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Robby Gordon gets a sponsor for New Hampshire
When the #7 Dodge Charger hit the track earlier this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, it was sporting the all too familiar “back in black” paint scheme. But when the Sunday’s Lenox Industrial Tools 301 starts, Robby Gordon’s #7 Dodge will feature the blue and gold Camping World paint scheme. For the second consecutive weekend, Camping World has offered their support to Gordon and his team. It will also mark their fifth race of the 2008 season as Gordon’s primary sponsor. “I want to thank Camping World for sponsoring our team again this weekend. It was disappointing for our team to unload another black car this weekend, so it means a lot to have a sponsor like them that continues to support and strengthen our program,” commented Gordon. “I got my first NASCAR win here in 2001, so I think that the Camping World Dodge will finish well on Sunday.” Camping World offers over 8,000 quality products geared toward the RVing community through 65 nationwide SuperCenters, a well-established catalog call center, and an award-winning website. Camping World is the industry leader in RV accessories and services. In addition to RVs, Camping World provides its customers with high-quality products and services to help enhance their life on the road. RGM PR


Strous wins first Atlantic pole
Under weather conditions that alternated between dry and wet a few times throughout the day, Junior Strous scored his first career pole position in Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda competition and will start Sunday’s Sommet des Legendes at Circuit Mont-Tremblant from the inside of the front row.

Strous posted a best lap at 1:28.805 (106.251 mph) in the No. 6 Shell/HTP/Muermans Group/Red, White & Bluezz entry from Condor Motorsports/Team Holland to score the pole. The Dutchman’s lap came in the first of the day’s two qualifying sessions when a light rain shower momentarily slowed the pace in the 45-minute session, but it dried in time for Strous and a few others to clock quick times. The second session was run almost entirely under a steady rain and nobody was remotely close to their times from the earlier session.

The pole position for Strous adds more momentum for him and the Condor Motorsports/Team Holland program. Last month at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Strous earned his first career podium result with a third-place performance, while teammate Dominick Muermans also finished fifth in his No. 9 Hugenholtz Property Group/Jumbo Supermarkten/Muermans Group machine. With the pole position, Strous earned a bonus championship point, which moved him to within just two markers of championship leader James Hinchcliffe. Strous enters Sunday’s race looking for his first Atlantic victory.

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Assen: Stoner wins again
Casey Stoner motors to another win
Ducati rider Casey Stoner won today's MotoGP race at Assen in Holland. Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden looked set to score their first double podium of the season at Assen today.

Impressive Pedrosa finished the race a strong second to retake the World Championship lead at the halfway point of the 2008 MotoGP series. Hayden ran strong too, just a few seconds down on his team-mate throughout, until his bike suddenly slowed within sight of the finish. The American coasted over the line in fourth, just seconds after compatriot Colin Edwards had passed him to snatch third place.

The race began under threatening skies but the rain stayed away as the Repsol Honda duo quickly established themselves in second and third behind winner Casey Stoner. HRC technicians are now examining Hayden’s RC212V to discover the exact cause of his end-of-race electronics problem.

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NHLR becomes Happy Meal team
The Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing crew has indeed become a Happy Meal team.  Justin Wilson's crew, sponsored by McDonald's, is being called "the Happy Meal team" now that four members, including Wilson, have become (or will become) fathers by midseason. IndyStar.com


I never want to leave McLaren - Hamilton
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton has declared that he does not ever intend to race for a formula one team other than McLaren.

The 23-year-old burst onto the scene in 2007, and at the beginning of this year it was announced that he had inked a contract to stay with the Mercedes-powered outfit until at least the end of 2012.

"I plan to drive for McLaren my entire career," Hamilton told the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport in an interview to be published late next week, on the eve of his home British grand prix at Silverstone.

"I have a great contract and would be delighted if the cooperation continues beyond it," he added.

Hamilton, who finished last season's championship runner-up and is currently ten points behind the lead in 2008, describes his relationship with Woking based McLaren as "unique".

"The team takes a lot of the pressure off of its drivers. It is like in a big family for me -- I have been with them since 1997," he added, harking back to when team boss Ron Dennis first began to support his karting career.

Hamilton said he has treated the difficult times this year as lessons.

"Even after an extremely bad weekend you have to get over it quickly," he said. "You have to learn what you can and move on.

"At the beginning of the year I was surprised by how much pressure I was putting on myself.

"Now I just have to say to myself, 'Hey, the year is long. Use your energy for the next race, not the last one'."


Hamilton aims to get title back on track
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton on Saturday sounded confident about getting his world championship campaign back on track in the near future.

The Melbourne and Monaco winner, and former drivers' standings leader, has now fallen ten points behind in the battle for the 2008 crown, following consecutive disastrous outings at Montreal and Magny-Cours.

Hamilton, 23, also seemed to lose his composure with the press corps in France a week ago, moving pundits and experts to advise him to shut out the distractions and focus on simply driving his McLaren.

"You've got to learn to take a step back and realise 'ok, you don't have to do anything, just drive the way you normally drive and you will be fine, you will get by'," Hamilton said on Saturday, after meeting with patients at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children.

He insists that the past weeks, including the spate of penalties, have not affected him.

"It's just part of the learning curve," the Briton said. "You have your ups and downs and if you don't expect to have them then that's not reality.

"I haven't met my toughest time in my life as yet but all of this is preparing me for it," he added.

Hamilton said he expects the media to be "back on my side" once he gets back up to speed, beginning with next weekend's sell-out British grand prix at Silverstone.

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Hamilton and Kovalainen determined to do well at Silverstone
Silverstone: the birthplace of the Formula 1 World Championship and the cradle of modern British motorsport. It goes without saying that everybody within the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team has a special place in their hearts for the Santander British Grand Prix.

As one of the team’s two ‘home’ grands prix (the other takes place at Hockenheim on July 20), this race welcomes many of our colleagues from our two facilities in Woking and Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines. As such, it is one of the busiest events on the team’s calendar.

The team arrives at the circuit fresh from three days’ testing at Silverstone: both Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen sampled numerous aerodynamic and mechanical upgrades and the team is upbeat about the improvements made to the MP4-23’s overall competitiveness.

Lewis Hamilton:
The Santander British Grand Prix is your home race - does that make it different for you?

"There’s something about racing in your home country that definitely affects you. You can’t really say what it is, but there’s something about the familiarity of your surroundings and the constant support of the crowd that gives you a boost throughout the whole weekend. It’s not something you experience anywhere else but it does make you that bit more determined to succeed."

Nigel Mansell used to talk about the home crowd being worth ‘one second per lap’ - does people power make a difference?
"I don’t know about it being worth a second per lap, but being at your home grand prix does give an extra boost to your confidence because you know you’re getting more support. And it seems to make you perform better. Last year at Silverstone, I found the support was just immense and definitely made the weekend a lot easier to get through."

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Whitmarsh and Haug optimistic for Silverstone
Silverstone: the birthplace of the Formula 1 World Championship and the cradle of modern British motorsport. It goes without saying that everybody within the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team has a special place in their hearts for the Santander British Grand Prix.

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula 1, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes:
After a few difficult races, is there an additional pressure to get a strong result next weekend?

"Dealing with a disappointing result is an inevitable part of the ebb and flow of a championship assault. As a team, we exist to win - and when we aren’t winning we’re tough on ourselves. We’re aware that we’ve under-performed recently but there are no bigger critics than ourselves. And with both Lewis and Heikki, we’re convinced we’ve got the right blend of youth and enthusiasm to tackle the challenge of winning races and challenging for the championship."

Is the team encouraged by the changes it has recently made to the MP4-23?
"Very much so. Both Lewis and Heikki came away from the Silverstone test feeling very optimistic about the changes we’ve made. We’ve been particularly aggressive in our development strategy, bringing new aero parts to the French Grand Prix, making further revisions ahead of the Silverstone test and planning even more upgrades for future races. The pace of development between the top teams will almost certainly prove crucial to the outcome of this year’s world championship and we’ve always recognized the importance of relentless, strategic development."

What sort of car works best around Silverstone?
"There are two main characteristics: the high-speed corners that typify the first half of the track require a good overall aerodynamic balance that enables the drivers to feel comfortable and confident with the car. But the last third of the lap is much slower and tighter and is more reliant on mechanical grip than aero performance. It’s a fantastic challenge for drivers and engineers."

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From Le Mans to Lime Rock
For all the planning, preparations and sometimes panic with getting cars and equipment ready for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, not much is said about the return trip back to the States for American Le Mans Series teams. This year the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park is four weeks after Le Mans, which is a contrast to the two-week turnaround needed to ship cargo to Europe for the Le Mans Test Day following the Utah Grand Prix.

Corvette Racing has become a bit of an expert, having crossed the Atlantic each year since 2000 and winning its class five times in that span. Gary Pratt, co-founder of Pratt & Miller which builds, supplies and supports the factory Corvettes for General Motors, takes us through the post-Le Mans process.

"The race cars were prepared for shipment immediately following the race, and were on their way home that night. The crew has to clean the cars, remove the gas, tape up all of the holes - making a long day longer; they're finished around 7 p.m.

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Norwalk qualifying cut short by track seepage
The opening day of qualifying at the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals was cut short Friday as water from more than a dozen inches of rain that have fallen in the area the last 10 days continually seeped up through the track surface, especially in the shutdown area. Despite a dogged five-hour battle, NHRA and track staff eventually gave up for the day and called an end to the day's activities.

Reigning NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series world champ Matt Smith fronted the two-wheelers with an opening blast of 7.059 from his Nitro Fish Buell to lead the way in his quest for his third No. 1 spot of the season. Only seven Pro Stockers made it down the track before action was called with Richie Stevens Jr., at the wheel of Kenny Koretsky's Nitro Fish GXP, holding the best number of the day at 6.833.

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Dale Jr. tells media to butt out
Dale Earnhardt Jr. got a little testy Friday when asked again about future plans to move his Nationwide Series team up to Sprint Cup.

"I shouldn't have said anything about that, man," Earnhardt said. "I should have kept it to myself, because I don't want to talk about it in the press. That's personal to me, what I do with my business, and I'm damn sure ain't going to air my timeline out over the media.

"If we feel like we want to do that, we'll do it. We'll let you know and that will be that. I don't want to answer questions about it every week. My [Nationwide] team is doing great. I'd be foolish to make too many changes right now."  ESPN.com


Assen: Stoner leads pre-race warm-up
Assen poleman Casey Stoner led the morning warm-up session at the Dutch track in the MotoGP class, with two late fast laps showing his intentions of setting the pace in the afternoon race. The Australian’s best time was a 1´47.583, three-tenths of a second faster than second placed rider and 2006 race winner Nicky Hayden.

The Ducati and Repsol Honda riders were joined by front row starter Valentino Rossi in the upper echelons of the timesheet, the Fiat Yamaha man searching for improvements in the session to try and match Stoner’s race rhythm. Last year’s wet weather poleman Chris Vermeulen, 250cc Assen race winner Jorge Lorenzo and second place starter Dani Pedrosa completed the top six.

Notably looking stronger in the wet was Marco Melandri, the Ducati Marlboro rider seventh fastest in the warm-up session.



Rider Nation Team Lap time
1 C. STONER AUS Ducati Marlboro Team 1'47.583
2 N. HAYDEN USA Repsol Honda Team + 0.304
3 V. ROSSI ITA Fiat Yamaha Team + 0.664
4 C. VERMEULEN AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP + 0.917
5 J. LORENZO SPA Fiat Yamaha Team + 0.921
6 D. PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team + 0.949
7 M. MELANDRI ITA Ducati Marlboro Team + 1.785
8 S. NAKANO JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini + 2.052
9 J. TOSELAND GBR Tech 3 Yamaha + 2.548
10 R. DE PUNIET FRA LCR Honda MotoGP + 2.743
11 A. DOVIZIOSO ITA JiR Team Scot MotoGP + 2.846
12 A. DE ANGELIS RSM San Carlo Honda Gresini + 3.394
13 C. EDWARDS USA Tech 3 Yamaha + 3.448
14 A. WEST AUS Kawasaki Racing Team + 3.459
15 S. GUINTOLI FRA Alice Team + 4.013
16 T. ELIAS SPA Alice Team + 7.210
J. HOPKINS USA Kawasaki Racing Team 0 Laps


Richmond: Two minor accidents Friday
Enrique Bernoldi spins
Chris Jones/IRL
Two drivers, Enrique Bernoldi and Hideki Mutoh, experienced relatively minor accidents during practice laps Friday for tonight's Richmond Indy Car race.

