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Thirty-nine Years Later
Ahead of this weekend's Champ Car race, did you know? Only three Champ Car events have been held at Le Circuit. The last time Champ Car raced at Mont-Tremblant was in 1968 and Mario Andretti won from the pole position. In 1967, a doubleheader was held with both races run on the same day and composed of 100 laps.  Mario Andretti won in both starts that day in a Hawk Ford.


Patrick among top female sports stars
For the second consecutive year, IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick is ranked among America's favorite female sports stars according to a national poll by Harris Interactive.

Patrick, driver of the No. 7 Motorola Honda-powered Dallara, is ranked second behind tennis star Serena Williams in this year's poll. She was ranked fifth in last year's poll. [Editor's Note: Everyone on the list below is a winner, but one has never won, and hence is a loser. Yet she ranks #2 in popularity. Given that what a sad state of affairs the American female sports scene has become.]

Harris Interactive Poll "Favorite Female Sports Star"
1. Serena Williams (Tennis)
2. Danica Patrick (IndyCar Series driver)
3. Venus Williams (Tennis)
4. Mia Hamm (Soccer)
5. Maria Sharapova (Tennis)
6. Annika Sorenstam (Golf)
7. Laila Ali (Boxing)
8. Michelle Wie (Golf)
9. Anna Kournikova (Tennis)
10. Michelle Kwan (Figure Skating)


Hornish Featured In July Maxim
Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. is featured in the July issue of Maxim Magazine in the magazine's "Celeb Rides" section. The article discusses Hornish's  love of cars as well as anecdotes about his hobby of restoring automobiles. The feature highlights his orange and white 1955 Chevrolet Del Ray in a photo shoot at his garage in his hometown of Defiance, Ohio.


Action packed weekend on and off track in Surfers
The Lexmark Indy 300 on Queensland’s Gold Coast is unrivalled in its ability to provide a total entertainment experience and officials are now busily putting together the off-track events program, to fully complement the on track action that gets under way from October 18-21.

In a little over three months the entire Gold Coast region will be in party mode during the feature event festival and the opportunity exists now for local business and event promoters to become a part of the high vibe excitement of the Lexmark Indy 300.

The basic criteria set down to become an official off-track event is based on how each event is able to supplement this World class motor racing spectacular, in the lead up to and during the four day-four night spectacular.

“The Lexmark Indy 300 is the number one party destination in Australia during October as we welcome more than 300,000 people to our annual Surfers Paradise street circuit motor racing feature,” said Lexmark Indy 300 Marketing Manager Greg Price. 

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Champ Car F1x2 program going hot and heavy
After a nine-week intermission, European Minardi personnel are now definitely back in harness as the Champ Car F1x2 program embarks on an extremely busy summer.

Last weekend, the two-seaters, now resplendent in the orange, silver and white colors of the Champ Car World Series, and with regular drivers Zsolt Baumgartner and Patrick Friesacher at the wheel, put on a spectacular display at Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport as part of Champ Car’s race weekend activities at the well-attended Ohio event.

Between them, Baumgartner and Friesacher took 20 lucky individuals for high-speed passenger rides around the 2.106-mile (3.39-km) airfield circuit, situated on the shores on Lake Erie, during the course of the three-day event. They included Ohio State Senator, Tom Sawyer, the Chairman and CEO of Sherwin Williams, Chris Connor, and Jim Shanks, Executive Vice President of CDW, as well as a number of corporate guests and media representatives from the Cleveland area.

Team personnel have now relocated to the famous Mont-Tremblant circuit, in the picturesque Laurentian region of Quebec, scene of this weekend’s sixth round of the Champ Car World Series. Offering a complete change of pace from the flat, wide-open runways of the Cleveland track, the drivers and their passengers will experience the swoops, dips and blind brows of this full-blooded road circuit, once the scene of the Canadian Grand Prix.

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Chaffin and Foyt in for BAM
BAM Racing announced Chad Chaffin will drive the #49 Paralyzed Veterans of America Dodge this weekend at New Hampshire International Speedway and in two weeks at Chicagoland Speedway. BAM Racing and Mike Bliss have amiably decided to part ways. Chaffin will make his first Nextel Cup Series attempt of the season this weekend in the Lenox Industrial Tools 300. He has one Nextel Cup Series start at the 1.058-mile oval where he qualified on time and finished in the 34th position. In the Craftsman Truck Series, he has a total of four starts at the speedway with one top-5 and one top-10 start with two top-10 finishes. "I am excited to return to NEXTEL Cup Series racing this weekend," said Chaffin. "I am looking forward to working with the entire BAM Racing team as it attempts to turn its Car of Tomorrow program around. I've have been active on the track since last season and am prepared for the pressures that come with qualifying on time." Mike Bliss, who started with BAM Racing towards the end of the 2006 season, resigned from the team after a string of missed races. Larry Foyt is slated to drive the Paralyzed Veterans of America Dodge at Daytona International Speedway. To learn more about Paralyzed Veterans, visit its website at www.pva.org. BAM Racing PR

track news

Ford extends sponsorship at Kentucky Speedway
The Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers, Ford Racing and Kentucky Speedway announce the three-year extension of entitlement partnerships associated with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) “Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers” event at the 66,089-seat venue.

Ford Racing will extend its title sponsorship of the race and The Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers will continue as the event-presenting sponsor through 2010. Financial terms were not disclosed. Both partners have supported the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series visit to Kentucky Speedway since 2003.

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industry news

Cadillac mulls hybrids of all models as sales slump
General Motors Corp.'s Cadillac luxury-vehicle division is considering hybrid versions of all its models as U.S. gasoline prices stay near $3 a gallon and the brand's sales decline.

"Pretty much every program I am looking at going forward has got a hybrid as part of it," John Howell, Cadillac's product chief, said today in an interview in New York. He didn't give a time frame for adding the gasoline-electric versions.

Cadillac is looking for ways to revive demand after its U.S. sales fell 3.4 percent last year, the first annual decline since 2001. Sales this year dropped 7.2 percent through May. Cadillac, known for larger cars and sport-utility vehicles, hasn't fared well as gasoline prices surged this year and in 2006.

The division's first hybrid will be the 2009 Escalade SUV, Howell said. It will have the so-called two-mode system that increases hybrid fuel savings by more efficient adjustments to different engine speeds. GM plans two-mode hybrid versions later this year of its Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon large SUVs and has said fuel economy will rise 25 percent from gasoline-only models.

U.S. hybrid sales last year increased 23 percent to 253,652, led by Toyota Motor Corp.'s Prius car. Hybrids reduce fuel use and emissions by combining a gasoline engine, an electric motor, a battery pack and brakes that capture energy from stopping. Detroit News


NASCAR slams cheating Hendrick team
NASCAR has issued penalties and fines to the No. 24 and No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports teams that compete in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, as a result of rule infractions found this past weekend at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

Both cars – the No. 24 driven by Jeff Gordon and the No. 48 driven by Jimmie Johnson – were found to be in violation of Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment used do not conform to NASCAR rules); 20-2.1E (parts or components of the car not previously approved by NASCAR that have been installed or modified to enhance aerodynamic performance will not be permitted); and 20-2H (fenders may not be cut or altered except for wheel or tire clearance which must be approved by the Series Director) of the 2007 NASCAR rule book. The violations were found during the initial inspection process last Friday.

As a result, Gordon and Johnson have each been penalized 100 driver championship points. Their respective crew chiefs – Steve Letarte and Chad Knaus – have each been fined $100,000, suspended for the next six NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events until Aug. 15, 2007 and placed on probation until Dec. 31, 2007.

In addition, Rick Hendrick, owner of the No. 24, has been penalized 100 car owner championship points as has Gordon, who is the owner of the No. 48.


Andretti ready for Avenger debut
John Andretti, for the first time, will step behind the wheel of a Dodge Avenger in competition.  Andretti will race the Lenox Tools 300 this Sunday at the one-mile New Hampshire International Speedway.  Andretti will pilot the #45 Wells Fargo Dodge Avenger in his second start for Petty Enterprises this season.  Andretti is filling in for Kyle Petty who returns to the TNT television booth this weekend.   Andretti has had some time to get familiar with the new cars.  The team recently tested at the Milwaukee (Wis.) Mile in preparation for Sunday’s race. 


Theissen unhappy with Friday format
(GMM) Mario Theissen still thinks the new format for Fridays at grand prix weekends this year failed to deliver its goals.

BMW-Sauber kicked off the season running tester Sebastian Vettel on the opening day of free practice, but team principal Theissen ultimately called the policy off because it overly disadvantaged the team's race drivers.

"There were two goals (of the 2007 format)," the German boss is quoted as saying by the news agency 'sid'.

He explained: "The first was to bring more action to the circuits, and in this aspect there has been a success.

"But the second target was to move some testing to the (GP) Fridays, and this has not really been the case.

"The original concept was to make Friday a day on which we can test new developments as well as young drivers, but the reality is that it is just an extended day of practice," said Theissen.

F1's new Friday format means that teams can run freely without fear of incurring penalties for engine failures, but - combined with tighter limits on private testing - the scrapping of third cars means that the evaluation of young drivers is now much harder.

Theissen, meanwhile, denied rumours that he is considering a promotion within the BMW Group, which would create a vacancy at the helm of the formula one team.

"That is not going to happen," he said, "because I am already in the position that I want to be in."


Now or never for Bourdais
Sebastien Bourdais says 2008 is probably his last chance to launch a career in Formula One.

The Champ Car title leader, who has won the last three championships in the American open-wheeler series, is closely linked with a move to Toro Rosso and is scheduled to test the car again at the upcoming Spa Francorchamps session in July.

But the 28-year-old Frenchman is also firmly established with a young family in Florida and admits that moving to NASCAR might also be an attractive option.

"Right now, there are three possibilities: stay in Champ Car, maybe Formula One and maybe NASCAR," he is quoted as saying by the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

"That's a whole lot of maybes."

F1 has long been an ambition for Bourdais but he said it is frustrating that, despite his achievements - which include the F3000 title in 2002 - he is still being asked to prove himself at tests.

"I know what I can do, you know," he explained. "I've been around long enough. I know in a good car and good conditions, I can get it done. It's all about getting the right opportunity."

"If it's going to happen, it has to get going pretty soon,” Bourdais continued. “You don't get into Formula One past 30 years old, and I'm 28, so it's pretty clear it's either going to be next year, or probably never."


Tracy win boosts Toronto ticket sales
The Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto got the shot in the arm it needed to push ticket sales when hometown boy Paul Tracy drove his No. 3 Forsythe Championship Racing Panoz DP01 to victory in Cleveland on Sunday. There were times, however, during the weekend when Grand Prix boss Charlie Johnstone had to be very anxious about Tracy and Forsythe being able to even be competitive when the Champ Car World Series rolls into town next week. Prior to his win at the Burke Lakefront Airport circuit, Tracy had suffered through two winless years and had a bad result in the previous race at Portland, where he finished 10th, and in two days of qualifying at Cleveland the best he could do was seventh on the speed charts. But what really must have had Johnstone worried was word that team owner Gerry Forsythe was threatening to tear the team apart. Tracy had complained that his poor performances were the result of Forsythe's decision not to test with other teams during the eight week period the Toronto driver was recuperating from a broken back suffered in the second race of the season. Edmonton Sun


Bridgestone French GP preview
Bridgestone returns to Europe for the eighth round of the FIA Formula One World Championship where the soft and medium compound Potenzas will face the challenges of the Magny Cours race circuit for the Grand Prix de France.
Magny Cours presents a very different test to that of the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis two weeks ago, which is where these two compounds were last raced. Whilst Indy was all about the banking and a tight infield section, the French circuit has a rich diversity of corners and a variation in asphalt surface and thus different grip levels over its 4.411 km duration.

Between the US Grand Prix and the French Grand Prix, Bridgestone Potenza Formula One tires were out in action at two test venues between June 19-21. The medium and hard compounds were used at Silverstone, UK, by nine teams and the medium compound used in Jerez, Spain, by two teams.

