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Martin 600th start Martin 600th startCONCORD, N.C. - Mark Martin will make his 600th consecutive Cup start this weekend when the green flag drops on Sunday at New Hampshire International Speedway. The run is currently the longest running streak in NASCAR and the fifth longest of all-time. Ironically, Martin made his 500th consecutive start in 2003 at New Hampshire in September.

Martin's streak dates back to Feb. 14, 1988 when he first teamed with Jack Roush in the Daytona 500. Martin finished 41st that day; humble beginnings for what would become one of the most successful partnerships in NASCAR history. Nineteen years, 35 wins, 41 poles and 366 top-10 finishes later, Martin is scheduled to make his 600th consecutive start this Sunday.

Martin ran his first Cup race in 1981, running a total of five races, while winning two poles and earning a pair of top-10 finishes. The following year he ran a full season. Martin was unable to find adequate sponsorship and ran only a handful of Cup races from 1983-87, before hooking up with Roush in 1988.  zzzz
"The first thing that comes to mind is that I've been around for a long time," laughed Martin. "But really, I've been fortunate in a lot of ways. I've never had a sick day. I've never had big enough tragedy to keep out of the seat and I've been able to go to work and do my job for a long time.

"It says a lot for those around me over the years that have also worked really hard to make that be able to happen. It says a great deal about Jack Roush, who basically gave me a second chance and a great opportunity to pursue my dreams and fortunately for us, we've been doing that ever since."

During that span Martin and Roush have finished inside the top-10 of the final point standings 15 times, including four runner-up finishes and 12 top-five finishes.

"My relationship with Jack is what stands out the most," added Martin. "How it has grown and changed over that period. Jack and I have been doing this for a long time and we've been through it all. We've been through some agonizing disappointments and we've experienced the highest of highs. We have been through it all together and we have a lot to show for it.

"As for the streak itself, I really don't read that much into streaks and stuff like that, it just doesn't mean that much, other than the fact that I've been in good health, had good cars and was always able to make the race. Still, it is good knowing that I never had to call in sick. We've had hard times, and we've had times of great sadness, but we've been fortunate to make them all and I am thankful for that.

"I'm actually very thankful for everything that I have been fortunate to accomplish," added Martin. "I'm thankful to everyone around me over the years that worked so hard for it and I'm thankful to all of the fans out there who have stood by me for all of these years. Heck, I wish I was 25 and had that many ahead of me, but I'm still very thankful for everything that I have been able to do in my career. It really is a dream come true."

Brickyard Day 1: Testing Quotes Brickyard Day 1: Testing Quotes
Brickyard Day 1: Earnhardt and Stewart 1-2 Brickyard Day 1: Earnhardt and Stewart 1-2
track news
Firestone to serve as Nashville grand marshal Firestone to serve as Nashville grand marshalReality TV star Andrew Firestone will serve as the Grand Marshal for the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway.

Firestone, the great-grandson of Firestone Tire and Rubber Company founder Harvey Firestone, is best known from his role on the ABC reality program "The Bachelor." He will give the command to start engines, among other duties during pre-race activities.

Firestone, who is active in his family's wine business located in the Santa Ynez Valley in Southern California, is now part of the Firestone team - driving in racing events, making public appearances and acting as a goodwill ambassador for Firestone tires and the company his great-grandfather founded more than a century ago.

Foyt, Giaffone Part Ways Foyt, Giaffone Part WaysFour-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt announced that he has mutually agreed to part ways with Felipe Giaffone. No replacement driver was named for the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. Dallara/Honda/Firestone.

"It wasn't working for either of us," said Foyt, who continues to recover from his June 26 knee replacement surgery on his left leg. "It's been frustrating for him and me, and I knew I needed to do something. We just didn't have the communication that we needed to be successful together."
Despite finishing fifth in the road-course event at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, Giaffone and Foyt have struggled on the oval tracks. Outside of an eighth-place finish in the season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the team's best showing on an oval track was 15th at Twin Ring Motegi in April. 
"I'm glad for the opportunity to drive for A.J.," Giaffone said. "From the beginning we have had the same goal, to work together to get good results. The season started out pretty good, but then it went in the other direction, and we didn't achieve what we expected."

Foyt will announce Giaffone's replacement later this week.

Briscoe to make IRL return Briscoe to make IRL returnDreyer & Reinbold Racing announced July 10 it has signed Ryan Briscoe to drive the No. 5 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Honda-powered Dallara in three of the remaining six events in the 2006 IRL IndyCar® Series season.

The 24-year-old native of Sydney, Australia will race in the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway on July 15, the ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Indy 225 at the Milwaukee Mile on July 23 and the Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway on Aug. 27.

"At this point and time, we are working towards building for the 2007 season," said team co-owner Dennis Reinbold. "With this in mind, we want to try different things with our team during the remainder of the season to see what we can learn for the future." zzzz

Added team co-owner Robbie Buhl: "We are continuing to grow as a team, and we can't stop learning. Ryan will be in the car for us at Nashville, and that will allow us to get to know him better. We are always working to build the team and Ryan will have a hand in that."

Briscoe, who finished a season-best eighth at Nashville while driving for Target Chip Ganassi Racing in 2005, finished a career-best third driving for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing at Watkins Glen in June.

A noted road-racer, Briscoe has driven in the Grand American Road Racing Series and A1GP this season and will drive endurance events with the Holden Racing Team in the Australian V8 SuperCar Series.

"I'm very excited to get back in the car for the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team-especially with the success we had together in Watkins Glen earlier this year," Briscoe said. "It will also be exciting to be competing on an oval again. I will be running select races because I have prior commitments in Australia. I am doing what I can to do both."

The team has yet to confirm plans for the events that Briscoe will not compete. Reinbold said Buddy Lazier, who has started seven races for the team this season, remains an option.

"Buddy (Lazier) is the ultimate professional and did a great job for us this year," Reinbold said. "We will certainly continue to consider him for the future." IRL

Racing News
Spurney Named as General Manager For HPD Spurney Named as General Manager For HPDSANTA CLARITA, Calif. - Jack Spurney, a 28-year Honda veteran with extensive management experience in the company's Research & Development efforts, has been named General Manager for Honda Performance Development (HPD).  The appointment was announced Monday by Robert Clarke, president of HPD.

Spurney comes to HPD from Honda R&D Americas, Inc., where as Senior Manager, Administration, he managed a staff of associates with responsibilities for strategic planning, human resources, facility operations and organizational development.  He joined Honda in 1978, and has been involved in the design and construction of several major Honda facilities, including Honda R&D Americas' highly-advanced Automotive Engineering Design Center in Ohio.

"I am extremely pleased to be joining HPD," Spurney said.  "I have worked in several capacities with Honda R&D, and motorsports is without question the ultimate form of research and development.  With the ongoing program in the Indy Racing League and the new American Le Mans effort for Acura, this is an exciting time in HPD's history, and I am looking forward to being a part of it."  zzzz

In addition to receiving a bachelors degree in psychology from George Williams College in Chicago, Spurney studied Japanese language and culture at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California, prior to living in Japan from 1991-92.

"We welcome Jack to the HPD family," Clarke said in announcing the appointment.  "His diverse background and extensive experience in R&D management will be a huge benefit for HPD as the company expands into sports car racing and continues with its on-going IndyCar program."

Honda Performance Development (HPD), a subsidiary of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., is the technical operations center for Honda's high performance racing engines.  HPD coordinates Honda's participation in the IRL IndyCar Series and the recently-announced Acura effort in the American Le Mans Series.  HPD last year opened a new, 123,000-square-foot headquarters in Santa Clarita, California, to increase the company's race manufacturing, research and development capabilities. Honda

Utah GP News and Notes Utah GP News and Notes
Audi diesel returns to ALMS Audi diesel returns to ALMSBRASELTON, Ga. – Allan McNish said at Lime Rock Park that he is losing a longtime girlfriend, but the new girl is much quieter and sexier. His new lady – Audi’s R10 TDI – returns this week for the Utah Grand Prix and the fifth round of the 2006 American Le Mans Series.

The Audi R10 TDI – powered by a 550-hp, V12 turbo diesel – is two-for-two in its young career. The revolutionary prototype debuted with a win at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March, then conquered the sports car world with a win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Now Audi is back in North America to spread the message of new diesel technology … and win another Series championship.

And where better to start than at the new 4.5-mile, 24-turn Miller Motorsports Park? Championship leaders McNish and Dindo Capello will drive one R10 TDI, while 2005 Series champions and reigning Le Mans winners Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro are back in the other entry.

“I can hardly wait to show our Audi R10 TDI to the American fans,” Pirro said. “I’m particularly looking forward to the race at Salt Lake City. I was at the new circuit last year for the presentation. The facility is incredible and the interest shown by the people in the city for the race is enormous.” zzzz

With four straight class victories to start the season – including the last three with the R8 – Audi again is on course for another LMP1 manufacturers championship with Audi Sport North America comfortably ahead in the team standings. With the R10 TDI having advantages in all aspects over the R8 the championship may be Audi’s to lose.

“We’ve had a lot of success since Sebring with the ‘old’ R8,” McNish said. “However, that’s all history now. The future lies in the R10 TDI. When I look at the circuit layout, the R10 TDI should really exploit the advantages of the diesel engine at Salt Lake City. But we’ll only really know when we drive there.”

Miller Motorsports Park and the remaining circuits on the Series’ schedule are the only places where the R10 TDIs will contest races in 2006; Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Motorsport, said as much during the post-race press conference at Le Mans. It is part of a plan by Audi to expose North America to the benefits of diesel fuel. Among them are superior efficiency, lower fuel consumption, enormous torque and exceptional power. Those attributes should fit in perfectly at Miller.

“We are well prepared and are intrigued to see just how the R10 TDI, which was built specifically for Le Mans, performs on other types of race track,” Dr Ullrich said. “Our target is that the R10 TDI is competitive on every type of circuit – exactly like the R8 was. The entire team is working towards this.”
“Salt Lake City is a new circuit – the longest in the whole of America,” Capello said. “None of us know it yet. I think it’s a fantastic location for the first race of our R10 TDI after the win at Le Mans. The long start-finish straight and the fast corners should suit the R10 TDI extremely well.”

The Utah Grand Prix, the fifth round of the 2006 American Le Mans Series, is set for 6 p.m. MDT on Saturday, July 15 at the new Miller Motorsports Park just outside of Salt Lake City. CBS will broadcast the race from 2 to 4 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 16. MotorsTV will broadcast the race in Europe from 6:30 to 9:30 CET on Sunday, July 16. American Le Mans Radio will provide live coverage on americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA Live Timing & Scoring.

Allmendinger hires high-powered agent Allmendinger hires high-powered agentUPDATE It looks like Allmendinger might have to fire his new agent if he wants to stay with Forsythe Racing.  Gerald Forsythe told SPEEDTV's Robin Miller, "A.J. felt obligated to get an agent and that's fine but he doesn't know me.  I take care of my drivers. I heard last year that Paul was contemplating a change so I sat him down and told him he had a job as long as he raced in Champ Car and that was that.  A.J. can do the same thing with me and I plan to sit down with him tonight. But no agent is going to tell me what to do."

07/07/06 The hottest driver in Champ Car right now, AJ Allmendinger, has hired Julian Jakobi's CSS Stellar Management to be his agent. CSS Stellar also manages high-profile drivers like Sebastien Loeb, Juan Pablo Montoya, Dan Wheldon and Dario Franchitti.

The Forsythe Championship Racing driver just yesterday signed a deal to extend his stay with the Chicago-based team through the end of the year.  As for why he has now hired a manager, Allmendinger made it clear that after being let go by RuSPORT recently, he needed someone to manage his career while he takes care of his driving.

"It is the right time in my life to concentrate on racing and let someone else handle my contractual matters. It's nice to now have someone else looking out for me and I can get on with my life and my driving," said Allmendinger.

Right now Allmendinger has a contract through the end of this year with Forsythe, but it's too early to say what the future brings.

"If we keep going like this (winning races and poles) I'm not worried about the future. We'll see how this year goes and then worry about next year."

BMW Sauber F1 Team appoints new Head of Powertrain BMW Sauber F1 Team appoints new Head of PowertrainMunich,. The technical division of the BMW Sauber F1 Team is expanding further: as of 1st January 2007, Markus Duesmann will take the responsibility in Munich as head of Powertrain Formula One. Duesmann takes over the position from Heinz Paschen, who will leave the company by mutual consent.

Duesmann will report directly to BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen. Willy Rampf remains Technical Director of the BMW Sauber F1 Team.

Theissen says: „Markus Duesmann has approached BMW, because he was looking for a new challenge. His ideas for the way of working and leading a team match our point of view. We are convinced Markus Duesmann is the right person to fill this key position. His experience will aid us to continue the building process for one team based in two locations, in Munich and Hinwil. For six years Heinz Paschen has formed a solid basis for our work thanks to his constant efforts and invaluable knowledge. All the BMW F1 engines in recent years have been developed under his guidance." zzzz

Duesmann looks ahead to his new tasks with excitement: „The BMW Sauber F1 Team is undergoing a development phase and this means a great challenge. As head of powertrain F1 my task lies not only in technology, but also in the design of structures and processes as well as in the close co-operation between the two factories. I want to put all my experience into this project and support the team on its way up."

Duesmann was born on 23 June 1969 in Heek (Germany). He grew up in Rheine and gained his degree in mechanical engineering at the Fachhochschule of Steinfurt. He then worked for Mercedes-Benz for four years and afterwards eight years with FEV Motorentechnik in Aachen. After his return to DaimlerChrysler at the beginning of 2004, Duesmann's final position there was head of development F1 engines at Mercedes-Benz HighPerformanceEngines in Brixworth (Great Britain). BMW

Red Bull blast France, again Red Bull blast France, again(GMM)  Red Bull Racing has revved-up its annual attack on France and the French grand prix at Magny Cours.

A year ago, the team - which is owned by the popular energy drink - got stuck into the circuit in countryside France by saying it was a 'great place if you like to look at cows'.

In a follow-up, the PR department has now admitted that the release 'ruffled a few feathers' but did not shy away from intensifying the criticism ahead of this weekend's formula one race.

Red Bull, owned by billionaire Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz, is banned in France and some other countries after its stimulant ingredients and use were linked with deaths.

Even Super Aguri's Franck Montagny did not escape the offensive, then, with Red Bull saying in its so-called 'apology' for last year's attack: ''We are SORRY for the fact you only have one F1 driver, that he's at the back of the grid and for the fact that your Renault world championship team is run by an Italian whom you find very irritating.''

The press release also poked fun at France's national emblem, cheese, rap music, Citroen 2CV cars, the abundance of French revolutions and striking workers.

Robbie Pecorari shines in Toronto Robbie Pecorari shines in TorontoToronto –   Robbie Pecorari escaped with minor damages during first lap in Toronto and motored on to his first Champ Car Atlantic victory, a 38-lap affair around the twisty Toronto Exhibition Place facility. The 19-year old Aston, Pennsylvania native started in 5th place and capitalized on a great start heading to the inside of turn 1, then was hit hard by another car at the apex but was able to continue only to find himself in the lead after turn 3 heading down the Lakeshore Boulevard straight at the Molson Grand Prix of Toronto. His Western Union/USA Today/Gelles Racing car was still in racing trim and he kept pushing for the remaining 37 laps to capture his first Atlantic win.