Bernoldi skidded exiting turn four and hit the wall, wrecking his car's rear-left suspension. Mutoh ran into crew member Scott Lynch entering his pit stall. Lynch suffered a fractured right toe and a left ankle contusion.


Rookies get first look at The Glen
Only two of the "transitional" IndyCar drivers got their first look at Watkins Glen International on Wednesday, June 25, during a test session for the Firestone Indy Lights and incoming teams for the July 4-6 Camping World Grand Prix.

"Really looking forward to this track more than anything else because of the layout," said Will Power, the 27- year-old Australian who won at Long Beach earlier this season. "This track has a huge history. Winning Long Beach was special for that reason and it's the same here, this track has been around so long. That's another reason to win."

Power and KV Racing Technologies teammate Oriol Servia got a brief three-hour shakedown test on Wednesday before jetting off to Richmond, Virginia for this weekend's SunTrust Indy Challenge.

Servia, a 10-year veteran of Champ Car racing - formerly CART - figured he'd race at The Glen someday.

"Here for some reason I could see myself racing, maybe not in open-wheel, but in any other series. I always thought I was going to come here," said the 33- year old Spaniard. "Indy, for sure, I had the fear of not having the opportunity to do it because it 's an IRL 100 percent an IndyCar race and I was in Champ Car - it 's just not going to happen. I was really happy that finally when it happened it gave me, a guy who came from Spain in '98 and been racing in the U.S. for many years and never got a chance to race at Indy. So finally, for me it meant a lot ."

Only two transitional teams made the trek north, while the others were either too busy repairing cars from last weekend's race at Iowa or still preparing for Richmond.


Tight going at Richmond
Each pit box is 39 feet in length this year at Richmond due to the increased number of cars. Last year at Richmond, each pit box was 45 feet in length. The pit boxes are three feet shorter than they were at Milwaukee and one foot longer than they were at Iowa.  Why are they racing at this Mickey Mouse facility again?


Reader objects to NASCAR drivel
A reader writes with regard to this article, "NASCAR is always in season" by Cathy Elliott, we published, What? After having this much sunshine blown up my arse, I think I need a good hot shower. I don't think I've ever read a bigger piece of drivel about anything, let alone NASCAR, in my entire reading life. Apart from Ms. Elliot's obvious infatuation with the awesome and super-keen NASCAR, what is the point of this article?  I just feel dirty and insulted.  Sweaty Teddy


Stock ZR1 Laps Nürburgring in 7:26.4
I know many people have been very interested in how fast the ZR1 would be at the Ring…

Most car enthusiasts are quite familiar with the Nürburgring. Built in the 1920’s near Cologne, Germany, “the Ring” is considered to be the toughest and most challenging race track in the world.

Over the last two weeks, we have been doing our final tuning and testing there before we start ZR1 production cars. This morning (Friday June 27), General Motors development engineer Jim Mero drove the Corvette ZR1 around the Nürburgring in a time of 7:26.4.

Jim commented after the lap that conditions were good except for a strong headwind down the main straight and that the lap was solid, but he felt there were a few places he could have gone faster.

The car was bone stock with the exception of the communications and safety equipment. The tires were production Michelin Pilot Sport 2’s. These tires have been developed specifically for the ZR1 and will have impressive wet traction and wear (tread wear rating = 220), in addition to excellent dry road holding. Chassis alignment and vehicle height were set to factory specs. Likewise, the engine calibrations were absolutely stock, emissions compliant and the car ran on pump (not racing) fuel. The vehicle was exactly like the cars that will be built in Bowling Green, Kentucky and sold around the world later this summer.

Despite posting one of the fastest times ever run by a production car, Nürburgring lap times were not an over-riding priority in the development of the ZR1. The truth is, if the only priority was speed at the ring, the car would not be very pleasant to drive on American roads. The ZR1 is an incredibly capable track machine, but unlike most ultra-high performance cars, it is very easy to live with on a daily basis.

The timed lap was run with a rolling start, a departure from our previous practice of standing starts. This is more aligned with current industry practice. The lap was electronically timed and confirmed with two hand-held stopwatches. An in-car video will be posted when the engineering team returns from Germany. Look for it the week of July 7! Tadge J. Juechter, Corvette Chief Engineer


Hulkenburg takes Euro F3 pole
Nico Hulkenberg took pole position for Saturday's fourth round of the F3 Euro Series at the Norisring. The German, who starred in his home race at the venue last year, was one of five drivers to break into a 48-second lap time in qualifying


Pos Driver Car Time Behind
Nico Hulkenberg Dallara/Mercedes 48.696 +0.000
2. Mika Maki Dallara/Mercedes 48.737 +0.041
3. Kodai Tsukakoshi Dallara/Mercedes 48.822 +0.126
4. James Jakes Dallara/Mercedes 48.946 +0.250
5. Jules Bianchi Dallara/Mercedes 48.978 +0.282
6. Jean-Karl Vernay Dallara/Volkswagen 49.023 +0.327
7. Rodolfo Gonzalez Dallara/Mercedes 49.040 +0.344
8. Daniel Clos Dallara/Mercedes 49.047 +0.351
9. Jon Lancaster Dallara/Mercedes 49.048 +0.352
10. Edoardo Mortara Dallara/Volkswagen 49.086 +0.390
11. Henkie Waldschmidt Dallara/Mercedes 49.121 +0.425
12. Richard Philippe Dallara/Mercedes 49.177 +0.481
13. Michael Klein Dallara/Mercedes 49.190 +0.494
14. Erik Janis Dallara/Mercedes 49.211 +0.515
15. Robert Wickens Dallara/Volkswagen 49.245 +0.549
16. Franck Mailleux Dallara/Volkswagen 49.251 +0.555
17. Cheng Cong Fu Dallara/Volkswagen 49.313 +0.617
18. Sam Bird Dallara/Mercedes 49.314 +0.618
19. Daniel Campos Dallara/Mercedes 49.324 +0.628
20. Martin Plowman Dallara/Volkswagen 49.379 +0.683
21. Jens Klingmann Dallara/Volkswagen 49.409 +0.713
22. Maxi Gotz Dallara/Volkswagen 49.438 +0.742
23. Renger van der Zande Dallara/Mercedes 49.444 +0.748
24. Yann Clairay Dallara/Mercedes 49.449 +0.753
25. Stefano Coletti Dallara/Mercedes 49.451 +0.755
26. Kazuya Oshima Dallara/Mercedes 49.523 +0.827
27. Christian Vietoris Dallara/Mercedes 49.557 +0.861
28. Basil Shaaban Dallara/Mercedes 49.671 +0.975
29. Niall Breen Dallara/Mercedes 49.698 +1.002


Strous Quickest in Atlantic Testing at Mont-Tremblant
Carrying the momentum of his first career Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda podium result last month at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Dutch racer Junior Strous was quickest in an all-day test session on Friday at Circuit Mont-Tremblant in advance of this weekend’s Sommet des Legendes event.

Driving the No. 6 Shell/HTP/Muermans Group/Red, White & Bluezz machine for Condor Motorsports/Team Holland, Strous posted the day’s quickest lap at 1:28.764 (106.300 mph) in the afternoon test session. Strous was also quickest during the morning session and is looking to bring Condor Motorsports a second consecutive victory at Mont-Tremblant. Last year, Franck Perera started from the pole position and led every lap en route to victory.

“I had a good day,” Strous said. “I was first in both sessions. Mont-Tremblant is one of my favorite tracks in North America. We had a good car last year when Franck Perera won, so we’ve got a good baseline setup. During the testing, we made some adjustments and we’re looking forward to qualifying tomorrow. The weather forecast is wet, which will create a new challenge, but as I’m a European driver, I have lots of practice driving in the rain.”

Second-quickest was Carl Skerlong with a lap at 1:29.004 (106.013 mph) in the No. 14 King Taco entry for Pacific Coast Motorsports. Skerlong has been quick throughout the 2008 Atlantic season and he continued that trend on Friday at Mont-Tremblant. He heads into the weekend looking to continue his forward progress in the championship standings.

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Rain hits Richmond, Dixon on top UPDATE
Practice 2 Results


Driver Name Best Time Best Speed
1 Scott Dixon (9) 16.2366 166.291
2 Buddy Rice (15) 16.3271 165.369
3 Ryan Briscoe (6) 16.3643 164.993
4 EJ Viso (33) 16.3670 164.966
5 Bruno Junqueira (18) 16.4115 164.519
6 Dan Wheldon (10) 16.4333 164.301
7 Danica Patrick (7) 16.4337 164.297
8 Helio Castroneves (3) 16.4355 164.279
9 Mario Moraes (19) 16.4421 164.213
10 Marco Andretti (26) 16.4757 163.878
11 Townsend Bell (23) 16.4990 163.646
12 Tony Kanaan (11) 16.5063 163.574
13 Ryan Hunter-Reay (17) 16.5155 163.483
14 Justin Wilson (02) 16.6213 162.442
15 A.J. Foyt IV (2) 16.6252 162.404
16 Graham Rahal (06) 16.6419 162.241
17 Ed Carpenter (20) 16.6674 161.993
18 John Andretti (24) 16.7235 161.449
19 Will Power (8) 16.7656 161.044
20 Oriol Servia (5) 16.7688 161.013
21 Darren Manning (14) 16.9271 159.508
22 Jaime Camara (34) 16.9473 159.317
23 Hideki Mutoh (27) 17.0039 158.787
24 Vitor Meira (4) 17.4314 154.893
25 Marty Roth (25) 17.6306 153.143

06/27/08 The second practice session for the IndyCars has been cut short due to rain showers. The rain has stopped and they have started the track drying process. Top 3 at the time were Dixon, Rice and Briscoe.


Herta dumped by Andretti Green Racing
Valencia, California's Bryan Herta did everything that was asked of him at Andretti Green Racing, and even surprised a few with some unexpected wins. But Herta was the one who was surprised on Thursday when he was informed that he was being replaced on the Andretti Green Racing American Le Mans Series team with driver Franck Montagny, a Frenchman with limited Formula One and road racing experience.

Herta will not be driving for Andretti Green Racing in the next American Le Mans Series race at Lime Rock Park at Lakeville, Conn., on July 12. Montagny is the new primary driver of the team's No. 26 Acura-powered entry in the American Le Mans Series and will be teamed with Marco Andretti, son of team co-owner Michael Andretti, in the race at Lime Rock Park. Herta is not in Andretti Green's plans for future races, but the team said in a release that a variety of drivers will team with Montagny for the final seven races of the American Le Mans Series season.

"It was a complete shock to me," said Herta, a Hart High of Newhall graduate. "I'm at a bit of a loss for words. It's their sandbox. "Right now it's all kind of a bit of a surprise. I'm not going to jump at something. I want to see what happens."

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Hendrick Motorsports cans Mears
Casey Mears looks like he aged 10 years since finding out he is out at Hendrick Motorsports after this year
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR
Hendrick Motorsports' Casey Mears says it's disappointing that he will not return to Hendrick Motorsports next season, but he remains committed to completing the season with a strong run for the team. Beyond that, he says he's just starting to investigate other job opportunities in the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage.

Mears and Hendrick Motorsports announced Friday morning that they would not continue their relationship beyond this season.

"We've put a ton of emphasis on the No. 5 program," team owner Rick Hendrick said in a news release. "It's been a total team effort, and Casey has worked as hard as anyone to help us improve. We've tested more than we ever have, but the results just haven't come.

"None of us, Casey included, have been satisfied with the situation this season. But he's confident there are other options out there for him in 2009, and we feel like Hendrick Motorsports will have some opportunities, too."

Mears said there are no hard feelings, and he remains close to everyone at the Hendrick organization. He also said while he had expected to remain with the team next year, he's known for a couple of weeks that this would happen.