Kees van de Grint, Bridgestone Motorsport Head of Track Engineering Operations

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Pepsi 400 purse exceeds $6 Million
The stars of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series will vie for a purse of more than $6 million under the lights at the "World Center Of Racing” in the 49th annual Pepsi 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race on Saturday, July 7th at Daytona International Speedway.

The posted awards for this year’s mid-summer classic will be a record $6,202,439, an increase of almost $200,000. The posted awards for the 2006 Pepsi 400, which was won by Tony Stewart, was $6,074,820.

The winner of this year’s Pepsi 400 will collect a minimum of $284,550. The second, third, fourth and fifth-place finishers in the Pepsi 400 will receive a minimum of $195,575, $160,725, $131,425 and $118,725 respectively.

The posted awards for the Winn-Dixie 250 NASCAR Busch Series race presented by PepsiCo on Friday, July 6th will be $1,552,701.

"We are very excited about this year’s Pepsi 400 weekend," said Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig. "The stakes will be high and race fans will be able to experience one of NASCAR’s most exciting night races - the Pepsi 400 - as well as some of the special events planned surrounding the 50th running of the Daytona 500 in 2008."

In the 49th annual Pepsi 400 on Saturday night, July 7, Stewart will look to tie legend David Pearson's mark of three consecutive Pepsi 400 victories while 2007 Daytona 500 champion Kevin Harvick will attempt to become the fifth driver to sweep both NEXTEL Cup Series races at DIS and the first since 1975.Also on tap for the Pepsi 400 Weekend will be the sixth annual Winn-Dixie 250 presented by PepsiCo Busch Series race and Circle K Pole Qualifying for the Pepsi 400 on Friday, July 6 and the Brumos Porsche 250 Rolex Sports Car Series race on Thursday, July 5.

Tickets to any of the 2007 Pepsi 400 Weekend events are available online at www.racetickets.com.


Dodge makes good on promise
Dodge made a promise to its drivers back in February that the first win in a Dodge Avenger would be rewarded with a new 2008 Dodge Avenger passenger car for the driver to donate to their favorite charity.  Juan Pablo Montoya collected on that promise Sunday with the first Dodge Avenger victory at Infineon Raceway.


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Walker set for F1 return in Germany
  • Ferrari has 'proof' against Stepney
  • F1 tester rejects Montoya's 'no. 1' claim
  • Renault tweaks aero chief lineup
  • Sutil is big Spyker 'asset' - Kolles

Walker set for F1 return in Germany
(GMM) Murray Walker's expected return to the formula one commentary booth is now set for the European grand prix, it has emerged.

The legendary personality, famous for his on-air slips or 'Murrayisms' throughout his long career on British television and radio, will replace the BBC's David Croft for a one-off at the Nurburgring.

Croft has pulled out of the event scheduled for late next month because his wife is due to have their first child.

83-year-old Walker's Radio Five Live call, however, will not be his first since retiring from full-time duty in 2001.

He has also called one-off races for Australia's Channel 10, as well as for the Grand Prix Masters series, and appeared at several grands prix as an ambassador for the Honda team.

Ferrari has 'proof' against Stepney
(GMM) A Ferrari spokesman insists that the case against British engineer Nigel Stepney will be proved.

The specialist publication Auto Motor und Sport quotes Luca Colajanni as revealing that the Maranello based team has in its possession "compelling proof" of 48-year-old Stepney's illegal behavior.

It emerges, however, that the internal and police investigation may not be about sabotage, despite reports of a mysterious 'white powder' found in the fuel tank of Felipe Massa's car prior to Monaco as well as a major incident recently in the team's wind tunnel.

In fact, the latest suggestion is that - following the widely reported case involving Toyota personnel - Ferrari suspects a new case of espionage, involving the selling of information and blueprints to rival teams.

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An Interview with Graham Taylor, Super Aguri Sporting Director
Question: Graham, we are now half-way through the season, please give us your thoughts on the year so far for SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM.

Graham Taylor: I believe that the team has performed above its station on all levels. The driver pairing that we have has enabled us to make steps forward in our preparations for each race. The addition of Ant’s technical ability paired with Taku’s F1 experience has settled into a good relationship immediately, with the engineering team benefiting from both cars in all sessions over a race weekend. This has put pressure on everyone in the team and on many occasions we have been able to show our true potential.

Our target was to join the F1 fraternity and score a point. Now that we have amassed four points it has left us hungry for more and increased our fighting spirit even further. Certainly Ant’s time for scoring a point should not be far away.

Question: What are the challenges for the team and Drivers at the next race at Magny-Cours?

GT: The preparations for Magny-Cours have been a challenge, with effectively all the teams having to race four times in five weekends. Getting the freight back from the flyaway’s and preparing the cars in a very short time scale, combined with testing in between these races, stretches a small team such as SUPER AGURI F1 TEAM.

The Magny-Cours circuit offers a different challenge to the race in North America, with higher downforce levels required. Both drivers have fresh engines for this race, however with the penalty that Taku has to carry for this event, it forces us to have a different strategy on his car and it will be a tough weekend for him. But the team and drivers have high levels of confidence and spirit, that’s the SUPER AGURI way. 

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tv news

Motorsports This Week on ESPN and ABC
NASCAR Busch Series Live on ABC From New Hampshire
ESPN on ABC will feature NASCAR Busch Series racing live Saturday, June 30, from New Hampshire International Speedway as the series makes its only appearance of 2007 at the 1.058-mile New England oval for the Camping World 200 presented by RV.com. The telecast begins with NASCAR Countdown at 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday; the 200-lap race starts at 3 p.m. 
Remarkably, in the 20 NASCAR Busch Series races that have been contested at NHIS since the track opened in 1990, there has never been a repeat winner. The first race held at NHIS was a 300-lap NASCAR Busch Series race in 1990 that was won by Tommy Ellis, and current series points leader Carl Edwards won last year’s event. 
Dale Jarrett, one of the founding drivers of the NASCAR Busch Series and the 1999 NASCAR Cup Series champion, will work in the ESPN booth as analyst for the telecast, joined by two-time NASCAR champion crew chief Andy Petree. Dr. Jerry Punch will handle play-by-play. Pit reporters will be Allen Bestwick, Dave Burns, Jamie Little and Mike Massaro.
Brent Musburger will host NASCAR Countdown from the ESPN Pit Studio, while two-time NASCAR champion crew chief Tim Brewer will report from the ESPN Chevy Cutaway Car.
More ESPN Ultimate NASCAR Programming To Premiere July 5
As the return of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series racing to ESPN draws nearer, ESPN is building up to the July 29 running of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard with 11 hours of programming on the history of NASCAR. The month of July revs up the countdown to green with three shows highlighting NASCAR’s Greatest Drivers, Hottest Rivalries and Biggest Races.

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Technical preview Magny-Cours with Vasselon
Panasonic Toyota Racing returns to Europe this weekend following its North American double-header, with the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours. Pascal Vasselon gives us a technical preview of the race at Magny-Cours.

Sixth place for Jarno and the best result of the season for the team at Indy. Satisfying?
"Jarno gave us an excellent performance. He was very honest about his concern after the incident with Robert Kubica in Montreal. I think Jarno was relieved at the eventual outcome and was able to come to Indianapolis with a clear head and focus fully on the American weekend. He even entered into the spirit of things by arriving every day on a Harley Davidson! His qualifying performance to start eighth was very satisfying, especially when you factor in the fuel load, and he was flat-out all race. He resisted some determined driving by Mark Webber and got us a great sixth place. With the two leading teams monopolizing the top four positions again, it was a very strong performance from Jarno. Still, we cannot be totally happy with a sixth place."

But Ralf’s problems at Indianapolis struck again?
"There’s no legislating for that. Ralf certainly doesn’t seem to have a lot of luck at Indy. There was a lot of jockeying for position going into Turn 1, Ralf’s tires locked and he made contact with David Coulthard. That was the end of his afternoon, right there at Turn 1."

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Lloyd climbs to top of Indy Pro Series all-time wins list
In just 17 races, Alex Lloyd has become the all-time winningest driver in Indy Pro Series history. Victory No. 8 came June 23 at Iowa Speedway, separating Lloyd from Thiago Medeiros, Jeff Simmons and Mark Taylor, who each won seven times during their Indy Pro Series careers.

"It means a lot to me," said Lloyd, who won two races in nine starts last year with AFS Racing and who has won six of eight races this season with Sam Schmidt Motorsports. "I think before the year, I never really thought that I would be one of those guys that would get hung up on small details, details like that of statistics. I was never really a statistics guy. I set my goal as winning Indy, winning the championship."

Lloyd realized the first of those goals in May, leading all 40 laps of the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and he is well on his way to accomplishing the second, leading the standings by 119 points at the halfway point of the season.  Lloyd continues to reset his goals as he checks them off his list.

"As soon as you start realizing that these things are possible, it really, really made me want it," said Lloyd, who opened the season with a record-setting five-race winning streak. "To have my name at the top of those statistics is a very special thing and it's something that I've been working very hard for and worked very hard for since I joined the Indy Pro Series."

Despite the dominance, Lloyd knows that the season is only half over and that he needs to continue to race well in the final eight races to win the championship.

"It's just been a phenomenal first half of the year, it really has, and I hope we can continue this for the second half," he said.

Chronicling Lloyd's 8 Victories
. 1 - 7/1/06 at Indianapolis (road course) - Passes Graham Rahal with two laps to go after being treated in the Infield Medical Center just moments before the race.
. 2 - 8/27/06 at Infineon Raceway - Drives from fifth to first, passing for the lead on Lap 9 and leading the final 22.
. 3 - 3/24/07 at Homestead-Miami Speedway - Earns his first win on an oval, leading 27 of 57 laps.
. 4 - 3/31/07 at St. Petersburg - Wins first career pole. Leads all 40 laps.
. 5 - 4/1/07 at St. Petersburg - Pulls off the double at St. Pete, coming from sixth to win. Passes for the lead on Lap 21 of 40.
. 6 - 5/25/07 at Indianapolis (oval) - Leads all 40 laps from the pole.
. 7 - 6/2/07 at Milwaukee - Leads all 100 laps from the pole.
. 8 - 6/23/07 at Iowa - Passes for the lead with 10 laps to go.

Dominant Streaks
. Alex Lloyd - Won 8 of 17 starts, including 6 of 8 to start the 2007 season.
. Thiago Medeiros - Won 4 consecutive races in 2004 and 5 of 6 from the final race of 2003 through the first five races of 2004.
. Jeff Simmons - Won 5 of 8 races from Milwaukee 2005 through Homestead-Miami 2006.
. Mark Taylor - Won 7 of 11 careers starts in 2003.


Autocon eyes Lime Rock, Lemans with Creation
A trip last week to Road Atlanta did nothing to dampen Autocon Motorsports’ enthusiasm for the second half of the American Le Mans Series season. A two-day test provided the drivers and team a chance to grow more comfortable with the Creation CA06H-Judd as the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park approaches.

“We feel like we’re ready for a good run at Lime Rock,” reported Chris McMurry, who led for nine laps last year at the New England circuit in a Lola-AER. “The test went very, very well. Our goals were really threefold: 1) make sure the car is race ready, 2) find a solid, comfortable baseline setup and 3) get the drivers acclimated and comfortable driving the car. We accomplished all three.”

The car turned about 150 laps Thursday and Friday with a variety of new tire compounds from Dunlop, McMurry said. Works driver Jamie Campbell-Walter, fresh from the 24 Hours of Le Mans, put the car through its early paces, and all three Autocon drivers posted their best career lap times in race trim at the circuit. Campbell-Walter was a little more than a second above Nic Minassian’s Petit Le Mans pole time last year in the same car.

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China promoter sues Champ Car UPDATE #2 You can read the full lawsuit here.

06/05/07 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, the first promoter for the China race did not fulfill all their obligations, hence why the May race had to be postponed. A second promoter was found by Champ Car and they are and have fulfilled all their obligations and when the China race finally comes off (after getting FIA approval), it will be with the second promoter. The first promoter is who has brought the lawsuit against Champ Car.  And now you know the real story......Mark C.

