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Hamilton voted 'F1's biggest playboy'
British driver Lewis Hamilton is considered by fans to be the top all-time playboy in formula one, according to a new poll.

Viewers of Nuts TV Sports News were asked to rate drivers from past and present in a variety of categories, including their success with women, their champagne lifestyle and their sense of style.

And Hamilton, 23, came out on top in all three categories, thanks largely to continued speculation linking him to Pussycat Dolls star Nicole Scherzinger.

In the past, the young Briton has also been linked with Naomi Campbell, Danni Minogue and Vivian Burkhardt, a former Miss World runner-up.

However, the same poll revealed that F1 fans still think Hamilton has some work to do in terms of driving before he is on a par with his hero Ayrton Senna and seven-time former champion Michael Schumacher.

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Elliott testing #21 at Nashville; Wood to run Daytona
Wood Brothers Racing is set to test Nashville Superspeedway on Wednesday, July 2nd.  Coming off of a strong performance in Sonoma, the team experienced disappointment last weekend when they did not make the race in New Hampshire.  The #21 team and driver Marcos Ambrose found that the Little Debbie #21 Ford did not respond to any changes that were made and the handling issues persisted during the practice sessions and qualifying on Friday afternoon.  Driver Marcos Ambrose stated that after such a fantastic run at Infineon, not making the race was disheartening. He said, “It’s really disappointing.  I just feel bad for the Wood Brothers.  I’ve had limited experience in the COT and we just didn’t roll off the truck that great and I haven’t had enough experience to really give them direction to tune on it.  I tried as hard as I could there, but it just wasn’t to be.”

Taking a proactive stance, the team and Bill Elliott will be testing a new car at Nashville.  Ford Racing Engineer, Dave Cimba, commented on the team’s goals for the test, “It was time to put that New Hampshire chassis away and start from scratch. We believed that we had fixed previous issues, but it wasn’t the case, new issues would develop, so it’s time to cut it down and start over. The goal of this test is to make things better on the cars week in and week out and to try new ideas that will make performance and handling better overall. Bill Elliott is the best candidate to drive because he’s been in the #21 for most of the season and can give us good feedback for tracks that we race on similar to Nashville Superspeedway. As we test new ideas and find that they work we will incorporate them into the rotation of the fleet of cars that we have built.” The team also plans to step up the testing program for the rest of the season on intermediate tracks where the most improvement is needed. Wood Brothers Racing will head to Daytona International Speedway for July 4th weekend in the patriotic #21 U.S. Air Force Ford Fusion with Jon Wood once again behind the wheel for the Coke Zero 400 on July 5th. Wood Brothers Racing PR


Increased June sales for Audi
Audi of America, Inc. announced today auto sales for the month of June totaling 8,203, an increase of 5.3% from last year’s figures; the brand also experienced a 1.8 percent increase in market share for the month within the luxury segment to reach 7.8%. Audi was the only luxury brand to record a year over year increase in sales.  Audi Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) sales also continued their record-setting trend; compared with last year’s June figures, CPO sales rose to 2,787 units, an increase of 23.6%.

“Audi of America’s strong June sales demonstrate our quality and strong fuel economy offerings,” said Johan de Nysschen, executive vice president, Audi of America. “Consumers looking for style, power and efficiency are continuing to respond positively to Audi’s progressive brand of luxury.”

Nationwide, Audi sales of the A4 jumped 34.3%, demonstrating excitement around the brand, which has seen consistent movement throughout 2008: Audi has reported strong car (sedan and sports car) sales throughout the year, citing high dealer traffic amid rising levels of brand awareness and consideration. In June, Audi posted the greatest ranking improvement in initial quality in the results from J.D. Power and Associates’ 2008 industry-wide study.

To date, Audi has sold 45,023 vehicles in 2008, a 1.5% decrease over the previous year; CPO sales for 2008 total 18,241, an increase of 41.7% over 2007.


Franchitti to be demoted to training series
Dario Franchitti, from Indy 500 and Indy Car champion to obscurity
Dario Franchitti turned his back on Indy Car racing and now he may be on the unemployment line, or worse yet, demoted to the more obscure Nationwide Series. Chip Ganassi Racing officials announced Tuesday the team will shut down the No. 40 Sprint Cup Series entry effective immediately.

The team cited a “lack of sponsorship funding” for cutting back the No. 40 team. Ganassi’s No. 41 driven by Reed Sorenson and the No. 42 driven by Juan Pablo Montoya will remain full time.

“This is a difficult decision for [co-owner] Felix [Sabates] and I that did not come without its share of anguish,” Ganassi said in a news release. “In this tough business environment, continuing to run the car without proper funding has become increasingly difficult.”

Ganassi officials also said they are talking with Franchitti about his future, “which could include running the balance of the 2008 Nationwide season in the No. 40 Fastenal Dodge.” Franchitti has made 10 starts in that series this year, with a best finish of sixth at Las Vegas.

Full Press Release

Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS) announced today that due to a lack of sponsorship funding it will cease operation of the team's #40 Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) Dodge driven by Dario Franchitti beginning this weekend in Daytona. "This is a difficult decision for Felix and I that did not come without its share of anguish," said Team Owner Chip Ganassi.

"In this tough business environment continuing to run the car without proper funding has become increasingly difficult." CGRFS is committed to Franchitti's continued stockcar development and are currently in discussions with him on his racing options with the team which could include running the balance of the 2008 Nationwide season in the #40 Fastenal Dodge.

Currently the #42 Texaco/Havoline/Juicy Fruit Dodge of Juan Pablo Montoya is 21st in owner points while the #41 Target Dodge driven by Reed Sorenson is sitting 31st in the standings. CGRFS PR


Earnhardt to Drive Dale Earnhardt Inc. No. 8 Chevy
For the first time in his career, Kerry Earnhardt, the son of seven-time NASCAR Champion Dale Earnhardt, will drive a Dale Earnhardt Inc. entry in a NASCAR race. 

Earnhardt will pilot the No. 8 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet in the July 4 Daytona 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

“I've won several races with DEI in an ARCA car, but I'm really looking forward to driving a fast car at Daytona under the DEI umbrella,” Earnhardt said.  “I appreciate DEI giving me the opportunity to get back in a car; especially one that I know will be fast and competitive.  I love running the speedways (Daytona and Talladega) and can’t wait for the weekend to get here.”

Earnhardt, who currently works at Dale Earnhardt Inc. as a team liaison, will be making his 70th career start in the series, but only his fifth Nationwide start since 2003. He most recently competed regularly in the Craftsman Truck Series in 2006.

It will be Earnhardt’s ninth career Nationwide Series start at Daytona International Speedway.


Almirola to Pilot No. 8 Car Full Time in 2009
After spending two seasons sharing a car with veteran Mark Martin, 24-year-old Aric Almirola will take over the No. 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chevrolet full time in 2009.

“This is an incredibly exciting opportunity,” said Almirola. “When you get into racing, you always dream of competing at the highest level and I’ve had the chance to do that on a limited basis for the past two seasons.  Now I will have the opportunity to race the car full time and I could not be more excited about driving the No. 8 car each week for Dale Earnhardt Inc.

“This is a really great race team to work with. (Crew Chief) Tony Gibson and these guys have put me in really good race cars this season and they’ve never treated me like a rookie.  They are committed to being competitive every week and I’m really looking forward to working with them on a weekly basis next season.”

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Asian brands outsell Big 3 in May
Asian automakers outsold Detroit's Big Three for the first time in May as the industry continued its dramatic shift toward more fuel-efficient cars.

Helped by a reputation for fuel-sipping models, Asian brands captured 47.8 percent of the U.S. market, while American automakers held just 45.4 percent of their home turf last month.

Exemplifying the landslide toward cars, the Honda Civic supplanted the Ford F-Series pickup as the nation's best-selling vehicle. May was a watershed month," said Jim Farley, Ford Motor Co.'s group vice president for marketing and communications. "We as an industry are catching up with breathtaking choices customers are making."

Last month, 57 percent of all vehicles sold were passenger cars, according to Autodata Corp. A year ago, they accounted for less than 50 percent of the market.

Overall, truck sales continued their nosedive in May, falling 23.6 percent, while cars posted a modest 2.4 percent increase.

The Civic, Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla and Honda Accord all outsold Ford's flagship vehicle last month, marking May as the first month since the early 1990s that a car, not a pickup, was the best selling vehicle in the United States. On an annual basis, the F-series has been the nation's top-selling vehicle since 1981. More at Detroit News


Chrysler sales fall 36%
Chrysler LLC saw its U.S. sales drop 36% in June compared to a year ago, the company announced this afternoon.

The contracting market for pickups and SUVs hurt Chrysler sales, the Auburn Hills automaker said, as did its continued reduction in fleet sales.

“The June results reflect the industry-wide impact of U.S. consumer confidence being at its lowest point since 1992,” Jim Press, a Chrysler president and vice-chairman, said in a statement.

The automaker also announced it will extend its $2.99 gas guarantee incentive program through July 31.

In June, Chrysler sold 117,457 vehicles.

Its car sales were down 49% compared to June 2007; truck sales were down 30% for that time period, according to the company.


Patrick, Dixon earn ESPY nods
IndyCar Series drivers Danica Patrick and Scott Dixon are among the nominees for ESPY awards to be presented July 20 (9 p.m. ET on ESPN).

Patrick, the Andretti Green Racing driver who is fifth in the standings heading into the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen this weekend, is nominated in the Best Female Athlete category along with Lorena Ochoa (LPGA), Candace Parker (WNBA) and Lindsey Vonn (skiing).

Patrick also is nominated in the Best Moment category for her IndyCar Series victory at Twin Ring Motegi in April, when she became the first female to win an IndyCar Series race. Patrick also will be an award presenter at the show, hosted by Justin Timberlake, in Los Angeles.

Dixon, the IndyCar Series points leader, joins Lewis Hamilton (Formula One), Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Dario Franchitti (NASCAR) and Tony Schumacher (NHRA) as nominees for Best Driver. Dixon has three victories this season, including the 92nd Indianapolis 500.

Online voting is open through July 12 at ESPYS.tv. Nominees were announced in 37 categories in which fans will determine the winner.


IRL observations from a NASCAR writer
My bosses require me to spend a few race weekends away from the track so I can catch my breath and rejuvenate the writing juices.

So with the first New Hampshire race off my schedule, my boss told me to go have some fun.

To fulfill the wishes of my boss, I went and had some fun – I hopped in the car, drove about five hours and went to Richmond International Raceway for the IndyCar Series race.

That is where I found out that some drivers must take weekends off, too – 102 of the 300 laps under caution and just 12 of the 26 cars running at the finish! But it was still cool to see those cars whip around the track.

Whenever there was a pass, no matter where in the field, it would force you to hold your breath because if they touched wheels, they were going hard into the fence. Even though there were 102 laps under caution, the race still was just 2 hours, 4 minutes.

A couple of other observations from someone who spends most of his time in the NASCAR garage:

• This is Danica’s series. Around the haulers, Danica Patrick easily had the most fans. At the merchandise trailer, Patrick’s drew by far the most business (OK, so it was an Andretti Green Racing merchandise hauler, but it’s most likely they were there for Danica gear).