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Richmond: Hunter-Reay tops practice 1


Driver Diff Gap Best Time Best Speed
1 Ryan Hunter-Reay (17) ... ... 16.2003 166.664
2 Scott Dixon (9) 0.0195 0.0195 16.2198 166.463
3 Buddy Rice (15) 0.0685 0.0490 16.2688 165.962
4 EJ Viso (33) 0.0711 0.0026 16.2714 165.935
5 Oriol Servia (5) 0.0758 0.0047 16.2761 165.887
6 Tony Kanaan (11) 0.0808 0.0050 16.2811 165.836
7 Danica Patrick (7) 0.0901 0.0093 16.2904 165.742
8 Marco Andretti (26) 0.1985 0.1084 16.3988 164.646
9 Hideki Mutoh (27) 0.2042 0.0057 16.4045 164.589
10 Ryan Briscoe (6) 0.2265 0.0223 16.4268 164.366
11 Dan Wheldon (10) 0.2318 0.0053 16.4321 164.313
12 Helio Castroneves (3) 0.2786 0.0468 16.4789 163.846
13 Townsend Bell (23) 0.2995 0.0209 16.4998 163.638
14 Will Power (8) 0.3140 0.0145 16.5143 163.495
15 A.J. Foyt IV (2) 0.3480 0.0340 16.5483 163.159
16 Ed Carpenter (20) 0.3611 0.0131 16.5614 163.030
17 John Andretti (24) 0.4101 0.0490 16.6104 162.549
18 Enrique Bernoldi (36) 0.4893 0.0792 16.6896 161.777
19 Jaime Camara (34) 0.4911 0.0018 16.6914 161.760
20 Mario Moraes (19) 0.5403 0.0492 16.7406 161.285
21 Bruno Junqueira (18) 0.5607 0.0204 16.7610 161.088
22 Graham Rahal (06) 0.6093 0.0486 16.8096 160.623
23 Vitor Meira (4) 0.6128 0.0035 16.8131 160.589
24 Justin Wilson (02) 0.7984 0.1856 16.9987 158.836
25 Darren Manning (14) 0.8521 0.0537 17.0524 158.335
26 Marty Roth (25) 1.1484 0.2963 17.3487 155.631


Atlantic Series: Mt. Tremblant preview
For the first time in his Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda career, Canadian racer James Hinchcliffe will race in his home country as the series points leader as the Atlantic Championship contests the first of four races north of the border in this weekend’s Sommet des Legendes at Circuit Mont-Tremblant.

Hinchcliffe, who drives the No. 3 Indeck/Tire Rack/NOCO machine for Forsythe/Pettit Racing, holds the points lead in large part thanks to his victory in Round 2 of the 11-race championship in the Monterey Festival of Speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca last month. The victory was the second of Hinchcliffe’s Atlantic career. He leads Simona De Silvestro, who won the season-opening Imperial Capital Bank Atlantic Challenge of Long Beach, by two points (44-42) heading into the Sommet des Legendes.

Both Hinchcliffe and De Silvestro own one victory and one 10th-place result from the first two races, and Hinchcliffe holds the points lead by virtue of the two bonus points he earned for being the fastest provisional qualifier and taking the overall pole position in Monterey. Hinchcliffe has the added bonus of being the 2008 Atlantic driver with the highest finishing in the series’ visit to Mont-Tremblant last year, when he finished third behind Franck Perera and eventual series champion Raphael Matos.

Last year, Hinchcliffe finished one spot ahead of American driver Jonathan Bomarito, who also returns for another Atlantic run at Mont-Tremblant this weekend. Driving the No. 26 Del Taco/RLM Investments/Stone Brewing machine for Mathiasen Motorsports, Bomarito is looking to get his season on-track after a somewhat disappointing start. Bomarito was clearly the fastest driver throughout the season-opening weekend at Long Beach but wound up fifth as a result of an off-course excursion while leading. In his home race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Bomarito and the team struggled to find speed throughout the weekend and he retired from the race with a mechanical problem.

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Iowa IndyCar TV Rating UPDATE Sunday's IRL Ethanol IndyCar 250 on ABC drew final national TV rating of 1.1.

06/23/08 Sunday's IRL Ethanol IndyCar 250 on ABC drew an overnight TV rating of 1.1.


Nationwide TV rating up 15.4%
ESPN2 for its coverage of the June 21 NASCAR Nationwide Series Camping World RV Rental 250 earned a 1.5 coverage area rating (1.9 million viewers, up 15.4% over a 1.3 last year. Through 11 races on ESPN2, the net is averaging a 1.8 coverage rating (2.3 million viewers), a 20% increase over '07, which does not include the rain-delayed Stater Bros. 300 that was televised on a Monday. THE DAILY


DTM: Spengler tops Friday practice
The Norisring is getting faster: as expected, lap times dropped significantly during the second DTM practice at the street circuit. After Bernd Schneider had topped the time sheets for a long time, his fellow Mercedes-Benz driver, Bruno Spengler, came out on top in the final seconds of the 90 minutes’ session. Last year’s winner lapped the 2.3 kilometers long circuit within 48.387 seconds. Second-placed Bernd Schneider was 0.021 seconds short of Spengler’s fastest time. Gary Paffett completed the Mercedes-Benz trio with his year-old car.

Audi works driver, Mattias Ekström, who had been fastest in the first practice session, was fourth in the second 90 minutes’ session behind the three Mercedes drivers. Jamie Green (Mercedes-Benz) was fifth from Timo Scheider and Martin Tomczyk (both Audi). Maro Engel and Paul di Resta (Mercedes-Benz) completed the top ten ahead of tenth-placed Winkelhock.

In the second DTM test, the lap times were very close together. Susie Stoddart in 19th place was almost eight tenths of a second short of Spengler’s fastest lap time. Markus Winkelhock, who ranked tenth in the second session, was 0.416 seconds slower than Spengler on the fastest of the 65 laps he completed in total. Apart from Katherine Legge, Alexandre Prémat and Susie Stoddart in 17th to 19th place, all drivers succeeded in toppling Ekström´s fastest lap time from the first test.

After free practice of the DTM on Saturday morning (9.30 h), the battle for the grid positions will start in the afternoon. From 13.28 h, drivers have to get their act together in qualifying (live on ARD from 13.30), as overtaking isn’t easy at the only street circuit on the DTM calendar. A good qualifying result on Saturday can be the basis for a good race result on Sunday.


Biffle Announces Contract Renewal with Roush
Greg Biffle announced today that he has signed a three-year extension of his contract with Roush Fenway Racing.  Biffle has been with Roush Fenway Racing since 1998.  During his 10 years at Roush Fenway Racing, Biffle has accumulated 46 wins, 166 top-five finishes and 250 top-10 finishes in 496 starts.  In 2002, Biffle took the NASCAR Nationwide Series title making him the only driver in NASCAR history with both a Nationwide and a Craftsman Truck Series championship title. He is currently seventh in the Sprint Cup point standings driving the No. 16 3M/Dish Network/Jackson Hewitt-sponsored Ford Fusion. 

Biffle is looking forward to the continued relationship with Roush Fenway Racing as well as a long-term partnership with 3M. 

“I’m extremely happy and relieved to have this contract complete,” said Biffle.  “I have a team that can contend for the championship this season and for future seasons as well.  3M has been an incredible partner for several years now and having them on board made the decision even easier.  All the elements are in place: the resources of Ford and Roush Fenway, the excellent team, the outstanding cars and having a great primary sponsor like 3M for the next few years.”

In addition to Biffle’s Cup Series program, he is also running a partial schedule in the No. 16 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this season.

“I would like to run another partial schedule in the CitiFinancial Ford next season,” Biffle said.  “We’re still working out the schedule but I have always had fun racing in the Nationwide Series so I’d say it’s likely you’ll see me there in 2009.”


Assen: Stoner takes pole over Pedrosa
Casey Stoner
Casey Stoner fought off all comers in qualifying for the A-Style TT Assen, smashing the pole position record along the way.

The fastest lap ever recorded by a motorcycle at Assen gave Casey Stoner a third consecutive pole position in preparation for round nine of the MotoGP World Championship, continuing his outstanding performances of the past seven days.

The Australian was in a class of his own in the first practice sessions for the A-Style TT Assen, but qualifying saw him having to dig even deeper as his two biggest rivals upped their game and lowered their times. A 1´35.520 lap nearly a second quicker than the existing pole position record eventually won out for the reigning World Champion, gunning for his second victory in seven days.

A final lap from Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa very nearly spoiled the party for the Ducati rider, but the Spaniard fell short by just 0.032 as he marked his spot on the front row. The top three in the World Championship and the winners of the last five races look set to do battle once more at the historic Dutch circuit. Pedrosa now leads Stoner by three points in the BMW M Award for combined qualifying results.

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Massa approaches British GP with flu
(GMM)  Championship leader Felipe Massa approaches next weekend's British grand prix with a bout of the 'flu.

The Ferrari driver tested for two days at the Silverstone circuit this week, topping the charts on Tuesday, before handing over to his teammate Kimi Raikkonen for Thursday's final session.

"To be honest, I need to have some rest now," said the 27-year-old, who won the recent French grand prix.

Throughout the Magny-Cours weekend, Massa grappled with a stiff neck that he said he aggravated in an elevator at his hotel.

"Then I picked up a cold bug and had to do two days of testing with some sort of influenza and now I am completely tired," he admitted on Friday.

"I need to relax and concentrate on the next race."

Following some treatment, Massa said his neck is now completely recovered.  He hopes to also be over the 'flu by the time the formula one world reconvenes at Silverstone late next week.

"I am sure I will be fine," he added.

racing news

White named to replace Toyota's Jim Aust
Lee While
Toyota announced today that effective July 1, Lee White will become president and general manager of TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development) and that motorsports activities at Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc., will be consolidated under Ed Laukes, TMS corporate manager of motorsports marketing. White and Laukes will replace Jim Aust, who previously announced his plans to retire on June 30, from his position as vice president of motorsports at TMS and president at TRD.

“As the Toyota racing program continues to grow and we enhance our motorsports marketing activities, these changes will allow Lee and Ed to focus on their key areas of responsibility, both on and off the track,” said Dave Illingworth, TMS senior vice president, chief planning and administrative officer.

White, who will report to Illingworth, will be responsible for all TRD activities in the U.S., including engine development, manufacturing, chassis design/development, team/manufacturer relationships, manufacturer/sanctioning body relations and engineering support for Toyota teams participating in NASCAR, USAC, NHRA, Grand-Am and Off-Road competition.

Highlights of his more than 10-year TRD career include the 2000 CART driver’s and manufacturer’s championships, the 2003 IRL series driver’s and manufacturer’s titles, Gil de Ferran’s 2003 Indianapolis 500 victory and the 2006 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver’s and manufacturer’s championships.  He has been instrumental in the push for new racing endeavors, from joining NASCAR in 2000 (Dash Series), to entering the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2004 and ultimately the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series in 2007.

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High gas prices mean emptier roads
Gasoline prices are becoming so high that one of Canada’s top banks is predicting a “mass exodus” of vehicles from U.S. highways within four years, with a slightly less dramatic drop expected in Canada.

CIBC World Markets said in a report today that gas prices in the U.S. will hit US$7 a gallon — the equivalent of C$1.86 a liter — two summers from now. That marks a 70 per cent increase over today’s record levels.

As a result, there will be about 10 million fewer vehicles on U.S. roads by 2012 and average kilometers driven will drop 15 per cent, the report said.

“Over the next four years, we are likely to witness the greatest mass exodus of vehicles off America’s highways in history,” chief economist Jeff Rubin wrote.

The meteoric rise in crude oil prices, which hit a record US$140 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange today, has been a major factor in soaring pump prices.

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racing news

Ford Racing boss to step down
Brian Wolfe, a 26-year Ford veteran who has held a series of management positions within Ford’s powertrain operations, has been named the new director of Ford Racing Technology, the company announced today.

Carl Edwards with outgoing boss Dan Davis (R)
Wolfe will replace Dan Davis, who has overseen the company’s racing efforts the past 11 years.  Davis will retire after 32 years with the company on Aug. 1.

“Dan has done a great job for the company and its racing program, and he’s going to be a tough act to follow,” said Wolfe.  “I look forward to the challenge of taking the program forward and continuing the record of success he brought to us.”

Wolfe, 47, has been director, Powertrain Calibration and Controls, Product Development, since 2002. 

In his most recent job, Wolfe had global responsibility for all powertrain computer control software applications and powertrain calibration, including drivability and emissions.

