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Reader disgusted with biased officiating
A reader writes, I knew NASCAR played favoritism to certain teams and drivers, everyone does.  However the past few weeks the favoritism and blatant disregard for what is actual and factual has really started to make me angry and the fans need to know about it because it is things that they either don’t see or don’t know, yet no one reports on it because they are scared of what big bad NASCAR will do to them. 

Week in and week out NASCAR puts the screws to someone or lets certain people slide by, blatantly breaking the rules.  I'll go back to Michigan a few weeks ago with the 88 passing the pace car under yellow or starting the final restart from below the white line on the flat part of the track to improve fuel pickup.  The 8 car being allowed to start in front of the 83 car even though the 83 passed the 8 two or three laps earlier before the yellow came out.  Or how about the 8 passing under yellow to push the 9 around the track under yellow to help him save fuel. 

We can go a few weeks back even further to Charlotte and the Coca-Cola 600 when the 88 got caught speeding on pit road, sped down pit road again and served a stop and go penalty until they eventually left pit road a lap down.  When the 88 rejoined the field under yellow he was told to pass the pace car and join the tail end of the longest line back on the lead lap.  No explanation from anyone just got his lap back for no reason.  Would they do that for anyone else?

The 84 car has been random tear-down (for those that don’t know NASCAR supposedly had the first driver officially out of the race pull a pill out of a bag to see who will be the random inspection) for three weeks in a row, finishing outside of the top 35 in all 3 races.  I’m not all that good with math but out of 43 pills in a bag I find the odds very, very high that 84 was drawn that many weeks in a row.  Especially when NASCAR has told them in advance that they better plan on tearing down for sometime after an on track motor altercation at Sonoma.     

How about the scoring debacle in the Daytona Coke Zero 400 when the crashing 5 car sends numerous cars down pit road, all of which were put behind the cars that stayed on the track even though NASCAR told drivers if they needed to avoid an on track altercation by running down pit road just slow down (for safety reasons of course) and the tapes would be reviewed and they would be returned to where they were in the loop before the wreck.  However the 48 and 83 were put back like seven or eight spots for doing exactly what NASCAR told them to do.  We won’t even talk about the finish of the race with the finishing order still being decided probably as I am writing this.       

The list goes on and on, week in and week out  and no one says or does anything.  I have hundreds of things I have seen just in a few short years and it gets worse and worse week in and week out and more and more blatant yet the media reports nothing on it.  If NASCAR wants to be like wrestling at least let the fans and the crews know that way there is less aggravation and stress involved.  If NASCAR wants to predetermine the finishing order, just let everyone know.  We all know who the favorites are but at least the racing could be fair on the track. Jerry Dickson


Donington Boss: Fans will pay for Formula One's move to Donington
The new home of the British Grand Prix will be funded by the motor racing public in a bid to make it 'the people's race' under plans revealed yesterday by the boss of Donington Park.

Simon Gillett, the track's chief executive officer, insisted there was no mystery benefactor funding the majority of the £100million planned rebuild of the East Midlands circuit in time for its first staging of the race in 2010.

Instead, Donington will be financed in the same way as the new Wembley Stadium, using a debenture scheme promoted by outside parties, including a leading British bank and a global leader in sports international development, a subsidiary of a major sports marketing and management agency, who are funding 14 other similar projects.

The truth is that the £30m Gillett insists Donington needs to redevelop the circuit and stage the race will be raised following the Wembley model.

The other £70m is for the perimeter extras, such as a hotel and a shopping mall, which, Gillett says, will be funded by the outlets.

'We're following almost exactly the same model that succeeded with Wembley Stadium,' said Gillett. 'That probably includes the prices of the debentures. For example, a Club membership at Wembley costs £6,000 for a one-off license and a Corinthian membership £20,000, with an annual season ticket. We'll be producing a similar scheme and getting to work selling the debentures in the next few weeks.' Mail Online


Detroit Big 3's future plans don't align with NASCAR
In secure conference rooms, engineering centers and design studios across metro Detroit, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors are working to create a new generation of fuel-efficient vehicles without repeating the mistakes that crippled them when oil prices and emissions regulations shook their world in the 1970s and '80s.

They are honing new technologies, refining designs and scouring the Earth for fun, fuel-efficient cars they can build or sell in North America. From Chevrolet Corvettes and Ford F-150s to small cars engineered in Europe and Asia, every vehicle is being rethought as fuel prices skyrocket and new fuel-economy rules loom.

Haunting their efforts is the ghost of failures past. Detroit's automakers reduced emissions and fuel consumption in the '70s and '80s, but at the cost of style, performance, quality and reliability -- the things that make a car desirable.

The things that keep a car company in business.  More at Detroit Free Press

[Editor's Note: If you read the full article it's clear the manufacturers, to survive, plan to build fun, small, fuel efficient cars going forward, pretty much getting out of the muscle car business.  How does that fit in with NASCAR's big gas guzzling V8s with 1950's carburetors and almost zero technology?  It doesn't]


Hamilton pass was blow for Heikki - Haug
(GMM)  Pole sitter Heikki Kovalainen's disappointing run to fifth place at Silverstone was not helped by the "psychological" blow early in the race dealt by his McLaren teammate.

That was the opinion on Sunday afternoon of Norbert Haug, boss of the team's engine partner Mercedes-Benz.

Kovalainen led the field on the first lap but was immediately under pressure from teammate Lewis Hamilton, who not only passed the Finn but by the checkered flag had lapped him.

"Heikki had problems with his (car) setup," Haug explained to German broadcaster RTL.

"It was perhaps better for the qualifying lap, but he complained the whole race about the rear of his car and that he could not push as he wanted.

"I think that, when Lewis overtook him, it also affected him a little psychologically," Haug acknowledged.

Kovalainen, who spun a couple of times during the British grand prix, was capable of finishing second, Haug added.


Bernie happy Hamilton becoming F1 'character'
(GMM)  Bernie Ecclestone at Silverstone said he is not among the critics of Silverstone winner Lewis Hamilton's off-track activities.

Hamilton, the 23-year-old McLaren driver, has been making headlines recently not only for his exploits at grand prix circuits, but amid a growing number of red carpet appearances and other mentions by the celebrity tabloid press.

But Ecclestone, F1's chief executive and in charge of the sport's commercial rights, welcomed the development of the British driver into a rare "character" on the grid.

"There were always characters in the old days and Lewis is becoming one, which is great," the 77-year-old told People Sport.

"There are so many people who love a driver like Lewis to be promoting the sport in the way he does.

"Drivers can be too robotic and not show what they are really about.  It would be good if (they were) more like Lewis."

Ecclestone also praised Hamilton's paymasters for allowing him to display his real personality to the world.

"Most of the guys in the 70s and 80s were good guys who could sell the sport.  They were all characters like James Hunt and Ayrton Senna.  They helped promote everything," Bernie said.

"I think they seem to be letting Lewis off the leash a little more and that is the right thing to do.  He seems to be benefiting from it and so is formula one."


Watkins Glen Sunday Notebook - 1 UPDATE
Tony Kanaan uses his BlackBerry while walking with an ice pack on his wrist
The AGR team works on Kanaan's damaged car
Gail Miller/AutoRacing1
Tony Kanaan injured his left wrist in the accident this morning and as can be seen in the photo to the right, he has an ice pack on it.  We believe it is only a sprain but that has not been confirmed yet.  His team is working to fix the damaged car rather than going with his backup car.

07/06/08 It's sunny and warm this morning at Watkins Glen, much warmer than previous days and some drivers said after morning warm-up that their cars were loose........There were two incidences during the morning warm-up, Milka Duno spun out in Turn 11 but came out of it unscathed.  Tony Kanaan crashed trying to keep up with Bruno Junqueira and did enough damage that he will likely have to go to his backup car........Dan Wheldon turned the fastest lap followed by Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan (before he crashed), Scott Dixon and Bruno Junqueira......Junqueira told us after the session his car is fast but a bit too loose for the race.  "It was very good on old tires," said Junqueira......Graham Rahal is still struggling a bit and the lack of time to test is really hurting him and his team.  "I feel bad for my guys having to repair my crash damage," said Rahal.  "Two of them were here until 3 AM last night.  There is no time to test because we are always racing (referring to the 6 races in a row).  We will have to wait until the off-season to find the time we need to test."........Rahal's NHLR teammate Justin Wilson was much happier after the warm-up.  "We ran full tanks during the session and the car was getting better and better.  I am confident we can give the big teams a run for their money today."........Spoke to Conquest Racing team boss Eric Bachelart who expressed disappointment with the weekend so far.  "We had high hopes for this race but we have not been able to find the sweet spot with the setup so far.  We have not had the time to test and that is hurting plus the crash damage is costing us a lot of money in parts.  But overall I am very happy to be part of this series."  ......Mark C. reporting from Watkins Glen


Mosley launches groundbreaking breach of privacy action
Motorsport boss Max Mosley tomorrow launches a groundbreaking breach of privacy action against the News of the World over what it called a “sick Nazi orgy”.

The two-week case at London’s High Court will focus on sexual activity which took place in the basement of a London private flat between the 68-year-old president of the FIA and five prostitutes.

News Group Newspapers ran the story in March under the heading “F1 boss has sick Nazi orgy with 5 hookers” and put an extract of a video of the encounters on its website, which was viewed 1,424,959 times before it was removed.

It is strongly contesting the action, which includes an unprecedented claim in a privacy case for exemplary or punitive damages as well as compensatory damages, and will argue that publication was justified in the public interest.

Mr. Mosley has said that he would donate any damages he received to the FIA Foundation, which promotes motorsport safety and the environment.

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Two men hurt at Silverstone fair
(GMM)  Two men on Sunday morning were injured when they fell from an amusement ride near the Silverstone circuit.

The men, one of them hurt seriously, were taken to hospital from a fair that was being held opposite the main gate at the Northamptonshire circuit, scene of the British grand prix.

They were "thrown from a ride", a spokesman confirmed.  The more seriously hurt man's injuries, although rendering him unconscious, are not life-threatening, local reports added.

He is in a stable condition in hospital.


Dennis denies rift with Hamilton camp
(GMM)  McLaren boss Ron Dennis has rebuked paddock gossip of a relationship breakdown with Lewis Hamilton and his father-manager Anthony.

The London newspaper The Times earlier this weekend suggested that, despite their history stretching back to 23-year-old Hamilton's boyhood, a rift has emerged between Dennis and the Hamilton camp.

The report also said the Hamiltons "do not get along" with McLaren's head of communications, Matt Bishop.

"That's not worthy of comment," Dennis reacted at Silverstone, before Hamilton recorded a dominant win at the British grand prix.

"Everybody knows we are very close.  I've always taken a personal interest in Lewis' career, so those suggestions are without any foundation," he added.


Silverstone 'best win ever' - Hamilton
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton on Sunday said his dominant win at Silverstone, his home race, ranked atop his all-time list of career victories.

"It is by far the best victory I've ever had," said the McLaren driver, who from fourth on the grid ultimately beat home BMW-Sauber's Nick Heidfeld, after a chaotic 60-lap race, by more than a minute.

Hamilton, 23, said the British grand prix win was the perfect antidote to the difficult time he has endured in the past few weeks, in terms of on-track misfortunes and adverse media coverage.

"I want to dedicate this to my family - they're all here - because we all know I've had some troubles of late, so this is for them," the emotional Briton, now tied for the world championship lead with the Ferrari drivers, added.

Indeed, the press' immediate reaction was back to the more customary praise for Britain's best title hope since Damon Hill in the mid-90s.

The Guardian said Hamilton "reigned in the rain", while The Times of London heralded the local's "glorious victory" in front of a sell-out 90,000 crowd.


Wet weather for British GP
With half an hour to go before the start of the British Grand prix at Silverstone, rain continues to fall on what has been a wet and windy morning.

The weather forecast is for heavy showers, similar conditions to those during the GP2 sprint race that was run this morning, and the temperature is cool with a strong wind present, too.


