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Economy, other issues have Harvick Inc. backing away from NHRA effort
Kevin and DeLana Harvick have decided to table their plans to field a Top Fuel team in NHRA competition. In April, the Harvicks and NHRA veteran Bob Vandergriff Jr. said they were exploring such options. The proposed Harvick-Vandergriff Motorsports would specialize in offering sponsors marketing opportunities in the NHRA and NASCAR's top-three touring series - Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Craftsman Trucks.

"There's so much changing in the whole world right now as far as where sponsorship dollars are going," said Kevin Harvick.

"We're just taking a step back and going to take a couple years and just really focus on our two trucks and see where the Nationwide thing goes as far as the rules packages and where the economy goes, instead of jumping in with both feet."

Harvick said he and his wife's Kevin Harvick Inc. may take another look at the NHRA down the road.

"It's something we still would consider looking forward, but we're going to take a couple years and just see where everything goes," he said.  ThatsRacin.com


Dale Earnhardt Jr. press conference
DALE EARNHARDT JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD / AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS met with media and discussed Jay Leno, Mark Martin, racing at Daytona in July, on Randy Moss joining the sport of NASCAR, the Montoya/Kyle Busch incident at Loudon, the performance of the new race cars, 4th of July holiday and more.

Q: Talk about Jay Leno. You've been on a show the couple times, right?

DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yeah. You know, Jay Leno's a car guy. Got quite a collection. Maybe a more elaborate collection of cars in the United States. You know, I admire his passion for automobiles. Being on the show's fun.

Q: Did you enjoy doing that?

DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: Yeah, sure. Being on the show's been fun because he's a car guy. You feel more comfortable with him. And, I don't know, just a real neat guy. Very gracious as a host. Takes care -- he knows that that's pretty far from your territory and he makes you feel pretty comfortable.

Q: (Question regarding Mark Martin.)

DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: They haven't announced anything yet. Mark's a great racecar driver. He's done a great job driving the No. 8 car this year. He's a veteran that all the guys look up to. He's a great tutor for the sport, for young guys. I think that anybody that gets a chance to work with him can learn a lot.

Q: (Question regarding retirement and keeping going.)

DALE EARNHARDT, JR.: A lot of different reasons. You know, it's really hard to put it down, I suppose. As tough as the schedule is, it's pretty hard to just stop and not do nothing or do something else, I suppose.

Q: (Question regarding Daytona in July.) 

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What Indy Car drivers think about year to date
What they’re saying: Halfway through the 2008 IndyCar Series season, the drivers talk about the unification, the transition into the IndyCar Series and their season to date: 

On Unification: 

JUSTIN WILSON: “It’s great. We’ve got everyone back together and we’ve got everyone working in the same direction. It’s great to race every weekend, especially if you have a bad weekend you don’t get a chance to dwell on it.” 

ED CARPENTER: “I think it’s awesome. Everywhere we go, it’s super competitive and there is a lot of good racing. It’s a better series for everyone now.” 

WILL POWER: “I think what’s good about this is you’ve got the best teams and best drivers all in one series.” 

RYAN BRISCOE: “Great. I don’t think it could be better. I think this year there are some compromises. Not everyone’s happy. Some guys are getting a bit more testing, some less, but I think if that’s what it takes to keep everyone on board and to keep everyone together then that’s the way it’s got to be. I think next year it’s going to be the best it’s ever been. It’s going to be a level playing field next year. We’re going to know all the tracks. It’s so competitive.”

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Unification produces strong first half of season commercially
The IndyCar Series opens the second-half its 2008 season this weekend at Watkins Glen International, and after four months and nine races, the unification of open-wheel racing under the IndyCar Series banner is a success both on and off the track. 

By all accounts and measurements, the on-track product featuring an average 26 cars per week has been a success and could reach 29 at select races later in the season. 

Off-track the IndyCar Series continues to show business momentum. 

“We could not be happier with what we have seen over the first half of the unified IndyCar Series season,” said Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division of the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body for the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights. “Key areas like attendance, ratings and sponsorship are all pointed in the right direction, and we anticipate further growth and momentum headed into the second half of the season.” 

With attendance, league officials are impressed with what they have seen everywhere the schedule has stopped to date in 2008. Tracks have reported increased attendance numbers, and the in-market and at-track “vibe” has been noticeable. Reports from tracks on the second-half of the schedule have been even more positive. 

Since unification, the series has introduced a number of new sponsors including DIRECTV and Coca-Cola, and this weekend at Watkins Glen the league will formalize a new partnership with IZOD. Efforts to secure category sponsorships and entitlement of the IndyCar Series are in full swing. The league’s sales efforts have increased dramatically and now include an individual whose sole responsibility is working directly with teams to assist in their efforts.

IndyCar Series races have shown ratings increases in six of nine races to date, and ratings are up across the board on ABC (+4 percent), ESPN (+61 percent) and ESPN2 (+42 percent). Overall viewership is up 17 percent season to date compared to 2007.

Merchandise sales are way up with at-track sales increasing by 70 percent compared to 2007.

“Unification has been wonderful for the sport, and there’s a real buzz around the IndyCar Series,” said Angstadt.

“Our focus now is to continue to work hard and build a broader sponsorship base for the teams, venues, media and the league.”


3 dangle deals to fight sagging vehicle sales
Detroit's Big Three are battling sagging vehicle sales by extending and ramping up consumer incentives, deals some analysts predict will get sweeter this summer as automakers look to move more trucks.

Chrysler LLC this week extended its $2.99 gas guarantee on most of its 2008 lineup through the end of July and added $1,000 rebates on four SUVs -- Chrysler Aspen, Dodge Durango, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Commander.

Ford Motor Co. is extending its employee pricing on F-series pickup trucks until July 7.

And General Motors Corp. will continue its zero percent financing for 72-month offers through the holiday weekend. The GM incentive, introduced at the end of June, is credited with staving off an even deeper decline in June sales for the Detroit automaker and the industry as whole. GM's sales were down 18.2 percent in June. Industry-wide sales slid 18.3 percent. "Incentives will continue on an upward trend compared to the last couple years," said Bob Schnorbus, chief economist for J.D. Power & Associates. Car companies, he added, "must do everything they can to stimulate sales, and it won't be an easy sell because consumers' ability to buy has really been hammered."