06/01/07 The promoter of the planned Champ Car World Series race in China filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Champ Car owners Kevin Kalkhoven and Gerald Forsythe alleging breach of contract and fraud.

In the suit, filed in Marion County Superior Court, Sino Sports and Entertainment Inc. claims it paid Champ Car $1.6 million in advance for rights to promote a Champ Car race in China and telecast the full schedule in China. It claims $15 million in lost revenue because Champ Car didn't get permission from the FIA, the world governing body for motor sports, for either.

Sino alleges Champ Car was responsible for moving the race from May to October. But Champ Car president Steve Johnson, whose first knowledge of the suit came in a phone call Thursday morning from The Star, said it was Sino
that requested the change after it replaced the original promoter. 

"The FIA approved us to race in May," he said. "The promoters asked for the date change, which the FIA rejected. We're still working with (the FIA) on that.  The worst that can happen is they say no and we have to postpone the race till the spring of 2008." Indy Star


NASCAR determined to police COT
NASCAR is determined to take any guesswork out of its new Car of Tomorrow. With a new system of templates and sensors to measure the parameters of the taller, wider and reputedly safer car, NASCAR chairman Brian France said the sanctioning organization wants to leave no doubt that it will come down hard on infractions. "We have to lay down the law," France said Sunday at Infineon Raceway, where the Nextel Cup cars raced in the Toyota/Save Mart 350. That doesn't bode well for the teams of#24-Jeff Gordon and #48-Jimmie Johnson, who were parked for Friday's practice and qualifying after NASCAR inspectors found front fenders on their COT Chevrolets had been illegally modified. The two Hendrick Motorsports drivers were allowed to practice Saturday and race Sunday, starting from the rear of the field, but it is expected that NASCAR will follow up in the next few days with more severe penalties, possibly including the loss of drivers and owner points, six-figure fines and suspensions for the crew chiefs. Asked if NASCAR is taking all the creativity away from the teams, France said, "There will always be room for imagination and ingenuity in the sport. But we don't want this thing to revolve around technology. It's important to keep it in the hands of the drivers." AP/ESPN.com


Kalkhoven pleased with the big crowd
Late Sunday morning, Champ Car World Series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven stopped his scooter to soak in the atmosphere at the Grand Prix of Cleveland. Everywhere he looked, he saw people - happy people.

"It really has come back, hasn't it?" Kalkhoven said of the event.

Three-day attendance for this year's Grand Prix was 151,426, including 65,000-plus on Sunday. It represents a 27 percent increase from last year's 118,853.

Three years ago, three-day attendance was 80,000. It improved to 89,877 in 2005.


Renault F1 to visit Johannesburg
The Renault Formula 1 team will organize a Formula One street demo through the streets of Johannesburg, South Africa. The Renault F1 team Roadshow kicked off its tour in Poland earlier this month.

After visiting numerous major cities around the globe since 2003, the ING Renault F1 Team Roadshow is aiming in 2007 to grow even further, and generate visibility and awareness for the French manufacturer in key growth markets. Following the highly successful visit to Poland in early June, the team will visit Africa for the first time in July, for a spectacular demonstration run in the streets of Johannesburg on 28 and 29 July.

A special street circuit will be devised through the streets of the Sandton municipality, a major commercial district in the city, on which the ING Renault F1 Team will conduct a spectacular run of its Formula 1 car - and bring the South African public a welcome taste of modern F1, in a country which has not welcomed a race since the last Grand Prix held at Kyalami in 1993.

Giancarlo Fisichella and Nelson Piquet Jr. will represent the world champions during this exceptional event, as the Italian explained: "I am very excited about this next Roadshow. I have never been to South Africa, as I was too young to ever have competed in the race at Kyalami. But I have heard a lot about the country, and people have told me what an extraordinary place it is: I can't wait to get there! Along with our unique Roadshow team, we will be looking to put on a really spectacular show for the public in Johannesburg - and I hope to meet plenty of them there!"


Cleveland attendance up big UPDATE A reader asks, I see the 3-day attendance but what was the Sunday attendance in Cleveland? Did it beat the IRL's 36K in Iowa? Joe Schmidt

Dear Joe, According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper, a crowd of about 65,000 attended Sunday’s Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland. We can tell you that there were indeed a lot more people there this year. There was a lot to do all weekend. They had drag racing every night until 10 PM and thousands of people were there just for that. It was a weekend full of racing a good 16 hours a day. Mark C.

06/24/07 The Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by LaSalle Bank announced a three-day attendance total of 151,426.  The three-day total marks a 28% increase over 2006.  The three-day attendance was 70K just two years ago so the new promoters (Mike Lanigan and Chuck Kosich) have really turned this race around.

Other noteworthy items from the Grand Prix of Cleveland race:

Robert Doornbos overcame an early drive-through penalty for blocking.  The Dutch driver was forced to serve the penalty on lap 11 and after exiting pitlane was running 16th.  He then fought his way back to finish second and earn his fourth podium finish in five Champ Car starts.
Graham Rahal led his first laps in Champ Car when he took the lead on lap 30.  The Columbus, Ohio native paced the field for the next four laps.


A Passion for Driving, a Passion for Life
Whether it is driving a Formula 1 car at the limit, keeping up with the latest trends in fashion-conscious Barcelona or simply having fun with big boys' toys, Panasonic Toyota Racing third driver Franck Montagny approaches everything with his own brand of enthusiasm.” I am happy with my life as it is, I am not going to change it," says the 29-year-old Frenchman, who is in his first season with Panasonic Toyota Racing. Franck has brought his own unique style to the team, with his friendly attitude mixed with dedication to his craft and that is hardly surprising from a driver who grew up surrounded by all things car-related in the south of France. His father Jean, now 55 and the owner of a jet ski and buggy rental service, shaped a young Franck's outlook on life with his own rallying exploits, helped always by mother Michelle.” I think it is a family affair," Franck says. "My father was real crazy about motorsport, he was a rally man and my mother followed it all the time. I had no choice! See video on our Home Page


Q and A with Pat Symonds
Q. Pat, the team came away from North America having scored an equal number of points to rivals BMW. That's a positive for you, surely?

Pat Symonds - Renault's director of engineering: Well, the first thing to say is that the results don't quite tell the full story, because some odd things happened to both teams, in both races. But in overall terms, yes, I think it's indicative of the fact that the tide is turning, we are very close to BMW now and racing them hard.

Q. The car certainly seemed much more competitive in Canada and Indy...

PS: I think it's since Monaco to be honest. Without a doubt, we have upped our game and pulled out of the midfield bunch we were in, to stand on top of it. And there's still more to come.

Q. The other key factor was seeing improved performances from Heikki…

PS: What a contrast from the start of his weekend in Canada, to the end of the race in Indy! After Friday and Saturday in Montreal, not much more could go wrong. But he then put in a great drive in Canada: he pulled up from the back, he was consistent, he pushed and challenged all the way. Then we got to Indy and he was strong all weekend, mentally and in terms of his driving. He used the equipment to the utmost, and even led the race, which we hadn't anticipated!

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british f3

Asmer wins Round 10
Marko Asmer (#7 Hitech Racing) took his 6th win of the season in dramatic style which saw the Estonian battling with Round 9 winner Maro Engel (#23 Carlin Motorsport) to the flag.  Engel led until lap 11 when Asmer took the lead at the first corner.  However Engel fought back and briefly regained the lead on lap 14 before Asmer made the move that won him the race at the next corner.  Engel didn't give up and raced Asmer to the line.  Sam Bird (#3 Carlin Racing) was third after driving an excellent race to secure his 6th podium on the trot in only his 10th British F3 race.

Sergio Perez finished off a perfect weekend with another win and fastest lap to take maximum points on his first visit to Monza.

As the 33 car grid sped down the long main straight to the first corner chicane the grid was tightly bunched with Engel leading the way.  But 33 cars wont fit into the first corner at Monza and chaos ensued with cars going every which way to try and avoid contact with their neighbours but not everyone succeeded. Front row starter Stephen Jelley was one of the casualties from the melee, with Alberto Valerio (#22 Carlin Motorsport) suffering from a damaged front wing after a trip across the gravel.

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Almost 36K for Indy Cars in Iowa
Dario Franchitti won the inaugural Iowa Corn Indy 250 race at Iowa Speedway in Newton today before an announced crowd of 35,838 and a national television audience.


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Massa, Kimi, say Ferrari now faster
  • Todt rejects Stepney's innocence vow
  • Brawn, Ralf, deny Schu to solve Ferrari crisis
  • Schu returns to Ferrari cockpit
  • Honda cut lap times with 'B' car
  • Ferrari to 'push' for better rules - boss

Massa, Kimi, say Ferrari now faster
(GMM)  Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen are expecting their Ferrari to be more competitive at the weekend's French grand prix.

The red-clad pair fell significantly behind the pace of their dominant McLaren challengers over the past three races, but at the Silverstone test last Thursday Massa set easily the quickest time as he assessed a new aerodynamic package for Magny Cours and beyond.

"I am very happy after this test," the Brazilian revealed at Fiorano on the weekend for a celebration marking Ferrari's 60th anniversary.

He added: "On the track I noticed some positive effects immediately, so I am optimistic for France."

Massa told La Gazzetta dello Sport that the new package should help Ferrari to improve its pace especially in qualifying trim.

"Silverstone is a track that already suits our car but we also learned a lot of useful things about aspects that did not work so well in the past races," he said.

Massa's Finnish teammate Raikkonen agreed that the Silverstone-spec F2007 seemed "much better", but warned: "We don't know yet whether it will be enough to go past McLaren.

"We will have to wait and see, but for sure the car seems much better."

Todt rejects Stepney's innocence vow
(GMM)  Jean Todt has rebutted Nigel Stepney's claim that the British engineer did "nothing wrong" to trigger an investigation into possible sabotage of the Ferrari team.

Speaking through his lawyer from the Philippines, 47-year-old Stepney said: "I am innocent.  I have done nothing wrong."

His Italian lawyer Sonia Bartolini, meanwhile, said Stepney will soon return from his holiday and probably hold a press conference to attempt to "clear his name".

But Ferrari boss Todt countered to La Gazzetta dello Sport: "The fact that we requested the intervention of the public prosecutor's office demonstrates that we have discovered something unlawful."

Asked by the Italian sports daily specifically about reports of "sabotage", however, the Frenchman added: "I will not comment on that at the moment."

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Indy Pro driver fractures foot
Guthrie Racing's Sean Guthrie, who qualified a career-high third, suffered a displaced left foot fracture when his car made contact with the Turn 4 SAFER Barrier, skidded across the racing surface and infield grass and made contact with the pit wall.


Family TV huh?
A reader writes, Was that Kyle Petty dropping the f-word after having just five minutes before finished praising the Lord on national TV?  Family entertainment, huh? David Koeberlein


Paul Stoddart enjoying himself in Champ Car
It's safe to say Paul Stoddart is ecstatic about joining Champ Car.  His two seat Minardi F1 cars are in action every race weekend and his drivers are competing for race wins, something he never experienced in F1.  Sunday in Cleveland was no different.

“What a mixed day. First a drive through penalty that was debatable to say the least, followed by some fantastic racing, perhaps the best we have seen so far this season. To end up second for our fourth podium out of five races and only be three points behind the Championship leader is about as good as it can get," said Stoddart.


Rookie Goring wins first Star Mazda race
Round Six of the 2007 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, held Sunday afternoon at the Burke Lakefront Airport circuit in Cleveland, Ohio, was won by Jonathan Goring of Norfolk, CT, driver of the #14 Andersen Racing/Skip Barber Racing Mazda.  Goring, the 2006 Skip Barber National Series champion, came into the race 5th in the points, qualified on the outside of the front row and battled for most of the 45-minute race with pole-sitter leader Dane Cameron of Sonoma, California. 