“For the first lap, I wanted to stay out of trouble, said Pecorari, because I had a first lap mishap this year at Houston. Then I was hit hard in the back and saw the rear wing damage and had concerns for the right rear suspension. I drove the next corners expecting something would let go, but the car held together just fine and the handling had not changed much. I asked my engineer Geoff (Bushor) to see if something was wrong when I came by slowly next to the pit wall under the 1st full course yellow, I told him the car felt strong and I was going to take it as far as it would after the full course yellow. And that was until the checkered flag. At one point, it seemed like Jonathan (Bomarito) got a little closer but I just concentrated on banging out good laps and won by a fair margin (2.5 seconds). I want to cheer my crew for working so hard since Portland to give me a good car; they deserve a lot of credit for this win. I want to thank Bob (Gelles) for restructuring the team after Mexico, we have been strong the past three races so it proves to be a good plan, the recent results validate the successful change.” zzzz

“This is one of the highlights in my team owner’s career, claimed a joyful Bob Gelles. We’re a rookie team in this league with a rookie driver and we have proved in the last four races we can mix with anybody. We knew back in Long Beach Robbie was an outstanding driver capable of winning against such a competitive field. This victory here in Canada is our payback for a lot of work from Robbie and our team, a true example for the young drivers we have in our ladder system. Experts will now have to consider this fine young man as a contender for the remaining rounds.”

Top 5 all weekend

Pecorari stayed on top of the charts in every session Friday and Saturday. “We had a good setup Friday right out of the blocks, he said. We kept trying a few things to improve and even expected at one point the car would not be as fast. This was not to be, we were always in the Top 5. The car was exactly what I expected for the race and I knew I could fight for a podium. We have now proven our 3rd place qualification at Cleveland was not a fluke, the Gelles Team must be taken seriously.”

Now setting eyes on Grand Prix of Edmonton

With Pecorari moving up in the point standings, Gelles Racing will now focus on the next event less than two weeks away, the Grand Prix of Edmonton. “We know this is a great event with a sellout crowd, added Gelles, and another race track similar to Cleveland where Robbie was so quick. We will also have another well experienced driver joining our team in the Western Union #14 car. Gelles Racing

Renault F1 Team announces new Official Supplier Renault F1 Team announces new Official SupplierThe Renault F1 Team is pleased to announce the deployment of the award-winning TeamWorks® BPM software platform to support the "event fault" management processes for the R26 race car. This process is mission critical, as it supports car reliability objectives for any event and issues related to car operations in general. The Renault F1 Team will also incorporate TeamWorks to assist with the fault management process in its chassis factory at Enstone, UK.

"The Event Faults process is critical to the continued success of the Renault F1 Team and the R26," said Arnaud Boulanger, Head of Process Engineering at the team's headquarters in Enstone, UK. "In most cases, faults need to be prioritized and fixed by engineering before the next "event" and certainly before race time, and Lombardi's software enables us to do it as efficiently as possible." zzzz

"Managing and solving problems in real-time at the circuit is one of the keys to success in Formula 1," explained the team's Technical Director, Bob Bell. "Whether a problem occurs during track testing or at a Grand Prix, it could ultimately prevent us from finishing a race -- and therefore needs to be solved quickly and effectively. The ability to solve problems faster and more efficiently allows us to focus more of our resources on performance development and staying ahead of the competition. That can make the difference between winning and losing world championships."

"We are proud to be such an integral part of the future success of The Renault F1Team," said Greg Pope, Vice President of European Operations at Lombardi. "Formula 1 represents the ultimate continuous process improvement environment. Process-driven companies like the Renault F1 Team can never be satisfied with the status quo. Their deployment of our technology is the ultimate validation of Lombardi's value proposition."  Renault

Q and A with Alonso and Fisichella Q and A with Alonso and FisichellaFernando Alonso heads to Magny Cours, home of the French Grand Prix, with a 19 point advantage over title rival Michael Schumacher and 45 points over teammate Giancarlo Fisichella.

Fernando, you arrive in Magny-Cours with a championship lead of 19 points. You have won six out of ten races, finished every one and only once not been on the podium. Can you believe how well the start of the year has gone?
“It has been better than we expected at the beginning of the year! With all the new rules for 2006, we were a little bit worried about starting the season with a brand new car, and a brand new V8 engine. The team did a fantastic job over the winter though, and when we got to the race we were 100% ready. That's what allowed us to have such a good start to the year.”

Looking to the French Grand Prix, you are the defending race winner. What are your memories from last year?
“It was a fantastic race last year, one of the best for me. McLaren were really strong during that part of the season and we won the French Grand Prix because we deserved it. It was a perfect race, with a fantastic atmosphere. The crowd was excited, and I was too. I was very proud to win that race.”

Yourself and the Renault F1 Team have three home races in effect – in Spain, Great Britain and France.
You have won the other two this season… are you looking for a hat trick?

“For sure. I think that from my point of view, in the paddock, with the fans, this is actually quite a normal race. But for the French guys in the team, they are extra motivated and excited for their home Grand Prix. So that's my focus – to do better than ever for them, and concentrate on winning in France for our team, for Renault, and for Michelin and Elf as well.” zzzz

What about the circuit? Will it be a good one for yourself and the Renault package?
“I think so. There are a few high speed corners there, and you need good traction. Both of those things are characteristics of the R26, so it will be a good circuit for us and for Michelin too I think. There are two quick chicanes at Magny-Cours that I really enjoy, taken in 5th or 6th gear, and they are the only ones of their type on any circuit. So it has some unique challenges as well.”

Finally, Ferrari dominated the Indianapolis race weekend. Do you expect to bounce back strongly in France?

Yes. I won four races in a row before Indy, but I always said that the championship was not over, and it sounded really pessimistic. But a gap of 25 points before Indy didn't mean that we would be champions automatically, and now that the gap is 19 points, we cannot be pessimistic and think the advantage will disappear quickly. You have to look at the big picture for the championship. I was first or second at nine of the ten races – and in the next eight races, I think we will be able to keep on winning and increase the lead even more.”

Giancarlo, you are third in the world championship as you come to Magny-Cours, as a Renault driver for the second. What's your feeling for this race?
“It's a special special. I am very happy to be working with Renault – and to know that I am staying with the team for the future. Fernando and I both go to Magny-Cours with the possibility of winning, and it will be an important race for Renault on a lot of levels. We have a lot of fans there, all the race team members from Viry-Châtillon are very motivated, and the stands are full of people from Viry and other Renault factories. They will all be pushing with us on Sunday, and we will be doing our maximum to win the race.”

You were in Goodwood last weekend for the Festival of Speed to help celebrate Renault's Grand Prix centenary. What did you think?
“It was a really impressive place, just totally different to what we are used to at the Grand Prix weekend! You could really feel the passion of the fans, a lot of warmth coming from them, and see their enthusiasm for the cars too. It was great to be part of Renault's celebrations of 100 years in Grand Prix racing – I knew that there was a lot of history at Renault from the 1970s and 1980s, but I didn't know that it went back a hundred years… It would be really nice to win the centenary race this weekend.”

Is this a difficult circuit for the car and engine?
“Most of all, I think it is quite a hard circuit for the tires. We have one very high speed corner at turn 3, but I don't think that is the most important one on the circuit. There are a lot of slow-speed corners everywhere and they are where you gain or lost a lot of time. We have to find a good mechanical set-up to have good levels of grip in the corners, and traction on the exits of the slow speed turns. The traction makes it quite hard for the tires too, and we have to be careful of rear tire wear in the race – especially if it's very hot.”

You had a strong podium result in Indianapolis last time out. More of the same in Magny-Cours?
“I had a really strong weekend in Indianapolis. I had a good feeling with the car straight away but even so, I left with mixed feelings. I felt that I did the maximum possible in finishing third, but we were still a long way off Ferrari. So for Magny-Cours, my goal is to maintain my personal level of performance – but from a position where we can beat both Ferraris. The team has been working hard to develop the car all season, and we have another engine step this weekend in France which will give us a boost. I am optimistic that Michelin will have a perfect tire, so we want a weekend without problems to be able to give our fans they victory they want to see.” Source Renault
Kenseth says Gordon spun him out intentionally Kenseth says Gordon spun him out intentionallyJOLIET, Ill. -- Jeff Gordon didn't get out of his car and shove Matt Kenseth this time. According to Kenseth, Gordon did it while sitting in the driver's seat.

Kenseth was leading the USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland with four laps to go when he was hit from behind by Jeff Gordon, sending him spinning onto the backstretch.

Gordon got a tremendous run on Kenseth on Lap 263, but Kenseth was in his way, and he refused to back off, mainly because he said that Kenseth was unfairly blocking him.

"In two laps, he could have passed me clean," Kenseth said. "He just dumped me."

Gordon, who won for the second time in three weeks, was unapologetic, saying his aggressiveness was necessitated by his need to win.

"I drove right in the back of him," Gordon said. "I didn't mean to wreck him, but I didn't mind moving him out of the way. If we can get the win, we are going to go really hard to get that win.

NASCAR officials said the incident was just hard racing.

"A slower car in front of a faster car, and passing traffic in the closing laps of a race, it happens a lot," said NASCAR president Mike Helton. "If we had seen anything there for us to react to, we would have reacted to it already."

Robbie Reiser, Kenseth's crew chief, didn't agree. More at NASCAR.com

[Editor's Note: A monkey could bump another driver out of the way, spin him out and win a race.  This takes zero talent.  They call this racing?  We call it a show, a bad one at that.  Gordon should have had the win taken away from him, but in NASCAR the 'show' is more important.  And NASCAR and its TV announcers proclaim NASCAR drivers as the greatest drivers in the world every week.  How would these 'monkeys' do in F1 for example? None have ever tried because they simply are not good enough, but the average uninformed American race fan worships the NASCAR gospel.  As Montoya said, coming to NASCAR could extend his career 15 years.  Because NASCAR takes very little talent, even an old man could win.  Can't do that in any other 'sport.'  Do we hate NASCAR?  No, we just classify it as good entertainment.  BTW, the best drivers in NASCAR are ALL open wheel drivers - Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon......and soon Juan Montoya.  They can excel at any form of racing because they have talent, something we stress must be the essence of any 'real' sport.]

Renault celebrates 100 years of Grand Prix racing Renault celebrates 100 years of Grand Prix racingRenault and the Renault F1 Team will celebrate Grand Prix racing’s centenary this weekend at the French Grand Prix. 100 years on from the first Renault-Michelin victory at the Grand Prix de l’Automobile Club de France in Le Mans, the entire team will be hoping to mark a centenary of success in 2006.

Much has changed since Ferenc Szisz crossed the finish line at Le Mans after more than 12 hours of racing to take the checkered flag – and the title of first Grand Prix winner. More significant than the changes, though, are the similarities – as man and machine push themselves to the limits to demonstrate sporting and technical excellence on circuits across the globe.

Every Renault victory is drawn from, and enriches, a motorsport DNA that runs right back to its source: the ingenuity and competitive drive of brothers Louis and Marcel Renault, from a small workshop in Billancourt just south-west of Paris. The desire to prove their abilities drove them to demonstrate a voiturette up the steep incline of Rue Lépic in Paris’ Montmartre in 1898; to take victory in the Paris-Vienna race of 1902 with a ‘light car’ design against bigger, faster machines; and also to enter the Grand Prix in 1906, an official return to racing for Louis Renault after the death of brother Marcel in 1903, to once again demonstrate the excellence and ingenuity of his company’s designs. zzzz

Since those pioneer days, Renault has won the Formula 1 World Constructors’ Championship seven times (six times as an engine manufacturer, once as a works team), twice taken victory in the Monaco Grand Prix with its own team (2004/06), and conquered the Le Mans 24 Hour race with the Alpine-Renault that triumphed in 1978 at the hands of Jean-Pierre Jaussaud and Didier Pironi. At its home race, it has taken pole position seven times (1979/81/82/83/84/2004/05), won the race five times (1979/81/82/83/2005) and as an engine manufacturer in 1996, took a famous 1/2/3/4 finish with the Williams and Benetton teams.

Furthermore, it is a tradition that has been built alongside loyal partners. Fernando Alonso’s Canadian Grand Prix victory was the 100th for Michelin in Formula 1 – 100 years after Szisz’s Michelin-shod Renault triumphed at Le Mans. Alonso’s Barcelona success marked 100 wins for the partnership between Renault and Elf, begun back in 1977 – and Elf also passed the 150 F1 wins milestone at the 2006 British Grand Prix.

Yet as milestones are passed, and records fall, one truth remains. That each success, every victory, small and great, are only enabled by the dedication and passion of the women and men who pursue ever greater challenges. In 2006, motorsport may not directly develop the cars of tomorrow, but it does express a company’s passion, its soul and its expertise. This weekend’s centenary is also a commemoration of those values that continue to drive the Renault F1 Team forward today. Source Renaultf1

Montoya move a big coup for NASCAR Montoya move a big coup for NASCARNASCAR's international image got a boost yesterday - and its Hispanic diversity program took another major step - when Formula 1's Juan Pablo Montoya announced here he will be giving up his ride with Team McLaren at the end of the Grand Prix season to join NASCAR to drive for Chip Ganassi on the Nextel Cup and Busch tours.

"I know people will say 'Moving from Formula 1 to NASCAR? You're crazy,'" Montoya said. "But I think this is exciting. A great challenge for my career, my toughest challenge ever.

"I think I'll have a very busy winter. It will be tough. But I've watched NASCAR a lot. I came here to learn and to have fun.

"A lot of people will expect me to come in and win, and of course I want to do that, but it will be tougher than people think. It will take time.

"I know there will be races where I'm stuck back in 30th just trying to bring the car home. But here you have so many races. In Formula 1, if you have a bad race, you've got to wait two or three weeks for the next one. Here if you have a bad race, you've got another chance the next week. NASCAR just goes on and on."

"It's big for our team, it's big for NASCAR, and it's big for Juan," said Ganassi - who calls Montoya "my pal," from their Indy-car days together. "It's obviously a world-wide move, and it will open a lot of eyes as to what is out here."  zzzz

Mike Helton, NASCAR's president, called it "an historic day" for this sport: "This is a big statement for NASCAR. It says a lot ... and it shows NASCAR to be acceptable, popular, attractive and credible. This announcement by Juan Pablo transcends the things we've worked on for a long time - diversity, acceptance, and international acceptance."

Jeff Gordon, who once tested Montoya's F1 car at Indianapolis, agreed: "It's a great thing for the sport to have such a world-class driver want to compete. I welcome him and respect him for accepting the challenge."

"I have no doubt Juan will be able to adapt to Cup and Busch. But it won't be a walk in the park. It's a great challenge. But what better opportunity in sports?"

"I had a couple of options in Formula 1 (for 2007), but coming here, to start as a rookie again, and to be here in America, will be very exciting," Montoya said. "I called Ron Dennis (the McLaren boss) this morning and told them what I was doing. I don't think they were too excited."

The F1 season ends Oct. 22 with the Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo, which Montoya won last fall. So Montoya, whose next stop is Magny-Cours this week for the French Grand Prix, could run at Atlanta, Texas, Phoenix or Homestead this fall. "That's all up in the air right now," Ganassi said. "We have to take a good hard look at what is the right way to do it."

Helton admits the Montoya deal "happened really quick. When Chip first said he was considering this, it was 'OK, that's pretty interesting. Let's see if he can pull it off.'

"But as it came together, it was very exciting for us.

"Juan Pablo's experience gives us a different level for us evaluating him and his ability to participate at Daytona than someone who doesn't have that level of experience. He has a lot of experience to bank on when it comes to us, and we're well aware of that. And there will be some things we will work with Chip and Juan Pablo on, to get him comfortable with us and himself and the garage area so he can compete at Daytona."

Why would Montoya leave F1?

"If this was just to get out of Formula 1, I would have asked Chip for an Indy-car ride," Montoya said. "I know I can win there, and Chip has winning cars there. But knowing he had an open-seat here, this looks like a good challenge."

