, LaSorda said Thursday. General Motors Corp. launched employee-pricing last June with the Chrysler Group and Ford Motor Co. following suit.

Servia feels Cleveland was one that got away Servia feels Cleveland was one that got away“The start of the race could not have worked out better for me,” Servia began.  “I decided to stay to the outside and everyone else went to the inside, so I was able to break away.  Then I caught A. J. (Allmendinger) in Turn #3 and passed him for the lead.  The Gulfstream – PKV Racing car felt awesome from the start.  I was pulling away from the field and still able to save fuel.  At that point things were looking bright and I was starting to think about a win.  Then the yellows starting coming and every time they worked against us.  Not just one time, but every yellow that came out came at the wrong time for us.  Finally, we got a bonus on the last lap and got the podium we really deserved,” he explained.  “The whole PKV Racing team worked very hard starting last weekend in Portland and it is great for the hard work to pay off with a finish like we had today…. and what better place than an airport to get my first podium for Gulfstream.” Oriol Servia
Will merged schedule be 50/50 mix? Will merged schedule be 50/50 mix?A reader asks, Dear AutoRacing1.com, With reports that the IRL and Champ Car are getting closer to a merger, will we see the return to a 50/50 mix of ovals and road courses? Dave Stubbs, Houston

Dear Dave, Some people prefer ovals and some road courses, and many say the mix should be 50/50 if there is a merger.  We hear the decision will be based on which events are profitable or serve a particular business strategy.  Ovals can be dangerous and very expensive.  When you crash on an oval you are typically looking at a very large cash outlay in crash damage, not to mention potential bodily damage (Zanardi, Brack, Schmidt, Jones, Dana, Briscoe, Priestley, More...). 

The risk and the cost of ovals weighs on everyone's mind and we suspect that that at the end of the day, when everything is factored in, you will see more street and road course races on a merged schedule than ovals. Mark C.

Q and A with Toyota’s Jim Aust Q and A with Toyota’s Jim AustWendy Venturini of NASCAR RaceDay on SPEED, the definitive NASCAR pre-race show, uncovered what has been happening behind the scenes of Toyota Racing Development and its push to begin NASCAR Nextel Cup Series competition at the beginning of 2007.

Venturini also spoke with Marty Gaunt, general manager of Toyota’s new Team Red Bull, based in Mooresville, N.C. Brian Vickers, who currently pilots the No. 25 entry for Hendrick Motorsports, just signed a new contract to become the first official team driver, as announced on this weekend’s Wind Tunnel on SPEED with Dave Despain.

Here are the highlighted comments from Venturini’s conversation with Jim Aust, president & CEO, Toyota Racing Development.

Venturini: ….as of right now, what we hear about Toyota is usually rumor or hearsay. Why do you guys keep such a low profile?

Aust: We’re not really one’s out to pound our chest. It’s about putting forth the technology we have and quality of the vehicles we have. It’s really ingrained in our culture to be like that. We know our strategy and game plan, and we’re going to stick to it. zzzz

Venturini: How involved has Toyota been in the driver search on the Cup side? How involved is Toyota in the driver (search) process?
Aust: That’s something we try to stay away from. We feel the primary sponsor and team owners really are the ones that need to be involved in the driver process.

Venturini: Any other rumors out there about Toyota you would like to dispel?

Aust: I think the big one is about the dollars being spent. I don’t know where the rumors are coming from, and everyone has opinions. Our situation is one of being a technology agent for the teams, as opposed to being the one out there funding the team effort. The other part of it is; there’s some thought of an import manufacturer that’s coming into NASCAR, but we’ve been selling cars in the United States for 50 years. We don’t consider ourselves new; we’d like to consider ourselves as a part of the fabric of America. And we want to do things we hope the fans will understand as we mature in the (NASCAR Nextel) Cup Series.

Venturini: What are your expectations for 2007?

Aust: We want to run competitively, and we want to run in the top 15 – and win some races, certainly. I think we want to say we’re really proud of our first year in NASCAR.

Venturini then spent some time with Team Red Bull general manager, Marty Gaunt, formerly of Penske South.

Venturini: Team Red Bull is the best kept secret in NASCAR, if there is such a thing in NASCAR. Are you trying to be discreet?

Gaunt: No, we’re not trying to be discreet. But we just like to fly under the radar. We have a lot of work to do to get ready for the 2007 season and beyond, so our needs are best concentrated on our efforts in the shop. When we have the need to make an announcement, we’re more than happy to open up and make that announcement.

Venturini: Do you think the media’s being fair when it says you are just throwing huge dollar amounts at drivers?

Gaunt: The numbers are 100 percent false. We are paying industry standards for drivers. I think there’s more of a perception because we’re not at the race track every day. We’re here building our team. That’s not a road we are going down; it’s not our philosophy to just throw money at people. Now obviously, we are competing in this area, too. But to think its anything outside the industry standard is false.

Venturini: How many (races) are you going to run this year to get ready for 2007?

Gaunt: Well, we have Bill Elliott on board for this year, and we’re honored and pleased to have a driver of his caliber here helping us. We’re going to run Charlotte, Atlanta and Texas, which are great tracks for us – so we can come strong out of the box for Daytona. We want to get everything up and running, and ready for Daytona, so we have a safe race when we get there.

Venturini: What are your expectations for Team Red Bull for 2007?

Gaunt: If can run in the top 25 week in and week out, we’ve done our job. If we get anything that exceeds that – it’s an A+.

Venturini: Jim Aust told us earlier in the week, he thinks a top 15 team. So, you guys may want to get together.

Gaunt: Wow. That’s great that Jim Aust thinks we can run in

Bourdais wins 2nd quarter voting Bourdais wins 2nd quarter votingSebastien Bourdais’ on-track domination, of the Champ Car Series, was matched by the voting for Second Quarter DRIVER OF THE YEAR.

No other driver, at the premier levels of United States motorsports, had a winning percentage of 75 per cent in this period. The driver of the McDonald’s Lola Ford-Cosworth had three wins, in four races, and, also took two poles.

In the voting, by an elite panel of print and broadcast journalists, the 27-year-old French-born driver, who resides in Tampa, Florida, was not seriously challenged. The only thing that slowed him, slightly, was that his bid for five-straight victories, this year, was cut short with a third place at Portland, Oregon earlier this month. That made him four-for- four podiums during the quarter.

Recalling that the last time a Champ Car driver was so honored was in 2003, Bourdais reacted with "what a great surprise to win this Quarter!  It has been a while since a Champ Car driver won this honor and my first time and I'm very happy to represent the series in this competition. zzzz

The two-time series champion, at the team co-owned by Academy Award wining actor, Paul Newman, and Carl Haas, added “this honor is a testament to fruits of very hard work by the McDonald's team and I can't thank them enough.  Especially for all of the hard work Newman/Haas Racing did this winter to achieve an incredible start to the season”

Bourdais, affectionately called “SeaBass” took 11 out of the 16 first place votes - that were cast - and totaled 115 points.

“I hope we can wrap up a few more quarter wins to get the overall award at the end of the year,” he added.

The voting could be considered an upset as Indy 500 winner, Sam Hornish, Jr., ended up second in voting with two first-place votes and totaled 66 points. It was a record 14th win at the Brickyard by his Team Penske Racing. Although Hornish won from the pole that was his only victory in the quarter.

NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne’s two Nextel Cup victories earned him three first-place votes and totaled 65 points for third.

A total of 17 drivers scored points in the second quarter voting.

In its’ 40th year DRIVER OF THE YEAR is unique because it is the oldest award that encompasses all of the racing series in the United States. A panel of 17 leading journalists and broadcasters from across the U.S. determine the winner.  In quarterly voting, points are awarded on a declining 9,6,4,3,2,1 basis.  A separate one-driver vote will determine the 2006 DRIVER OF THE YEAR.

Bourdais will receive a trophy and a Maurice Lacroix, wristwatch. The trophy presentation is scheduled for Saturday, July 8th at the Molson Grand Prix of Toronto, Canada.

President of the Speed Channel DRIVER OF THE YEAR Foundation is Barry Schmoyer, businessman and sportsman of Sarasota, Florida.

Further information on the award may be obtained from DRIVER OF THE YEAR Foundation, PO Box 49827, Sarasota, Florida 34230 or from (941) 953-6209. 

Q and A with Brian Vickers Q and A with Brian VickersBrian Vickers, who recently announced he would not be returning to Hendrick Motorsports in 2007, gave Dave Despain and SPEED an exclusive interview last night on Wind Tunnel, telling viewers he had signed a multi-year deal to sign with Team Red Bull that begins next season behind the wheel of a Toyota. Below is a transcript of that announcement:

Despain: Are the rumors true? Are you indeed going to be driving one of the cars for Team Red Bull next year?

Vickers: Well, Dave … I’ve decided to take the “Bull” by the horns.

Despain: It’s a big move … you go from Hendrick Motorsports, an established NASCAR powerhouse to a team that doesn’t even have a working race shop. It’s a bit of a leap of faith for you. Why make that leap?

Vickers: It is a little bit, but it’s not … they don’t have a NASCAR team yet … they haven’t been on the track yet … but these guys are huge supporters of all forms of motorsports. Like you talked about (referring to other guests on the night’s show) Scott Speed and Travis Pastrana … that’s Formula One and dirt bikes and everything in between. And now they are talking about NASCAR and I am excited to be a part of it. They are getting the shop going. They are going to run three races this year to get their feet wet, and we are going to come out at Daytona (2007) with the best effort we can. zzzz

Despain: Let’s talk about the three-race deal a little bit -- Charlotte, Atlanta and Texas with Bill Elliott at the end of the year. Do you know what the cars are going to be? They won’t be Toyota’s, right?

Vickers: I’m not sure … I don’t know what they are going to put out there, but I know that everyone is excited about being a part of the technical support that Toyota is going to bring for us next year.

Despain: Are you in a position to do anything with this team before the end of the year? One source had floated the rumor that you would leave Hendrick before year-end. What is the plan there?

Vickers: I don’t know what source that was, Dave, but right now, my commitment is to Hendrick Motorsports and the 25 team. I am excited about finishing out the year there and having the best season we can. Hopefully, we can get a win … that’s the plan as far as I’m concerned. And then we’ll attack this deal next year head on.

Despain: This is a tough subject, but also a fair question. You were hand-picked by the late Ricky Hendrick to drive for his father’s team. You and he were close. I’m wondering what role Ricky’s death played in this eventual decision to leave this team?

Vickers: Well, Dave, you’ve definitely touched on something there. It was a very difficult decision for me. Ricky and I were very close. Ricky is actually the one who picked me to drive the 5 car. It’s tough. My heart is, and always will be in so many ways, with Hendrick Motorsports and the Hendrick family. I’m very close to them and I hope my personal relationship only grows. This was a difficult decision, but it came down to so many things I’ve talked about the past couple of weeks. My decision to leave was a very tough one, but right now, I’ve got to look forward. It’s time for a fresh start and this was an opportunity of a lifetime. Like I said, take the “Bull” by the horns. Being a part of Red Bull and this team … these guys are all about competition … they’re all about winning and that’s how we are going to attack this thing. I know it’s going to be a new beginning … it’s going to be a new team, and we are going to have to grow together. There are going to be some growing pains, but we are looking forward to it.

Despain: So, who approached whom?

Vickers: Well, actually, I didn’t go to anybody and neither did they. It ended up being my business manager, Eric (Giangiordano), who reached out to them when we weren’t sure where we would be standing for next year with Hendrick Motorsports. We already had several other inquiries from other teams, so it was really neat.

Despain: Your expectations for this team next year?

Vickers: Well, I think ‘Are we capable of winning?’ – of course. Are we going to approach Daytona thinking we’ve got the thing in the bag or feeling like we have to win a race next year? No. We know it’s a new deal, but I think Red Bull’s mentality with the technical support of Toyota, are we capable of it? Absolutely.

Despain: Multiyear deal? Can you tell us how many years the deal is?

Vickers: We keep that information pretty private, but it is a multiyear deal.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Doornbos wants race return in 2007
(GMM)  Robert Doornbos says he does not want to follow in the formula one career footsteps of Luca Badoer or Anthony Davidson.

The Dutchman debuted for Minardi last year but in 2006 switched to become Red Bull's 'Friday'-only test driver.

He told 'Formule 1 RaceReport' that he is now pressing the Milton-Keynes based team for its decision about race drivers for 2007.

''I do miss racing,'' Doornbos was quoted as saying.

''If I cannot find a race-place for 2007, then I want to go somewhere where they can guarantee me a drive for 2008.

''I have to watch out that I don't become like Luca Badoer, who has stayed in the same job at Ferrari for years,'' he said, ''or like Anthony Davidson at Honda.''

Red Bull chiefs have indicated that a decision about drivers for next year will be made around the time of the German grand prix in July.

No 'letter of intent' signed - Mol
(GMM)  Prospective team owner Michiel Mol has denied reports that a 'letter of intent' regarding his offer to buy 'MF1' from Midland's Alex Shnaider has now been signed.

''No such declaration has been signed,'' the Dutchman, of internet company 'Lost Boys', told Formule 1 RaceReport magazine in Holland.

Mol added that Shnaider is still undecided about whether he wants to hand over the Silverstone based team, which was originally founded by Eddie Jordan.

Russian-born Alex Shnaider was quoted as saying in Montreal: ''I am still torturing myself (over this decision).''

Speculation, however, suggests that 'due diligence' has been carried out and that, indeed, the final piece of the puzzle is Shnaider's 'yes' or 'no'.

But MF1 team principal Colin Kolles could not shed any further light on the possible sale, indicating that he had 'absolutely no idea' which way Shnaider would go.

Mol, meanwhile, suggested that Kolles' role at the helm would not be in jeopardy if a change of ownership occurred.

He said: ''I see no reason why we would not continue with Colin.  I don't think he would consider it a negative thing if I bought the team.''

Schu won't close Alonso's gap - Lauda
(GMM)  After finishing second again to runaway title-leader Fernando Alonso in Canada, Michael Schumacher should forget about trying to win an eighth championship in 2006.

That is the advice of Austria's Niki Lauda, three times a world champion.

Schumacher is now 25 points behind the Renault dominator.

''Even Schumi cannot close that kind of gap,'' Lauda told 'Bild'.

Another ex driver in Montreal, German Hans-Joachim Stuck, agreed: ''Mathematically the title for Schumacher is still possible, but practically it is not.''

German newspaper 'Bild', however, ridiculed 24-year-old Alonso for his unique brand of post-victory celebrations.  While Schumacher does his famous 'leap' after a win, Alonso likes to imitate animals as he stands on his blue Renault.

In Canada, he mimicked an eagle.

Bild said: ''If Alonso continues like this, he will get his second title -- and he will be F1's joke world champion.''

Haug says title gone for McLaren
Jun.26 (GMM)  McLaren is not going to win the 2006 title, Mercedes' Norbert Haug declared after Kimi Raikkonen finished just third in Canada.

Kimi, a Finn, is not only 41 points behind Renault's Fernando Alonso after the Montreal event, but also eighteen points behind current runner-up Michael Schumacher.

Competition director Haug told Auto Motor Und Sport: ''With these points, I do not believe that we can talk about the world championship.''

In the constructors' chase, too, McLaren lags both Renault and Ferrari.

26-year-old Kimi confessed: ''I'm not fighting for the championship any more (and) in terms of winning races we are still behind.''

Ferrari's Schumacher, on the other hand, refuses to throw in the towel, even if Alonso could simply settle for podiums for the rest of 2006 and still wear the crown.

''Mathematically everything it is still possible,'' the German was quoted as saying by Auto Motor Und Sport, ''but we now have to go on full attack.''

Indy wants new US GP contract Indy wants new US GP contract(GMM)  Even despite Bernie Ecclestone's apparent indifference to renewing the US grand prix contract, Indianapolis officials have indicated that they would like a new deal.

The president of the fabled Motor Speedway, scene of Sunday's race, indicated that he thought the F1 supremo's media frostiness was mere 'positioning' ahead of upcoming contract negotiations.

''We'll sit down and talk in the next few weeks,'' said Joie Chitwood, ''and see what we come up with.

''We've said on many occasions that we want the event to continue.''

In the Canadian press last weekend, former triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart scolded 75-year-old Ecclestone for showing such disregard towards the American market.

The Scot said: ''If the manufacturers did not have (the US market), they might be out of business.  I disagree with Bernie completely.''

Schu's hopes fading says Italian press Schu's hopes fading says Italian press(GMM)  With every passing race, Michael Schumacher's hopes of an eighth world championship in 2006 sink ever further, according to Italy's press.

''All the time, Fernando Alonso resembles 'Schumi' of the golden period,'' said La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.

'La Repubblica' added: ''In the next weeks he will surely celebrate his second championship triumph.''

'Tuttosport' referred to the fact that, with his second place at Montreal, Ferrari's Schumacher passed the 1000-point mark with his Maranello based team.

But the Italian publication also noted: ''However he must be content without the dream of another title.''

'La Stampa' said: ''Alonso is cold-blooded; aggressive.  If he has not locked up the championship yet, it is only because Grandpa Schumacher is persistent and achieved in Canada an unexpected result.''

Champ Car attendance up Champ Car attendance upUPDATE This Cleveland Plain Dealer article talks more about the positive trend for the Cleveland GP.

06/25/06 The three-day attendance for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by U.S. Bank was 118,853, with 51,426 attending on Race Day. The three-day crowd was the best for a Cleveland event since 2001.
Racing News
Quotes of the Week Quotes of the WeekUPDATE
"He missed the roll bar and was pushing me down into the cockpit; I was the shock absorber for him."  (Referring to Paul Tracy's  car hitting him on the head in a scary accident during the Grand Prix of Cleveland)
"I don't remember anything except the car pushing my head down," Bourdais said. "I was the shock absorber for him. I was slowly fading away as the pressure [on his head] was increasing. The next thing I knew, I was stopped in the grass and people were coming at me.  The worst thing about the accident was the needle they stuck in me before the CAT scan."  (Referring to his hospital visit after the accident with Paul Tracy)
CARL RUSSO, Champ Car team owner
"We didn't think anyone had takeoff clearance rights on this runway when we were running the race."  (Referring to Paul Tracy's airborne car during the accident with Sebastien Bourdais)

"Well, it's a points system that rewards consistency and getting to the finish. That's what I was trying to do today. But when PT starts fifth, there's no safe place to be at the front of the grid." (Referring to Paul Tracy's  car hitting him on the head in a scary accident during the Grand Prix of Cleveland)

AJ ALLMENDINGER, Champ Car driver
"I'm looking forward to the rest of the season -- if they'll have me," he said of Forsythe Racing.  (After making it two wins in two starts with his new Forsythe Championship Racing team)

BERNIE ECCLESTONE, President and CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Administration
"It does not matter to Formula 1 if there is no Grand Prix in the US," he said. "What do we get from America? Aggravation, that's about all. If you say 'Good Morning' over there and it's five past 12, you end up with a lawsuit. We have never got any sponsors out there. The television has never taken off; we have more viewers in Malta than over there. If they want to continue having a round of the Formula 1 World Championship over there, I am happy to talk to them, which is what I will do when I get there. But I am not prepared to subsidize a race in America." (Message to Tony George regarding their negotiations for the future United States Grand Prix)
"Let's put things in perspective," he said. "The TV ratings in the US have always been pretty dismal. Single-seater racing in America is extremely marginal and even a top-end NASCAR race only attracts the same sort of TV viewers as F1 gets in Italy for an average race." (Referring to auto racing's lack of popularity in the USA during an interview in F1 Racing magazine)
MICHAEL SCHUMACHER, Formula One driver
''As I understand it, he's preparing his new career, isn't he?'' obviously referring to the impending release of Jacques' first music single. ''Maybe that's where he can be competitive." (In response to being asked if Jacques Villeneuve was capable of winning an F1 race again.)
PATRICK HEAD, co-owner of Williams F1 team
''In a sense, I suppose you'd have to say that if a man is capable of foul play once then he's potentially capable of foul play any number of times." (Referring to the probability of Michael Schumacher repeating another Rascasse-type incident)

AJ ALLMENDINGER, Champ Car driver
"She's a doctor, so I figured somebody was going to have to make money in the family if I wasn't making any at that point." (Referring to the engagement to his fiancée, Lynne, after just being fired from RuSPORT.)