Cameron led the first half of the race until deteriorating tires slowed his pace and Goring slipped by him on the second of two yellow-flag re-starts.  Cameron finished 2nd in his #19 JDC Motorsports/Finlay Motorsports Mazda, and retains his lead in the championship.  Finishing 3rd in the #35 AIM Autosport Mazda is the series’ lone female driver, Natacha Gachnang of St. Gingolph, Switzerland, who also scored a podium finish at Round Five in Portland.

“It was an exciting race for me because I knew from the start that I had a car capable of winning the race,” said Goring, who won four races on his way to the 2006 Skip Barber championship.  “I was careful in the first turn and got through with no problems, after which Dane was leading until the half-way point when I was able to close on him a bit.  Then came the first of two full-course yellows and I couldn’t get past him on the first one, but got by on the second.  This is my first win in the Star Mazda championship and I’d really like to thank my team, sponsors and Skip Barber for all their support.”

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Another successful standing start for Champ Car
The Champ Car drivers executed another perfect standing start in Cleveland Sunday and for the first time in as long as we can remember there was not an accident in the first turn, which is exactly what standing starts were meant to improve.  Because all the cars start together there is not as much of an accordion effect when they brake for the first turn.  In addition, the cars enter the first corner about 50 MPH slower which enables the drivers to judge their braking better and not overshoot the corner on cold tires and crash.

The fans were on their feet cheering so Champ Car's customers were quite happy with this new start procedure.


Wilson is one cool customer
We spotted Justin Wilson standing on the grid today prior to the start of the Grand Prix of Cleveland with a blue vest on that looked like some sort of flak jacket. 

Jokingly we asked if that was in case Paul Tracy speared you out there. 

"No, it's a cool vest" said Wilson.  "It has ice packs in it and it helps me stay cool in the race."


Worth his weight in gold UPDATE Hildebrand (pictured right) said that yes, Zimicki has been a big help but it has been more than just him.  It has been the entire team improving their game.  "We are a one-car team so we're on our own trying to find the right setup.  Sometimes we don't come off the truck with a good setup and we have to scramble to catch up.  We think we are starting to get a handle on this car though and for the rest of the year we think we will be much more competitive."

06/24/07 American youngster JR Hildebrand was not getting the results he or his team expected in Champ Car Atlantics this year so he has been talking to the same driver coach that Graham Rahal uses, Mike Zimicki (pictured right), and we're not sure what advice he may have given him but today in Cleveland he pushed race winner and series dominating driver Raphael Matos right to the end finishing just 0.5 seconds behind. 


Matos goes flag-to-flag to win again
For the fourth time in six 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda races, Brazilian Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) extended his points lead with a victory in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by LaSalle Bank at Burke Lakefront Airport (ESPN2, 7/4, 6:00 p.m. ET).

Matos nearly earned every point available to him from the weekend by taking the bonus points for the provisional and final pole positions in his flag-to-flag victory. He led the field from a standing start into Turn 1 and was never headed en route to a 0.506-second triumph over J.R. Hildebrand (#36 Newman Wachs Racing). In addition to being Matos’ fourth victory of the season, it was the fifth of his Champ Car Atlantic career and he now leads his Sierra Sierra Enterprises teammate James Hinchcliffe (#9 NOCO/ProWorks) by 30 points, 173-143, with half of the 12-race season now in the books.

For Hildebrand, the runner-up result was the best of the rookie’s Champ Car Atlantic career, topping a previous best result of sixth in the first race of the Portland doubleheader two weeks ago. Hildebrand has now finished inside the top-nine positions in each of his past four Atlantic starts. He won one race of a Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 doubleheader at Cleveland last year on his way to the series championship.

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Pagenaud leads morning warm-up in Cleveland
Simon Pagenaud took advantage of his final shot to put himself on top of the timesheets during the warm-up session for today's Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland, recording a time of 57.858 (131.038 mph). He was followed by fellow Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais who turned in a lap of 58.054 (130.596 mph). The duo will be starting on the front row when the race takes the green flag later today.

The rest of the top five during the caution free practice session consisted of Paul Tracy, Graham Rahal and Will Power. The green flag will fly over the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by LaSalle Bank at 1:00 pm Eastern. Fans that are not in the Cleveland area can catch the live broadcast on CBS Sports.


Stoner wins British MotoGP race
In a dramatic MotoGP contest which started in wet conditions at Donington Park Casey Stoner took his fifth victory in eight races to extend his World Championship lead to 26 points at the Nickel & Dime British Grand Prix.

As the track at the English circuit began to dry out in the later stages of the race Stoner built up an 11 second lead over Colin Edwards, the Fiat Yamaha rider taking his best result of the season in second place.

It was another superb performance from Stoner who made up significant ground to take victory having slipped from fifth on the grid to 12th in the first lap – the young Australian again demonstrating the credentials which make him a great bet to win the World title in just his second season in the premier class.

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British F3

Engel leads 2nd Carlin 1-2-3 of 2007
Maro Engel (#23 Carlin Motorsport) scored his second win of the season in an action packed first race at Monza, leading home Sam Bird (#3 Carlin Motorsport) and Alberto Valerio (#22 Carlin Motorsport) for a Carlin 1-2-3, the second of the season for the Andover based team.

Victory in the National Class went to Sergio Perez (#31 T Sport), the Mexican scoring his 4th win of the year and finishing ahead of 'Frankie' Cheng (#39 Performance Racing) and Mike Meadows (#55 Newnet Raikkonen Robertson Racing).

The 33 car grid lined up on the famous Monza grid in bright sunshine for the first race at the home of the Italian Grand Prix since 2005. Maro Engel was under immediate pressure from Stephen Jelley (#1 Raikkonen Robertson Racing) as the cars sped away from the line. The cars used all of the track on the approach to the first corner and there was a collision in the mid pack, with Sebastian Hohenthal (#5 Fortec Motorsport) spearing across the track with a damaged rear wing.

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Eury Jr. to follow Earnhardt to Hendrick
Crew chief Tony Eury, Jr. is likely to join Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Hendrick Motorsports next season sources said. Ford Racing


Gordon closer to having 2nd team
Robby Gordon said Friday that he’s moving closer to adding a second team for 2008. “When we have runs like this, it entices people to come and look at our organization,” said Gordon after qualifying second for the Save Mart 350. “We’re a single-car effort, but we can compete with these guys. We proved that, when for the last three weeks, we’ve been a top-15 car every week. And if we can run in the top 15, the door’s going to open up and we’ll find ourselves in victory lane.” Gordon also said he expects to move into his new headquarters for Robby Gordon Motorsports in late September. Ford Racing


IndyCar drones making drivers dizzy, fans dizzier
With all the downforce dialed into the 100% throttle IRL cars Helio Castroneves was told computer readings showed he felt nearly five times his body weight (five Gs) during up to half of his time driving around the small 7/8-mile Iowa track at speed.

"No wonder I'm still kind of feeling dizzy," he said. 

Imagine how the fans feel watching 19 cars drone around in circles for two hours.  Instead of debris cautions maybe the IRL will have to throw periodic cautions during the race on Sunday to prevent the drivers from passing out or the fans from needing Dramamine. 

The drivers are hoping Iowa Speedway warms up today as much as weather forecasters predict for the inaugural Iowa Corn Indy 250.  An increase of about 20 degrees will make the track slippery, the tires greasy and the driving difficult. It beats the alternative, they said.

"Otherwise, we'll all run the same speed (we call it droning) and no one will be able to pass anyone," Tony Kanaan said.

The inability to overtake cars of similar speed dominated discussion after Saturday's practice and qualifying sessions. Amid cooler conditions the past two days, drivers have found their cars having exceptional tire grip, which meant that with similar Honda engines, they became stagnant.

"I've yet to be truly passed, and I haven't passed anyone," Marco Andretti said.

Helio Castroneves said he got stuck following the slower Tomas Scheckter for an extended period in Friday's test.

"When it's cool like this, anyone can hug the bottom (groove)," Castroneves said. "We're all flat out (on the accelerator), and it's almost impossible to pass.

"(Warmer conditions) won't be fun to drive in, but it will be more fun to watch."

To race at this track or a similarly small banked track like Richmond at those speeds using 100% no talent required throttle all race is just silly.  Silly Americans. In part from the Indy Star


All eyes on the ethanol car in Iowa
The sixth-place qualifying result not only matched a career-best for Jeff Simmons (Milwaukee, 2006) but it also marked the first time in his blossoming career that he has posted back-to-back top-10 qualifying results. His best time had him in the top five nearly all the way through the session, before Ed Carpenter slipped between the RLR teammates as the penultimate car to qualify on a cloudy and cool Saturday in Newton, Iowa.

“Everyone on the Ethanol team has done a great job this week, the car was really fast right off the truck,” Simmons said. “This is a very big race for us and with Ethanol, we have a lot of support at this race and we are pleased to have been able to qualify well. This is a race that we have had our eyes on from the time they announced the schedule and now we need to transfer today's success into tomorrow's race.”

This marks the first time that both RLR cars have qualified in the top 10 in consecutive races since the Kansas/Nashville events a year ago. This also the first time that Sharp has qualified in the top five in consecutive races since starting third at Motegi and Indianapolis in 2005. Scott Dixon is the polesitter for tomorrow’s race, with Helio Castroneves and Indianapolis 500 champion Dario Franchitti gridding second and third respectively.

“Jeff obviously was quick when his car was rolled off the truck and he and the team have done a good job, and what the whole team did today with getting Scott’s car at the front of the field was big,” said RLR Chief Operating Officer Scott Roembke. “Working as a team we were able to use all our data and devise a setup that would work well for Scott’s car and it paid off well for us. It is really nice for us to be quick today in such an important event for Ethanol and hopefully we can do it again tomorrow.”

The Iowa Corn Indy 250 will take place tomorrow at noon local time (1 p.m. Eastern Time) and can be seen live on ABC Sports. The 250-lap event will be the first IndyCar race to be held at Iowa Speedway. RLR PR


A defiant Hendrick hammers back on NASCAR
A defiant Rick Hendrick defended his crew chiefs Saturday morning after the cars of Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon were parked Friday for practice and qualifying for failing opening-day inspection at Infineon Raceway.
The cars had fenders that NASCAR ruled were outside the parameters for a car of tomorrow. Hendrick officials said the fenders met the edges of the template and exposed a gray area in the rules.

"I don't necessarily say they bent the rules," Hendrick said. "They thought they were working inside an area they thought they could.

"The fenders on the car sit there in front of God and everybody. If you're going to try to do something to gain an advantage, you wouldn't roll it through inspection [openly]."

Because the templates are so precise, Hendrick indicated that the teams will have cars that are slightly off.

"What's gray?" Hendrick said. "When they send out a bulletin and say, 'You mess with this part and you're going to get a stiff deal.' And then you look at the area of the body that is handmade, I don't know.

"We're just going to have to go back and make sure that we know what the tolerances are and we stay there."

Hendrick seemed a little aggravated that NASCAR didn't just allow the teams to fix the problem and practice.

"We hate it happened, and I would like to think that when you come in you have something that needs corrected and the guys could say, 'We don't like the looks of this fix it' rather than go through all of this," Hendrick said. "But they're the boss and we live by their rules."  More at Scenedaily


Almirola doesn’t finish, but wins with Hamlin’s help
WEST ALLIS, Wisc. -- Aric Almirola won the AT&T 250 Busch Series race Saturday night at the Milwaukee Mile and wasn't even around to see it.

Joe Gibbs Racing officials decided to replace Almirola with Denny Hamlin on Lap 59 of the 250-lap race, and after Hamlin made up a lost lap because of the driver change, he charged to the front in the second half to take the checkered flag.

But under NASCAR rules, Almirola is officially the winner because he started the race. NASCAR was checking its records to find out whether that has ever happened in the 26 years of the Busch Series. "Aric, this is your race car," Hamlin said on the team's radio following the race. "I appreciate everything you did."

The last time a scenario like this happened in the Nextel Cup Series was Aug. 7, 1977, when Darrell Waltrip relieved Donnie Allison and won at Talladega.

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Angry Stepney breaks silence
(GMM) Ferrari's Nigel Stepney has broken his silence and declared that he is the victim of a "dirty tricks campaign" waged by the Italian team.