Rebates, financing deals and special offers such as Chrysler's gas guarantee -- which locks in gas prices at $2.99 a gallon for three years -- will pull some buyers off the fence, Schnorbus said. But it will be tempered, some analysts said, and not likely to reach the record high levels of a few years ago, because there are fewer new vehicle buyers in the floundering economy, which also challenges automakers. The best deals will come on slow-selling SUVs and pickup trucks. Rebates on cars, especially hot-selling compact and hybrid models, are expected to remain small, which has helped curtail overall incentive spending. Last month, carmakers spent an average of $2,812 per vehicle on incentives -- a 4.4 percent hike from a year ago, said Autodata Corp. Manufacturers spent big on trucks, up 14.8 percent from a year ago, and cut spending on cars, down 2.1 percent. Detroit News


AIM Autosport #61 on pole at Daytona
AIM Autosport has earned its fourth front row start - and first pole, in the Rolex Sports Sports Car Series when Mark Wilkins took the Exchange Traded Gold No. 61 Ford Riley  to the top of the time sheets early recording a 1:41.223 second lap at 126.661 mph. Mark will start the race which goes to the green at 8:00 p.m. ET tonight at Daytona International Speedway.

"We are all absolutely thrilled" exclaimed Mark. "The Ford Riley was fast all through the morning practice sessions and both Brian (Frisselle) and I are very happy with the car. Brian did a lot of setup work this morning and it all paid off when I took the #61 out to qualify. We hit our mark early and became the ones to beat out there. Now the goal is to translate this success into the race this evening."

Both Mark and Brian were at the top of the charts all morning leading two of three practice sessions. They set their fastest time of the morning in session two - a 1:41.750, but were just nipped in the closing stages by 12/100ths of a second. Most important was the consistency shown by both drivers through each session. Running comparable lap times, Mark and Brian will look to maintain that rhythm through tonight's race.

"Everyone on the team is really pumped right now" reported AIM's Daytona Prototype team manager Don Sobering. "We have all worked very hard to get to this point in just our second season. Mark and Brian did a fantastic job today, but we are not quite ready to celebrate just yet. OK, maybe a little, although we are hoping for a better excuse later tonight."

The Brumos 250 on the 3.56 mile Daytona International Speedway road course gets underway tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET. It is scheduled to run 250 miles (70 laps) with a 2 hour 30 minute time limit. The race will be broadcast live on SPEED TV starting at 8:00 p.m. (ET)


Bridgestone ready regardless of tire warmers
Bridgestone’s preparations ahead of the introduction of slick tyres in 2009 have not been hampered by the FIA’s u-turn on the ban on tyre warmers.

The FIA had originally planned to scrap the use of tyre blankets next year as part of a raft of changes to reduce costs and promote closer racing.

However, after testing the 2009 specification tyres earlier in the year, a number of drivers complained about the risks involved in racing on cold tyres.

Tyre supplier Bridgestone Motorsport suggested imposing a minimum tyre pressure limit as a means to guarantee safety. However, the FIA’s Technical Working Group (TWG) could not agree on a sensible way of policing and imposing the limit and the FIA eventually decided against the ban on tyre warmers.

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Button ridicules FIA tax on drivers
Jenson Button has ridiculed FIA plans to 'tax' drivers 15% of their income to compete in the Formula One world championship.  World motor sport's governing body are looking into the proposal in the wake of criticism regarding the price hike for a super license.

Lewis Hamilton, who currently resides in Geneva, forked out £170,000 for his license last year, but that figure could soar to over £1million given his earnings with McLaren and other sponsorship deals.

An FIA spokesman remarked: "We are happy to discuss the matter with the drivers.

"We can look again at the way the super license is set. The FIA would consider a flat, higher rate for those in tax exile."

But skeptical Monaco-resident Button countered: "What's the super license got to do with where we live?

"A super license is to show we're capable of driving a Formula One car, and for that you need to do a certain amount of mileage.

"It's a license to go racing, the same as a road license. It's about being capable of driving and controlling your car at a certain speed, and everyone in Formula One can do that.

"So there's no reason why it should be anything more than what it was in the past.

"I don't see what difference it should make as to how many points you get, or how well you do in the championship.

"I don't see how it should change how much you pay for a super license.

"But then we shouldn't even need a license. You get to Formula One and if people say 'you're good enough to drive a Formula One car, you drive a Formula One car'.

"I understand we pay money because we have to look after the office that looks after the super licenses, and what have you.

"But we have been doing that for many years and there doesn't seem to have been many issues." Sporting Life


Tickets going fast for Laguna Seca MotoGP race
If you are looking for Paddock Passes for the fourth annual Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, you better act fast as they are almost sold-out. There are fewer than 200 Paddock Passes left for round 11 of the MotoGP World Championship and limited tickets are available for Flagroom hospitality.

Paddock Passes, $50 for all three days, are a rare opportunity not available at any other MotoGP event. The Flagroom, which is located between turns four and five offers private, covered hospitality trackside and has the added benefits of live TV feeds and private restrooms. General Admission tickets ranging from single-day to three-day tickets are still available. Motorcycle parking and all other hospitality options including the Paddock Suites are sold-out for this round of MotoGP.

This is the biggest event on the 2008 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca schedule and attracted more than 140,000 fans in 2007. The dates for the 2008 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix are July 18-20 and will include support races from AMA Superbike, AMA Supersport and Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup.

MotoGP is the world’s premiere motorcycle championship, featuring the best racers on the planet riding multi-million dollar, prototype machines that can reach speeds in excess of 200mph. MotoGP takes its glamorous circus to all corners of the globe. The machines produce more than 240 horsepower and weigh in at just 325 pounds, demanding the ultimate in riding skill, which is personified by the likes of champions Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner and American contenders Nicky Hayden, Colin Edwards and John Hopkins.

Race tickets are available by call (800) 327-SECA or logging onto www.laguna-seca.com or www.ticketmaster.com.  Race information is also available at www.RedBullUSGrandPrix.com.


Webber signs new deal to stay at RBR in 2009
(GMM)  Mark Webber has signed a new contract to stay at Red Bull in 2009.

In a team media statement issued from Silverstone on Thursday, the 31-year-old Australian said deciding to stay with the Milton-Keynes based outfit for another year
was "very easy".

Team boss Christian Horner added: "Earlier in the season both parties expressed a desire to continue working together and so it was a very quick and short discussion that led to an extension of our agreement."


Retired Coulthard to test for RBR - Horner
(GMM)  David Coulthard will test for Red Bull Racing following his retirement as a formula one race driver at the end of the 2008 season, team boss Christian Horner said on Thursday.

Coulthard, 37, announced on the eve of his final British grand prix at Silverstone that, after 15 consecutive seasons on the grid, he is stepping down but will remain a consultant in 2009.