PAUL TRACY, Champ Car driver
"Once his button gets hit, it's not a firecracker that goes off, it's a nuclear explosion." (Referring to the temperament of his new teammate, AJ Allmendinger)
PAUL GENTILOZZI, Champ Car team owner
FLOYD GANASSI, Father of Champ Car, now IRL, team owner, Chip Ganassi

Paul Gentilozzi is convinced that ISC, and—at least in perception—NASCAR, has underestimated public opinion in the racing community in Phoenix when they tried to kill the proposed Champ Car street race. “Arrogance,” he reiterates. “It reminds me of something Floyd Ganassi [father of motorsports team owner Chip Ganassi] used to say: ‘The higher the monkey climbs up the pole, the more you can see of its ass.’ ”

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in briefUPDATE #2 (GMM) Honda, or any other team for that matter, did not protest BMW-Sauber's results in Montreal as the 'flexi-wing' saga continues to bubble.

This is despite the fact that Nick Heidfeld finished in the points, thus preventing Honda's Jenson Button from taking the final point.  However, boss Nick Fry held talks with the FIA's Charlie Whiting before the race and was apparently convinced to drop his protest threat.

Fry said: ''(Whiting) made it clear that all he could do was apply a normal test to their car.''

In Canada and everywhere else, BMW's rear wing design - although believed by Honda and others to bend at high speed - passes the current scrutineering test.

However, it is understood that Whiting will continue to investigate the matter and is likely to have further talks in Indianapolis later this week.

Fry said: ''It's not fair and it's somewhat amazing that what they are doing is not denied.''

He point-blank refused BMW's argument that the rear wing in question is legal.  ''It's ludicrous.

''It is very clear to the rest of us -- it is illegal pure and simple,'' said Fry, ''and the FIA do need to look into it.

06/26/06 (GMM)  ''Bringing a temporary lull to the ongoing 'flexi' saga, FIA officials ruled in Montreal that BMW-Sauber's rear wing is legal.

Prior to the Canadian grand prix, reports suggested that Honda might formally protest the German-owned team's results after photographic evidence suggested that the rear wing was flexing at speed.

Interestingly, the same photographic evidence - distributed among teams - showed that the formerly under-fire Ferrari's corresponding bodywork did not flex in a similarly sinister way.

BMW now at core of 'flexi-wing' saga
Stewards throw out Trulli protest
Alonso dismisses Schu challenge
McLaren still hoping to keep Kimi
American races 'crucial' - Brawn
JV, Schu, keep war of words rolling
Jeff Gordon gets engaged Jeff Gordon gets engagedIt was a big weekend for Jeff Gordon, who not only won Sunday's NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Infineon Raceway, but he also told family and friends Saturday night that he is engaged to his girlfriend Ingrid Vandebosch, pictured right.  (Photo by Bob Heathcote/AutoRacing1.com)
Champ Car points battle tightens Champ Car points battle tightensThe early exits for Bourdais and Wilson, coupled with Allmendinger’s victory, turned the Champ Car standings into a three-car hunt after six races. Bourdais continues to lead with 166 points, while Wilson is 26 behind. Allmendinger lopped 29 points off of Bourdais’ advantage with this weekend’s win and is just 31 points behind.
Allmendinger first since Andretti Allmendinger first since AndrettiA.J. Allmendinger is the first U.S. driver to win back-to-back Champ Car events since Michael Andretti won in Vancouver and Road America in 2001.
100 wins for Michelin 100 wins for MichelinFernando Alonso’s victory – just one day before the 100th anniversary of the Renault/Michelin success in the 1906 GP de l’Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the first recognized Grand Prix motor race – extends his World Championship lead to 25 points over Michael Schumacher.

Alonso dominated the Canadian Grand Prix to score his sixth win of the season and complete Michelin’s landmark century of Formula One world championship successes.

The Spaniard led away from Pole Position, fending off an early challenges from Kimi Raikkonen and breezed to victory after the Finn lost time with clutch-related problems during his two scheduled refueling stops.

Nick Shorrock, Michelin F1 Director “This 100th victory is an important milestone for everyone at Michelin, both here at the track and back at our factory in Clermont-Ferrand. The company has racked up its century during 14 seasons at this level – and all but a handful of those victories have been achieved against stiff opposition. That is the true essence of F1 and I’d like to thank everybody who has contributed to our success.” Michelin

Manufacturers disagree with Bernie over the USA Manufacturers disagree with Bernie over the USAFour of Formula One's largest manufacturers called on Saturday for the calendar to expand to include two races in the U S.

Responding to claims by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone that the sport does not need America following last year's chaotic race that featured only six cars and sparked outcry, representatives of the sport's manufacturers stressed the importance of racing across the Atlantic.

BMW motorsport chief Mario Theissen led calls for the sport's governing body, the Federation Internationale l'Automobile to place a second stateside race in addition to the current race at Indianapolis. zzzz

And Ferrari team boss Jean Todt agreed saying: “We like racing in the US. Just to recall that Ferrari has its biggest market in the US – one third of our cars are sold in this country so for the visibility of Ferrari and of Formula One we think it's important to do this race.”

Mercedes' motorsport chief Norbert Haug agreed with the idea and even went a step further, suggesting that an all-American Formula One team would re-vitalize Formula One stateside.

Haug said: "I would love to have an American team - lets say if we could encourage a guy like Roger Penske. Of course, it would be fantastic to have a Canadian team, but that has to be the strategic approach.

“I think we need to explore America further in F1 in the future, and my wish in the long term would be to develop an American team with American drivers, even American engine manufacture, even a combination of that. That would be great.” [Editor's Note: This is just another example of Bernie stirring things up to create controversy and news. There will be a USGP in 2007 and beyond.]

Philippe nabs 2nd place for Forsythe foursome Philippe nabs 2nd place for Forsythe foursomeHe may be just 16 years old, but Forsythe Championship Racing’s young Atlantic prodigy Richard Philippe showed great maturity today as he resisted race-long pressure from more experienced competitors and finished second in the final race of the Gehl Atlantic Championship of Cleveland doubleheader.  After showing speed all year but suffering from a crash at the season opener in Long Beach and bad luck at several other events, the younger brother of Champ Car driver Nelson Philippe jumps to 15th in the point standings.  zzzz

The “old man” of Forsythe’s Atlantic foursome, 25 year-old Leonardo Maia, enjoyed his best finish of the year as he climbed from his seventh-place starting spot to finish fifth on the day and move to eighth in the standings.  Andreas Wirth, the series points leader, had just passed championship contender Simon Pagenaud when he went off track and lost his front wing, costing the German rocket a lap as he was forced to pit for a new nose.  Despite the setback, Wirth climbed back through the 24-car field to finish 18th while setting fastest race lap, over a quarter-second quicker than any other car. 

James Hinchcliffe, right behind Wirth in the point standings coming into the Cleveland weekend, was also behind Wirth when he went off track.  He went off track with his teammate, also losing his front wing. After pitting for a new nose he trailed Wirth across the finish line in 19th.

Richard Philippe ”Finally!  It’s been a really, really tough year so far and I was getting pretty depressed.  But my team never gave me a hard time and kept supporting me, so I’m very happy to give them a podium finish.  The car was really easy to drive and while I didn’t have anything for Graham (race winner Graham Rahal) I was able to do consistent quick laps.  Our driver coach Lee Bentham was talking to me all through the race keeping me calm and focused so I have to thank him also.  My family was here supporting me and we all had big smiles!  So now there’s just one more step to focus on for Toronto.”

Leonardo Maia  “We’re getting there.  The car was pretty good and consistent and I got a decent start.  I was in seventh at the end of the first lap and just kept chipping away.  Thanks again to the team for a great weekend and I think we were all happy to see Richard get the podium he deserved.  I think we’re still rebuilding our confidence after we had a bad weekend as a team in Monterrey, but it’s starting to look like we’re going to be a factor for the rest of the year.  Now everybody has a podium but me, so it’s my turn in Toronto!”

Andreas Wirth  “I lost the air off my front wings behind the 22 car as I tried to set him up for a pass on the front straight and pushed off at the last chicane.  So I had to pit for a new wing and that was it.  I’m very disappointed because I knew straight away the #37 INDECK/Layer 7/Wirth Solar car was very, very fast today.  At least I did the quickest race lap and showed how hard my crew had worked to make the car perfect today, but it’s not the result we were looking for.”

James Hinchcliffe “I was right behind Andreas when he went off and just followed him into the dirt.  He lost the air off his front wings behind Ott and I lost the air off my front wings behind him.  We were both kind of amazed after the race because we’d never experienced such a sudden loss of downforce like that.  But, it is what it is and we’ll just have to move on.  Next we go to my hometown of Toronto and I think our motivation will be very high there.  The team is doing a great job and I don’t have any doubt the Emexis/INDECK car will be up front again.”
Major crash at start of Champ Car race Major crash at start of Champ Car raceUPDATE #3 Sebastien's CT-Scan was negative for damage and he was released from the hospital. He will remain in Cleveland tonight as planned and return to St. Petersburg tomorrow AM.

 “I was slowly fading away as the pressure (from the bottom of Tracy’s race car) was increasing. Maybe his tire hit me when he came up but it was the bottom of his car that was on top of my head. I probably lost a little consciousness because by the time the whole thing stopped I didn’t know if it was a dream or where I was, what happened. I couldn’t put everything together. For example I don’t remember (assistant team manager) Kenny (Siwieck) calling me three times or answering him. At some point I started coming out of it and saw people running toward the car. I don’t know what happened; I haven’t seen the video so I can’t comment too much. I know I didn’t change my line but don’t know how Tracy got on my head. That’s what can happen when you race wheel to wheel. I got turned around and the next thing I knew was that there was a car on top of my head. He missed the rollbar and was pushing me down into the cockpit; I was the shock absorber for him. I must have started losing consciousness then because the next thing I remember was being stopped in the grass and people coming at me. The design of the cars really helped me because your head is not sticking out much. If it was Nigel’s car (that he drove prior to the race morning warm-up) from 10 years ago I would have been in trouble.” Sebastien Bourdais

06/25/06 More good news on Bourdais from the hospital. He is quoted as saying the worse thing about the accident was the needle they stuck in him before the CAT scan. He has been released from the hospital and is OK.

06/25/06 Bourdais is conscious and on his way to the hospital for a CAT scan complaining of a headache and pain in his hand. Considering the severity of the crash the prognosis is encouraging. His pregnant wife Claire is visibly shaken and on the way to the hospital to be with her husband.

It appeared the bottom of Tracy's car hit the cockpit area of Bourdais' car and may have hit his head and his hand. Tracy's car went flying through the air yet after some repairs is still running on the lead lap and passing cars.

06/25/06 A major crash between turns 1 and 2 at the start of the Cleveland GP Champ Car race involving AJ Allmendinger, Sebastien Bourdais, Cristiano da Matta and others has left Sebastien Bourdais on a stretcher headed to the medical center, da Matta out of the race and several cars damaged. Paul Tracy went up and on top of Bourdais and there is speculation that he hit Bourdais head. More as we get it.
Formula BMW
Coletti makes it 2 for 2 in Montreal Coletti makes it 2 for 2 in MontrealMontreal, Quebec, Canada … Stefano Coletti (EuroInternational) collected his second Formula BMW USA victory today with a win in Round 6 as 29 young Formula BMW competitors provided an exciting opening act to the this afternoon's Canadian Grand Prix. Coletti, a regular Formula BMW Germany driver, led all but one of the 14-lap contest around the 2.709-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve from his second pole position, but the race was much closer than the results sheet shows. Matt Lee (Team Autotecnica) scored his second runner-up finish of the weekend, hounding Coletti for the final four laps of the race. Simona de Silvestro (EuroInternational) finished on the final step of the podium from her fourth-place starting position. zzzz

Coletti got off to another good start as Robert Wickens (Team Apex Racing USA) and Lee began to immediately challenge each other for second. At the end of the first lap Coletti had built up a small gap to Lee. Behind them the battle and story of the race began to unfold as Reed Stevens (HBR Motorsport Team USA) came from his 10th starting position to pass Wickens for third.

The race's only caution period occurred on laps eight and nine after Gelles Racing teammates Ryan Campbell and Sebastian Saavedra experienced mechanical difficulties after each had contact earlier in the race and had to be removed from the circuit. After the restart Lee was able to take the lead for a short time, but Coletti was able to quickly re-pass him. He set the fastest time of the race (1:45.224) on the final lap as he held off Lee for his second Formula BMW victory.

As Coletti and Lee took the checkered flag, Wickens and Stevens came together in the final turn, spinning both cars. De Silvestro swept by to take third while Wickens was able to finish ninth and now shares the Overall points lead with Lee. A determined Stevens, facing counter-race following the incident with Wickens, reversed the final quarter mile of the circuit to take the checkered flag - backwards - in 16th.

Doug Boyer (AIM Autosport) finished fourth, and Ryan Phinny (Hearn Motorsports) and Yannick Hofman (HBR Motorsports Team USA) scored their first top-10 result of the season finishing fifth and seventh respectively and thereby delivering their best results of the season.

The top-five finishing Rookie drivers were Maxime Pelletier (P11), Steven Guerrero (P14), David Garza (P15), Robert Thorne (P18) and Joel Jackson (P21).

With Lee's third podium finish in the 2006 Formula BMW USA championship he now shares the Championship points lead with Wickens. De Silvestro moves up to third and Coletti and Daniel Morad (AIM Autosport) are fourth and fifth respectively.

Maxime Pelletier (Gelles Racing) is in the lead of the Rookie championship ahead of Daniel Morad (AIM Autosport) and Sebastian Saavedra (Gelles Racing) who stand second and third respectively. David Garza (EuroInternational) and Jordan Dick (Team Apex Racing USA) stand fourth and fifth.

"I had a perfect weekend. I was first in the practice, I scored two poles and won both races - I couldn't hope for a better weekend and I am very happy," Coletti said. "At the beginning I built up a little gap because Matt was fighting with Wickens. I had a one second advantage but then Matt was driving really well and fast and was able to catch me. Then my car started to become better and better having a lot of oversteer. I was bale to build a gap gain but then the safety car came out and at the restart I had some problems and Matt passed me. But I passed him again and finished first."

Lee says, "The race was definitely very interesting. At the beginning I had a fight with Wickens for second and then I was fighting with Coletti. First we had a large gap but then I was able to close it. I was very disappointed when Coletti passed me after I lead for a short time. I thought that I would pull away but I couldn't. As I am leading the championship I hope to repeat the two podiums finishes next week at Indianapolis."

De Silvestro, "We had a crash in the last lap and I was able to go around and to finish third. My car was not running very well because I touched somebody in the back earlier. I lost positions but at the end I finished third and I am very happy now. The race was hard today because my car was not as fast as usual. My team did a great job because my teammate Stefano won two races this weekend. They gave us very good cars."

Formula BMW USA will hold Rounds 7 and 8 next weekend in support of the United States Grand Prix in Indianapolis.

Round 6 - Results (14 laps)
1 Stefano Coletti EuroInternational 27:23.698
2 Matt Lee Team Autotecnica 27:24.371
3 Simona de Silvestro EuroInternational 27:30.167
4 Doug Boyer AIM Autosport 27:30.257
5 Ryan Phinny Atlantic Racing Team 27:30.365
6 Tobias Hegewald Mosquito Motorsports 27:31.500
7 Yannick Hofman HBR Motorsport Team USA 27:35.702
8 Philip Major Atlantic Racing Team 27:38.548
9 Robert Wickens Team Apex Racing USA 27:42.829
10 Alex Navejar Jensen Motorsport 27:45.331
11 Maxime Pelletier (R) Gelles Racing 27:45.483
12 Adrien Herberts Gelles Racing 27:46.000
13 Scott Schroeder American Spirit Grand Prix 27:46.808
14 Steven Guerrero (R) HBR Motorsport Team USA 27:47.310
15 David Garza (R) EuroInternational 27:47.409
16 Reed Stevens HBR Motorsport Team USA 27:50.689
17 Marco Santos Haberfeld & Walker Racing 27:51.389
18 Robert Thorne (R) Team Autotecnica 27:52.838
19 David Rangel Haberfeld & Walker Racing 27:52.851
20 Jules Duc Hearn Motorsports 27:54.225
21 Joel Jackson (R) Gelles Racing 27:55.145
22 Frankie Muniz Jensen Motorsport 28:02.311
23 Maryeve Dufault Hearn Motorsports 28:06.101
24 Jordan Dick (R) Team Apex Racing USA 13 laps
25 Race Johnson HBR Motorsport Team USA 12 laps
26 Daniel Morad (R) AIM Autosport 10 laps
27 John Zartarian Gelles Racing 10 laps
28 Ryan Campbell Gelles Racing 6 laps
29 Sebastian Saavedra (R) Gelles Racing 6 laps

Rahal doubles up in Cleveland Rahal doubles up in Cleveland
FIA launch second F1 survey FIA launch second F1 survey(GMM)  F1's governing body has launched a second 'Formula One Survey', the FIA announced on Sunday.

''The first survey was enormously helpful for us as we developed the regulations for the sport in 2008 and beyond,'' said Max Mosley.

It can be accessed at www.fia-amd-survey2006.com, and the results will be published in October.

First and second standing start smooth First and second standing start smoothUPDATE The Atlantic Series Sunday race in Cleveland got off to another perfect standing start.  It was clean, fair and the field came into the first turn at Cleveland in unison but without the crashes that happen with rolling starts due to the reason given below. 

Expect to see standing starts in Champ Car in 2007 at some events, despite what some of the drivers said Friday in Cleveland.  The new car is being designed with standing starts in mind and it will happen, so the Champ Car drivers had better get used to the idea according to a very high source.  The source told AutoRacing1.com that "he's tired of all the crashed cars we have with rolling starts," again for the reasons given below. Mark C.

06/24/06 The first standing start in the Champ Car Atlantic series in many years came off without a hitch Saturday afternoon in Cleveland on a track known for its first corner crashes. We have long maintained that standing starts are not only more fair (the back of the grid isn't 1/2-mile behind before the race even starts), the speed the cars carry into the first corner is less and the speed differential from the front of the grid to the back is less creating less of an accordion effect. (Photo right - Atlantic cars storm down to the first corner after standing start)

While it is too early to say that standing starts should be the norm, and that there will not be crashes on some occasions, today was the first day in what could be a new era for American racing.

Fisi says team orders not needed Fisi says team orders not needed(GMM)  Giancarlo Fisichella has played down the likelihood that team orders could play a role in the outcome of the Canadian GP.

Although team orders are not allowed in formula one, the Roman intimated that his teammate has a big enough lead in the championship to not require any such support.

Referring to pole-sitter Fernando Alonso, Fisichella said in Montreal: ''He's also quick enough that he doesn't need any help.

''It's the same for Renault -- we have a good gap to Ferrari,'' he added.