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Ford sales down 28%
Ford Motor Co. says its U.S. sales tumbled 27.9 percent in June as high gas prices and a weak economy deepened the trouble facing the company.

The company blames the decline on high gas prices and low consumer confidence that are sending buyers to the sidelines. Ford reports steep drops in sales of pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles.

For the first half of the year, Ford's sales were down 14 percent compared with the year-ago period.

Ford is the first automaker to report sales data Tuesday. Industry analysts expect June to be a dismal month for the industry with sales down double digits from last June.

They also say Toyota Motor Corp. may take the U.S. sales lead from General Motors Corp.


27 drivers entered for Watkins Glen IndyCar race
Car Driver Hometown Entrant
2 A.J. Foyt IV Hockley, Texas Vision Racing
3 Helio Castroneves Sao Paulo, Brazil Team Penske
4 Vitor Meira Brasilia, Brazil Panther Racing
5 Oriol Servia Pals, Catalonia, Spain KV Racing Technology
6 Ryan Briscoe Sydney, Australia Team Penske
7 Danica Patrick Roscoe, Ill. Andretti Green Racing
8 Will Power (R) Toowoomba, Australia KV Racing Technology
9 Scott Dixon Auckland, New Zealand Target Chip Ganassi Racing
10 Dan Wheldon Emberton, England Target Chip Ganassi Racing
11 Tony Kanaan Salvador, Bahia, Brazil Andretti Green Racing
14 Darren Manning North Yorkshire, England A.J. Foyt Enterprises
15 Buddy Rice Phoenix Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
17 Ryan Hunter-Reay Boca Raton, Fla. Rahal Letterman Racing
18 Bruno Junqueira Belo Horizonte, Brazil Dale Coyne Racing
19 Mario Moraes (R) Sao Paulo, Brazil Dale Coyne Racing
20 Ed Carpenter Indianapolis Vision Racing
23 Milka Duno Caracas, Venezuela Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
24 Jay Howard Basildon, England Roth Racing
25 Marty Roth Toronto Roth Racing
26 Marco Andretti Nazareth, Pa. Andretti Green Racing
27 Hideki Mutoh (R) Tokyo Andretti Green Racing
33 E.J. Viso (R) Caracas, Venezuela HVM Racing
34 Jaime Camara (R) Goiania, Brazil Conquest Racing
36 Enrique Bernoldi (R) Curitiva, Brazil Conquest Racing
96 Mario Dominguez (R) Mexico City Pacific Coast Motorsports
02 Justin Wilson (R) Sheffield, England Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
06 Graham Rahal (R) New Albany, Ohio Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing

Racing news
Euro F3

Young American benched due to lack of money
Charlie Kimball was forced to watch the Formula 3 Euro Series races at the Norisring, June 27-29, 2008, from the sidelines due to a budget crisis.  The American’s main source of funding for his racing season comes from the USA. With a sliding economy, a weak dollar internationally and the loss of a significant investor, Kimball was unable to fulfill his financial commitments to the team.  When he realized the problem he faced, he informed the team and worked with them to come to an amicable separation.  The team understands the difficulties faced by a young driver raising the necessary budgets and appreciated the proactive approach that Kimball took to alert them. 

While it was a single investor that was unable to contribute as originally planned, this setback was very much a case of the straw that broke the camel’s back. “This whole year has been very challenging to raise money, especially with the sliding exchange rate,” commented Kimball. “Every meeting I have been in, people have been talking about minimizing costs, uncertainty in the economy and limiting risk until there is some growth again.  That makes it very difficult to secure the significant money involved in racing.”

Prema Team Principal Angelo Rosin commented on the situation, “We're really sorry not to be able to keep lining-up Charlie Kimball in this season's Formula 3 Euro Series- he has proven to have great skills and experience and has already reached positive results. I appreciate his prompt communication of the problem as it happened with his backers.”

Kimball will now focus on securing additional funding and driving opportunities for both the rest of this season and for the future. 

Kimball spoke of the future, “Now I just have to keep pushing as hard as I can on all fronts- financial, driving and my physical training.  I am sure that an exciting opportunity will present itself despite the uncertainty of the situation.  I also want to thank my current sponsors for their current and continued support of my racing- Calavo, Sunkist, the CRS investment group, RentVillas.com, Rocky Mountain Bicycles, and Sparco race wear.”


VW concerns hurt Porsche sales
Porsche SE, maker of the 911 sports car, dropped to the lowest level in 18 months on investor concerns that it may pay too much to buy more Volkswagen AG shares, just as record oil prices squeeze demand for cars.

Porsche fell as much as 7.09 euros, or 7.2 percent, to 90.80 euros in German trading, its biggest drop since Jan. 4 and the lowest level since Dec. 12, 2006. Porsche shares were down 6.5 percent at 1:40 p.m. in Frankfurt, valuing the Stuttgart, Germany-based maker of the 911 sports car at 15.9 billion euros ($25.1 billion).

Investors are asking ``how, when, and for what price'' Porsche will buy more shares of Volkswagen, said Marc-Rene Tonn, a Hamburg-based analyst with M.M. Warburg. Porsche's planned increase of its holding in the Wolfsburg, Germany-based automaker comes amid ``increasing angst'' about the impact of soaring oil prices on demand for cars and with Volkswagen shares ``relatively strong,'' he said.

Volkswagen shares have risen 15 percent this year, while other automakers have fallen. Fiat SpA has dropped 44 percent, PSA Peugeot Citroen is down 37 percent, and Porsche has fallen 33 percent.

Porsche plans to increase its 31 percent stake in VW, Europe's largest carmaker, to more than 50 percent after it receives regulatory clearance. The price of oil reached $143.67 a barrel yesterday.

Volkswagen fell as much as 3.77 euros, or 2.1 percent, to 179.51 euros in Germany trading. Bloomberg.com


GM surprises Wall Street with sales increase
GM today announced June sales results, highlighted by an 8 percent rise in retail car sales and continued strong performance in crossovers. Despite the significant decline of industry market volume and the limited availability of some of GM’s most popular models, GM dealers in the United States delivered 265,937 vehicles in June, down 8 percent (18.5 percent unadjusted). Truck sales declined 6 percent.

“We’re doing all we can to meet customer demand for our popular crossovers and cars, including increasing overtime or adding Saturday shifts at the plants where we build the Malibu, Aura, G6, Enclave, Outlook, Acadia and our full-size vans,” said Mark LaNeve, vice president, GM North America Vehicle Sales, Service and Marketing. “Hybrid demand and availability continues to build, and we’re seeing really positive momentum with the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon 2-mode hybrids. While the truck market continues to be impacted by the sudden rise in fuel prices, our offerings from Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac continue to lead their respective segments in fuel economy and that is a decided advantage for those shopping for those vehicles. We expect our market share performance to be very strong compared with April and May.”

Chevrolet Malibu total sales were up 95 percent with retail sales up 129 percent, Cobalt sales were up 37 percent total and 27 percent retail, HHR was up 39 percent total and 70 percent retail, Equinox was up 64 percent total and 42 percent retail, while Suburban and Tahoe were both up in total sales – 13 and 1 percent respectively.

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'Over-the-top' Hamilton needs a coach - Stewart
(GMM) In a sport of excess, a remarkable "gap" in formula one is the lack of professional driver coaches, according to former triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart.

In the middle of Lewis Hamilton's first performance slump earlier in 2008, the veteran Scot said Hamilton, 23, was struggling because he had effectively gone "from kindergarten to university overnight".

"Even the great Tiger Woods has a man with him," Stewart said.

Speaking at a London event in his role as representative for Williams sponsor RBS on Tuesday, Stewart repeated: "If you think about coaching and communication, that's where I think there is a gap (in formula one).

"Bring in strategy, but bring in strategy where the communication works, where
understanding is clear and then the type of things that have happened can be

He said some of the recent mistakes, like the pitlane pileup that involved Hamilton and also his fellow 23-year-old Nico Rosberg, could have been avoided.

Also referring to Hamilton's mistake during an overtaking move at Magny-Cours last time out, Stewart explained: "Drivers shouldn't go over the top, and I think that has probably taken the world championship lead away from Lewis."


Batman to sponsor Toyota team at Silverstone
The Toyota Formula 1 team will have a special partner at the upcoming British Grand Prix. The team will be backed by Warner Bros. movie 'The Dark Knight' which is the latest batman movie that will be released at the end of this month in cinemas.

The much-anticipated film, which releases in cinemas across the UK on 25 July, is the follow up to the 2005 action hit Batman Begins. The Dark Knight reunites director Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale, who again portrays the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman.

To mark the release of The Dark Knight, Panasonic Toyota Racing will see its livery slightly change. The Dark Knight artwork will feature on the TF108s and the overalls of Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock, as well as the team's motor home.

The Batmobile will even take to the Silverstone track on Thursday evening for a demonstration run alongside the TF108.


New engine for Raikkonen says Domenicali
With the British Grand Prix at the famous Silverstone circuit in sight, the ninth race of the season, we met Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal of the Scuderia Ferrari, for a summary of the first part of this Championship.

Five wins, five Pole Positions and as many fastest race laps, 91 points and leader in the Drivers' and the Constructors' Championship: a record to be proud of.
"That's true. Looking at the numbers we can be satisfied of what we have done until now, but we can't forget that it wasn't all that smooth. We left some important points down the road, because of a lack of reliability or because of mistakes on every level. Our situation in the Championship could be much better. Even during a weekend when our performance was much better than the one of our competitors, we risked to not reaching our goal by a defect of some minor detail. We were able and also lucky to bring home Kimi's car. But this alarm bell has to keep us alert."

The F2008 is very competitive on all the race tracks. Is this a good sign for the rest of the season?
"That's true. Maybe the most comforting point coming from the first eight races of this year is that the car has been competitive on different types of circuits so far. We made a big step forward compared to last year, even on those tracks, which were a bit difficult, such as Monaco and Montreal. We managed to do that because we've worked during the planning and the development of the car ad because we had a different approach in these GPs than we had over the last years, in terms of set up. But we're still disappointed that, despite our efforts, we didn't gain enough in these races. It was either our own fault or because the situations were a bit special."

Which competitor provides more food for thought? McLaren or BMW?
"I have great respect for all of the nine competitors of Ferrari on the track, because I know how much effort they put in their daily work. I think that the fight at the top will involve us and the two teams you just mentioned. McLaren might have something up the sleeve in terms of performance, while BMW has shown some consistency in terms of results. As far as the Drivers' Championship is concerned there are four drivers on the list. And we are glad that two come from our Team. I hear from time to time that it might be difficult to have two drivers fighting against each other and at the same time against the drivers of the other teams. But I don't agree at all. When you work in great harmony and transparency inside the Team and having two drivers, who can fight for the title, I'd say it's a resource and not a handicap."