He began his career at Ford Motor Company in 1982 and has held various positions within Ford’s powertrain development area, including a stint as manager of Ford’s Advanced Engine Group for North America, where he helped oversee the development of the Aston Martin V-12 engine.

Wolfe received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering from University of Michigan-Dearborn.

He’s an avid amateur drag racer and still owns the 1969 Fairlane CobraJet he bought at age 15.

Wolfe lives in Plymouth, Mich.  He and his wife, Nancy, have two daughters and a son.

“For me, a kid from Michigan whose father idolized Henry Ford, there was never any doubt where I was going to work,” Wolfe said.  “To have this opportunity now to take the racing program forward is a dream come true.”

Under Davis’ leadership of Ford Racing Technology, the company captured three NASCAR Sprint Cup driver’s titles and four manufacturer’s titles.  In addition, he helped with the formation of Roush-Yates Engines, the premier engine supplier to Ford NASCAR, sports car and USAC racing programs.

In NHRA, the company captured eight consecutive Funny Car championships, and Davis led development of the new Ford BOSS 500 nitro engine, the first new nitro engine in drag racing the past 40 years.

Davis also led major safety initiatives in both Champ Car racing and NHRA, where use of Ford Blue Box data recorders is now mandatory.

He also led a resurgence of Ford customer programs in road racing, where the Ford Mustang FR500GT, Mustang FR500C and now Mustang FR500S race cars are sold through Ford and compete in road racing circuits in North American and Europe.

Davis also will be known for starting the Clorox/Ford Women’s Driver Development Program in USAC, the first partnership of a consumer sponsor and auto manufacturer to try and develop women for professional racing.

He also expanded Ford’s grassroots racing programs, helping start the USAC Ford Focus Midget Series, which has grown nationally as a cost-effective way for youths to enter racing. Ford Racing


Hail damages 30,000 Volkswagens
Hail the size of Ping-Pong balls damaged some 30,000 new vehicles at a Volkswagen plant in northern Germany, a company spokesman said Friday.

The June 22nd hailstorm hit a lot filled with new cars at a plant in Emden, on the North Sea coast. The cars were waiting to be shipped to dealerships overseas. Most of the vehicles sustained heavy paint and body damage, but little glass was broken, Volkswagen spokesman Christoph Adomat said. "We can't make a damage estimate yet," Adomat said.

Volkswagen was insured against the damage, and each of the vehicles will be repaired and inspected before being put up for sale, he said.

"We need to make certain that all customers receive a car that is absolutely in good working order," Adomat said. BusinessWeek


Highlights from IRL Engine/Car forum UPDATE #2 SPEEDtv.com reports that Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Fiat, Mazda and Volkswagen sent representatives to discuss the future specifications for Indy car racing. Engine builders Cosworth, John Judd, Ilmor and AER were also in attendance.  The F1 contingent was led by Fiat, which owns Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and Maserati, and BMW

06/25/08 Here is the full transcript from today's teleconference.

06/25/08 The IRL met with 15 engine manufacturer reps in Indianapolis Tuesday to drum up interest in supplying engines for the new Indy Car due in 2010 or 2011.  Brian Barnhart and Terry Angstadt met with reporters today to discuss the outcome of those talks.  Here are the highlights AutoRacing1.com made note of:

If the world goes according to the IRL's charted course, the IRL in 2011 will have lots of things that are very much like today's series.  In an hour-long press conference, Brian Barnhart all-but-decreed that the IRL will remain a one-tire, one-chassis manufacturer.  The tire will no doubt be Firestone - "I could never envision another tire" -- and the chassis will probably be made by Dallara -- "It's the only car in the world that does what it does, and it does it well." 

What is open to discussion is the make of the engine.  In a much publicized (but closed to the press) meeting yesterday, the IRL met with 15 parties interested in building engines for Indy.  Far from contentious engine manufacturer meetings in the past, the event was deemed a "really good day" that "exceeded expectations."  Six of the participants were motor shops (i.e., Cosworth) with the balance being auto manufacturers (Audi is widely believed to be one such attendee).  The IRL would love to see 3 - 4 motor manufacturers, but believes it would be tough to justify 5 motors with 26 cars.  Right now, there seems to be no immediate consensus of opinion as to the number of cylinders, configuration, or even the fuel used.  The IRL did not discuss in the press conference even the broadest of parameters -- i.e., horsepower, displacement, weight, engine life.

Very much under discussion is the issue of turbocharging.  The IRL is intent on controlling speeds as well as costs, and turbo motors are very good in the former regard, but suspect when it comes to cost control.  As a bonus, the turbo motors are generally quieter, which is important in urban settings, but the sound that they do make is (gasp!) loved even by the IRL staff.  Should turbo motors be the spec, the IRL will try to find ways to prohibit development of the turbos in an effort to control costs. 

Don't look for these changes anytime soon.  There will be more such roundtable meetings, as well as one-on-one meetings between the IRL and the individual parties, with the hope that a rough specification will be completed by "Fall 2008."  This will hopefully allow interested parties to develop engines that will be submitted to the IRL for approval in time for the 2011 season.  In addition, the IRL is on record that the current Dallara chassis will be used through the next 2 seasons. 

No doubt one of those who will, barring some unforeseen circumstance, continue in the IRL will be Honda.  Honda has stated for the past two years that it would welcome competition -- and why not, look what they did to the competition previously.  However, Brian Barnhart was emphatic that the new motors will be much different than the current spec, so even Honda will be starting new in 2011. Tim Wohlford


Legge, Albers light and ready for a fight at Norisring
Futurecom TME duo Katherine Legge and Christijan Albers are in a confident mood heading to the blue riband DTM round of the season at the Norisring.

The only team on the grid to be running 2006-specification cars this season, both Legge and Albers' cars are hoping to benefit from having slightly lighter vehicles than their rivals around the legendary high-speed street circuit.

Indeed, with ‘used' machines often performing better around the low downforce Nurnburg circuit than they would elsewhere, former race winner Albers believes he is capable of challenging further up the field this weekend.

"The Norisring is always a very special event with its great atmosphere. I hope that we'll be good there. I think we should be closer to the new cars with the 2006 cars. We'll see what's possible."

Another new circuit for Legge, the Brit nonetheless believes her experience of racing around numerous street circuits in the USA will stand her in better stead.

"I have some experience with street races from my Champ Car days,” she said. “Everybody says that the atmosphere at the Norisring is fantastic which is why I so looking forward to the race after the five-week DTM break."


NASCAR Newscast: New Hampshire Preview



Jarrett Named Daytona Grand Marshal
Three-time Daytona 500 champion and founding member of the Coca-Cola Racing Family Dale Jarrett has been named Grand Marshal for the Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night, July 5 Speedway officials announced today. Outback Steakhouse President Jeff Smith will serve as Honorary Starter.

Jarrett captured a victory in the Independence Day classic in 1999 and will give the starting command “Gentlemen, start your engines” for Coke Zero’s inaugural sponsored race at “The World Center of Racing.” Jarrett, who won the 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, recently retired from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition as the driver of the No. 44 UPS Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing.

Smith, who will wave the Green Flag to get action started, began his career in 1989 at the original Outback Steakhouse restaurant on Henderson Boulevard in Tampa, Fla. Outback Steakhouse was one of the first restaurants to serve Coke Zero across its national operations.


Latest F1 news in brief
  • British GP future just '50-50' - Damon Hill
  • Hamilton keeps press corps busy on Thursday
  • Mosley was warned of plot to destroy him
  • Coulthard, Glock collide in F1 testing

British GP future just '50-50' - Damon Hill
(GMM)  BRDC president Damon Hill has estimated Silverstone's chances of retaining the British grand prix beyond 2009 at just "50-50".

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone is demanding higher race fees and substantial improvements to the circuit in Northamptonshire.

"I would say 50-50 is probably about right," Hill, also 1996 world champion, told British reporters at the Silverstone test on Thursday.

"It's one step at a time; the negotiations typically will be ongoing and I expect won't come to a conclusion until the final hour, whenever that is."

The track's owner, the British Racing Drivers' Club, has devised plans for new facilities at Silverstone, but money is still the key hurdle.

One ingredient in Silverstone's favor, however, is Lewis Hamilton, whose popularity must be credited for a sell-out crowd for next weekend's British grand prix.

10,000 attended the circuit on Thursday, to watch the McLaren driver simply top the test times.

"(He is) very important," Hill acknowledged.  "But I would not presume that because we have got Lewis Hamilton contending for the world championship, that guarantees the future of the grand prix."

Another factor on Britain's side is the apparent FIA protection - part of the contracts between the governing body and F1's owners - for the British GP and other 'traditional' races on the calendar.

But unlike some of the British media, Hill does not scoff at reports that Donington is a possibility to host the British grand prix from 2010, although admitting that the government is unlikely to come to Silverstone's rescue.

The 47-year-old, though, didn't want to wade too far into the murky politics between Ecclestone and the FIA's Max Mosley at present.

"We would like to avoid the taking of sides on that one.  But if there was a way of it becoming a protected event, that would be of interest -- but we are certainly not relying on that," Hill said.

Hamilton keeps press corps busy on Thursday
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton featured prominently in both the specialist motor racing and the mainstream media headlines on a busy Thursday in the UK.

In the morning, he arrived at Silverstone, where an impressive tally of 10,000 spectators would ultimately gather to watch him top the times on the final day of pre-British grand prix testing.

After two consecutive failures to score points, the McLaren driver was bullish about his chances on his home circuit.

"I haven't back-to-backed the new parts so I don't have a benchmark, but the car feels strong around here," he said.

Key championship rival Kimi Raikkonen was more than a second off the pace, but on Tuesday, the same Ferrari driven by Felipe Massa was fastest of the ten teams and cars in action.

"It is hard to say from the testing what fuel loads everybody else was running and where we are exactly, but the feeling is good," Raikkonen said on day three.

Hamilton, 23, then hopped from the Northamptonshire venue to London's Hyde Park, where the world's so-called 'A-list' celebrities gathered for a dinner to mark Nelson Mandela's upcoming 90th birthday.

Despite Hamilton's gripes at Magny-Cours a week ago about his recent press coverage, he was photographed at the affair at the same table as Oprah Winfrey and Elton John, and with his date, a member of the girl pop group Pussycat Dolls. 

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Brazilian President backs plans for A1GP in South America
A1GP World Cup of Motorsport has received influential backing for the series to hold its first race in South America. This came during a meeting in Brazil between A1GP ambassador, Emerson Fittipaldi, and Brazilian President, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.

The Brazilian President pledged his support for A1 Team Brazil's quest to secure a home race after meeting with Fittipaldi, who is the team's seat holder. The meeting happened last week when Fittipaldi was racing in the Brazilian GT3 Championship with his brother, Wilson. The two influential Brazilians, along with the Brazilian Minister of Sport, Orlando Silva, discussed the team ahead of the new A1GP season, during which all the teams will use the new A1GP Powered by Ferrari cars.

Following the meeting Fittipaldi commented: "We are working hard at A1 Team Brazil to raise the profile and awareness of the national team. It is invaluable to have the support of President Lula, Orlando Silva and the Government, and it is a goal of ours, in the not too distant future, to have a race in Brazil, so we will work with them on this important project.

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Suzuki pulls out of 2009 Detroit auto show
Suzuki Motor Corp. has pulled out of the 2009 North American International Auto Show, saying the space offered -- relegated to Michigan Hall -- didn't meet its needs.

The Japanese automaker, beginning a new-product push, will instead devote its efforts to other shows and events.

"For this year we felt that we'd concentrate on some more regional shows and allocate our marketing dollars in a more personal, direct way at those shows," said Jeff Holland, spokesman for Suzuki.


GM, Ford shares drop to new lows
Shares of General Motors Corp. (GM) (GM) plunged to their lowest price in more than 33 years, and Ford shares hit another 52-week low Thursday as analysts continued to speculate about just how bad things will get for U.S.-based automakers.

GM shares fell $1.38, or 10.8 percent, to close at $11.43, after tumbling as low as $11.21 earlier in the session. The low price for the day tied the low reached on Dec. 30, 1974, according to the University of Chicago's Center for Research in Security Prices. The center adjusts prices for stock splits.