Certainly Montoya will take a pay cut. Formula 1 drivers generally make from $5 million to $10 million a year for 16 races, with some making as much as $15 million, and top stars like Schumacher probably making well in excess of that. NASCAR drivers generally make from $2 million to $5 million, for 38 races, with stars like Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. making $10 million or more.

"I don't think it's about a pay cut," Montoya said. "It's about how much fun you are having, and a matter of in three years down the line will you be excited about what you're doing. And here I think I will be. And this can add 15 years to my racing career.

"But actually I told Chip, 'This is the number I'm looking for.' And Chip said 'Fine.'

"It took us just an hour to do it. It was that simple."   More at Winston-Salem Journal

Schu gets in mood for Magny Schu gets in mood for Magny(GMM)  Germany's Michael Schumacher got in the mood for Magny Cours at the weekend by watching his countrymen triumph in the 'bronze medal' World Cup football game in Stuttgart.

A day later, the sport's 75-year-old supremo Bernie Ecclestone was then among the thousands in Berlin who watched Italy triumph over France in the dramatic final.

''It was an unbelievable atmosphere,'' said the Ferrari driver, who originally had tickets for the final but eventually watched Italy defeat France at home on TV.

But of Sunday evening's match in Berlin, he added: ''I am happy for the (Italian) squad, but even happier for our (Ferrari) team.'' zzzz

In France this weekend, the Italy-France battle will resume; and Schumacher is still hoping that Italy (Ferrari) triumphs despite Renault's celebration of 100-years of grand prix racing.

Last Friday, Schumacher ended the Jerez test with an unofficial lap record.

''We are going to try everything to close this gap,'' said the German, who is 19 points behind Fernando Alonso after winning at Indy.

''Indianapolis was extremely encouraging,'' he admitted, ''but we shouldn't overestimate it either -- I don't think it properly represents the balance of power.

''I am sure that things will not always run so smoothly, but I am convinced that we still have a chance to win the world championship.

''We will fight right until the finish and never give up.''

Renault's Alonso, meanwhile, has reason to be confident heading to the rural setting of Magny Cours -- he won last year.

''You have to look at the big picture for the championship,'' said the Spaniard, who was trounced at Indy a week ago.

But he explained: ''I was first or second at nine of the ten races (so far) -– and in the next eight races, I think we will be able to keep on winning and increase the lead even more.''

Mayfield not happy Mayfield not happyUPDATE Statement by Ray Evernham from Chicagoland on Sunday morning. "My commitment to building a championship caliber motorsports organization for numerous racing series and multiple teams has never wavered. Neither has my commitment to providing the best people and resources for our race teams. What has changed is my job. I'm running a significant business with operations in the US and the UK. I have tremendous responsibilities to our sponsors and business partners away from the race track. That's been my focus this season. And, that's why I've put smart, talented people such as Sammy Johns, competition director, Mark Mardle, engine program director, and Dr. Eric Warren, engineering director, in charge of day-to-day operations at the track. Jeremy and I talked this weekend, and we're on the same page. We're both unsatisfied with the performance of his team. We know the potential is there and that Jeremy is a talented driver. It's frustrating when you can't quickly find the solution. That doesn't mean we aren't trying. Jeremy and I are going to continue to work on getting this team where it needs to be. There's a lot of racing left this season and I'm confident that we can get this program on track." Clear!Blue PR

07/10/06 Jeremy Mayfield isn't happy with the way his team is performing this year. And he doesn't seem to think team owner Ray Evernham is taking enough of a hands-on approach to fixing what's wrong. "I haven't talked to Ray much," Mayfield said Friday morning. "We don't see Ray much. I don't know. He encourages us when he is around but we haven't seen him much lately." Mayfield said he is surprised that Evernham hasn't been at the track. "He used to be on top of stuff like this pretty hot and heavy and he's letting it take its course, I guess," Mayfield said. Mayfield added: "He is here today, isn't he? I don't think he is here today." Evernham wasn't. Reached by cell phone at Kentucky Speedway on Friday evening, where he was overseeing developmental driver Erin Crocker in the ARCA series, Evernham said he and Mayfield already had talked to clear the air. "I don't think he's upset with me," Evernham said. "I'm sure he's frustrated that we're not performing." With high-profile rides available at two new Toyota teams, Michael Waltrip Racing and Red Bull, for next season, Mayfield sounds as though he would entertain the idea of leaving Evernham if he didn't have a long-term contract. "I've got a contract through next year and I've got two years after that, so I can't talk to nobody," Mayfield said. "So I'm sitting here like a sitting duck. What I do know is we've got to get running better." Evernham said Mayfield hasn't said anything about wanting to out of his contract. "Not to my knowledge," Evernham said. "And again, we're good enough friends (that) we can sit down and talk about anything like that." ESPN.com/AP
Audi of America VP interview Audi of America VP interviewIn March Audi used ALMS’ kickoff race at Sebring to debut its historic R10 TDI racecar. Unsurprisingly, the manufacturer went out of its way to help media attendees experience and enjoy the benefits of diesel technology over the race weekend. Audi-invited press representatives shuttled themselves back and forth to the racetrack in TDI-powered Q7’s and A6’s, while spokespeople from Audi’s TDI development partners Bosch and Shell were abundantly available for discussion. The brand new R10, of course, also did its part by pacing the field to the checkered flag in the grueling 12-hour race. Quoting a Radio Le Mans announcer from race day, “Audi’s TDI technology was clearly the star at Sebring in 2006!” More.....
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
New moves to scrap GP Fridays
Paffett steps up race for McLaren ride
Montoya says he had F1 'options'
A dispute in India
Kolles optimistic about MF1's engine situation
Like returning home for Juan Like returning home for JuanJuan Pablo Montoya's former Formula One team boss Frank Williams says Montoya's move back to the USA is like returning home.

"Juan is a feisty and very determined driver, and when he was really on form his overtaking ability was outstanding," Williams told the Guardian, following the news of Montoya's switch to NASCAR.

"But he always liked racing in the USA, and in a sense this decision means that he's returning home."

Q and A with Ganassi on Montoya move Q and A with Ganassi on Montoya moveChip Ganassi announced Sunday morning at Chicagoland Speedway that Juan Pablo Montoya has signed a multi-year deal with the organization to compete in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series beginning in 2007. Montoya will drive the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge Charger.

CHIP GANASSI (Owner Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates)

“As some of you may or may not know, this guy and I have had some success in the past. He called me up a few days ago and said, ‘hey, you looking for a driver?’ He said, ‘I want to drive that car.’ I said, ‘do you know which car I’m talking about?’ He said, ‘yeah, the 42.’ He said, ‘yeah, I want to drive it.’ I said, ‘OK, fine.’ That was about the extent of our conversation, but we have a great history together. We’ve had a lot of fun together over the years, and I couldn’t be more happy. I think he represents everything our team is about. It’s about performance. It’s about innovation. It’s about partnership. It’s about integrity. Those are the four things that our company is built on, and that’s what this guy stands for, most importantly the performance part of that. I couldn’t be happier ladies and gentlemen. I think everyone knows the driver market in this formula right now is tight. We looked outside the box a little bit. The last thing Juan said to me was ‘I want to get back in racing. That’s why I want to come do this.’ That’s all I needed to hear. He’s known worldwide as Juan Pablo Montoya. I call him Juan. He’s called me a few choice names over the years and most of them are not printable. I’m pretty happy to introduce the guy. Here he is.”  zzzz

IS THIS BREATHING LIFE INTO THE 42 TEAM? “Did you see that team yesterday in the Busch race? I wouldn’t call that a dead race team. Any time you lose a driver, we’re fine with Casey and what he’s doing. Every car owner wishes great drivers would be available to you all the time. I think the nicest thing from a team owner point of view is as our team matures better drivers are available to us when a situation like this comes along. I’m honored the guy calls me on the phone and says he wants to drive my car. Any owner would like to hear that. Anyone would love to hear it from this guy. Things happen for a reason I guess. I’m just honored that people call up and want to drive. I will say this. Better drivers called this year than a year ago, and better drivers called last year than the year before that. That’s all you can hope for as a team owner.”

COMMENT ON MONTOYA TAKING A PAY CUT “He told me what he wanted to make and what did I say?” MONTOYA “That’s what you get. It was that simple. I said, ‘this is what I’m looking for, and Chip said OK.’ I’ll be honest with you guys. It took us an hour to close everything. It was that simple. I’m straight with him, and he’s straight with me and things just work out great. That’s what I’m here for. I want to come back racing. How close the racing is here and how exciting it is and how the fans like it. It’s hard to turn it down.”

HOW WILL YOU GET MONTOYA ELIGIBLE FOR THE DAYTONA 500? “We’ve looked at the Formula One schedule and we’re working close with everyone involved making sure it’s our goal to be ready for Daytona obviously. When his season ends I think we can squeeze a couple of things in there. It’s going to be a busy winter.”

HOW WILL YOU GET MONTOYA UP TO SPEED IN NASCAR? “It’ll be at his own pace. I’ve seen this guy adapt to cars and adapt to tracks like no other driver I’ve ever seen. I don’t have any question that he’ll be able to adapt to a Cup car and Busch car. He’ll be doing Cup and Busch. I don’t know if we said that. It’s not going to be a walk in the park. It’s going to be a lot of work over the winter. It’s going to be a work in progress in 2007. It’s a great challenge. What a better opportunity than to have someone like this in your car and take on that challenge together? I can’t think of a better opportunity in sports.”

IS TEXACO A PART OF THIS DEAL? “They are, and we’ve got to be careful with that because the current car that Juan is driving is sponsored by Mobil. We’ve got to be careful what we say about Texaco, but they were lock step in this whole process. They would be here today, but I think there’s a soccer game in Germany.”

HOW REFRESHING IS IT TO YOU TO HAVE MONTOYA COME TO NASCAR? “It’s refreshing in that it sort of validates what we’re doing. Not everybody understands our team from time to time, but I know this guy does and it validates what we’re all about and what we’re trying to do. We’ve always been about racing and everything else is secondary I guess. We want to race. We want to be out front. We want to win races, and we want to do what it takes to do that. There’s not a car owner on the planet who wouldn’t want this guy in his car at any level, in any series in any car. This is the guy you want.”

COULD MONTOYA RUN THE INDY 500 IN ONE OF YOUR CARS? “There’s no plan for that. We have a tall order. He’s going to have a steep learning curve with what we have on tap, so I would think that’s not on the table right now. I think the scheduling of the races would make it more difficult to do the double.”

HOW DID THE TEAM REACT TO THE NEWS? “Everybody was surprised, but yet they were pleasantly surprised. Obviously our team has its up and downs like any other team. Everyone was concerned what kind of driver was going to be available to us. We think we have the cars, people, engines and drivers and it’s great to augment it with a great driver like this guy. They were all very positive, very positive.”

Q and A with Montoya on NASCAR move Q and A with Montoya on NASCAR move
Dodge comments of Montoya Dodge comments of MontoyaMike Accavitti, Director of Dodge SRT and Motorsports Marketing, comments on Juan Pablo Montoya joining Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates in 2007.

"We're thrilled to have Juan Pablo Montoya join the Dodge Motorsports family and the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. We've had the honor of having him drive for our McLaren Mercedes program in F1 and to now add him to our roster in NASCAR really demonstrates how we integrate our motorsports programs around the world. He is a tremendously talented driver who has succeeded in every series in which he has competed, and we're confident that he will quickly adapt to a Dodge Charger and oval track racing.

"We're also excited about the loyal following of F1 fans he will bring to NASCAR and Dodge. He is a popular driver around the world, and this brings excellent visibility for the Dodge brand in number of countries. Hats off to Chip Ganassi for a great addition to his team. We look forward to seeing Juan Pablo in victory lane."

Pierce Wins Silver Crown Race at Chicagoland Pierce Wins Silver Crown Race at ChicagolandJOLIET, Ill. – Aaron Pierce turned his bad luck to good Friday at Chicagoland Speedway in the “USG Fiberock 100,” the fastest USAC Silver Crown Series presented by K&N Engineering race ever held.

Following two DNFs over the last two races, Pierce regained his composure and led the final eight laps of the 67-lap event after leader Jay Drake fell victim to engine problems. By the time the checkered flag fell, Pierce owned more than a straightaway lead over runner-up finisher Pete Shepherd III with his first series victory.

“It feels great; it’s a long time coming,” said Pierce, who averaged 145.934 mph in the No. 26 Sam Pierce Chevy Riley/Chevy.

Front row companions and fellow Riley Technologies chassis pilots Pierce and Drake traded the leads over the first 29 laps before Drake inched Pierce at the line. On Lap 30, Drake took the point outright after the pair raced side-by-side thru Turn 1. zzzz

Drake began pulling away and opened up a three-second margin on Pierce before the eventual winner started reeling him in. The gap was lowered to single digit car lengths as the two weaved through lapped traffic.

On Lap 60, smoke began pouring out of the back of Drake’s machine, and he pulled off the track onto the apron and coasted the remainder of the way, leaving Pierce with an insurmountable lead over the final eight laps.

Shepherd, who had stayed out of trouble all evening, benefited from Drake’s misfortune to move to third, then earned second when Wayne Reutimann Jr. bowed out of competition with drive line problems a lap later.

The race was a fitting closure for Pierce at the 1.5-mile track, who led the series’ testing last month and was fastest in both practice and qualifications Friday. He said with another caution, he might have been able to catch Drake anyway.

“I had a lot left in the car at the end,” said Pierce, who also gave Riley its first ever Silver Crown victory. “You could see the distance I could make up on the straightaways, especially through the draft. And that’s what makes this series so fun. You get four, five, six cars together, it’s going to get wild.”

Shepherd’s second-place run was the best ever by a Canadian and best ever for his Carl Edwards/R.E. Technologies team on pavement. Fellow rookie Bryn Gohn also stayed out of trouble and finished a career-best third. Trailing were two-time defending series champion Dave Steele and Brian Tyler.

Only two cautions slowed the pace of the event. Josh Wise spun in Turn 4, bringing out a yellow that lasted five laps, and a track inspection prior to the halfway point bought out another five-lap caution period.

Series point leader Bud Kaeding suffered engine problems throughout the event and placed 10th, but still retains a six-point advantage over Tyler heading into the “Milwaukee 100” on July 23 at The Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wis. USAC

Jeff Gordon to be featured in Make-A-Wish Series Jeff Gordon to be featured in Make-A-Wish SeriesUPDATE Reminder that the segment featuring Jeff Gordon will be shown on Tuesday, July 11 (tomorrow), at 6:00 pm ET on ESPN.

07/05/06 ESPN and the Make-A-Wish Foundation will collaborate for a unique 10-part SportsCenter series titled “My Wish” beginning Sunday, July 9. As part of the initiative, 10 children across the country with life-threatening medical conditions will have sports-related wishes granted. Each story and experience will be the subject of a SportsCenter feature segment airing July 9-23, hosted by Emmy Award-winning reporter Chris Connelly. Wishes range from pitching with Roger Clemens to coaching the Philadelphia Eagles to a NASCAR experience with Jeff Gordon, which will be shown on July 11, to basketball-themed activities with Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady to a day with Derek Jeter and much more. This video shows the story which features Jeff Gordon.    
Double victory for Hildebrand juggernaut Double victory for Hildebrand juggernautToronto, Ont., Canada – J.R. Hildebrand was not at all happy with himself two weeks ago at Cleveland, having spun off midway through the weekend’s second race and lost a clear opportunity to extend his record-breaking win streak to nine. When the Cooper Tires Formula Ford 2000 Championship reconvened this weekend on the streets around Exhibition Place in Toronto, Hildebrand took out his frustration on his rivals, earning a pair of pole positions and two more emphatic victories with the Cape Motorsports #2 Formotion/Spy Optics/Mockett.com Van Diemen.