"Red Bull Racing will still be utilizing his services and he will on occasion drive the car in test sessions for us so that we can draw upon his vast experience and knowledge," Horner confirmed in a statement.

Horner said Coulthard will also be a consultant to the technical group.


Mosley wants to reduce fuel use in F1
(GMM)  FIA president Max Mosley wants formula one to halve its fuel consumption by 2015.

In a letter to team bosses, a copy of which has been seen by this publication, he said the sport cannot ignore the world's energy problems, claiming that the KERS initiative for 2009 may have convinced some sponsors to stay on the grid.

Also describing teams' spending habits as "unsustainable", Mosley invited proposals about new rules, including ones that would "extract more useful energy from less fuel".

"The target should be a (very challenging) 50 per cent reduction from today's levels of fuel consumption by 2015, while maintaining current speeds," he wrote.

Mosley said the proposals should be ready within three months or "the FIA will itself prepare new rules for 2011".


Coulthard announces retirement as F1 racer
David Coulthard
(GMM)  David Coulthard on Thursday announced he will retire as a formula one race driver at the end of 2008.

The Scottish veteran, at 37 the oldest racer on the grid, said in a media statement he will thereafter remain involved in the sport as a consultant to his current team, Red Bull, "focusing on testing and development of the cars".

"I have an open mind as to whether or not I will compete again in the future, in some other form of motor sport, so I am definitely not hanging up my helmet!" he added.

Coulthard, who made his debut for Williams in 1994 and has won 13 races, said he made the decision to retire earlier this year because he wants to "stop while I am still competitive and enjoying" his job.

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Ecclestone mocks Mosley over F2 claims
(GMM)  F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone has ridiculed Max Mosley after the FIA announced plans to establish an ultra low cost Formula 2 feeder series.

Ecclestone, who spearheaded the burgeoning GP2 category that is not officially sanctioned by the governing body, scoffed at Mosley's assertion that F2 could be run for about 200,000 euros per car.

"A season of karting costs more," Ecclestone said in interview with Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"Maybe he will use lawnmower engines, but would that really be a feeder series for formula one?" the 77-year-old added.

The real conflict between the old allies is over the governance of formula one, with Mosley wanting to redistribute the commercial income that is controlled by Ecclestone and F1's owners, CVC.

Mosley has said he will not sign a new Concorde Agreement until Ecclestone agrees with his new ideas about how to share out the money.

"We take the money from racing events and media rights.  We have contracts with all the teams, which lay down what percentage they receive.

If the FIA wants to hand out more money, then they are going to have to find it themselves," Ecclestone said.


Verstappen to demonstrate Le Mans-winning Porsche RS Spyder
During the DTM race weekend at Circuit Park Zandvoort, July 12th and 13th, Jos Verstappen will be demonstrating the Porsche RS Spyder of the team Van Merksteijn Motorsport by Equipe Verschuur. It will be the first time that the spectacular sport prototype can be seen in action in The Netherlands. Last month, Jos Verstappen won the LMP2 class in the Le Mans 24 Hours, together with Peter van Merksteijn and Jeroen Bleekemolen.

Van Merksteijn Motorsport is one of three teams entering the Porsche RS Spyder during the five 1000-kilometre races of the Le Mans Series in Europe this year. On top of that, participation in the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours was scheduled as the undisputed highlight of the season. In France, the Dutch team created furor by claiming a commanding class win upon its first participation in the classic endurance race. Drivers Jeroen Bleekemolen, Peter van Merksteijn and Jos Verstappen accepted the trophy for victory in the LMP2-class. Verstappen played a major role in this success with his fast lap times during the night. Earlier, the ex-Formula 1 driver qualified the car, setting the fastest lap time in his class. Jeroen Bleekemolen was at the wheel when the race started while driver and team owner, Peter van Merksteijn had the honor to drive the winning Porsche over the finish line at Le Mans.

The team Van Merksteijn Motorsport by Equipe Verschuur is successful in the Le Mans Series as well. With two victories and one second place in the three races held so far, the team is leading the LMP2-standings. After the demonstration at Circuit Park Zandvoort as a support act of the DTM event, the next LMS race will be taking place at the Nürburgring on August 17th.

Jos Verstappen is looking forward to the demonstration at Zandvoort. “At Le Mans and during the LMS races, particularly at Spa, we have had tremendous support from the Dutch fans. This is my chance to give them something back by driving the Porsche RS Spyder at Zandvoort. I am sure that it will be a great event!”


Bob Bell: “We’re pretty upbeat about Silverstone”
Bob Bell
The Renault Technical Director looks back on the French Grand Prix reveals his hopes for this weekend's British Grand Prix.

Bob, the team came away from France with its first double points finish of the season. Happy with the result?
Although we’re obviously very pleased to see both cars finish the race in the points, I don’t think we can be totally satisfied with the result. I think Nelson got as much out of the race as he was ever likely to given his starting position, but it was obviously a great disappointment that Fernando was unable to bring home a potential podium finish, which is ultimately what we were aiming for.

Fernando’s qualifying form was again exceptional, but he struggled in the race. Is it fair to say that the team needs to work on improving its race pace?
We were fairly confident that we could convert Fernando’s grid position into a podium finish, but he lost pace in the race, primarily in his first stint, and after that it was all over in terms of our hopes for a podium. We don’t fully understand yet why that was the case and so we are examining the data to try and get to the root cause of why he lost performance. So, yes, overall it is fair to say that we have seen more improvement in terms of our qualifying pace than we have seen in race conditions, and we need to address that.

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Silverstone: Tech File
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.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Health alert on eve of British GP
  • Red Bull 2009 talks nearing end - Webber
  • Hamilton - I'm fitter than Button
  • Judge clears path for Mosley privacy trial
  • Raikkonen confirms engine change
  • Hamilton 'complete' but still learning - Dennis
  • Button not motivated - John Surtees
  • Brawn plays down Alonso-Honda link
  • Honda looking beyond 2008 season - Brawn

Health alert on eve of British GP
(GMM)  On the eve of the British grand prix weekend, a health threat in the region of the Silverstone circuit has emerged.

Germany's Bild-Zeitung newspaper is reporting that the drinking water in the immediate vicinity of the Northamptonshire venue has been found by local health authorities to be contaminated with parasites.

Bild claims that the parasite in question causes diarrhea, stomach cramps and fever -- just as a quarter of a million spectators prepare to descend on Silverstone for the formula one event.