Menard gets his first win at Milwaukee Menard gets his first win at MilwaukeeIt was a wild night of racing action at America’s oldest race track with Paul Menard picking up his long-awaited first career NASCAR Busch Series victory in the AT&T 250 at the famed Milwaukee Mile. The day started off on a historic note as Aric Almirola, subbing for a traveling Denny Hamlin, became the first Cuban-American driver to win a pole in any of NASCAR’s three touring series. The field included two female drivers, Erin Crocker and Kim Crosby and a surprise entry, 71 year old James Hylton. The 1966 NASCAR premier series Rookie of the Year made his second career NASCAR Busch Series to become the oldest competitor in the history of NASCAR’s top three series. Sporting a yellow rookie bumper, Hylton took the green flag but dropped out of contention early in the event.

According to NASCAR rules Denny Hamlin was forced to start on the rear of the field but moved quickly through the pack to take the lead on lap 80. His Joe Gibbs Chevrolet looked like the class of the field, however, other competitors proved strong competition as the race unfolded. Series regular Jason Leffler took the lead with 83 laps reaming and seemed to have the race wrapped up making up a 2 ½ second deficit to leader Hamlin in just 10 laps. But a miscue on lap 205 caused Leffler to spin out at the entrance to pit road as he attempted to make a pit stop. Ironically, the spin came as his main competition, Hamlin, was making a green flag pit stop. zzzz

Wisconsin native Paul Menard took the lead on the restart as a series of caution periods unfolded. Points leader Kevin Harvick moved into second spot by taking advantage of the cautions as what seemed to be a sure win for Menard evaporated with Harvick on the tail of Menard’s electric yellow Chevrolet.

The field took the green for restart number nine on lap 243 as Erin Crocker was punted into the wall by Todd Kluever at the start-finish line. Another restart came on lap 247 with Harvick clawing the inside of the track in turn one. As the leaders hit turn two Harvick got Menard a little sideways as J.J. Yeley tapped the back of Harvick which caused a multi-car melee. This set up a green-white-checker finish with Menard, Yeley, Hamlin and Leffler the main players. Menard got a good jump on the pack at the restart and cruised to his first win in front of a home town crowd. It was the second consecutive victory by a series regular. Dan Stillman, Menard’s crew chief, is also a native of Wisconsin, which added a little spice to the win. A race-record 11 cautions periods caused 58 laps to be run under the yellow and expanded the event to 258 laps.

The top five finishing order was Menard, Hamlin, Yeley, Leffler and Mike Wallace. A total of eight regular NASCAR Busch Series competitors made up the first 10 finishing spots. Kevin Harvick held his lead in the points dropping 28 markers for a margin of 344 over Hamlin who took over second place from Carl Edwards who now sits third. Clint Bowyer and Yeley round out the top five. Menard is now sixth in points for the top series regular in the point battle.

The NASCAR Busch Series competes next Friday night at Daytona International Speedway in the Winn-Dixie 250. Martin Truex Jr. is the defending race champion.

Adrian Carrio wins crash marred Star Mazda race Adrian Carrio wins crash marred Star Mazda raceDriving the #14 Rockford Fosgate World Speed Motorsports Mazda, Adrian Carrio, from Monument, Colorado, earned his first career Star Mazda victory today on the Gilles Villeneuve Circuit in Round Five of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, being held in conjunction with the Formula One Grand Prix of Canada. Carrio would lead every lap to take the checkered flag ahead of Matt Varsha by 1.482 seconds in a race marred by an opening lap incident towards the front of the field that knocked 15 of the 42 competitors out of the event and shortened the race, originally scheduled for 26 laps down to eleven laps.

The opening lap trouble came as the cars entered the high-speed right-hand kink on the backstraight when Herrington and Michael Potekhen touched wheels, sending Herrington into the tire barrier and back onto the circuit. Chaos followed as the cars behind all tried to avoid Herrington and each other. "I came up on the blind corner flat out and all I could see was smoke and waving yellow flags," John Faulker described. "I hit my brakes as hard as I could and flat spotted my right front tire but was able to find a way through the accident." zzzz

"Coming down to the green flag for the start of the race Daniel and I were wheel to wheel and I was able to hold on on the outside of turn one and then move into first place in the right-hander so I was ahead of the incident and really didn't know what happened until we came around and stopped for the red flag," Carrio explained. "Once the race resumed it came down to managing my tire temperatures and running consistent laps. I have to thank World Speed team owner Telo Stewart, my engineer Mike Doyle and everyone else at World Speed for all their hard work this weekend and hope that all the other drivers are okay."

Varsha, who earned his first podium finish of the season with the second place finish in the #45 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda, was also ahead of the incident but disappointed to lose the chance to put on a show for the fans. "As I came into the hairpin on that first lap I could see the screen showing the crash and at first I thought it was a replay of something else," the Atlanta, Georgia native explained. "If we had made it through that first lap I think we could've put on a great show for all the Formula One fans and it was sad to see so many good drivers knocked out of the race. When the race resumed I was able to get around Ryan Justice, who had to stop on pit lane for a penalty, and then jump past Potekhen and Kevin Lacroix as they fought each other in the hairpin. Despite everything that happened it is still nice to get a podium finish as we continue to look for sponsorship to keep the season going."

Standing Start procedure explained Standing Start procedure explainedA summary of the new Champ Car Atlantic Series standing start procedures follow, subject to modifications over time if changes are deemed necessary after several races:


  • A three minute board will be displayed at front of grid and all personnel must leave the grid except three crew members per car
  • A one minute board will be displayed along with the command for "drivers to start your engines." All remaining personnel must clear the grid.
  • The pace car will then roll with the race cars behind

Warm Up Lap

  • During the warm-up lap the cars will maintain their position, no overtaking
  • Excessive weaving (more than 50% of track width) or falling back to accelerate and undertake practice starts are prohibited.
  • If a car is unable to leave the grid with the rest of the field, the car will be allowed to catch up and start at the tail end if the car get be refired.
  • At end of warm-up lap pace car will drive into pits
  • Each team will be allowed one person on track to hold the grid position sign. The front wheels of the car must remain behind the grid line.
  • The first car on the grid will be positioned approximately 75 feet before the start/finish line
  • The grid positions staggered and are marked 20 feet nose-to-nose from position 1 to 2, 2 to 3, 3 to 4, etc. In other words there is a full 40 feet to the car directly in front of you, i.e. position 1 to 3, or 2 to 4.

Light Sequence

  • A 30 second board will be shown from the starters stand once all cars are in position and all crew members have cleared the grid
  • A 15 second board will then be shown which indicates 15 seconds until the light sequence begins
  • The four red lights will illuminate one by one
  • The race starts when ALL red lights go out (not less than half a second, but no more than three seconds after all 4 lights go red)
  • a false start shall be when the race car moves forward from its prescribed position before the lights go out.
  • A penalty will be imposed for a false start judged by the officials and the decision is not protestable.

Delayed Start

  • If the starter deems the start needs to be delayed he will display a "start delayed" board. The countdown sequence will then commence from the 30 second board.

Aborted Start

  • If the start is aborted the yellow lights will illuminate. Instructions will be given to the teams and drivers via radio. The standing start procedure will be abandoned and the pace car will be dispatched for a rolling 2 by 2 start and that lap will count.
How bad is Rusty Wallace? How bad is Rusty Wallace?Many fans think new IRL announcer and former NASCAR driver Rusty Wallace is a cornball. On tonight's ESPN2 broadcast Wallace kept on saying he can't believe these drivers are running through the turns without lifting yet every time they showed the telemetry from the cars the drivers were lifting way off the throttle in both turns 1 and 2 and in turns 3 and 4. Where did they dig this guy up? And you wonder why fans are turned off by the broadcasts?
Benson Winner for Second Straight Week Benson Winner for Second Straight WeekJohnny Benson required 60 starts to reach his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory. The second took six days as Benson, driving the Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota, swept past Budweiser Pole starter Ron Hornaday Jr. on the 160th of 200 laps to win Friday night’s Toyota Tundra Milwaukee 200 at The Milwaukee Mile.

Benson started second and led twice for a total of 47 laps and carried a 2.249-second cushion to the checkered flag to become the track’s 11th winner in 12 races. Thirty-seven laps of caution held Benson’s winning average speed to 85.673 mph – second slowest in series history at the historic track.

Benson won $55,500 and moved up a spot in the championship standings to third behind Todd Bodine and David Reutimann. He became the sixth different driver to win his first two series races in back-to-back starts. The last was Kyle Busch in 2005. zzzz

"I can't believe it. The first one was pretty hard and everyone said that the second one would come a little easier," said Benson. "But I didn't think it would come today."

Former Milwaukee winner Mike Bliss, aboard the IWX Motor Freight Chevrolet, charged through the field from his 18th position on the grid, passing Hornaday’s Chevy five laps from the finish for the runner-up spot. Hornaday, who led a race high 102 laps in four stints at the helm, settled for third ahead of Jack Sprague’s Con-way Freight Toyota. David Reutimann was fifth in the Team Tundra Toyota.

Sixth through 10th positions were claimed by Timothy Peters, Dennis Setzer, David Starr, Rick Crawford and Terry Cook. Aric Almirola was the highest finishing Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender in 13th place.

Seventeen of the race’s 34 finishers completed all 200 laps.

Bodine, who led once, dropped off the pace at the three-quarter mark and spun out to trigger the final caution shortly after being lapped by Benson. He wound up 20th and off the lead lap for the first time in the season’s 11 races.

The night cut heavily into Bodine’s championship lead that stands at 126 points over Reutimann and another four ahead of Benson. He entered the race with a margin of 178.

The series next heads for Kansas Speedway for Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 250. Bodine is the defending winner.

And baby makes three And baby makes threeAutoRacing1.com has learned that Claire Bourdais (left) and her husband, Champ Car star Sebastien Bourdais (right), are expecting their first child in December.  With the baby arriving in the off-season, it should not affect Bourdais' race season and December usually is a quiet month for testing.  Congratulations to happy couple.
Rahal storms to his 2nd Atlantic win Rahal storms to his 2nd Atlantic winGraham Rahal, who will test a GP2 car for David Price Racing on Tuesday at Paul Ricard, stormed through from 5th place on the opening lap to take a convincing win in the first Champ Car Atlantic race of the weekend in Cleveland, Ohio Saturday afternoon. 

Rahal's win marks the 25th anniversary of the Cleveland GP, a race won by his father Bobby, though that was in the bigger Champ Cars.  It was Rahal's 2nd win in 5 Atlantic Series starts.

"This is the closest track to home that I race on," said Rahal, "so for me it's like my home race."  The Rahal's are from Ohio.

Simon Pagenaud, who jumped into the lead at the start, got held up in traffic with 9 laps to go and that was all the opening Rahal needed as he jumped to the inside to grab the lead and then proceeded to pull away.  Points leader Andreas Wirth, who ran 2nd at the start, finished third. 

Rahal also set the fastest lap of the race, a 1m 04.744s on lap 17, comfortably faster than his nearest competitors. zzzz

While Wirth stayed in Pagenaud’s mirrors in second place, the early part of the 32-lap race certainly belonged to the Frenchman. He paced the first 23 laps as he weaved his way through lapped traffic to maintain his lead. Rahal wasn’t happy with his start, but he maintained his fifth-place position early and even moved up a couple of spots, grabbing third place after Robbie Pecorari (#28 Western Union/USA Today/Gelles Racing) suffered heavy damage on his car after hitting the Turn 8 wall.

Both Pagenaud and Wirth once again began to encounter slower lapped cars in the later stages of the race, opening the door for the speedy Rahal. While Wirth tried to work his way around one of the backmarkers on Lap 21, Rahal saw his opportunity and pounced. He passed the Forsythe Racing sophomore in Turn 8 to claim second place and then set his sights on first place.

Just two laps later, Rahal closed quickly on Pagenaud as the leader tried to avoid the slowing car of Daniel Gaunt (#35 Newman Wachs Racing), who was fighting mechanical problems.. Rahal zoomed around Pagenaud to capture the lead on the 23rd orbit of the race heading into Turn 1. With the boisterous Cleveland crowd cheering for their local hero, Bobby Rahal couldn’t help but smile as his son’s impressive and gutsy performance brought back memories of his 1982 Cleveland Champ Car victory.

Just five laps from the finish, Justin Sofio (#26 Mathiasen Motorsports/RLM Investments) made hard contact with the Turn 8 wall as Rahal continued to hold off Pagenaud and Wirth. The damage caused by Sofio’s crash required extensive cleanup, forcing the race to end under a yellow caution flag as the Champ Car Safety Team attended to the wreckage.

After first-lap contact with Pagenaud took him out of contention last week in Portland when he started from the pole, Rahal’s victory not only lifted his spirits emotionally, it also elevated him in the championship standings. Saturday’s win enabled him to rise from seventh to third in the chase for the title and the $2 million Champ Car champion’s bonus. Rahal ended the day 40 points in back of Wirth in the season standings.

Pagenaud secured his third podium finish in five events this season with his second-place result as he moved back into the second position in the championship standings, now just 27 points behind the leader. Wirth claimed his fourth podium finish of the season and his 11th top-three result in 15 career Atlantic starts. He also maintained his championship lead, now with 135 points through five rounds of action.

PR1 Motorsports racer Jonathan Bomarito (#23 Miracle Sealants/Dynacor) came home fourth for his third top-five of the season, while Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) of Sierra Sierra Enterprises completed the top-five finishers.

Carlos Mastretta (#8 Tecnoidea/Radiante Digital/Signotech) of Mexico and Brooks Associates Racing earned his best series finish in sixth place while Leonardo Maia (#7 INDECK) also scored his best Atlantic finish, crossing the stripe in seventh place. Brazilian Danilo Dirani (#1 Canary Fund/Funcional Card/Sala Design/Perkons) claimed his fourth top 10 to start the year with an eighth-place run and Joe D’Agostino (#34 Newman/Wachs Racing) equaled his best result in ninth. Mexican series sophomore David Martinez (#4 Mexico/US RaceTronics) rounded out the top 10.

Sunday morning starts with a 15-minute morning warm-up at 9 a.m. ET for the Atlantic cars before the second race of the Gehl Atlantic Championship of Cleveland doubleheader takes the green flag standing start at 12 p.m. Follow all of Sunday’s racing action through the Live Timing link, and see all 2006 races on demand, at www.champcaratlantic.com....


Pos Car# Driver Laps Behind Status
1 18 Graham Rahal 32 0.000 Running
2 15 Simon Pagenaud 32 1.877 Running
3 37 Andreas Wirth  32 2.471 Running
4 23 Jonathan Bomarito 32 9.138 Running
5 6 Raphael Matos 32 9.536 Running
6 8 Carlos Mastretta 32 14.363 Running
7 7 Leonardo Maia 32 15.527 Running
8 1 Danilo Dirani 32 16.241 Running
9 34 Joe D'Agostino 32 18.878 Running
10 4 David Martinez 32 19.262 Running
11 33 Richard Philippe 32 19.358 Running
12 2 Tim Bridgman 32 20.637 Running
13 5 James Davison 31 1 Lap Running
14 21 Alex Barron 31 1 Lap Running
15 12 Alan Sciuto 31 1 Lap Running
16 10 Alex Sperafico 31 1 Lap Running
17 3 James Hinchcliffe 30 2 Laps Running
18 16 Alex Garcia 28 3 Laps Mechanical
19 30 Ryan Lewis 28 4 Laps Running
20 26 Justin Sofio 27 1:01.591 Contact
21 55 Duncan Ende 23 9 Laps Running
22 35 Daniel Gaunt 22 1 Lap Mechanical
23 22 Steve Ott 21 4 Laps Contact
24 28 Robbie Pecorari 10 1 Lap Contact

American Hayden wins, takes point lead American Hayden wins, takes point leadNicky Hayden claimed victory in the Dutch MotoGP after fellow American Colin Edwards dramatically crashed on the final corner in Assen.   Edwards, riding a Yamaha, led for most of Saturday's race but was passed by championship leader Hayden late on.

Edwards regained the lead but, with the finish line in sight, lost control of his bike at the final chicane, handing victory to Honda rival Hayden.

Shinya Nakano took second, Dani Pedrosa was third and Valentino Rossi eighth.

World champion Rossi, who raced despite struggling with a broken bone in his hand, started from 18th spot on the grid but battled his way through the field.

Dutch GP result:
1 Nicky Hayden (US) Honda 42 minutes, 27.404 seconds
2 Shinya Nakano (Jpn) Kawasaki 42:32.288
3 Dani Pedrosa (Sp) Honda 42:34.929
4 Casey Stoner (Aus) Honda 42:34.959
5 Kenny Roberts Jr (US) KR211V 42:35.482
6 John Hopkins (US) Suzuki 42:44.469
7 Marco Melandri (It) Honda 42:45.494
8 Valentino Rossi (It) Yamaha 42:51.355
9 Carlos Checa (Sp) Yamaha 42:56.431
10 Chris Vermeulen (Aus) Suzuki 42:59.031
11 Makoto Tamada (Jpn) Honda 43:00.245
12 Alex Hofmann (Ger) Ducati 43:01.547
13 Colin Edwards (US) Yamaha 43:07.816
14 Randy de Puniet (Fr) Kawasaki 43:31.052
15 Loris Capirossi (It) Ducati 43:44.707

Rider standings:
1 Nicky Hayden (US) Honda 144pts
2 Dani Pedrosa (Sp) Honda 102
3 Loris Capirossi (It) Ducati 100
4 Valentino Rossi (It) Yamaha 98
5 Marco Melandri (It) Honda 98
6 Casey Stoner (Aus) Honda 78
7 Colin Edwards (US) Yamaha 63
8 Shinya Nakano (Jpn) Kawasaki 57
9 Kenny Roberts Jr (US) KR211V 55
10 Makoto Tamada (Jpn) Honda 54

Webber fumes at rookie teammate Webber fumes at rookie teammate(GMM)  Mark Webber was furious at his Williams teammate, Nico Rosberg, after ignominiously dropping out of Montreal qualifying in the first cut.

The Australian, who will line up on the grid among MF1s and Super Aguris on Sunday, watched rookie Rosberg graduate right through to the top-ten runs and then qualify sixth at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

''It's very upsetting,'' Webber told reporters at Montreal.  ''You can get traffic but it is a shame that Nico wasn't looking in his mirrors.''

Also gallingly for the 29-year-old, the Hondas of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello also came dangerously close to missing the cut after the first fifteen minutes, but ultimately also qualified in the top ten.  Rosberg also had a scary moment when he clanged a wheel against a Canadian barrier.

Right at the front, though, championship leader and pole sitter Fernando Alonso and Renault teammate Giancarlo Fisichella were peerless in the Montreal sunshine, qualifying ahead of Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren), Jarno Trulli (Toyota) and - down in fifth - Michael Schumacher (Ferrari).