Hildebrand thereby claimed his ninth win from 10 races, tying the record of race victories in a single season established last year by Englishman Jay Howard.

“In a series like this with so much history, as with the number of consecutive wins, that’s a pretty good accomplishment,” he acknowledged.

“I’ve just been having a great time since I got here [to Toronto],” Hildebrand continued. “The team and I were really anxious to get to a street circuit because neither of us has done it before. It’s just totally different, so we all came here on a really level playing field., and I think the driving style I’ve shown this season has put us on the top step of the podium again here. It’s just a lot of fun.” zzzz

Hildebrand, 18, from Sausalito, Calif., extended his championship lead to a staggering 106 points, having earned 312 points to the 206 of Cape Motorsports teammate Dane Cameron, who took another pair of second-place finishes in the #19 Finlay Motorsports/Jim Russell School/Red Line Oil Van Diemen. A total of 128 points are available from the two remaining event weekends, each of which will comprise two races.

Cameron, 17, from Sonoma, Calif., cemented his position at the head of the Greg Moore Rookie of the Year point standings, which he now leads by 44 markers over Ricardo Vassmer, 22, from Caracas, Venezuela, while the pair of one-two finishes clinched the Teams Championship for Palmetto, Fla.-based Cape Motorsports – its first since 2003.

“It’s been a pretty good weekend,” concluded Cameron, who finished 7.821 seconds behind Hildebrand in Race One and trailed by a 5.998-second deficit on Sunday. “I hung out with J.R. at the beginning but the track seemed to get a bit greasy after the Champ Car race and I think J.R. figured it out a little bit quicker than I did.”

Vassmer also was pleased with his weekend’s work, after taking a pair of third-place finishes with the JDC Motorsports #25 Meridiano Television/Santa Barbara Airlines Van Diemen.

“I really need to thank John Church and the team,” said Vassmer, last year’s Cooper Gold Cup champion, after taking his third consecutive podium result. “My car is getting better and better each weekend, and we’re getting closer and closer to the Cape guys.”

JDC Motorsports teammate Noah Bystrom also enjoyed an excellent weekend. Bystrom, from Chanhassen, Minn., overcame a badly deranged rear wing on Saturday, the legacy of an inadvertent bump from teammate Juliana Gonzalez, to finish a fine fourth in the #10 Cooper Power Tools/Hoff-Hilk/Apex Van Diemen. Bystrom repeated that result on Sunday, finishing hot on the tail of Vassmer, just a half-second away from his first-ever podium finish.

Chris Meredith (#3 MII Security/Bertil Roos School/Primus Racing Van Diemen), from Potomac, Md., rounded out the top five on Saturday, while Jason Byers (# 28 A&B Refrigeration/St. Clair Motorsports Van Diemen), from Lansing, Mich., took the place on Sunday.

The Cooper Gold Cup honors on both days were taken by a deserving Seth Ravndal, from Ann Arbor, Mich., who guided his #22pleasuretechnicians.com Van Diemen to ninth place overall on Saturday and 13th on Sunday.

“It’s great to race on a track like this, and in front of the Champ Car crowd. I was out there working on my technique, trying to learn from these guys [Hildebrand and Cameron],” said Ravndal. “I had a lot of fun.”

Philippe leads career high 34 laps Philippe leads career high 34 lapsToronto, ON: An alternate pit strategy and a valiant effort by Nelson Philippe looked like it could produce another podium finish for Champ Car’s rising star, but the anticipation was shattered in a late-race incident. 

Philippe paced the field by leading 34 laps of the 86 during this afternoon’s race at the Exhibition Grounds. The Frenchman qualified seventh and had an excellent start, passing Oriol Servia and Andrew Ranger for fifth position on the first lap. He took the lead when the rest of the field pitted on lap 11 and had a small advantage until his first pitstop on lap 34.   With ten laps to go and running sixth, Philippe attempted to overtake Oriol Servia, but the No. six car brake-checked Philippe, sending him into the wall in turn three. The incident resulted in early retirement for both drivers and left Philippe in 13th position.

“Oriol made a comment in the drivers meeting to stay left when passing after the straight which is exactly the opposite of what he did during the last ten laps today. He braked early on the inside line as I went to make the pass which sent me airborne and into the wall. It’s disappointing as I know we could have had a chance at a podium finish.  We were really quick in the second stint and it felt like I was qualifying every lap. I am proud of the CTE-HVM team as our strategy was to be in fifth position by the first lap and we achieved it. It felt good to lead again—it’s definitely a feeling I can get used to.”
Mike Helton on Montoya joining NASCAR Mike Helton on Montoya joining NASCARNASCAR Statement Regarding Juan Pablo Montoya’s Entry Into NASCAR

“Juan Pablo Montoya’s entry into NASCAR is historic,” said NASCAR president Mike Helton. “It encompasses all the things that are important to NASCAR, the things that we've worked very hard to establish. Juan Pablo is someone who touches not only the Hispanic fan base, but also is a driver with an international following. NASCAR has had success with drivers from other racing backgrounds who have come to NASCAR and done well, but to have Juan Pablo say, 'I want to compete here,' is historic,” Helton said.

Montoya has no effect on F1 market Montoya has no effect on F1 marketThe announcement that Juan Pablo Montoya is leaving Formula 1 to go to race in NASCAR does not change much in the F1 driver market because it did not appear that Montoya was getting much interest from teams he had approached after learning that McLaren would not renew his contract.
F1 drivers who have competed in NASCAR F1 drivers who have competed in NASCARFormula One drivers who have competed in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events:

Mario Andretti (USA) – 14 races: 1966-1969. 1 win, 1967 Daytona 500
Bob Bondurant (USA) – 4 races: 1963-1981
Bobby Rahal (USA) – 1 race: 1984
Jim Clark (Scotland) – 1 race: 1967
Chuck Daigh (USA) – 2 races: 1963-1964
Mark Donohue (USA) – 6 races: 1972-1973. 1 win, 1973 Riverside 500
Vic Elford (England) – 4 races: 1969-1972
Christian Fittipaldi (Brazil) – 16 races: 2002, 2003
George Follmer (USA) – 20 races: 1972-1987
Hideo Fukiyama (Japan) – 4 races: 2002, 2003
Frank Gardner (Australia) – 1 race: 1968
Dan Gurney (USA) – 16 races: 1962-1980. 5 wins (All at Riverside, CA)
Walt Hansgen (USA) – 3 races: 1964-1965
David Hobbs (England) – 2 races: 1976
Innes Ireland (England) – 2 races: 1967
Jacky Ickx (Belgium) – Attempted to make the field for the 1969 Daytona 500
Lella Lombard (Italy) – 1 race: 1977
Brain Naylor (England) – 2 races: 1961
Jackie Oliver (England) – 8 races: 1971, 1972
Sam Posey (USA) – 1 race: 1970
Pedro Rodriguez (Mexico) – 6 races: 1959-1971
Bob Said (USA) – 1 race: 1959
Jo Schlesser (France) – 2 races: 1964
Rolf Stommelen (Germany) – 1 event: 1971
Danny Sullivan (USA) – 1 race: 1994
Bobby Unser (USA) – 4 races: 1969-1973

*The Indianapolis 500 was part of the Formula One schedule from 1950 to 1960. Any Indy 500 drivers who also competed in a NASCAR premier series event would technically be included in this list. They are A.J. Foyt (7 NASCAR wins), Al Keller (1 NASCAR win), Bill Cheesbourg, Bill Holland, Bill Cantrell, Chuck Stevenson, Dick Rathmann (13 NASCAR wins), Jim Rathmann, Johnny Mantz (1 NASCAR win), Len Sutton, Lloyd Ruby, Marshall Teague (7 NASCAR wins), Mike Magill, Paul Goldsmith (9 NASCAR wins), Rodger Ward, Troy Ruttman.

Pecorari wins first Atlantic race Pecorari wins first Atlantic race
Schu gets $26m title boost Schu gets $26m title boost(GMM) Ferrari has pumped in another $26 million to boost Michael Schumacher's charge for an eighth world championship in 2006.

Buoyed by the German's dominance at Indianapolis, Jean Todt convinced his backers to bolster this year's Ferrari budget, according to major German newspaper 'Bild'.

At Jerez last Friday, in preparation for the upcoming French grand prix, the 37-year-old racer set a new test lap record with a rejuvenated car. Although Ross Brawn insists that it is not a 'B' specification, the heavily revised '248' features a new engine cover, front wing and engine, packing an extra 20 hp.

The tabloid daily also described new Bridgestone tires for Magny Cours as 'super-rubber', and said team principal Todt had asked Ferrari staff to work extra shifts at Maranello to implement the upgrade.

With eight races to run this season, Schumacher is 19 points behind Renault rival Fernando Alonso.

''I don't know whether my victory at Indy was representative of the next races,'' Schumacher was quoted as saying, ''but I am convinced that we have taken a step forward.

''Our goal is still to win the championship title.''

His personal manager, Willi Weber, added: ''Michael has the best tires, the stronger mind, and Ferrari are finally developing faster than Renault again. I'm sure he can win.''

Questions unanswered in Red Bull camp Questions unanswered in Red Bull camp(GMM) Gerhard Berger says the complicated engine situation inside Red Bull's formula one family is not yet settled.

The Austrian's junior Toro Rosso camp is currently powered by a performance-limited Cosworth V10 -- a thorny scenario that has led to pressure to fall in line with the V8 ranks.

'STR' could inherit Red Bull Racing's Ferrari contract for 2007 if the sister team make the expected switch to Renault.

''There are possibilities with Cosworth, Ferrari and with Renault,'' Toro Rosso co-owner Berger told motorline.cc, ''and naturally cost is a factor.''

Toro Rosso's drivers for next season, meanwhile, are less of an unknown quantity. ''I would like to keep (Vitantonio) Liuzzi and (Scott) Speed,'' Berger admitted.

''Liuzzi is already very good, Speed still needs another year for development.''

Berger added that Dietrich Mateschitz and Helmut Marko are in charge of the driver area at Red Bull Racing, but he laughingly confessed that 'anything is possible in F1' when asked about new rumors linking Ralf Schumacher with a ride.

He also said he believed that Juan Pablo Montoya had not been 'completely' ruled out of the 2007 equation.

Q and A with Carl Edwards Q and A with Carl EdwardsWe are talked to Saturday's second place finisher in the Busch USG Durock 300 - driver of the No. 60 Duck Tape/Henkel Ford, Carl Edwards.

Q. Carl tell us about your run.
A. We had a great racecar, the Duck Tape Fusion was really good. First of all I would like to congratulate Casey, he is just one of the nicest guys in the world I would rather finish second to no one else. He is a great guy. It was a fun race.

Q. Should you have pitted before your last request to pit?
A. Well my crew chief told me to pit and I did not pit so I guess I should have just done what he said and I would have been looking a little better. I don’t know why I did that? I just said I am going to do what Kurt does, it’s just a race between Kurt and me now. I did not realize Kurt still had another set of tires in the pits; that’s where I screwed up.

Q. Is this the first time you have not taken your crews advice or is this something you have found yourself doing in the past?
A. It might be my last time. (laugh)

Thanks and good luck in the Cup race Sunday. Rick Schenk

Formula Nippon
Toyota sweeps round 4 at Suzuka Toyota sweeps round 4 at SuzukaOfficial Race Results from Round 4 of the Formula Nippon series at Suzuka

Pos. Driver Time Team Engine
1. #19 B.Treluyer 1:34'26.397 Impul Toyota
2. #20 T.Matsuda 1:34'35.632 Impul Toyota
3. #1 S.Motoyama 1:35'00.301 Arting Impul Toyota
4. #11 Y.Tachikawa 1:35'06.589 Cerumo Toyota
5. #36 A.Lotterer 1:35'32.191 Tom's Toyota
6. #7 T.Kataoka 1:35'42.185 LeMans Toyota
7. #37 T.Tsuchya 1:35'48.689 Tom's Toyota
8. #8 T.Takagi 1:35'54.759 LeMans Toyota
9. #56 T.Kogure 1:35'57.029 Aguri Honda
10. #3 S.Ara 1:36'05.954 Kondo Toyota
11. #34 N.Yokomizo 1:36'15.458 Inging Toyota
12. #41 Y.Ide 1 Lap Dandelion Honda
13. #4 M.Yanagida 4 Laps Kondo Toyota
 #2 K.Hoshino DNF Arting Impul Toyota
 #55 T.Kaneishi DNF Aguri Honda
 #40 B.Wirdheim DNF Dandelion Honda
 #32 H.Muto DNF Nakajima Honda
 #5 A.Michigami DNF 5zigen Honda
 #33 R.Quintarelli DNF Inging Toyota
 #31 L.Duval DNF Nakajima Honda
 #6 R.Orime DNF 5zigen Honda
 #27 S.Mitsuyama DNF Direxiv Honda

Ranger has best qualifying result this year Ranger has best qualifying result this yearCanadian Andrew Ranger, the native of Roxton Pond, Que., was thrilled after the qualifying dust settled in Toronto Saturday. Ranger ran a best time of 59.059 and will start sixth, easily his best starting position of the season. In six previous races, Ranger began no better than 12th.

Ranger is 6th in points and is on a race-to-race deal due to sponsorship, which right now only guarantees that he race in Toronto, Edmonton in two weeks and Montreal at the end of August.

Hornaday Captures NCTS Win No. 29 in Kentucky Hornaday Captures NCTS Win No. 29 in KentuckyRon Hornaday Jr. came from deep in the field to take the lead when race leader Mike Skinner slammed the outside wall and held on to capture a record-extending 29th NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory on Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.

Hornaday, who started 22nd in the 36-truck field, was the last of seven leaders and carried a half-second margin at the checkered flag over Rick Crawford’s Circle Bar Truck Corral Ford after heading the final 22 laps of the Built Ford Tough 225.

The 48-year-old veteran, a winner most recently in May at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway, averaged 118.110 mph for the 150-lap, 225-mile distance. He won $84,875.

Hornaday’s trip to victory lane was made easier by the torrid, three-way battle for the runner-up spot during an eight-lap shootout following the race’s eighth and final caution. zzzz

Crawford and Brendan Gaughan’s Orleans Dodge exchanged the No. 2 position several times with Johnny Benson’s Toyota a few feet off their tailgates. While the three battled, Hornaday was able to run unchallenged to the finish.

David Ragan, who earlier led for the first time in his brief NASCAR Craftsman Truck career, bypassed veteran Matt Crafton to take the final top-five spot.

Defending series champion Ted Musgrave, Crafton, David Starr, Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Erik Darnell and Todd Bodine completed the top 10 as 17 of the race’s 30 finishers finished on the lead serial.

Bodine continues to hold the point lead at the season’s mid-point by 112 over Benson. The latter driver moved from third to the runner-up spot as David Reutimann, who finished 13th, dropped a position.

Seven drivers exchanged the lead 10 times with Budweiser Pole winner Marcos Ambrose, the season’s seventh different pole qualifier and first rookie fast qualifier since 2004, leading a race-high 49 laps.

Ambrose dominated the first third of the race but fell back with handling problems following a pit stop at lap 51. The Australian driver finished 19th, a lap behind Hornaday.

The series next moves to Memphis Motorsports Park where Saturday’s O’Reilly 200 concludes nine consecutive weeks of competition.

Q and A with polesitter Jeff Burton Q and A with polesitter Jeff BurtonInterview with Polesitter, Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Monte Carlo SS

Q.  On your lap, did you leave anything out there?
A.  I think we got all out of the car there is.  I think we were fifth fastest in practice and I felt pretty good about that but winning the pole is due to my guys.  I am proud of their dedication and commitment to this team.