Red Bull 2009 talks nearing end - Webber
(GMM)  Mark Webber is ready to drive a better car at Red Bull in 2009 and beyond, but the Australian insists he would not turn down a better offer from a faster formula one team.

"I know I have the talent to win grands prix," the on-form 31-year-old driver told Dutch sports daily AD Sportwereld Pro, "but I've only had a couple of chances to battle for the podium."

It is an open secret that Webber is negotiating about the 2009 season with Red Bull, for whom he has raced since leaving Williams at the end of 2006.

"In order to win a title you have to have a car that is fast on every circuit you go to.  I've never been in that position, not even with Red Bull," he said.

"When I smell the chance to fight for the title with Red Bull, I will certainly grab it.  But if there is a better opportunity somewhere else, then it will be the time to leave," Webber added.

Webber said talks with Red Bull about next year are already taking place.

"I think we are about a month away (from finalizing them)," he explained.

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Consumers moving to 4-cyclinder cars
As gas prices continue to reach record highs worldwide, four-cylinder vehicles are growing in popularity due to their low gas consumption. General Motors reports that as this model grows in popularity, automakers are enhancing these vehicles by adding more refined engines and luxury features. Watch video


Firestone to bring new tires to Watkins Glen
Firestone will bring 1,184 dry-condition slicks to Watkins Glen this weekend; each car receives 10 sets (40 tires) for the race weekend.  Firestone Fast Six qualifiers receive one additional set of slicks for that session only.

In case of rain they will also bring 560 wet-condition grooved tires; each car receives four sets (16 tires) of rain tires.

Both the Firehawk tire specifications are new and making their race debuts this weekend at Watkins Glen. The dry slicks are among the more durable in the Firestone road-course inventory and feature a new compound formula designed to increase that durability. This tire spec will only be used at Watkins Glen this season. The treaded rain tires selected are the more durable "road-course rains" that have also been updated since last year.

From Al Speyer, Executive Director, Firestone Racing: "If June was short-oval month for the IndyCar Series, then July is definitely road-course month since three of the four events take place on circuits calling for the Firestone road-course tire inventory. This weekend we visit Watkins Glen International, one of the most historic and renowned permanent circuits in the United States. The racing is always exciting on this long, winding track with many elevation changes. Being so long and so fast, the Glen is also demanding on tires, which is why Firestone is bringing an updated version of our more durable road-course tire this weekend. We believe the new Firehawk spec will give the drivers the added durability they desire, while still providing the necessary grip to attack this challenging and legendary racetrack."

racing news

Paul Tracy to run at Goodwood
When the 2008 IndyCar season began without Paul Tracy, it left a lot of people wondering, including Paul Tracy.  As it turns out, PT can count this season as one of his most exciting.  Despite the fact that he is not racing full time, Tracy has yet to sit still and next week his schedule goes International. 

Tracy has been invited to participate in the Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex, England, where he will be joined by race world royalty.  He will be driving his 1997 race-winning Penske PC26 Champ Car race car, along with a 1966 Lola that two-time Formula 1 World Champion Graham Hill used to tour the F1 circuit.

Commonly referred to as the greatest collection of racing talent in the world, the Goodwood Festival of Speed will have Tracy sharing the spotlight with NASCAR legend Bobby Allison, British Formula 1 star Lewis Hamilton and British racing legend Sir Stirling Moss.  NASCAR Executive Vice President Jim France and 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner Eddie Cheever will also take part in the historic event.

The Earl of March and Kinrara, who hosts the legendary Festival of Speed was excited at the news that Paul Tracy would be making the trip to West Sussex.

“I am delighted that Paul has agreed to come to the Festival,” The Earl of March and Kinrara said.  “Having some of the great names from American motor sport has always been an important part of the event’s success, and to add a driver of Paul’s stature to the list of attendees means a great deal to me. I am sure he will have a fantastic time.” 

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Waltrip gives car to Iraq war veteran victimized by scam
After hearing about an Iraq war veteran who was victimized by an Internet scam, former NASCAR champion Darrell Waltrip stepped in and gave the man a 2004 Honda Accord on Tuesday. The vehicle has a Kelley Blue Book retail value of about $13,000. "It's beyond awesome,'' said Jay Strobino, 24, of Franklin, who lost $5,500 trying to buy a used Honda Accord on Craigslist earlier this year. He wired the money to a scam artist who claimed to be heading out soon for a military deployment, setting up a fake WorldPay Web site to handle the purchase.

Strobino's story appeared in The Tennessean on Tuesday in an article about the growing sophistication of Internet fraud. Waltrip said the general manager of his Franklin auto dealership, John Gallagher, alerted him to the story and recommended the vehicle giveaway. "I thought that's a no-brainer — let's help this kid out,'' Waltrip said after handing Strobino the keys at Darrell Waltrip Honda Volvo on Tuesday. "There are so many fake sites,'' he said. "You really have to be sure. We're in the car business, and he got ripped off by someone pretending to be real."

Waltrip said he also was motivated by Strobino's military service. Strobino, who was injured in a firefight south of Baghdad in 2004, is a Silver Star medal recipient, the third highest-ranking military honor. When hearing the Honda dealership was going to give him a car Tuesday, Strobino, who described himself as being "broke," said simply: "Are you serious?" Tennessean


NHRA shortens race distance to 1,000 feet
As the investigation continues into the tragic accident that took the life of driver Scott Kalitta, NHRA has announced that beginning at the Mopar Mile High Nationals in Denver, Colo., both the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes will race to 1,000 feet instead of the traditional 1,320 feet or one-quarter mile. This is an interim step that is being taken while NHRA continues to analyze and determine whether changes should be made to build upon the sport's long standing safety record, given the inherent risks and ever-present dangers associated with the sport.

This interim change was made by NHRA in collaboration with professional race teams. NHRA believes that racing the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes to 1,000 feet will allow NHRA and the racing community time to evaluate, analyze and implement potential changes based on the safety initiatives outlined last week.

With the change, fans will still be able to enjoy the sights, sounds and thrill of NHRA nitro racing with speeds around 300 mph and quick elapsed times to 1,000 feet.

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Grand-Am Launches Website Community
Grand-Am has completed development of the Grand-Am Community, an online social network built specifically for sports car racing fans. The new community features driver and staff blogs, expanded forums and multimedia galleries for user generated content.

"We're all very excited to offer sports car enthusiasts from around the world a social portal for them to interact together - drivers, competitors and fans alike," said Kevin Hindson, Grand-Am Vice President of Marketing and Communications.