Silverstone is a traditional race on the Formula 1 race calendar. What is the outlook at Ferrari?
"It's always nice to race in one of the temples of international motorsports. [Silverstone] is a place we are especially connected to. Froilan Gonzalez gained the first win for the Scuderia at a GP on 14th 1951. Obviously we want to add another success, but we know that we've got to do with motivated competitors, who will try everything. Last week we had three very good test days here and we think that we're competitive. To win we have to be humble and keep our feet on the ground. We have to work concentrated and with great attention for detail. If we can manage that, we can add another good result."

Two technical things to end this interview: will there be new things on the car and what will you do with the engine in Raikkonen's car, after what happened at Magny-Cours?
"We did some updates of the aerodynamic and the mechanics, which is part of the development of the F2008: nothing secret, but many small details, which, all together, will contribute to improve the performance. As far as Kimi's engine is concerned and keeping the rules in mind, to avoid a penalty, I think that we will use a new unit to try to reduce the risk."

[Editor's Note: Following the Magny-Cours incident, when the Finn was lucky to finish in second place after an exhaust pipe broke off, Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali said using the same engine at Silverstone would be "ambitious" given its arduous outing in France.

The Magny-Cours engine was due to be carried over to Silverstone, but a change for Silverstone would go unpunished, according to the new 2008 rule allowing one out-of-sequence change per driver.

For Ferrari, using the engine change 'joker' for Raikkonen this weekend may be the most prudent decision, given the likelihood that the overworked Magny-Cours unit might fail -- either giving him a ten-place grid penalty for a problem on Saturday, or putting him out of the race altogether.]


MotoGP secures CBS and NBC broadcasts over summer
Dorna Sports agreed deals with US broadcasters CBS Sports and NBC to broadcast coverage of MotoGP across the United States this summer.

The deal will see three races broadcast on the CBS network, including live coverage of the 2008 Red Bull US Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca broadcast during an hour-long program on July 20. Additionally on CBS Sports, there will be hour-long same-day delayed broadcasts from the Alice Motorrad Grand Prix Deutschland at the Sachsenring, Germany on July 13 and from the Cardion Ab Grand Prix Ceske republiky at Brno, Czech Republic on August 17.

NBC will offer live coverage of the inaugural Red Bull Indianapolis GP from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on September 14. Helping to make the deal possible between the two parties was Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment, who will coordinate production matters with both CBS Sports and NBC and will work as Dorna's US TV ad-sales agent.


Capello replaces Biela at Audi
Dindo Capello
Dindo Capello will return to the American Le Mans Series with the two-time LMP1 champion teaming with fellow Italian Emanuele Pirro at Lime Rock Park for next week’s American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix. The July 12 race will be Capello’s first in the Series since taking P1 honors (and third overall) for Audi at Sebring.

The 44-year-old Capello is just three weeks removed from his third overall victory at Le Mans as he, Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen beat the odds and Peugeot on the French manufacturer’s home turf. Capello also has been a constant force behind the wheel of the diesel-powered R10 TDI; he and Frank Biela (whom Capello replaces) helped debut the car in January 2006 in its first public test at Sebring International Raceway.

It’s easy to find Capello’s name in the Series’ record book - just look toward the front. He has won more overall races (24) and LMP1 rounds (32) than any driver. The latter ranks him second all-time in victories only behind Corvette Racing’s Olivier Beretta.

Capello scored an overall victory at Lime Rock in 2006 as he and McNish retired Audi’s all-conquering R8 in fitting style. The pairing won in LMP1 last year but finished fifth overall. In his last 24 starts, Capello has won 18 times in class.

The defending Champion replaces five-time Le Mans winner and double ALMS Champion Frank Biela whose driver contract with AUDI AG is said to have only included only the races in the 2008 American Le Mans Series prior the Le Mans 24 Hours.  Speculation is that he may retire.


High U.S. gas prices pinch NASCAR fans
Many NASCAR fans think nothing of jumping in their recreational vehicles or pickup trucks and driving 300 miles or more to watch races in places like Talladega, Alabama; Bristol, Tennessee; and Las Vegas.  But rising gasoline prices are forcing them to make tough choices.

"The higher fuel prices have hit them hard," said Roger VanDerSnick of International Speedway Corp, one of two major publicly owned race track companies. "We pull from such a huge geographical area."

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) has been one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, boasting a fan base of about 75 million, second only to the National Football League. It has the biggest stable of corporate sponsors of any U.S. sports league and TV deals worth $4.48 billion that run through 2014.

But its largely blue-collar fan base is feeling the pinch. While several tracks still sell out, others have seen crowds shrink.

VanDerSnick said the average percentage drop in ticket sales at ISC's tracks was in the mid-single digit range, and fan spending on merchandise and concessions has declined similarly.

ISC, which operates race tracks in several states including the home of the Daytona 500 in Florida, competes with Speedway Motorsports. The France family owns 67 percent of ISC's voting stock and also owns NASCAR.

Bad news for tracks is a June government report that showed Americans reduced the number of miles they drove for the sixth straight month in April, resulting in the biggest six-month decline since the oil shock of the 1979-80 Iranian revolution. Reuters

tv news

Motorsports This Week on ESPN and ABC
NASCAR Nationwide Series Live in Prime Time from Daytona on ESPN2

ESPN2 continues its season-long coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series with a live, prime-time telecast of the 250-mile race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway Friday, July 4, beginning at 7 p.m. ET with NASCAR Countdown. The telecast from the 2.5-mile superspeedway also airs in high definition on ESPN2 HD.

Dr. Jerry Punch will be ESPN2's lead announcer, joined in the booth for analysis by 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Dale Jarrett, one of the founding drivers of the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and two-time NASCAR Cup champion crew chief Andy Petree. Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Mike Massaro and Shannon Spake will report from the pits, while two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion crew chief Tim Brewer will report from the ESPN Tech Center.

Allen Bestwick will host NASCAR Countdown with analysis by three-time NASCAR Cup champion crew chief Ray Evernham and Brad Daugherty, a former winning team owner in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, in the ESPN pit studio. NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Mike Wallace, a former winner at Daytona, joins ESPN's coverage team as In-Race Reporter. Wallace will talk to Jarrett on the race's pace laps and during caution periods.

ESPN2 also airs coverage of qualifying for the event at 1 p.m. on Friday, and coverage of final practice on Thursday, July 3, at 5:30 p.m.

Evernham, Said, Smith on NASCAR Now Monday Roundtable

ESPN analyst and three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion crew chief Ray Evernham will appear on the weekly roundtable discussion on NASCAR Now, ESPN2's daily NASCAR news and information show, Monday, July 7, at 5:30 p.m. ET. NASCAR driver Boris Said, also a NASCAR Now analyst, and NASCAR Now lead reporter Marty Smith also join host Allen Bestwick in an hour-long discussion of the latest NASCAR news. 

Half-hour episodes of NASCAR Now air at Tuesday and Wednesday of this week at 6 p.m., and Friday at midnight (late Thursday night). The one-hour weekend edition airs Saturday at 10 a.m. with a preview of that day's NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Daytona International Speedway.

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Panasonic Toyota Racing Prepares for the British Grand Prix
Click image to watch video
Silverstone is the original Formula 1 circuit, the place where the World Championship was born in 1950, but history is just one aspect; for Panasonic Toyota Racing drivers Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock, speed is king.

After Monza, Silverstone is the fastest track on the calendar, with an average speed of almost 230km/h on a flying lap and a top speed of over 300km/h at the end of the long Hangar Straight.

But, unlike Monza, Silverstone is more than just long straights separated by chicanes, and much of the high speed comes in the exhilarating sweeps of the first half of the lap, from the near-flat right-hander at Copse through the breath-taking Becketts complex to the Hangar Straight.

That mixture of speed and skill is a popular one among Formula 1 drivers, as Jarno explains: "Silverstone is one of the older circuits we still have and the characteristic of the circuit is the high-speed corners. Becketts is an old-fashioned series of corners which is exciting for a driver because it is high speed and you really need to find the right line. You basically flow around the corners."

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Rookie Viso is turning heads in first IndyCar season
E.J. Viso has been called reckless, fearless and foolish during his rookie IndyCar season, but the Venezuelan is at a loss when asked to explain his driving style.

"It's me," Viso says. "Somebody else needs to describe me."

Some of the best drivers in the IndyCar Series have had much to say about Viso, and they no longer are using adjectives unsuitable for public consumption.

"He's a fantastic driver," Indianapolis 500 winner and points leader Scott Dixon says. "Him in a decent car would be a threat to everybody."

Or, as Dan Wheldon put it heading into this year's Indy 500: "The craziest (rookie) by far is Viso. Dude, he looks nuts!" Wheldon now says he meant crazy in a good way.

"His car was sideways but he still was keeping his foot (on the accelerator)," Wheldon says. "It was supremely impressive. He's building a reputation for having (lots of guts), and that's good. We need those personalities to keep growing the series."

E.J. Viso gives thumbs up after last year's GP2 accident
Viso started 2008 without oval experience after mastering road courses in Europe's myriad Formula One ladder series such as GP2, where he gained fame flipping over a concrete barrier last year at Magny Cours, France. He was nonchalant recounting a horrific wreck ("Good thing I passed out") that drew nearly 300,000 views on YouTube.

But HVM owner Keith Wiggins says Viso's oval debut March 29 at Homestead-Miami Speedway was daunting for a normally unflappable driver who had expected to run mostly street and road courses in Champ Car this year.

"There were quite a few beads of sweat for 8 at night," Wiggins says. "He's matured a lot."

Viso approaches each track "like a puzzle," and the pieces began to fit April 27 at Kansas Speedway. He started 17th, quickly advanced into the top 10 and kept pace despite angering Scheckter and Patrick, who says Viso "was all over the track," rarely lifting off the throttle.

"Danica, she's never happy, so I don't care," Viso says. "Scheckter was just a racing incident. I'm friends with him and all the other drivers. No problems."

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FIA defends F2 plans amid ridicule
(GMM)  A spokesman for F1's governing body has played down suggestions that its plans to resurrect Formula 2 are a political ploy that is totally unworkable.

Ever since the FIA announced recently that it wanted to establish F2 in 2009 with a per-car budget around 200,000 euros a season, it has been derided by industry insiders.

In the latest issue of the magazine GPWeek, unnamed figures of GP2, the support and feeder series that currently operates alongside grands prix, slammed the F2 proposal.

"It's bullsh*t," said one, ridiculing the claim that any professional racing team could operate a high-tech single seater with such a low budget.

"Even if everyone worked for free and we set ourselves up as a registered charity, the team's travel expenses alone would be more than 200,000 euros," he said.

Another said that, with the tender process only now pending, FIA chiefs led by Max Mosley are "barking mad" if they think there is enough time to organize the series for 2009.

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track news

Gurdjian steps down at Paul Ricard
Philippe Gurdjian
(GMM)  Philippe Gurdjian, president and managing director of the French formula one test circuit Paul Ricard, is stepping down.

Earlier this year, he was drafted in to oversee the development of the Abu Dhabi circuit, which will make its debut on the F1 calendar next year.

He was instrumental in Paul Ricard's complete overhaul at the Le Castellet site since 2001, and also played a key role in the establishment of the Bahrain grand prix in 2004.