Q.  How rewarding is winning this pole at Chicago to say winning the pole for a restrictor plate race?
A.  Daytona was a really big deal for our team.  There are a lot of tricks you can use there to get qualified.  We have qualified well much of this year.  If you continue to qualify well you will eventually win your poles. So yeah, it is very rewarding to win here in Chicago.

Q.  There’s a couple guys in the garage who seem to be struggling, who have been around five, six, seven years, who seem to be struggling with what they’ve got under the cars now, just can't get it around the track.
A.  I’ve had to back away.  I’ve come to the realization that people are smarter than me and that I can’t put the time and effort into developing a chassis setup and aero setup, those things I used to be very successful at.

I will tell you that I’m a good example of – Dale Jarrett hasn’t forgotten how to drive, and Jeff Gordon hasn’t forgotten how to drive.  A lot is made about the older guys drive something that’s different, and they can’t drive it – it’s my opinion that a driver doesn’t care about the ride of the car;  he only cares will it turn and will it have good grip. Rick Schenk

Mears Motors to First NASCAR Victory Mears Motors to First NASCAR VictoryCasey Mears ran out of gas at the right time … just as he came across the finish line for his first NASCAR national series victory as he captured the NASCAR Busch Series USG Durock 300 at Chicagoland Speedway in front of packed grandstands on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

Mears made his last pit stop on Lap 130 of the 200-lap event as he and crew chief Brad Parrott banked on at least one final caution in order to save precious fuel. The last of nine race cautions did come with 28 laps to go, allowing Mears to conserve just enough gas to hold off Carl Edwards, a former leader in the race who charged through the field in those final 28 laps in an effort to pounce on Mears if his engine sputtered. Photos by Diane Meader Schenk

Edwards, who won the Busch Pole for the event earlier in the day, exchanged the lead numerous times earlier in the event with Kurt Busch. The two drivers played the track position game until a spin by Kasey Kahne brought out a caution with 49 laps to go. Busch and Edwards, who were 1-2 at the time, pitted for fresh tires and fuel, while Mears and Parrott gambled that their newly-gained first-place position would hold out until the final lap. The gamble paid off. zzzz

Mears won his first race in 69 starts in the NASCAR Busch Series. Edwards finished second, while Jeff Burton, who stayed out with Mears and held the lead briefly during the final flurry, finished third. Series points leader Kevin Harvick kept his tremendously consistent season going despite the suspension of his crew chief for a fourth-place finish and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top 10. Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Reed Sorenson, Tony Stewart and J.J. Yeley finished sixth through 10th,  respectively.

Edwards remains second to Harvick in the point standings followed by Bowyer in third, Denny Hamlin in fourth and Yeley in fifth. NASCAR Busch Series regulars Paul Menard (seventh), Johnny Sauter (eighth) and Kenny Wallace (10th) maintained their top-10 positions in the points following the event at Chicago.

The NASCAR Busch Series heads to Loudon, N.H., next week for the New Hampshire 200.

Chicagoland sells out again Chicagoland sells out again(Joliet, Ill. - July 8, 2006) For the sixth consecutive year, Chicagoland Speedway has sold out of its Track Pack season tickets.

"When you sell out on a weekend that also offers the [Chicago] White Sox-[Boston] Red Sox series, the Western Open and the Taste of Chicago, you know you've accomplished something," said Matthew Alexander, vice president and general manager of Chicagoland Speedway. "It just reinforces the knowledge and the feedback we've been getting over the past six years about the growth and popularity of motorsports in this market. The Chicago area is a proud sports community, and we're pleased that we have established ourselves as a premier sporting venue in a city which is so rich in tradition and history." Zzzz

In addition to the sold-out grandstands, suites and hospitality chalets, Chicagoland Speedway also filled up its expanded campground areas, including the new Keep You Cool Campground and Spice Things Up Campground.

"With our fans in mind, we added numerous upgrades to our facility in the offseason, including greatly expanding our camping areas," Alexander said. "We also added luxury suites in Turn 4, which provide an incredible place to witness the racing action. We're really excited about the new commemorative monuments of past Chicagoland Speedway race winners in Expo Village, and the newly designed Victory Lane, that will now allow fans access during the race. It is our continuing commitment to provide exceptional entertainment value to our fans which enables us to exceed expectations and continue to grow each year."

Chicagoland Speedway kicked off the 2006 season yesterday with the USG NASCAR weekend, featuring today's USG DUROCK 300 NASCAR Busch Series race, and the USG SHEETROCK 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race on Sunday.

Chicagoland Speedway tickets also include admission to the September 9-10 ARCA/IRL weekend, featuring the 300-mile PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 Presented by Mr. Clean (IRL IndyCar Series) on Sun., Sept. 10, along with the Chicagoland 100 (IRL Indy Pro Series), and the SK Hand Tool 200 (ARCA RE/MAX Series) on Sat., Sept. 9.
Rahal wins Atlantic pole in Toronto Rahal wins Atlantic pole in TorontoToronto, Ontario, Canada - Mi-Jack Conquest Racing rookie Graham Rahal continued to impress in his first visit to Toronto, winning his third career pole position Saturday in the Yokohama Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.

Rahal, the 17-year-old son of racing legend Bobby Rahal, led the first round of qualifying Friday for this weekend's Molson Grand Prix of Toronto Atlantic race. The talented first-year series racer backed it up and bettered his time on Saturday, winning the pole with a fast lap of 1:04.969 (97.246 mph).

The effort allows Rahal to start up front in Sunday's Round 7 race at the 1.755-mile Exhibition Place street circuit. The New Albany, Ohio native will be looking for his third straight win and fourth overall in his impressive rookie Atlantic season. By leading both rounds of qualifying at Toronto, Rahal now trails series leader Andreas Wirth by just 10 points in the series championship chase as he remains third in the overall standings. zzzz

Fellow American racer Jonathan Bomarito turned in his best qualifying result of his two-year Atlantic career. The native of Monterey, California qualified second for PR1 Motorsports with a fast lap of 1:05.075 (97.088 mph).

Wirth, the talented German racer who's led the Atlantic championship all season long, will start third on Sunday after carding a top time of 1:05.077 (97.085 mph). The Forsythe Championship Racing driver earned a third-place finish at Toronto last season.

The Toronto Atlantic race will take the green flag at 10 a.m. ET Sunday morning and the series will begin the race with a European-style standing start. After returning to the traditional starting format two weeks ago at Cleveland, series officials have determined that standing starts will return to Atlantic action at the majority of the remaining races on the 2006 schedule. The Atlantic Championship used rolling starts exclusively from the 1999 season through this year. Sunday's race is scheduled for 38 laps or 50 minutes.


Graham Rahal (#18 Gehl Company) of Mi-Jack Conquest Racing:  “The car felt pretty good all day.  We were quick on the old tires, like we have been all year.  As soon as I put the new tires on, it was just a matter of getting a lap.  I got a good lap on my second or third lap on new tires, but it's kind of a waiting game.  I kept having to lift off and wait for a gap.  I know I had a couple of laps that were a tenth of a second faster than my best lap.  It's hard to get a good lap when you're chasing people around, but that's how it works for everybody.  (On his finding the track “intimidating” yesterday)  You get over it pretty quick   What I meant by intimidating is that the walls are fairly narrow and it's easy to mess up.  You have to be very consistent here and that's how I won in Cleveland.  I know that coming here, it will be harder to be consistent with how rough the track is.  It's the key to winning races.  I'm not intimidated now.  You have to put that behind you.”

Jonathan Bomarito (#23 Miracle Sealants/Dynacor) of PR1 Motorsports:  “(On brushing the wall during Friday's qualifying session)  I only got six laps in that first part of the qualifying, and you saw today, everyone lays down their fastest laps right at the end.  That hurt us in terms of developing the car and knowing what it was going to do today.  I knew I had a good car.  The team has been awesome.  John Hayes, my engineer and everybody.  I was pretty bummed for everybody yesterday, but we were good this morning and we qualified well.  (On passing)  It's a tough track to pass.  The back section's pretty tight.  There's one line predominantly throughout the course, but maybe I can do it on the start.  The standing's start is going to be pretty exciting.  Anything can happen.  You just have to have good reaction time with the lights and make sure you don't get wheel spin or bog the engine down.”

Andreas Wirth (#37 INDECK/Wirth Solar) of Forsythe Championship Racing:  “In the beginning, my car didn't feel very good.  The track was greasy and hard to drive, from the drifters.  We had to make some changes.  At the end, it was okay. I had to drive very hard.  I'm happy to be starting in third, and we'll just have to push hard tomorrow.  I didn't want to start further back than second row.  That would be hard to make up.  The track is very slippery.  It might be better to start from third than from second because it's inside and not so slippery.  (On his plan for tomorrow)  Get points.  Don't get a DNF or 18th place or crash.  If I win, that's good.  Being on the podium is the minimum I want.  I would like to be on the podium and finish every race.”

Toronto native James Hinchcliffe (#3 Emexis/INDECK) of Forsythe Championship Racing qualified ninth in his home race:  “It didn't go as well as we expected.  I'm a little disappointed. The track changed drastically from yesterday, and even from this morning.  We need to go back and regroup and get ready to push hard in tomorrow's race.”


Pos Driver Car# Team Lap Time
1 Graham Rahal 18 Mi-Jack Conquest Racing 1:04.969
2 Jonathan Bomarito 23 PR1 Motorsports 1:05.075
3 Andreas Wirth  37 Forsythe Championship Racing 1:05.077
4 Raphael Matos 6 Sierra Sierra Enterprises 1:05.079
5 Robbie Pecorari 28 Gelles Racing 1:05.389
6 Steve Ott 35 Newman Wachs Racing 1:05.518
7 Tim Bridgman 2 Jensen MotorSport 1:05.590
8 Carlos Mastretta 8 Brooks Associates Racing 1:05.652
9 James Hinchcliffe 3 Forsythe Championship Racing 1:05.706
10 Joe D'Agostino 34 Newman Wachs Racing 1:05.758
11 Danilo Dirani 1 Condor Motorsports 1:05.766
12 Leonardo Maia 7 Forsythe Championship Racing 1:05.794
13 Alex Barron 21 Polestar Racing Group 1:05.864
14 Ryan Lewis 30 Mi-Jack Conquest Racing 1:05.868
15 Simon Pagenaud 15 Team Australia 1:05.874
16 Richard Philippe 33 Forsythe Championship Racing 1:05.960
17 David Martinez 4 US RaceTronics 1:06.003
18 Alex Sperafico 10 Brooks Associates Racing 1:06.130
19 Alan Sciuto 12 Polestar Racing Group 1:06.493
20 James Davison 5 Team Australia 1:06.691
21 Justin Sofio 26 Mathiasen Motorsports 1:06.751
22 Mike Forest 32 PR1 Motorsports 1:08.169
23 Duncan Ende 55 Bite Racing 1:08.927

Edwards wins pole for Chicago Busch race Edwards wins pole for Chicago Busch raceCarl Edwards, driving the No. 60 Duck Tape/Henkel Ford owned by Jack Roush won the pole position for the USG Durock 300 in Chicagoland with a qualifying speed: of 176.528 mph.

This is Carl Edwards’ sixth career Busch Pole and second of the season.  It comes in his 55th start in the NASCAR Busch Series.

Edwards captured his first Busch Pole of the season at California; where he finished third.

This is Edwards’ second NASCAR Busch Series start at Chicagoland Speedway.  Edwards started ninth in his only previous start at this track (2005); he finished fourth.

Edwards is currently second in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings, 388 points behind leader Kevin Harvick.  He has two wins, nine top fives and 13 top-10 finishes. Rick Schenk

PKV names Mark Johnson as GM PKV names Mark Johnson as GMUPDATE Added a photo of Mark Johnson below.

07/07/06 PKV Racing announced today that motorsports veteran manager Mark Johnson has assumed the General Manager duties for the team.

Johnson has a long history of success in motorsports. He worked for Kawasaki Motors Corp., USA for 17 years from 1979-1996. Starting as a mechanic for professional motorcross rider Jeff Ward, Johnson worked his way through the ranks to become a senior manager that contributed to building the most dominating motorcycle racing program, Team Green, in the history of the motorcycle industry. In addition to Ward, Johnson has been associated with riding legends Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey, Larry Roeseler, Jeremy McGrath, Ricky Carmichael and most recently James Stewart. He won championship titles for Kawasaki in MTEG and SCORE including eight consecutive Baja 1000 wins, and AMA Supercross, Motocross and Road Race competition championships.

In 1996, Johnson made the move to car racing joining Precision Preparation, Inc. (PPI Motorsports) as General Manager. At PPI, he was responsible for coordinating all efforts of PPI’s multiple motorsports programs including the Arciero-Wells CART team, the MCI Toyota Off Road Team, and the MCI Toyota Atlantic Team. Johnson was promoted to Vice President of Operations and General Manager in 1998 assuming the additional responsibilities of overseeing the formation of PPI’s NASCAR “Tide” Winston Cup and “McDonalds” BUSCH series operations. zzzz

Johnson moved to Team Rahal (Rahal/Letterman Racing) as Director of Operations in 2001 where he coordinated all aspects of the team’s technical race operations for the Miller Lite, SHELL and Gigante sponsored Champ Car operations. In 2002, his responsibilities expanded to include establishing an Indy Racing League entry for a limited schedule including the Indianapolis 500. It was at Rahal/Letterman Racing that Johnson first worked with PKV Racing co-owner Jimmy Vasser, who was driving for the team.

Johnson returned to Kawasaki Motors Corporation U.S.A. in 2003 as Manager of Professional Motocross Racing for the Team Chevy Trucks Motocross Racing Team. As manager he was responsible for overseeing the day to day operations of the 18 man team including Supercross/Motocross phnom James Stewart. Additional responsibilities included coordinating all activities with the Pro Circuit Team Chevy Trucks team and rider appointments.

In 2005, Johnson became the Managing Director for Team Motosport, a Honda factory satellite team in the AMA Pro Motocross and Supercross series. The team had the highest finish of any privateer in 2006, placing fifth in Supercross, for which they were voted team of the year and are currently third in the Motorcross series.

Commenting on the hiring of Johnson, Vasser said, “It has been very difficult to find a replacement for someone of the caliber of Jim McGee. But, I think in Mark Johnson we have found the man to take PKV Racing to the next level. We look forward to having Mark lead the team to for many years to come.”

Johnson takes over a team that has established some momentum with solid performances coming into this weekend’s race in Toronto. Oriol Servia, #6 Gulfstream – PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, is riding a streak of four consecutive top-10 finishes including the team’s first podium showing of the season a third place performance two weeks ago in Cleveland. He and teammate Katherine Legge, #20 Bell Micro – PKV Racing Ford Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone have both finished in the top-10 in two of the last three races (Servia, third and Legge, eighth at Cleveland; Servia, fifth and Legge, sixth in Milwaukee) and currently sit ninth and 13th respectively in the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series points standings.

“I am honored to join PKV Racing,” Johnson said. “Jim McGee established a solid foundation for the team and I just want to build on what exists and move to the next level of success. I look forward to working with all the excellent people we have at PKV Racing to make this one of the premier teams in the Champ Car World Series for many years to come.”