In the initial version of the Grand-Am Community, only Racers and Grand-Am Staff will be able to post blogs. All users can comment on a blog, however, enabling open dialogue between drivers, staff and fans. The expanded forums now offer users a WYSIWYG (What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get) editor. Hyperlinks, emoticons, and image embedding functionalities are also available to fans.

Grand-Am.com visitors are no strangers to blogs and forum posts, but the expanded multimedia galleries will allow users to post their own photos, videos and audio clips for other fans to view and rate. These are grouped by "Experiences" so that fans can group various files together for others to sort through. In the future, Grand-Am staff will coordinate contests based on user submissions for ticket and merchandise giveaways.


IndyCar Series rookie class distinguishes itself
At the halfway point of the IndyCar Series season, the largest class of rookies in the series in years is making its mark, including Graham Rahal’s historic victory on the streets of St. Petersburg and 11 rookies qualifying for the 92nd Indianapolis 500.

Ten full-time drivers are in the race for the Bombardier Learjet Rookie of the Year award.

Hideki Mutoh, currently fifth overall in IndyCar Series points, leads the charge. The driver of the No. 27 Formula Dream entry for Andretti Green Racing has five top-10 finishes in nine races, including a second place at the Iowa Speedway.

“Hideki Mutoh is coming out strong as a rookie, but he’s with a great team,” Vision Racing’s Ed Carpenter said.

Australian Will Power closed the books on the Champ Car World Series with a victory on Long Beach’s winding streets and is 11th in IndyCar Series points. Power is second in the rookie title search, sitting 37 points behind Mutoh.

“This year, our strengths are on the road courses, but we’re catching up on the ovals now and we seem to be running more competitively,” said Power, driver of the No. 8 Aussie Vineyards – Team Australia car for KV Racing Technology. “I think the second half of the season will be good for us.”

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track news

Watkins Glen weekend to cater to families
The Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen is one of the best places to take your family during the upcoming holiday weekend.  Watkins Glen International will provide an affordable weekend filled with family fun.  General admission tickets for kids 12 and under are free when they are accompanied by an adult, and now there’s even more entertainment to keep kids happy.  The McDonald’s Kids Zone, located just behind the McDonald’s Family Grandstand, is filled with games, inflatables, special appearances, and more!  The McDonald’s Kids Zone will be open Saturday and Sunday, July 5-6, from 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM. 

The McDonald’s Kids Zone is filled with activities for children of all ages.  Four inflatable games will be available to play in, and a miniature train will give rides around the area.  Kids can have their faces painted, or they can create their own artwork in the Children’s Craft Corner.  McDonald’s will also sponsor a prize wheel where kids can win free McDonald’s food or prizes. 

Special appearances from an IndyCar Series driver and McDonald’s characters will give kids something to look forward to throughout the day.  Justin Wilson, driver of the #02 McDonald’s Dallara for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing will be at the McDonald’s Kids Zone on Saturday, July 5, from 12:00-12:15 PM and on Sunday, July 6 from 12:30-12:45 PM.  Grimace and Hamburglar will also be in the McDonald’s Kids Zone on both Saturday and Sunday.

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Q and A with Jeff Simmons, Doug Fritz and Oriol Servia
MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. We have two drivers joining us today. Starting the call with us is Firestone Indy Lights driver Jeff Simmons. In a few minutes, we'll be joined by IndyCar Series driver Oriol Servia. We also have a special guest today, Watkins Glen International president Craig Rust to talk about the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights races this weekend at The Glen.

Jeff Simmons is on the line with us. Good afternoon. Thanks for joining us.

JEFF SIMMONS: My pleasure.

THE MODERATOR: Jeff ranks seventh in the Firestone Indy Lights standings and has recorded five top-10 finishes in six starts this year. He's won seven times during his Firestone Indy Lights career, including at The Glen in 2005.

Jeff, you've turned a lot of laps at Watkins Glen throughout your career. You know how to win at this track in a Firestone Indy Lights car. What will it take for you to give Team Moore Racing its first victory this year?

JEFF SIMMONS: It's going to take the whole team effort, but Mark Moore and Tom Wood have done a really good job of putting together a first-class group of people. You know, we didn't do a whole lot of laps during the testing when we were there recently.

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Audi R10 TDI to contest 30th race at Lime Rock
Ingolstadt -- 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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Portugal team names its driver
A1 Team Portugal has become the first team to formally announce its driver plans for 2008/09 – by confirming Filipe Albuquerque as its main racer for the next two seasons.

The 23-year-old made a name for himself by scoring a podium finish on his A1GP debut in Durban last February, and then helping Portugal move from 17th to 11th in last season’s championship standings.

Now, Albuquerque has been rewarded with the knowledge that he will be the team’s main driver until at least the end of 2009/10.

“We are extremely satisfied and feel privileged to be continuing with Filipe for the next two seasons,” said team principal Luis Vicente.

“We firmly believe in his skills. Filipe is extremely fast and talented, as well as very mature and professional. With that in mind, this is the ideal scenario for stability. I can assure the fans, that we’ll do everything possible to win the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport for Portugal.”

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Mosley defeats News of the World challenge to orgy privacy case
Max Mosley, the president of motor racing’s governing body, has been allowed to pursue his claim for breach of privacy against the News of the World over its report that he took part in a “Nazi-themed” orgy.

Lawyers for the newspaper had argued that the privacy laws allowed Mr. Mosley, son of the 1930s Fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, only to ask for compensatory damages, not the “exemplary” damages he is seeking. Mark Warby, QC, for the News of the World, asked Mr. Justice Eady to strike out the exemplary damages claim before the High Court trial begins next week. But the judge said that this was an area of developing jurisprudence and a ruling should be made after all the facts in the case had been heard.

James Price, QC, for Mr. Mosley, has said that “no reasonable person” could have assumed that there was a Nazi theme to the orgy, said to have taken place in a Chelsea flat and to have involved five women.

However, the newspaper says it was clear that there were Nazi connotations and there was justification in publishing because of Mr. Mosley’s public role.  London Times

[Editor's Note:  Mosley is one of the best lawyers anywhere.  He and his team will crucify the News of the World in court.  When Mosley finishes with News of the World it's quite possible they will have to close down the business or put it in receivership.]


Webber: F1 needs the British Grand Prix
Mark Webber says the criticism leveled at the British Grand Prix is unfair, and believes Formula One will lose a bit of history if the race drops from the calendar.

"It is a shame there is always a discussion about the race's place on the calendar," he wrote in his BBC Sport column.