Ford shares hit a 52-week low of $4.94 in early trading before recovering to close at $5.07, still down 17 cents, or 3.2 percent. They have traded as high as $9.70 over the past year.

GM's drop came after a Goldman Sachs analyst cut his rating to "Sell" from "Neutral" and his price target to $11 from $19, saying things could still get worse for the North American automotive industry as a whole.

"We expect GM shares to continue to underperform as market fundamentals deteriorate which exacerbates liquidity concerns," the investment bank's Patrick Archambault wrote in a note to investors.

"We think GM's automotive cash flow burn this year and next is likely to lead it to look to raise capital, which we believe could lead to significant shareholder dilution and/or a cut to the company's dividend."

[Editor's Note: Can NASCAR cuts be far behind?  Obviously it isn't helping them sell cars because NASCAR's gas guzzling 1950's technology just does not connect anymore with techno savvy buyers who want cars that get good gas mileage and don't burn high octane gasoline.  NASCAR is completely out of touch with today's consumer buying habits.]


Castroneves, Duno nominated for Tecate Sports Award
IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves and Milka Duno represent two-third of the nominees for Auto Racer of the Year in the first annual “Tecate Premios Deportes” (Tecate Sports Awards).

The nominees, comprised of Hispanic athletes in 10 categories, have been selected for their talent, character and perseverance, as well as their contributions to and impact on the Hispanic community. The "Tecate Premios Deportes" awards will be presented during a celebrity-filled "red carpet" celebration at the historic Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, Calif., and will be broadcast July 20 on the Univision Network.


Dixon dominant over last 17 races
When Scott Dixon headed to Richmond International Raceway a year ago, he was coming off a 10th-place finish at Iowa that left him third in the IndyCar Series point standings, 52 points behind Dario Franchitti.

The 2007 SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond was the beginning of an incredible tear for the native New Zealander. Dixon finished second at Richmond before rattling off four victories in the final eight races of the season, outscoring Franchitti 370-331 in the nine-race stretch.

The momentum hasn’t slowed in the first eight races of 2008. The driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing entry has seven top-five finishes, including three victories, and holds a 48-point advantage over Helio Castroneves.

“A run like that for me personally is a direct reflection of the work that the team does at Target Chip Ganassi Racing,” Dixon said. “I’m fortunate enough to have a great teammate in Dan Wheldon and an owner in Chip (Ganassi) that values your opinion and puts you in the best possible position to contend for race wins. To be honest, I don’t really look at the numbers. We as a team are focused on taking one race at a time and that’s all we can do each weekend.”

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Richmond: Servia and Power top rookie practice
Oriol Servia
Chris Jones/IRL
KV Racing Technology drivers Oriol Servia and Will Power were first and second respectively on the speed charts following this afternoon’s “Rookie” practice session in preparation for Saturday’s SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia.

Servia, KV Racing Technology #5 Honda/Dallara/Firestone, in his first IndyCar season and making his first appearance on the .75-mile high-banked D-shaped Richmond oval, logged a speed of 167.295 mph.  Meanwhile Power, KV Racing Technology #8 Aussie Vineyards – Team Australia Honda/Dallara/Firestone, who is a rookie in the IndyCar Series and also making his debut at RIR, recorded a lap of 165.295 mph.

Servia, who is not considered an IndyCar rookie due to his extensive oval experience (he has 34 oval starts in his eight plus seasons of U.S. open-wheel racing), was able to practice today due to a ruling by the Indy Racing League that all drivers transitioning from the Champ Car World Series to the IndyCar Series, as well as some veteran driver’s needing a refresher, are eligible to participate in “rookie practices” at Milwaukee, Richmond and Nashville.  A total of 12 drivers participated in this afternoon’s practice. 

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Capirossi hurt again, unable to continue at Assen
Loris Capirossi will be unable to race at this weekend's Dutch Grand Prix in Assen. The Italian crashed at high-speed, resulting in a visit to the medical centre for an operation to his right forearm.

Capirossi was making his comeback at Assen following a collision at Catalunya earlier this month, and vindicated his decision to participate this weekend by setting the 12th quickest time in this morning's practice. Unfortunately, in this afternoon's session he crashed in a fast left-hand corner and high-sided his Suzuki GSV-R.

As the bike and Capirossi tumbled towards the gravel at high-speed, his right inner forearm got stuck underneath the bike resulting in a substantial and deep hole. Capirossi was immediately taken to the medical centre and operated on to repair the wound. He will now rest the injury and will not take any further part at this weekend's event. A decision as to whether AMA Champion Ben Spies - who is present at Assen - will replace Capirossi will be taken later this evening by the Suzuki team.

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Brazil's President pledges A1GP team support
Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva has pledged his support for A1 Team Brazil after meeting with its seat holder, Emerson Fittipaldi.  President Lula met Fittipaldi when he was racing in the Brazilian GT3 Championship with his brother, Wilson, last week, and discussed the new A1GP season.

In the meeting with the President, which also included the Brazilian Minister of Sport, Orlando Silva, Fittipaldi talked about the team ahead of the 2008/09 season during which everyone will use the new A1GP Powered by Ferrari cars. President Lula pledged his support, and vowed to assist Fittipaldi and A1 Team Brazil in their quest to secure a home race in the future.

“We are working hard at A1 Team Brazil to raise the profile and awareness of the national team,” said Fittipaldi after the meeting. “It is invaluable to have the support of President Lula, Orlando Silva and the Government, and it is a goal of ours, in the not too distant future, to have a race in Brazil, so we will work with them on this important project.

“Another important side to A1GP is the Think Greener Racing campaign, and some of President Lula’s ideas on the use of Brazilian ethanol could be very interesting for the series to explore.

“I am excited to think about the future of A1GP and I think A1 Team Brazil has an important part to play in it.”


Sonoma TV Ratings down
NASCAR Sprint Cup on TNT posted a 3.7/8 (6.0 mill.) this Sunday for racing from Infineon Raceway, down -8% from last year's 4.0/9. Sprint Cup Racing on TNT is averaging a 3.7/9 (5.8 mill) through three races. That's a +9% increase over 2007 which includes the rain delayed race at Pocono. PR


HVM Racing Adds Key Personnel
HVM Racing continues its commitment to be one of the premier teams on the IRL IndyCar circuit.  Doing so, the team announces the restructure and appointment of several key positions.  Kevin Lee, a long time key figure at HVM Racing, has been appointed to Vice President of Operations, Ali Gursoy has been added as Vice President of Marketing and full-service marketing agency, Breaking Limits, has been acquired to lead its public and media relations efforts.

These additions confirm the long-term commitment by HVM Racing to the Indy Racing League and its vision to be one of the premier teams in the IndyCar Series.  HVM Racing currently fields the No. 33 Honda-Dallara entry driven by E.J. Viso.

“These moves are a strong statement about HVM Racing, our commitment to the Series and the direction we are taking,” stated team owner Keith Wiggins.  “We are committed to growing our team in this new arena, as we did in the previous one.  This restructure and additions will immediately help us build a better presence in the IndyCar Series while maintaining our focus of improving performance on the track.”


Silverstone day three - Hamilton the clear leader
McLaren’s on-track preparations for next weekend’s British Grand Prix were given a boost on Thursday as Lewis Hamilton comfortably topped the times in the final day of testing at Silverstone. Hamilton finished well over half a second clear of nearest rival, Toyota's Timo Glock.

Unofficial Thursday times from Silverstone:
1. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, 1:19.170
2. Timo Glock, Toyota, 1:19.815
3. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, 1:20.321
4. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:20.862
5. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:21.011
6. Kazuki Nakajima, Williams, 1:21.059
7. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:21.331
8. Rubens Barrichello, Honda, 1:21.344
9. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:21.432
10. David Coulthard, Red Bull, 1:22.232


Assen Day 1: Stoner on top
MotoGP riders made a solid start to this week’s Dutch TT at Assen today in sunny but blustery conditions.  Casey Stoner was fastest on his Ducati.

Today's Times
1. 1 C. STONER AUS Ducati Marlboro Team 1'36.087
2 V. ROSSI ITA Fiat Yamaha Team + 0.732
3 C. EDWARDS USA Tech 3 Yamaha + 0.844
4 N. HAYDEN USA Repsol Honda Team + 0.925
5 A. DE ANGELIS RSM San Carlo Honda Gresini + 1.039
6 S. NAKANO JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini + 1.050
7 R. DE PUNIET FRA LCR Honda MotoGP + 1.100
8 J. HOPKINS USA Kawasaki Racing Team + 1.164
9 D. PEDROSA SPA Repsol Honda Team + 1.193
10 C. VERMEULEN AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP + 1.195
11 A. DOVIZIOSO ITA JiR Team Scot MotoGP + 1.239
12 S. GUINTOLI FRA Alice Team + 1.270
13 J. TOSELAND GBR Tech 3 Yamaha + 1.751
14 J. LORENZO SPA Fiat Yamaha Team + 1.873
15 A. WEST AUS Kawasaki Racing Team + 2.326
16 T. ELIAS SPA Alice Team + 2.569
17 L. CAPIROSSI ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP + 2.580
18 M. MELANDRI ITA Ducati Marlboro Team + 3.127


What they are saying about ALMS Green Challenge
On Wednesday, the American Le Mans Series announced the competition rules and regulations for its Green Challenge™ that will debut at Road Atlanta on Oct. 4 for Petit Le Mans. The Green Challenge™ has been developed in association with the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and SAE International, formerly known as the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

Representatives from these entities along with those from Argonne National Laboratory and the American Le Mans Series collectively have spent thousands of hours developing the formula for its race car competitors to win the Green Challenge™. That formula involves more than 30 pieces of data and measurements. The criteria measures race car performance, fuel efficiency and environmental impact using a formula that ranks each car by the amount of energy used, greenhouse gasses emitted and petroleum displaced.

So what do energy, automotive and motorsport leaders think of the Green Challenge™? They share their reactions below.

“Automobile racing spurs innovation in safety, performance and now, we are happy to say, clean technologies. Racing is the ultimate test track. If clean efficient technologies can survive the extreme driving of the American Le Mans Series, then they can certainly work for the morning commute. The American Le Mans Series Green Challenge™ is a pioneering effort to help move green technology from the track to the street.”
- Margo T. Oge, Director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality, United States Environmental Protection Agency

“Motorsports has always enjoyed the distinction of being at the forefront of advanced automotive engineering and has been a primary catalyst for moving new technologies to the showroom floor. The leadership role the American Le Mans Series has taken by embracing open and diverse alternative fuel technology platforms has not only set the bar for automotive racing, but it has helped redefine the future of the transportation sector.”
- Andy Karsner, Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, United States Department of Energy

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BMW Sauber restructures F1 team UPDATE (GMM)  Willy Rampf will scale down his role at the BMW-Sauber team, the German squad announced in a media statement on Thursday.

The 55-year-old has been technical director at the Hinwil based team, which was taken over by BMW at the end of 2005, since 2000.

His new role, to begin on 1 November this year, is to be called technical coordinator, and he will still be responsible for vehicle concept and for leading the technical team at the grands prix.

Some other responsibilities, however, will pass to existing managing director Walter Riedl, 48, including development of the 2009 car.

"The change has come about at the express wish of Willy Rampf, who has been keen to reduce his work schedule," the statement explained.

Press Release

The BMW Sauber F1 Team is restructuring the management of its technical department. Willy Rampf (55), currently Technical Director, will take up the post of Technical Coordinator on 1st November 2008. Rampf will continue to be responsible for the vehicle concept and lead the team at the race track in his new role. However, responsibility for business operations and line management will pass to Walter Riedl (48), who already heads up operations at the Hinwil plant and overall project management in his capacity as Managing Director. Riedl will also retain these functions.

The change has come about at the express wish of Willy Rampf, who has been keen to reduce his work schedule: "I have been Technical Director since April 2000, initially at Sauber, and now for the BMW Sauber F1 Team. It has been an extremely enjoyable but also very intense phase of my life. The idea of cutting back professionally has been growing in my mind for some time already. I discussed the subject with Mario Theissen and we have found a solution together. I'm looking forward to focusing on my original technical responsibilities again and am in no doubt that we can continue to build on our success."