Johnson, a native of Kansas City, Mo, currently resides in Laguna Nigel with wife, Becky and daughters Jessica and Shea. PKV Racing

TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday USA TV reminders for Sunday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
11:30am-12:00pm ESPN2
The Fast Life -Andretti 3
12:00pm-12:30pm ESPN2
Champ Car Toronto
12:30pm-3:00pm (L) CBS
NASCAR RaceDay Chicagoland
1:00pm-3:00pm (L) SPEED
Star Mazda Montreal
6/24/06 3:00pm-4:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup  Chicagoland
3:00pm-7:00pm (L) TNT
AMA Supermoto Tooele, UT
6/17/06  4:00pm-5:00pm OLN
Champ Car Atlantic Cleveland
4:00pm-5:00pm -Race 1
5:00pm-6:00pm -Race 2 SPEED
AMA Motocross 250cc Red Bud Buchanan, MI 7/2/06
5:00pm-6:00pm OLN
Speed News Sunday
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Victory Lane Chicagoland
8:00pm-9:00pm (SDD) SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Special Guest: Morgan Shepherd (NASCAR)
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED

All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.
Ott moves from Jensen to Newman Wachs Ott moves from Jensen to Newman WachsTeam owners Paul Newman and Eddie Wachs announced a change in their driver line up this week at the Molson Grand Prix of Toronto. Twenty-five-year-old Steve Ott will be driving the #35 car for Newman Wachs Racing Team. Steve Ott originates from Thornton, Colorado, but now resides in Houston, Texas.

Ott made his presence known at his first Atlantic race in Houston. A driving instructor for the MSR Houston road circuit, he certainly showed some muscle with a solid seventh place finish. He got the opportunity to compete at the new Reliant Park street circuit with sponsorship from MSR Houston.

In Cleveland, driving the #22 MSR Houston car, he showed again that it wasn't just a fluke. Starting fourth, he demonstrated early in the race his true ability. Battling for second place with Richard Philippe (#33 INDECK/Layer 7), he settled for third place.

"The team has elected to put Daniel Gaunt on reserve in hopes of improving our overall point status. " stated Eddie Wachs. "We feel that Steve, in two races, has shown he can make the podium with the class of drivers we have today."

NWR is excited to add Steve Ott to the team roster.

NASCAR losing newspaper coverage NASCAR losing newspaper coverageThe American newspaper, beset by declining readership and befuddled by the free-based Internet, is being reshaped in many major markets, and NASCAR officials are worried about recent cuts in media coverage of the sport.

"Newspapers are making business decisions, but you hope they are making decisions that also serve the readers well," said NASCAR's Ramsey Poston, the director of corporate communications.

Poston said NASCAR, despite all its TV money and its own web site, doesn't see newspapers as increasingly superfluous. And he points to Miami as a clear case in point. "The numbers in Miami (with the Miami Herald's cutbacks) have clearly gone down," Poston said, pointing to the impact on the France family's Homestead-Miami Speedway and on NASCAR's TV ratings, too. "We've taken a really big hit in Miami, which is not good. We have a lot of work to do in Miami."

NASCAR's print-media problems are surfacing just after the France family signed a $4.4 billion, eight-year TV package with News Corp.'s Fox, Disney's ABC-ESPN and Time-Warner's Turner Network, which will generate about $15 million each race weekend for the Daytona-based sport.

Brian France, the NASCAR chairman and CEO, has expressed his displeasure with the situation, and there are indications that France may become more actively involved in trying to change the dynamic. "I have had many, many calls from Brian about why we are not doing better with the print media," Poston said.  More at Winston Salem Journal

Test rider gives unfavorable review of Laguna Seca track change Test rider gives unfavorable review of Laguna Seca track changeDoug Chandler was the first motorcycle racer to try the slightly re-worked Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and his initial impression may not please the MotoGP Rider Safety Commission.

Following last year’s inaugural Red Bull U.S.GP, the commission, whose members included Valentino Rossi, Loris Capirossi, Sete Gibernau, and Kenny Roberts Jr., asked for a number of changes, the most drastic being the flattening of the crest on the run from turn six to the Corkscrew. The track spent over $7 million complying to the riders’ exact wishes, but what they asked for may not be an improvement.

“The thing I think is worse is going up the hill. I wasn’t impressed with that at all,” Chandler said after doing a handful of laps on the Kawasaki ZX-10R Superbike that he’ll ride in the Saturday AMA Superbike Championship round on the GP weekend.

“Before we were kind of down low going up that ridge, and we didn’t crest it or get to that crest until that little kink right before the Corkscrew, so you were kind of protected [from crosswinds]," Chandler said. “So now we come out of six and we’ve got to crest earlier and then a flat run up, so that’s putting us more on the ridge and with the hill moved, I was fighting a side wind. I could not get the bike over to the left side of the track. I was doing good to run mid-track. Because we’re going over that crest early, we’re more on the meat of the power of the bike, it’s wanting to wheelie sooner and we’re still trying to get it pulled back left, and so it’s a constant fight the whole way up the hill. What I’m thinking is if it is windy, you potentially could just cut that whole kink off and run through the dirt and back on the pavement at the top of the Corkscrew and maybe even off. I didn’t like that a bit. I didn’t think that was a very good move.” zzzz

Chandler said that eventually they could plant trees to cut the side winds, but that no immediate fix sprang to mind.

“I couldn’t believe how bad it was. We’ve ridden out there in stronger winds than that and for the life of me I couldn’t get over to the left side of the track.”

He also said changing lines made little difference.

“We’ve got that crest sooner now, to where before we had a nice gradual climb to that little dip, so you just run a nice smooth arc, get it back up to the paint and then you’d wheelie over that dip and brake in,” he said. “Now we’re going over the crest way sooner, and the bikes are accelerating…before you’d want that thing to kind of run out of gear for that first corner. This time there’s no way you can do it that way. Trying to pull off the corner, and you’re going over a crest and then it’s wheelying and now you’re right on that ridge and with the crosswind it’s not so good.”

Chandler noticed the greatest improvements in turn one, and in the run-off areas along the run to the Corkscrew and the outside of turn three.

“Turn one I thought was a lot better than what it had been,” he said. “The dip that used to be there, that we always kind of fight, seems like they kind of blended that in really good over the crest. Looking at it, it looks like we might have more camber. Just appearance-wise from what I kind of remembered going around there today. Where it’s really noticeable is going up the hill [to the Corkscrew] on both sides, there’s tons of room. And going into three, they cut that hillside back so there’s a lot of flat area, rather than just the embankment right there on the outside of the entrance of three.”

Overall, he said, it should make for a faster lap, because the completely repaved track offered better grip.

There were a few spots, including the exit of turn nine, that he thought weren’t smooth, but that might have been because the track was slightly dirty and he was off line.

What excited Chandler more than the new track layout was the recent success of his son Jett. Jett won his first race at an Oregon Motorcycle Road Racing Association event at Portland International Raceway two weeks ago, then backed it up with a second Novice class win.

“The second one they had him with 1000s and he come off - he’s pretty good off the line - and went down and just outbroke the two 1000s and just took off,” the doting dad said. “That was good. That’s my other focus is trying to do as many races as he can out here.”

Doug teamed up with his son to finish third overall among 37 teams in a four-hour endurance race.

“What Jett really liked about that place is the trees,” Chandler said. “Everywhere he’s gone has been desolate. He really liked going through the trees.” Cycle News

Another IRL team throws in the towel Another IRL team throws in the towelCarmelo Anthony's ownership stake in an Indy Racing League team, announced with great fanfare in March, has been quietly dissolved.

Both the NBA star's agent and the team's principal owner, IRL veteran Ron Hemelgarn, acknowledge the short-lived deal is dead.

The team's signature "Car Melo" entry last ran in the Indianapolis 500, when driver P.J. Chesson crashed with another Hemelgarn car on the second lap, eliminating both vehicles. The "Car Melo" has missed the four subsequent races and Hemelgarn has suspended his team's IRL operations.

"We're parked," Hemelgarn said. "The funding we needed didn't come through."

The problem: Anthony brought flash to this strapped team but not cash. He was never supposed to, according to Bill Sanders, who handles the player's business affairs for BDA Sports.

The idea was for him to create buzz and attract sponsors.

"Carmelo would bring as much attention to the team as he could [for his ownership stake]," Sanders said. "Carmelo's name has a lot of brand equity, and that's what he had to offer."  More at ESPN.com

[Editor's Note: Anyone in the IRL who thinks there is not a need for a merger, has got their head buried in the sand.  The sport is reeling and if a merger does not happen, we just wonder how long Honda will stick around.  Word is that they can pull the plug at any time if there are no other car companies to compete against.  Honda thrives on beating the competition, right now they are beating themselves.]

Life after UPS for Yates Life after UPS for YatesYates made it clear he has no ill feelings toward the UPS executives who opted to make the move [to Waltrip and leaving RYR]. He placed blame on himself for allowing the team's performance to decline the past few years. Yates, though, is optimistic things will turn around soon and still envisions a scenario in which Robert Yates Racing fields four Cup teams next year. First, though, he must find a driver and sponsor for Jarrett's #88 Ford. A leading candidate on the sponsorship front is CitiFinancial, which sponsors RYR's Busch Series team. Stephen Leicht could move into that seat as well. "We think enough of him and we feel like with enough effort this year and energy put forth, I think he'll be able to drive this Cup car very easily," said Yates, adding that Leicht could make a few Nextel Cup starts later this season. Ward Burton's name has also been linked to RYR and the owner said that's a possibility. If CitiFinancial were to move up to replace UPS, and Burton brought a sponsor with him, that would give Yates at least a three-car program for next year. "We certainly have room. He's talking to some really good sponsors and if they want to jump in and do something, I think that's a good package," Yates said of Burton. "If somebody believes in Ward, and Ward believes in them and he believes in us, I think that that would fill out 25 percent of our deal." While there is still speculation #38-Elliott Sadler [the other Yates driver] could opt to move elsewhere for next year, Yates said his goal is to make the team so attractive that Sadler wouldn't consider leaving. SceneDaily.com

Citi Financial, which sponsors Yates's Busch efforts, may be ready for a major role, Doug Yates said. He also noted that Tide, which has backed Cal Wells's team since 2000, will be contractually free after this season and may be available. Speed Channel
tv news
Fox NASCAR ratings not so hot Fox NASCAR ratings not so hotThe ratings are in for Fox's first-half NASCAR coverage, and the scoreboard isn't all that pretty: Only the Daytona 500 (on NBC), Martinsville 500 and Richmond 400 showed ratings increases from 2005; the other 13 races were all down (two were rain delayed until Monday).
But NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said "the rating this year are all within the margins. We have not seen anything that's alarmed us.

"You have to admit that 2005 was a big year, the numbers were big. And when you compare 2006 numbers to 2004 numbers, we're up.

"Ratings fluctuate. And this week we're facing Tiger Woods in the Western Open - here. And on Sunday our race will overlap the World Cup finals."

The first-half ratings: Daytona 500 (NBC) 11.3. California (Fox) 7.4. Las Vegas (Fox) 6.2. Atlanta (FX, rain-delayed) 2.2. Bristol (Fox) 6.2. Martinsville (Fox) 6.2. Texas (Fox) 5.4. Phoenix (Fox) 4.8. Talladega (FX, rain delayed) 2.5. Richmond (FX) 3.5. Darlington (Fox) 4.8. Charlotte (Fox) 5.1. Dover (FX) 3.7. Pocono (Fox) 5.2. Michigan (Fox) 4.5. Sonoma (Fox) 5.1. Winston Salem Journal

NASCAR Hall of Fame News NASCAR Hall of Fame NewsSee the complete transcript from the NASCAR Hall of Fame teleconference announcing the Executive Director and Exhibit Design Firm.

Good afternoon.  My name is Tim Newman.  I serve as chief executive officer of the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority.  We have an exciting set of announcements today regarding the NASCAR Hall of Fame which we are continuing to be on track with design and development to be open in the fall of 2009.  Two of the key pieces associated with that effort are, one, the selection of our exhibit design firm.  We are delighted to announce that Ralph Applebaum Associates out of New York has been selected as our exhibit design firm. More....
War of words continues between Bourdais and Tracy War of words continues between Bourdais and TracyThe war of words continues between arch rivals Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais. The Toronto Star published this article which includes some scathing remarks about Tracy from Bourdais.

"Every time there is an incident, he's somewhere around. It's just a fact," said Bourdais of Toronto's Tracy. "It's a typical incident where basically it really stinks. You can smell it from very far away, and it just stays there. And that's just the way it is."

Bourdais, Champ Car's two-time defending champion, wasn't hurt in the wreck at the Grand Prix of Cleveland, but he shuddered at the possibilities.

"It's a live-and-die situation. ... I could have had a cervical failure and then that's that," he said. "You know, you're rolling around in a wheelchair."

You see the trend: Tracy can't hang with the young guys, so he's banging with them. Yesterday, Bourdais compared Tracy, who has taken up stock-car driving as a sideline, to the late Dale Earnhardt Sr., the NASCAR legend nicknamed The Intimidator for his fender-bumping viciousness.

"The problem is (Tracy) doesn't have fenders and doors to protect his car, so it bites him every now and then," said Bourdais. "That's his technique, that's his tactic, so we just have to put (up) with it. But now maybe I'm going to need a roof."

Tracy responded to AutoRacing1.com by saying, "Doesn't he [Bourdais] ever have anything nice to say? He must be such a miserable person. He gets up on the podium the other race and makes funny faces because he only got a third place trophy. How pathetic is that?"

F1 to axe 'Friday' drivers F1 to axe 'Friday' drivers(GMM) 'Friday' drivers will almost certainly not be needed in 2007, with the F1 Commission proposing to abolish the use of third cars at grands prix at the end of the year.

In a document outlining changes to the sporting regulations, the governing FIA said that the amendment would 'eliminate the possibility for certain teams to run a third car on Fridays'.

Only teams in the bottom six constructors' from the previous year can operate a 'Friday' car, but it often resulted in the anomaly of grandee teams like McLaren and Honda legally exploiting the rule.

The F1 Commission also tweaked the current 'knockout' qualifying format, with the changes to take effect from Magny Cours if given the nod by a fax vote of the World Council.

Five minutes have been lopped from the final top-ten runout, with the FIA explaining that the fuel-burn laps had 'no relevance to grid positions'.

Another slight tweak is that in Q1 and Q2, a driver may complete his current lap after the clock has run down to zero. Ostensibly for reasons of simplicity, the FIA said the change would 'ensure that each of the three periods of qualifying finish in the same way'.

In 2007, it is proposed that Bridgestone only be allowed to offer two specifications of tire to the entire field. Previously, tire suppliers could prepare two specs for each team.

The reason is to 'ensure that identical tires are available to every team at each Event'.

Webber shunts Webber shunts(GMM)  Mark Webber shunted his Williams on the final day of Jerez testing on Friday.

''Fortunately he was fine,'' said team manager Mike Condliffe, ''but the left front of the car was damaged and therefore needed re-building before he was able to return to the track.''

Michael Schumacher was on top of the times in his Ferrari.

Proposed F1 regulation changes - no 3rd cars Proposed F1 regulation changes - no 3rd carsFollowing a meeting of the Formula One Commission in Paris on 6 July a number of changes were proposed to the 2006 and 2007 Formula One Sporting Regulations.  One of the proposals is to do away with teams running third cars in Friday practice sessions from 2007, a regulation that has been in place since 2004.

The proposed changes have been put to a fax vote of the World Motor Sport Council. If agreed, changes which affect the 2006 regulations will come into force at the French Grand Prix.

(Proposed changes to the 2006 and 2007 Formula One Sporting Regulations are attached - please click here).

Mixed results for BMW team Mixed results for BMW teamBoth Jacques Villeneuve and Robert Kubica had a mixed program today at Jerez, consisting of tire and aero testing.