"We have already lost Imola, Suzuka and some others. And we cannot afford to lose Silverstone, Monza, Spa, circuits like that.

"We need a British Grand Prix because of the history that surrounds it and the industry that supports it. It is so deep-rooted.

"I am not that bothered about the venue but Silverstone is probably the best place to have it."

"It comes in for a lot of criticism from Ecclestone but I went up there a few weeks ago on my way back from Bahrain and I was just blown away by it. Everything was top dollar," he said.

"The lawns looked beautiful. The flags were all freshly pressed. I thought: 'Wow, they're trying hard.'

"Having said that, I am sure Bernie is not bluffing with his threats. It is his train set and he can put the rails down as he likes."


Felix Sabates talks about closure of #40 team
Felix Sabates spoke with Claire B. Lang on "Dialed In" on XMSN (XM Channel 144) Tuesday evening about Dario Franchitti's future with the team

CBL: You didn't have a sponsor - people forget this team was unsponsored:
Sabates: "What happened to us - we kind of got hung out to dry by Coors. Coors was with me for almost ten years and they had a management change and the new people come over and told us don't worry about it - 'Don't look for a sponsor; we're going to be back with you in 2008, 2009.' So, we never looked for any sponsors and come October they come and tell us well Coors is going to do something else. They're going to sponsor the NASCAR Coors pole and this and that so then it was too late (for the 2008 season)...so we have been running all year long without a sponsor."
CBL: Talk about the options for Dario Franchitti:
Sabates: "Dario had a hard time with it. He made a change from the Indy Racing League to come here. But truth of the matter is that he needs more seat time. We gave him an option to go in the Nationwide car because we do have a sponsor for the #40 Nationwide car. He's going to decide what he's going to do in the next few days and maybe he'll be racing in Chicago (Nationwide race July 11).....I hope he does get in the Nationwide car. He's a very talented driver and if he gets a few more months under his belt maybe we can get a sponsor for next year and we can go racing next year.
Sabates told CBL on the cost of running the team and how much he's paid to keep it running: - "It cost you $20 to $21, $22 million dollars to run a competitive team and if you run 15 races and you don't have any money coming in you have already lost $10 or $11 million dollars."
Sabates on Dario's choices: "Chip pretty much told him if he wanted to go to back to Indy that, because it doesn't cost near as much money there as it does here, and over there Chip is the Rick Hendrick of over here - so he can get a sponsor for an IRL car very easily. So he's got his choice - if he wants to drive the Nationwide Car - get some more experience, maybe we'll get a sponsor for next year or go back to the IRL -- it's up to Dario - he has a contract and we intend to honor it."
Sabates on what he thinks Dario will do: "At the end of the day - I think he will get in the Nationwide car- he needs more seat time anyway." XM Radio PR


Wednesday AM: Spies sets quick time at MotoGP test
Ben Spies
American Ben Spies is enjoying his second day of MotoGP testing for the Red Bull Indianapolis GP.

The two-time defending AMA Superbike champion, second quickest on Tuesday, needed less than two hours today on his Suzuki to post the lowest lap time of any rider at 1 minute, 43.197 seconds.

According to Red Bull Rookies rider coach Kevin Schwantz, speaking in an informational news conference at the track late this morning, the times eventually will be quicker. Schwantz said the more tire rubber laid on the track, the better the bikes will grip.

Speaking with Spies in the garage before the test session began, Schwantz said one of the rider's goals for the day was to eclipse 200 mph on the IMS front straight. Suzuki engineers said the bikes topped out at about 190 mph Tuesday, Schwantz said.

Spies, who made his MotoGP debut earlier this season, has been granted entry in the two American races, at Indy and Monterey, Calif.

Italian test rider Niccolo Canepa, No. 1 the day before at 1:44.1756, is fourth out of six riders at 1:44.388 on his Ducati.

French test rider Jacque Olivier has jumped from third on Monday to second today on his Kawasaki with a quick lap of 1:43.999.

The weather is ideal for a second straight day with sunny skies and temperatures expected to climb into the lower 80s by early afternoon.  Indy Star


Haug 'happy' Hamilton wants to stay
(GMM)  McLaren-Mercedes official Norbert Haug on Wednesday said he is "happy" that race driver Lewis Hamilton never wants to switch to another formula one team.

Hamilton, the 23-year-old Briton who earlier inked a contract to stay with the Woking based squad until at least the end of 2012, said last week he plans to "drive for McLaren my entire career" because the team feels like a "big family".

It is estimated his retainer will average more than $27 million per year throughout the current five-year deal.

Haug, who is the motor sport president for McLaren's engine and equity partner Mercedes-Benz, told the German news agency SID: "(Hamilton's comments) make me very happy.  It is the same -- we want to keep Lewis with us."


Author pans NASCAR reporters as blind sheep
We're taking this week off, but since this column has resonated around the Internet and been bashed on the NASCAR-oriented radio shows (that are bought and paid for by NASCAR, of course), it is with great pleasure that we leave it up another week so that all of the so-called NASCAR "fans" out there can get pissed-off all over again. People can label this column as fiction should they choose to, but if they do, they do so at their peril. Anyone who actually believes that it will be "business as usual" for the Detroit manufacturers and their NASCAR programs going forward from this juncture on are not only dreaming, they're displaying a level of naïveté and flat-out ignorance that defies all rationally reasoned thought. I will repeat the basic premise of last week's column again for those of you out there who just cannot fathom a NASCAR without the Detroit Three being present and accounted for. The Detroit manufacturers are on the brink of disaster, to the point that their very existence is in question. Everything, and I mean everything is subject to change - up to and including budget cuts and even elimination of programs altogether - even sacred cow programs such as NASCAR. - Peter M. DeLorenzo, Autoextremist.


NASCAR slams foul-mouthed crew chief
NASCAR announced today that it has fined Chad Walter, crew chief of JR Motorsports' No. 5 Chevrolet, $10,000 for using "improper language" on television during Saturday's Camping World 200 Nationwide Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Walter also remains on probation until Dec. 31.

Team owner Rick Hendrick was also penalized 25 Nationwide Series owner points, and driver Landon Cassill was penalized 25 driver points.

Walter was placed on probation in February because of rule violations during the season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway.


Hamilton: "We’ll give it our very best shot"
Lewis Hamilton isn't having the easiest season of all this year. The youngster has made quite some mistakes and of course the press is criticizing him for that. Hamilton is however confident towards his home race and he believes that he still has a shot at winning the championship title in 2008.