"I am reorienting my professional life taking on some of the other challenges that await me," he said.


Kolles says no to van der Garde refund
Giedo van der Garde's backers feel they got screwed by Force India
(GMM)  Force India team boss Colin Kolles has told disgruntled former test driver Giedo van der Garde to make his claim for a $2 million refund in court.

It emerged last month that the Dutch driver, 23, launched legal action against the former Spyker team because he did not do as much test mileage as he had been contractually promised in 2007.

He submitted papers in Holland, but was reportedly told to take the issue to England, where Force India is based.

"This is at least significantly Giedo's fault," Kolles told the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad.

"Several times we have made attempts to settle the matter amicably," Kolles, 41, added, "but every time our proposals were rejected."

Referring to van der Garde's father-in-law and backer Marcel Boekhoorn, Kolles continued: "He only wants his money back and doesn't want to know about a settlement.  Well then, he must go to court in England."

It is understood that the basis of Force India's argument for why van der Garde did not complete his promised 6000 kilometers of testing was the conflicting contract with Super Aguri.

"There was even a claim by Super Aguri against us," Kolles continued, adding that he is not sorry that van der Garde is no longer with the Silverstone based team.

"Simply, he was not good enough, unfortunately," he said.


Scelzi and Troxel disqualified from Norwalk event
Funny Car drivers Gary Scelzi and Melanie Troxel were disqualified from the event after NHRA Tech officials discovered loose ballast in their cars following their qualifying runs in the first session. According to page 74 of the NHRA Rulebook, “any material used for the purpose of racing must be permanently attached to the car’s body or above the rear tires. No liquid or loose ballast permitted. Discovery of loose or disguised ballast will result in the disqualification from the event, regardless of whether infraction occurs during qualifying or eliminations.”


Westphal Hopes "Home Track Advantage" Will Help
Jeff Westphal en route to victory at Buttonwillow in May
Jerry Andersen
The 2008 Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Hankook Tires is finely poised at the halfway stage, but San Carlos, Calif., resident Jeff Westphal hopes to extend his meager one-point advantage over 2006 champion Robert Podlesni as the series heads to his home track, Infineon Raceway, this weekend for a pair of 30-minute races.

"I have had a fair bit of time around this place," says Westphal, 21, who has won several Formula Russell races at the challenging 2.52-mile road course and serves as an instructor both at the Jim Russell Racing Drivers School and the affiliated Audi Driving Experience. "If anything it’s making me work that much harder due to my personal expectations, but I have no doubt that Robert will be very competitive here, so it seems like it is going to require some perfect laps.

"The way the track is, you almost have no time to breathe," Westphal continues. "The only real break is after the Carousel up to Turn Seven, which takes maybe six seconds or so; it’s a challenge that I look forward to immensely. It will be a real test of endurance and consistency for the cars and the drivers."

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track news

Lime Rock paving almost complete
Paving work continues at Lime Rock
Only one week before the race track at Lime Rock Park is re-paved and ready for the American Le Mans Series Grand Prix!

The final layer of asphalt has been applied to the entire “Classic Track” circuit, as well as two of the “Optional Track” corners.  It’s likely that a second round will be necessary for the Optional West Bend as well. 

The track length and course turns have been estimated; the center line of the Optional Course (two of the three corners that were built) is approximately 1.51 miles.  This can be considered a 10-turn circuit. 

In addition, this is the first time in history that Lime Rock Park will have the option of three left hand turns:  The Classic Lefthander through the Esses, the Lefthander on the Optional Uphill and the Lefthander coming out of the Optional West Bend.

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Silverstone is a technical challenge
The challenge of racing at Silverstone has been transformed in recent years by the introduction of V8 engines and ever-increasing levels of downforce. The result is that corners previously requiring downshifts can now be taken with just a lift of the throttle, and indeed the first half of the lap, all the way to Vale, requires very little braking at all.

The engines are therefore under prolonged load with a full throttle percentage of 66% per lap. Corners range from 180 mph sweepers to the long, slow complex at the end of the lap – and the car must also cope with the bumpy surface and capricious, gusting winds.

Downforce levels at Silverstone are medium to high – the same as those used at the last race in Magny-Cours. The downforce is required for the quick corners in the opening part of the lap, and the relatively short straights and short braking zones mean that any deficit in straight-line speed is unlikely to see competitors overtaking you. The lack of heavy braking also means we run some of the smallest brake ducts of the year to optimize aerodynamic performance.

Ride is an important characteristic at Silverstone, where maintaining consistent aerodynamic performance is so critical for performance in the quick corners. The surface is quite bumpy, and nowhere more so than under braking for turn 8, where the uneven surface can unsettle the car. The drivers also tend to drift out onto the curbs exiting the quick corners in order to take the fastest line, which can make the circuit seem bumpier than it is.

We run the car with a forward mechanical balance at this circuit – essentially with a stiff front end and softer rear end. The stiff front gives the car a good change of direction in the high and slow speed corners, while the softer rear end gives better grip under traction, exiting turns 9, 11 and 16 in particular.

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Bridgestone: medium and hard tires for 2008 British GP
Following the Magny Cours race in France, the F1 circus heads to the United Kingdom for the ninth round of the FIA Formula One World Championship where Bridgestone’s hard and medium Potenza tires will tackle the tough turns of the Silverstone circuit. The British Grand Prix marks the half way point in the season and only ten points separate the top four drivers. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa currently leads the standings, with BMW’s Robert Kubica, Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton all in hot pursuit. Each one of these drivers has been at the top of the standings at some point in the season so far, illustrating the close battle with all drivers using Bridgestone tires as the Official Tire Supplier to the FIA Formula One World Championship.

This will be the 59th running of the British Grand Prix, and the 42nd time the event has taken place at the Silverstone track. The circuit is one of the oldest on the calendar and it is characterized by its high-speed layout. Although most of the track is high-speed, there is a slower complex before the main straight, which is a breeding ground for tire graining.

Last year Kimi Raikkonen used a medium/medium/hard tire strategy to win the British Grand Prix by 2.4 seconds from team-mate Felipe Massa. Lewis Hamilton finished third.

Hirohide Hamashima:
“Silverstone is one of the more harsh circuits on the calendar, which is why we bring the hardest compound Potenza tires from our range. It is a tough circuit for tires in the sense of the layout and the track surface, which is one of the more abrasive we use. Graining is always a consideration when coming into the final complex, and tire management of this is an important aspect to getting a good result. Drivers require good stability from their tires to give them confidence through the high-speed turns. Good heat and wear resistance are also desirable here.”

Q: What has been learnt from the latest test in Silverstone?

Hirohide Hamashima:
“The medium compound enabled a faster lap time over one lap, and if conditions are similar for the Grand Prix we would expect this to be the preferred tire for qualifying. The hard compound enabled more consistent performance. However, if teams and drivers are able to manage the graining, the medium compound could be the preferred option in the race. As teams have now tested here so close to the Grand Prix weekend, we should see very close lap times as competitors have a good opportunity to find a good setup and maximize their cars to Silverstone’s requirements.”


We will decide where to set our priorities - Rampf
While the BMW Sauber Formula One Team continues to develop the current F1.08 race by race, the team from Munich and Hinwil is already looking ahead to the 2009 Formula One season and its new regulations.

The premiere of the Kinetic Energy Recovery System KERS, fundamental changes to the aerodynamics and the possible return of slicks are just three of the innovations, for which the BMW Sauber F1 Team must be prepared in the coming Formula One season. So it is no surprise that the team is already very busy working toward 2009.

"In 2009 we will have new regulations, which will herald radical changes. We will constantly be analyzing the development projects, and will decide where to set our priorities," says Willy Rampf, Technical Director of the BMW Sauber F1 Team.

Of course, it is also important to continue developing the impressive BMW Sauber F1.08, and to make it even more competitive. The fact that the team achieved its goal for the season - its maiden race victory - ahead of schedule changes nothing here. The BMW Sauber F1 Team's development team is well prepared for this balancing act.

"We will not be making any fundamental changes to our development plan," explains Rampf. "We will be providing precisely defined capacities for the F1.09. These capacities will, of course, increase throughout the season. There will be gradually less capacity for the F1.08 and more for the F1.09."  BMW Sauber


Randy Moss starting truck team UPDATE Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss is ready to go truckin’.  A source at New Hampshire Motor Speedway told the Herald yesterday that Moss’ NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team, Randy Moss Motorsports, will make its debut on July 19 at Kentucky Speedway. Moss’ truck will be No. 81, the jersey number he wears for the Patriots.

Moss has also purchased a major portion of Morgan Dollar Motorsports, a team currently racing in the truck series.

Moss will make the announcement on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway and is expected to have a prominent Sprint Cup driver race his truck in Sparta, Ky.

The 10-year NFL veteran made the original announcement about his new venture in April.

“I’d like to be able to have our team work with some of the young guys that are working hard to make it up the ladder. But right now, it might make more sense to find a driver with a lot of experience to get us started,” Moss said at the time. Boston Herald

06/12/08 Fresh off a record breaking NFL season, New England Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss announced today the formation of Moss Motorsports, LLC with its intended participation to begin in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Moss anticipates that the team will debut at some point in the second half of the 2008 season and run selected races through the conclusion of the year. The partial schedule is a prelude to a full-time campaign in 2009. Sponsors and manufacturer alignments will be announced at a later date. Moss is a ten year veteran in the National Football League and was a first-round draft pick in the 1998 draft out of Marshall University. He has been a NASCAR fan for several years including sponsorship of a local dirt track program and recently made the decision to get involved with the ownership of a NASCAR team. He is also a Goodwill Ambassador for the Urban Youth Racing School and furthers his youth advocacy while holding the same honor with American Youth Football. A major component of the Moss Motorsports program will be the continued involvement and support of youth programs. "There are a lot of NASCAR fans in the locker room," Moss said. "We've seen a lot of football players get involved - guys like Dan Marino and Troy Aikman to name a couple. I think it's a good fit and gives some of the companies I am already working with an additional outlet. It's a smart move on the marketing side of things but on the personal side of things I think it's going to be a lot of fun." Randy has kick started his efforts by contracting with Integrity Sports Marketing, LLC - a leading motorsports marketing company in NASCAR. "We know it takes time to build a team from the ground up, and we have some good people working with us to get that process started," Moss said. "We are talking to the manufacturers, and we're already evaluating some drivers. Eventually I'd like to be able to have our team work with some of the young guys that are working hard to make it up the ladder, but right now it might make more sense to find a driver with a lot of experience to get us started. But we really don't have anyone in mind. We'll look at who is available and find someone that can help us compete and win as quickly as we can." Moss believes Moss Motorsports will give his current marketing partners another avenue to gain exposure and will open doors for new companies that want to work with him. "The companies I already work with now have a chance to get some exposure to another group of dedicated sports fans," Moss said. "And we'll have an opportunity to build some relationships with an entirely new group of companies as well. We'll have a chance to do some pretty cool things between the football side and the racing side. That's a part of the equation that most of the other teams don't have, so we already have a competitive advantage over them. Once we get everything in place we look forward to competing on the race track too." Integrity Sports Marketing/Moss Motorsports PR


Bob Germain Sr. dies
85 year-old Bob Germain, Sr., well-known Chairman of the Board of Germain Motor Company died peacefully at home while sleeping on Friday. As recently as this week, Bob was active at his office in Germain Lincoln-Mercury of Naples, where he worked every day. For many years he has been the dealership's on-camera spokesman, and was integrally involved in the advertising for his dealerships. In Saturday's Truck Series race at Memphis, the Germain Racing Toyota Tundra teams honored Bob, as the #9 Crocs/Construct Corps and #30 Lumber Liquidators Tundras' carried Bob Germain, Sr. decals and the crew members wore navy and gold ribbons, University of Michigan colors. The #7 GEICO Toyota Camry team will honor Bob at their upcoming race, Friday night at Daytona International Speedway.