Canada: Renault drivers tops practice 3 Canada: Renault drivers tops practice 3

1. FERNANDO ALONSO Renault M 1:15.455
2. GIANCARLO FISICHELLA Renault M 1:15.521
4. NICK HEIDFELD Sauber-BMW M 1:15.616
5. KIMI RAIKKONEN McLaren-Mercedes M 1:15.902
6. MICHAEL SCHUMACHER Ferrari B 1:15.959
7. JUAN PABLO MONTOYA McLaren-Mercedes M 1:15.975
8. RUBENS BARRICHELLO Honda M 1:16.334
9. FELIPE MASSA Ferrari B 1:16.348
10. SCOTT SPEED Toro Rosso-Cosworth M 1:16.493
11. CHRISTIAN KLIEN Red Bull-Ferrari M 1:16.660
12. JENSON BUTTON Honda M 1:16.673
13. MARK WEBBER Williams-Cosworth B 1:16.710
14. DAVID COULTHARD Red Bull-Ferrari M 1:16.765
15. NICO ROSBERG Williams-Cosworth B 1:16.829
16. VITANTONIO LIUZZI Toro Rosso-Cosworth M 1:16.928
17. JARNO TRULLI Toyota B 1:17.503
18. TIAGO MONTEIRO MF1-Toyota B 1:17.747
19. RALF SCHUMACHER Toyota B 1:18.212
20. TAKUMA SATO Super Aguri-Honda B 1:18.926
21. FRANCK MONTAGNY Super Aguri-Honda B 1:19.160
22. CHRISTIJAN ALBERS MF1-Toyota B 1:19.531
BMW poised to upset F1 order BMW poised to upset F1 order(GMM) BMW-Sauber has resumed its recent role in upsetting F1's established order by shining brightly in the final practice session before qualifying in Canada.

The dominant Renaults set the pace at the top of the timesheet, but Jacques Villeneuve and Nick Heidfeld - in the ever-improving 'F1.06' cars - were within a tenth or two and clear of the usual suspects for McLaren, Ferrari and Honda.

'Friday' driver Robert Kubica dominated yesterday.

''Renault should watch out,'' Williams' third driver Alex Wurz observed at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, according to 'Premiere'.

The Austrian said: ''They were surprising at Silverstone but now they are even stronger.''

Qualifying is at 1pm local time.
Wilson inches closer to Cleveland lap record Wilson inches closer to Cleveland lap recordJustin Wilson inched closer to the 1998 track qualifying record of 56.416 sec. (134.387 MPH) around the 2.106-mile Burke Lakefront airport set by Jimmy Vasser by topping Saturday morning practice in Cleveland with a lap of 56.640s, the fastest lap turned all weekend. Provisional pole sitter Sebastien Bourdais was 2nd and Paul Tracy third. Nelson Philippe continued to impress with the 4th fastest lap. AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top 5. More later.....Mark C.
Legge crashes in Cleveland Legge crashes in ClevelandRookie Katherine Legge has spun and backed the car into the tire barrier in morning Champ Car practice in Cleveland. The rear wing and suspension are damaged but the driver is OK.
News from Canada News from Canada
Carmakers rush to thaw engine 'freeze'
F1's disgruntled carmakers have not yet given up a fight to soften the FIA's proposed engine 'freeze'.

In spite of Max Mosley's doggedness at Silverstone, and Charlie Whiting's more recent closing down of a vote on the matter in a Montreal meeting, manufacturer chiefs are pushing on to find a compromise with the governing body before the June 30 deadline.

''(Sporting Working Group chairman) Charlie Whiting confirmed that the FIA will support this process,'' said BMW motor sport director Mario Theissen, ''so for the time being, I think it is a good situation.''

However, after June 30, the carmakers will require total unanimity to make a change to the 2008 rulebook -- something they will not get as Renault and Ferrari support the FIA.

The race, therefore, is on, particularly with the rubber-stamping F1 Commission scheduled to meet in Paris on July 6.

Willis has not quit Honda
Geoff Willis is still a 'fully contracted' Honda employee, team chief Nick Fry has insisted.

Dismissing reports and rumors that the usurped technical director had already quit in protest of Shuhei Nakamoto's promotion, Fry did however admit that Willis is on what is known in F1 circles as 'gardening leave' in order to consider his future.

It is understood that at the end of a week or two of 'gardening leave', Willis will then need to tell Honda that he will accept a lesser role or hand in his notice.

''I think it's mountain-biking leave actually,'' Fry said in a Montreal press conference. ''He's riding up and down hills and thinking about what he wants to do.''

What he won't end up doing, however, is running Honda's new state-of-the-art wind tunnel; that job has gone to Argentine and aerodynamicist Mariano Alperin.

Rosberg says son to race beyond 2006
Keke Rosberg, the famous father but also manager of 20-year-old son Nico, reckons the blonde youngster will certainly retain a seat in formula one beyond 2006.

But although some more speculative sections of the media have mentioned German-born Nico's name in connection with McLaren, BMW and even Renault, Keke Rosberg told 'sid': ''I assume that he will stay with Williams.''

The Finn explained: ''But naturally we have some options. It will not be a problem for Nico to keep going in F1.''

Nico Rosberg turns 21 next Tuesday.

Teams won't push for tire rule change
Leading Michelin runners have played down suggestions that they would like the FIA to impose a rule change to accompany the French supplier's F1 exit at the end of the '06 season.

Moving away from Renault boss Flavio Briatore's assertion that existing Bridgestone runners will be at a disadvantage as others switch to the Japanese rubber next year, his BMW counterpart denied that they would push for a level playing field.

''We can certainly not request a change in the tire regulations (because of that),'' Mario Theissen insisted.

The German added: ''But I'm sure they'll treat the teams equally and fairly because it can only damage their reputation if there are rumors.''

Anyway, although the current tire rules are staying the same for 2007, it is understood that Bridgestone is planning to use a much simpler design next year after several fierce 'tire war' seasons.

And Mercedes-Benz's Norbert Haug, who with McLaren helped Bridgestone to their first title back in 1998, added: ''They are fair players in that company.'' GMM

Merger could be a bonanza for Open Wheel Merger could be a bonanza for Open WheelNow that Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven and IRL President Tony George seem to be talking seriously about unifying the two open-wheel series, perhaps a few sure-fire story lines waiting to be told can spur things along.

If there was one series, there probably would be very little talk about a lack of young open-wheel talent. Folks going to races like the Grand Prix of Cleveland would see Defiance, Ohio, native Sam Hornish Jr., Dan Wheldon, Buddy Rice, Helio Castroneves, Sebastien Bourdais, Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Justin Wilson, A.J. Allmendinger, Marco Andretti, Danica Patrick and Katherine Legge make up at least half the field. All are 31 or younger.

Hornish, Wheldon, Rice and Castroneves are Indianapolis 500 winners. Hornish, Wheldon, Dixon, Kanaan and Bourdais have been series champions. The sport would be celebrating a youth movement with a bevy of proven winners.

With Hornish, Rice, Allmendinger, Andretti and Patrick on the track, and Al Unser III, Graham Rahal and others on the horizon, nobody would have to search for good, home-grown American race drivers. Indeed, Champ Car's Atlantic support series counts seven of its top 15 drivers as Americans.

With Patrick and Legge, there would be no search for women drivers, either. More at Cleveland Plain Dealer 

Cleveland: Pagenaud wins pole for race 2 Cleveland: Pagenaud wins pole for race 2
Seen in Cleveland - I Seen in Cleveland - IForsythe Racing's team boss Neil Micklewright is now a blonde.  He lost a bet with AJ Allmendinger and his crew that if they won in Portland he would "go blonde" since Allmendinger has blonde hair...........Spotted Bobby Rahal twice in deep conversation with Newman/Haas team boss Carl Haas.......Flipping the pits so that they face the grandstands is getting rave reviews, as is the elevated concert stage, which also faces the grandstands and is setup just behind the team pit boxes......delightful weather is expected to bring out a big Saturday crowd despite the Cleveland Indians being in town tonight......Paul Tracy tells us that he is headed to Daytona this week to race in Grand-Am Thursday night and the NASCAR Busch race Friday night.  He will run one more Busch race this year after that - in Fontana in September. Mark C.
Bill to kill Champ Car race dies Bill to kill Champ Car race diesA bill introduced in the waning weeks of the session to ban a proposed Grand Prix street race (by limiting racing events to established tracks) through downtown Phoenix never made it to a vote. Arizona Republic (Session is now over, don't look for this bill to resurface in another session)
F1 needs America say chiefs F1 needs America say chiefs(GMM)  A swathe of top chiefs do not agree with Bernie Ecclestone that formula one can live without America.

A week ahead of possibly the last trip to Indianapolis for the US grand prix, BMW's Mario Theissen took issue with the F1 supremo's claim that the loss of the race would have little effect.

''Indianapolis has had the biggest attendance of any races,'' said the German, ''and it would be worth following up on this -- maybe having a second one.''

Honda's Nick Fry concurs that the US race opens up a 'very important' market for carmakers, adding: ''And we'd like to have another one.''

Mercedes' Norbert Haug ideally envisages an 'American team' with a 'guy like Roger Penske' steering the ship, preferably with a US-born driver and an 'American manufacturer'.

He added: ''I know Bernie differently, I am surprised (at his comments).  We want to support America and we all need to explore America further in formula one in the future.''

The president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Joie Chitwood, commented that he thought hard-bargainer Bernie's comments indicate a 'positioning' over negotiations for a new contract.

''That's all it was,'' he said, ''and (comments about Las) Vegas was the same thing.

''If you want to have an international series, America should be a part of it.''

Riggs injured in boating accident Riggs injured in boating accidentUPDATE There will be no agony of the feet for Scott Riggs this weekend at Infineon Raceway. I'm going to go on this weekend like I normally do," said Riggs, who received 12 stitches in his feet after a jet ski accident earlier this week. "If I can put 170 pounds on it, I know I can put 100 pounds of brake pressure on it."

A combination of molded plastic and borrowed footwear should keep Riggs from having to defer driving duties during Sunday's Dodge/Save Mart 350 (3 p.m. ET, FOX).

"I've got a piece of plastic in there," said Riggs of his left shoe, which happens to be one of Jeremy Mayfield's old shoes -- two sizes bigger than what Riggs normally wears. "It's got a mold where it doesn't put pressure on the stitches. It puts pressure all around it." NASCAR.com

06/22/06 Monday, while on vacation with his family in Myrtle Beach, Scott Riggs injured both feet while unloading his jet ski in an oyster bed. The wounds required 12 stitches in the ball of left foot and eight stitches in the right big toe.

The injury to Riggs has caused Valvoline Evernham Racing to make back-up plans for this weekend’s NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race in Sonoma. Ray Evernham and Valvoline Designated Team Owner Jim Rocco have retained former NASCAR champion Bill Elliott to stand by this weekend should Riggs not be able to practice, qualify or race the Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge Charger. As things stand today, Riggs will be racing Sunday, according to the team.

“Jim and I huddled today with Scott, Bill Elliott, Team Director Rodney Childers and Competition Director Sammy Johns and we are going to Sonoma with the intention of Scott running the full weekend,” Evernham said. “But Bill will be ready for any scenario.”

“I’m going to Sonoma to race,” Riggs said Wednesday. “It was a freak incident at Myrtle Beach. There was no warning about an oyster bed where we unloaded. We’ll see what happens when I get in the race car. I’m going to do what’s best for the team this weekend.”

Champ Car out, NASCAR in for Montreal Champ Car out, NASCAR in for MontrealMONTREAL -- The final hurdle to a NASCAR Busch Series race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve was cleared yesterday when Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay handed the exclusive rights to the city-owned track to Normand Legault for the next 10 years.

Legault -- who also holds the rights to this weekend's Formula One Canadian Grand Prix -- has a deal in his pocket to bring NASCAR to the 4.361-km permanent road course next season.

As Montreal city-bylaws prevent the track -- built on the man-made Ile Notre Dame in the St. Lawrence River -- from being used more than two weekends a year for racing, yesterday's announcement means the August Champ Car World Series Grand Prix of Montreal will be the last time that sanctioning body will be able to hold an event on the island.

Champ Car officials had been lobbying Tremblay hard to prevent Legault from taking total control of the facility, but it was fighting a losing battle from the beginning.

When Montreal faced an international embarrassment in the summer of 2005 with the possible cancellation of the world aquatic championships because of organizational problems, it was Legault who stepped in to save the event. 


It was a political IOU that Champ Car simply could not match despite an all-out effort to have its fans deluge Tremblay with e-mails supporting its Montreal race.

"(The new deal) is a tribute to Monsieur Legault's 27-year involvement in supporting competitive sports in this city," Tremblay said.

The deal effectively gives Legault the mandate to run the Canadian Grand Prix for the next decade.

Legault was careful not to talk about the NASCAR deal as it is yet to be signed and there remains the possibility that Champ Car might seek legal action to keep its race in Montreal.

But NASCAR will release its 2007 NBS calendar in the next month with a Montreal date certainly penciled in.

There have been two dates that are possibilities for Montreal -- the third weekend in July or the first weekend in August. More at Toronto Sun

Ethanol causing gas prices to skyrocket, war looming Ethanol causing gas prices to skyrocket, war loomingSAN FRANCISCO - Everywhere you look these days, tech and business world luminaries - like Richard Branson, Paul Allen, Steve Case, Vinod Khosla, John Doerr, and Bill Gates - are laying down big bets on ethanol, a substitute for gasoline that's already finding its way into pumps.

The price of the stuff has shot up 65 percent since May from $2.65 a gallon to $4.50, largely thanks to the oil companies who have started to put small quantities of it in our gas as a clean-air additive (most cars can handle a blend of up to 10 percent ethanol in their tanks).

That means the fuel for our cars is now about 60 cents a gallon more expensive than it would be if it were just gas, according to analysts at JPMorgan. As drivers, ethanol is lightening our wallets; as investors, though, it could well fatten them.

But before you jump on the ethanol bandwagon, consider this: There is an ethanol format war looming that will make the Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD tussle look like a schoolyard spat. If you're making an investment for the long term, you have to ask yourself whether the future's dominant fuel is going to come from corn, sugar, rape seed, or switchgrass - or if it's going to be synthesized from scratch.

The winner is going to be whoever can make ethanol in mass quantities for as little money per gallon as possible - a tall order, no matter how you go about it. More at Money.com

[Editor's Note:  Don't say we didn't tell you so.  And just wait until ethanol producers start to bid up the price they will pay for an acre of farm field, thereby competing with food producers.  Can you say $25 for a loaf of bread?]

Danica in Sports Illustrated pictorial Danica in Sports Illustrated pictorialDanica Patrick, the IRL's biggest star continues to get the majority of news coverage and personal endorsements despite never having won a race.  In this Sports Illustrated pictorial she strikes some more sexy poses.
TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday USA TV reminders for Sunday

Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Inside Drag Racing
11:00am-11:30am ESPN2
NASCAR RaceDay Sonoma, CA
11:00am-12:30pm (L) SPEED
NHRA 2Day Madison, IL
11:30am-12:00pm ESPN2
The Fast Life -Andretti 3
12:00pm-12:30pm ESPN2
Formula 1 Montreal, Canada
12:30pm-3:00pm (L) SPEED
Champ Car Cleveland
2:30pm-5:00pm (L) CBS
Rolex Sports Car Series Mid-Ohio
6/24/06 3:00pm-6:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup  Sonoma, CA
3:00pm-7:00pm (L) FOX
MotoGP World Championship  Assen
6/24/06 6:00pm-7:00pm SPEED
Speed News Sunday
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Victory Lane Sonoma, CA
8:00pm-9:00pm (SDD) SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Scott Speed (Formula 1)
Travis Pastrana (MX & FMX) 
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED
Superbike World Championship San Marino
10:00pm-11:00pm (SDD) -Race 1
Tues, June 27: 4:00pm-5:00pm -Race 2  SPEED
NHRA Madison, IL
10:00pm-1:00am (SDD) ESPN2

All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of Sunday's TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Willis offered new Honda role
Massa wants 'more time' to impress Ferrari
Schu're sandbagging says Alonso
Kubica wins rival praise
Ganassi would take Montoya back
Rear wing saga continues to flex
Soccer fan Heidfeld pans F1 chiefs
Portland race to re-air Portland race to re-airIf you missed the exciting finish to AJ Allmendinger's roller coaster week preceding the Portland Champ Car race, the race will be shown again on SPEED tonight, Saturday, June 24, 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET.  It was originally broadcast on CBS..
Track News
Wallace tests new Iowa track Wallace tests new Iowa trackFormer NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace gave a thumbs-up sign as he exited a pace car Thursday after test driving the new Iowa Speedway he helped design.

The 7/8-mile oval track is scheduled to open in September for a shortened inaugural season.

“It’s just a perfect work of art,” Wallace said.

The first of three layers of asphalt have been laid on the $70 million track, which features banked corners and the newest soft wall technology that Wallace said will make it the safest and fastest track of its size.

The track is smaller than some NASCAR speedways, which can be a mile around or more, but Wallace said some of those tracks are too big for the type of excitement he prefers.

“Too big is too big. It gets to be a little ho-hum at bigger tracks,” he said. “This will be a little closer quarters, a little more excitement and a little more action going on.”

He estimated top speeds at the track will reach 170 mph, equal to many of the tracks used by NASCAR series cars vying for the Nextel Cup, the sport’s biggest prize.

Wallace said he expects to announce soon that contracts have been signed for the 2007 racing season. Speedway officials were hoping to announce a few weeks ago that the Indy Racing League has signed on to race at the track, but it never occurred. Wallace said details are being worked out and should be released soon. WCFCourier.com

Industry News
Red Bull Helmet Art to Showcase Top Artists Red Bull Helmet Art to Showcase Top ArtistsArt that is most often seen traveling at more than 200 mph will come to a screeching halt on Saturday evening, July 1. Twenty of the world’s most talented racing helmet artists will display a collection of their work at Red Bull Helmet Art in the lobby of the Emmis Communications Building in Indianapolis at 8:00 p.m. ET.

The exhibit will showcase the work to invited guests and Formula 1 elite in a gala-style setting to immediately follow the Concours on Monument Circle. The presentation will tell the story of the artists, their works and the methods of painting helmets in an evening of innovation, appreciation and most of all, celebration.

“Red Bull Helmet Art will give people a glimpse into a really unsung and little known facet of motorsports,” said event organizer Michael Corby of Indianapolis-based Corby Concepts. “The idea for an exhibit focusing on the art and design of helmets was actually hatched on a bar napkin. You don’t go to college saying, ‘I’m going to be a helmet painter,’ it just evolves naturally from a love of racing and the friendships and connections you form being around it. We just happen to have a really unique canvas to work with.” zzzz

The event will feature an array of works complete with battle-scarred helmets, including those of Scuderia Toro Rosso’s Scott Speed, the United States’ first Formula 1 driver since 1993, as well as 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice, among others. Video presentations will take attendees to the featured artists’ paint shops, bringing them behind-the-scenes of how a helmet design goes from concept to completion.

Many of the drivers whose helmets are on display are also expected to attend.

Invited domestic artists include:
Michael Corby, Corby Concepts Inc., Indianapolis
Jason Beam, Beam Designs, Las Vegas,
Troy Lee, Troy Lee Designs, Southern California
Craig Fraser, Air Syndicate, Bakersfield, Calif.
Brad Platenga, Bullseye Visual, Kokomo, IN
Alex Paglia, Axcel Fast Graphics, Southern California
Chris Wood, Airtrix, Southern California
Cleber Frank, Las Vegas
Donnie Fackler, Bell Racing, USA

Invited international artists include:
Patrice Harvey, Smart Race Paint, Canada
Jason Fowler, JLF Designs, UK
Jens Munser, JMD Designs, Germany
Luca Dalia, Lucky Designs, Italy
Uffe Designs, Finland
Jean-Christophe Bignon, JCB Creations, France
Bruno Theil, Artmix, Brazil
Luke Hibberd, LA Designs, Australia
Mike Fairholme, Fairholme Designs, UK
Sid & Alan Mosca, Painted by Sid, Brazil
Lasse Mehtola, 360 Gfx, Sweden

Allmendinger and Tracy share setups Allmendinger and Tracy share setupsAs soon as AJ Allmendinger came into the Forsythe Racing team they immediately appear to be more competitive and a lot of that can be attributed to the fact that he and Paul Tracy like the same car setup.  Hot off a win with AJ in Portland, he and Tracy are 2nd and 3rd after provisional qualifying in Cleveland and you can almost sense a renewed energy in the team.