Rumors this weekend suggested that the formula one veteran, currently the subject of a police and internal investigation for alleged illegal behavior and possible sabotage of his own employer, had fled Italy and was holidaying somewhere in Asia.

England's Sunday Times newspaper has now located him in the Philippines, with his fiancée Ash and their child.

"I'm on a planned holiday," he said.

"Why would anyone say I am not contactable? I booked the flights through the Ferrari travel office. They know where I am."

Police raided his residence near Ferrari's Maranello base on Friday night, seizing several objects including a small container, which could be related to reports that a mysterious white powder was found in the fuel tank of Felipe Massa's F2007 in the days before the Monaco GP.

Stepney, a Briton, was openly disappointed after being left behind in the technical reshuffle following the departure of Ross Brawn late last season.

He was subsequently left in a factory-based role, despite previously occupying the high profile role as race and test technical manager.

The 47-year-old said from the Philippines: "This is just part of a dirty tricks campaign. I have confidence I'll be cleared by the legal process that is now taking place."

His Italian lawyer Luca Brezigher told La Gazzetta dello Sport that Stepney was being investigated for allegations including "aggravated damage" and "sporting fraud".

But he said of Stepney, who earns more than (US) $1m per year: "I don't find it credible that a professional of his caliber could damage his own team."


Gurney, Fogarty annihilate Grand-Am field at M-O
LEXINGTON, Ohio — There was just one word for the performance of Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty and their No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac-powered Riley this evening in the EMCO Gears Classic presented by KeyBank at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course: Dominance. The all-American pairing led 105 of 111 laps and was almost never seriously challenged en route to their second straight Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series victory and third on the season. At the midpoint of the 14-race season, GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing is the only Daytona Prototype team to score multiple wins.
From the drop of the green, Fogarty, who started from the pole by virtue of a track-record time, opened up a small gap over second-placed Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 39 Cheever Racing machine, but he struggled early on with an ill-handling race car, a problem the team has attributed to a bad set of tires. But he held the lead despite Fittipaldi’s early speed, and brought the car into the pits on Lap 32 for tires, fuel and a driver change. The GAINSCO Boys went over the wall perfectly and performed a blazing-fast stop that sent the second-generation star back on course in the lead. From there, it was all GAINSCO, as Gurney was able to pull away from the field at will. In the team’s final pit stop, at Lap 82, the crew gained 10 seconds on the field, allowing Gurney to drive away unchallenged to a 31.629-second lead when the checkered flag flew on Lap 111. Soaked in Victory Lane champagne, Alex credited an “amazing effort” from the whole Bob Stallings Racing team. 

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Cameron wins Star Mazda pole
Dane Cameron, a series rookie from Sonoma, California, has won the pole for the start of tomorrow’s Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear race at the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by LaSalle Bank.  He drove his #19 JDC Motorsports/Finlay Motorsports Pro Formula Mazda to a lap of 1:09.195 around the 2.106-mile airport circuit. 

Cameron, who won from the pole here last year in the Formula Ford 2000 support race during the Champ Car weekend, has now captured the pole in three of the six Star Mazda races held so far this season and currently leads the championship battle with 177 points and a record of two wins and two 4th-place finishes.

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Ruby Tuesday extends sponsorship of Alex Job Racing
Ruby Tuesday announced today that it will extend its sponsorship of Alex Job Racing and the No. 23 Porsche Crawford Daytona Prototype for the 2008 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series' season.  Ruby Tuesday vice president of marketing Mark Young met with team owner Alex Job today at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to tell him that the current sponsorship agreement was extended through the 2008 season.

"This is great news," Job said of the sponsorship extension. "Ruby Tuesday is a great company. During the past year and a half, we've had a great relationship with them. We got news today that Ruby Tuesday wants to continue it [the sponsorship] for next year. Here we are halfway through this year, with another half of the season left to go and we now know that we have a commitment for next year. It is just a great partnership.

"Both Ruby Tuesday and Alex Job Racing have the same philosophy - Quality, Passion, and Pride. We work toward the same goals. Hopefully, we can top this [announcement] off with a really good result here today with a podium finish and then challenge for the Daytona Prototype championship. We are only half way through the season, so we still have time to do it."

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Lloyd beats Cunningham in Iowa
Alex Lloyd passed polesitter Wade Cunningham with 10 laps to go to win the Iowa 100 Indy Pro Series event.

It was the Englishman's sixth win in eight starts this season and the eighth of his Indy Pro Series career, setting a record for career wins. Cunningham finished second with rookie Hideki Mutoh finishing third.

1. (2) Alex Lloyd, 115, Running $32,500
2. (1) Wade Cunningham, 115, Running $26,000
3. (8) Hideki Mutoh, 115, Running $20,000
4. (12) Ryan Justice, 115, Running $16,400
5. (13) Robbie Pecorari, 115, Running $15,900
6. (9) Logan Gomez, 115, Running $15,400
7. (19) Al Unser III, 115, Running $14,900
8. (21) Marc Williams, 115, Running $14,400
9. (11) Bobby Wilson, 115, Running $13,900
10. (20) Ben Petter, 115, Running $13,400
11. (22) Ken Losch, 115, Running $12,400
12. (6) Mike Potekhen, 114, Running $11,400
13. (4) Joey Scarallo, 114, Running $10,400
14. (14) Andrew Prendeville, 114, Running $10,000
15. (16) Tom Wieringa, 113, Running $9,500

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New Energy Drink sponsors Atlantic team
Drive Energy Soda, the official energy soda of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship and the sponsor of Jensen MotorSport machines being driven by Tom Sutherland (iDrive Energy Soda) and Frankie Muniz (#13 Chandler Development) today officially launched its product at the Grand Prix of Cleveland. Muniz is also hosting a launch party on Saturday evening at the Velvet Dog in downtown Cleveland.


Will concrete surface catch drivers out?
All practice for standing starts to date by Champ Car drivers have been done on asphalt. On Sunday they will be starting on the concrete runway of the Burke Lakefront airport. Concrete of course has a different coefficient of friction than asphalt so wheelspin could be an issue.

"I don't think it's actually concrete. It's asphalt, too. It's just white asphalt," said Bourdais at the post-qualifying press conference. "The big difference is that it's grooved asphalt because of the runway. Yeah, it's interesting. We practice in pit lane where it's nice and new tarmac. Then you go on the racetrack, it's striped and everything. It's going to be a little tough to anticipate what kind of grip we're going to get."

Any chance to do that in morning warm-up?

"We can always bring it up and see what happens," said Bourdais


Figge puts in best qualifying effort to date
Champ Car rookie Alex Figge will start 13th in Sunday's Grand Prix of Cleveland, his best starting position to date.

“The car is getting better, we are definitely making progress.  The biggest problem we had today is figuring the right strategy for the session.  We’ve been playing it safe by going out early and trying to get a lap in.  We may be playing it too safe because as we are our fastest the other guys are on their out-lap and off pace.  I need to work on getting up to speed faster but we may also need to wait another minute or two.  Strategy is a big part of the game for sure, but I am pleased and I think we are going in the right direction.”


Rahal struggling to find grip
Rookie Graham Rahal is struggling to keep pace with his super-fast Newman/Haas Lanigan Racing teammate Sebastien Bourdais.

"I can't drive a car the way Sebastien likes it set up so we really do get to share much in the way of car setup," said Rahal.  "We were good at the beginning but at the end we only gained 1/10th of a second on new tires.  We need more grip at the front" [Editor's Note:  More than a 1/10th second gain is expected from new tires.]

In the beginning of the morning practice session Rahal was right near the top of the timesheets but as the session wore on he did not have enough grip at the front he told his engineers, who will make adjustments before the final qualifying session this afternoon.


Matos wins Atlantic pole
Raphael Brazilian Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) led a front-row sweep for Sierra Sierra Enterprises and extended his lead in the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda by taking the pole position for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by LaSalle Bank (ESPN360.com, Live, 10:30 a.m. ET).

After taking the provisional pole in Friday qualifying, Matos stepped it up on Saturday with a best lap at 1:05.405 (115.918 mph) to secure his third Cooper Tires Pole Award of the season and the seventh pole of his Atlantic career. With his second qualifying bonus point in as many days, Matos extended his lead in the point standings to 19, 142-123, over teammate James Hinchcliffe (#9 NOCO/ProWorks). Matos is looking for his fourth Atlantic victory of the season on Sunday.

Matos is joined on the front row by Hinchcliffe, who posted a best qualifying lap at 1:05.545 (115.670 mph). It is the third front-row sweep of the season for the Sierra Sierra Enterprises team and is Hinchcliffe’s fifth front-row qualifying performance in six races this season. The Canadian is looking to extend his streak of consecutive podium results to four in Sunday’s race, and is also looking for his first Atlantic win of the season.

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Colin Edwards beats Rossi for Donington pole
In the eighth qualifying session of the 2007 MotoGP World Championship Fiat Yamaha’s Colin Edwards took his second pole position of the season at Donington Park.

Edwards put the quality of the Michelin qualifying tire to excellent use as he snatched pole from team-mate Valentino Rossi on the 28th of his 29 laps with a hot time of 1’28.531s. Edwards was 0.146s quicker than his Italian colleague and will look for his elusive first ever Grand Prix victory tomorrow, at the English circuit where he earned his first podium when he finished second in 2004. Edwards’ only other career pole was at Le Mans earlier this season where he ended up 12th in a wet race, so the Texas Tornado aims to break the current nine race MotoGP pole jinx tomorrow at one of his favorite tracks. Rossi of course has a superb record in front of the British fans but there will be several contenders for victory, including Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa who starts from third – the young Catalan rider having won the MotoGP race here last year and also as a 250cc rider in 2004.

Pedrosa’s team-mate Nicky Hayden qualified in a much improved fourth place and the World Champion appeared to be pleased with the result after his difficult start to the season. Current World Championship leader Casey Stoner looked disappointed to have concluded the session with a second row start after making a mistake on the final corner of a flying lap when pole position looked well within his grasp, resulting in him taking fifth place on the grid.

Completing the second row is ‘Anglo-American’ John Hopkins of Rizla Suzuki who with English parents and a house close to the Donington Park circuit in Leicestershire is assured of great support from the stands in tomorrow’s race.

Pos Rider Bike Time
 1. Colin Edwards Yamaha 1:28.531
 2. Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1:28.677 + 0.146
 3. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1:28.863 + 0.332
 4. Nicky Hayden Honda 1:29.025 + 0.494
 5. Casey Stoner Ducati 1:29.061 + 0.530
 6. John Hopkins Suzuki 1:29.073 + 0.542
 7. Carlos Checa Honda 1:29.281 + 0.750
 8. Randy de Puniet Kawasaki 1:29.415 + 0.884
 9. Marco Melandri Honda 1:29.498 + 0.967
10. Toni Elias Honda 1:29.711 + 1.180
11. Shinya Nakano Honda 1:29.718 + 1.187
12. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki 1:29.793 + 1.262
13. Loris Capirossi Ducati 1:29.900 + 1.369
14. Alex Hofmann Ducati 1:29.911 + 1.380
15. Alex Barros Ducati 1:30.071 + 1.540
16. Sylvain Guintoli Yamaha 1:30.271 + 1.740
17. Anthony West Kawasaki 1:30.718 + 2.187
18. Makoto Tamada Yamaha 1:30.800 + 2.269
19. Kurtis Roberts KR 1:31.543 + 3.012


Bad Ass Wilson
Champ Car driver Justin Wilson has been given the nickname Bad Ass Wilson by his crew.  Since he finished 2nd at Portland two weeks ago, his team felt the name applies so they changed his name decal on the car to read Bad Ass Wilson.


Bourdais closes on Cleveland track record
Sebastien Bourdais turned a lap of 56.415s in morning practice Saturday in Cleveland to top the charts by almost 6/10ths of a second.  His fast lap is just 2/10ths shy of the track record set last year by AJ Allmendinger in Saturday qualifying of 56.283s.

Once again Will Power was 2nd quick, the only other driver to dip into the 56 second bracket.  Despite spinning out late in the session, Justin Wilson stopped the clocks 3rd quick.