Alonso does not regret Renault switch
Fernando Alonso happy with move from McLaren to Renault
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso says he does not regret returning to the Renault team in 2008 -- even though on Saturday he watched Mark Webber qualify on the front row of the Silverstone grid.

The former double world champion, at the end of his unhappy McLaren stint in 2007, nearly selected Red Bull as his next F1 team, and Honda and Toyota were also in the reckoning.

But even though his return to Renault has not been competitive, the 26-year-old Spaniard insists he does not regret his choice.

"Everything suggested that Renault was the safest and most logical choice," he told the Spanish newspaper Diario AS, "even though we took our time because it was not so clear.

"Sometimes Toyota or Red Bull are better than us this year, but maybe we are the most consistent.  If I could choose who to drive for in the next race, it would be Renault.

"In theory I will be sixth or seventh and the others might be very good or very poor," Alonso said.

Wherever he is on the grid in 2008, however, Alonso is glad he did not stay at McLaren, with whom he fell out spectacularly last year.

"We have not had the best results, I'm not in the press conferences or the podiums, or fighting for the world championship.  But for me last year was much worse.

"By the end I knew that I was not able to win.  It has been a much better year than if I had not moved (teams)."

His former McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton said recently that he misses his duels with Alonso, but the feeling is not mutual.

"No.  Because I truly believe that the duels were not entirely fair.  I do not have very good memories of how things were.

"This year has been a difficult one for me in terms of results, but it has been incredibly enjoyable."


France hopes automakers stick with NASCAR
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France said Friday that he is cognizant that Detroit’s Big Three automakers are suffering critical financial problems, but he’s hopeful they will continue to support NASCAR next year and beyond, despite dire circumstances. The news coming out of Detroit in recent weeks has been beyond dismal: General Motors stock has lost nearly 75% of its value in the last nine months and is trading at a 54-year low. Ford Motor Co. stock has fallen nearly 50% in just the last three months, and auto analysts have been predicting that Chrysler LLC will either file bankruptcy or divide the company and sell it piecemeal. According to a report, GM is pulling the plug on its 12 NASCAR track sponsorships, including Daytona International Speedway. That would be the first step of a reduction in Big Three spending in NASCAR. It likely will get worse before it gets better. Some of the more dire predictions among industry websites are that one or more of the Big Three could abandon NASCAR entirely, or perhaps the Nationwide or Craftsman Truck Series. Friday at Daytona, France acknowledged that the automakers are going through tough circumstances. “Well, look, they’re going through a very difficult time and I’m not going to read into all of their issues because they would be better to speak to those,” France said during his annual midseason media press conference. “They have repeatedly told us that their longstanding positions in NASCAR work well. And they’ve got to market their products, whatever their products are going to be. This is a place where they come and get to actually be part of the sport in a way that’s so unique and so different than any other sport.” Still, France acknowledged that NASCAR could well be affected by the chaos in Detroit. “Obviously, with their challenges come reviews and everything else, and we’ll have to see how that goes,” France told reporters. “It would be … we’ll just have to see. Those are the kind of decisions that they’ll need to make. Wish they were more healthy. Think that they will be at some point.” SPEEDTV.com


Ragan to return to #6 in 2009
Roush Fenway Racing officials confirmed Sunday that David Ragan will be back behind the wheel of the #6 Ford next season. Sponsor negotiations to replace AAA on the #6 are awaiting the completion of Stewart’s deal, though team sources confirmed that Office Depot will not be back at Roush Fenway Racing next season. SPEEDTV.com


Senna wins wet GP2 sprint race
(L to R) Di Grassi, Senna and Pantano
Bruno Senna controlled the elements and his rivals to record a dominant second win of the season on a soaking wet Silverstone circuit this morning, taking the top spot on the podium ahead of Lucas di Grassi and Giorgio Pantano.

The Brazilian reigned supreme in a race which saw most of the field succumb to the extreme conditions in some form: a strong start and pressure on polesitter Luca Filippi handed Senna the lead one the first lap and he never looked back, building and then maintaining a solid lead to take the checkered flag by 8.5 seconds over his countryman.

The first few laps were chaotic, with Zuber bogging down from the front row at the start and bunching up the field causing problems further back: Senna, di Grassi and Pantano were effectively the only drivers to not run off the soaked circuit, pushing most of the regular point scorers into unfamiliar positions and forcing them to challenge drivers who they do not normally fight with in the dry.

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Coulthard - no regrets as F1 career nears end
(GMM)  David Coulthard says he will contest his final British grand prix on Sunday without any regrets about his formula one career.

The 37-year-old Scot announced on the eve of the Silverstone event that, after 15 consecutive seasons, he is to retire as a grand prix driver at the end of 2008.

After Brazil in November, he will have contested nearly 250 races, winning 13 times first for Williams and then McLaren.

"I've had a long career and many good opportunities, said Coulthard, who now drives for Red Bull.

In 1998 and 1999, Coulthard's McLaren teammate was Mika Hakkinen, who won both those drivers' crowns.

"I'll come out of this (year) knowing I had world championship-winning cars.  I'm not going to think, 'Damn, I never had that chance'," he told the Daily Telegraph.

"I did get that chance, but I never quite delivered the ultimate result."


Hamilton not making more mistakes - Alonso
(GMM)  A year after they clashed as McLaren teammates, Fernando Alonso has played down the hype surrounding Lewis Hamilton's more difficult 2008 campaign.

The media portrayed Alonso, the 26-year-old former double world champion, as Hamilton's arch-enemy in 2007, but interestingly he does not jump on the bandwagon of harshly critiquing the Briton's performances a year on.

Quoted in the Daily Telegraph, Alonso rejects the notion that Hamilton is making more mistakes this year.

"The second year is more difficult, but I don't think he has made more mistakes," he said.

"It's just that this is formula one.  It is not an easy sport and sometimes you are a little bit unlucky and you lose a couple of points."

Alonso does not even criticize Hamilton's pitlane gaffe of Montreal last month, when the 23-year-old hit Kimi Raikkonen as the Finn waited at a red light.

"With the lights in Canada, you brake one meter earlier and you don't crash, and you get some points.  It is these small details and some unlucky moments that put you out of the points," Alonso explained.

Hamilton agrees that the perception of him by other drivers has changed this year, but also that expectations in general have increased for his second season on the grid.

"It's getting more and more," he told F1 Racing magazine.

"The sponsors want more and more, the team wants more and more and I want more and more."

He said he is still adapting to the incredible spotlight that began shining on him as Britain's most promising rookie last year.

"I still don't know how you deal with it to be honest," Hamilton said.

"I'm a normal person and I try to lead a normal life, so it's always a surprise.  But what do you do?  I think it just takes a while to get used to and I'm still not fully used to it."


NASCAR Bubbas throw beer cans at Busch
Kyle Busch waves to fans as beer cans pummel the track around him
As can be seen from the photos to the right, NASCAR Bubbas (fans), likely intoxicated, threw full beer cans at Coke Zero 400 winner Kyle Busch while he was waving to the fans after winning his 6th Sprint Cup race of the year.  This isn't the first time and it won't be the last, that NASCAR Bubbas pummel a race winner just because he beat their favorite driver.  Throwing full beer cans can be very dangerous, but what do you expect when the sport encourages the use of alcohol with its many beer sponsorships.  Fans drink the beer, get totally wasted and then go out and throw beer cans, shoot somebody, or kill some innocent victim as they drive home inebriated.

tv news

Kasey Kahne and Gary Scelzi will be guests on Wind Tunnel
Kasey Kahne, Sprint Cup Championship contender, and Gary Scelzi, 2005 NHRA Funny Car Champion, will be the featured interviews on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on Sunday night, July 6. Kahne is having a great year posting two wins and a victory in the Sprint All-Star Race. Currently, Kasey is 10th in the championship. He will discuss his success and his thoughts on making a charge for the championship. Scelzi will discuss the unprecedented decision by NHRA to temporarily shorten the race distance for their two nitro classes from 1/4 mile to 1000 feet effective immediately. By shortening the race distance, NHRA has lengthened the shut-down area for the 330mph Funny Car and Top Fuel dragsters. This decision comes in reaction to the death of Funny Car competitor, Scott Kalitta, who lost his life in an accident two weeks ago.  Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain is aired live at 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm ET on SPEED.

tv news

Weekend USA TV Reminders UPDATE The final TV reminders for Sunday are shown below:
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Movie: Landspeed (2002)
3:30am-5:30am WGN
Check local listings for your time zone
Driving Force
4:00am-4:30am (R) -Passing the Torch
4:30am-5:00am (R) -Daddy's Little Girl  A&E
Check local listings for your time zone
Formula 1 British Grand Prix Silverstone
1:00pm-3:00pm (SD) FOX Sports
Championship Off-Road Racing Pomona
3:00pm-4:30pm (R) NBC
IndyCar Camping World IndyCar Grand Prix at The Glen
3:30pm-6:00pm (L) ABC
World of Outlaws Dodge City
4:00pm-5:00pm SPEED
GP2 Series Silverstone
5:30pm-7:00pm SPEED
SPEED Report
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Victory Lane Daytona
8:00pm-9:00pm SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Kasey Kahne (NASCAR Sprint Cup)
Gary Scelzi (NHRA) 9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED
Monday (Partial)
IndyCar Replay Camping World IndyCar Grand Prix at The Glen
9:00am-11:00am (R) ESPN Classic
All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV programs, see TVRacer.com


Burrows and Hopwood Break Through to Win
Adam Burrows and Trevor Hopwood raised eyebrows during the 2007 KONI Challenge season, impressing with pole position qualifying efforts and scoring a record-breaking number of podiums to take the championship in their rookie year of KONI competition.

Despite the accomplishment, the two were still frustrated by the one thing that their KONI portfolio was missing—a victory. So just two weeks after a disappointing race outing at Mid-Ohio, the duo decided to move their focus to victory lane rather than the champions banquet.

That decision paid immediate dividends on Saturday night, as the two combined to take a thrilling maiden Watkins Glen 200 race win in the in the No. 74 Fischer Skis Acura TSX campaigned by Compass360 Racing.

Burrows started the race from third on the grid, and moved into the lead before turning the car over to Hopwood, who returned in 55th position overall. Hopwood replicated the field-scything skills he showed at Lime Rock Park, moving forward to second position with just over 15 minutes remaining before battling for the lead, taking it, and then never looking back.

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Second Season GP2 Asia calendar released
After a successful opening season which started in Dubai last January and ended at the same circuit in mid-April, the GP2 Asia Series will see its second season open in Shanghai on October 18th and 17th 2008, and will be a part of the Formula One race weekend. Going to China will be a first for the championship.

There will be a two-day test in that same circuit prior to the event on October 8th and 9th. Then, the Series will fly to its headquarters in Dubai on December 5th and 6th. After the traditional Christmas break, the thirteen GP2 Asia Series teams will go to Bahrain at the end of January 2009, before travelling back to Dubai on February 27th and 28th. Those two race weekends still have to be confirmed.

On April 4th and 5th, the GP2 Asia Series will head for Sepang. Finally, the championship will close in Bahrain on April 18th and 19th. These last two rounds will take place at the same time of a Formula One race weekend.

“I am delighted to present this new calendar,” Bruno Michel, GP2 Series Organizer, commented. “After a strong first year that saw great race action and generated a lot of interest in Asia and the Middle-East, the GP2 Asia Series is back not only with a new circuit – Shanghai - but also with an added event. As you can see, there will be six rounds this season and, as promised, three of them will coincide with a Formula One race weekend. Our philosophy hasn’t changed: we still want to display the best young driver talent in Asia by giving them the opportunity to receive recognition, whilst training them at the top level of single seater competition and having them fight against drivers from the other side of the world. I’m really looking forward to this new season!” 