A viewing will be held on Monday, June 30th from 6pm-8pm at the Naples Memorial Funeral home at 525 111th Avenue North. The service will be held at the United Methodist Church on Tuesday, July 1st at 1am. For friends and family in Ohio, a reception will be held on Wednesday, July 2nd from 5-9pm at the Columbus Country Club on East Broad Street.

The Germain family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations in Mr. Germain's name be made to The Boys and Girls Club of Naples. Germain Racing PR


IndyCar decision due on NHMS
IndyCar Series racing could return to New Hampshire Motor Speedway next year, Speedway Motorsports Inc. chairman Bruton Smith said yesterday.

“If we’re not running IndyCar here next year, will we do it in (2010)? I doubt it,” Smith said, during a press conference before the running of the Lenox Industrial Tools 301. “We want the IndyCar Series here next year, that’s our goal.”

Jerry Gappens, vice president and general manager at NHMS, said IndyCar officials should have an answer by Wednesday about whether or not the open-wheel circuit will make its return to the Granite State in 2009 after a 10-year hiatus.

IndyCar spokesman John Griffin told the Herald yesterday via e-mail that negotiations are ongoing between the Indiana-based series and SMI.

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Mid-season by the numbers
A look at some statistics at the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights midpoint of the 2008 season.

1: IndyCar Series driver to complete every lap of competition this season (1,886): Dan Wheldon.

3: First-time winners in the IndyCar Series: Danica Patrick, Graham Rahal and Ryan Briscoe.

5: Different winners in seven Firestone Indy Lights events.

6: Different winners in nine IndyCar Series events.

8: Races remaining on the posted IndyCar Series schedule, five of which will be on road/street courses.

9: Races remaining on the 2008 Firestone Indy Lights schedule, six of which will be held on road courses.

15: IndyCar Series drivers who have finished in the top five.

22: Scott Dixon's finishing position at St. Petersburg, his only finish outside of the top four.

27: Firestone Indy Lights cars that started at Indianapolis for the Firestone Freedom 100 – a series record.

28: IndyCar Series cars that started at Texas – largest IndyCar Series field outside of Indianapolis since 2002.

43: Point lead of Scott Dixon after nine races in 2008.

65: Point lead of Dario Franchitti after nine races in 2007.


Howard returns for the Glen
Jay Howard
Jay Howard will return to the cockpit of Roth Racing's No. 24 entry this weekend for the Camping World Grand Prix at the Glen after a five-race absence.

The 2006 Firestone Indy Lights champion last competed at Kansas in April and said he is looking forward to racing again.

“Happy to get back in the car is an understatement,” said Howard, who competed in the first four races of the season with the team. “It’s hard to describe feelings when I’m on the sidelines watching. More than anything, I’m looking at this point forward and not looking at what happened over the last five races. I’m just going to go out and do what I do best and try to get a good result for the team.”

Howard had a high finish of 13th (Kansas, Motegi) and completed the Rookie Orientation Program at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he was replaced behind the wheel by veteran John Andretti for the 92nd Indianapolis 500. Andretti continued in the car for the next four races (all ovals), recording a team-high 11th-place finish at Iowa Speedway on June 22.

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Bad news for Cooper and Goodyear
Stock analysts sure move quickly. Earlier this month, KeyBanc Capital Markets Managing Director Saul Ludwig lowered Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s estimated earnings per share (EPS) for the year to 10 cents.

Cooper "still has to demonstrate its ability to deliver better results in what is a tough environment," Ludwig said at the time.

Less than a month later, Cooper isn't delivering in Ludwig's eyes. New numbers for Cooper include a projected 15 cent loss for 2008. KeyBanc's second-quarter estimate is a loss of 25 cents -- more than double the loss projected earlier.

In addition, the company dropped Cooper's 2009 EPS from 85 cents to 45 cents. But despite the lowered EPS estimates, Keybanc's rating for Cooper remains "Hold."

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British F3

Meyrick wins at Thruxton
Andy Meyrick
Gary Parravani/AutoRacing1
Andy Meyrick extended his lead in the British F3 National Championship this weekend, with a win and a third place at the Thruxton circuit in Hampshire.  The MSA Race Elite driver dominated race one with a lights to flag victory to take his seventh win of the season, and fought his way through the field to take third place in race two, having started at the back of the grid. 

See exclusive AutoRacing1.com photos from the event weekend.

track news

Laguna Seca names new PR head
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca announced today that Jennifer Capasso has taken the position of public relations manager to handle communications efforts at the legendary Monterey Peninsula road course. In her position, Capasso will handle the day-to-day public relations for the facility, while the track’s press officer, Ed Nicholls, will focus his efforts on the five major events.

Capasso brings extensive public relations experience to the position from Hyundai and Honda at their respective agencies.  At Honda, she was the management supervisor and was responsible for a team of account executives and ultimately accountable for managing and coordinating all activities and projects related to Honda’s automotive public relations efforts. While at Hyundai, she was on the team that launched vehicles that broke down the stereotypes about their products and proved that they were every bit as good as their competitors.

“Jennifer’s broad experience both in and outside the industry is a great addition to the public relations team,” said Gill Campbell, CEO/general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “She is a smart, passionate, seasoned professional and this is yet another step in making the track and our events more prominent by delivering not only automotive, but mainstream national media.”

Capasso joins Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca as the organization continues to solidify long-term plans, including the recently announced contract extension to host MotoGP through 2014. Her arrival is in the midst of an exciting 2008 race season which includes the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix (July 18-20), the 35th Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races presented by Toyota (August 15-17), the Corona AMA Superbike Finale (September 27-28), and the Monterey Sports Car Championships (October 17-19).


Hamilton thinks he knows it all
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton says he will not seek out the advice of two past British world champions.

Amid the McLaren driver's current trough, and the negative vibes in the press, Sir Jackie Stewart and Damon Hill in particular have been forthright with their views about how the 23-year-old might deal with the low-point and return to top form.

But despite Stewart and Hill sharing four drivers' titles between them, Hamilton insists that "nobody" is in a position to counsel him.

"I'm in a unique position," the Briton is quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

"Nobody has felt exactly the same things as I've felt.  The only person I really take advice from is my dad."

Hamilton insists that he does not ignore the advice of Stewart and Hill.

"Whenever I speak to Damon or Jackie I do take what they say on board, but I'm not going to go searching them out and ask how I can be world champion.  I want to do it on my own.  I got to where I am on my own, with my family," he said.

Hamilton this week also denied that he is at war with the media.

"I'm not criticizing you," he told reporters in the run-up to this weekend's British grand prix at Silverstone.

"You guys have a job to do and so do I.  That's why I'm always totally open with you.  You were very supportive last year.  You know me -- I don't bullsh*t.

"You help me get my message across.  You help me shine as a normal person to the public.  That's why these people are standing outside waiting to see me."


McLaren backs drivers amid criticism
(GMM)  McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh has backed the Mercedes-powered team's inexperienced driver lineup.

A silver-overalled driver did not grace the podium, let alone win a race, on F1's most recent outings at Montreal and Magny-Cours.

In the same period, Lewis Hamilton, 23, and 26-year-old Heikki Kovalainen, both in their second season as F1 race drivers, received penalties for driving errors, drawing heavy media critique.

"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," Whitmarsh said.


Hamilton and Kovalainen at the weekend both got a chance at the wheel of arguably the most famous F1 car of the 1950s, the Mercedes-Benz W196, at the historic British circuit Brooklands for the 'Double Twelve' motoring festival.  They also demonstrated last year's MP4-22.


Kubica's team criticism 'good' - Peter Sauber
(GMM)  Peter Sauber, the BMW-Sauber team founder, consultant and minor shareholder, has backed Robert Kubica's recent criticism of the German outfit's rate of development in 2008.

Kubica, the on-form Polish race driver, won the recent Canadian grand prix but then declared that Swiss based BMW-Sauber must work harder to close the gap to F1's top teams Ferrari and McLaren.

"Robert wants more.  That is exactly why we took him under contract two and a half years ago," Sauber wrote in his latest column for the Swiss newspaper Blick.

"He was once asked what three things he would take with him to a deserted island, and he answered: a racing car, tires and gas.  This sums him up very well," he added.

"He is focused totally.  His whole life is arranged for success.  Mentally he is terribly strong, demanding an awful lot of himself and those around him.

"That is the wood from which champions are carved," Sauber said.

Peter Sauber said Kubica, 23, was justified to feel disappointed after the Magny-Cours race, where he finished just fifth.

"Robert has more ambitious goals than that," he admitted, "which is pleasing and a good thing."


Norbert Haug: Mixed results so far
Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport

The British Grand Prix marks the end of the first half of the season with a total of 18 races. What is your half-term report?

“It’s mixed. It is clear, that we as a team would have had the opportunity to score more than the current 58 points in the Constructors’ Championship. Twice in eight races we were able to set highlights with Lewis’s victories, in the first race in Melbourne and in the probably most noticed race of the year in Monaco. Everything is still open, before we enter the next 10 races following the first eight.”

Don’t you think that this is wishful thinking and that in the end Vodafone McLaren Mercedes will not struggle?

“I see this differently. If you have scored on average third places and six points in the first eight races you now are top of the ranking. The current leader Felipe Massa experienced two non-scoring rounds in the first two races and came back strongly. Without his own fault, Heikki lost at least as many points as he currently has - caused by a Safety Car period, by his accident in Spain, by starting last instead of fourth in Monaco etc. It is obvious that in the last two races Lewis had the speed to score a lot more than zero points. The first eight races were hard fought and offered best sport with four different winners and four different overall leaders. From our drivers current position in the point standings championships have been won in the past. Consequently we believe in our chance, with a faultless performance we have everything in our own hands.”

What does the Santander Grand Prix mean for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes?

“Silverstone is the first of two consecutive home races. Great Britain as well as Germany are enormously important markets for our title partner Vodafone and for Mercedes-Benz. The race in Silverstone is sold out, which we feel our team and particularly Lewis Hamilton have something to do with. I have great respect for the circuit and for the drivers’ performance at Silverstone. The layout is unique, only in Monza and Spa the average speeds are higher than at Silverstone. Of course, many of our colleagues of McLaren in Woking and Mercedes-Benz HPE in Brixworth, some with their relatives, will be there to keep their fingers crossed for the race team. All of them would certainly prefer a victory even more than a pay rise and everybody in the race team works hard for this chance.”