"Mario Dominguez likes a totally different setup than I do," said Tracy.  The cars were setup so differently with Mario that it was not possible to share setup data.  The wheelbase, the width, the springs, the shocks, the weight jacker, everything was different with Mario.  At Milwaukee he was running a 6" longer wheelbase than I was, that is how dramatically different it was.  With AJ we like the same basic setup so we can work together and that should make us both faster."

Steve Ott turning heads in Atlantics Steve Ott turning heads in AtlanticsIf there ever was a fairly-tale story of a driver coming out of nowhere to make a real impression in the Champ Car Atlantic paddock, it has to be the story of American Steve Ott.

Ott (pictured right) is an instructor at the new MSR Houston track and the owners of the track thought so much of him they funded his ride in Houston. With no experience in a car the level of an Atlantic car, and no experience with the Atlantic car whatsoever, Ott finished a respectable 7th in his first race.  Based on that result his sponsors decided to help him some more so he was back last week in Portland and this weekend in Cleveland.

Today in Cleveland Ott (#22 MSR Houston) looked to have a good shot at his first series pole when he topped the timing sheets with 11 minutes left in qualifying. The MSR Houston Team Jensen racer saw his fast lap disappear just one minute later, however, when he hit the tire wall at Turn 8 and lost the rear wing off his car. The damage caused a stoppage to qualifying and Ott lost his potentially pole-winning lap as a penalty for bringing out the red flag. After the wrecker that was dispatched to retrieve Ott’s machine became lodged in the mud at the rain-soaked circuit, race officials ended the qualifying approximately five minutes early to free the stranded vehicle.  Ott's 2nd fastest lap was good for 2nd on the grid.

Rain cancels IRL qualifications Rain cancels IRL qualificationsUPDATE Marlboro Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves will start first at Richmond International Raceway for the second time in three races this season after earning the pole for the SunTrust Indy Challenge presented by XM Satellite Radio.

Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Honda-powered Dallara, posted a lap of 15.5645 seconds, 173.472 mph - the fastest lap of the two combined practice sessions. Delphi Fernandez Racing's Scott Sharp will make his first non-Indianapolis 500 front-row start since Kentucky 2001 after a quick lap of 172.712 mph in the second session.

"I'll take it," said Castroneves, who also started from the pole at Watkins Glen (practice speeds) and Motegi (points because all cars didn't have equal practice time). "I'm not upset that we didn't qualify. Every time you have a chance to start on the pole position without qualifying, it's a blessing in disguise."

It is Castroneves' seventh consecutive top-five start this season and his second pole start at Richmond International Raceway (2004). He was midway through his first warm-up lap in qualifying when he spotted two raindrops on his visor. Obviously, he immediately stepped off the throttle.
Sam Hornish Jr. (172.561 mph) and reigning IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon (172.492) will occupy the second row. Wheldon was the provisional pole sitter (173.991 mph) when rain cloud engulfed the facility.

Rookie Marco Andretti (172.068) and Panther Racing's Vitor Meira (171.972) will share Row 3, while Tony Kanaan (171.950) and Kosuke Matsuura (171.802) are in Row 4.

The cars of Buddy Lazier and Felipe Giaffone would not have made qualifying attempts. Lazier's Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone made contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 4 in the first session. The team will have the back-up car prepared for the race. The A.J. Foyt Enterprises team changed the engine and multiple other components after a plume of smoke was visible after eight laps.

Starting lineup for the SunTrust Indy Challenge IRL IndyCar Series event on the 0.75-mile Richmond International Raceway, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine and speed. Note: Lineup set by speeds from combined practice sessions after qualifications were rained out.

1. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 173.472
2. (8) Scott Sharp, Dallara-Honda, 172.712
3. (6) Sam Hornish Jr., Dallara-Honda, 172.561
4. (10) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 172.492
5. (26) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 172.068
6. (4) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 171.972
7. (11) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 171.950
8. (55) Kosuke Matsuura, Dallara-Honda, 171.802
9. (7) Bryan Herta, Dallara-Honda, 171.413
10. (27) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 171.271
11. (9) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 171.055
12. (2) Tomas Scheckter, Dallara-Honda, 170.586
13. (20) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 170.551
14. (15) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 170.056
15. (16) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 169.880
16. (17) Jeff Simmons, Dallara-Honda, 168.303
17. (51) Eddie Cheever Jr., Dallara-Honda, 168.145
18. (14) Felipe Giaffone, Dallara-Honda, 163.369
19. (5) Buddy Lazier, Dallara-Honda, 163.349

06/23/06 Qualifications for tomorrow night's IRL race in Richmond, VA are under a rain delay with Dan Wheldon fastest followed by Scott Sharp, Sam Hornish and Marco Andretti. So far 10 drivers have taken their qualifying run.

Track record could fall at Cleveland Track record could fall at ClevelandA record that has stood since 1998 could fall at Cleveland Saturday.  Jimmy Vasser holds the track qualifying record of 56.416 sec. (134.387 MPH) around the 2.106-mile Burke Lakefront airport, a record set in the days of 900+ HP and a tire war between Goodyear and Firestone.  Today Sebastien Bourdais turned a lap of 56.851 sec. (133.359 MPH) on the harder black Bridgestone tires and with more rubber on the track Saturday, the record could fall.  The drivers all attributed the significant increase of speed over last year to an extremely clean track (no dust) thanks to a week of heavy rain, more development of the Lola chassis and better Bridgestone tires.

"Jimmy was running the Honda then with the Reynard with cars with 900 horsepower.  At the time of the tire war against Goodyear, Firestone, used to be very, very soft, compound tires, so to be flirting back with those type of tires is obviously 200 less horsepower, harder, more durable tires is pretty impressive how fast the Lolas are and how fine tuned, how much development the teams have put into these cars," said Paul Tracy. Mark C.

A bad day for Midland team A bad day for Midland teamThis morning's first free F1 practice in Montreal proved to be difficult for Midland. Test driver Giorgio Mondini pulled off with a technical problem before he'd completed a timed lap, Christijan Albers sailed down the Turn Three escape road on his first lap out of the pits and Tiago Monteiro crashed heavily at the final chicane during the session's final moments.
track news
Grand-Am renews with Mid-Ohio through 2010 Grand-Am renews with Mid-Ohio through 2010LEXINGTON, Ohio – Officials from the Grand American Road Racing Association and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course today announced that the two organizations will continue their relationship through the end of the decade.

The announcement means that the Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve and the Grand-Am Cup Series will continue racing at the historic 2.258-mile Midwestern road course through the 2010 racing season. Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course has hosted Rolex Series events every year since the inaugural season of 2000 with the exception of 2002, while the Grand-Am Cup Series—which began in 2001—has raced at the facility in each year of its existence.

“Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course has such a wonderful history and we are proud to announce that we are continuing our relationship,” said Grand American President Roger Edmondson. “It is terrific that we have a long-term relationship that shows our fans, sponsors and competitors that we take a long view in our business plan with the track. Our races at Mid-Ohio have traditionally provided some of the most competitive and exciting racing we see each year, and we are delighted that the excitement will continue for many years to come.” zzzz

After conducting events in August the past two years, the Grand American weekend at Mid-Ohio moved to June this season. Dates for next year’s event will be announced at a later time. The Mid-Ohio race track underwent a complete repaving and a number of other improvements were also made to the facility prior to the 2006 racing season, which is celebrating its 45th season of racing this year.

“We are pleased to announce the continuation of our relationship with the Grand American Road Racing Association and look forward to playing a pivotal role in its future success,” said TrueSports, Inc. President Michelle Trueman Gajoch.  “The Grand American Series has witnessed phenomenal growth and this announcement shows our dedication and long-term commitment to sports car racing.”

Rain in Cleveland Rain in ClevelandUPDATE The track is drying in Cleveland and the sun is out so we will not see any of the rooster tails that we saw in the wet morning practice session.

06/23/06 It is raining here in Cleveland this morning. The Atlantic cars are out throwing up huge rooster tails.  The weather is expected to be a bit better this afternoon and Saturday and Sunday should be dry with comfortable temperatures.  Champ Car practice starts in 20 minutes and it will be run in the wet. Mark C.
Atlantics: Wirth takes pole for race 1 Atlantics: Wirth takes pole for race 1
Canada: Kubica again fastest Canada: Kubica again fastestRobert Kubica (BMW Sauber F1 Team/Michelin) was fastest in both free practice sessions on the opening day of the Canadian Grand Prix meeting at Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The 21-year-old Polish test driver posted a 1m 16.390s lap this morning and was the only driver to dip below the 1m 17s barrier all day. World championship leader Fernando Alonso (Renault/Michelin) was second on aggregate and fastest of the race drivers, on 1m 17.095s.

Michelin shod cars continue to dominate F1. There were eight Michelin drivers from five partner teams in today's top 10, with Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren Mercedes) setting fourth fastest time ahead of Anthony Davidson (Honda, fifth), Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault, sixth), Vitantonio Liuzzi (Toro Rosso, eighth), Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber F1 Team, ninth) and local favorite Jacques Villeneuve (BMW Sauber F1 Team, 10th).

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Kubica BMW-Sauber (M) 1:16.965 33
 2. Alonso Renault (M) 1:17.095 + 0.130 15
 3. Wurz Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:17.337 + 0.372 21
 4. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:17.490 + 0.525 10
 5. Davidson Honda (M) 1:17.627 + 0.662 32
 6. Fisichella Renault (M) 1:17.805 + 0.840 21
 7. Webber Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:17.848 + 0.883 13
 8. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:18.009 + 1.044 18
 9. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) 1:18.015 + 1.050 13
10. Villeneuve BMW-Sauber (M) 1:18.035 + 1.070 14
11. Doornbos Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:18.201 + 1.236 32
12. Barrichello Honda (M) 1:18.279 + 1.314 16
13. Button Honda (M) 1:18.429 + 1.464 18
14. Albers MF1-Toyota (B) 1:18.503 + 1.538 20
15. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:18.549 + 1.584 17
16. R.Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:18.614 + 1.649 23
17. Montoya McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:18.761 + 1.796 14
18. Klien Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:18.865 + 1.900 15
19. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:18.868 + 1.903 17
20. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:18.907 + 1.942 21
21. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:19.048 + 2.083 10
22. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:19.099 + 2.134 15
23. Mondini MF1-Toyota (B) 1:19.138 + 2.173 24
24. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:19.313 + 2.348 15
25. Jani Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:19.541 + 2.576 28
26. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:19.624 + 2.659 22
27. Yamamoto Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:20.197 + 3.232 26
28. Monteiro MF1-Toyota (B) 1:20.262 + 3.297 18
29. Montagny Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:21.434 + 4.469 22

Forsythe adds new sponsor Forsythe adds new sponsorCLEVELAND, Ohio –Vancouver based North American IT company Layer 7 Technologies joins Forsythe Championship Racing’s Atlantic Team as the Primary partner on Leo Maia’s #7 entry and as an Associate partner on Forsythe’s #37 and #33 entries driven by Andreas Wirth and Richard Philippe.

Layer 7 CEO Ed Koepfler is a long time follower and supporter of Champ Car and Forsythe Racing, “Champ Car is recognized as North America’s most highly technical and all-round most challenging and competitive motor racing environment; testing its drivers, equipment and team personnel to the limits week in and week out.  I’m excited to introduce Layer 7 Technologies to this most demanding and technical sport, and particularly through Forsythe’s successful Atlantic racing programme which will allow Layer 7 Technologies to explore and develop potential technology synergies with the Team and the Series, and to cultivate business opportunities within the Champ Car community of business partners.”

Team owner Jerry Forsythe welcomed the new partnership, “After years following our racing programs, I’m delighted to now be formally welcoming Ed Koepfler and Layer 7 Technologies to Forsythe Racing and the Atlantic Championship.  It is always gratifying to see new partners join Champ Car, and I strongly believe that through this relationship we can provide a unique and exciting environment for Layer 7 through which they can positively develop their business relationships in Canada and across the United States.” zzzz

Forsythe Atlantic Team Manager John Brunner, “I’m thrilled to be expanding our Team’s relationship with such an award winning IT innovator - Layer 7 Technologies.  We are enjoying new technological and operational benefits from show casing high-tech applications provided through our relationship with Emexis (sponsor of James Hinchcliffe’s #3 race car), and I’m confident that as well as providing a great business relationship building platform for Layer 7, that this relationship will be a catalyst to more exciting and mutually beneficial technical opportunities.”

Rahal to test GP2 car Rahal to test GP2 carUPDATE Graham Rahal, son of famed Indycar racer, Bobby Rahal, will step into a GP2 racecar for the first time next week, testing with the DPR Direxiv race team on Tuesday 27 June at Paul Ricard circuit in France.

Rahal is taking another step towards his goal of driving in the Formula One World Championship with this testing opportunity, which will give him an introduction to the 600 horsepower GP2 car. At only 17 years of age, the Champ Car Atlantics race winner will be the youngest driver to have driven the GP2 machine.

“My goal is to reach the pinnacle of motorsport and right now, that’s a seat on the Formula One grid,” says Graham. “GP2 is a recognized route to this top level, so when I was offered the chance to test in the car, I couldn’t resist it. I’m sure it’s going to be quite different than any of the race cars I’ve driven so far in my career, but it will give me a good experience of another step on the ladder to F1. I’m expecting the acceleration, the braking and the agility of the car to be the three areas that will set this car apart from others that I have driven. The A1 car is probably the closest in terms of horsepower, but I’ve heard from other drivers that they’re not that similar to drive. Now I’ll find out for myself.” zzzz

The GP2 test will add another new car to the growing list of racing types that Graham has experienced so far this year. In January he drove a Porsche GT3 in the Daytona 24 hours race, tested in an F3000 car, and followed up with his debut in the A1 car, driving for three rounds of the A1 Grand Prix series, while slotting in a drive with Alex Job Racing Porsche RSR at the Sebring 12 hours race in between events. A week after finishing A1GP he was preparing for his summer season.

He started his full-time Champ Car Atlantics championship drive with Mi-Jack Conquest Racing in April, taking the wheel of the new Mazda Cosworth Atlantic car and added the Indy Pro Series car to his tally last week, taking part in a test ahead of competing in the Liberty Challenge race, a support event for the US Grand Prix next weekend.

Bobby Rahal says of his son’s upcoming GP2 test, “First of all, I would like to thank Dave Price for giving Graham this opportunity. It is a great privilege for him to be trying out this car at a relatively early stage in his career and he is very excited about this drive with DPR Direxiv.

“Driving the GP2 car, as with all the others he’s driven this year, is about building confidence and giving him new experiences which are all part of his motor racing education. Europe is a real option for him as his next training ground, so it is only natural for him to want to taste the GP2 car. At his age he can spend some time in Europe and build a career in single-seater racing if that’s where he wants to go. He’ll make his own decisions on this, and I’ll be proud of him whatever direction he chooses in the future.”

Graham Rahal is currently lying seventh in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship with two pole positions and one victory after four rounds of the Series. He is the youngest ever Atlantics winner and the youngest driver of an Indy Pro Series car.

Graham Rahal Career Biography

2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship
A1 Grand Prix 05/06 season
 Daytona 24 Hours race
 12 Hours of Sebring race
 Indy Pro Series ‘Liberty Challenge’ race

2005 Star Mazda championship

2004 Formula BMW USA championship

2003 Stars of Karting series

2000 – 2002 Karting championships

Visit www.grahamrahal.com for full details

06/23/06 17-year old Graham Rahal will test a GP2 car for GPR Direxiv next week at Paul Ricard.  He will test in place of regular driver Olivier Pla who has an injured risk.  Rahal's goal is to drive in GP2 in 2007 and move up to F1 in 2008 or 2009. 
Richmond: Helio nips Marco in final practice Richmond: Helio nips Marco in final practice
Pos Driver Diff Best Time Best Speed
1 Helio Castroneves (3) ... 15.6043 173.029
2 Marco Andretti (26) 0.0872 15.6915 172.068
3 Tony Kanaan (11) 0.0979 15.7022 171.950
4 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 0.1115 15.7158 171.802
5 Sam Hornish Jr (6) 0.1737 15.7780 171.124
6 Vitor Meira (4) 0.1952 15.7995 170.891
7 Dario Franchitti (27) 0.2144 15.8187 170.684
8 Tomas Scheckter (2) 0.2235 15.8278 170.586
9 Scott Sharp (8) 0.3067 15.9110 169.694
10 Buddy Rice (15) 0.3331 15.9374 169.413
11 Danica Patrick (16) 0.3350 15.9393 169.393
12 Ed Carpenter (20) 0.3391 15.9434 169.349
13 Bryan Herta (7) 0.3499 15.9542 169.234
14 Scott Dixon (9) 0.3765 15.9808 168.953
15 Dan Wheldon (10) 0.4299 16.0342 168.390
16 Jeff Simmons (17) 0.4800 16.0843 167.866
17 Eddie Cheever Jr (51) 0.6480 16.2523 166.130
18 Felipe Giaffone (14) 0.9227 16.5270 163.369
19 Buddy Lazier (5) 0.9247 16.5290 163.349
Cleveland: Da Matta fastest in wet opening practice Cleveland: Da Matta fastest in wet opening practice
Pos Driver # Team Lap Time Mph
1 C. da Matta 10 RuSPORT 1:02.595 121.121
2 A. Tagliani 15 Team Australia 1:03.133 120.089
3 P. Tracy 3 Forsythe Championship Racing 1:04.911 116.800
4 A. Allmendinger 7 Forsythe Championship Racing 1:05.039 116.570
5 J. Wilson 9 RuSPORT 1:05.085 116.488
6 C. Zwolsman 34 Mi-Jack Conquest Racing 1:05.922 115.009
7 J. Heylen 11 Dale Coyne Racing 1:06.164 114.588
8 S. Bourdais 1 Newman/Haas Racing 1:06.376 114.222
9 W. Power 5 Team Australia 1:06.426 114.136
10 K. Legge 20 PKV Racing 1:06.481 114.042
11 N. Philippe 4 CTE Racing - HVM 1:06.555 113.915
12 A. Ranger 27 Mi-Jack Conquest Racing 1:06.793 113.509
13 B. Junqueira 2 Newman/Haas Racing 1:07.797 111.828
14 M. Dominguez 19 Dale Coyne Racing 1:08.051 111.411
15 T. Kasemets 18 Rocketsports Racing 1:08.191 111.182
16 N. Pastorelli 8 Rocketsports Racing 1:08.372 110.887
17 O. Servia 6 PKV Racing 1:08.412 110.823
18 D. Clarke 14 CTE Racing - HVM 1:10.943 106.869
NASCAR Michigan TV rating NASCAR Michigan TV ratingUPDATE The final rating for last Sunday's NASCAR Nextel Cup race in Michigan was a 4.5/11 share, down 6.25 percent from a 4.8/12 share in 2005. This continues the downward trend we have seen in almost all the Nextel Cup races in 2006, which must be quite troubling for the folks in Daytona and in the FOX studios. It's called overload and fan burn out. There is so much NASCAR on TV and in the print media that fans appear to be tiring of it all.

06/19/06 The overnight rating for the NASCAR Nextel Cup race from Michigan Sunday was a 4.0/9 share, the same as in 2005 (4.0/10 share).
Champ Car Portland USA TV rating Champ Car Portland USA TV ratingUPDATE The final rating of the Portland Champ Car race on CBS stayed the same as the overnight at 0.6/1 share.