Pos Driver # Lap Time Behind Leader
1 S. Bourdais 1 56.415
2 W. Power 5 56.989 0.574
3 J. Wilson 9 57.135 0.720
4 S. Pagenaud 15 57.144 0.729
5 G. Rahal 2 57.190 0.775
6 R. Doornbos 14 57.215 0.800
7 O. Servia 7 57.358 0.943
8 P. Tracy 3 57.368 0.953
9 A. Tagliani 8 57.409 0.994
10 J. Heylen 34 57.497 1.082
11 D. Clarke 4 57.558 1.143
12 R. Dalziel 28 57.803 1.388
13 T. Gommendy 22 57.833 1.418
14 N. Jani 21 58.046 1.631
15 A. Figge 29 58.281 1.866
16 K. Legge 11 58.470 2.055
17 B. Junqueira 19 58.649 2.234


Perera pips Matos in practice 2
Rookie Franck Perera waited until his final lap of practice to put his Condor Motorsports Swift Mazda on top of the timesheets in the Saturday morning practice session for the Champ Car Atlantic series in Cleveland.  Behind the Montpellier, France native were Sierra Sierra teammates Raphael Matos (Brazil) and Canadian James Hinchcliffe.


Pos Driver Car# Lap Time Behind Leader
1 Franck Perera 11 1:05.933 0.000
2 Raphael Matos 6 1:05.941 0.008
3 James Hinchcliffe 9 1:06.200 0.267
4 Jonathan Bomarito 23 1:06.381 0.448
5 Junior Strous 16 1:06.408 0.475
6 Ronnie Bremer 12 1:06.637 0.704
7 J.R. Hildebrand 36 1:06.832 0.899
8 Ryan Lewis 15 1:07.077 1.144
9 Giacomo Ricci 18 1:07.145 1.212
10 Simona De Silvestro 5 1:07.251 1.318
11 Matt Lee 44 1:07.275 1.342
12 Robert Wickens 3 1:07.317 1.384
13 David Garza 4 1:07.359 1.426
14 Carl Skerlong 24 1:07.406 1.473
15 Kevin Lacroix 10 1:07.459 1.526
16 Adrian Carrio 17 1:07.533 1.600
17 Alan Sciuto 20 1:07.571 1.638
18 John Edwards 7 1:07.867 1.934
19 Brian Thienes 19 1:07.917 1.984
20 Tom Sutherland 2 1:08.031 2.098
21 Richard Heistand 37 1:08.167 2.234
22 Justin Sofio 26 1:08.232 2.299
23 Adrien Herberts 45 1:08.514 2.581
24 Frankie Muniz 13 1:08.802 2.869
25 Mike Forest 32 1:08.959 3.026
26 Bret MacDonald 21 1:12.343 6.410 


Is Milka really that bad?
A reader asks, Am I reading the timing results correctly?  In Friday testing the gap between Milka and P18 is greater than the time that separates the entire rest of the field?

The spread between P1 and P18 is reported as 0.5539 sec, and the spread between P18 and P19 is 0.6111 sec.  At first I thought she must have had a mechanical problem, but she got 80 laps in!

Is the IRL really getting that much buzz out of her participation?  What happen to the good old days when they'd black flag you if you couldn't keep up?  Somebody's going to get hurt with her out there. Bill Gerken

British F3

Engel leads opening practice at Monza
The majority of the drivers in the 2007 Lloyds TSB Insurance British F3 International Series got their first taste of the ultra fast circuit at the Autodroma Nazionale Monza during the 45-minute Free Practice session this morning. Maro Engel (#23 Carlin Motorsport) set the fastest time of the morning with a 1m47.560 lap at the end of the session.
Engel has never raced in a Formula 3 car at the home of the Italian Grand Prix but he has raced in Euro F3000, so has some experience of the circuit unlike the driver who was second fastest, Atte Mustonen (#26 Raikkonen Robertson Racing).

The Finn was just 0.035 seconds adrift of Engel and 0.269 seconds ahead of the third fastest driver Alberto Valerio (#22 Carlin Motorsport). Championship leader Marko Asmer (#7 Hitech Racing) was fourth fastest and the last driver to be inside the 2005 British F3 lap record set by that year's champion Alvaro Parente (1m48.149). Asmer, along with Stephen Jelley (#1 Raikkonen Robertson Racing) and Jonathan Kennard (#2 Raikkonen Robertson Racing), took part in the three British F3 races held at Monza two years ago.

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Benson Wins Back-To-Back Toyota Tundra races
West Allis, Wis.— Johnny Benson must enjoy coming to The Milwaukee Mile, as for the second year in a row, the popular Grand Rapids, Mich. driver captured the checkered flag in the Toyota Tundra Milwaukee 200.

As Benson looked dominant at times, he held on to best series veteran Ron Hornaday, Jr. in a four-lap shootout that also included defending series champion Todd Bodine.

Benson, who led twice for a total of 96 laps, took command of the race just past the halfway mark and maintained a steady lead with the laps winding down.  Hornaday worked his way back into contention after an early spin.

The final stage was set when a fierce, aggressive battle over seventh position between Mike Bliss and Jack Sprague sent Sprague looping around on lap 194, setting up the final sprint to the finish between Benson and Hornaday, one of two drivers to have won at The Mile in both NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and Busch Series competition.

Benson was up to the challenge and used a near perfect restart to fend off Hornaday, pulling away for good when the Californian’s truck washed up in the corner with two laps to go.

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Alonso denies silence pact
(GMM) Fernando Alonso has contradicted reports that he has agreed not to talk about Lewis Hamilton to the press.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis told the media at Indianapolis that the Mercedes-powered pair made the pact after their comments in recent weeks stirred rumors of a 'civil war'.

Rookie championship leader Lewis Hamilton admitted to reporters at a Vodafone sponsor event in London on Friday: "It's just at the moment we both feel it's better that we speak about each other when we are both there, because (otherwise) he can read something in the papers where someone might have twisted what I said."

But at a press conference in Madrid, Alonso contradicted both Hamilton and Dennis.

"I have always spoken about Lewis and I always will. What has been written is wrong," he said.

"There is no internal war. Everything happened because of (what was said in) Monaco, the FIA investigation, and when I said that I was not absolutely comfortable (in the team)."

The 25-year-old Spaniard, at the construction site of the huge Mutua Madrilena tower, also denied speculation that he is already thinking about switching from McLaren to a rival team -- like Ferrari.

"I have every intention to fulfill my contract with McLaren because I want to have the best car in my hands, and at the moment the McLaren is the best.

"I do not have any intention to move."

Alonso said he did not have any problem with Hamilton's defensive driving at the US grand prix last Sunday but reckons the 22-year-old rookie has also enjoyed some luck this year.

"In Monaco he touched the guardrails and the normal result is that you are out of the race," the Spaniard said.

"Also in Canada he made his pit stop just before the Safety Car. I have also had a lot of luck in the past and sooner or later his will end as well."


Juan who?
Juan Montoya has gone from being one of the best known drivers in the world in F1 to becoming an also-ran in NASCAR. After many thought he would contend for a win this weekend in Sonoma because of his road racing background, he could only qualify 32nd. Meanwhile his Ganassi teammate, Reed Sorenson, out qualified him. When your teammate is from ASA and beats you at your own game you known it's time to declare your career finished. In the race Sunday look for Montoya to try and bang and bump his way to the front, make more enemies, and then run out of brakes at the end in another embarrassment to his career.

Another open wheel driver who looks like a monkey in NASCAR is AJ Allmendinger who failed to qualify yet again in Sonoma. So much for his road racing experience. Another driver whose career is done.  To be fair to AJ though, his Red Bull teammate Brian Vickers, didn't make the race either.


Iowa another 100% throttle track
Even the small 7/8-mile Iowa oval is a 100% throttle no-talent required race track for the Indy Car drivers this weekend.

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Dallara/Honda/Firestone, fastest in testing): "It was a lot of fun. I think when I came here last time for (the IndyCar Series compatibility test), we came with a car that probably had more downforce in it, was a little slower and little easier to drive. Today, it was definitely very fast.  For such a small track, you're flat out with the banking. It was also a lot of fun. You can run quite close or very close to the other cars. There's tons of grip for us. I think, in that direction, the race is going to look very exciting. As Dan (Wheldon) touched on, I think it's going to be difficult to pass. It just seems like the middle lane is so much further to go to try and get around somebody. That may be tough and that may put a little more emphasis on trying to qualify up front. But it was fun today. It's a cool track."

DAN WHELDON (No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Dallara/Honda/Firestone, second fastest): "I spoke to Rusty (Wallace) prior to race weekend, and he talked about how good it is. I have to say I have the same feelings. In my opinion, it's a cross between Kentucky and somewhat similar to Pikes Peak. There's a few little bumps in (Turns) 1 and 2, which makes it a challenge, but for the most part it's an incredibly entertaining track to drive. I think it's somewhat difficult to pass. You can certainly run side-by-side but to flat out overtake somebody that's a similar speed is difficult. I think it bodes very well for some great racing."

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IndyCar tidbits from Iowa
Arie Luyendyk Jr., the son of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk and the Indy Pro Series' all-time leader with 44 career starts, is the spotter for Guthrie Racing's Tom Wieringa this weekend. Luyendyk spotted for Wieringa at both events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Freedom 100 on the oval in May and the Liberty Challenge doubleheader on the road course June 16-17. Luyendyk is pursuing opportunities to return to driving in the Indy Pro Series later this season.
IndyCar Series team officials Michael Andretti and Larry Foyt were on pit lane during SWE Pole Qualifying for the Iowa 100. Andretti is co-owner of Andretti Green Racing, which fields the No. 11 Osofresh car driven by Jaime Camara. The team also is partners with AFS Racing, which fields the No. 27 car driven by Wade Cunningham. Foyt, the team manager for AJ Foyt Racing, was talking with Team KMA co-owner Jon Lewis. Earlier in the day, IndyCar Series Kosuke Matsuura was an interested observer in the pit of countryman Hideki Mutoh during Indy Pro Series practice.

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NASCAR makes cars even heavier
Already as heavy as a Sherman tank (well not quite that heavy), NASCAR has increased the weight of the Car of Tomorrow (really yesterday) by 50 pounds to allow teams to distribute the weight more easily and to improve the integrity of the car since teams will not be trying to lighten up the car in other places, a NASCAR spokesman said.  The new weight of 3,450 pounds is in place for all car of tomorrow races going forward.


Fogarty snares Grand-Am pole in Mid-Ohio
The Daytona Prototype field again saw only the taillights of the No. 99 GAINSCO Auto Insurance Pontiac-powered Riley, as Jon Fogarty captured the pole position in record-shattering fashion this afternoon in qualifying for tomorrow’s Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series EMCO Gears Classic presented by KeyBank at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. For Fogarty, co-driver Alex Gurney and GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing, it’s the third consecutive pole and fourth of the season, and extends to seven races an unbroken streak of front-row starts for the GAINSCO machine.
In just his second timed lap of the 2.25-mile circuit, Fogarty turned a 1:18.374 lap at an average speed of 103.718 mph, which was good enough to stand for the remainder of the 15-minute qualifying session. Then he parked the No. 99 and watched from the pits as 18 competitors tried – and failed – to best his effort. The closest anyone would come was Christian Fittipaldi, and even he was more than three-tenths of a second short. Fogarty’s time was over a second faster than the previous track record of 1:19.496, set by Max Papis in 2004, and the two-time Toyota Atlantic champion couldn’t have been happier with the performances turned in by his car, his crew and himself.

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Ganassi teammates top practice in Iowa
Rain has hit the Iowa Speedway but not before Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon turned the fastest laps in opening day practice for Sunday's first-ever Indy Car race at the 7/8-mile oval.  The teams got nearly halfway through a schedule four-hour test session on the progressively-banked 0.875-mile speedway before rain and stormy conditions called a halt to the proceedings.