Q and A with McLaren's 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.”


MotoGP coverage on Eurosport ends for 2009
MotoGP rights-holders Dorna Sports said that coverage of the MotoGP World Championships will no longer be available on Eurosport from the 2009 season, as part of Dorna’s new strategy of working with national network broadcasters around Europe.

Dorna said it wanted to focus first and foremost on free-to-air coverage to bring MotoGP to wider audiences. In the UK, the BBC will enjoy exclusive coverage of MotoGP next year, whilst in Spain and Italy, where MotoGP enjoys long-term agreements with TVE and Mediaset respectively, negotiations are ongoing about extending coverage to more hours during the weekend.

In Germany, a deal has been signed with a privately owned free-to-air channel, giving the commercial network exclusive coverage for three years until 2011. Meanwhile, negotiations are ongoing in France and other major European territories with various mainstream networks; further details will be announced shortly.

Dorna said it would like to thank Eurosport for a partnership which has been of mutual benefit for several years, having helped take MotoGP to new levels of popularity and coverage whilst also offering the pan-European broadcaster impressive viewing figures.

Supercar Series

NASCAR still trying to build brand in Australia UPDATE Dale Earnhardt Jr. plans to make his Australian racing debut in a V8 Supercar at Sydney’s Oran Park this December [2008]. Earnhardt will race a Holden Commodore in V8’s junior feeder category, the Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series, at Oran Park’s curtain-closing Grand Finale before it is torn down to make way for redevelopment. Fujitsu V8 series team boss Scott Loadsman confirmed on Monday he will expand his current one-car team to two cars. He has purchased a Commodore from Paul Morris Motorsport, nicknamed ‘Gidget’. With Loadsman’s existing driver, series leader Steve Owen, more likely to use this newer chassis, Earnhardt is set to drive Owen’s current car. Coincidentally, its nickname is ‘Earnhardt’. Earnhardt first visited Australia at the 2007 V8 Grand Finale at Phillip Island during his end-of-season holiday as a guest of former V8 champ Marcos Ambrose. Morris gave Earnhardt a test in a V8 Supercar ride car at his facility on the Gold Coast, and Earnhardt has since remained in contact with the V8 driver. With the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race being held on November 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Earnhardt will be able to fly to Australia in time for Oran Park on December 4-7. Wheelsmag.com

Marcos Ambrose hosts Dale Earnhardt Jr at the Australian's V8 Super School on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia

12/14/07 Australian NASCAR driver Marcos Ambrose has spent the day with NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr at Ambrose’s V8 Super School on the Gold Coast in Australia today.

Ambrose hosted Earnhardt Jr, who is in Australia on holiday with friends, and gave the American the opportunity to drive one of the school’s 450-horsepower race cars around the V8 Super School’s 2.1-kilometre road course circuit.

Ambrose and Earnhardt Jr shared the track in a Ford and GM-Holden respectively for some laps before speaking with the assembled media contingent.

Ambrose only recently arrived back in Australia after collecting his eighth place championship trophy at the NASCAR Busch Series Awards banquet in Orlando, Florida.

Earnhardt Jr spoke with Ambrose late this season about his impending trip to Australia, taking tips from the Australian regarding his homeland. 

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Audi team ready for back-to-back ALMS races
Audi R10 TDI
After a seven-week break, the American Le Mans Series continues in the middle of July with back-to-back races: At Lime Rock (Connecticut) and Mid-Ohio (Ohio) the world’s fastest sportscar contest two races within eight days on 12 and 19 July.

The Audi R10 TDI celebrates a small anniversary at Lime Rock: The revolutionary diesel sportscar, which just won the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans for a third time in succession, developed by AUDI AG contests its 30th race on the circuit located 110 miles northeast of New York City.

The two cars fielded by Audi Sport North America were brought up to the latest technical specification during the break. A modified bodywork, which has already proven itself in the European based Le Mans Series, is part of the package.

Through its American Le Mans Series program, Audi prepares the diesel offensive on the US market. In the meantime, the low-sulphur content fuel required to run the TDI engines is now available nationwide. Audi launches the world’s cleanest diesel with an ultra-low emission system onto the USA market this year. It meets the world’s most stringent exhaust emission standard – the LEV-II Bin-5 norm, which is law in the US states of California and New York. 

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F1 news briefs: Monday
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton has enjoyed a one-on-one meeting with his personal hero Nelson Mandela as the icon celebrates his 90th birthday in London.

Last week, the McLaren driver attended Mandela's birthday dinner, and then nervously introduced an act at the Hyde Park concert.

British newspapers are now carrying photographs of Hamilton, 23, having a personal audience with the former South African president, and describing the occasion as like "walking in to see the King, to be in front of God".

"I was blown away.  I was left speechless.  I've never been speechless before," he added.


The event drew the ire of Pamplona purists, but 'Bulls' David Coulthard and Sebastien Bourdais have driven their F1 cars through the famous streets of the Spanish town.

They drove their Red Bull and Toro Rosso single seaters respectively at low speeds, chasing herds of red-scarf wearing people, thus simulating the traditional annual 'running of the bulls' on the same streets.


Bruno Senna eager for F1 debut
(GMM)  Bruno Senna has said he will not mind if he begins his formula one career with a smaller team.

The 24-year-old, whose famous late uncle Ayrton Senna won three world championships, currently lies second overall in this season's GP2 standings.

Rumors are beginning to intensify that he is knocking on the door of a 2009 formula one debut; possibly with the team (Toro Rosso) co-owned by his uncle's former teammate and friend, Gerhard Berger, or perhaps even BMW-Sauber.

Senna gave little away to the Cologne newspaper Express.

"I really have no favorite team," he said.

"First I want the GP2 title.  It is hard enough, and still not a guarantee of a good formula one car."

Even so, all previous GP2 champions - Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and Timo Glock - currently race in F1, as do 2005 and 2006 runners-up Heikki Kovalainen and Nelson Piquet.

Even last year's runner-up, Lucas di Grassi, is currently a Renault test driver.

Senna, however, is not counting on immediately finding himself at the wheel of a winning F1 car.

"What happened to Lewis Hamilton was unique," he said.  "I want to take my first step in formula one, and it is just luck about which cockpits are free.

"If I cannot debut with a top team, I will have to first prove myself with a smaller one," he added.


Bourdais trying not to worry about F1 future
Sebastien Bourdais - will he get another chance in F1?
(GMM)  Sebastien Bourdais says he is trying not to worry about his uncertain future on the formula one grid.

The multiple Champ Car title winner, who is 29, joined the grand prix circus only this year, and has often failed to impress as much as his Toro Rosso teammate Sebastian Vettel.

Moreover, the future of his Faenza based employer is very much in doubt, after Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz signaled he is looking to sell his 50 per cent share.

But in interview with ITV, Frenchman Bourdais said he is trying to simply focus on 2008.

"Obviously if you start looking at this then you can get worried, so there are two attitudes to this.

"You can completely disregard it, which is pretty much the approach I choose to adopt -- after all, we've only had eight races so we're not even mid-season yet," he said.

"I can't really say I feel that I've shown what I wanted to show this year so far.

"What happen will happen.  If I get fired because of this or because of that then so be it.

"What's really important for me is that I give my best.  And I am giving my best, even if it's not paying off right now.

"But you can only influence so many parameters, so I will have no regrets, that's for sure.  I'm doing the very best I can, and if it's not enough in some people's opinion then fine."

Bourdais said he hopes he can extend his formula one career into 2009, when the sport switches back to slick tires -- with which he so dominated throughout his American career.

"Right now I'm focused on 2008.  I can only hope I'll be able to show what I can do with a car that has slick tires," he added.

racing news

Quotes of the Week
"What a crazy race - it was like being in a knife fight in a phone booth!"  Justin Wilson, IndyCar driver, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, referring to the crash marred Richmond race

"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." Curt Cavin, Motorsports Journalist, Indianapolis Star

“There was a lot of action, definitely a lot of yellows. We benefited from being in the front, for sure. This was a typical Richmond race, very difficult and very long. At one point I looked and it was Lap 245 and I wondered if it was five laps from the end. It was a tough race.”  When asked about his comments in Victory Lane that he won this race for his son, Tony said: "He was going to be a year old, and if he understands about racing, he was going to say, 'Dad, you suck.'  Now I can say, 'Son, when you were nine months old, I won a race for you.'  Definitely I was worried that he was going to come to understand about racing and that he's going to say like my wife does all the time: 'Why didn't you win?'  I just wanted to win this week." Tony Kanaan, IndyCar driver, Andretti Green Racing, winner of the Richmond race

"The nine cautions set a record for this race at the Richmond International Raceway. Tony Kanaan was the winner, but the best driving might have been done by the pace car. After all, 102 of the 300 laps were driven under caution. In the plus column, that did save considerable fuel. Score one for the IRL over the oil companies." Paul Woods, Motorsports Journalist, Richmond Times-Dispatch

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Montoya penalized for Busch run-in
During the seventh and final caution, Kyle Busch (top, No. 18) and Juan Pablo Montoya (bottom, No. 42) were involved in an incident that cost Montoya two laps for rough driving
Chris McGrath / Getty Images for NASCAR
Juan Pablo Montoya was hit with a two-lap penalty Sunday after he intentionally ran into NASCAR Sprint Cup points leader Kyle Busch during a late caution period at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Montoya spun out Busch, but the move backfired when Busch's car came back across the track and hit Montoya's.

The former open-wheel star, in his second full season in NASCAR, was called to the NASCAR hauler after the race for a talking to, although officials said there would be no further penalties. The penalty dropped Montoya to 32nd place, while Busch finished 25th.

Montoya said after leaving the NASCAR hauler that he was just trying to defend himself.

"On the restart, I got around on the outside of him in turn two and he just went wide like I wasn't even there," he explained. "Then we touched each other and (I) got beside him to the next corner and he starts banging on me like he was trying to wreck me.

"I said, `OK.' I went into the corner and the wreck happened. ... I thought we had a decent car today and I don't appreciate when people race me like that."

Busch said he had no idea what happened.

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Strous wins again at Mt. Tremblant
One day after taking his first career Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda pole position and one year after watching his Condor Motorsports teammate Franck Perera celebrate his first victory at Circuit Mont-Tremblant, Dutchman Junior Strous dominated the Sommet des Legendes en route to his first career Atlantic win.

Driving the No. 6 Shell/HTP/Muermans Group/Red, White & Bluezz entry for Condor Motorsports/Team Holland, Strous led throughout the 30-lap event and his victory was secure when the day’s third and final full-course caution period came out on the final lap of the race. In addition to scoring a bonus point for the pole position and 31 for the victory, Strous earned one more bonus point for turning the race’s fastest lap.

With three of 11 Atlantic races now in the books, Strous has taken over the points lead by seven points, 74-67, over James Hinchcliffe and Markus Niemela. It was also the Dutchman’s second consecutive podium result, following a third-place outing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and helps to erase painful memories of a broken wrist during his rookie Atlantic season last year once and for all.