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen added: "I can totally understand that Willy Rampf wants to cut down on his workload. I'm pleased that we have found an internal solution with the new structure, one which fits in with the philosophy of the team. All responsibilities will continue to lie in the hands of experienced managers who have played a key role throughout the development phase of the young team. At the same time, the team will continue to benefit from Willy's expertise and great experience. His contribution to the team - both before and after BMW acquired a majority stake - deserves the utmost respect. His record is extremely impressive, and our one-two victory in Montreal represents the crowning moment of his time with us so far."

Walter Riedl will take over responsibility for the BMW Sauber F1.09 development process with immediate effect, while Rampf will continue to look after the further development of the BMW Sauber F1.08. As Riedl explains: "I have already been working very closely and very effectively with Willy Rampf, and this cooperation will now reach another new level. The new structure guarantees continuity and ensures that the BMW Sauber F1 Team is in good shape for the future."

Riedl joined BMW as a development engineer in 1983 and has worked in a leading position in Formula One for nine years. Since 1999 he has been the responsible manager for the BMW Formula One project. Riedl took over the management of the Hinwil factory on 1st January 2006 following the company's decision to acquire a majority stake in Sauber. He has also been responsible for project management across both locations since the summer of 2005.

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Promoter to see French GP alternatives for '10
(GMM)  The French grand prix promoter on Thursday acknowledged the formula one race is likely to move away from Magny-Cours in 2010.

The French motor racing federation, FFSA, confirmed in a statement the event will be held next June at Magny-Cours, following weeks of speculation about the future of the unpopular venue in the central countryside location.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, however, is keen to see the French GP move to Paris, but venues including Le Mans and historic Rouen have also reportedly expressed interest in hosting the race in future.

Following a meeting on Thursday, the statement said: "The FFSA expressed its wish to see the sites interested in hosting the French grand prix from 2010 onwards presented at its ... meeting in October."

The FFSA added that Magny-Cours, which has committed to improving the venue, was also a "potential candidate" to keep the race beyond 2009.


Goldman Sacks tells shareholders to sell
GM, the largest U.S. automaker, was cut to ``sell'' at Goldman, Sachs & Co., saying the shares will continue to slide on a worsening sales outlook. GM fell as much as 11 percent in New York trading. Soaring gas prices, falling consumer confidence and tighter credit conditions will weigh on auto-industry profits, Goldman wrote in a report today. GM, which had been rated ``neutral,'' may need to raise money and cut its dividend as its cash flow deteriorates, the analysts wrote.

The automaker's U.S. sales tumbled 16 percent this year through May as consumer preferences shifted to cars and smaller sport-utility vehicles. GM has cut truck production and announced plans to close factories. Bloomberg


McLaren reveals truth behind Kovalainen crash
Heikki Kovalainen
(GMM)  A meticulous joint investigation into the cause of Heikki Kovalainen's Barcelona crash has finally got to the bottom of why the McLaren driver was pitched into the barriers during the Spanish grand prix.

It was originally speculated that the Finn's accident was caused by a sudden, catastrophic, structural failing of the left-front wheel rim.

McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh later added that, based on initial trackside evidence and speculation, stones or debris coming into contact with the wheel could have triggered the structural damage.

At the same time, an exhaustive investigation, in collaboration with wheel supplier Enkei and the FIA technical team, was launched.

"The investigation not only involved thorough scrutiny of the telemetry data and a microscopic analysis of the surviving components, but also a simulated reconstruction of the event back at the McLaren Technology Centre," Whitmarsh said at the Silverstone test this week.

He explained that the investigation showed that a central area of the rim had been left unmasked before being sprayed with lacquer -- a common practice to improve the efficiency and longevity of components.

The resulting lacquered surface significantly reduced lock-hold on the wheel rim.

This meant that the wheel and axle on Kovalainen's MP4-23 began to move apart under high cornering loads, leading to rubbing against the brake drum, fatigue, and a failure of the rim's inner lip.


Gas prices fuel drop in car owner satisfaction
Drivers of new cars were less satisfied with their vehicles this year for the first time in at least five years due mainly to rising fuel prices, according to an annual survey released Thursday.

The survey by the J.D. Power and Associates marketing and consulting company saw the industry average drop by two points to 770 this year from 772 in 2007. The survey measures owner satisfaction with the design, layout and performance of new vehicles.

It was the first drop in at least five years, said Neal Oddes, J.D. Power's director of product research and analysis. Gas prices rose 27 percent in the period between the 2007 and 2008 surveys, he said, but the latest survey found that fuel economy stayed the same at an average of 21 miles per gallon.

"The fuel economy hasn't improved from last year to this year," Oddes said. "You just haven't seen that movement."

British F3

British F3 Title Chase Still Wide Open at Mid Season Point
With ten races completed the half way point of the British F3 season is upon the teams and drivers as they head to the Hampshire circuit of Thruxton for Rounds 11 and 12 on Sunday 28 June.  After two seasons of runaway winners - Mike Conway in 2006 and Marko Asmer in 2007 - picking a favorite to become this year’s champion is about as easy as predicting this week’s National Lottery numbers. 

Nobody could call the British F3 International Series boring and predictable this year, with plenty of on track action to keep the fans entertained and a championship battle that is still wide open. Of the top ten drivers in the title race, seven have won at least once and the top two drivers, Spain’s Jaime Alguersuari and Mexico’s Sergio Perez, are separated by just one point.

British F3 history was made at Snetterton last time out when Ireland’s Michael Devaney took the first Formula 3 pole position for French chassis manufacturer Mygale and the Ultimate Motorsport team.  Not only did Devaney go on to convert this pole position into the first win, he then rounded off the perfect weekend with another win in Round 10 from 4th on the grid.  The Mygale has shone on long, fast circuits and the Ultimate Motorsport team are confident of another strong display on the UK’s fastest road course circuit at Thruxton.

Red Bull driver Jaime Alguersuari heads to Thruxton as the championship leader.  Four podiums in the last four races, coupled with a race win at Oulton Park in April, have marked the 18-year-old as a driver to watch in his debut Formula 3 season where consistent points scoring could be the key to lifting the British F3 title.

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Coulthard set for RoC
David Coulthard
David Coulthard is again expected to lead the Scottish team in this year's Race of Champions at Wembley Stadium.

The Red Bull driver, who partnered former British Rally champ Alister McRae in the high-speed event which takes place on a custom-built 2000-tonne circuit laid over the Wembley grass, is already looking forward to the event.

"Last year was sensational, so it's terrific news that it will be back at Wembley again," Coulthard said. "Hopefully, if my scheduling works out, I'll be back leading the Scottish challenge."


Big update at the Italian GP - Rampf
The BMW Sauber F1 Team will only be making detailed improvements to be F1.08 before the end of the season. However, the Technical Director of the Hinwil-based team, Willy Rampf, promises a "big update at the Italian Grand Prix".

The BMW Sauber F1 Team has already achieved its goal for the 2008 season. The team from Munich and Hinwil not only celebrated the first victory in its short history - Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld even achieved a one-two.

This has given the BMW Sauber F1 Team immense confidence in the F1.08, which has so far been consistently successful and reliable. "We don't have any major modifications planned, but will continue to concentrate on optimizing details", says Rampf. "Of course, there will be new turning vanes, or new wings for the engine cover, but certainly no redesigned car."

Visible changes will be made to the BMW Sauber F1.08 for one Grand Prix. "There will certainly be a big update, which will also be visible, for Monza," announces Rampf. "That is a circuit with low downforce."

The Monza circuit is known as the fastest track in Formula One. It is common for top speeds to reach over 350 km/h. Nick and Robert will race in the Italian Grand Prix at the "Autodromo Nazionale di Monza" on 14th September.  Source BMW Sauber  [Note: All teams come out with big updates for the Italian GP each year due to the high-speed nature of Monza.]


FIA postpones 150 per cent entry fee increase
Formula One’s governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), has postponed the proposed 150 per cent increase in entry fees for next year.

Teams will now pay €309,000 (£240,000) to compete in 2009, which includes a small increase to cover inflation.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the FIA World Council in Paris, which also saw the FIA announce plans to review the governance of the sport. The latter has been seen by critics as a provocative move by FIA President, Max Mosley, to weaken the hold on F1 of Bernie Ecclestone and his fellow commercial-rights holders.

In 2009, the number of races will increase to 19, with the season concluding at the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November. The British Grand Prix is being brought forward to June 21 and will therefore not coincide with the Wimbledon men's final.


Q and A with Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton
McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton didn’t have an easy time at all in the recent French grand Prix where not only was he forced to endure a ten place grid demotion for his role in a pitlane accident in Canada, but just as he was working his way through the field, he was handed a drive through penalty for gaining an advantage after going off track just moments after passing the Toro Rosso of Sebastien Vettel.

Finishing tenth, the young Brit has tried to put the past two races behind him and move forward to the next round, his home grand prix at Silverstone. In the lead up to the event, he will join the team this morning for the final day of their scheduled testing session at the same circuit and has given the following interview to the team’s official website…

What does it mean to a British driver to have a sellout crowd for your home Grand Prix?
"First of all, last year at Silverstone was my first Formula 1 Grand Prix and the amount of support I had was incredible. I hope there is even more people there this year to support me and to support David and Jenson as well. There really isn't more of a satisfying feeling - knowing that you’re racing in your home country and knowing that you have the support of your country - it gives you a few extra tenths of a second, just with confidence, so I’m really thankful for the support I will hopefully be getting.

Now, of all the races and Championships you’ve won, what would it mean to you winning the Santander British Grand Prix at Silverstone..
Winning the Santander British Grand Prix, I think would definitely be the highlight of my career. Winning a home grand prix, in front of your home crowd, knowing that there’s so many people watching...the sort of roar that I got from qualifying last year was incredible and making people happy, making the team happy, doing it in our own country would be an immense feeling.

Qualifying of course is electric and you electrified everybody last year when you stunned the opposition and the crowd by that superb last gasp poll position. Tell us about that moment and then the atmosphere afterwards.
I think my pole position last year was slightly unexpected. It was one of those last minute things and split second decisions - you push so hard and the car was all over the place, I was just almost rallying it round the corners, and I could feel it, “ it’s going to be the lap, it’s going to be the lap “ and I came across the line and I remember the guys came on the radio “ Pole position " and I could see the people jumping and waving the flag..and it’s definitely different to when you’re in another country, you know you might see one or two flags and instead here we had all of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes flags flying and you had the British flag everywhere and you knew “yeah – this is where we’re supposed to be “ and when I say “we’re “ I mean us and all the fans.

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Chrysler and GM ratings downgraded
"Cost-reduction efforts have been aggressive but have simply not been able to keep up with the pace of declining sales volumes," the firm said.

Chrysler has announced plans to eliminate as many as 25,000 employees and to cut four products but U.S. sales have fallen in the past few months to levels even lower than the automaker had forecast.

"Chrysler's liquidity remains adequate for the short term, but could reach minimum required levels in late 2009 if the market remains flat with 2008 levels," according to Fitch.

Fitch downgraded its credit rating on Chrysler to B-minus from B. The rating outlook is negative.

Chrysler has consistently said its finances are on target. "Despite the challenges, we are meeting or exceeding our financial targets," Ron Kolka, Chrysler chief financial officer, told workers in an e-mail Tuesday.

In the week, other credit ratings agencies warned that the Detroit Three all could see further downgrades.

Also on Wednesday, Fitch downgraded its rating to B- from B for General Motors Corp.

"The downgrade results from weak economic conditions, the dramatic shift to fuel efficient vehicles and the resulting cash drains at GM that are expected to persist at least through 2009," the firm said. Detroit Free Press


Women arrested 22 times in 45 days for speeding
A 24-year-old woman who was clocked speeding by Loop 101 photo enforcement cameras 22 times in less than two months was arrested and placed in jail.

Jennifer Bitton, of Las Vegas, described by authorities as a "habitual speeder," was arrested by Department of Public Safety officers at her parents' home in north Scottsdale on Friday and booked into the Scottsdale City Jail on suspicion of two counts of criminal speeding, reckless driving and one count of endangerment, DPS announced Tuesday.

Bitton told officers she "didn't know cameras were there." She was flashed 22 times in a 45-day period beginning in mid-May. The fastest speed she was clocked at in her Ford Mustang was 92 mph, according to the agency.