Nineteen cars combined to complete 1,433 laps on the 0.875-mile oval which will host its first IndyCar Series race on June 24. Teams practiced for 1 hour, 27 minutes before rain ended the session, which had been scheduled for four hours.

Dixon lapped the track in 17.606 seconds, 182.857 mph in the No. 9 Dallara/Honda/Firestone. Wheldon, celebrating his 29th birthday, had a quick lap of 17.6710 (182.129 mph.)

Team Penske teammates Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves were third and fourth fastest respectively with laps of 182.127 mph and 181.960 mph.

Marco Andretti was fifth fastest (181.869) while Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti was sixth (181.594). Buddy Rice, Tomas Scheckter, Ed Carpenter and Jeff Simmons rounded out the top 10.

Also on June 22, Wade Cunningham secured his first SWE Race Car Parts Award of the season earning the pole for the Iowa 100 at Iowa Speedway.. 

Pos Driver Diff Best Time Best Speed
1 Scott Dixon (9) ... 17.6006 182.857
2 Dan Wheldon (10) 0.0704 17.6710 182.129
3 Sam Hornish Jr (6) 0.0706 17.6712 182.127
4 Helio Castroneves (3) 0.0868 17.6874 181.960
5 Marco Andretti (26) 0.0957 17.6963 181.869
6 Dario Franchitti (27) 0.1225 17.7231 181.594
7 Buddy Rice (15) 0.1557 17.7563 181.254
8 Tomas Scheckter (2) 0.1656 17.7662 181.153
9 Ed Carpenter (20) 0.1668 17.7674 181.141
10 Jeff Simmons (17) 0.1866 17.7872 180.939
11 Danica Patrick (7) 0.1973 17.7979 180.830
12 Tony Kanaan (11) 0.2224 17.8230 180.576
13 Scott Sharp (8) 0.2429 17.8435 180.368
14 AJ Foyt IV (22) 0.2598 17.8604 180.198
15 Darren Manning (14) 0.3373 17.9379 179.419
16 Sarah Fisher (5) 0.3696 17.9702 179.097
17 Vitor Meira (4) 0.3973 17.9979 178.821
18 Kosuke Matsuura (55) 0.5539 18.1545 177.278
19 Milka Duno (23) 1.1650 18.7656 171.505


ATT files response to NASCAR lawsuit
Claiming that Sprint Nextel is trying to increase the value of its NASCAR series sponsorship by "booting" AT&T from the sport, AT&T filed its answer to NASCAR and Sprint Nextel's appeal of an injunction that allows the AT&T logos on the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing car.

AT&T's response was filed earlier this week in U.S. appeals court in Atlanta.

A U.S. district court judge ruled May 18 that NASCAR could not prohibit a change from Cingular to AT&T logos on the car driven by Jeff Burton. The judge concluded that the change was not prohibited by the grandfather clause that went into effect when Nextel began sponsoring NASCAR's premier series in 2004. The grandfather clause is part of RCR's annual licensing contract with NASCAR.

AT&T and Cingular were involved in a merger in December 2006, sparking the change in the Cingular name to AT&T.

A hearing on the appeal is scheduled for Aug. 2, and AT&T's brief argues that the appeal should be denied.

"Although NASCAR asserts without support that the court's injunction compromises its ability to govern the sport and attract sponsors, NASCAR in fact retains today the same rights over stock-car racing that it held before the district court acted, which includes the right to govern the sport and to contract with sponsors regarding promotional rights," AT&T argues in its court filing. More at Scenedaily.com


Cunningham wins pole for Iowa 100
Qualifying Friday for the Iowa 100 Indy Pro Series event on the 0.875-mile Iowa Speedway, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver and speed: 
1. (27) Wade Cunningham, 161.306
2. (7) Alex Lloyd, 160.827
3. (4) Sean Guthrie, 159.732
4. (15) Joey Scarallo, 159.395
5. (11) Jaime Camara, 159.283
6. (53) Mike Potekhen, 159.139
7. (24) Stephen Simpson, 158.955
8. (55) Hideki Mutoh, 158.900
9. (23) Logan Gomez, 158.818
10. (2) Jonathan Klein, 158.371
11. (1) Bobby Wilson, 157.636
12. (38) Ryan Justice, 157.554
13. (13) Robbie Pecorari, 157.458
14. (5) Andrew Prendeville, 157.019
15. (34) Jon Brownson, 156.802
16. (40) Tom Wieringa, 156.278
17. (3) Brad Jaeger, 153.715
18. (9) Chris Festa, 152.328
19. (12) Al Unser III, 139.540
20. (8) Ben Petter, no speed
21. (6) Marc Williams, no speed
22. (52) Ken Losch, no speed


NASCAR hammers Gordon, Johnson
SONOMA, Calif. -- Nextel Cup Series points leader Jeff Gordon and defending series champion Jimmie Johnson, both of the Hendrick Motorsports stable, have failed inspection at Infineon Raceway.

The cars of neither Gordon, the defending race champion, nor Johnson will be allowed to practice or qualify Friday.

NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said both cars "failed the initial inspection ... as a result of body modifications found to be outside NASCAR tolerances. The front fender [of both cars] was modified outside of NASCAR regulations. They did not meet the C2 template inspection."

According to Poston, Hendrick Motorsports' No. 5 and No. 25 cars, for Kyle Busch and Casey Mears, passed inspections.

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Matos wins provisional Atlantic pole
Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda points leader Raphael Matos (#6 ProWorks) extended his lead by an additional point and guaranteed himself a front-row starting spot for the fourth time this season in taking the provisional pole for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by LaSalle Bank (ESPN360.com and Champ Car Race Director, Live, 10:30 a.m. ET).

Matos clocked a best lap at 1:06.576 (113.879 mph) with less than 10 minutes remaining in the 35-minute qualifying session, a few minutes after knocking his Sierra Sierra Enterprises teammate, James Hinchcliffe (#9 NOCO/ProWorks) off the top of the time charts. With four minutes remaining, Hinchcliffe ran out of fuel and pulled off-course in Turn 1, ending his qualifying session, while Matos suffered the same fate shortly thereafter and rolled into pit lane to wait out the remainder of the session.

Despite the fact that his session ended early, none of the other drivers in the field were able to better Matos’ time, leaving him at the top of the provisional grid. Matos will start from the front row for the fourth time in six races and now holds an 18-point lead, 141-123, over Hinchcliffe in the 2007 Champ Car Atlantic point standings. He enters Sunday’s race in search of his fourth victory of the season.

While Matos’ survived last-ditch efforts to knock him from the provisional pole, Hinchcliffe wasn’t quite as fortunate, as French rookie Franck Perera (#11 CJ Motorsport) took over second on the grid with lap at 1:06.777 (113.536 mph) in the closing minutes. Perera is looking to meet or exceed his previous best Atlantic qualifying result of second at Long Beach in April. Perera picked up the best result of his Atlantic career two weeks ago in the second race of the Portland doubleheader with a third-place run.

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Will the track record fall at Cleveland this weekend?
While AJ Allmendinger won the pole at Cleveland last year at a record time of 56.283s, for some reason the track record for Cleveland is listed as 56.4s.  It will be interesting to see whether the new Panoz Champ Car can break that lap record this weekend.  The first practice session on a dirty track saw Bourdais at 57.7s.


Hinchcliffe tops opening Atlantic practice
For the second consecutive Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda race weekend, James Hinchcliffe (#9 NOCO/ProWorks) topped the time charts in the first practice session of the Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by LaSalle Bank.

Hinchcliffe turned a best lap at 1:07.683 (112.016 mph) to lead the 26-car Atlantic field, as he also did in the first practice session two weeks ago in Portland. The Canadian parlayed that opening-practice speed into pole positions for both races of the doubleheader in Portland, and finished second in both races. He is still looking for his first win of the 2007 season.

"It was a pretty good session for us," Hinchcliffe said. "We pulled out of the pits and had a good car right away. The Sierra Sierra guys once again gave us a really good car right off the truck. We had a bit of a scare at the beginning. We couldn't get my steering wheel to stay on right before the session. We thought we were going to miss a little bit having to change the steering column, but they got it sorted. Luckily, it stayed on for the whole session. We just tried to find some clear laps, made a few small changes to the car, and kept making it better. We came in for a pit stop at the end and made the car even better, but didn't get a chance to do a lap time. We're feeling pretty good for this afternoon, I think."

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Stoner fastest on wet Donington track
It was a wet start to the British Grand Prix MotoGP on Friday as both one-hour free practice sessions were held in wet conditions at Donington Park. Casey Stoner was fastest but Nicky Hayden wasn’t far behind in the afternoon, finishing second in both sessions and providing the Repsol Honda Team with a strong start to the weekend.

With rain forecast for Saturday and Sunday at the 4.023km (2.498-mile) circuit, today's times may be indicative of the rest of the weekend.  A further hour of practice takes place on Saturday morning ahead of the afternoon’s qualifying session. Sunday’s 30-lap Grand Prix of Great Britain begins at 13.00hrs local time (14.00hrs CET).  

Rider                          Team                  Time
1 Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro Team 1m 43.749s
2 Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda Team 1m 43.781s
3 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 1m 43.870s
4 Randy De Puniet Kawasaki Racing Team 1m 44.302s
5 Chris Vermeulen Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1m 44.371s
6 Colin Edwards Fiat Yamaha Team 1m 44.445s
7 Anthony West Kawasaki Racing Team 1m 44.498s
8 John Hopkins Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1m 44.716s
9 Marco Melandri Honda Gresini 1m 45.684s
10 Valentino Rossi Fiat Yamaha Team 1m 45.718s
11 Alex Barros Pramac d’Antin 1m 45.774s
12 Alex Hofmann Pramac d'Antin 1m 46.254s
13 Toni Elias Honda Gresini 1m 46.777s
14 Loris Capirossi Ducati Marlboro Team 1m 46.811s
15 Shinya Nakano Konica Minolta Honda 1m 46.926s
16 Carlos Checa Honda LCR 1m 47.027s
17 Kurtis Roberts Team Roberts 1m 48.464s
18 Sylvain Guintoli Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3 1m 49.604s


Bourdais tops opening practice in Cleveland
Championship point leader Sebastien Bourdais, who is gunning for his 4th staight title, got his weekend off to the right start with a lap of 57.663s to top opening practice session for the Champ Car Cleveland GP. Paul Tracy was 2nd at 58.168s. Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and Alex Tagliani rounded out the top-5.


USGP TV Rating UPDATE The final USA TV Rating for the USGP last weekend on FOX was a 0.9/3 share.

06/18/07 The USA overnight TV rating of the USGP Sunday on FOX was a 1.0/3 share.


Champ Car Canadian TV broadcaster on the block
Having watched a multibillion-dollar buying spree sweep through the broadcast sector, John Levy is betting his cable sports channel, Champ Car Canadian TV broadcaster The Score (except for the Canadian races, which are shown on Global), is worth at least $280-million - and that a major network will pay a premium to own it.

Mr. Levy, whose family owns a controlling stake in the third-largest sports channel in Canada, after TSN and SportsNet, effectively put his company up for sale yesterday by publicly announcing an asking price for the assets.

For $2.90 a share, Mr. Levy will sell Score Media Inc., owner of the sports channel that began more than a decade ago on cable offering only scores and statistics, then branched out into sports highlights and live games.

At that price, the channel would be valued at $283.5-million. The asking price represents an 81-per-cent premium over the price the shares traded at before the announcement was made. "The way we came up with the $2.90 was basically to try to establish a price that - if it was hit - we thought was a fair and reasonable price," Mr. Levy said. More at Globe and Mail


Bridgestone renews with Champ Car
Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC (BFNT), and Champ Car are pleased to announce that, less than halfway through the 2007 Champ Car World Series season, provisions have been met to assure that the Bridgestone brand will remain the series’ Official Tire through at least 2009.

At right Bridgestone’s Joe Barbieri with Champ Car President Steve Johnson.

BFNT and Champ Car agreed on a multiyear deal in November 2006 that secured Bridgestone’s Official Tire status for the 2007 and 2008 seasons. Contingencies were put in place then that would trigger automatic contract renewal for the 2009 season. Commensurate with this weekend’s Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by LaSalle Bank – just five events into 2007 – BFNT has already met the provisions to activate the extension and ensure that Bridgestone Potenzas will equip every Champ Car through the completion of the ‘09 schedule.