06/19/06 The overnight USA TV rating for the Champ Car race from Portland Oregon on CBS Sunday was a horrible 0.6/1 share, the same as 2005.
Canada: Kubica fastest in opening practice Canada: Kubica fastest in opening practice
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Kubica BMW-Sauber (M) 1:16.390 30
 2. Davidson Honda (M) 1:18.306 + 1.916 26
 3. Wurz Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:18.941 + 2.551 23
 4. M. Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:18.994 + 2.604 5
 5. Barrichello Honda (M) 1:19.070 + 2.680 6
 6. Button Honda (M) 1:19.165 + 2.775 6
 7. Jani Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:19.258 + 2.868 24
 8. Doornbos Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:19.681 + 3.291 20
 9. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:20.154 + 3.764 7
10. Albers MF1-Toyota (B) 1:20.646 + 4.256 9
11. Monteiro MF1-Toyota (B) 1:20.799 + 4.409 8
12. R. Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:20.861 + 4.471 6
13. Montagny Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:21.783 + 5.393 17
14. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:21.891 + 5.501 20
15. Yamamoto Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:23.159 + 6.769 29
16. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:23.179 + 6.789 5
17. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:24.029 + 7.639 7
18. Mondini MF1-Toyota (B) No time 2
19. Alonso Renault (M) No time 2
20. Fisichella Renault (M) No time 1
21. Klien Red Bull-Ferrari (M) No time 1
22. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) No time 1
23. Villeneuve BMW-Sauber (M) No time 1
24. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) No time 1
25. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) No time 1
26. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M)
27. Montoya McLaren-Mercedes (M)
28. Webber Williams-Cosworth (B)
29. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B)

All Timing Unofficial

Crash opens Montreal action Crash opens Montreal action(GMM) A little bit of cloud and the lingering threat of rain for the Canadian grand prix set the scene as practice action kicked off on Friday.

As per usual, many of the big names stayed tucked inside their garages for most of the morning session, with 'Friday' stars including Robert Kubica, Anthony Davidson and Alexander Wurz doing the donkey work.

Over five laps, Ferrari's Michael Schumacher set the race-driver pace, followed by the two Hondas, but championship leader Fernando Alonso only made an appearance for a couple of installation laps.

Others, including both silver McLarens, didn't venture out even once to sample the curves of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, which is located just out of downtown Montreal and named after BMW-Sauber racer and local Jacques Villeneuve's legendary father.

MF1's Tiago Monteiro, meanwhile, caused a late stir with his crash at 'Champions Wall', so named due to the calibre of driver it has captured in recent years, including Schumacher and - a year ago - F1's champion elect.
Track News
Sponsor for New Hampshire race Sponsor for New Hampshire raceLENOX Industrial Tools®, a leading manufacturer of premium power tool accessories, hand tools, torches, and band saw blades has secured the title sponsorship of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race at New Hampshire International Speedway on Sunday, July 16th. This summer classic at "The Magic Mile" is now the "LENOX Industrial Tools 300."

"This is a tremendous opportunity for the LENOX brand," said Bill Burke, LENOX president. "This high-profile event provides LENOX with a great opportunity to reach out to a very loyal audience in our own backyard. We are very confident that the strength, durability and speed that LENOX products are known for will be very well represented by Jamie McMurray, the driver of the No. 26 LENOX Ford at the LENOX Industrial Tools 300."

NHIS President, Gary Bahre said, "We welcome LENOX Industrial Tools as the Title Sponsor for our July 16 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event. We are very pleased to have a New England based, world class company such as LENOX join us in bringing the excitement of NASCAR racing to millions of fans worldwide." zzzz

Tony Stewart is the defending champion of the LENOX Industrial Tools 300. Jeff Burton is the all-time winner at the Loudon, New Hampshire facility with four victories, including three in the LENOX Industrial Tools 300. Ryan Newman holds the track record of 133.357 mph. The race on July 16th begins at 2:10 pm EST. Qualifying for the LENOX Industrial Tools 300 is Friday, July 14th, at 3:00 pm. Roush Racing's Jamie McMurray, driver of the No. 26 Ford Fusion, will sport the red, white and blue colors of LENOX for the July 16th race as well as the NASCAR Cup races at Chicago (July 9) and Kansas City (Oct. 1).

LENOX is an associate sponsor on McMurray's IRWIN' Industrial Tools Ford this season. As hand and power tool accessory manufacturers, IRWIN and LENOX are positioned as sister companies within the Newell Rubbermaid' family of companies.  NHIS

Rossi riding hurt, Hopkins fastest in qualifying Rossi riding hurt, Hopkins fastest in qualifyingValentino Rossi crashed Thursday in the fast left hander that leads into the final hairpin at Assen - sending the seven-times world champion tumbling viciously through the gravel trap. Rossi was left winded for several minutes as a result of the impacts and was then placed on a stretcher - which he promptly climbed off, before walking slowly to the trackside Clinica Mobile.  The Italian was taken to Assen Hospital, where he was diagnosed with chest contusions, hairline fractures to the right hand and left ankle and a haematoma on his right elbow.  Hence, he is off the pace in qualifying this weekend at Assen.

Full Friday MotoGP qualifying times from the Dutch TT at Assen, round eight of the 2006 world championship.

1. John Hopkins USA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1min 36.411 secs
2. Shinya Nakano JPN Kawasaki Racing Team 1min 36.424 secs
3. Colin Edwards USA Camel Yamaha Team 1min 36.755 secs
4. Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda Team 1min 36.758 secs
5. Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team 1min 36.993 secs
6. Chris Vermulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1min 37.077 secs
7. Marco Melandri ITA Fortuna Honda 1min 37.332 secs
8. Carlos Checa SPA Tech 3 Yamaha 1min 37.378 secs
9. Alex Hofmann GER Ducati Marlboro Team 1min 37.399 secs
10. Kenny Roberts USA Team Roberts 1min 37.528 secs
11. Randy de Puniet FRA Kawasaki Racing Team 1min 37.556 secs
12. Casey Stoner AUS Honda LCR 1min 37.660 secs
13. Makoto Tamada JPN Konica Minolta Honda 1min 37.676 secs
14. James Ellison GBR Tech 3 Yamaha 1min 38.055 secs
15. Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team 1min 38.060 secs
16. Jose Luis Cardoso SPA Pramac d'Antin MotoGP 1min 39.406 secs
17. Ivan Silva SPA Pramac d'Antin MotoGP 1min 39.496 secs
18. Valentino Rossi ITA Camel Yamaha Team 1min 40.298 secs
Fiat replace logo on Ferrari nose Fiat replace logo on Ferrari nose(GMM)  The logos of Fiat's American tractor associate, 'Case IH', will debut on the nose of the Ferrari racer this weekend in Canada, it has emerged.

Although the deal was originally thought to include only the upcoming US grand prix, it seems that the arrangement is actually for both single-seater events in North America.

''We are elated that Fiat, Ferrari's majority owner, has allowed its logo to be replaced on the Prancing Horse's formula one cars,'' said Case IH boss Mario Ferla.

Schu returns fire at old nemesis Schu returns fire at old nemesis(GMM)  After copping his old nemesis' stark 'Rascasse' criticism, Michael Schumacher has returned fire at F1 rival Jacques Villeneuve.

At the circuit named after Jacques' legendary father, Schumacher rounded on the French Canadian when he was asked in Montreal whether he thought Villeneuve would ever win a race again.

''As I understand it, he's preparing his new career, isn't he?'' said Germany's Schumacher, obviously referring to the impending release of Jacques' first music single.

At a press conference for Ferrari sponsor Shell, the 37-year-old hissed: ''Maybe that's where he can be competitive.

''To be honest, it's difficult to see that he could arrive again at the top level.  When you get older, you don't get faster,'' Schumacher said in Canada.

A couple of Schumacher's closest rivals, meanwhile, were asked in Montreal whether they thought Michael would continue racing beyond the end of 2006.

''I say he'll carry on,'' said his Brazilian teammate Felipe Massa.

Brother Ralf, however, was less forthcoming.  ''Why do you ask me?' the younger Schumacher told reporters after they asked him about his sibling's recent holiday.

''I have no idea.''

Concerts galore for San Jose GP Concerts galore for San Jose GPSAN JOSE, CA -- David Lee Roth and Pete Escovedo will be the highlighted acts at the Canary Foundation Grand Prix of San José presented by Taylor Woodrow, July 28-30 in downtown San José.

David Lee Roth, who will be performing on the main stage located in Discovery Meadow on Saturday, July 29th from 4:00 -5:00 p.m, was the lead singer for Van Halen from 1976 – 1985. Considered by many to be one of the greatest rock bands of all-time, the group recorded seven albums beginning with “Van Halen” in 1978, which ranks as one of the all-time great debut albums in rock history. The success of the album also helped turn the band into a major arena-headlining concert draw. Roth went out on his own in 1985 and has recorded eight albums during his solo career including his smash debut "Crazy from the Heat" which featured such hits as "California Girls" and "Just a Gigilo.” Roth also hosted a nationally syndicated radio show from 2005-to the early part of 2006.

Pete Escovedo, who will take the main stage on Sunday, July 30 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and again from 3:15 – 4:15 p.m., has been a major force in the Latin music scene since the late 1960's. He has toured and performed with such acts as: Carlos Santana, Anita Baker, Boz Scaggs, Herbie Hancock, Tito Puente, Stevie Wonder, Barry White and his daughter Shelia E. Escovedo has strong Bay Area roots, having been raised in Oakland and owned night- and Jazz clubs in Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda and San Jose. zzzz

Groove Kings and Nu Day, who were featured acts last year at the inaugural San José Grand Prix, plus Kim del Fierro and Busta Groove will also be performing this year.

Commenting on the high powered musical revue San José Grand Prix Vice President and General Manager Bob Singleton said, “I am pleased to be able to announce that David Lee Roth and Pete Escovedo will be a part of the San José Grand Prix weekend. This is one more indication of our commitment to being “more than a race” and again shows that the San José Grand Prix has something for everyone.”

The following is the schedule of musical and other entertainment that will be on the main stage during the San José Grand Prix weekend:

Friday, July 28
11:00 -11:30 a.m. Kim del Fierro
12:00 – 1:00 p.m. Groove Kings
1:30 – 2:30 p.m. Nu Day
3:00 – 4:00 p.m. Groove Kings
4:15 – 4:45 p.m. Kim del Fierro
5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Nu Day

Saturday, July 29
8:45 – 10:00 a.m. Miss San José Grand Prix Rehearsal
10:30 – 11:30 a.m. Groove Kings
11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Kim del Fierro
12:15 – 1:00 p.m. Busta Groove
1:15 – 2:00 p.m. Nu Day
2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Groove Kings
3:00 – 3:45 p.m. Nu Day
4:00 – 5:00 p.m David Lee Roth
5:15 – 7:00 p.m. Miss San José Grand Prix Contest
(with special performance by Kim del Fierro)

Sunday, July 30
10:00 – 10:45 a.m. Groove Kings
11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Pete Escovedo
12:30 – 3:00 p.m. Champ Car Race
3:15 – 4:15 p.m. Pete Escovedo
4:45 – 5:30 p.m. Nu Day
(all times subject to change)

Also performing during the San José Grand Prix weekend will be the Doobie Brothers, who will make a special appearance at the Canary Foundation fundraiser, “Cabana,” on Saturday, July 29 at the Fairmont Hotel. Tickets for Cabana are available by calling the San José Grand Prix offices at 408-277-9470.

The San José Grand Prix, which proudly supports the Canary Foundation, is the ninth stop on the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford schedule. The Champ Car World Series features some of the greatest race car drivers in the world competing in the most exciting series in the world. Champions Sebastien Bourdais, and Paul Tracy, along with San José native A. J. Allmendinger, Mexican star Mario Dominguez and rising star Katherine Legge are among the drivers that compete in the series.

Continuing its theme from last year, “More Than A Race,” plans for the 2006 San José Grand Prix, set for July 28-30, include the addition of Freestyle Motorcross exhibitions as well as music, interactive displays, a family fun area and charity events. The three-day festival of speed, which will be contested on the significantly improved 1.5-mile, seven-turn downtown San José temporary street circuit, will draw over 150,000 spectators generating another significant economic benefit for northern California’s largest city. In 2005, the economic impact exceeded $40 million. This year, the race will be televised live on NBC with a second airing five days later on SPEED Channel. It will also be broadcast in 160 other countries thus showcasing the City of San José to viewers around the world.

Canary Foundation, which was founded by Don Listwin, is dedicated to advancing the science of the early detection of cancer and is the Official Social Cause of the Champ Car World Series.

Tickets for the 2006 San José Grand Prix can be purchased online at www.sjgp.com, www.Ticketmaster.com, by visiting a Ticketmaster ticket center or by calling 408-998-TIXS (8497), 415-421-TIXS or 510-625-TIXS. Tickets start at $25 for general admission and go up to $160 for a three-day Gold Grandstand seat. For additional information go to (www.sjgp.com).

Free bus service for MotoGP fans Free bus service for MotoGP fansMonterey Salinas Transit (MST) will offer free bus service on all MST routes July 21, 22 and 23, 2006, for all Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix ticket holders.  Those holding event tickets may ride the bus to and from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at no charge.  Non ticket holders pay the regular MST fare of $2.00 per zone for adults or $1.00 per zone for youth, seniors and disabled.

The Line 36 Laguna Seca-Carmel, Line 37 Laguna Seca-Seaside, Line 38 Laguna Seca-Monterey and Line 39 Laguna Seca-Salinas will operate all three days of the event.  MST will provide bus service on Friday and Saturday between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. and Sunday between 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

The Line 36 Laguna Seca-Carmel begins at Carmel Rancho and stops at 6th & Mission and Carpenter & Valley View in Carmel before arriving at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Line 37 Laguna Seca-Seaside will run from the Embassy Suites Hotel, to Fremont & Canyon Del Rey, on to Casa Verde & Fremont, and down Garden Road before completing the trip to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Line 38 Laguna Seca-Monterey provides bus service from the Monterey Conference Center, serving the Monterey Transit Plaza and the Monterey Peninsula College parking area before continuing on to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.  Line 39 Laguna Seca-Salinas buses will depart from the Salinas Transit Center to South Main Street, on to Highway 68 to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.  zzzz

These bus lines are designed to make visits to the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix easier and more enjoyable, as well as to reduce parking congestion. The MST buses will drop-off and pick-up passengers at the traditional Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca bus stop, at the entrance to Yamaha Marketplace near turn 5.

For additional information, please call MST toll free at 1-888-MST-BUS1 or visit MST Online at www.mst.org.

A number of spectator amenities have been announced to improve the 2006 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix. A new traffic flow plan is in place to also help to increase the fan experience. Highlights of the plan include all general admission parking off-site, with spectators transported via shuttle bus; a motorcycle-only entrance; and increased staffing and directional signage. Additionally, the number of concession stands has been increased dramatically, the official souvenir store will now be housed in an 8,000 square foot tent in Yamaha Marketplace, and more and better-located restrooms will be available throughout the facility. More information is available at www.laguna-seca.com.

Tickets are on sale now for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s 50th Season of Racing including the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix July 21-23, the 33rd Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races August 18-20 and the Monterey Sports Car Championships featuring the American Le Mans Series October 20-22.

Tickets and more information are available by calling (800) 327-SECA or on-line at www.RedBullUSGrandPrix.com.

Cleveland promoter grooms for the future Cleveland promoter grooms for the futureThis Cleveland Plain Dealer article talks with Champ Car race promoter Mike Lanigan about how he views the Cleveland event as a long-term investment. Changes this year at the Grand Prix of Cleveland point to a new regime with new race promoters, and a promising future for an event celebrating its silver anniversary in Cleveland.

This year, the race changed hands to owner Michael Lanigan, an industrial entrepreneur who, along with his family, deals in heavy port equipment, steel and transporting goods on the Panama Canal Railway. He is the first promoter since Shaker Heights native Roger Penske to infuse the event financially.

Instead of pleading with business and civic leaders upfront to deliver a financial hand, Lanigan is willing to show he means to make the Cleveland race a financial success, believing Cleveland sports fans and corporations will join in for the ride.

"To be frank about it, I'm not sure that the previous promoters really looked at Cleveland as a long-term investment," Lanigan said recently during an interview with Plain Dealer business and sports editors and reporters. "If we put the amount of capital into this company here and be patient, to show people what we could do here, then it can be very successful long term, as it was for many, many years here." zzzz

Last week, speaking through his press secretary Michael House, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson congratulated the race on its 25-year tenure and said he "looked forward to the future success" of the race in Cleveland.

That future success, Lanigan said, also pointed to a merger, sooner or later, with the oval-based Indy Racing League, "this year, next year or the year after." And any gleaning of race events to come up with one schedule will not erase Cleveland.

"I will guarantee you that Cleveland is not one of them," Lanigan said. "I already have that understanding. Cleveland will be on the circuit, absolutely."

So Lanigan already is pointing toward the future. A carnival atmosphere behind the grandstands is planned, complete with rides, concerts and exhibitions over the three-day event. New grandstands have been brought in that will be moved within several feet of the race circuit. The wide walkway in front of the grandstands will be gone. Instead, the fans in the grandstands will be much closer to the pits. The pits themselves have been moved across pit lane so they face the grandstands, meaning drivers will enter their pit boxes from the right.

This will be the first major change to the race venue itself since the first two turns were taken out of the original 12-turn layout in 1990.

Free tickets for TMS Texas race Free tickets for TMS Texas raceTexas Motor Speedway has teamed with Academy Sports stores to offer Mavericks fans 500 free tickets to the Dickies 500 Nextel Cup race on Nov. 5.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban planned to give away 500 tickets to Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Since the series ended in six games, TMS president Eddie Gossage decided to make the offer for the Cup race in the fall.

The ticket giveaway is Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at all 10 Academy stores in Dallas-Fort Worth. A random drawing will determine which fans win 250 pairs of TMS tickets.

There's one requirement to registering for the free tickets: You must wear some type of Mavs apparel.

Here's a list of the 10 area Academy stores:

   • 1100 West Arbrook Blvd.(next to Parks Mall), Arlington

   • 8050 Forest Lane (at Central Expressway), Dallas

   • 6101 I-20 (at Bryant Irvin Rd.), Fort Worth

   • 1523 Hwy. 114 W. (at Hwy. 26), Grapevine

   • 2428 S. Stemmons Fwy.(across from Vista Ridge Mall), Lewisville

   • 3677 Emporium Circle (next to Circuit City), Mesquite

   • 7441 Northeast Loop 820, North Richland Hills

   • 4045 Central Expressway (at Spring Creek), Plano

   • 3305 Dallas Parkway, Suite 301 (at Parker), Plano

   • 1701 South Cherry Lane (north of I-30), White Settlement

TV News
SPEED announces rehires SPEED announces rehiresChris Long, SPEED VP of Studio Production, today announced SPEED has signed popular NASCAR RaceDay host John Roberts through 2009. In related moves, SPEED re-signed veteran motor sports reporters Bob Dillner and Wendy Venturini to two-year deals. Speed Channel PR  No word on veteran broadcaster Bob Jenkins, but word on the street is that he was not retained by SPEED Channel and is looking for a new job.
Honda admit 'anger' at results in 2006 Honda admit 'anger' at results in 2006(GMM)  Honda decided to shake up its technical department because of the 'anger' of bigwigs back in Japan.

That is the admission of Shuhei Nakamoto, who this week was promoted above Geoff Willis.  Technical director Willis apparently decided to quit, but neither men are in Montreal for the grand prix.

''There is lots and lots of pressure,'' Nakamoto was quoted as saying by the Toronto Sun.