If convicted of the criminal speeding, Bitton would face mandatory jail time and have to pay several thousand dollars in fines for all the tickets, according to Bart Graves, spokesman for DPS.

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No Sponsor for Robby Gordon at New Hampshire
Robby Gordon and the #7 Dodge will be sporting the "back in black" paint scheme once again this weekend. Primary sponsorship opportunities are still available for this weekend's race, and interested parties should contact the team via robbygordon.com. RGM PR


France To Deliver Keynote Speech
Brian France, NASCAR's Chairman and CEO, will serve as the keynote speaker Thursday afternoon at the annual Associated Press Sports Editor (APSE) National Convention, at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in Minneapolis, Minn. France accepted an invitation from APSE President Mike Fannin of the Kansas City Star, 10 years after his late father, Bill France, spoke to the same organization’s national convention in Richmond, Va. Topics France plans to address include the changing landscape of the newspaper business, with special emphasis on the move toward increased online coverage – and the NASCAR-related content available to assist that coverage. Fannin, meanwhile, cited the evolving NASCAR landscape as a reason for inviting France. “We had Brian’s dad speak in 1998 and a lot has changed in NASCAR since then,” Fannin said. “And yet, the France family is still making auto racing ‘go’ in America. We wanted to hear from the man who’s taking the sport into new places and adapting it for the 21st-century marketplace.” NASCAR PR


F1 debt still hangs over Wilson's head
His desire to buy a ride in F1 in 2003 has left Wilson with debt hanging over his head ever since
Back when Justin Wilson wanted to race in F1 he and his manager Jonathan Palmer tried coming up with a way to raise the $2.5M the British racer needed to buy an F1 ride, so they took on investors in Justin Wilson.

Wilson isn't expected to pay off the debt that has hung over his head since.  The shares invested in "Justin Wilson PLC," Wilson's investment company, increase their value based on his performances, prize money and endorsements. He was limited to personal income of 50,000 pounds in 2003 (an amount worth $98,500 today), 75,000 pounds in 2004 and 100,000 pounds in 2005. Once investors receive double their investment, they are collectively entitled to 10 percent of Wilson's income until 2012.

"We're still under that process in collecting the money until it's all paid back," Wilson said.


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Unhurt Fisi goes to hospital after crash
  • Rosberg to drive Williams in Moscow
  • Bahrain has GP contract through 2016
  • Indy not giving up on reinstating US GP
  • F1 'war' intensified in Paris - press
  • Gap to top teams too big for title - Kubica
  • Press doubts FIA's bargain numbers for F2

Unhurt Fisi goes to hospital after crash
(GMM)  Giancarlo Fisichella was taken to hospital on Wednesday following a high speed crash during pre-British grand prix testing at the Silverstone circuit.

The Force India driver, testing the locally based team's upgrades for the 2008 car, ran wide in the high speed Becketts complex just before lunch in the gusting Northamptonshire winds.

His VJM01 "suffered extensive damage" in the hit against the barriers and could not be repaired in time to run again, a statement issued by the team said.

Fisichella, one of the most experienced race drivers in formula one, was not injured but he was taken to hospital for precautionary checks, Force India also confirmed.

"Unfortunately some of the new components were damaged," technical boss Mike Gascoyne said.

Fisichella added: "I wasn't hurt at all, but I did not take my hands off the wheel and they had to do some checks to make sure my wrist was ok."

The three day Silverstone test concludes on Thursday.

Rosberg to drive Williams in Moscow
(GMM)  The British team Williams has signed on to the formula one car demonstration to take place in Moscow next month.

We reported recently that the prospect of a grand prix in Russia increased amid news that the demonstration would take place around the famous Red Square and in the shadow of the Kremlin.

It has now emerged that Nico Rosberg will drive his Williams for the privately-organized event to be called Moscow City Racing, on the weekend between the forthcoming British and German grands prix.

"There is clearly a massive appetite for formula one in Russia, and it is great to be contributing to spreading the sport's popularity," German born Rosberg, 22, said.

Team boss Sir Frank Williams will also attend.

"This will be our first visit as a team to Russia, a country of great interest to us," he said.

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tv news

Iowa Indy Lights race to be televised
The Jen-Weld 100 Firestone Indy Lights race run at the Iowa Speedway on June 22 will be shown on Thursday, June 26.  Pole sitter Arie Luyendyk Jr. and winner Dillon Battistini put on quite a show in the 115-lap race on the tri-oval.  The program airs at 5:30 pm - 6:00 pm ET on ESPN2.


Abu Dhabi happy with 2009 F1 date
At yesterday’s World Motor Sport Council Meeting in Paris, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) announced the provisional date of 15 November 2009 – the last race of the season - has been set for the 2009 Formula 1™ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. This provisional date will be confirmed once the final 2009 F1 World Championship race calendar is released in the coming months.

In response to the announcement, His Excellency Khaldoon Al Mubarak, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Motor Sport Management (ADMM) and Chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority (EAA) said: “This is another important milestone for the 2009 Formula 1™ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. There has been a great deal of speculation about the timing of our race and we are delighted with the provisional date of 15 November 2009 as this is the last race of the season and potentially the Championship decider. This timing also ensures that visitors to the Emirate will be able to enjoy some of the best weather Abu Dhabi has to offer.”

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PCM team to skip Richmond too
The Visit Mexico City/Pacific Coast Motorsports IndyCar team will also skip this weekend's Richmond IndyCar race and return to action at Watkins Glen next weekend, with driver Mario Dominguez.  The team is currently working from their Oxnard, California headquarters and took some time off from IndyCar competition to strengthen their effort.  Veterans of Champ Car and Sports Cars, PCM looks forward to their return to road courses. The historic Watkins Glen track is familiar to PCM; they raced there while competing in the Rolex Grand Am Series in 2006.


More on ALMS Green Challenge - Energy Calculations


Energy Used

Performance Efficiency Coefficient:

PEC = Total normalized observed fuel consumed during race divided by 1 million

Total BTU’s consumed

PEC = 1,000,000

Observed fuel consumed: Total fuel added at each pit stop + final stint fuel

Final stint fuel: Observed fuel consumption rate X distance after last stop

(Energy value and composition of each fuel used in the American Le Mans Series is verified by Argonne National Laboratory)

GHG Emitted

Greenhouse Gas Coefficient:

GGC = 3X (Upstream CO2 + Downstream CO2)

Upstream CO2 = Total energy consumed X GREET upstream factor

Downstream CO2 = Total energy consumed X Carbon in the fuel used

Petroleum Fuels Displaced

Petroleum Displacement Coefficient:

PDC = Y x (Upstream petroleum energy + Downstream petroleum energy)

(Wheel to Tank – WTT) (Tank to Wheels – TTW)

"Y" to be determined

Upstream petroleum energy = % of each fuel type used X GREET factors.

Downstream petroleum energy = Total energy consumed X% of petroleum in type of fuel used (see factors below)

Shell GTL = 95% IMSA E10 = 91% IMSA E85R = 34% 

(All upstream factors taken from the GREET model supplied by Argonne National Laboratory)

All formulas subject to adjustment

The following is a hypothetical calculation of the criteria used for winning the Green Challenge™:

WTW (Well-to-Wheel) WTW Efficiency

GHGs (Greenhouse Gases) Petroleum Quotient Score

Car A 0.268 2.596 2.587 5.451

Car B 0.412 3.990 3.977 8.379

Car C 0.417 3.768 4.331 8.516

Car D 0.432 4.187 4.173 8.792

The above calculation is the result of more than 30 separate pieces of data being gathered to create performance adjusted scores for well-to-wheel greenhouse gases, well-to-wheel petroleum usage and an efficiency quotient in order to achieve a final score

Because Car A has the lowest score of the race, it will have the equal number of race winning points (20, 25 or 30, depending on race distance) deducted from its season-beginning maximum (i.e. - 250 points in 2008).

Points for less than 4 hours: 20-16-13-10-8-6-4-3-2-1 (7 races in ’08)

Points for 4 to less than 8 hours: 25-21-18-15-13-11-9-8-7-6 (2 races in ’08)

Points for 8 hours or more: 30-26-23-20-18-16-14-13-12-11 (2 races in ’08)


Addington named Wypall Wipers crew chief for Infineon race
Steve Addington, crew chief of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driven by Kyle Busch, has been named the Wypall Wipers crew chief of the race for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway.

Addington's crew labored throughout the weekend to get Busch a car that he felt was capable of running up front. He took the lead 33 laps into the road-course event and went on to earn his fifth win of the season.

“I had a game plan on when we would pit all along,” said Addington, who brought Busch to pit road twice in the race. 

The Wypall Wipers Crew Chief Challenge is a season-long contest. Following each race, a panel will vote to determine which crew chief demonstrated the most outstanding strategy and leadership during the race. It isn’t necessarily the crew chief that goes to victory lane, but the crew chief that makes the biggest difference for his team.


Volvo slashes 2,000 jobs
Volvo, the car brand, is cutting about 2,000 jobs globally to cope with the weak US dollar, soaring raw material prices, and a sharp downturn in its business in the US.  The carmaker, which Ford Motor owns, announced the cuts on Wednesday as part of a cost reduction program which it said would reduce its overall cost level by SEK4bn (about $660m).  Volvo reported a pre-tax loss of $151m in the first quarter of this year, compared with a profit of $94m a year ago, and its revenue was $4.2bn, down from $4.6bn in 2007.


Kubica fears BMW falling behind
Robert Kubica fears BMW are losing touch with Ferrari and McLaren after struggling to keep up with the pace at Magny-Cours and the Pole had to settle for fifth place.

Kubica is worried by the team's lack of progress in recent months.

"I think we have improved less since Australia than everybody else, so that's the reason," he told reporters during testing at Silverstone.

"Also, Renault and Red Bull are closer to us than at the beginning of the season, so we have to find some parts which will give us better handling, better top speed and better pace. If we lose again in the next couple of races, the gap to Ferrari and McLaren... we will never catch them.

"In Australia we were quicker than Ferrari. In Malaysia and Bahrain we were quicker than McLaren. In Barcelona we had already quite a big gap to Ferrari but still keeping close to McLaren.

"And then afterwards, McLaren in some occasions joined Ferrari. Ferrari did improve and it looks like we didn't as much as them. The gap is pretty big and in Magny-Cours it was nearly one second."


Silverstone Day 2: Kovalainen on top
McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen headed Toyota’s Jarno Trulli in the timesheets on Wednesday, as this week’s three-day test session continued. In windy conditions, Kovalainen’s best lap of 1m 20.015s put him almost four-tenths clear of the Italian.

Force India's test day was cut short following a heavy crash for Giancarlo Fisichella just before the lunchtime break.

With high, gusty winds producing inconsistent car handling, the Italian was caught out at Becketts, one of the fastest corners of the circuit, and went into the barriers. His VJM01 suffered extensive damage and could not be repaired in time to run again.

Giancarlo was uninjured in the accident, however was taken to hospital for precautionary checks.  "It's a real shame we couldn't do more running in the afternoon as this morning it was all looking quite good," said Fisichella.  "The car felt quicker even though the balance was not so good because of the high winds. Unfortunately I just got caught out by a change in grip and balance going through Becketts and went off the track and hit the barriers. I wasn't hurt at all, but I did not take my hands off the wheel and they had to do some checks to make sure my wrist was OK."

Jarno Trulli
"Today's main focus was preparation for the British Grand Prix and it was a good day. We managed to do a lot of laps and we learned several useful things. It all went smoothly and we ran without any real issues. There was a lot of gusting wind out there today, which can make direct comparisons difficult. Still, we made some progress with our set-up and aerodynamics program. We are obviously looking to build on our result at last Sunday's French Grand Prix. Now I hope we will be in good shape for another strong race here next week."

Testing continues tomorrow.  Sebastien Bourdais Vettel in the Toro Rosso for tomorrow's final day of the Silverstone test.

More to follow.....

Unofficial Wednesday times from Silverstone:
1. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:20.015
2. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:20.391
3. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:20.624
4. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 1:20.787
5. Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:20.795
6. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:20.982
7. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:21.069
8. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:21.170
9. Jenson Button, Honda, 1:21.445
10. Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India, 1:21.583


ALMS announces Green Challenge rules
It seems only a short time ago that a $60 barrel of oil caused great concern among industry business leaders, politicians and consumers. There are now predictions that $200 a barrel may be likely. Gasoline prices have escalated to all-time highs while automobile sales are decreasing at rates not seen in decades. Combined with higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions, climate change becomes increasingly apparent. While The American Le Mans Series will not portend to have a solution for the escalating price of crude oil, it will profess to have a solution for helping the auto industry - and ultimately consumers.