Lewis, it seems that you have taken a very different route into your Formula 1 career. Your first season was in champion style, what makes this year so different to last year?
“2007 was a fantastic year for me, and an amazing experience. This year, I am only into my second season of Formula 1 but I am now the longest serving race driver at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, with a year’s more experience here than Heikki. With this comes the additional pressure from within myself to do my best for the team, even though I am still on a huge learning curve. In many ways, it is like having a rookie season all over again!”

David Coulthard has put it this way: in your first year it’s easy to be cool because you don’t think – you just drive. When the thinking sets in the easiness gets lost. Do you experience something in this kind?
“For me, the easiest place to be during a grand prix weekend is in the car: nothing else matters when you’re out on the track. But it’s not easy to separate the job into just thinking and driving: to win in Formula 1 requires a whole range of skills and abilities – and you’re always thinking about how to maximize everything, even when you’re away from the racetrack. But I should perhaps emphasize that driving is the greatest part of my job – it’s the reason we all become grand prix drivers and I’m sure it’s the one element that keeps us all coming back for more.”

Heading to your home Grand Prix, how do your emotions this year differ from those 12 months ago?
“To be honest, I don’t feel any different. I love racing at Silverstone and look forward to the Santander British Grand Prix for two reasons: firstly, it’s my home race and it has a special place in my heart – it’s awesome to get so much support from the fans and to see the flags and banners in the grandstands. Secondly, it’s just an amazing track – some of the corners are incredibly fast, it’s the kind of place where you really should go and watch a Formula 1 car at the limit. I tested at Silverstone on Thursday and it brought it all back – the fans, the support and the track itself. The Santander British Grand Prix will be one of the highlights of my year and I hope I can make it special. Having said that, our competitors will be trying every bit as hard as we will, and I have great respect for them. So all I can say is that we’ll give it our very best shot.”

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Jenson Button: Becketts corner is mind-blowing
Jenson Button is looking forward to his home race at Silverstone. In and interview the Honda Racing F1 Team driver discusses the British crowd, his favorite corner and a rather special helmet design. The Briton also talks about his career so far and how he keeps motivated while not being able to challenge for wins.
This is Jenson Button’s ninth season in Formula One. He has driven for Williams (2000), Benetton (2001-2002), BAR-Honda (2003 - 2005) and the Honda Racing F1 Team (2006-2008). Jenson has contested 143 races to date, from which he’s taken one win, four second places and 10 third places. He has started from pole position three times and led a total of 124 laps.

The 2008 British Grand Prix will be Jenson Button’s ninth Formula One race at Silverstone. His best result is fourth in 2004, and he has finished in the points on three other occasions. Jenson has started on the front row once, in 2005. Of course he hopes to do even better this year.

Jenson Button:
Are you looking forward to racing at Silverstone?

“I always look forward to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone as it’s my home race and therefore a very special weekend for me. I love the layout of the track because it’s very fast and flowing, and I have a lot of good memories from when I used to spectate at the British Grand Prix as a boy.”

How much of a lift does the home support give you?
“The fans are great and I love seeing all the Union Flags in the grandstands. But it’s also a bit frustrating at the moment because I want to give them better results than I’m currently able to. The Honda Racing F1 Team’s headquarters is located only seven miles from the track, so there will be a lot of people from the factory supporting us there. With the race selling-out on all three days, there will be a fantastic atmosphere.”

What’s your favorite corner at Silverstone?
“The Becketts complex is my favorite combination of corners in the world. You enter it flat-out in seventh gear, so the speeds are extremely high, and you have to be very precise with your line. The change of direction that you carry through there is just mind-blowing. When you get this section right, you come out with the biggest smile on your face. It’s a fantastic place to watch the race from.”

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Red Bull bigwigs tour McLaren factory
(GMM)  A high-profile delegation from the formula one team Red Bull were odd visitors to McLaren's Woking headquarters on Wednesday.

Former McLaren employees David Coulthard, Martin Brundle and Adrian Newey, as well as their current team principal Christian Horner, were given a guided tour of the Mercedes-powered squad's factory by chief executive Martin Whitmarsh.

McLaren admitted in a media statement that the group drew "many curious glances" from team staff as they worked.

It turns out that Coulthard, who drove for McLaren between 1996 and 2004, won the tour - and lunch for four - in a recent F1 charity auction.

"It's fantastic that he has put his hand in his own pocket to support this charity auction and it's great to see him back at Woking," Whitmarsh said.

"This afternoon showed that we still remain friends with many of our former drivers -- because Martin, of course, is an ex-McLaren driver too."


Ford taps Toyota dealer to run sales
Ford Motor Co. has appointed a veteran auto industry insider and Detroit native to head its sales and marketing operations for the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands in the United States.

Ken Czubay, 59, will assume the post July 16 and report to Jim Farley, Ford's group vice president of marketing and communications.

Born in Hamtramck and raised in the Detroit area, Czubay graduated from Wayne State University with a bachelor's degree in business administration.

Czubay has 38 years of automotive experience and served in a variety of management and executive roles at Ford from 1970 to 1983.

He rejoins Ford from his current positions as president of Southeast Toyota Distributors LLC, executive vice president of parent company JM Family Enterprises Inc., and president of JM Lexus, the world's largest volume Lexus dealership.

In a statement, Czubay said he was glad to be coming back to the Motor City.

"I am joining Ford for the chance to work with a group of committed, energized colleagues who are really embracing the challenge of restoring a great American icon," Czubay said. "Once you have been at Ford, it's always in your blood. I couldn't be more excited to be coming home." Detroit Free Press


Slumping sales cloud Big 3's prospects
This was supposed to be the year Detroit's automakers started to turn things around.

Long-overdue restructurings were under way at General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC and they were poised to leverage their global resources like never before. Critically acclaimed new products were hitting the showrooms. And they finally had a contract with the United Auto Workers that promised to make them cost-competitive with Asian rivals by 2010.

But the industry's 18.3 percent sales decline in June, with steep drops for the Big Three, capped six months of bad news. With little prospect for relief in sight, the future of Detroit's automakers has never been murkier.

Options that would have been unthinkable six months ago are now being weighed seriously by executives desperate to stop the decline that has already cost thousands of workers their jobs and imperils many more. Bankruptcy rumors are swirling around Chrysler and GM, while billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian continues to amass shares of Ford stock. There is talk of reopening the UAW contract, of using profitable overseas operations as collateral for further loans, and of looking to foreign sovereign wealth funds for cash.