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Watkins Glen Saturday Notebook - 2
What might have been for Bruno Junqueira and his Dale Coyne team.  Junqueira posted the fastest speed (133.876 mph) taking P1 in the first qualifying session Saturday afternoon at Watkins Glen.  After this stellar performance, Junqueira moved into the second qualifying stage as one of the favorites.  A decision to wait for better track conditions turned out to cost the team the ability to move into the Firestone Fast Six group of qualifying and a run for the overall pole.  He was on his way to another great lap time when Will Power spun and brought out a full course yellow just as Junqueira's tires were peaking.    "It was a very good day for the #18 Z-Line Designs car," said a very excited Junqueira.  "We were the fastest car in the first group of 13 cars to qualify.  We should be starting in the top six, but we waited to go out in the second session, which hurt us because we were not able to get many laps in before Will Power crashed and brought out the caution.  We had time to run only one lap after the crash, which was not enough."...................Dan Clarke was hanging out in the paddock still in search for sponsorship for an IndyCar seat.  When asked about Indy Lights he told us he was not ready to take that step down just yet.................The grandstands were largely empty both Friday and Saturday.  It remains to be seen how many people buy tickets on Sunday..........The Friday and Saturday race schedule had racing going on almost non-stop.  However, Sunday has nothing going on except for Indy Car warm-up and then a huge 5 hour gap until the race.  What do they expect the fans to do during that 5 hours, sit around and get drunk so they can drive home plastered?  This lunacy prompted one wag to ask why both Indy Lights races were run on Saturday instead of one Saturday and one Sunday?  Sometimes you have to wonder about these things........$5 for a shower.  That's what campers have to pay if they want to shower in the bath house..........Izod is a new sponsor for the IRL and they are also a personal sponsor for Ryan Hunter-Reay.  Izod is already activating their sponsorship in a big way.  On Friday they threw a big party in the paddock with great food, a live band and games.  There was even a heated swimming pool with some good looking women wearing bikinis in it.  This week a huge Izod ad will appear in Times Square NY for millions of people to see.  The ad will feature their driver - Hunter-Reay.  Speaking of Hunter-Reay, he qualified third for Sunday's race, an excellent result for him and his Rahal Letterman team.  After his career was nearly destroyed in Champ Car by a team who gave him such bad equipment no one could drive it fast without crashing, Hunter-Reay appears to have found a home at Rahal Letterman Racing and his talent is beginning to show......Mark C. reporting from Watkins Glen

tv news

Mickey Thompson special on 48 Hours Mystery
The 1988 murder case of racing legend Mickey Thompson and his wife, Trudy, will be shown on the CBS 48 Hours Mystery program on Saturday night, July 5.  "Murder in the Fast Lane" will air at 10:00 pm - 11:00 pm ET/PT on CBS.  Please check your local listings.


Antinucci holds off Matos in race 2
Richard Antinucci, who finished second to Raphael Matos in the first race of the same-day doubleheader at Watkins Glen International, turned the tables in Race 2.

Antinucci, driving the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, charged from the fifth starting position to win the second of the Corning Duels by 0.7202 of a second over Matos. The top six finishers in Race 1 were inverted on the grid for Race 2.

Antinucci overtook teammate Ana Beatriz in Turn 1 of a Lap 9 restart for the point and maintained the advantage for the remaining 20 laps. Beatriz finished third, Logan Gomez was fourth and Pablo Donoso fifth.



SP Car Driver Laps Behind Running/Reason Out
1 5 7 Antinucci, Richard 29 0.0000 Running
2 6 27 Matos, Raphael 29 0.7202 Running
3 3 20 Beatriz, Ana 29 8.9378 Running
4 1 23 Gomez, Logan 29 11.4922 Running
5 2 22 Donoso, Pablo 29 12.0037 Running
6 4 2 Simmons, Jeff 29 12.2133 Running
7 7 26 Luyendyk Jr, Arie 29 12.8221 Running
8 16 54 Lee, Matt 29 15.2042 Running
9 19 25 Hildebrand, JR 29 15.7021 Running
10 13 4 Guthrie, Sean 29 19.7480 Running
11 21 11 Davison, James 29 22.3603 Running
12 12 33 Cunningham, Mitch 29 23.0631 Running
13 11 5 Prendeville, Andrew 29 23.4766 Running
14 14 16 Sherman, Brent 29 33.5614 Running
15 8 6 Herrington, Daniel 29 45.7657 Running
16 15 8 Olson, Mark 29 62.0276 Running
17 18 55 Perera, Franck 20 33.5583 Running
18 9 18 Allemann, Cyndie 18 - Contact
19 20 17 Wilson, Bobby 7 - Contact
20 17 15 Battistini, Dillon 6 - Contact
21 10 9 Reid, Jonny 0 - Contact

Unofficial Driver Points

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BMW investigates Kubica’s problem
BMW Sauber has admitted it is not yet sure what caused the problem that stopped Robert Kubica from qualifying in his accustomed place near the front of the grid at Silverstone.

The Pole aborted his first flying lap of the decisive Q3 session when he felt something amiss with his car at Stowe corner, and played no further part in the session.

As a result he will start Sunday’s race from 10th on the grid, having qualified no lower than fifth over the first eight grands prix.

“It was a difficult qualifying in the end,” said Kubica. “Finally we were on the right pace. “Qualifying one was good and qualifying two was even better, as the first time on option tyres was very good.I backed off in the last sector to just bring the car home, and it was still enough to be two- or three-tenths off the McLaren time. “In qualifying three I went through the first sector without any problems, but then I felt the same problem at the rear I felt on Friday.

“Now we have to analyse everything and see what is going on.”

BMW’s motorsport director Mario Theissen said the team had kept Kubica in the garage because they were unable to diagnose the problem immediately.

“Up to the top-10 qualifying session everything went according to plan, but then Robert aborted his lap in Q3 because he realised he had a technical problem with the car,” said Theissen.

“Unfortunately time was too short to analyse the problem during the session and get him back out on the track. “It is a shame because both drivers were strong, which is proved by Nick [Heidfeld’s] fifth place.” Heidfeld reported that he had felt a similar problem with his F1.08 but decided to press on with his lap.

“The car felt a bit strange but nevertheless I pushed to the end,” he told ITV Sport’s Louise Goodman.

“It’s difficult to know what it is. It felt a bit like a flat-spot or the steering was not perfectly straight. But I thought I’d push anyway and it worked out.”


Dennis, Head, question Donington GP switch
(GMM)  Now that Donington Park has secured the British grand prix for 2010, the circuit organizers' real work will begin, McLaren boss Ron Dennis said on Saturday.

Bernie Ecclestone and F1's governing FIA announced on Friday that next year will be the sport's last visit to Silverstone, after the Northamptonshire circuit failed to meet up to the burgeoning standards of new venues.

But it is true that Donington Park, last the scene of a grand prix in 1993, now has an even greater task in order to live up to Ecclestone's high standards.

"The circuit has got to be extended, there's going to be very significant infrastructure problems," Dennis told reporters at Silverstone.

"You already get several hours of queuing even for the relatively smaller races that take place there.

"It really needs a new spur road from the motorway," said Dennis, who has traditionally backed Silverstone, the permanent home of the British grand prix since 1987.

Williams co-owner Patrick Head backed Dennis' view, according to the news agency Reuters.

"I hope they know where all the money's going to come from to build it up.  The last time I was up there, it was quite basic," he said at Silverstone.

"This facility (Silverstone) is so far ahead of any other facility in England, as a racetrack, that it seems extraordinary to turn your back on this facility," Head added.


Stewart and Hill at Watkins Glen Sunday
Sir Jackie Stewart and Mrs. Bette Hill will participate in the pre-race festivities for the Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen to accept the awards of Driver of the Decade and induction into Legends of The Glen.  Mrs. Hill will be accepting the award on behalf of her late husband, Graham Hill.  Their messages will be broadcast on the Big Screens located around the historic road course as both Stewart and Hill are unable to attend the race due to their responsibilities and commitments associated with this weekend’s British Grand Prix in Silverstone, England.

“The lure of racing at Watkins Glen International is legendary, and to have these two iconic drivers inducted into the Legends of The Glen on this holiday weekend is only fitting,” said Craig Rust, president of Watkins Glen International. 

Graham Hill dominated F1 racing at Watkins Glen International from the time it arrived in 1961 through the event in 1967.  Hill competed in seven United States Grand Prix at The Glen, and went on to post one 5th place finish, two 2nd place finishes, and three straight wins from 1963-1965.  Unfortunately, Hill lost his life in a small plane crash in November 1975. 

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Pantano wins first GP2 race at Silverstone
(L to R) Di Grassi, Pantano and Chandhok
Giorgio Pantano has laid down a huge marker to the rest of the grid after exploding past his rivals to steal an incredible victory ahead of Lucas di Grassi and Karun Chandhok.

The Italian started from fifth on the grid, but kept his head while all around him the others were losing theirs, managing his tires and timing his challenge to perfection to take the win from di Grassi, who looked certain to claim his first win of the season until Pantano took it from him with six laps to go and then sailed serenely on to the checkered flag.

Bruno Senna led the grid away well from pole position, with di Grassi easily muscling his way past Romain Grosjean into Stowe, but 3 laps into the race Senna made a mistake when he went too deep and undid all of his good work as his rivals streamed past: the Brazilian was soon back up to speed but with fierce battles all around him he had to fight hard just to hold position.

Kamui Kobayashi came in for his customary early stop, coming out into clean air and running a string of fastest laps to maintain his position at the head of the list of drivers who had stopped, but all eyes were on the battle at the front as di Grassi, Grosjean, Pantano, Andreas Zuber and Senna squabbled for a way by each other: Grosjean was the first of the front men to stop, coming out just ahead of the Japanese driver, with Pantano re-emerging on his tail a lap later and the two Brazilians narrowly avoiding contact in the pit lane and di Grassi holding on, just, to the top spot.

Unfortunately for Kobayashi his hard work was undone by a mechanical gremlin a few laps later, but ahead of him Pantano was piling on the pressure to Grosjean, who was locking up all around the circuit before finally losing out to the inevitable pressure and relinquishing second after banging wheels into Abbey: di Grassi was now 3.7 seconds ahead of the Italian but Giorgio was on a mission, running a string of fastest laps to put himself onto the rear wing of the Brazilian driver.

Behind them was another battle royal, with Zuber, Chandhok and Senna running like a train up to the rear of Grosjean, whose tires were already worn out: with Sébastien Buemi soon piling on the pressure the five drivers were swapping positions almost corner by corner, with Chandhok finally able to shake off Grosjean and move up the road while the Frenchman struggled intently to hold back the others.

Giorgio Pantano
Back at the front it was Pantano who swooped across the line to take the checkered flag four seconds ahead of di Grassi, who nevertheless held on for a solid second position ahead of a delighted Chandhok. Behind them Buemi just managed to clear the fight for fourth, with Grosjean and Senna finishing in that order after swapping positions right up until the flag, while Zuber and Luca Filippi rounding out the points positions just behind them.

But it was Pantano who had all eyes upon him as he sprayed the champagne on the top step of the podium, delighted to have claimed his third win of the season with a magnificent driver in a chaotic event to extend his championship lead to 46 points, 13 ahead of nearest rival Senna, while Buemi holds on to third position with 25 points, just two points ahead of Grosjean in fourth.