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JGR tells Busch to slow down
Joe Gibbs Racing put the brakes on some of Kyle Busch 's racing excursions, pulling him out of Saturday's NASCAR Modified race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Busch, who also has raced for Billy Ballew Motorsports in the Craftsman Truck Series and Braun Racing in the Nationwide Series, had planned to drive for Kevin Manion in the New England 100. He ended up watching the biggest race of the modified season from the sidelines.

"Ultimately it's (team president J.D. Gibbs ') decision and I respect that because I'm racing for his company and his dad's company," Busch said.

That didn't keep Busch from driving in two races. His Gibbs Toyota finished third in the Nationwide Series' Camping World RV Sales 200 at New Hampshire. He also drove his own Late Model racer at All-Star Speedway in Epping, N.H., Saturday night.  Augusta Chronicle


Not enough merchandise to buy at IRL races
A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1, As an East coast die-hard Champ Car fan, my buddy and I drove 4 hours to see the Richmond IRL race to try to support the "unified" series and, honestly, to root for the ex-Champ Car drivers.  I went with the intention of buying lots of Graham Rahal merchandise, but alas there was none to be found at the trackside vendors.  I did find two KV Racing shirts (both of which I bought) and a generic McDonald's hat that bore no mention of Justin Wilson.  My question is why haven't the former CCWS teams gotten on the stick and made some more merchandise to sell at the races?  What is future top tier team NHLR's excuse?  I saw many "Danica's First Win" shirts - which occurred after the unification was announced.  (By the way - I did look stunning in my Oriol Servia shirt!) Tim Howell, York, PA

Dear Tim, What comes first, the chicken or the egg?  Do you offer merchandise at the risk of not selling any, or do you increase the driver's popularity first, which in turn helps to sell merchandise?  Try our store page. Our partner, Speedgear, offers a decent amount of IndyCar merchandise.  Mark C.

British F3

Hartley Doubles Up and Leads Home a Carlin 1-2-3
Brendon Hartley added a second win at Thruxton in Round 12 of the 2008 British F3 International Series with a lights to flag victory from pole position.  The New Zealander finished just ahead of Carlin teammate Oliver Turvey, the Racing Steps Foundation backed driver keeping the leader honest for the entire 24-lap race. Jaime Alguersuari finished a great day for the Carlin team in third place.  Steven Guerrero took his first National Class win with a fighting drive to the flag against Jay Bridger and it marks the first win in British F3 for a Columbian since Juan Pablo Montoya.

At the start it was almost a rerun of the first race with Oliver Turvey attacking his pole sitting teammate Brendon Hartley into the Complex for the first time, but the difference this time was the New Zealander held the advantage and covered the racing line.  Behind them Nick Tandy passed Marcus Ericsson for third but unfortunately the two clashed at the Chicane, breaking the front wishbone on the Swedes Dallara and forcing both cars into retirement.

While at the front of the field Hartley was able to maintain a 0.5 second gap to Turvey other drivers were on the move.  Sebastian Hohenthal passed John Martin on lap 3, with Henry Arundel and Philip Major moving up a place on the next lap. 

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Jamie Green wins DTM race at Norisring
DTM weekend at the only street circuit on the calendar. Ralf Schumacher retired with only five laps to go due to a technical problem while running ninth. The Norisring lived up to its reputation. At the only 2.3 kilometers short track, the DTM drivers staged fascinating battles and maneuvers. The key point was the Grundig hairpin, which was the scene for almost all the exciting situations in the race. Green won the battle at the start from Spengler and took the lead. He managed to withstand the pressure from his rivals and thus went on to score the 145th race win for Mercedes-Benz in the DTM and the sixth win in a row for the brand from Stuttgart at the Norisring. There was only one frightening moment during Green’s second pit stop, when the tank can got stuck on his car, but then fell off in the next corner. Up to lap 21, another Mercedes-Benz driver completed the top three.

However, Scot Paul di Resta spun and had to let Audi drivers, Tom Kristensen (DK), Mattias Ekström (S) and Scheider as well as Gary Paffett (GB) with the AMG Mercedes C-Class through. During the race, reigning champion Ekström and points leader Scheider moved up into third and fourth place. Scheider put the pressure up and forced Ekström into a driver’s error on the final lap. Then, he crossed the line in third place, retaining the lead in the points’ standings. The Mercedes-Benz trio of Paffett as the best-placed driver with a year-old car, di Resta and DTM record champion Bernd Schneider followed in fifth to seventh place. Kristensen was the last driver to score a point for the championship by finishing eighth with his Audi A4 DTM.

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Crash takes out Mansell
Canada - This weekend was the first visit to the Mont Tremblant circuit for Brit, Greg Mansell (#5 Sunseeker). The 20 year old qualified 11th for today’s Sommet des Legends Mont Tremblant , the third event in the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. After completing just four laps in this morning’s warm-up session, the #46 car of Luis Schiavo lost control and hit the young rookie, causing him to hit the concrete barrier, resulting in extensive damage to his red, white and blue chassis.

It was a disappointing finish to the weekend for Mansell. Due to the severity of the impact into the turn one barrier, the #5 Walker Racing entry, had to be withdrawn from today’s race.

“It was a really unfortunate situation for Greg. He made some big strides with the car and was running well prior to the accident. It’s just a shame Greg really was an innocent bystander and it ruined his opportunity to showcase his capabilities here in Mont Tremblant. It’s a classic road course, perfect for Greg’s background,” stated Derrick Walker, Walker Racing Owner.

Greg’s brother, Leo Mansell (#15 Sunseeker), starts 17th on the grid for today’s race along with Kevin Lacroix (#25 Uni-Select/ Deans Knight, who will start outside on the front row. The duo will carry the team’s colors for the Sommet des Legendes at Circuit Mont-Tremblant.


Andretti Green Racing Signs Franck Montagny UPDATE A reader asks, I saw this SPEEDTV.com article which pans the Andretti Green team for running their ALMS team as an afterthought.  What gives?  Ted Danford

Dear Ted, The AGR team started that team at the request of Honda to help them get their Acura brand name out there via the ALMS.  They had early success winning the 12 Hours of Sebring on their first try, but after that it's been slim pickings.  AGR is an open wheel racing team first and foremost and if not for the Honda money behind it, rest assured they would not be running a sports car program.  Mark C.

06/26/08 Andretti Green Racing (AGR) announced today it has signed Franck Montagny to become the primary driver of the #26 XM Satellite Radio Acura ARX-01b for the remainder of the 2008 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season, beginning with the next tour stop at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Ct.

Bryan Herta and Christian Fittipaldi handled the driving duties for Andretti Green in the four previous ALMS starts this season along with Marco Andretti, who rounded out the AGR lineup in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

A variety of drivers will team with Montagny during the final seven ALMS events of 2008 beginning with Marco Andretti, who drives one of Andretti Green's four IndyCar Series machines. Andretti will qualify for the IndyCar Series event on July 11 at Nashville Superspeedway and then travel to Lime Rock for the July 12th running of the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix. Following the ALMS event, he will return to Nashville for the Firestone Indy 200 later that night.

Montagny brings a diverse background to AGR that includes seven Formula 1 starts, all in 2006 with Super Aguri, and stints as a Formula 1 test driver and third driver with Renault, Jordan and Toyota. The 30-year old Frenchman owns three top-five finishes in his last three starts in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, including a third-place overall finish earlier this month.

Montagny ran four races for his native France during the 2007-08 A1 Grand Prix (A1GP) season, scoring one top-five finish and helping his team to a fourth-place final ranking. He also has one IndyCar Series start to his credit, having made his debut at Long Beach this past April where he scored a runner-up finish.

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British F3

Hartley takes victory at Thruxton
Brendon Hartley took his second victory in British F3 today, in race one at the Thruxton circuit in Hampshire.  In a thrilling race which saw several exciting overtaking maneuvers, the Red Bull racer took the checkered flag ahead of team mate Oliver Turvey in third and Sam Abay in fourth.  Pole sitter Jaime Alguersuari retired with a puncture.  Andy Meyrick took an impressive victory in the National Class, while team mate Kristjan Einar came home in fourth place.  After an impressive qualifying performance, it was Alguersuari on pole, ahead of Brendon Hartley and Oliver Turvey. 

As the lights went out, all three drivers made a strong start, and it was three abreast into the first few corners.  Turvey came out in front, with Alguersuari slotting into second.  Hartley fell back to third, allowing John Martin to slip stream past him.  Hartley wasn’t fourth for long though, passing Martin on lap two, and finding a way past team mate Alguersuari at the end of lap three.  Sam Abay meanwhile had made a good start and was up to sixth by the end of lap two. By lap four, Hartley had Turvey in his sights, while behind them an apparently struggling Alguersuari was passed by Marcus Ericsson for third place. 

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Boss says Ferrari team not funded by Fiat
(GMM)  Ferrari's formula one team is not funded by its Italian automobile manufacturer parent Fiat.

That is the insistence this weekend of the two Maranello based marques' president and chairman respectively, Luca di Montezemolo.

The 60-year-old Italian told the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph that the famous team, currently leading the 2008 drivers' and constructors' world championships, is funded by money from Ferrari sports car sales and sponsors.

"We do not get a penny from Fiat.  I don't think people always realize this," Montezemolo said.

Ferrari's main current competitors in formula one are automobile manufacturing giants including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Toyota and Honda.

"For a small company like us, the achievement (of beating them) is particularly impressive," he added.

Montezemolo also ruled out speculation that Ferrari could soon be floated on the stock market.

"Never," he said.  "Well, a possibility in 10, 15 years -- who knows?  Not now."


F1 news briefs: Sunday
(GMM)  Murray Walker, the legendary British formula one commentator, has been immortalized with a star on the Walk of Fame of his home city Birmingham.

"It's very flattering indeed," Walker, born there in 1923, told the BBC.


Toyota F1 driver Timo Glock, of Germany, will sample the controls of the Japanese marque's Le Mans prototype of 1998 and 1999, the GT-One, at the Old Timer Grand Prix event at the Nurburgring later this summer.


Reigning GP2 champion Glock, 26, apologized after colliding with F1 veteran David Coulthard at last week's Silverstone test.  In the pages of The Daily Telegraph, 37-year-old Coulthard is critical of the sport's latest generation of drivers.

"I would say some of these young guys don't seem to know what's happening around or behind them, which is almost as important as what's happening in front of them.  It's either in you or it's not.  We can all learn from our mistakes, I suppose, but with some of them it's going to be bloody expensive until they do," he said.


Brundle says Massa dark horse for 2008 title
Felipe Massa driving better than ever
(GMM)  Martin Brundle, a British expert pundit and former formula one driver, has named Felipe Massa as the dark horse for the 2008 title.

Amid the ultra high profile of countryman Lewis Hamilton, the reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen and the ultra-consistent Robert Kubica, Briton Brundle, 49, thinks the current leader of the drivers' standings is also very much a genuine contender.