"A year ago, the thought was that the auto guys just needed to correct their cost structure," said Shelly Lombard, senior high yield analyst with Gimme Credit in New York. "Now, they don't have the business they had two years ago. The housing crisis, high gas and the economy are killing the automakers now." More at Detroit News


Niccolo Canepa leads first day of testing at Indy
The MotoGP bikes look lost on the big Indy Speedway
A new sound echoed off the grandstands July 1 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as riders took to the 2.62-mile road course for the first official MotoGP test in track history.

Italian Niccolo Canepa was quickest on the first day of the test, pushing the No. 59 Ducati/Bridgestone to a time of 1'44.1756.

Niccolo Canepa
`It is a beautiful track,´ Canepa said. `Just this morning, I got to learn the circuit because it’s new for everybody and it was also a little bit dirty, so we have to clean up the circuit. We did many, many laps this morning, but now in the evening the grip was good, and we found a good setup and good tires to do a good lap time.´

Two-time defending AMA Superbike champion Ben Spies, from Longview, Texas, was second with a top lap time of 1:44.2269 on the No. 11 Suzuki/Bridgestone.

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Fewer turns, more seats for Singapore GP
Singapore GP circuit
Changes to the designation of corner numbers will mean that the Marina Bay circuit is officially reduced from 24 to 23 corners for the 2008 FORMULA 1™ SingTel Singapore Grand Prix on 28th September. The change in designation reflects amendments to Turn 10, at the end of St Andrew’s Road which passes City Hall and The Padang.

"Previously what was Turn 10 and 11 was actually 3 corners close together in a chicane configuration, created to provide the right geometry and corner speeds, due to the lack of straight ahead run off in this part of the circuit” says Singapore GP Director–Technical & Race Operations, Michael McDonough. “As it is created solely around what is in effect the approach to one corner it was determined, in association with the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, that one turn number (Turn 10) be used with a, b and c identifying the change in geometry through the turn.”

In addition, there have been further changes to offer additional grandstand seating to accommodate overwhelming demand. In just four months, over 90% of the tickets to the 2008 FORMULA 1™ SingTel Singapore Grand Prix have been sold.

With close to 100 days to the race, the demand remains so strong that race promoter Singapore GP Pte Ltd will be releasing an additional 1500 grandstand seats on 3rd July 2008.

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racing news

Dyson Racing Celebrates 25th Anniversary
Dyson Porsche RS in 2007 12 Hours of Sebring
Twenty-five years ago, Rob Dyson raced a 1983 Firebird at the IMSA Coca-Cola Three Hours of Lime Rock. Of the thirty seven cars entered in that race, there is only one team still racing today: Dyson Racing. The upcoming American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park on July 12 marks their celebration of twenty five years in professional motorsports. It is a silver anniversary built on success at the highest levels: sixty one victories, one hundred sixty five podiums and seventeen championships.

"When we first started twenty-five years ago, we had five guys and one car and now we have a compliment of twenty-five at the track," reminisces Rob Dyson. "We had one small thirty foot truck and now we have two forty-three foot trucks. I think the biggest thing I take away from the past twenty-five years is that you've got to keep working at it and eventually with the right talent and the right bunch of guys behind you, you can succeed in this sport. It takes a lot of effort and a lot of heart. Racing is a very emotionally and physically demanding sport. It's the type of sport that demands so much of you that you just have to step up to it. I think that's the biggest thing I've learned over the years."

Dyson Racing moved from that 1983 IMSA GTO Firebird to a Porsche 962 in 1985.  They won the first time out with it at that year's Lime Rock IMSA race and twelve more wins followed through the golden years of GTP racing. In 1995, they moved to a Ford-powered Riley and Scott which netted them thirty-six wins over nine years. From 2002 through 2006, they ran AER-powered Lolas and returned to the Porsche family last year with two Porsche RS Spyders.  The team's record of consistent success over the past quarter century has solidified their standing as the premier sportscar team in America.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Hamilton sports bump on lip for home race
  • Alonso wants to drive for Ferrari - Brawn
  • Rain forecast for British grand prix
  • BMW to be next to track-test KERS system
  • Another potential site for future French GP
  • F1 news briefs: Wednesday

Hamilton sports bump on lip for home race
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton displayed a battle-scar as on Tuesday his $20m personal Reebok endorsement deal was unveiled in Amsterdam.

The McLaren driver was sporting a bump on his lip, apparently sustained in a slight slip whilst kayaking near his home on Switzerland's Lake Geneva at the weekend.

Despite his back-to-back penalties at Montreal and Magny-Cours last month, however, the 23-year-old Briton insisted he is not out of sorts in the run-in to his home grand prix at Silverstone.

"If anything, I've been more in form in the last two races than I ever have before," he said.

Hamilton also rejected suggestions that, notwithstanding the hype surrounding the British grand prix, the venue is actually more a 'Ferrari-circuit' than one on which McLaren might dominate.

"People make those comments and I beg to differ," he said.  "I mean for sure, it's a track where Ferrari seems to excel, they have done in the last couple of years, (but) I think our car is good enough there."

Alonso wants to drive for Ferrari - Brawn
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso would be welcome at Honda but his preferred employer is Ferrari.

That was the admission this week of Ross Brawn, team principal at the Honda team, whose current drivers are out of contract at the end of 2008.

Amid speculation at Magny-Cours two weeks ago that Brackley based Honda could be Spaniard Alonso's next destination, Brawn now admits that "every team" would be interested in the services of the former double world champion.

"Honda is no different, of course," he is quoted as telling the Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell.

"Fernando is a very good driver that everyone would like to have sitting in their car," said Brawn, who until the end of 2006 was technical director at Ferrari.

Brawn, referring to the famous Maranello based squad, continued: "I know what team he would like to go to, everyone does.

"The reality is that, before we can talk seriously with him, the situation with Ferrari must be resolved."

If Alonso, 26, ultimately does go on the market for a different team, Brawn makes it clear that Honda is unfazed that his relationship with McLaren last year ended so badly.

"There would be no problem, not at all; the truth is that it would be a fascinating challenge," he said.

"Broadly speaking, everyone who has worked with him speaks highly of him.  With McLaren it was obviously difficult, but the people at Renault regard him very highly," Brawn added.

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tv news

Scott Dixon on Late Show with David Letterman
In case you missed Scott Dixon's guest appearance on David Letterman's show after Scott won the Indianapolis 500, a replay of the program will be shown on Wednesday night, July 2.  The Late Show with David Letterman airs at 11:35 p.m. - 12:35 a.m. ET/PT on CBS.  Please check your local listings.

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