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Ferrari accuse Stepney of criminal behavior
(GMM) Ferrari has commenced legal action against its veteran technician Nigel Stepney, a spokesman for the Maranello based team confirmed on Friday.

The details have not been divulged, but team principal Jean Todt admitted to La Gazzetta dello Sport that the action relates to alleged "illegal" behavior and will be handled by an Italian court.

The sports newspaper also hints at sabotage, and an incident prior to the Monaco grand prix when white powder was discovered in the fuel tank of Felipe Massa's car and sent to the police.

More plausible is speculation that, in negotiating with rival teams including Honda, Stepney was offering to take a group of engineers with him. Also rumored is that Ferrari parts or designs were illegally sold.

"Nigel Stepney is still an employee but we have brought an action against him," Ferrari spokesman Luca Colajanni confirmed, although it is understood that Stepney is not currently at work.

It was reported earlier this year that Briton Stepney, who joined the famous marque in 1992, was unhappy to have been left behind in a recent reshuffle of the technical departments following the 'sabbatical' of Ross Brawn.

He was subsequently given a factory-based role and has been a conspicuous absentee in the grand prix paddocks in 2007.


Ferrari 'content' with drivers - president
(GMM) Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has joined team boss Jean Todt in denying interest in signing McLaren's disgruntled Fernando Alonso.

"With all due respect to Alonso, we are content with our own drivers and intend to keep them," the Italian told the newspaper La Stampa.

Montezemolo insisted that Felipe Massa alongside Kimi Raikkonen is "just as strong" as the McLaren lineup, despite Lewis Hamilton and Alonso's recent dominance at races.

"Our problem is our speed, not our drivers," he added.

Montezemolo defended the underperforming Raikkonen amid rumors that Maranello officials are keen to replace him with reigning world champion Alonso, or tempt Michael Schumacher out of retirement.

He said of the Finn: "Kimi is a fast driver. Michael said at the end of his career that the most dangerous opponents were Alonso and Raikkonen.

"Kimi will bring a lot of success for us -- at the very beginning, even Schumacher was questioned."


Figge and PCM making progress
It's been a tough year so far but after being 7th fastest in testing at Road America this week, Champ Car rookie Alex Figge feels more confident going into this weekend's race in Cleveland.

“We’re coming off a strong test at Road America, which in theory I think should help us at Cleveland.  I love the Cleveland circuit.  Ever since we announced our Champ Car program, Road America and Cleveland are two of the circuits I have been the most excited to drive in a Champ Car.  Road America was incredible and I am sure Cleveland will be as well.”


Won’t take much to make Champ Cars oval ready
The Panoz chassis introduced this season by Champ Car offers immediate satisfaction, added comfort and long-range possibilities.

"The biggest thing, from a fan standpoint, is the way the car looks," said Champ Car's technical director, Scot Elkins, who spearheaded the change from Lola to Panoz.

"Probably the biggest feature is this chassis has a raised nose. The rear wing is quite different from what the Lola was. When you look at the car from the side, on the Lola we had a two-wing configuration. On the Panoz we have a three-wing configuration

"A wing on the bottom, a main wing on the top and another small one off of that. We've done that to clean up the airflow off the car. This helps improve passing. By controlling the air coming off the car, it makes it much easier for a car following it to come up on it and make a pass."

More importantly, for the drivers, is the car's comfort. At one point in the not too distant past, standing 6-foot was considered about as tall as one could be to safely drive an open-wheel car. That is no longer the case. Drivers like 6-4 Justin Wilson, 6-2 Graham Rahal and 6-2 Tristan Gommendy slide into the new ride like it were a limo.

Read more & Comment...
track news

Darlington begins construction work
For Darlington Raceway President Chris Browning, about the only thing better than seeing Nextel Cup cars and NASCAR haulers at the track is watching cranes and construction trucks work on the superspeedway.
Browning has seen a small construction yard go up right alongside NASCAR’s oldest superspeedway as it begins $10 million worth of projects that include repaving the track surface and adding a third access tunnel to the infield.

“I think it’s great,” Browning said Thursday. “It means a lot for our future.”

Work started this week with crews removing the track’s SAFER barrier walls. Next comes construction of the access tunnel between turns three and four. Finally, in August, work will begin on repaving the track. Browning said workers will mill off about 3 inches of the track, replacing it with new asphalt – and guaranteeing a much slicker surface when the Nextel Cup series returns.

Browning has received a preliminary copy of the track’s NASCAR sanctioning agreement for next year that calls for a fourth-straight Mother’s Day weekend race. But after three straight sellouts, Browning wasn’t as worried about Darlington’s future as he was a few years ago.

So secure, in fact, Darlington put up a billboard outside the track with next year’s dates and “New Asphalt, Same Attitude.”

Leaders at International Speedway Corp., Darlington’s owners, have been very positive about the track’s resurgence.

“Everybody’s really, really pleased with the way things are going,” Browning said. “We’re appreciative of the support that we can keep building this place.” More at ThatsRacin.com


Iowa: Firestone Motorsport preview
Each car receives three sets (12 tires) for the open test on Friday, June 22, in addition to seven sets (28 tires) for the race weekend, for a total of ten sets (40 tires) per car.
Based on input and data from two separate tests at Iowa Speedway, Firestone engineers have elected to bring the same compound and construction as the 2007 Motegi/Indianapolis 500 tire for the left side of the cars, and the 2007 superspeedway specification (previously used at Homestead, Kansas and Texas) for the right side of the cars.

Quote from Al Speyer, Executive Director, Firestone Racing: "After conducting extensive tire testing at Iowa Speedway in October of last year and this past April, Firestone Racing is prepared to tackle this brand-new challenge on the IndyCar Series schedule. After trying numerous different Firestone Firehawk compound and construction combinations, the best option turned out to be a pairing of our 1.5-mile oval spec and this year's Indy 500 tire. These tires have already proven themselves on track this season, and we expect that they will demonstrate the same grip, durability and consistency at this event. Off the track, with Firestone Agricultural Tire Company based in nearby Des Moines, and Bandag (recently acquired by our parent company, Bridgestone Americas Holding, Inc.) headquartered down the road in Muscatine, we are looking forward to seeing extended members of the Firestone family enthusiastically supporting their local race."

Firestone Performance Award: This $10,000 prize commemorates Firestone's status as the only tire manufacturer to have participated in every IndyCar Series race, and it is given to the driver leading the lap number corresponding to the cumulative number of races in series history. The Iowa Corn Indy 250 presented by Ethanol is the 142nd IndyCar Series race, so the Firestone Performance Award will go to the driver who leads lap 142.

Race Distance: 218.750 miles/352.044 km (250 laps on the 0.875-mile/1.408-km oval).

Firestone Firehawk Race Tires Supplied: 860 dry-condition slicks.   Firestone

track news

No government help for Silverstone
The British government has said that there will be no funding to help the British Grand Prix, despite renewed threats from Bernie Ecclestone that the race could be axed (which he does every year to worry the promoter).  This of course is idiotic and will never happen, but the British media feed on Bernie's every word.

Speaking in response to Ecclestone's calls for some of the money earmarked for the forthcoming 2012 Olympic Games to be 'lent' to Silverstone in order to guarantee work needed to bring the circuit 'up to scratch', a spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport told Britsport Weekly that there were conditions preventing such an arrangement.

"The government has no ownership of Silverstone so to make financial contributions would be illegal state aid," the representative explained.

"We've been talking to the government over a number of years," BRDC chairman Robert Brooks told the same report, "What I will say is that the government has been very supportive in encouraging the BRDC and the two local authorities to facilitate the changes needed. There is enormous enthusiasm from Richard Caborn to retain the British Grand Prix.

"We have business and land assets and that is the extent of the asset base. It's not just about the British Grand Prix, but taking Silverstone forward and like any business we need capital investment to help us thrive."

TV News

Weekend USA TV reminders UPDATE The full Sunday listing of race related TV programs is now included below.

Courtesy of TVRacer.com
NASCAR Nextel Cup Citizens Bank 400
Replay-High Definition Michigan
12:00am-2:30am (R) HDNet
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Final Practice Milwaukee
2:00pm-3:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Sonoma
3:00pm-3:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Practice Sonoma
3:30pm-5:00pm (L) SPEED
Desert Racing Series -Baja 1000 Baja
4:00pm-5:00pm Outdoor Channel
NASCAR Live! Sonoma
5:00pm-5:30pm (L) SPEED
6:00pm-6:30pm ESPN2
Trackside Sonoma
6:00pm-7:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Sonoma
7:00pm-8:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Toyota Tundra Milwaukee 200 Milwaukee
8:30pm-11:30pm (L) Incl Preshow SPEED
12:00am-12:30am ESPN2
Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland - Practice 3
10:15am-11:15am (L) WEBCAST - Champ Car Race Director
NASCAR Nextel Cup Practice Sonoma
1:00pm-2:00pm (SDD) SPEED
Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland - Practice 4
2:00pm-2:20pm (L) WEBCAST - Champ Car Race Director
Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland - Final Qualifying
2:20pm-3:30pm (L) WEBCAST - Champ Car Race Director
NASCAR Live! Sonoma
2:30pm-3:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Final Practice Sonoma
3:00pm-4:30pm (L) SPEED
Movie: 3: The Dale Earnhardt Story (2004)
4:00pm-6:00pm ESPN
Tradin' Paint Sonoma
4:30pm-5:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Performance
5:00pm-5:30pm SPEED
NASCAR Busch Qualifying Milwaukee
5:30pm-7:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Sonoma
7:00pm-7:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Series AT&T 250 Milwaukee
8:00pm-11:00pm (L) Incl Preshow ESPN2
Rolex Sports Car Series DP EMCO Gears Classic Mid-Ohio
8:00pm-11:00pm (SDD) SPEED
NHRA Qualifying Englishtown, NJ
11:00pm-1:00am ESPN2
10:00am-11:00am ESPN2
Champ Car Atlantic Cleveland
10:30am-11:30am (L) WEBCAST - ESPN 360 ESPN
10:30am-11:30am (L) WEBCAST - Champ Car Race Director
NHRA Race Day Englishtown, NJ
11:00am-11:30am ESPN2
AMA Superbike Honda Summit of Speed Tooele, UT
11:00am-12:00pm (6/23/07) -Day 1
Day 2 (L) at 5:00pm SPEED
American Dragster
11:30am-12:00pm ESPN2
Rolex Sports Car Series EMCO Gears Classic Mid-Ohio
12:00pm-2:00pm (SDD) -GT SPEED
World of Outlaws Superclean Summer of Money Dodge City, KS
12:30pm-1:30pm (6/23/07) ESPN2
Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland
1:00pm-3:00pm (L) CBS
1:00pm-3:00pm (L) WEBCAST - Champ Car Race Director
IRL Iowa Corn Indy 250 Newton, IA
1:00pm-3:30pm (L) ABC
NASCAR RaceDay Sonoma
2:00pm-4:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Toyota/Save Mart 350 Sonoma, CA
3:30pm-8:30pm (L) Incl Preshows TNT
AMA Superbike Honda Summit of Speed Tooele, UT
5:00pm-6:00pm (L) -Day 2 SPEED
MotoGP World Championship British Grand Prix Donington Park
6:00pm-7:00pm (SDD) SPEED
Fast Cars & Superstars: The Young Guns Celebrity Race NASCAR
drivers teach celebrities how to race stock cars, then the
stars compete against each other 7:00pm-8:00pm -Season Finale
* Check local listings for your time zone ABC
The SPEED Report
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Victory Lane Sonoma
8:30pm-9:30pm (SDD) SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Featured Interview: Alan R. Miller, Motorsports Attorney/Agent
9:30pm-10:30pm (L) SPEED
NHRA ProCare Rx NHRA SuperNationals Englishtown, NJ
10:00pm-1:00am (SDD) ESPN2

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

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