They tried out several new parts that delivered some very promising results. In the afternoon the focus was mainly on tire testing in view of the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

The drivers evaluated different compounds and casings. Overall the three days were very productive with the new parts revealing the results the team hoped for. BMW Sauber’s next test session will be at Jerez from July 19th to 21st. Source BMW Sauber

Rahal takes provisional pole in Toronto Rahal takes provisional pole in Toronto
IRL news tidbits IRL news tidbitsThe third episode of Andretti 3, ESPN2's reality series chronicling the rookie season of third-generation racer Marco Andretti will air at noon (EDT) on July 9.......There have been five winners in as many races at Nashville Superspeedway (Dario Franchitti, 2005; Tony Kanaan, 2004; Gil de Ferran, 2003; Alex Barron, 2002; Buddy Lazier, 2001) and five pole winners (Tomas Scheckter, 2005; Buddy Rice, 2004; Scott Dixon, 2003; Billy Boat, 2002; Greg Ray, 2001).......Danica Patrick is scheduled to appear on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live on July 14.
Klein to test IndyCar Series car at Milwaukee Klein to test IndyCar Series car at MilwaukeeIRL Indy Pro Series driver Jonathan Klein will test an Andretti Green Racing's IndyCar Series car on July 10 at The Milwaukee Mile.

Klein will be the second Indy Pro Series driver to take advantage of the Indy Racing League program allowing Indy Pro Series drivers to receive IndyCar Series testing time. Andretti Green Racing teammate Jaime Camara was the first driver to take advantage of the program when he tested an IndyCar Series car at Nashville Superspeedway last month.

"This will be my first time in an IndyCar, so I'm excited, for sure," the 19-year-old native of Long Grove, Ill., said. "We're just going to go through a conservative plan. I'm only going to do what they ask me to do, start learning, gain experience and just have fun. I never figured I'd get to drive an IndyCar this soon. This is obviously a really good thing and a positive step."

Klein, who ranks third in the Indy Pro Series standings this year, will share time with Klein Tools/Canadian Club driver Dario Franchitti in an Andretti Green Racing Honda-powered Dallara on Monday. Andretti Green rookie Marco Andretti will also test the No. 26 NYSE Group Dallara/Honda/Firestone at Milwaukee.

"I'm looking forward to the horsepower, although Milwaukee won't be the best place to feel that because it is such a tight track," Klein said. "We'll spend most of our effort tuning on the car's setup and balance. But, I like running at Milwaukee. It's a fun racetrack. I like the small ovals because you have to drive the car. Small ovals are a great equalizer."

Philippe turning heads in Champ Car Philippe turning heads in Champ CarNelson Philippe is turning a lot of heads in the Champ Car paddock lately. After being written off by many in the paddock in his early years, that has all changed recently. After a podium finish in Milwaukee, he followed that up by leading at Cleveland, and then today he turned the third fastest lap in provisional qualifying for Sunday's Molson GP of Toronto.

Philippe's confidence is clearly building and he likes what he sees with CTE Racing-HVM.

"I get along really well with my Engineer," Bill Phillips, Philippe told AutoRacing1.com. "He critiques my driving and we have a real good dialog. We work really well together. I am getting better, the team is getting better, and the team believes in me and my ability. My goal now is to win one race this year."

TV News
ALMS Lime Rock TV rating ALMS Lime Rock TV ratingUPDATE The final TV rating for last weekend's ALMS race at Lime Rock on CBS was a 0.8/2 share.

07/05/06 The overnight TV rating for the ALMS race from Lime Rock on CBS Sunday was a 0.8/2 share.
IRL Kansas TV Rating IRL Kansas TV RatingUPDATE #2 The final rating for the Kansas IRL race last Sunday was a 1.2/3 share, the best non-Indy 500 TV rating in years.

07/05/06 The correct overnight TV rating for the IRL race was a 1.2/ 3 Share, not a 1.3 on ABC as previously reported in the IRL press release.  It will be interesting to see whether the race gets better than a 1.0 for the final rating, something the IRL would like to see, though still far from stellar.

07/03/06 ABC Sports coverage of the Kansas Lottery Indy 300 earned a 1.3 overnight rating and a 3 share, according to Nielsen Media Research, its best rating all year outside of the Indy 500.
TV News
NASCAR Pepsi 400 TV rating NASCAR Pepsi 400 TV ratingUPDATE The final TV rating for the Pepsi 400 was a 5.1/11 share, down 7.2% from a 5.5/13 share in 2005.

07/05/06 The overnight rating for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Pepsi 400 at Daytona Saturday night was a 4.7/10 share, down 4% from a 4.9/12 share in 2005.  Again, this continues NASCAR's overall trend of drop in TV ratings this year.
Track News
Talladega repaving photos Talladega repaving photosThe Talladega Superspeedway is being repaved for the first time since it was built.


Industry News
GM board authorizes study for Renault/Nissan alliance GM board authorizes study for Renault/Nissan allianceGeneral Motors Corp.'s board of directors authorized Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner to study an alliance with Nissan Motor Co. and Renault SA.

The GM board today agreed to review the June 30 proposal from billionaire Kirk Kerkorian's Tracinda Corp., GM's fourth- largest investor, according to a statement. The boards of Renault and Nissan said earlier this week that CEO Carlos Ghosn could begin talks if GM agreed.

The talks could lead to Nissan and Renault buying as much as a combined 20 percent stake in GM, according to people familiar with the matter. Kerkorian, whose investment firm holds 9.9 percent of GM shares, urged the three automakers to consider an alliance to help save on development and production expenses and return Detroit-based GM to profitability.

``It's a brilliant move for GM to pursue talks because it distracts everyone from what's really at issue, and that's that they are a troubled company,'' said Dennis Virag, president of Automotive Consulting Group Inc. in Ann Arbor, Michigan. ``This is all table dressing.''

Wagoner and Ghosn will meet a week from today to discuss the potential alliance. The discussions were set up prior to the GM board decision, according to a person familiar with the schedule.  More at Bloomberg.com

Schumacher tops Friday testing at Jerez Schumacher tops Friday testing at Jerez
Jerez F1 testing times - Friday:

1) M.Schumacher, Ferrari (B), 1:16.626, 93
2) Villeneuve, BMW-Sauber (M), 1:17.714, 97
3) Kubica, BMW-Sauber (M), 1:18.194, 45
4) Badoer, Ferrari (B), 1:18.985, 59
5) R.Schumacher, Toyota (B), 1:18.921, 86
6) Trulli, Toyota (B), 1:19.246, 88
7) Klien, Red Bull-Ferrari (M), 1:19.701, 44
8) Webber, Williams-Cosworth (B), 1:19.792, 43

UPS follows Jarrett to Michael Waltrip Racing UPS follows Jarrett to Michael Waltrip RacingUPS (NYSE: UPS) today announced a two-year agreement with Michael Waltrip Racing to sponsor driver Dale Jarrett in a Toyota Camry for the 2007 and 2008 seasons of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.

The announcement here at the Chicagoland Speedway comes after Jarrett agreed earlier this year to move to the Waltrip organization and race a Camry starting with the 2007 Daytona 500.

UPS has supported Jarrett since 2001 when it first became a NASCAR team sponsor, in the process launching its highly popular “Race the Truck” advertising campaign.  That campaign has made Jarrett’s name synonymous with UPS and its “big brown truck” and maintaining that brand connection was a factor in the company’s decision.  zzzz

“Dale Jarrett has been an outstanding ambassador for the UPS brand both on and off the track and we expect more great things to come as we join him at Michael Waltrip Racing as the sponsor of his Toyota Camry,” said Patrick Guilbert, vice president of sponsorships for UPS.  “Since our relationship with Dale began in 2001, his contributions have helped UPS build a powerful sponsorship program that resonates with our employees, customers and NASCAR fans alike.” 

“My association with UPS over the past six years has been both rewarding and fun, so I’m thrilled to be able to continue this relationship,” Jarrett said.  “UPS has set new standards in the way sponsors can work with drivers and the teams to develop creative and effective marketing programs.”

The decision to join Michael Waltrip Racing places UPS among the first sponsors to adorn a Toyota Camry in 2007, which is the manufacturer’s inaugural season in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series.

“The UPS name also is synonymous with speed and that’s what Michael Waltrip Racing intends to deliver to UPS and Dale with the new UPS Toyota Camry,” said owner Michael Waltrip.  “From a business perspective, the addition of UPS expands our resources, which enables us to build the best teams and in turn grow our organization at a pace that will enhance our ability to win races.”

“We are ecstatic for Michael to have UPS join his already impressive lineup of sponsors,” said Jim Aust, vice president of Motorsports, Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc.  “Michael and his team have done a phenomenal job in partnering with some of America’s most recognizable brands, and UPS is a tremendously successful company that is recognized by households as a global business leader.  We are in full support of Michael Waltrip Racing fielding three NASCAR Nextel Cup teams in 2007 and feel Michael has formed the foundation of a formidable racing organization that we are proud to have carry the Toyota nameplate.”

UPS will continue its sponsorship of Dale Jarrett and Robert Yates Racing through the 2006 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series season.

“Robert Yates Racing has been an important part of the UPS Racing Program for the last six years,” Guilbert added.  “We’re proud to have been associated with the Yates family and we appreciate their support of our corporate sponsorship goals over the years.”

Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., UPS is the world's largest package delivery company and a global leader in supply chain services.  Each day, the UPS pit crew of more than 407,000 dedicated employees delivers to more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. 

UPS is currently in its sixth year as primary sponsor of the #88 Ford driven by Dale Jarrett for Robert Yates Racing and its seventh year as the official delivery company of NASCAR.   Building on the sport’s popularity and fan loyalty, UPS provides updated information about UPS Racing, Dale Jarrett and the #88 team as well as access to licensed merchandise at www.racing.ups.com.

Seen in Toronto - I Seen in Toronto - IThis year's Friday attendance appears to be up from 2005 and there appears to be more event sponsorship signs around.....Ronnie Bremer was making the rounds in the paddock still hoping to put a deal together for 2007......Chatted with one of the Atlantic team owners looking to move up to Champ Car in 2007 and he tells us things are falling into place and he may have some good news soon....The RuSPORT team continues to maximize their CDW sponsorship by hosting many CDW managers and their customers. We see this at every event and there is no question that CDW appears to be very happy with the relationship......The weather in Toronto today is perfect.
Bourdais tops opening practice in Toronto Bourdais tops opening practice in TorontoSebastien Bourdais turned a lap of 60.1 seconds to top the timesheets in opening Practice for Sunday's. Molson GP of Toronto. Local hero Paul Tracy was second at 60.4 and Justin Wilson third at 60.5.
75 HP boost for Toronto 75 HP boost for TorontoChamp Car has issued a technical bulletin stating that the normal turbo boost for this weekend's race in Toronto will result in approximately 725 HP, but the Cosworth Power 2 Pass boost will give the driver approximately 800 HP, a 75 HP boost over the normal 725 HP level when activated.
Wirth over Rahal in opening Atlantic practice Wirth over Rahal in opening Atlantic practice
Pos Driver Car# Lap Time Behind Leader
1 Andreas Wirth  37 1:05.698 0.000
2 Graham Rahal 18 1:06.034 0.336
3 Raphael Matos 6 1:06.050 0.352
4 Jonathan Bomarito 23 1:06.133 0.435
5 Alex Barron 21 1:06.167 0.469
6 Robbie Pecorari 28 1:06.498 0.800
7 James Hinchcliffe 3 1:06.510 0.812
8 Leonardo Maia 7 1:06.611 0.913
9 Simon Pagenaud 15 1:06.614 0.916
10 David Martinez 4 1:06.654 0.956
11 Alan Sciuto 12 1:06.732 1.034
12 Ryan Lewis 30 1:06.879 1.181
13 Alex Sperafico 10 1:06.896 1.198
14 Danilo Dirani 1 1:06.944 1.246
15 Richard Philippe 33 1:06.948 1.250
16 Steve Ott 35 1:07.036 1.338
17 Joe D'Agostino 34 1:07.255 1.557
18 James Davison 5 1:07.627 1.929
19 Tim Bridgman 2 1:07.657 1.959
20 Mike Forest 32 1:07.950 2.252
21 Justin Sofio 26 1:08.012 2.314
22 Carlos Mastretta 8 1:08.100 2.402
23 Duncan Ende 55 1:09.178 3.480
Alonso admits second title is 'close' Alonso admits second title is 'close'(GMM)  Fernando Alonso says he does not regret signing a contract to switch to McLaren for the 2007 season.

''I know that next year they will have the best car,'' the Spaniard, on a flying visit to Barcelona and almost drowned in the cheers of countrymen, was quoted as saying by 'AS'.

This year, 24-year-old Alonso is the reigning world champion, and he admitted that he is 'getting close' to repeating the achievement in a Renault.

Nevertheless, Mercedes-powered McLaren is the next target, and he insisted: ''I will try to win the title there.  But my first task is to finish the job with Renault with a second title.''

Alonso, however, revealed that dominating in 2006 is not as straightforward as last year, when McLaren and Kimi Raikkonen were the main foes.

''Last year McLaren were unreliable,'' he said, ''so that often when we scored we could pull out some gaps.  This year Ferrari are very reliable and have responded to us well.  They are a complicated rival.''

Alonso's comments, of course, are backed up by F1's recent trip to Indianapolis, where Michael Schumacher's red car dominated the event.

''We were not competitive,'' he conceded.

Kubica plays down radical BMW wings Kubica plays down radical BMW wings(GMM)  Team test driver Robert Kubica has played down the significance of the radical vertical bodywork that sprouted from his BMW-Sauber during testing at Jerez this week.

''I do not really know what they do,'' said the Pole, according to 'AS' publication in Spain.  The aerodynamic pieces were fitted to the sides of the bulkhead; just in front of the driver.

Kubica continued: ''I have not noticed a great difference and I do not believe that we are going to use them in a race.''

The team's innovation is despite news that the governing FIA has ordered BMW-Sauber to modify its allegedly illegal rear wing ahead of the Magny Cours race.

Honda F1 forms new charity partnership Honda F1 forms new charity partnershipThe Honda Racing F1 Team is pleased to announce a new charity partnership with Helen & Douglas House.

Helen & Douglas House provides respite and end of life care for children and young adults with life-shortening conditions, as well as support and friendship for their families.

Following a successful partnership with Honda UK over recent years, the Honda Racing F1 Team will be adding their support to Helen & Douglas House to help raise the necessary funds to ensure the future provision of their voluntary services.

Helen House in Oxford was the world's first children's hospice on its opening in 1982, with Douglas House opening in 2004 as the world's first purpose-built hospice for young adults. In any one year, the charity supports over 250 children, young adults and their families, relying heavily on the generosity of voluntary donations.

The new partnership will be launched at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on Sunday 9 July with a photocall including Jenson Button and the founder of Helen & Douglas House Sister Frances Dominica.
Industry News
Heat's on GM board Heat's on GM boardDespite serious reservations by General Motors Corp. CEO Rick Wagoner and his management team, GM's board of directors is expected today to endorse preliminary discussions with Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. about a three-way alliance.

It's the next move in a high-stakes chess match over the future of GM, and sets the stage for a pivotal meeting on July 14 between Wagoner and Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive of Renault and Nissan.

With billionaire shareholder Kirk Kerkorian demanding action, GM's directors likely will form a committee today to explore the possibility of GM entering into a partnership with Renault-Nissan.

Wagoner and his team hardly support the radical move proposed by Kerkorian, and ultimately may fight it, according to people close to GM. One GM official said the deal might make sense for Renault-Nissan but saw "no upside" for GM. Given management's likely opposition, Kerkorian may demand an independent assessment of the deal. Zzzz

Some observers believe Kerkorian's end game is moving Wagoner out and putting Ghosn at the controls of the world's largest automaker.