He revealed that the paymasters at Honda Motor Company were 'not happy' with the results so far in 2006, which at Silverstone culminated in perhaps the worst weekend in Jenson Button's F1 career.

Nakamoto said: ''In fact, they are very angry because of this year's results.  We have needed to show them what we are planning to do.''

The newspaper contended that Willis was offered another job at the Brackley-based team, but - the article read - 'friends say that he, in effect, has been fired'.

Absolute Authentic™ aims to break fraudsters’ grip Absolute Authentic™ aims to break fraudsters’ gripWith the United States Grand Prix only 8 days away, British-based sports memorabilia company Absolute Authentic (www.absoluteauthentic.com) is tackling the rampant problem of autograph forgery by offering F1 fans uniquely authenticated items signed by drivers including reigning World Champion Fernando Alonso and British stars Jenson Button and David Coulthard.

America’s Federal Bureau of Investigation maintains that over half of all signed sports memorabilia is forged and has been breaking international gangs of professional sports memorabilia forgers through its long running Operation Bullpen investigation. The signed F1 memorabilia marketplace is awash with forged items, many traded with unsuspecting members of the public using internet auction sites.  Sports memorabilia fraud is a major problem. Only last October an individual trader in the UK was found guilty of defrauding 73 fans leading to a 16 month jail sentence and a 5 year ban on internet trading.  zzzz

Absolute Authentic uses a dual authentication process where by all items are identified by a hologram and individually numbered, the autographing sessions being filmed and photographed so that customers can actually view their items being signed by entering the item’s unique number on the company’s web site.

“Whether fans buy items on line, or even through some of the less reputable retail outlets, there is little to guarantee that the item of F1 memorabilia they have bought is genuine or signed by their hero,” said Barry Gough, a former BAR Honda F1 mechanic and co-founder of the business. “Industry insiders know that forgery has been rife, so if a fan really wants to own something that is actually signed by Jenson Button or David Coulthard there is often little they can do to demonstrate its provenance. At Absolute Authentic we go to extreme lengths to prove that every signed item is entirely genuine, giving the buyer both the security and satisfaction of knowing they own a piece of F1 sporting history.”

Absolute Authentic will be showcasing their range of authenticated F1 products throughout the course of the United States Grand Prix weekend and will be located across the street from the main entrance of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the intersection of Crawfordsville Road and Sixteenth Street from June 30th- July 2nd.

TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday USA TV reminders for Saturday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
NASCAR Live! Sonoma
12:00pm-12:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Performance
12:30pm-1:00pm SPEED
Formula 1 Qualifying  Montreal, Canada
1:00pm-2:30pm (L) SPEED
Inside Grand Prix Montreal, Canada
2:30pm-3:00pm SPEED
Champ Car Atlantic Portland
6/18/06 4:00pm-5:00pm SPEED
IHRA Drag Racing Grand Bend, Ontario
5:00pm-6:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Busch Qualifying  Milwaukee
6:00pm-7:30pm (L) SPEED
Speed News Saturday
7:30pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Happy Hour Sonoma, CA
7:30pm-8:30pm (SDD) FX
Champ Car Replay Portland
8:00pm-10:00pm (R) (Originally broadcast on CBS) SPEED
IRL Richmond
8:00pm-10:00pm (L) ESPN2
NASCAR Busch Series  Milwaukee
8:30pm-11:30pm (L) FX
NHRA Qualifying Madison, IL
10:00pm-12:00am ESPN2

All times listed are ET.  For a complete listing of Saturday's TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.

F1's political battle resumes in Canada F1's political battle resumes in Canada(GMM)  The battle over F1's proposed engine 'freeze' in 2008 and beyond has resumed at Montreal, but the governing body is showing no new signs of giving in to the carmakers.

At 3pm on Thursday, the 'Sporting Working Group' met in the paddock of the Canadian grand prix, but chairman Charlie Whiting - of the FIA - refused to allow a new vote to be taken on the homologation of engines because the matter was not officially on the agenda.

Reportedly, the 'GPMA' carmakers were ready to vote on a proposal agreed at Monaco to soften the FIA's 'freeze'.  Even with the opposition of Renault, Ferrari and Cosworth, the vote would have been carried because of new rules not requiring unanimity.

It is possible, then, that the FIA is simply stalling on the issue because, after June 30, any change to the 2008 regulations needs the almost inconceivable assent of all twelve teams.

Canada 'not crucial' says Schu Canada 'not crucial' says Schu(GMM)  Michael Schumacher, 23 points behind in the championship race, has denied that F1's American tour is a 'crucial' period for him.

''I am asked the same question at every race,'' Ferrari's German told reporters in Montreal.

37-year-old Schumacher said: ''Just like anywhere else, the winner here takes ten points.

''Of course, this is an important race, but not crucial.

''Even if we are behind there is still time to catch up.''

Schumacher insisted that his current teammate, Felipe Massa, could potentially play a 'large and crucial' role in the season's outcome.

''No question,'' Michael continued, apparently urging the Brazilian to up his game, ''but so too could Kimi and some others.''

Youngster Massa, however, recoiled at the suggestion that he is a prospective weapon in Schumacher's arsenal.

''I think this is a strange question,'' he said, ''because primarily Michael has to help himself.

''He has to beat Alonso.

''Every race I do my best because I want to win, so nothing will change.''

Red Bull focus turns to 2007 Red Bull focus turns to 2007(GMM)  Red Bull Racing is already turning the focus of its attention and resources onto next year's formula one racer.

Team boss Christian Horner told an Austrian newspaper that development of the current 'RB2' is basically on ice.

''The majority of our development is already on the RB3,'' the Briton, referring to the 2007 car which is being penned by Adrian Newey, told 'Salzburger Nachrichten'.

Horner also revealed that a new 'seamless' gearbox had not, contrary to earlier expectations, been fitted to the current car for F1's American tour.

He said: ''We had problems with it at the Monza test.''

Nakamoto, Willis, skip Canadian GP Nakamoto, Willis, skip Canadian GP(GMM)  Shuhei Nakamoto will not attend the first grand prix, at Montreal this weekend, since he was promoted above Honda's technical director Geoff Willis.

The Japanese, according to reports, is back at the Brackley (UK) factory, giving rise to the odd scenario where neither of the F1 team's key technical men are at the Canadian GP.

Jenson Button said: ''(Nakamoto is) not going to fit into the role straight away, but he is back at home working very hard I should think.''

Button's former teammate, Jacques Villeneuve, reacted with surprise to the news that Willis had not only been demoted but had apparently chosen to leave the squad formerly known as BAR.

The Canadian told ITV: ''Whether he got bored or it was political, it's impossible to know.''

Rosberg wants to stay at Williams Rosberg wants to stay at Williams(GMM) Nico Rosberg says he would prefer to stay at Williams in 2007 rather than switch to another team.

The German rookie revealed in Montreal that Sir Frank Williams holds all the cards, including a 'one-sided' option to extend the contract.

''Williams is my priority,'' 20-year-old Rosberg, who debuted for the team after conquering GP2 in 2005, said, ''so I hope I can stay but it is not certain.''

He downplayed rumors linking him with Toyota, BMW and even Renault.

''They are not options,'' Nico insisted, adding that a free race seat is also not available at Ferrari.

''I am sure I could have some options but I am hoping to stay right here.''

Bernie lays it on the line with George Bernie lays it on the line with GeorgeBernie Ecclestone has sent a message to Indianapolis Motor Speedway boss Tony George about their negotiations for the future United States Grand Prix. George wants to get a better price on his Grand Prix, not least because of the mess that occurred at Indianapolis a year ago. But Ecclestone wants him to understand that this is not going to happen.

"It does not matter to Formula 1 if there is no Grand Prix in the US," he said. "What do we get from America? Aggravation, that's about all. If you say 'Good Morning' over there and it's five past 12, you end up with a lawsuit. We have never got any sponsors out there. The television has never taken off; we have more viewers in Malta than over there. If they want to continue having a round of the Formula 1 World Championship over there, I am happy to talk to them, which is what I will do when I get there. But I am not prepared to subsidize a race in America."

Bernie of course is known for his cutting statements.  Last year he referred to Danica Patrick as "a domestic appliance."

Michelin has no interest in F1 after '06 Michelin has no interest in F1 after '06“Michelin has continually made its belief known that Formula One should, as motorsport’s cutting-edge discipline, be an arena where the most advanced technologies can do battle in the interest of motoring. In this respect, the changes in the Formula One rules to bring in a single-tire supplier go completely against these principles. It is one more step towards standardizing a sport which should be practiced at the highest level of competition,” the French company said in a statement.

“As a result, Michelin will not reply to the FIA tender for tire supply in Formula One. It does not wish to be seen to support the spirit of this tender at a time when the quality of its tires has been amply demonstrated and appreciated by its partners, with a total of 99 Grand Prix wins over the years, under whichever rules have been in place.”

Wheldon sports new colors Wheldon sports new colorsRICHMOND, Va. – There’s a departure from the familiar red and white of the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda/Firestone driven by reigning IndyCar Series champion Dan Wheldon.

The car is sporting a blue, green and white paint scheme with NicoDerm CQ prominently displayed on the sidepods and wings for the SunTrust Indy Challenge presented by XM Satellite Radio on June 24.

NicoDerm CQ is a daily nicotine patch that's a form of Nicotine Replacement Therapy. It works as a temporary aid to help individuals quit smoking by reducing nicotine withdrawal symptoms until the body no longer needs nicotine.  IndyCar.com

Richmond testing quotes Richmond testing quotesSAM HORNISH JR. (No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fastest in testing): "We had a great practice session today, and we were really happy with the Marlboro Team Penske car. Unfortunately, we had an incident at the end of practice. I feel bad for the crew. They gave me a great car all day. We'll regroup for practice tomorrow, and hopefully we'll get the back-up car as dialed in as the primary one was this afternoon."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone, second-fastest): "I really enjoy this place. I think it's definitely a driver's track, which I love. It's a driver-engineer track, where you need to work. You really have to drive the car here. The NYSE boys have been doing an awesome job giving me the car I need. That's all I can ask for. We put new tires on for the last run. I think we could have bettered our time, but we ended up bottoming because we picked up so much grip on the banking. (About the morning test): "Just look at the total laps of everybody's career here. I wouldn't look at just the hour and half, two hours this morning. It definitely helped, and I needed that, for sure, but it doesn't give me an advantage. This morning was really an opportunity to do laps here and get my bearings." zzzz

TONY KANAAN (No. 11 Team 7-Eleven Dallara/Honda/Firestone, third fastest): "I was doing race stuff today because that's what we need to worry about. An extra day at Richmond is really valuable for us as a team because we've struggled in the past here. I'm pleased with how the day of testing went. We still have a long day ahead of us tomorrow, and this track can lead you in the wrong direction any time. I think we have a good starting setup for tomorrow. It will be up to us to make it better."

SCOTT SHARP (No. 8 Delphi Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fourth fastest): "We're still trying to learn what a lot of these other teams experienced with the Dallara for the last few years. This is only our fifth race with a Dallara. Any time we get extra time, we learn quite a lot, so it was quite a productive day for us. There's still probably left in the car because we worked on race setup for most of the day. I think we're in good shape."

DARIO FRANCHITTI: (No. 27 Klein Tools/Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/ Firestone, fifth-fastest): "It was a good day. It was nice to get those extra four hours to do some development work and also to tune the car for the conditions and this new tire that Firestone has brought with them. Track time is always nice to have and I think we learned some stuff. Hopefully we can use it for tomorrow and Saturday."

BRYAN HERTA (No. 7 XM Satellite Radio Dallara/Honda/Firestone, sixth fastest): "We had a productive day and learned a lot in the XM Satellite Radio car. We still have some work to do, but we made ground today. I'm relatively happy with the car and the day that we had and hopefully we can transfer what we learned today into tomorrow and Saturday." IRL

Hornish fastest then crashes Hornish fastest then crashesSam Hornish Jr. paced the IndyCar Series’ first Open Test held in conjunction with a race weekend as teams prepared for the SunTrust Indy Challenge presented by XM Satellite Radio.

The Indianapolis 500 winner set the fastest time of the day, 15.7520 seconds, 171.407 mph in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Honda-powered Dallara. Hornish, though, brought an early end to the session when he made moderate contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 4 with the right side of his car. He was uninjured in the accident.

Andretti Green Racing teammates Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan were just behind with laps of 15.9466, 169.315 mph and 15.9563, 169.212 mph, respectively. Scott Sharp (168.674 mph) and Dario Franchitti (168.569 mph) rounded out the top five.

A total of 2,058 laps were turned with Eddie Cheever Jr. recording 155 laps, the most of the 19 drivers who participated in the four-hour test.

Rank Car Driver C/E/T Time Speed
1 6 Hornish Jr, Sam D/H/F 15.7520 171.407
2 26 Andretti, Marco D/H/F 15.9466 169.315
3 11 Kanaan, Tony D/H/F 15.9563 169.212
4 8 Sharp, Scott D/H/F 16.0072 168.674
5 27 Franchitti, Dario D/H/F 16.0172 168.569
6 7 Herta, Bryan D/H/F 16.0209 168.530
7 55 Matsuura, Kosuke D/H/F 16.0879 167.828
8 3 Castroneves, Helio D/H/F 16.0999 167.703
9 20 Carpenter, Ed D/H/F 16.1072 167.627
10 10 Wheldon, Dan D/H/F 16.1089 167.609
11 15 Rice, Buddy D/H/F 16.1760 166.914
12 2 Scheckter, Tomas D/H/F 16.2814 165.833
13 9 Dixon, Scott D/H/F 16.2978 165.667
14 4 Meira, Vitor D/H/F 16.3148 165.494
15 17 Simmons, Jeff D/H/F 16.4426 164.208
16 16 Patrick, Danica D/H/F 16.4961 163.675
17 14 Giaffone, Felipe D/H/F 16.5697 162.948
18 51 Cheever Jr, Eddie D/H/F 16.5747 162.899
19 5 Lazier, Buddy D/H/F 16.9070 159.697

track news
San Jose Mayor indicted San Jose Mayor indictedOutgoing San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales along with his top budget aide, Joe Guerra, were indicted today by the city's Grand Jury for their part in composing a sweetheart deal with the local trash management firm, Nor Cal. The sum of the deal was worth some $11 million in favor of Nor Cal.

Gonzales was instrumental in assisting in bringing together the parties needed to form San Jose's 1st San Jose Grand Prix, the Canary Cancer Fund. After a very successfully inaugural race Gonzales found himself in a bit of a spot when claims "of back room dealing's" had been taking place in order for the promoter to acquire a $4 million dollar subsidy on short notice for this year's 2006 version, which did not go over well with some of the new mayoral candidates and city residents.

Many of his strongest backers are now requesting the two gentlemen resign.  For more: www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/
Canada: Thursday Press Conference Canada: Thursday Press Conference
New sponsor/paint scheme for No. 89 New sponsor/paint scheme for No. 89Playboy Racing announced today that the No. 89 Playboy/Vonage/Palms car will feature a new paint scheme to complement the new logo of its co-title sponsor Vonage. The Pontiac-powered Riley will feature the new look starting with the Emco Gears Classic at the Mid-Ohio Sport Car Course and through the remainder of the 2006 Rolex Sports Car Series Season.

The No. 89 car is the second of six Playboy Racing entries brought to the Grand American Road Racing Series by TCR. It is piloted by Alex Figge and Ryan Dalziel and operated by Pacific Coast Motorsport who thus far, have a best finish of 2nd place in the 2006 season.

“Playboy is one of the world’s most recognizable brand names and we are pleased that our Pontiac Powered Riley’s new look featuring our latest logo will make its debut at the Emco Gears Classic.  This is a terrific opportunity for us to enlighten savvy auto racing fans about our flat-rate, full featured broadband telephony service plans,” stated Michael Tribolet, president of Vonage America Inc.

"We are happy to help Vonage present their new logo to the world. I think the new logo and the car look great." said Tommy Constantine, CEO of TCR - the Agency of Record for Playboy Racing. "We are also very close to launching the Playboy Racing Merchandise program, which will include apparel and die cast models for each of the Playboy Racing cars. I think the new look Playboy/Vonage/Palms products will definitely be a favorite. It’s all very exciting”.

The Emco Gears Classic at the Mid-Ohio Sport Car Course will get underway on June 25th, with the race being carried live on Speed Channel starting at 3:00 PM ET on Sunday, June 25th.

Alonso expects small effect from 'flexi' rule change Alonso expects small effect from 'flexi' rule change(GMM) The end of F1's 'flexi wing' saga might shake up the order as the sport shifts into its North American double-header, Fernando Alonso has admitted.

The rule change, which is expected to most affect those that had perfected a loophole to exploit flexing in rear wings, could see teams like Ferrari and BMW-Sauber pegged back a notch in terms of straight-line top speed.

But the title leading Spaniard still singled out main rival Ferrari, whose Michael Schumacher is 23 points adrift in the championship chase, as the likely favorite for Montreal and Indianapolis.

Asked if he thought the mandatory addition of rear wing element 'separators' could change anything, 24-year-old Alonso said on Thursday: ''Perhaps. But I don't think it will make a big difference.''

Nevertheless, he explained that his shunt at Montreal a year ago had taught him that, sometimes, pushing to win is often not the best plan of attack.

''Sometimes it's better to stay calm, aim for the podium,'' Alonso added, ''and not cost yourself points.''

He told reporters that he thought Michelin had also learned a lesson in 2005 and worked to bring safer tires to Indianapolis this time around.

Last year, the French tire marque caused an uproar when it ordered that every Michelin runner sit out the US grand prix.

Alonso said: ''I think this year they know the problem and solved it, so it will be 100% no problem.''

Track News
Repaving for Watkins Glen Repaving for Watkins GlenPresident Craig Rust says portions of his track will be repaved this fall. This will be the first time the track plans to shut down operations early to make enhancements in more than 10 years.  The project, scheduled to begin Oct. 2, includes milling and repaving Turn 1. Some of the paving will be to address issue of water and drainage along the concrete sections of the track.  Improvements are expected to be completed by the end of 2006.
Alonso to 'defend' in Canada Alonso to 'defend' in Canada(GMM) Despite his earlier protests to the contrary, Fernando Alonso has admitted that Renault might slip into a more defensive mode for the next two races.

With the long stretches at both Montreal and Indianapolis expected to suit Ferrari's high top speeds, the title-leading Spaniard indicated on Thursday that he might be willing to settle for second.

''I think it will be difficult to increase (the championship lead) coming to two races where probably Ferrari are the favorites for the straight-line speed they have,'' Alonso said.

He is a comfortable 23 points ahead of Ferrari's Michael Schumacher with ten races to go in 2006, but said only last week that he would 'definitely not' start to manage the gap in the upcoming grands prix.

''We are still attacking,'' Alonso said on Tuesday, ''(as) that's the only approach we can afford to take.''

In the Montreal paddock on Thursday, however, the 24-year-old explained: ''I think we have to defend here a little bit, and hopefully finish in front of them, but it will be extremely difficult.

''I'll try to finish on the podium in the next two races; here and Indy.''

In Canada a year ago, Renault unleashed a competitive package but Alonso made a rare mistake and failed to finish. At Indianapolis, however, Renault has traditionally struggled.

95 million viewers for GP2 95 million viewers for GP2After an enthralling first half to the 2006 season, and as we prepare for our mid-season test in Paul Ricard next week, the GP2 series is today proud to announce the viewership totals from our stunning debut season in 2005. The figures from our inaugural year have been collated by Formula One Management, utilizing practices and formulas honed over the years in the writing of the official broadcast statistics of the Formula One World Championship, taking into consideration live, delayed and highlights shows as well as newsreels. As we are sure will be agreed, for a series in only its first year of competition the 2005 figures make impressive reading.