Driver Team Behind Laps Best Lap
1 G. Pantano Racing Eng. - 36 01'31"994
2 L. Di Grassi Campos 00'04"060 36 01'32"720
3 K. Chandhok iSport 00'10"280 36 01'32"573
4 S. Buemi Arden 00'15"114 36 01'32"169
5 R. Grosjean ART 00'18"842 36 01'32"673
6 B. Senna iSport 00'18"988 36 01'32"578
7 A. Zuber Piquet Sports 00'20"205 36 01'32"510
8 L. Filippi ART 00'23"311 36 01'32"939
9 J. D'Ambrosio DAMS - 36 01'32"824
10 V. Petrov Campos 00'35"431 36 01'32"787
11 R. Rodriguez FMS 00'36"886 36 01'33"569
12 A. Soucek Super Nova 00'40"911 36 01'33"300
13 J. Villa Racing Eng. 00'50"712 36 01'32"474
14 M. Conway Trident 00'53"147 36 01'33"384
15 Y. Buurman Arden 00'53"384 36 01'33"593
16 A. Parente Super Nova 00'56"497 36 01'33"053
17 D. Nunes DPR 00'59"654 36 01'33"172
18 H. Tung Trident 01'01"002 36 01'33"144
19 D. Valsecchi Durango 01'01"263 36 01'33"162
20 M. Asmer FMS 01'04"667 36 01'33"223
21 A. Valerio Durango 01'07"767 36 01'33"181
22 A. Valles FMS 01'16"876 36 01'33"619
23 M. Herck DPR - 35 01'33"317
24 P. Maldonado Piquet Sports - 30 01'33"295
25 K. Kobayashi DAMS - 20 01'32"134
26 C. Iaconelli BCN Comp. - 0 -


Hamilton puzzled after qualifying struggle
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton late on Saturday scotched his fans' lingering hopes that strategy might explain his lackluster showing in qualifying for his home race at Silverstone.

The local favorite will start the sell-out British grand prix from just fourth, after lagging his McLaren teammate Heikki Kovalainen's Q3 pace by a huge eight tenths.

Time deficits in final qualifying are often influenced by differing fuel loads for the opening stint of Sunday's race.

But Hamilton told reporters that his strategy is "not significantly different" to pole-sitter Kovalainen's.

"I have no clue why the car's not perfect," the 23-year-old, who has not scored a point in two races, said in the paddock.

"I haven't changed it, really, since testing.  I don't know where the time is."

Hamilton went into the gravel on his first Q3 effort, and - after being told on the radio to "not overdrive" - admits he maybe took it a bit too easy into the Priory corner thereafter.


Rosberg to start race from pitlane
(GMM)  Nico Rosberg on Saturday said he will probably start the British grand prix from the pitlane after his disastrous qualifying performance.

The 22-year-old German dropped out in the initial 'Q1' qualifying period at Silverstone, when his Toyota-powered single seater struggled with an unidentified suspension problem that made the car bounce in the corners.

"It's making the car really hard to drive in the corners because it just jumps around all over the place," Rosberg said.  "We've obviously been trying to find a solution throughout the sessions but, so far, nothing has worked."

Taking a car out of post-qualifying 'parc ferme' conditions carries the penalty of having to start the race right at the back.

Rosberg told German television: "I will probably start the race from the pitlane, because we will have to change a lot of things on the car."


Webber puts money on Kovalainen win
Mark Webber predicts a win for Kovalainen
(GMM)  Mark Webber will start the British grand prix from the front row of the grid -- but the Australian has revealed he is rooting for the other guy.

After a strong Silverstone test, Heikki Kovalainen went into the race weekend a dark horse to succeed on the home turf of his McLaren teammate and crowd favorite Lewis Hamilton.

On Friday, punters could place a bet on the Finn securing his formula one breakthrough at 23 to 1 -- and Red Bull racer Webber fancied a piece of the action.

"I've put 200 quid on Heikki at 23 to 1, so I'm in good shape," he smiled, to the hilarity of journalists in the Silverstone media centre.

Pole sitter Kovalainen, 26, said he has not placed a similar bet.

"I don't do betting.  I try to earn my money in a safer way," he said.

Red Bull driver Webber, meanwhile, teased reporters when it was suggested that his pace for P2 on Saturday was inspired by a light load of fuel.

"I'm stopping on lap three and after that I will have a long race, so we will go from there," the 31-year-old grinned.


Matos wins first Indy Lights race
Race 1 podium (L to R) Richard Antinucci (2nd), Raphael Matos (1st) and Jeff Simmons (3rd)
Gail Miller/AutoRacing1
Champ Car Atlantic champion Rafael Matos has won the first half of the Firestone Indy Lights doubleheader at Watkins Glen Saturday leading flag to flag after passing pole sitter Franck Perera on lap 1 and never looking back.  Richard Antinucci was 2nd and Jeff Simmons third.  More to follow......



SP Car Driver Laps Behind Running/Reason Out
1 2 27 Matos, Raphael 28 0.0000 Running
2 4 7 Antinucci, Richard 28 2.1290 Running
3 3 2 Simmons, Jeff 28 9.3592 Running
4 6 20 Beatriz, Ana 28 15.4980 Running
5 8 22 Donoso, Pablo 28 16.6814 Running
6 10 23 Gomez, Logan 28 17.0292 Running
7 12 26 Luyendyk Jr, Arie 28 17.6499 Running
8 16 6 Herrington, Daniel 28 20.7664 Running
9 14 18 Allemann, Cyndie 28 25.8024 Running
10 7 9 Reid, Jonny 28 32.9578 Running
11 20 5 Prendeville, Andrew 28 36.2585 Running
12 11 33 Cunningham, Mitch 28 40.5401 Running
13 13 4 Guthrie, Sean 28 43.5218 Running
14 18 16 Sherman, Brent 28 67.2138 Running
15 19 8 Olson, Mark 27 31.8015 Running
16 15 54 Lee, Matt 27 43.9101 Running
17 17 15 Battistini, Dillon 8 - Contact
18 1 55 Perera, Franck 2 - Contact
19 5 25 Hildebrand, JR 2 - Contact
20 9 17 Wilson, Bobby 2 - Contact
21 21 11 Davison, James 0 - DNS


Vettel proud, Bourdais encouraged at Silverstone
"I qualified 7th in Indy with BMW, but to be 8th here at Silverstone with Toro Rosso means we can be very proud of what we have achieved today. We had a very good balance on the car and all weekend I've felt very comfortable even on my first race weekend at this tough and challenging track. It seems we are moving in the right direction with the new car and we have made a step forward. It's fun fighting in the top ten. We should be in good shape tomorrow, whatever the weather and we will deal with whatever comes." Sebastian Vettel

"Thirteenth is not exactly the most satisfying result, but given how much we struggled here in practice, it's good to move up a notch and be a bit more competitive. We struggled to find the right set-up so we went for the best compromise and the result was rather encouraging. I don't think anyone knows what the weather will do tomorrow, but definitely, it seemed to go well in the wet in the morning and I found the car easier to drive in those conditions, so I wouldn't complain if it rained tomorrow afternoon." Sébastien Bourdais


Watkins Glen Saturday Notebook - 1
Another beautiful day is in store for race fans and drivers alike, partly sunny skies and comfortable temperatures are in plentiful supply at the beautiful upstate New York track............The third IndyCar practice session is over and once again Milka Duno is slowest by a wide margin, but does that actually come as a surprise to anyone?.................The first Indy Lights race got underway and pole sitter Franck Perera lost control on the downhill left-hander leading into the boot section, thereby ending his race against the tire barriers.  Raphael Matos leads early.............Graham Rahal crashed his IndyCar yet again this weekend, and is at a loss as to why it keeps happening - "I thought I was on a pretty good lap and I thought the tires were up to temperature but when I came into Turn 7 the back end came out," said Rahal.  "When I went to correct it the rear suddenly hooked up and the car just went straight and I made contact [with the barrier].  It was really strange.  I just don't have a good understanding of why I am crashing every weekend.  It's frustrating and embarrassing.  I feel bad for all the work I have caused my crew.  They are going to work hard to fix the car and I'll do my best to reward them with a good result."............After topping morning practice by a comfortable margin, Ryan Briscoe said "I'm looking forward to qualifying.  This is a great place, fast and flowing.  I'm a fish back in the water on the road course now.".....Mario Dominguez thinks he was still losing 1/2-second in Turn 10.  Mark C. reporting from Watkins Glen


Watkins Glen: Briscoe tops practice 3
Team Penske's Ryan Briscoe, who is rumored to be driving for his job, turned the fastest lap of the weekend in the third practice session at Watkins Glen Saturday, 0.64 sec. faster that Friday's top driver, Scott Dixon, thereby tabbing himself as the favorite to win the pole in this afternoon's qualifying.

Tony Kanaan, Danica Patrick and Dan Wheldon rounded out the top-5. 

Pos Driver Name Best Time Best Speed Best Lap Total Laps
1 Ryan Briscoe (6) 1:29.5822 135.429 5 10
2 Scott Dixon (9) 1:30.2213 134.469 10 13
3 Tony Kanaan (11) 1:30.2707 134.396 9 11
4 Danica Patrick (7) 1:30.2845 134.375 8 12
5 Dan Wheldon (10) 1:30.3701 134.248 9 11
6 Ryan Hunter-Reay (17) 1:30.3751 134.241 10 11
7 Will Power (8) 1:30.3805 134.232 9 13
8 Helio Castroneves (3) 1:30.4863 134.076 4 9
9 Justin Wilson (02) 1:30.5070 134.045 7 9
10 Marco Andretti (26) 1:30.5684 133.954 8 10
11 Vitor Meira (4) 1:30.7191 133.731 14 14
12 Hideki Mutoh (27) 1:30.9439 133.401 10 10
13 Enrique Bernoldi (36) 1:31.2442 132.962 7 10
14 Oriol Servia (5) 1:31.2595 132.940 9 12
15 Mario Moraes (19) 1:31.3131 132.862 9 10
16 EJ Viso (33) 1:31.4248 132.699 5 10
17 Buddy Rice (15) 1:31.6112 132.429 9 12
18 Bruno Junqueira (18) 1:31.6926 132.312 6 7
19 A.J. Foyt IV (2) 1:31.9340 131.964 10 11
20 Darren Manning (14) 1:31.9519 131.939 10 11
21 Mario Dominguez (96) 1:31.9643 131.921 7 8
22 Ed Carpenter (20) 1:32.0177 131.844 10 15
23 Graham Rahal (06) 1:33.2904 130.046 3 3
24 Jaime Camara (34) 1:35.1023 127.568 12 12
25 Jay Howard (24) 1:35.1131 127.553 7 8
26 Milka Duno (23) 1:36.8196 125.305 8 14


Super Aguri assets to be auctioned
(GMM)  The assets of the departed Super Aguri team, now in administration, will be auctioned on July 31.

The news was confirmed on Saturday by SHM Smith Hodgkinson, a British commercial and industrial auctioneer.

Super Aguri, the Honda-powered Japanese team that was based at Leafield until it collapsed earlier this year, is presently being administered by PKF.

Interested bidders will be able to view the lots, including cars and transporters, at Leafield late in July.


F1 news briefs: Saturday 2
(GMM)  Timo Glock went into qualifying on Saturday with a new Toyota chassis.  The German damaged his original monocoque over the curbs at Silverstone during Friday practice.  He qualified 12th, two places ahead of his teammate Jarno Trulli.


Four drivers have fallen foul of the pitlane speed limit at Silverstone so far, copping FIA monetary penalties.  Kimi Raikkonen was the worst offender and must pay 2600 euros for his 72.1kph in the 60kph-limited pitlane.  Timo Glock was snapped at 69kph (1800 euros), Jenson Button 63.5 (800 euros) and David Coulthard 61.7 (400 euros).


Hill accuses Ecclestone of bankrupting all race promoters
Bernie Ecclestone is beholden to his investors to make them a good return on their money
Damon Hill has severely criticized Bernie Ecclestone, accusing him of sucking money out of grand prix organizers without re-investing in F1's infrastructure.

The attack from Hill, president of the British Racing Drivers' club who own Silverstone, comes on the day Ecclestone announced Donington Park would host the British Grand Prix from 2010.

The timing of Ecclestone's announcement could not have been more damaging for the BRDC who this weekend are celebrating their 80th anniversary. It is also Silverstone's 60th birthday.

He believes if Ecclestone and CVC Capital Partners, who run Formula One's commercial arm, had re-invested a fraction of the fortune they make from race organizers then Silverstone would have delivered the facilities demanded.

"There's always been the question of the FOM fee, and ultimately that is the deciding factor," said Hill. 