He wrote in his latest column for the Sunday Times that Brazilian Massa, 27, who drives for Ferrari, "made major errors" at the start of the season.

But "on his day Massa is immense", Brundle added.

"We saw him deliver his almost customary victories at Bahrain and Turkey, but it was generally accepted that over the course of the season Raikkonen would be the one to put in the critical fast laps around the pit-stop window, get to the front and control the race.

"Yet Massa has apparently upped his game yet further this year."

Brundle also credits Massa's race engineer Rob Smedley with giving the driver "a more steely edge" recently.

And "Massa is impressing me in the level way in which he is handling success and failure, taking both in his stride.  It is not at all inconceivable that he could be this year's world champion," he said.


Hamilton blames media for 'angry' F1 fans
Lewis Hamilton
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton admits he is worried about the negative media reports that are being written about him.

The McLaren driver has made a couple of on-track mistakes of late, but he has taken issue with the way journalists - who generally praised him so highly a year ago - have reported his less impressive second season on the F1 grid.

"Whatever has been said in the papers -- I just hope that they aren't throwing vegetables at me because of what's happened in the last few races," he said in Britain's Sunday Times, whilst contemplating a sell-out crowd for his home British grand prix at Silverstone next week.

"For sure they're going to be disappointed about the last couple of races, just as the team are, but there's no need to be angry -- and I'm sure some of the things that are said in the papers do make them angry," Hamilton, 23 added.

"I'm on form, I'm not driving into walls.  The reason I'm so quick is because I'm pushing my car, and the car is great, the team's doing a good job, and I think I'm extracting a lot from it.  That's all I can do," he said.

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NASCAR considering open testing policy
John Darby, NASCAR's Sprint Cup director, had a nice surprise for the series crew chiefs Saturday, offering them the opportunity to guide the sanctioning organization in setting next year's testing policy. "NASCAR's the policy-maker, but one thing that's really reliant on the teams' input is what we test, how many times we test and where we test," Darby said after a brief meeting with the crew chiefs in the garage area at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. "In the past, it's just been a matter of, 'Here, select your race tracks and let's go.' This year, I felt it was time that we just sat down with everybody and talked and said, 'Look, we're open to any suggestions you have,' from leaving our testing policy exactly like it was in '08, all the way to going to what I'm going to call wide-open testing, no limits -- any track, any week, any time, as many times as you want to go. We're prepared for either way, it doesn't matter to us. We'll listen to what all of the teams come back with for suggestions and formulate a test plan for '09 and go forward." Darby said his offer was met with some disbelief from the assembled crew chiefs. "There was a pretty good gasp of air when you got to talking about wide-open testing because the immediate perception is, 'Holy cats, we're going to be testing 38 weeks a year,' " he said. NASCAR officially allowed seven open tests this season at tracks where the Cup teams race. The teams can also opt to hold private tests as often as they like at tracks where the Cup cars do not race. Darby said he expects the crew chiefs to go back to their teams and talk to the owners and others in their organizations to come up with their own ideas. ESPN/Associated Press


Richmond newspaper slams IndyCar crashfest
The Mickey Mouse Richmond track cost the IndyCar teams a lot of money in mangled equipment Saturday night
Shawn Payne/IRL
Races sometimes end under caution. Seldom do they begin under caution.

But last night in the SunTrust Indy Challenge, the command, "Lady [Danica Patrick] and gentlemen, start your engines", quickly became, "Lady and gentlemen, please slow down."

The 26 cars in the IndyCar field had not completed one lap when Ryan Hunter-Reay spun out in Turn 4, and the first of nine caution flags of the evening came out.

That might not be what the fans came to see. It certainly wasn't what the drivers wanted. But all could say they were present when history was made.

The nine cautions set a record for this race at the Richmond International Raceway.

Tony Kanaan was the winner, but the best driving might have been done by the pace car. After all, 102 of the 300 laps were driven under caution.

In the plus column, that did save considerable fuel.

Score one for the IRL over the oil companies.

When the last lap was driven, more cars, 14, were off the track than on, 12.

This wasn't so much a race as it was a matter of survival.

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Oil price shock threatens European car market
The European car industry has remained serene while coping with stagnating sales, and cleverly held on to respectable profits while undergoing serious restructuring. Even the threat of a credit crunch, and the real pain caused by the loss of lucrative sales in the U.S. by its German premium brands has been managed with a degree of aplomb.

But rocketing oil prices look like the last straw, potentially plunging the industry into a savage downturn not seen for perhaps 30 or 40 years.

"The West European car market is going to see an old fashioned downturn of the kind we have seen in mature markets previously in the 1960s and 1970s and that involves a 15 to 20 percent decline in demand, and distress for the car manufacturers," said Karel Williams, professor of accounting and political economy at Manchester University.

Even leading manufacturers, who can often be relied on to claim that everything in the garden is rosy while the rest of us can see that the rot has set in, are voicing apprehension.

"It is clear that the business in the mature North American and certain European markets could be dragged down to lows we haven't seen since the recessionary days of the early '80s," General Motors Europe president Carl-Peter Forster said.

"To put it bluntly, the rise in oil is having a profound and permanent impact on the fundamentals of our business -- and not just in North America," Forster said on the GM web site.

"Adding insult to injury, while energy costs are draining the consumer side of our financial equation, the impact of skyrocketing commodity prices and the huge disparity between the euro and most other currencies are seriously dragging down the production side of things here in Europe," Forster said.  Detroit News


Australian GP to take financial bloodbath
The Australian Grand Prix – a mainstay on the Formula 1 calendar since 1985, firstly in the South Australian state capital of Adelaide and now in Melbourne's Albert Park – has come in for severe criticism as its future remains up in the air, with claims that local residents have ‘had more than enough' and that the race ‘does not benefit' the country.

There has been considerable debate over the event's future for a number of months, with no guarantee that its current contract – set to expire in 2010 – will be renewed. F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone is demanding that the race be held at night in order to capture greater European viewing audiences, a move circuit promoters have repeatedly insisted is not a viable option.

The cost of welcoming the grand prix – including the fee payable to Ecclestone's Formula One Management company – has risen steadily each year, climbing by a staggering $8 million AUD (£3.9 million) from $33 million AUD (£15.9 million) in 2006, funded by Victorian taxpayers.

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Hornaday Wins NCTS O'Reilly 200
Ron Hornaday, Jr. raises the checkered flag in Victory Lane after winning the O'Reilly 200 at Memphis Motorsports Park
Ronda Greer / NASCAR
Ron Hornaday Jr. led the final 129 laps and survived a green-white-checkered finish to win the O'Reilly 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race Saturday night at Memphis Motorsports Park.

Hornaday's victory in the Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet was his third of the season and boosted him into the points lead, 27 in front of Matt Crafton. It was Hornaday's 36th career victory in the series, tops all-time.

Erik Darnell was second in a Roush Fenway Racing Ford and Crafton third in his ThorSport Racing Chevrolet.

Hornaday led 139 of the 204 laps, four over the scheduled distance on the .75-mile track. He pulled away from Darnell on the overtime restart, leading by two truck lengths into the first corner, and was never threatened. Hornaday's margin of victory was .269 seconds.

Each Memphis race winner is presented with a statuette of Elvis Presley, a copy of the full-size statue on Memphis' famous Beale Street.

"That Elvis (Presley) Trophy is the coolest in the world," Hornaday said. "I really wanted that trophy."

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ESPN's Outside the Lines Examines Economy’s Impact on NASCAR UPDATE A reminder that this program will be shown on Sunday morning, June 29.

06/27/08 Sunday's Outside the Lines (ESPN 9:30am/et; ESPNEWS 12noon/et) will examine how NASCAR is being affected by today’s struggling economy. Transporting equipment and personnel cross country has never been costlier due to escalating fuel prices, which have also impacted fans traveling to races. The economy has made sponsors more vital, yet hard to secure, prompting long-time team owners to seek outside investors: Boston Red Sox owner John Henry became co-owner of Roush Fenway Racing (2006); Montreal Canadians owner George Gillett became primary owner of Gillett Evernham Motorsports (2007); Boston Ventures, an equity firm, took control of Petty Enterprises (May 2008). Mike Massaro reports.

From Sunday's Outside the Lines: "We could see six or so teams shut down if they are not funded. Nobody is going to run this out of their own pocket for too long, myself included, so it is a serious situation". -- Doug Yates, owner of Yates Racing.

"Before, let's say five years ago, a top echelon team, you were looking at $10-15 million. All of a sudden, now, I'm told, because of driver salaries and all the other factors that affected the cost of going racing, that top tier team now is $24-30 million" -- Larry Camp, motor sports marketing expert.

"I know this is a sports story, but this is not a sport anymore, except on Sunday afternoon from about 1-to-5 in the afternoon. It's a business six days a week". Kyle Petty, driver for Petty Enterprises and son of NASCAR legend Richard Petty.

"We are committed to getting through this year, but I got to be able to see into '09 something a little more positive than I see today. I think well make it, but the economy and the struggles the other teams are seeing are the same as ours. It is a tough, tough world out there right now in NASCAR". Doug Yates. ESPN PR

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Weekend USA TV Reminders UPDATE The final TV reminders for Sunday are shown below.
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Outside the Lines -Examines Economy's Impact on NASCAR 
9:30am-10:00am ESPN
NASCAR in a Hurry Loudon, NH 
10:00am-10:30am SPEED
10:00am-11:00am ESPN2
NASCAR Raceday Loudon, NH 
10:30am-12:30pm SPEED
NHRA Raceday Norwalk, OH 
11:00am-11:30am ESPN2
NHRA Lucas Oil Sportsman Series Englishtown, NJ 
12:00pm-1:00pm (06/2008) ESPN2
NASCAR Sprint Cup LENOX Industrial Tools 301 Loudon, NH
12:30pm-2:00pm (L) -Pre-race
2:00pm-5:30pm (L) -Race TNT
Superbike World Championship San Marino 
3:00pm-4:00pm (SD) -Race 1
4:00pm-5:00pm (SD) -Race 2 SPEED
Movie: Days of Thunder (1990)
3:00pm-5:30pm CMT
MotoGP 250 Assen 
5:00pm-6:00pm (6/28/08) SPEED
MotoGP World Championship Dutch Grand Prix Assen
6:00pm-7:00pm (6/28/08) SPEED
SPEED Report 
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NHRA Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals Norwalk, OH
7:00pm-10:00pm (SD) ESPN2
NASCAR Victory Lane Loudon, NH 
8:00pm-9:00pm SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Robin Miller (Open Wheel Racing Analyst)
Kevin Miller (CEO/President USAC) 
Rod Millen (Rally and Off-Road Racing)
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED
Monday (Partial)
IndyCar Replay SunTrust Indy Challenge Richmond
9:00am-11:00am (R) ESPN Classic
NHRA Replay Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals Norwalk, OH
11:00am-1:00pm (R) ESPN Classic
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Replay O'Reilly 200 Memphis 
12:00pm-12:30pm (R)
12:30pm-3:00pm (R) SPEED
All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV Programs, see TVRacer.com

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