In 2005, the GP2 series had a total of 95,460,733 viewers in 100 countries across the globe. With 5148 broadcasts going out to these territories, 238,212 minutes of footage was shown in total over the course of the debut season.

The season got off to a great start when 28,898 minutes of footage was shown from the very first round in Imola, doubling up with footage of the April GP2 series launch. Over seven million fans caught the action at the first race on television from 642 broadcasts. From here, the race-by race broadcast numbers leveled out at a highly respectable average of 410 for the remaining 11 rounds.

The average viewership per round over the entire season actually worked out higher than the impressive debut, with 7,955,061 tuning in per weekend. Incredibly, Monza had the fewest broadcasts with 213 for the weekend, but the popularity of the series by this point of the season was clear to see as despite the comparatively low number of individual broadcasts, it was at this race that we pulled in the most viewers of the year… an astonishing 9,968,054.

In terms of popularity per country, it was Finland which came out on top. 20,432,000 viewers watched their man Heikki Kovalainen do battle with Nico Rosberg, son of Finland’s first F1 World Champion Keke, for the title. Nico of course races under the German flag, and it should come as little surprise that his homeland’s totals add up to the second placed figure of 12,710,000 viewers.

With three teams from their country and a wealth of driver talent at the wheel in the GP2 series, it was Spain who came third in the viewership totals with 11,768,000, followed closely by Austria on 11,065,000. The pan-European total collected by Eurosport came to 10,762,000, with Britain rounding out the top six on 7,800,000 viewers. zzzz

The GP2 series was shown across the world, from Albania to Azerbaijan, the United States to Ukraine, Sweden to Saudi Arabia, the Vatican State to Venezuela. The 2005 broadcast figures, like the racing we are treated to week in week out, can leave no doubt as to the success and popularity of the GP2 series so early in its life.

Bruno Michel, GP2 series organizer
“The broadcast statistics for our inaugural season do indeed make interesting and promising reading. To have made so many fans in such a short space of time reflects, more than anything, the spectacular show we are able to put on in the GP2 series. As I have said many times, it is thanks to our fantastic teams and the quality of their drivers on track that makes the GP2 series the success it has proved to be over the past year and a half. Of course we are indebted to FOM for the fantastic quality of the broadcasts they produce for the series, and our thanks must once again go to Mr. Ecclestone and his dedicated team on the ground at every race who work so hard to bring the fans the best of the action from all of our races.” Press release, GP2 series

Daytona 500 Champion's Walk of Fame Daytona 500 Champion's Walk of FameIn conjunction with DAYTONA USA's 10th anniversary celebration, "The Official Attraction of NASCAR" will create the new Daytona 500 Champion's Walk of Fame during the Pepsi 400 Weekend. Winning drivers of the Daytona 500 since 1996, the first year of operation for DAYTONA USA, will have their hands, right foot and signature immortalized in cement in a special ceremony inside the attraction on Friday, June 30. Daytona 500 champions Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, Ward Burton and Michael Waltrip will all have the honor of placing their hands, right foot and signature in the famous wet cement. There will be a special plaque in the Walk of Fame honoring the late Dale Earnhardt and his 1998 Daytona 500 victory. "We're constantly looking for new and innovative activities to add to DAYTONA USA," ISC President Lesa Kennedy said. "The Daytona 500 Champion's Walk of Fame will be another unique addition to the attraction as well as a fitting tribute for winners of the Daytona 500." Annual handprints, right foot prints and autograph of the Daytona 500 champion will take place each year in a special ceremony during the Pepsi 400 Weekend. Daytona International Speedway PR
MRN Offers Newest Automated Technology MRN Offers Newest Automated TechnologyMRN Radio, the Voice of NASCAR, will offer its affiliate radio stations an unprecedented opportunity to automate their broadcasts of the network's live NASCAR racing events beginning with coverage from Daytona International Speedway in July. The network will send digital signals to the radio stations via satellite to start broadcasts, play commercials, and start alternative programming in the event of rain or other delays. ABC Radio Networks, MRN Radio's satellite distribution partner, will encode and transmit the signals through its Starguide system. "This is primarily a customer service to our affiliate radio stations," said Motor Racing Network President, David Hyatt. "Implementing this technology into our broadcasts will allow the stations to better use their internal resources and make the coverage a little more seamless to the listener. Anytime we can use technology to make our product better and more efficient, it's a win-win situation." "This is the most complete automation system I have ever seen," said Clear Channel Greenville, South Carolina's John Landrum. "This system offers a number of options to affiliate stations for smooth operation during MRN Radio broadcasts." Daytona International Speedway PR
Audi bids farewell to the R8 in the USA Audi bids farewell to the R8 in the USASaturday, 1 July 2006, is an extremely special day for Audi Sport: The Audi R8 competes in its final race at Lime Rock Park near Lakeville (US state of Connecticut). With 62 wins from 79 races to date – including five victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans – the R8 is the most successful Le Mans Prototype of all time. At Lime Rock, Team Audi Sport North America starts a final time with the "good old” R8, before the new Audi R10 TDI – the first diesel powered sportscar to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans – also breaks cover in the American Le Mans Series.
Audi Sport has created a unique design for the R8 for its farewell race in the USA: The names of all 18 drivers who won a race with the R8 will be visible, and the names of the 23 race tracks worldwide on which a R8 won – from the winning début at Sebring in March 2000 to the 62nd victory in Houston a few weeks ago.
Dindo Capello (Italy) and Allan McNish (Scotland), the 2006 American Le Mans Series championship leaders in the LM P1 category, will be at the controls of the R8 during its final race. Capello has scored 18 wins to date with the R8. Only Frank Biela with 21 victories has been more successful.
The circuit, located about 180 kilometers north of New York, is new for Capello and McNish but the Audi R8 is unbeaten at Lime Rock: Team ADT Champion Racing won in 2004 and ‘05 in Connecticut. Last year, Dave Maraj’s team took pole-position and celebrated a one-two in the race. The circuit close to Lakeville is only 2.478 kilometers long. Marco Werner, who claimed pole-position last year with a time of 46.753 seconds, holds the lap-record. The race starts on Saturday, 1 July at 3:00 p.m. local time (9:00 p.m. in Germany). zzzz
Quotes before the race at Lime Rock
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "An important era for Audi Sport reaches an end with the final race for the Audi R8. The R8 is the most successful Le Mans Prototype ever and will quite possibly remain so. It would obviously be fantastic if the R8 could finish its career with a race win. Lime Rock is, however, a very special race track on which our ‘old lady’ certainly won’t have everything her own way owing to the handicaps applied by the regulations.”
Dindo Capello (Audi R8 #2): "Lime Rock is a new circuit for both Allan and I. Unfortunately there are only two free practice sessions beforehand. The track isn’t very long, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to learn, and that tenths-of-seconds won’t be important. The circuit is actually a little bumpier than the last track we visited at Mid-Ohio, which should play to the strengths of our R8. After the bad luck that Allan and I had at Le Mans, we definitely want to get a good result at Lime Rock.”
Allan McNish (Audi R8 #2): "I’ve heard that the circuit is relatively easy. The fact is that there is hardly any time before qualifying to set-up the car, which could play into our hands since we know the R8, which is entering its final race, extremely well and won’t need long to find a good set-up. The track is short and the lap time under 50 seconds, so we can expect a race with quite a few full-course yellows.”
Dave Maraj (Team Director, Team Audi Sport North America): "Our team have achieved their greatest successes so far with the Audi R8 – including the victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year which made a dream come true for me personally. The R8 is still an incredible car and actually too young for the museum. Everyone in our team will give everything to make sure this car will get the result it deserves in its final race.”

Lime Rock schedule
Friday, 30 June
10:55 – 11:55 Test Session
14:35 – 15:35 Free Practice
15:45 – 16:05 Qualifying (GT1 / GT2)
16:10 – 16:30 Qualifying (LM P1 / LM P2)
Saturday, 1 July
10:20 – 10:40 Warm-up
15:00 – 17:45 Race
Live Timing and Radio at www.americanlemans.com

LeMans win accelerates TDI development LeMans win accelerates TDI developmentAudi celebrated the historical first triumph of a Diesel engine at the 24 Hours of Le Mans by making several demonstration laps at the Neckarsulm factory. Marco Werner, who won the French endurance classic together with Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro last weekend, was at the controls of the winning Audi R10 TDI.
Thousands of Audi employees cheered Marco Werner as he reeled off the laps around the factory grounds. Several of the employees were either directly or indirectly involved on the success of the Audi R10 TDI in Le Mans. The V12 TDI engine, which produces more than 650 hp, was created at Audi Sport in the Sport and Special Engine Department which is located at the factory in Neckarsulm.
"The direct link between Audi Sport and the AUDI AG Technical Development (TE) is one reason why we are so successful in motorsport”, explains der Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "We are able to resource completely the know-how and test rigs of our colleagues in the road car development. This made it possible for us to implement the advantages from Audi’s production technology into the first Audi TDI race engine at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s toughest car race – and all this in the shortest possible time frame.” zzzz
At Audi, the transfer between motorsport and production technology also functions in the opposite direction. The Le Mans engine’s crankcase is manufactured from aluminum – a design that could well be seen in mass production in the future at Audi. The race engine’s fuel injection pressure lies well over the 1,600 bar that is currently achieved in production engines. The combustion pressures also reach values previously never before seen in any Audi engine.
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich is convinced that, "This engine will form the base from which the next generation of Audi TDI engines will do everything a little better than they do already today.” "For Audi, motorsport is more than a simple marketing instrument. The technology transfer between motorsport and production is very important to us. Last weekend’s Le Mans race is the latest proof.”
With the R10 TDI, Audi also demonstrates just how economical a powerful engine can be. The race winning car in Le Mans consumed a mere 40.34 liters per 100 kilometers – an extremely low figure for a racing engine producing more than 650 hp, especially as the percentage of full-throttle during a lap around Le Mans is 75 per cent. To compare: The Audi R8 with its equally economical TFSI engine used almost 5 liters more per 100 kilometers on its way to winning under similar conditions in 2002.
"With regard to consumption, environmental friendliness, the combustion process and other new technologies we expect an enormous step forward in the forthcoming years”, says Ulrich Baretzky, Head of Engine Technology at Audi Sport. "We expect to see things that we developed specifically with racing in mind appear later in production.”
To collect as much know-how as possible the two Audi R10 TDI prototypes in Le Mans were equipped with a total of 95 sensors, which constantly transmitted suspension and engine related data to the pits via radio telemetry. Every time the car crossed the start and finish line the high-resolution data from the previous lap was transferred by WLAN via a so-called "Burst-System”.
The abundance of data will help the Audi Sport technicians to further develop the engine, and supply their colleagues from the production development knowledge from which the Audi customer will benefit in the end. Audi
Mid-Season NASCAR TV Guide Mid-Season NASCAR TV GuideAs NASCAR approaches the midpoint of its 2006 Nextel Cup season, TV Guide magazine roars into newsstands with annual mid-season special issue, featuring Dale Earnhardt Jr., (June 26 issue, on sale June 22). In an exclusive interview with TV Guide’s resident NASCAR expert Robert Edelstein, Earnhardt speaks candidly about his reemergence at the head of the pack--after enduring his worst season ever last year, finishing 19th—and how adopting a new attitude has made all the difference.

“I think our chances are great,” says NASCAR’s most charismatic star, who after 14 races sat in sixth place with one win and only three finishes worse than 20th. “We’re on the verge of being there.”

Earnhardt’s spirited resurgence comes on the heels of his reunion with crew chief and first cousin Tony Eury Jr., with whom he separated last season due to a rift. Now both driver and crew chief are bringing a previously missing element of maturity to their partnership. “It looks like that relationship and communication is better. They don’t scream at each other anymore,” says NBC racing analyst Benny Parsons.

Earnhardt agrees. “For the past several years, I had no regard for how [Eury Jr.] felt about what I had to say,” he says. “If he didn’t like it, he could shove it. I was really childish. And I think the way I acted rubbed off on him, made him childish. Now if I’m not happy, not comfortable, not fast, I’m direct yet conservative with my tone. I try to be optimistic. That’s the difference.” zzzz

Earnhardt’s attitude readjustment extends beyond his relationship with his partner to his outlook on life, both on and off the track. He even found a way to put a good spin on his

fading fortunes at Daytona. “I don’t really get too fired up for Daytona anymore,” he admits. “We’ve lost our competitive edge there. But I [realized] I would trade in all my success there for consistency everywhere else. I’ve had that success, and I want to have success elsewhere. That’s what it’s gonna take to win a championship.”

The key to that success, he adds, is keeping cool under pressure and not sweating the small stuff. “When I was in the tenth grade, I had some problems with my stomach. I was heading to an ulcer, and I had to really overhaul my thinking,” he says. “Instead of worrying about every single thing, I had to quit [caring]. When everything was going poorly in my rookie [Cup] season, I started having to go to the doctor again. I was just worried. But now if we finish 30th or 35th it’s real hard, but I know you have to forget about it as soon as possible.”



The last word on the first half of the NASCAR season belongs to Ricky Bobby, the greatest stock-car driver who never was and star of the August 4 release “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.” Here TV Guide catches up with the fictional driver, a dead ringer for international film star Will Farrell, for a no-holds-barred Q&A.

TVG: What’s it like to run at historic Daytona International Speedway?

RB: It’s the Holy Grail of all race tracks. I cannot sleep for weeks before a race there. And I literally mean weeks. I used to hallucinate from lack of sleep. I’d see robot spiders on my arm and start losing my mind. Fortunately, now there’s Ambien. So now I just binge-eat in my sleep. Which is why I now keep a roast beef carving station next to my bed.

TVG: Who do you get along best with among the other drivers?

RB: Dale Jr. and I once spent a crazy weekend in Tijuana together. I won’t go into details but I will say it involved a flare gun, a toupee and a football helmet full of toxic frogs. Fortunately I was able to have the tattoo of Sebastian Bach lasered off my back.

TVG: Is losing your greatest fear?

RB: No. It’d be like, “What if there were, like, zombie sharks? So they were sharks but stronger, and you couldn’t kill them and they…”

TVG: I mean related to racing.

RB: OK. It would be to duel a black mystery car in the straightaway and I can’t see who the driver is and I can’t beat it. And then finally I pull ahead and defeat it and the driver steps out and removes his helmet and the driver is…me! Isn’t that terrifying?


NASCAR fans come from all walks of life. Here, NBC Nightly News Anchor and Managing Editor Brian Williams expounds in a first-person essay on his love of the sport.

“I’ve often said there’s one key indicator that lets you know if you’ve had a good time at the races: If when you come home, you can stand over a light-colored surface and shake from your hair the carbon, bits of metal, shards of rubber and other particulate matter that racing generates. Such a harvest is proof that you had a good seat, and a great time,” he writes.

“NASCAR events…are huge spectacles these days, with celebrities, corporate hospitality suites and jet fighter flyovers. When the green flag flies, it comes down to just over three dozen brave and talented drivers, competing in a sport that requires enormous courage and stamina. The speeds they reach bring enormous risk—the sport can break your heart. When Dale Earnhardt died, the sport lost its leading driver, and grown men lost a hero they worshipped. New drivers come along to replace them, and gleaming new tracks replace the old racing shrines where the guardrails bear the scars of the violent, hell-bent-for-leather early days of the sport.”

Hill to test Mercedes' 'DTM' car Hill to test Mercedes' 'DTM' car(GMM)  1996 world champion Damon Hill will test Mercedes' 'DTM' touring car at Brands Hatch on Friday.

The 45-year-old 'BRDC' president's two-hour run in the 500 hp machine is more than a week ahead of the actual touring car event at the English circuit, set to feature Hill's former grand prix rivals Mika Hakkinen and Jean Alesi.

''People like Hill are always welcome in our series,'' Audi's racing boss Wolfgang Ullrich told the 'sid' news agency.

But the man himself is keen to play down suggestions that he might be contemplating a sensational return to racing.

Hill retired from formula one in 1999.

''I am very content with what I have now,'' said Hill, who is president of the Silverstone-owning British Racing Drivers' Club, ''but I'm sure I will have good fun on Friday.''

Woman fails driver's test Woman fails driver's testPOMPANO BEACH -- A 19-year-old woman flunked her driver's license exam on Wednesday after she drove a borrowed taxi-cab into a canal, authorities said.

The woman's neighbor, a Broward Taxi Co. cab driver, took her to the testing agency at 2712 W. Atlantic Blvd, city spokeswoman Sandra King said. The cab driver agreed to let the woman practice by herself in the parking lot around 11 a.m.

He said, 'The next thing I knew the car is going through the bushes and heading toward the canal,'" King said. "The car was halfway submerged. He ran over and pulled her out."

"Needless to say, she did not pass the driver's license test," King added.

The identities of the driver and the cab driver were not immediately available, she said.

Authorities are on the scene waiting for a tow-truck company to pull the cab from the canal. Sun Sentinel
Alonso is Oviedo's 'Favorite Son' Alonso is Oviedo's 'Favorite Son'(GMM) Reigning champion and 2006 title leader Fernando Alonso has been named the 'Favorite Son' of his local Spanish region, Oviedo.

Reports in the country quoted the 24-year-old Renault race driver, who today lives in England but says 'all my family and friends' still live in the city, as describing 'great pride' at the new honor.

Alonso accepted the prize from major Gabino de Lorenzo, saying: ''I hope everyone is as proud of my races and championships as I am of this precious city.''

The mayor added: ''(Alonso) is an example of how it is possible to reach the most difficult objectives with intelligence, tenacity and faith in success.''

Villeneuve rules out Ferrari switch Villeneuve rules out Ferrari switch(GMM) At his annual pre-race meeting with reporters in Canada, Jacques Villeneuve disappointed F1 purists by ruling out ever emulating his father by racing for Ferrari.

''It would be great,'' the BMW-Sauber pilot and F1 veteran - son of Ferrari legend Gilles Villeneuve - was quoted as saying by Gazzetta dello Sport, ''but I know that it will never happen.

''I don't regret anything. When I made my career choices, I did it using the information I had so they were not mistakes.''

The Canadian also denied that racing on the Montreal circuit is particularly special because it is named after his much-loved father.

''Once you're in the car,'' Jacques, 35, said, ''you don't feel anything like that.''

In fact, things have never gone well for the local hero on the Il Notre Dame; Villeneuve's best finish was second in 1996.

What's different about his visit in 2006, however, is that he will bring a new wife, Johanna, who is due to soon have their first baby.

Villeneuve commented: ''I don't really know what it is going to be like to be a father, but we will discover together. I'm not afraid!''

But if given the opportunity to race on beyond the end of 2006, he is not planning to retire any time soon. ''I feel like I still have many years left in me,'' Jacques insisted.

''I would like to stay at BMW if things keep going the way they are. But you never know.''

TV News
USA TV reminders for Friday USA TV reminders for Friday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com

Formula 1 Practice Montreal, Canada
2:00pm-3:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Sonoma
6:00pm-7:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying  Sonoma
7:00pm-9:00pm (L) SPEED
Art Mann Presents... Midwest Mayhem Indy 500
Special Guests: Mario Andretti, Scott Dixon, and
Dan Wheldon Indianapolis
8:30pm-9:00pm HDNet
NASCAR Craftsman Truck  Milwaukee
9:00pm-11:30pm (L) SPEED
Trackside Sonoma
11:30pm-12:30am (L) SPEED

All times listed are ET.  For a complete listing of Friday's TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.

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