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Brit GP bankrupting Silverstone, will bankrupt Donington too
Sir Jackie Stewart believes the British Racing Drivers' Club would have gone bankrupt if they had continued to stage the British GP.

Stewart, a former BRDC president, feels Ecclestone's demands for a new contract of £11million per race, with a small percentage rise per annum, would have crippled the organization of which he is still a member.

"I am disappointed Silverstone is losing the British Grand Prix," Stewart said.

"But, quite frankly, it is very difficult for a private members' club to try and continue to afford the kind of monies needed to retain the race in this country.

"Almost every other country in the world that hosts a grand prix, if not every one, has government support.

"I don't think there is the opportunity for any promoter, given the present cost of Formula One, to make ends meet.

"For the BRDC to continually lose money, just to keep the British Grand Prix, is not correct.

"Eventually it would have bankrupt the BRDC."

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Biofuels behind food price hikes: leaked World Bank report
Biofuels have caused world food prices to increase by 75 percent, according to the findings of an unpublished World Bank report published in The Guardian newspaper on Friday.

The daily said the report was finished in April but was not published to avoid embarrassing the US government, which has claimed plant-derived fuels have pushed up prices by only three percent.

Biofuels, which supporters claim are a "greener" alternative to using fossil fuel and cut greenhouse gas emissions, and rising food prices will be on the agenda when G8 leaders meet in Japan next week for their annual summit.

The report's author, a senior World Bank economist, assessed that contrary to claims by US President George W. Bush, increased demand from India and China has not been the cause of rising food prices.

"Rapid income growth in developing countries has not led to large increases in global grain consumption and was not a major factor responsible for the large price increases," the report said.

All petrol and diesel in Britain has had to include a biofuels component of at least 2.5 percent since April this year.

"Without the increase in biofuels, global wheat and maize stocks would not have declined appreciably and price increases due to other factors would have been moderate," the report said.

It added that the drive for biofuels has distorted food markets by diverting grain away from food for fuel, encouraging farmers to set aside land for its production, and sparked financial speculation on grains.

But Brazil's transformation of sugar cane into fuel has not had such a dramatic impact, the report said.

"The basket of food prices examined in the study rose by 140 percent between 2002 and this February," The Guardian said.

"The report estimates that higher energy and fertilizer prices accounted for an increase of only 15 percent, while biofuels have been responsible for a 75 percent jump over that period." Yahoo!


Is the IRL that stubborn?
A reader writes, I just read Mark Cipolloni's latest article on the cost to race in the IRL.  Is Tony George and the IRL that stubborn when it comes to adopting good ideas that Champ Car had?  If these costs are that high and growing, it will be tough for the Champ Car teams that made the switch to stay in business, yet alone attract new teams for next year.  They need to open their eyes, or the unification will mean nothing. Pat Kleibor

Dear Pat, Up until now the IRL has pandered to the big teams with deep pockets to allow them to gain an advantage by outspending the competition.  Sure they wanted some engineering leeway so their engineers didn't get too bored with the series (remember Roger Penske always wants "The Unfair Advantage" - the name of the book his driver Mark Donahue wrote), but at the end of the day the higher costs hurt the series' ability to move forward. so expect to see some cost reductions put in place before long.  Mark C.


Nationwide COT on hold
Yahoo! Sports has learned that NASCAR officials have notified team owners in the Nationwide Series that they will delay the introduction of the next generation Nationwide Series race car by one year. According to NASCAR spokesperson Ramsey Poston, the reason for the change is because testing and development is still needed before the car is approved for competition. The underlying reason for the decision however, is that the economic impact of having to build new cars at this time would be a hardship for all of the independent teams of the Nationwide Series. The decision was, in part, based on NASCAR officials meeting individually with smaller team owners to gauge their reaction. An official announcement is expected in two weeks. Yahoo Sports


Team bosses back Donington switch
Top Formula One team bosses have backed the British Grand Prix's move to Donington Park from 2010.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed a 10-year contract with the East Midlands circuit's owners, ending a long association with Silverstone.

And the likes of Sir Frank Williams, Honda chief Ross Brawn and Toyota's John Howett all back the decision.

Williams said: "I'm delighted. Some feared the British Grand Prix may be dropped, but it seems unlikely now."

Like Force India, Honda and Williams have their factory bases closer to Silverstone and moving the race to Donington Park is a minor inconvenience.

But Williams said: "I'm just delighted the British Grand Prix will continue to be mentioned in a calendar.

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British GP: Alonso tops final practice
Pos Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Alonso Renault 1:20.740 +0.000 16
2. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:20.988 +0.248 18
3. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.266 +0.526 14
4. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:21.277 +0.537 19
5. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.668 +0.928 14
6. Piquet Renault 1:21.786 +1.046 14
7. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:22.059 +1.319 21
8. Glock Toyota 1:22.183 +1.443 21
9. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:22.355 +1.615 20
10. Barrichello Honda 1:22.387 +1.647 17
11. Button Honda 1:22.440 +1.700 19
12. Massa Ferrari 1:22.461 +1.721 20
13. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:22.544 +1.804 18
14. Trulli Toyota 1:22.556 +1.816 20
15. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:22.916 +2.176 22
16. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:23.028 +2.288 17
17. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:23.049 +2.309 22
18. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:23.112 +2.372 21
19. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:23.282 +2.542 20
20. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:32.119 + 11.379 6


Hamilton triathlon snub 'weak' - Button
(GMM)  Jenson Button has branded his F1 rival and countryman Lewis Hamilton "very weak" for pulling out of a triathlon challenge for charity.

After declaring last week he is fitter than Button, Hamilton was pressured into going head-to-head with the Honda racer in the Thursday press conference at Silverstone -- before his father Anthony pulled the plug less than half an hour later.

"That's weak, very weak," Button is quoted as saying by the Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell.

"Honestly, I'm surprised.  He's an athlete, I'm an athlete, we both love the challenge."

When Hamilton originally accepted the challenge, Button said he would donate $20,000 to a charity if he is beaten.

"What happens to the money now?" Button continued.  "Hopefully he still donates it ..."


F1 news briefs: Saturday
(GMM)  Team bosses have criticized the loss of the usual August break - a lull in grands prix and testing - on next year's formula one calendar, that has expanded from 18 to 19 races.

"It really is tough on the mechanics," said McLaren executive Martin Whitmarsh.  It is suggested that, to avoid 'burn-out' among the travelling F1 fraternity, teams may have to start employing back-up crews to deal with the sport's ever-increasing demands, even though the extra race does deliver more commercial revenue.

"We've been through this before," said Honda team principal Ross Brawn.  "I think it's a shame."


Like Jarno Trulli, who on Friday crashed at the same place during Silverstone practice, Felipe Massa was also taken to the medical centre for checks following his big accident at Stowe.  "The shunt was more than 25Gs, but I didn't feel like it was a big shunt.  I did all the tests possible, and I am 100 per cent for the rest of the race," the Ferrari driver said.


Repsol, the Spanish oil company, has denied internet reports that it wants to back a switch for Fernando Alonso to Honda in 2009.  Repsol officials contacted the Spanish newspaper Diario AS, saying the reports are untrue.


Fernando Alonso has urged his F1 employer, Renault, to improve the reliability of its engines.  Following his failure down the Hangar straight on Friday, the French team said the risk of failures was less in the actual race-spec - as opposed to the separate Friday 'test' - engines.  "We are investigating what is going wrong.  It is almost always the same thing that breaks," Alonso told El Pais.  "There is no reason to panic, but reliability is an important thing."


Hamilton to invest $20m in Grenada
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of investing millions of dollars in Grenada, the country of his father's ancestry.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the McLaren driver is set to pump $20 million into a luxury beachside hotel development, and is in secret talks with prime minister Keith Mitchell about acquiring adjoining lands.

The newspaper said Grenada, a Caribbean island, is encouraging Hamilton and his father's investment by offering significant tax breaks.

"In the Caribbean, we might not fully understand the popularity of formula one but, as Lewis Hamilton's winning ways continue, Grenada's international popularity will grow in leaps and bounds," PM Mitchell said.


Win a chance to drive an F1 car
Ever dreamt of being a Formula One driver? Or imagined yourself in pole position on the grid at Silverstone? Well, with the help of Philips your dream could become a reality. Today, Philips Shavers launches its Get Closer Challenge where one lucky winner will get to drive an AT&T Williams Formula One car!

Williams F1 car
Through its sponsorship of the AT&T Williams team, Philips Shavers is offering this opportunity of a lifetime giving someone the chance to ‘Get Closer’ to the world of Formula One. The winner of the UK competition will compete against winners from around the world at a leading motor racing school. Under expert tuition from the school’s instructors and the AT&T Williams team, finalists will be scored on their performance as they get to drive a selection of high-performance and single-seater racing cars. The AT&T Williams team of Sir Frank Williams, Team Principal, and Sam Michael, Technical Director will then choose the overall winner and award the final prize – an almost unheard of drive in an AT&T Williams FW29 Formula One car for five laps on the Silverstone circuit, home of the British Grand Prix.

Nico Rosberg, lead driver for the Oxfordshire based AT&T Williams team, commented: “The first time I drove an F1 car was a really unbelievable experience. It really is an assault on the senses and the difference with driving a road car is just incredible; nothing can really prepare you for it. It is a bit like the difference between flying away somewhere for your holiday or climbing aboard an air force fighter jet. This really is an amazing opportunity and I am sure it will be one the winner will never forget.”

The overall winner will be announced at the AT&T Williams headquarters in Grove, Oxfordshire where finalists will be given the rare opportunity to see the AT&T Williams team at work and visit the Williams F1 Grand Prix Collection of championship winning race cars from Williams’ 30-year history.

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Silverstone axe no 'bluff' - Ecclestone
(GMM)  Cynicism was a plentiful emotion in the Silverstone paddock on Friday, but Bernie Ecclestone scoffed at claims that Donington is unlikely to host the British grand prix in the future.

Paddock cynics pointed at Donington's immense challenge to find the time and money to overhaul its archaic venue in time for 2010, wondering instead if Friday's news was a typical piece of F1 smoke-and-mirrors.

"It's not a bluff," he said at Silverstone, scheduled to host its last F1 race next year.

"A contract is signed," the F1 chief executive added.

"The plans, what has been put to me by Donington, is elaborate and nice.  It's what we want and what we need."

He said Silverstone's owner and promoter, the BRDC, pleaded for two more weeks beyond this weekend's deadline.

"If they haven't got anything done in five years they are not going to make it happen in a fortnight," Ecclestone insisted.

"They don't know what they are doing.  The problem is that they don't do anything in a business-like way," he added.

"I always said to them that the British grand prix was the deadline and they weren't ready.

"It's not personal -- do the job and we have a British grand prix.  Now there is, definitely -- 100 per cent."


Silverstone very disappointed over Donington announcement
Following an announcement made by the FIA on Friday morning that FOM has signed an agreement to stage the British Grand Prix at Donington Park from 2010, Damon Hill OBE, President of the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC), and Richard Phillips, Managing Director of Silverstone Circuits Limited, have issued the following joint statement….

The 2008 F1 Santander British GP is a celebration of 60 years of racing at Silverstone and 80 years of the BRDC. The event is a record-breaking sell-out on all three days. We have a fantastic staff of thousands in the circuit who we are confident will make the event a huge success. Our efforts outside of the track have seen major infrastructure improvements and co-ordination with local authorities and the emergency services to ensure a world-class event with minimal disruption for the local community.

A number of teams and drivers have praised Silverstone this week so, as you can imagine, it is extremely disappointing to receive the news, at this time, that FOM has signed an agreement with Donington Park.

The BRDC and Silverstone set out on a campaign to retain the British Grand Prix some time ago. One major positive is that the FIA and FOM have at last acknowledged the importance of a British Grand Prix on the F1 calendar. The UK has some of the most passionate and well informed fans in the world and a significant industry based around motor racing.