To further emphasize its commitment to help auto manufacturers find alternative fuel solutions and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the American Le Mans Series in concert with the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and SAE International announced at the North American International Auto Show earlier this year that it would implement the first ever Green Challenge™ at its signature event - Petit Le Mans, October 4 at Road Atlanta. Officials from those entities will be on hand to present trophies to the winners for that race-within-a-race. In 2009, the Green Challenge™ will include all Series events and culminate in a Green Challenge™ Championship Award made by these three organizations. In recent months, members of the aforementioned entities have comprised the Green Racing Work Group commissioned with the task of creating the rules, regulations and protocols of that competition in which all race cars would participate in a competition measuring three critical criteria:

• Performance
• Fuel Efficiency
• Environmental Impact

“This has been an interesting and challenging process,” said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series. “With four different classes of cars, 14 auto and chassis manufacturers, and three different alternative fuels to take into consideration, a formula of how to create a fair competition with real time analysis and a format that is easy to understand and communicate has been very difficult. It has taken hundreds and hundreds of hours and involved some of the finest technical minds in the automotive and energy industries.”

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A statement on the passing of Scott Kalitta from Kalitta Motorsports
Scott Kalitta was our champion, our hero and our friend. He was a son, a father, a husband, a cousin, a friend, and a racer. He, along with his father, Connie, and cousin, Doug, was a cornerstone of Kalitta Motorsports that cannot be replaced. His passing last Saturday has left not only our team but the entire NHRA drag racing community reeling. The outpouring of support from our competitors, friends, and race fans has been immeasurable and for that we are tremendously grateful.

Scott's legendary career on the race tracks throughout the world proved that he was unequalled as a racer, but his magnanimous personality is his most endearing legacy. He was tough as nails, but with a heart of gold.

Kalitta Motorsports will carry on and continue to race because that's what we do, and we feel certain Scott would want us too, but we obviously will never be the same, nor should we be.

Scott will always be with us in everything we do as a team and as individuals. His spirit shall forever remain indelible and untarnished.

“Having the last name Kalitta didn't make me a racer, but it definitely makes me want to be a winner.” – Scott Kalitta

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Priaulx to drive BMW-Sauber at Brands Hatch
(GMM)  World touring car driver Andy Priaulx will get behind the wheel of BMW-Sauber's formula one car for demonstration laps at his home Brands Hatch round in September.

Priaulx, 33, who has tested F1 cars a couple of times in the past, said: "This is an amazing time for BMW-Sauber and to have the chance to show the fans an F1 car at Brands Hatch is a real treat for me and them.

"The noise will be phenomenal and it promises to be a real spectacle," he added.


France on 2009 calendar, US GP not
(GMM)  As indicated by F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone last weekend, Magny-Cours' endangered spot on the formula one calendar looks safe for 2009.

Ecclestone's revelation was confirmed from two corners on Wednesday; in a media statement issued by the promoting French motor sports federation (FFSA), and by the French grand prix's inclusion on the official provisional F1 calendar, published by the FIA.

"Of course, the (FFSA) general assembly, which will meet tomorrow, will have to confirm this decision, and also determine the future of the French grand prix from 2010 onwards," said FFSA president Nicolas Deschaux.

The provisional calendar, also confirming the arrival of the Abu Dhabi grand prix as the season finale in November, said the 2009 French grand prix will take place on June 28.

Notably missing from the draft schedule of 19 races, however, which was presented to the World Motor Sport Council in Paris by Bernie Ecclestone, is a date for a 2009 US grand prix.


FIA publishes provisional 2009 calendar no USGP
The FIA has published the provisional calendar for the 2009 Formula One season, with the French Grand Prix retaining its place for another year.

However, the United States Grand Prix, which was left off this year's calendar for the first time since 2000, will not make a comeback.

Abu Dhabi will host its first race, with the emirate set to close a season which provisionally comprises 19 races.

With a new harborside street circuit, Abu Dhabi will become the second grand prix in the Middle East after Bahrain on a calendar that otherwise features the same countries as this year.

There are date changes, however, with the British Grand Prix moved one month earlier to June while, after just one season being held in May, the Turkish Grand Prix moves back to August.

Provisional 2009 calendar:
29 March - Australia
5 April - Malaysia
19 April - Bahrain
10 May - Spain
24 May - Monaco
7 June - Canada
21 June - Great Britain
28 June - France
12 July - Germany
26 July - Hungary
9 August - Turkey
23 August - Europe (Valencia)
6 September - Italy
13 September- Belgium
27 September - Singapore
11 October - Japan
18 October - China
1 November - Brazil
15 November - Abu Dhabi

track news

Buddy Rice on Watkins Glen track chat UPDATE A reminder that this live driver chat with Buddy Rice will take place tonight.

06/23/08 Watkins Glen International will continue the live driver chats on the WGI Fan Talk Forum on Wednesday, June 25th and will welcome a winner of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”.  2004 Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Rice will be this week’s featured guest and will be available for fans questions from 7:30 PM – 8:00 PM. 

The live chat is open to all race fans that are registered on the WGI Fan Talk Forum.  All fans will need to do in order to participate is log into the fan forum and click on the link that appears following a successful login.  Not registered yet?  Simply log-on to the WGI Fan Talk Forum (www.TheGlen.com/forum), fill out the registration form and you are ready to post! 

The 30-minute live chats will be held every Wednesday at 7:30 PM leading up to the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen.  Andretti Green Racing driver Tony Kanaan is confirmed for the final live chat on Wednesday, July 2nd. 

Buddy Rice began his career in the IndyCar Series in 2002 and quickly became one of the most consistent drivers in the series.  He won the 2004 Indianapolis 500 from the pole for his first career IndyCar Series victory, and used that result to help finish a career best third in the overall season standings.  Rice has competed in all three IndyCar Series events at The Glen; placing 19th in 2005, 4th in 2006 and 6th in 2007.  This year, he is driving the #15 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Honda Dallara during the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen weekend, July 4-6.

Tickets for the historic 60th Anniversary Season at Watkins Glen International are on-sale now!  The stars of the IndyCar Series will be at The Glen in less than three weeks for the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen, July 4-6.  General admission tickets for Kids 12 and under are FREE during the July 4-6 event weekend when accompanied by an adult. The action will continue with the Centurion Boats at The Glen NASCAR Sprint Cup and Zippo 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series weekend highlights the summer action, August 7-10.  For more tickets and more information, please contact the Watkins Glen International ticket office at 866-461-RACE or log on to the official website www.TheGlen.com.


Wembley keeps Race of Champions
  • Schumacher signs up to take on world's best racers
  • Tickets available for less than £15 if booked before 31 July
  • Family of four can attend for less than £50

The battle to decide the world's fastest motorsport star will take place at Wembley Stadium this December, when The 2008 Race Of Champions returns for its second successive year.

Wembley's pitch will be covered in almost 2,000 tonnes of tarmac to create a purpose-built circuit for the event, which takes place on Sunday 14 December and allows Formula 1 racers to compete against rivals from the worlds of rallying, touring cars, NASCAR and even motorbike racing – all on equal terms, in identical cars, in front of a crowd of thousands.

And, with prices reduced from last year and a further 20% off adult tickets for those who book before 31 July, it now costs as little as £14.40 for a seat at the event. With a 50% discount off the standard price for children aged under 15, a family of four can now watch the event for less than £50.

After being narrowly beaten by DTM Champion Mattias Ekström in last year's Race Of Champions final, seven-times Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher has thrown down the gauntlet to past and present motorsport stars by having signed up to return and fight for the chance to be crowned  "The Champion of Champions".

"The great thing about The Race of Champions is that whether you win or lose it's a lot of fun – all the drivers really enjoy themselves and, because they're so close to the action, the crowd love it too", said Schumacher who, although missing out on the overall title, helped Germany to win The ROC Nations Cup with compatriot F1 racer Sebastian Vettel. The two racers will both return to defend their title in 2008.

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Truex contract negotiations still ongoing with DEI
Martin Truex Jr. was on the weekly NASCAR teleconference and spoke about his contract situation:
Q. Your name has been thrown up a lot in the garage as far as your future goes – can you give us any indication right now what you’re thinking about for the future?

MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Way to start it off. You know, I’m not sure. Right now we’re working hard with DEI to put some things together for next year. Really it’s just a lot of – it’s taken a little bit longer than expected for both of us, both sides - on my side and on DEI’s side. We’re just trying to get through the details. For me, it’s just trying to get comfortable and be comfortable in the position I’m in . what they’re doing and the direction they’re headed for the future, so I can make sure that we can be together for a long time.

Q. What are you looking for as far as comfort? Is it the fact that you want race victories? What else are you looking for?

MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: Well, a lot of things. You know, good direction for the future of a championship. I think obviously there are some things going on with our race cars and other teams that I’m not quite sure what’s happened with them. So just a lot of things here and there. The performance hasn’t been as good as it’s been this year for whatever reason. We’ve had an okay season. We’ve run really well at times and we’ve run not so well at times. So we’ve had a lot of bad luck spread throughout the season, especially the beginning part of the year which has got us in this position right now. We really just need to dig deep for now and try to get a win or two before the Chase starts. We really just need to get some points and try to make the Chase and battle for that championship like we did last year.

Q. Do you have a timetable for that decision?

MARTIN TRUEX, JR.: No. But we’re working on it every day, really, so just as soon as we can get it all ironed out.


NASCAR suspends former BDR truck series crew member
NASCAR officials announced Tuesday that Bill Davis Racing crew member Amanda Mathis has been suspended and placed on probation for an incident during the Craftsman Truck Series race June 14 at Michigan International Speedway.

Mathis, the team’s public relations representative, has been suspended until July 30 and placed on probation for the end of the season. She is no longer employed by BDR.

NASCAR penalized her under Section 12-4-F of the truck series rule book: “any member who participates in fights or altercations in the pits or on the race premises.”

NASCAR said Mathis was involved in a prerace altercation with track security officials.


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Four drivers better than Hamilton - Minardi
  • Spyker struggle hurting Force India - Gascoyne
  • Piquet relieved to feel pressure lift
  • 'Only points' possible at British GP - Alonso
  • Dumping Heidfeld in '08 'not an issue' - boss
  • McLaren witch-hunt rumblings persist

Four drivers better than Hamilton - Minardi
(GMM)  No fewer than four drivers have outclassed Lewis Hamilton so far in 2008, according to former formula one team chief Gian Carlo Minardi.

The Italian told minardi.it that, notwithstanding the McLaren driver's Melbourne and Monaco wins, he believes four of 23-year-old Hamilton's competitors have been more impressive this season.

"Robert Kubica has committed no errors, with his only tally of zero points in Australia with the collision with Nakajima, that was not his fault.

"Without that, he would be far ahead in the championship," Minardi, who at the end of 2000 sold his Faenza based squad to Paul Stoddart, said.

"Another one, certainly, is Fernando Alonso, who even with an uncompetitive machine always shows something.  And, of course, the two Ferrari drivers," he added, referring to championship leader Felipe Massa, and his teammate Kimi Raikkonen.

However, 60-year-old Minardi is reluctant to be too hard on Hamilton, predicting that he will be among the top drivers in the future.

"But at the moment, he is committing very serious errors of inexperience and displays an excess of nervousness.

"Over the next grands prix he must demonstrate his ability to improve in these areas."

Spyker struggle hurting Force India - Gascoyne
(GMM)  The struggling team Force India will unveil a substantial car upgrade during the pre-British grand prix test at Silverstone this week.

Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil are yet to break out of the lowly 'Q1' qualifying segment so far in 2008, as they drive what is essentially the Spyker single seater of last year.

"Where we are now really is a sign of the previous years' lack of investment," technical boss Mike Gascoyne told the Indian publication DNA.

At Silverstone - located just across the road from the team's Northamptonshire base - this week, Force India is testing new bodywork, sidepods, diffuser, front wing, inerter damper and 'shark fin' engine cover.

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