While acknowledging that Wagoner has made strides in cutting costs at GM, Kerkorian and GM director Jerry York believe he hasn't sufficiently tackled the automaker's product and brand weaknesses.

Several of GM's outside directors are said to be keenly interested in any strategic options -- including a Renault-Nissan linkup -- that can revitalize the company after its mammoth $10.6 billion loss last year.

Philip A. Laskawy, retired chairman of Ernst & Young; Erskine B. Bowles, president of the University of North Carolina; and John H. Bryan, retired chairman and CEO of Sara Lee Corp., have been among the more impatient outside directors, according to one person familiar with the matter.

Some directors, however, have raised questions about the way Kerkorian took the deal public last week rather than take it to the board.

GM's board will ultimately make or break the deal since Renault and Nissan have said they don't want to press ahead unless GM is willing.

The board will meet by telephone today to consider the GM-Renault-Nissan partnership proposed by Kerkorian and his top adviser, York, in secret meetings with Ghosn. More at The Detroit News Online
Grand Prix Masters teams up with Virgin Radio Grand Prix Masters teams up with Virgin RadioGrand Prix Masters has teamed up with the England's only pop and rock radio station Virgin Radio in a groundbreaking co-marketing promotion this summer. The partnership is launched today and will generate value for fans and sponsors alike through Virgin Radio in the weeks leading up to the Grand Prix Masters of Great Britain, Silverstone on 12th - 13th August. Nigel Mansell, Emerson Fittipaldi, Derek Warwick, and other Masters drivers will be providing Virgin Radio listeners with unrivalled behind the scenes experiences, prizes and news as momentum builds towards the showdown of the Grand Prix legends at Silverstone next month.
Audi aim to conquer America with the R10 TDI Audi aim to conquer America with the R10 TDI
Formula Nippon
Toyota tops practice times at Suzuka Toyota tops practice times at SuzukaRound 4: There's a tornado warning this weekend and the weather reports promise rain on both Saturday and Sunday, so Friday's Formula Nippon times may turn out to be the fastest of the weekend.
Practice 1 and 2 Combined Results

Pos. Driver Best Laptime Team Engine
1. #19 B.Treluyer  1'47.393 Impul Toyota
2. #20 T.Matsuda 1'47.441 Impul Toyota
3. #1 S.Motoyama  1'47.502 Arting Impul  Toyota
4. #40 B.Wirdheim  1'47.626 Dandelion Honda
5. #11 Y.Tachikawa  1'47.725 Cerumo Toyota
6. #32 H.Muto  1'47.742 Nakajima Honda
7. #7 T.Kataoka  1'47.754 LeMans Toyota
8. #31 L.Duval  1'48.136 Nakajima Honda
9. #4 M.Yanagida 1'48.142 Kondo Toyota
10. #37 T.Tsuchya 1'48.154 Tom's Toyota
11. #33 R.Quintarelli  1'48.163 Inging Toyota
12. #55 T.Kaneishi  1'48.205 Aguri Honda
13. #56 T.Kogure  1'48.208 Aguri Honda
14. #41 Y.Ide 1'48.263 Dandelion Honda
15. #5 A.Michigami  1'48.281 5zigen Honda
16. #36 A.Lotterer  1'48.463 Tom's Toyota
17. #8 T.Takagi  1'48.532 LeMans Toyota
18. #34 N.Yokomizo 1'48.545 Inging Toyota
19. #3 S.Yamamoto 1'49.819 Kondo Toyota
20. #2 K.Hoshino  1:49.824 Arting Impul Toyota
21. #6 R.Orime 1'49.945 5zigen Honda
22. #27 S.Mitsuyama  1'50.229 Direxiv Honda  zzzz

Practice 2 Results

Pos. Driver Best Laptime Team Engine
1. #20 T.Matsuda 1'47.441 Impul Toyota
2. #40 B.Wirdheim  1'47.626 Dandelion Honda
3. #11 Y.Tachikawa  1'47.725 Cerumo Toyota
4. #32 H.Muto  1'47.742 Nakajima Honda
5. #7 T.Kataoka  1'47.754 LeMans Toyota
6. #1 S.Motoyama  1'47.893 Arting Impul  Toyota
7. #4 M.Yanagida 1'48.142 Kondo Toyota
8. #37 T.Tsuchya 1'48.154 Tom's Toyota
9. #33 R.Quintarelli  1'48.163 Inging Toyota
10. #55 T.Kaneishi  1'48.205 Aguri Honda
11. #56 T.Kogure  1'48.208 Aguri Honda
12. #41 Y.Ide 1'48.263 Dandelion Honda
13. #5 A.Michigami  1'48.281 5zigen Honda
14. #31 L.Duval  1'48.364 Nakajima Honda
15. #36 A.Lotterer  1'48.463 Tom's Toyota
16. #8 T.Takagi  1'48.532 LeMans Toyota
17. #34 N.Yokomizo 1'48.545 Inging Toyota
18. #19 B.Treluyer  1'48.561 Impul Toyota
19. #3 S.Yamamoto 1'49.819 Kondo Toyota
20. #2 K.Hoshino  1'49.824 Arting Impul Toyota
21. #6 R.Orime 1'49.945 5zigen Honda
22. #27 S.Mitsuyama  1'50.244 Direxiv Honda 

Practice 1 Results

Pos. Driver Best Laptime Team Engine
1. #19 B.Treluyer 1'47.393 Impul Toyota
2. #1 S.Motoyama 1'47.502 Arting Impul Toyota
3. #31 L.Duval 1'48.136 Nakajima Honda
4. #20 T.Matsuda 1'48.334 Impul Toyota
5. #56 T.Kogure 1'48.614 Aguri Honda
6. #33 R.Quintarelli 1'48.833 Inging Toyota
7. #40 B.Wirdheim 1'48.860 Dandelion Honda
8. #32 H.Muto 1'48.862 Nakajima Honda
9. #34 N.Yokomizo 1'49.089 Inging Toyota
10. #37 T.Tsuchya 1'49.265 Tom's Toyota
11. #11 Y.Tachikawa 1'49.376 Cerumo Toyota
12. #36 A.Lotterer 1'49.542 Tom's Toyota
13. #4 M.Yanagida 1'49.552 Kondo Toyota
14. #7 T.Kataoka 1'49.577 LeMans Toyota
15. #5 A.Michigami 1'49.774 5zigen Honda
16. #41 Y.Ide 1'49.803 Dandelion Honda
17. #2 K.Hoshino 1'49.854 Arting Impul Toyota
18. #55 T.Kaneishi 1'49.860 Aguri Honda
19. #8 T.Takagi 1'50.050 LeMans Toyota
20. #27 S.Mitsuyama 1'50.229 Direxiv Honda
21. #3 S.Yamamoto 1'50.914 Kondo Toyota
22. #6 R.Orime 1'51.440 5zigen Honda

Tracy and Bourdais still at odds Tracy and Bourdais still at oddsThe longstanding rivalry between Champ Car drivers Sebastien Bourdais and Paul Tracy may have cooled on the racetrack due to Tracy's struggles this season, but it is still festering off-track.

Bourdais leads the Champ Car drivers' standings heading into Sunday's Molson Grand Prix of Toronto (Global, 12:30 p.m. ET), while Tracy is in an unfamiliar position in 11th heading into his hometown race.

Contact with other drivers has put Tracy out of three races this season, including the recent Cleveland Grand Prix where he got caught between Bourdais and his teammate Bruno Junqueira coming out of Turn 2, went into the air and landed on Bourdais's head.

Bourdais escaped without serious injury, but said he was unconscious for a few seconds.

It was only the third DNF for the Frenchman in 30 races and it still rankled Thursday when the drivers gathered at the pit exit at Exhibition Place.  zzzz

"It's a typical incident where basically it really stinks," Bourdais said. "Both Bruno and I had no idea he was there. When you see two cars closing on you ... maybe it's time to back off a little bit. It's just frustrating because this time it could have been dangerous.

"I didn't hear if they took any actions to penalize or anything. For me, it's frustrating because he's untouchable.

"I'm just saying he can get away with things that others don't."

The drivers mingled with each other and the media Thursday, but Tracy, known on the circuit as PT, and Bourdais kept their distance from each other.

"It's easy for Sebastien to point the finger at me," Tracy said. "That's what he always does.

"There's a reason why the guy is not very popular with the fans. Because the guy has no compassion for anybody."  More at the Toronto Star (Related Bourdais vs. Tracy article)

49 Cup drivers to test at Brickyard 49 Cup drivers to test at BrickyardTesting for the 13th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard will take place Monday, July 10, Tuesday, July 11 and Wednesday, July 12 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. A total of 49 Nextel Cup Series drivers are scheduled to test on those days. Teams can only test a maximum of two out of the three available days. The hours of testing are 9:00am - 6:00pm/et each day. This is the only test session scheduled before the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday, Aug. 6. Fans are welcome to view the testing for free from the South Terrace grandstands, located inside the track between Turns 1 and 2.
Testing Roster (Subject to Change):
#01-Joe Nemechek, #07-Clint Bowyer, #1-Martin Truex Jr., #2-Kurt Busch, #4-Scott Wimmer, #5-Kyle Busch, #6-Mark Martin, #7-Robby Gordon, #8-Dale Earnhardt Jr., #9-Kasey Kahne, #10-Scott Riggs, #11-Denny Hamlin, #12-Ryan Newman, #14-Sterling Marlin, #15-Paul Menard, #16-Greg Biffle, #17-Matt Kenseth, #18-J.J. Yeley, #19-Jeremy Mayfield, #20-Tony Stewart, #21-Ken Schrader, #22-Dave Blaney, #24-Jeff Gordon, #25-Brian Vickers, #26-Jamie McMurray, #29-Kevin Harvick, #31-Jeff Burton, #32-Travis Kvapil, #37-John Andretti, #38-Elliott Sadler, #40-David Stremme, #41-Reed Sorenson, #42-Casey Mears, #43-Bobby Labonte, #45-Kyle Petty, #48-Jimmie Johnson, #49-Kevin Lepage, #55-Michael Waltrip, #61-Chad Chaffin, #66-Jeff Green, #72-Kertus Davis, #88-Dale Jarrett, #96-Tony Raines, #99-Carl Edwards, #00-Bill Elliott, #47-Jon Wood, #51--Mike Garvey, #70-Johnny Sauter, #78-Kenny Wallace. IMS PR
Budweiser to feature Dale Jr. on cans, more Budweiser to feature Dale Jr. on cans, moreThough Dale Jr.'s image has appeared on Budweiser plastic and shrink wrapped bottles, and 16-ounce cans in the past, the move to Budweiser's primary package and the aluminum bottle will be a first for NASCAR's most popular driver. The metallic red Budweiser aluminum bottle will feature a white #8 logo, racing and checkered-flag silhouettes, and Dale Jr.'s signature, wrapped in a unique red four-pack carrier or 15-pack loose box featuring the #8 Budweiser car. The Budweiser-Dale Jr. aluminum bottles will roll out nationally on July 24. Dale Jr.'s image, car and red #8 will grace the main panel of Budweiser's 12-ounce cans and will be distributed only in race markets within 30 days of the final 16 races of the Nextel Cup season. The program begins July 10 in Indianapolis in advance of the Allstate 400 on Aug. 6. fingerprint inc./Budweiser PR
Track News
Darlington track eyes upgrades Darlington track eyes upgradesAdd more seats sure to be snapped up or revamp the tired old garage?

That's the question facing president Chris Browning of Darlington Raceway as he tries to further shape up "The Lady in Black" for the Nextel Cup circuit.

Browning thinks he could have easily sold another 3,000 seats - if he had them - for last May's sold-out Dodge Charger 500. But the track's Nextel Cup garage area is little more than a long shed sectioned off to fit race cars.

Browning will bring both ideas to leaders at International Speedway Corp. at meetings later this summer. Their selection, Browning said, depends on capital requests from the rest of ISC's 12 tracks.

"If I had my choice, I'd try and do the garage for '07, a garage with a fan component, and build additional seats for '08," Browning said Wednesday.  More at Winston Salem Journal

Earnhardt's death among top auto stories Earnhardt's death among top auto storiesPain at the pump is the No. 1 automotive story of the last decade, according to a list released today by SPEED in conjunction with the motor sports and automotive lifestyle network's 10th Anniversary. U.S. gas prices soaring above $3 a gallon, and the corresponding fallout -- an influx of "hybrid" vehicles, declining sales of monster-sized SUVs and a growing interest in fuel alternatives -- was the top response from a group of automotive journalists and SPEED on-air automotive personalities, when asked about the most memorable consumer automotive stories of the last 10 years.   And with all of the recent improvements in consumer automotive safety, it took the tragic death of NASCAR icon Dale Earnhardt in 2001 to focus the world's attention on safety at the race track. The result -- more safety equipment, safer race cars and safer race tracks for fans in attendance. "Dale Earnhardt's death sent shock waves through the entire racing world, but especially NASCAR, where he was both the sport's biggest star and a man regarded as the toughest ever to strap on a helmet," said Jensen. "It was the kind of brutal wake-up call that forced NASCAR to redouble its safety efforts." Business Wire  1. Gasoline tops $3 a gallon 2. Fall of domestic dominance 3. Dale Earnhardt crash at Daytona
Massa happy with USGP results Massa happy with USGP resultsSao Paulo - I am back home in Sao Paulo now, as I am not part of this week's testing programme. I am still feeling very happy about my second place in Indianapolis. It was a fantastic sensation being on that podium with such a big crowd, with Michael next to me and lots of Brazilian flags waving from the grandstands opposite.

I think Sunday's race was very good for the future of Formula 1 in the USA and it was also very good for Ferrari and for me, as I feel I did drive a really good race and was able to push all the way. Racing is not just about speed, you also need to be intelligent, especially when you are fighting for a championship and so last weekend really was a perfect job from my point of view and from the team perspective also. On top of that, it has really given us all even more motivation to keep pushing all the way to the end of the season. On a personal level, this is my best result and so it is important for me in terms of my career, as you need to be at the front of the field to be noticed.

After such a dominant performance from us this weekend, I was often asked if this was a sign that Ferrari is back on top. Firstly, I would say that the team has been very near the top for a few races now, but circumstances meant that was not always so obvious. On top of that, in Indy, the other tire company I am sure adopted a more conservative approach than usual in terms of the performance of its tires, after events last year. When we are back in Europe, I expect the competition to get harder for us again and that we will not look so dominant. But in Indy, we showed that our Bridgestone can work at very high temperatures, which we will see now in the European summer. Also, we have some evolutions coming on the car, so combining this and some advantages from our tires, I think we can be very competitive.

I am staying here in Brazil until Tuesday, where I will be relaxing, seeing my family and going to the gym. I am not a hundred percent crazy about fitness training, but the gym I use is popular with other racing drivers and so I find it much nicer to always train with some other people, as it makes the time pass more quickly. Felipe Massa

Alonso doesn’t regret McLaren move Alonso doesn’t regret McLaren moveAfter dominating the 2006 championship and most of the 2006 Formula One championship season, one could question Fernando Alonso's decision at the end of last year to leave the Renault F1 team and move across to the Mercedes powered McLaren team for 2007.

However, Alonso said to the Italian press, "No, there are no regrets at all,” he insisted. “I wanted to begin a new stage of my career with Ron’s team and I honestly think that the best car will be painted in grey next year."

However, what he may be overlooking is the fact that any team that designer Adrian Newey leaves never recovers to its former status.  For example, Frank Williams dismissed Newey's departure from his team years ago as nothing important and predicted a quick return to their former glory.  The fact of the matter is that Williams is still nowhere and five years from now McLaren will still be as lost then as they are today.

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