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Stewart defends his crew chief
Tony Stewart sharply defended crew chief Greg Zipadelli's decision to pit late in last weekend's race at New Hampshire, saying "it's easy to be an armchair quarterback." Stewart dominated the race but wound up 13th when officials stopped it 17 laps early because of rain. Zipadelli called for the late pit stop -- most of the leaders followed suit -- and Stewart found himself in the middle of the pack when the rain started a few minutes later. Many of Stewart's fans were critical this week of Zipadelli's call. "You see all of this criticism from people and it's people who can't even control their own lives and they want to sit here and tell us how to run race teams on the weekend," Stewart said. "I find that highly amusing that people think that they've got a better solution all the time than what we do. It's easy after it's all over to say, 'Well you should've done this. What was he thinking? If they were that smart, they would be crew chiefs, and obviously they're not that smart listening to the criticism. It just frustrates you as a driver knowing that you've got a crew chief that's won two championships and 30-plus races with you that people think they are a lot smarter than and they're not." Associated Press/ESPN


NASCAR forced to slash prices because merchandise not selling
Awash in merchandise it can't sell because consumers are spending money on high gas prices instead, Motorsports Authentics said it would cut prices of Sprint Cup team jackets by $30 and standard die-cast car models by $10, among other reductions, starting with this weekend's race at Daytona International Speedway. The twill jackets normally retail for $120 and the die-casts for about $75.


Fastest in practice, Kurt Busch to go to backup car for race
Kurt Busch posted the fastest speed in Thursday's opening practice for Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway but was forced to a backup car after an accident that damaged the right front on his Penske Racing Dodge.

Busch, who posted a best speed of 189.633 mph, brought out the only caution of the session when a Goodyear tire blew coming out of Turn 2, sending his car into the wall.

Gillett Evernham Motorsports' Kasey Kahne recorded the second-fastest speed at 189.143 followed by Joe Gibbs Racing's Tony Stewart at 188.846.


Perera wins Indy Lights pole
Franck Perera
Franck Perera, making his second Firestone Indy Lights starts and first on a road course, will start from the pole position for the first of two same-day races at Watkins Glen International.

Perera, driving the No. 55 Guthrie Racing car, posted a quick lap of 1 minute, 37.8651 seconds (123.967 mph) during a 30-minute session to determine the SWE Pole Award winner.

Raphael Matos (1:38.1211; 123.643) will join Perera on the front row.  These two drivers finished 1st (Matos) and 2nd (Perera) in last year's Champ Car Atlantic Series and they are back at it against each other this year but in a series with much more horsepower. 

Tomorrow they will run a doubleheader. 

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Watkins Glen Friday Notebook - 2 UPDATE A good size crowd has shown up this weekend at The Glen.  The camping areas are packed and as the weekend progresses more and more people are coming in.  The grandstands were rather empty today, but most folks were enjoying their campsite with their family........The track of Watkins Glen has gone green.  Officials from Watkins Glen International announced today that WGI will be the first major US motorsports facility to use renewable energy to fulfill all of its energy needs. WGI has purchased 1.03 million kWh of Green-e certified renewable energy credits (RECs), which is equal to 100% of its projected energy-use. Juice Energy, Inc. helped facilitate the purchase, and arranged for WGI to be powered by wind turbines from across the US. The agreement with Juice Energy will guarantee the use of green energy at WGI for the next three years. "This is a major milestone for motorsports facilities. It is great to partner with Juice Energy on the extraordinary purchase of Green-e certified wind RECs equal to 100% of our annual electricity usage," stated Craig Rust, president of Watkins Glen International. "As the premier road racing facility in North America we are now proud to be the most environmentally conscious as well." ......The new media center The Glen built is a major improvement over the dilapidated building it replaced.  All the journalists commented about how impressed they were......

07/04/08 The start of IndyCar practice was delayed due to a young deer on the track.....Several teams confirmed that the cost to go to Richmond far exceeded the reward. "We don't belong at places like that, because we don't have fenders and can bounce off the walls like NASCAR" was the comment we got.


Watkins Glen: Dixon tops practice 2
Scott Dixon didn’t hold anything back as the IndyCar Series began preparations for Sunday’s Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen. The winner of all three previous IndyCar Series events at Watkins Glen International topped the speed chart as 26 drivers participated in 2 ½ hours of practice on the 11-turn, 3.37 mile circuit.

Dixon, who has won at The Glen from second and fourth twice, recorded a best lap of 1 minute, 30.1947 seconds, 134.509 mph in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing machine.

Helio Castroneves, who has won all three PEAK Motor Oil Pole Awards at Watkins Glen, was second fastest with a best lap of 134.368 mph.

Dixon’s teammate Dan Wheldon was third, Panther Racing’s Vitor Meira was fourth and KV Racing Technology’s Will Power was fifth.

Dixon and Castroneves are first and second, respectively, in the IndyCar Series point standings.

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Martin signs with Hendrick Motorsports
Mark Martin, a 35-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner, will join Hendrick Motorsports in 2009, as announced Friday at Daytona International Speedway
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Hendrick Motorsports made it official today, announcing Mark Martin as the full-time driver of the organization's No. 5 NASCAR Sprint Cup entry in 2009.  Martin, a 35-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner and the all-time leader in NASCAR Nationwide Series victories, has signed a two-year agreement to drive for Hendrick Motorsports beginning in 2009.

Martin will race the full 2009 Sprint Cup schedule in the No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Chevrolets, becoming teammates with Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. It will mark his first full season of Cup competition since 2006, when he finished ninth in points.

A Batesville, Ark., native, Martin also is slated to run a partial Sprint Cup schedule for Hendrick Motorsports in 2010, sharing the No. 5 Chevys with a to-be-determined second driver. Martin will enter 26 events, including the non-points Budweiser Shootout and NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.

"Mark is an incredible racer and one of the classiest guys around," said Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick, whose organization will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2009. "He is a driver who makes everyone around him better, and our entire company is going to benefit from his presence."

In the 20 seasons Martin has completed the full Sprint Cup schedule, he has finished inside the top 12 in championship points on 17 occasions, including 12 appearances in the top five. In addition to his 35 wins, Martin has posted 41 pole positions, 241 top-five finishes and 390 top-10s at the Cup level.

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Senna keeps his promise with another GP2 pole
Two weeks ago at Magny-Cours, Bruno Senna qualified on pole position for the opening GP2 Series race… but crashed as he crossed the finishing line. At Silverstone today he annexed another pole – the second of his GP2 career – but this time without the theatrics. A searing 1m 26.912s lap put the iSport driver 0.122s clear of closest rival Romain Grosjean. In tomorrow afternoon’s 36-lap race, the Brazilian – who lies second in the championship standings – will be trying to reduce Giorgio Pantano’s seven-point series lead. The Italian will line up fifth.

Afterward Bruno Senna said, “What can I say? After France I promised that I’d take pole position at Silverstone without knocking any wheels off the car and I’ve kept my word! The car wasn’t handling ideally during this morning’s free practice session, but iSport is absolutely fantastic in situations like that. The guys knew exactly what to do, implemented lots of small changes and every one of them made a positive difference – the balance felt absolutely perfect in qualifying, I adore driving at this track and I managed to put a really good lap together. It was a fantastic team effort.”


Pos Driver

Team Time Gap
1. Bruno Senna iSport 1:26.912 +0.000
2. Romain Grosjean ART 1:27.034 +0.122
3. Andi Zuber Piquet Sports 1:27.147 +0.235
4. Lucas di Grassi Campos 1:27.350 +0.438
5. Giorgio Pantano Racing Engineering 1:27.487 +0.575
6. Luca Filippi ART 1:27.554 +0.642
7. Andy Soucek Super Nova 1:27.699 +0.787
8. Mike Conway Trident 1:27.754 +0.842
9. Kamui Kobayashi DAMS 1:27.774 +0.862
10. Karun Chandhok iSport 1:27.786 +0.874
11. Pastor Maldonado Piquet Sports 1:27.845 +0.933
12. Sebastien Buemi Arden 1:27.931 +1.019
13. Javier Villa Racing Engineering 1:28.164 +1.252
14. Jerome d'Ambrosio DAMS 1:28.172 +1.260
15. Adrian Valles BCN 1:28.174 +1.262
16. Vitaly Petrov Campos 1:28.228 +1.316
17. Alvaro Parente Super Nova 1:28.365 +1.453
18. Diego Nunes DPR 1:28.442 +1.530
19. Roldan Rodriguez FMS 1:28.590 +1.678
20. Ho-Pin Tung Trident 1:28.596 +1.684
21. Davide Valsecchi Durango 1:28.751 +1.839
22. Marko Asmer FMS 1:28.857 +1.945
23. Alberto Valerio Durango 1:29.027 +2.115
24. Yelmer Buurman Arden 1:29.107 +2.195
25. Carlos Iaconelli BCN 1:29.429 +2.517
26. Michael Herck DPR 1:29.516 +2.604


Silverstone still plans to upgrade F1 track
(GMM)  Silverstone and the track-owning BRDC on Friday vowed to plough ahead with plans to improve the venue -- despite losing the British grand prix for 2010 and beyond to Donington Park.

In a joint statement, British Racing Drivers' Club president Damon Hill, and Silverstone boss Richard Phillips, said the intention to build a new pit and paddock complex remains the same even after receiving the bad news as the 2008 event kicked off.

They said Bernie Ecclestone's company, Formula One Management, requested the improvements, prompting Silverstone to acquire planning permission.

"We are therefore surprised by today's announcement, given that both FOM and the FIA are well aware of how advanced those plans are."

They wished Donington well but said talks with Ecclestone will continue, as will the plans to "develop Silverstone into one of the top sporting facilities in the world".

"There is no doubt in our minds that if the position changes then Silverstone will still be ready to host the British grand prix beyond 2009," the statement quoted them as saying.


Alonso to decide future after Monza
Renault F1 Team driver Fernando Alonso says that it is very unlikely that he will decide on his future before the Italian Grand Prix in September. Alonso has been linked with almost every team in the paddock and who can blame the teams that they want to hire a double World Champion?

Fernando Alonso said in the Silverstone paddock: "I think I will decide after the summer when all this period of races, then the break and then Belgium and Monza are over. They are very important races for us to try to get this fourth position in the constructors' championship. And after that will be time to think about what the possibilities are for next year."


New Hampshire TV Ratings unchanged
NASCAR delivered a 3.4/8 (5.5 mill.) this past Sunday on TNT for the rain-shortened race from New Hampshire. Sunday's 3.4/8 matches last year's TNT rating for the same race. TNT PR


Watkins Glen: Wheldon tops 1st practice, Servia crashes
Dan Wheldon led a Target Chip Ganassi Racing 1-2 in the opening practice Friday for the IndyCars.  Tony Kanaan was 3rd ahead of Helio Castroneves who sat on the pole the previous 3 years.

Oriol Servia rounded out the top-5 despite spinning and lightly tapping the guardrail when he spun at the top of the hill at Turn 15.



Driver Name Best Time Best Speed Best Lap Total Laps
1 Dan Wheldon (10) 1:30.6586 133.821 10 22
2 Scott Dixon (9) 1:30.8769 133.499 16 22
3 Tony Kanaan (11) 1:30.9140 133.445 19 24
4 Helio Castroneves (3) 1:31.0710 133.215 21 25
5 Oriol Servia (5) 1:31.1942 133.035 16 19
6 Buddy Rice (15) 1:31.2580 132.942 25 27
7 Ryan Briscoe (6) 1:31.3227 132.848 20 26
8 Vitor Meira (4) 1:31.5452 132.525 27 27
9 Will Power (8) 1:31.6105 132.430 12 12
10 Darren Manning (14) 1:31.8428 132.095 25 27
11 Bruno Junqueira (18) 1:31.9507 131.940 22 22
12 Marco Andretti (26) 1:31.9566 131.932 8 19
13 Justin Wilson (02) 1:32.0504 131.797 16 17
14 Ryan Hunter-Reay (17) 1:32.2318 131.538 13 22
15 EJ Viso (33) 1:32.4613 131.212 22 22
16 Hideki Mutoh (27) 1:32.5050 131.150 14 19
17 Danica Patrick (7) 1:32.5055 131.149 21 23
18 Graham Rahal (06) 1:32.6289 130.974 24 25
19 A.J. Foyt IV (2) 1:33.0476 130.385 26 32
20 Mario Dominguez (96) 1:33.9315 129.158 18 19
21 Ed Carpenter (20) 1:34.2362 128.740 21 28
22 Enrique Bernoldi (36) 1:34.3057 128.645 10 11
23 Jay Howard (24) 1:35.2493 127.371 21 22
24 Jaime Camara (34) 1:36.6440 125.533 10 12
25 Milka Duno (23) 1:38.0351 123.752 27 28
26 Mario Moraes (19) 1:38.4016 123.291 6 6


2009 US GP reprieve unlikely - Ecclestone
Bernie says USGP unlikely
(GMM)  F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone on Friday said Indianapolis is unlikely to return to the final formula one calendar for 2009.

The US grand prix fell off the schedule last year, after the diminutive Briton and Indianapolis Motor Speedway chief Tony George failed to agree a financial deal.

When asked by reporters at Silverstone if there is a chance of an eleventh-hour reprieve for a 2009 running, 77-year-old Ecclestone said: "I don't think so.

"I spoke to Tony George yesterday.  We'll get together and see what we can come up with."

With the Max Mosley war reportedly now over, Ecclestone said formalizing a new Concorde Agreement is now also back on track.

"We will get (it) signed, which we have been cracking away on for a long time.

"I don't need it, but the teams need it, so we will get that done.  It's all in place," he added.


Silverstone regrets GP axe, timing
(GMM)  Silverstone, and race promoter the BRDC, reacted with disappointment to Friday's shock news that the British grand prix will move to Donington Park in 2010.

A spokesman expressed particular regret that F1's governing FIA, and chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, chose the opening day of this year's event to announce that the historic venue's days on the calendar are numbered.

"It is particularly disappointing to receive this information during the course of the British grand prix weekend, while we are celebrating 60 years of Silverstone and 80 years of the BRDC," he said.

He said the current promoters are "considering our position" amid "ongoing" negotiations with Ecclestone's company.

"We shall release a statement once the full facts of this announcement have been established with FOM and the FIA," the spokesman added.


British GP: Kovalainen tops practice 2
Heikki Kovalainen
Heikki Kovalainen topped the second free practice session for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, as McLaren and Red Bull occupied the top four positions instead of the usual Ferrari and McLaren.

Toyota's Jarno Trulli endured a woeful opening day of practice for the 2008 British grand prix.

The Italian, despite finishing on the podium two weeks ago at Magny-Cours, looked slow at Silverstone, and then crashed at Stowe corner when his rear wing fell off.

Toyota's misery was compounded by a gearbox problem for teammate Timo Glock.

Toyota-powered Williams racer Kazuki Nakajima also crashed during the second 90-minute practice session, after losing control on the approach to Bridge corner.

At the very top of the times, McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen set the pace throughout the afternoon; half a second quicker than home hero Lewis Hamilton, who was beaten to second spot by Mark Webber's Red Bull.

Felipe Massa sat much of the session out following his morning crash, ultimately doing 18 laps for the eighth quickest time.  His Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen was just 12th..



Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:19.989 + 0.000 35
2. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:20.520 + 0.531 32
3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:20.543 + 0.554 31
4. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:20.589 + 0.600 36
5. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:20.748 + 0.759 43
6. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:20.805 + 0.816 43
7. Button Honda 1:20.929 + 0.940 39
8. Massa Ferrari 1:20.943 + 0.954 18
9. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:20.985 + 0.996 18
10. Barrichello Honda 1:21.002 + 1.013 34
11. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:21.023 + 1.034 33
12. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:21.275 + 1.286 31
13. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:21.453 + 1.464 36
14. Glock Toyota 1:21.472 + 1.483 18
15. Alonso Renault 1:21.511 + 1.522 27
16. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:21.520 + 1.531 42
17. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:21.634 + 1.645 39
18. Piquet Renault 1:21.642 + 1.653 45
19. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:21.756 + 1.767 30
20. Trulli Toyota 1:22.196 + 2.207 23


Mears says no to open wheel return
Would he consider a move to open-wheel racing? "No, no, no. I want to be here. This is the best series in the world. Right now it’s the strongest, most competitive place and really, if you want to be a race car driver and prove that you can be the best, you need to be over here and that’s where I want to be.”  Casey Mears


Donington's 10-year, $200m F1 deal
(GMM) Donington Park's newly announced contract for the British grand prix is a ten-year deal beginning in 2010, the circuit clarified on Friday.

In a surprise move, it was announced by the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone that Donington, scene of the 1993 European grand prix, had captured a deal to take the sport away from its current venue, Silverstone.

Donington circuit owners and joint CEOs Simon Gillett and Lee Gill explained in a statement that details of the redevelopment will be announced "at a future date".

They did say, however, that the "master plan" involves a five-year investment program of 100 million pounds, "led by a private investor who is also a large shareholder".

Other talks with "important third parties" are also taking place, the CEOs added.


Grosjean leads the way in free practice
Romain Grosjean has set the pace this morning in free practice at Silverstone, topping the timesheets ahead of Mike Conway and ART teammate Luca Filippi.

The Frenchman's best time of 1:27.411 was set just ahead of his pitstop for fresh tires, and was three tenths faster than his closest rivals before the track cooled, putting an end to any possible improvement.

The session started at a frenetic pace and just got quicker: the names at the top of the screens were spinning like a top, with Alvaro Parente, Conway, Andy Soucek, Karun Chandhok, Grosjean, and Conway again putting themselves in P1 before Grosjean claimed the top spot for good.

With everyone changing tires in the middle of the session as usual it was expected that the times would continue to tumble, but cloud cover and Fernando Alonso's oil at turn 7 put paid to any further improvement, with the latter helping Filippi, Bruno Senna and Parente into gentle spins as they pushed hard at the fast corner.

Behind the top three Giorgio Pantano, Kamui Kobayashi, Andreas Zuber, Soucek, Parente, Lucas di Grassi and Senna will be hoping to wring more from their cars in this afternoon's qualifying session.



Driver Team Time Laps
1. Romain Grosjean ART Grand Prix 1:27.411 15
2. Mike Conway Trident Racing 1:27.699 15
3. Luca Filippi ART Grand Prix 1:27.741 16
4. Giorgio Pantano Racing Engineering 1:27.746 12
5. Kamui Kobayashi Dams 1:27.791 15
6. Andreas Zuber Piquet Sports 1:28.062 16
7. Andy Soucek Super Nova Racing 1:28.076 15
8. Alvaro Parente Super Nova Racing 1:28.119 15
9. Lucas di Grassi Barwa Int. Campos Team 1:28.128 11
10. Bruno Senna iSport International 1:28.296 16
11. KarunChandhok iSport International 1:28.403 13
12. Sébastien Buemi Trust Team Arden 1:28.468 16
13. AdrianValles BCN Competicion 1:28.477 11
14. Vitaly Petrov Barwa Int. Campos Team 1:28.627 14
15. Pastor Maldonado Piquet Sports 1:28.809 13
16. Jérôme d’Ambrosio Dams 1:28.967 15
17. Javier Villa Racing Engineering 1:28.978 15
18. Marko Asmer Fisichella Motor Sport Int. 1:2819.109 15
19. Roldan Rodriguez Fisichella Motor Sport Int. 1:29.209 17
20 Alberto Valerio Durango 1:29.466 16
21. Diego Nunes DPR 1:29.721 16
22. Yelmer Buurman Trust Team Arden 1:29.876 14
23. Ho-Pin Tung Trident Racing 1:30.044 17
24. Davide Valsecchi Durango 1:30.460 16
25 Michael Herck DPR 1:30.509 17
26. Carlos Iaconelli BCN Competicion 1:31.469 16


Watkins Glen Friday Notebook - 1
Driving into Watkins Glen this morning had us thinking of the good old days of F1 in the '60s and '70s where the likes of McLaren, Ferrari, Lotus, Wolf, BRM, Williams, Hesketh, Shadow and the like screamed around this upstate NY track with drivers like Mario Andretti, Niki Lauda, James Hunt, Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Alan Jones, Gilles Villeneuve and the like..........The day dawned foggy but the sun has burnt most of that off and although the skies are a bit overcast, today should be mostly dry with a high of 77 degrees......Today is just practice for the IndyCars  but the Firestone Indy Lights cars will qualify at 5 PM today.....We will have more for you throughout the day.


2010 British GP to move to Donington - FIA UPDATE The future of the British Grand Prix has today been secured in a new 10-year agreement between Donington Ventures Leisure Limited and Formula One Management Limited.  The 2010 F1™ British Grand Prix at Donington Park will see the pinnacle of motor racing return to the iconic East Midlands circuit after a 17-year absence when it last hosted the Grand Prix of Europe in 1993.  Circuit owners and joint CEO’s, Simon Gillett and Lee Gill made the following statement:

”We are naturally delighted and extremely proud to have acquired the rights to bring Formula One back to Donington Park from 2010. At the beginning of last year when we acquired the circuit and its substantial lands, we made clear our commitment towards realizing the full potential of the Park by making the necessary investments in current and future events that will see Donington revitalized ensuring its leading position as one of the most iconic racing circuits in the world. To that end, we have now entered a new and exciting chapter in the development of the Park and one that will bring significant investment and regional development while securing the future of one of the most important and significant sporting events in Britain.”

Donington Ventures Leisure Limited has worked closely with the local and national authorities in consideration of the planning requirements that are necessary to provide a first class facility for the hosting of F1 in 2010.  Press Release

07/04/08 (GMM)  The British grand prix will move from Silverstone to Donington Park in 2010 following the signing of a contract, F1's governing body announced on Friday.

The FIA said the announcement comes after discussions with Formula One Management, the sport's commercial rights holder run by Bernie Ecclestone.

"After many years of patient but fruitless negotiation with the BRDC, we are delighted that Bernie has nevertheless been able to ensure that the British grand prix will keep its place on the formula one world championship calendar," a media statement said.

Earlier reports that Donington, located in Leicestershire and last the host of a grand prix in 1993, was a serious contender to replace Silverstone were ridiculed, as the circuit is in even more need of redevelopment.

Mosley said on Friday: "We understand that the development program planned for Donington will achieve the very high standards we and FOM expect from a modern F1 circuit.  Finally, British formula one fans will get the grand prix venue they deserve."

Ecclestone added: "Finally the uncertainty is over."

He said he is "sorry" that Silverstone could not raise the money to improve its circuit.

"I believe that the government should have supported them which would have cost probably less than 0.002 per cent of the government's commitment for the Olympic Games," he added.


Penske says he's ready to return to the racetrack
Roger Penske
Roger Penske plans to return to his favorite activity -- attending IndyCar and NASCAR races -- this weekend after spending two weeks recovering from a follow-up medical procedure related to his kidney.

Penske had similar work done after the 2006 Indianapolis 500 and again in December, the latter of which led to an infection. No one noticed his absence then because it occurred during the holidays.

Penske, 71, insists he is ready to hit the road. It's not his nature to sit still personally or professionally, and racing is both.

"I've never even had a doctor in Detroit," Penske said by phone from his home in Birmingham, Mich.. "Based on how I feel right now, I'll be back this weekend."

Penske's two NASCAR Sprint Cup cars will race in Daytona Beach, Fla., Saturday night with his two IndyCar Series cars racing in Watkins Glen, N.Y., Sunday. Indy Star


Patrick Head against Todt for FIA President
Patrick Head is not a man who minces words and this week he has told The Independent exactly what he thinks of the idea of former Ferrari boss Jean Todt becoming the next FIA President. Head's views may be trenchant but it is fair to say that the view is shared with quite a number of others in the F1 community.

"Our view is that Max [Mosley], sometimes with our resistance, has done a number of things in recent years which have been good for this company," Head said. "It is not in our interest to undermine Max, especially in the light of threats of him being replaced by Jean Todt.

"We have been to many meetings at which (Todt) has been present representing the interests of Ferrari 100 percent. He is confrontational, argumentative, and not impartial, everything that the President of the FIA should not be."

The question of Mosley's successor remains hanging, but what is clear is that the best option would be to find someone who is accepted by all without the need for a divisive election. Grandprix.com


Mosley-Ecclestone war now over - reports
All of a sudden the war between Mosley and Ecclestone is over.  How about that?
(GMM)  The war between Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley is reportedly over, British newspapers on Friday said.

Dailies including The Times and The Daily Telegraph said the pair, recently at odds over the governance of the sport and the Mosley sex scandal, have agreed a truce.

"The bottom line is simple -- we have moved to patch up our differences," Ecclestone, F1's 77-year-old chief executive, confirmed.

Mosley's spokesman added: "It is a very interesting moment in the trajectory of this story."

Ecclestone said he backed Mosley letter to team bosses, distributed on the eve of the British grand prix weekend at Silverstone.

"I am happy that the FIA has taken the initiative to allow the teams to write the regulations," he said.

"They will be able to control their expenditure.  What Max put in the letter is correct -- it's a little cranky that it takes 1000 people to put two cars on the grid," Ecclestone added.

[Editor's Note: Remember we predicted this would happen.  Ever year there is a major controversy in F1 to get 'free' media coverage and then every year it all of a sudden gets cleared up.  The F1 media are sheep and fall for this stunt every year by delivering F1 all the free coverage on the controversy that Bernie wants.]


British GP: Massa fastest, then crashes on Alonso's oil
(GMM) Felipe Massa had a high speed crash during Friday morning practice at Silverstone when he spun on oil at Stowe corner.

The oil had been dropped by the Renault of Fernando Alonso, whose engine apparently failed on the way down the preceding Hangar straight.

The incident brought out the red flags, while circuit workers - and street sweeping trucks - attempted to mop up the oil with a sizeable trail of concrete powder.

The session re-started with 14 minutes of the 90 minute session to run. Massa, who drives for Ferrari, headed the time sheets at the time of the crash.



Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Massa Ferrari 1:19.575 + 0.000 8
2. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:19.587 + 0.012 15
3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:19.623 + 0.048 13
4. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:19.948 + 0.373 16
5. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:20.367 + 0.792 11
6. Alonso Renault 1:20.436 + 0.861 7
7. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:20.588 + 1.013 18
8. Piquet Renault 1:20.653 + 1.078 16
9. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:20.698 + 1.123 16
10. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:20.744 + 1.169 27
11. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:20.892 + 1.317 10
12. Glock Toyota 1:21.102 + 1.527 22
13. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:21.107 + 1.532 18
14. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:21.166 + 1.591 17
15. Trulli Toyota 1:21.265 + 1.690 22
16. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:21.282 + 1.707 21
17. Button Honda 1:21.901 + 2.326 7
18. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:22.169 + 2.594 16
19. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:22.219 + 2.644 19
20. Barrichello Honda 1:24.123 + 4.548 4


SunTrust Extends Commitment to Grand-Am
SunTrust Banks, Inc., midway through its fifth season as “Official Bank of Grand-Am” and sponsor of the No. 10 SunTrust Pontiac team of Wayne Taylor Racing that competes in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, announced Thursday a multi-year extension of both commitments while preparing its brand new Dallara chassis for competition in Thursday night’s Brumos Porsche 250 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

Specific terms of both commitments were not announced, but officials from SunTrust, Grand-Am and Wayne Taylor Racing expressed their pleasure with the latest developments, which continue their respective partnerships for years to come.

“We have been committed to our partnerships with Grand-Am and Wayne Taylor since 2004, and we are extremely proud to announce that we are moving forward with our collective efforts to help elevate the series and the racing team to a whole new level for the long-term future,” said Krista Massey, Senior Vice President, Director of Sponsorships and Event Marketing, SunTrust Banks, Inc. “Our partnerships with the series and the team obviously serve to elevate SunTrust’s brand awareness in the racing community and key markets in which we race. Equally important is how the series and the racing community have been a tremendous source of business for SunTrust over the last four-plus seasons, and we look forward to continuing and expanding on those business relationships and opportunities, as well.” 

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Two races in one day poses unique challenge
A standard doubleheader weekend on a road course is a test for most Firestone Indy Lights drivers and teams. What limited track time there is, is usually spent trying to perfect the car for the races and there is little margin for error.

This weekend's Corning Duels at Watkins Glen International may be more like a trial by fire as the scheduled is compressed into two days. The future stars of the IndyCar Series racing will race twice on July 5 on the 11-turn, 3.4-mile road course. The goal for most drivers may be to survive the first race, but finish up front so you have a chance in the second.

"I expect the races to be quite challenging," said Team E driver Bobby Wilson, who won at Watkins Glen in 2006. "You have to make it through Race 1 so you can make it to Race 2. If something bad happens, you're going to be sitting out. It's a crucial point in the season. It's an area where you can make big gains, but you could also have some big losses."

Big losses are what most drivers will be trying to avoid during the twin 29-lap races. With 56 points separating the top-five drivers in the point standings, the races could go a long way in determining which driver will see their name inscribed on Firestone Firehawk Cup as the series champion.

"It's going to come down to how quickly you can get a feel out what everyone else is doing," said RLR/Andersen Racing's J.R. Hildebrand, who trails points leader Dillon Battistini by 40 points. "You can't afford to lose points in the first race just to make sure you're going to be there for the second race. I have every bit of confidence in the guys on the crew and myself that we can put together a good package and be battling for the win in both races.

"As competitive as this series has been so far, I don't think anyone is going to be holding back in the first race just because we have another one in a couple of hours."

And competitive is what most drivers expect the races to be, though the aggression level may be turned down a notch. Smart driving and patience may be the key to success this weekend over outright speed.

"The cars are very difficult to setup for all conditions, so you need to get a good balance to be strong for both races," said James Davison, who drives for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. "I think the big thing will be if you're running fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth. Not knowing where the grid will be reversed, you may have to play it safe and not try anything stupid."


New driver tools could increase speeds at The Glen
Bobby Rahal pulled Danica Patrick up to the IndyCar Series from the Toyota Atlantic Series, a farm system for open-wheel racing teams that runs a schedule comprised almost exclusively of road courses. It was quite a shock when Patrick immediately adapted to high-speed ovals, and a little surprising that she’s had one podium finish on a road course in 12 starts. This weekend, she’ll try to improve on her career-best eighth-place finish at Watkins Glen International in the Camping World Grand Prix.

Her struggles are something even she can’t explain.

“Road courses have been something that has taken some time for me to get used to. I didn’t expect that, I suppose coming from mostly road racing experience and very limited oval (experience),” Patrick told reporters during a conference call. “I felt like for the race last year we really had a car underneath us that was pretty good. I remember coming out ahead of Marco, coming out of the pits – which has always been a bit of a struggle for me, getting comfortable and pushing hard – and I stayed in front of him. We had two front-row qualifying at Mid-Ohio and Sonoma after that, so I feel like I’ve come into what I like in a car and what I need to be able to drive it fast.”

After last year’s race at The Glen, which left many drivers physically drained, the Indy Racing League introduced a more efficient steering rack for the remaining road/street races. Her results improved immediately.

She qualified on the outside of the front row at Mid-Ohio and Infineon Raceway and scored a second-place finish on Belle Isle in Detroit. This year, the Indy cars were outfitted with paddle shifters on the steering wheel to replace the sequential stick shifter on the drivers’ right side of the tub.

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Alonso to entertain at Superleague races
Ramon Alonso
He's Spanish, he's a World Champion, his name is Alonso and this pilot is set to thrill Superleague Formula fans throughout 2008.

No, this one is not the racing driver - he is former World Aerobatic champion Ramon Alonso.

The Iberia Airlines commercial pilot has more than 19,000 hours at the controls - 3,000 of those performing aerobatic displays.

The 2007 Aerobatic World Champion will perform three times over each Superleague Formula weekend - once on Saturday and twice on raceday.

The Barcelona-based Superleague Formula organizers today announced a full program of fan activities aimed at providing a large range of family entertainment.

The Superleague Formula off-track entertainment will focus on a Central Stage area which will act as the event “epicenter” for of all entertainment including: DJs, break-dancers, freestyle football displays, fashion shows, prize-giving, driver autograph sessions, interviews and prize draws. Fans will also be able to take the opportunity to have their photograph taken with team show cars.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Hamilton un-Buttons triathlon challenge
  • Head - Todt would make bad FIA president
  • Another safety car rule 'test' for Silverstone
  • Vettel addresses Red Bull rumors
  • F1 news briefs: Friday
  • Alonso, Raikkonen, deny latest 2009 rumors

Hamilton un-Buttons triathlon challenge
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton accepted and then quickly retracted a challenge to go head-to-head with British F1 rival Jenson Button in a triathlon event.

Hamilton, the 23-year-old McLaren driver, said earlier this week he believes he is fitter than Button, despite the Honda driver's affection for competing in triathlons.

"So if someone wants to get us going up against each other I'd look forward to it," he had said.

When Hamilton and Button, 28, both appeared in a Silverstone press conference on Thursday, Button challenged his countryman to go through with a contest.

He was even armed with a date -- his next triathlon, in Bath (UK) on July 27.  "What if I say 10,000 pounds to the charity of your choice if you beat me?  What do you think?" Button said.

"I'm not putting myself into it ... I don't know,  I'll probably be working or doing something else.  We'll see, we'll see," Hamilton replied to Button, as he got on his mobile phone to check his calendar with an assistant.

Eventually, egged on by F1 veteran David Coulthard, Hamilton agreed -- until 30 minutes later, when his father and manager Anthony issued a media statement.

"Unfortunately for Lewis, we are withdrawing him from this," Hamilton Snr said.

"We are in the middle of a championship and that is the focus of our attention."

Head - Todt would make bad FIA president
(GMM)  Patrick Head, co-owner of the Williams team, says he would rather have the scandal-ridden Max Mosley as FIA president than Jean Todt.

Amid the ruckus about Mosley's caper with five role-playing prostitutes, Todt - the former Ferrari team boss - was slated as the most likely candidate should the FIA need to fill the role.

Ultimately, Mosley survived the scandal, apparently to the quiet relief of Head and fellow team stalwart Sir Frank Williams.

"Our view is that Max, sometimes with our resistance, has done a number of things in recent years which have been good for this company," he told The Independent.

"It is not in our interests to undermine Max, especially in the light of threats of him being replaced by Jean Todt."

Head does not believe Todt, the diminutive Frenchman, is suited to running the governing body of world motoring and racing.

"We have been to many meetings at which (Todt) has been present representing the interests of Ferrari 100 per cent.  He is confrontational, argumentative, and not impartial, everything that the president of the FIA should not be," he charged.

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Melbourne signs new GP contract through 2015
The start of this year's race
Melbourne will host the Australian Grand Prix until at least 2015 after securing a new contract with Formula One Management in London overnight.

Premier John Brumby said the Grand Prix was the jewel in Melbourne’s major events strategy.

“Today’s announcement confirms what every Melburnian knows – we live in the undisputed major events capital of the world,” Mr. Brumby said.

“The Grand Prix has been an outstanding event for Victoria over a long period of time and has helped put Melbourne on a global stage. Retaining the event is important to Victoria’s ongoing growth and prosperity.

“Our year round calendar of sporting and cultural events draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to our wonderful city every year.”

In 2008, more than 300,000 people attended the four-day event and saw Lewis Hamilton win, the return of the V8 Supercars and a two-hour concert rock concert from KISS at the conclusion of the race.

The race will be held at 5pm next year and an agreement has been reached to not use any artificial lighting for the term of the contract.

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