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GM, Renault, Nissan Issue Joint Statement GM, Renault, Nissan Issue Joint StatementDETROIT -- General Motors, Renault and Nissan today said that an exploratory discussion was held between Carlos Ghosn, President and Chief Executive Officer of Renault, SAS and Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., and Rick Wagoner, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of General Motors, Corp., regarding the possibility of creating and industrial alliance among these three companies. The companies agreed to cooperate in an expeditious, confidential review of the potential benefits of such an alliance to each company and the feasibility of achieving them.

“We had a good discussion today, and are looking forward to having our teams work together to explore our ideas,” said Wagoner and Ghosn. “It is important to let our teams work on this review without distraction and, therefore, we will not be providing further public comments about it at this time.”

It is expected that this review will take approximately 90 days. Following this review, the companies will consider whether further exploration of the alliance concept is warranted.

Revised USGP schedule Revised USGP schedule
Friday, July 21
8:00am - 8:35am Practice: Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme
8:45am - 9:30am Practice: AMA Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited
10:00am - 11:00am Free Practice 1: MotoGP World Championship
11:00am - 11:10am Chris Pfeiffer - Stunt Show -Turn 4
11:10am - 11:50am Track Crossing: Start/Finish & Dunlop Tire Bridge
12:00pm - 12:30pm Practice: AMA Pro Honda Oils Supersport presented by Shoei
12:30pm - 1:30pm Lunch
2:00pm - 3:00pm Free Practice 2: MotoGP World Championship
3:30pm - 4:05pm Practice: AMA Repsol Lubricants Superstock
4:15pm - 4:45pm Qualifying: Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme
4:45pm - 5:30pm Track crossing: Start/Finish & Dunlop Tire Bridge

Saturday, July 22
8:00am - 8:20am Practice: Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme
8:25am - 8:55am Qualifying: AMA Repsol Lubricants Superstock
9:00am - 9:30am Qualifying: AMA Pro Honda Oils Supersport presented by Shoei
10:00am - 11:00am Free Practice 3: MotoGP World Championship
11:00am - 11:10am Pace Car Rides
11:15am - 11:45am Qualifying: AMA Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited
12:05pm - 12:30pm RACE: Lockhart Phillips USA Formula Xtreme (15 Laps)
12:30pm - 1:30pm Lunch
12:30pm - 12:40pm Chris Pfeiffer - Stunt Show -Front Straight & Turn 1
12:40pm Roland Sands demonstration lap
12:40pm - 1:10pm Fan Parade Lap
2:00pm - 3:00pm Qualifying Practice: MotoGP World Championship
3:05pm - 3:20pm Chris Pfeiffer - Stunt Show -Turn 4
3:10pm - 3:45pm Track Crossing: Start/Finish & Dunlop Tire Bridge
4:00pm - 5:00pm RACE: AMA Superbike presented by Parts Unlimited (100K - 28 laps)
5:10pm - 5:20pm Chris Pfeiffer - Stunt Show -Front Straight
5:20pm - 5:30pm Chris Pfeiffer - Stunt Show - Turn 4
5:20pm - 6:30pm Track Crossing: Start/Finish & Dunlop Tire Bridge

Sunday, July 23
8:00am - 8:50am Track crossing: Start/Finish & Tire Bridge
8:55am - 9:15am Warm-Up: AMA Pro Honda Oils Supersport presented by Shoei
9:25am - 9:45am Warm-Up: AMA Repsol Lubricants Superstock
10:00am - 10:20am Warm-Up: MotoGP World Championship
10:30am - 11:15am Track crossing: Start/Finish & Tire Bridge
10:35am - 10:45am Chris Pfeiffer - Stunt Show - Turn 4
11:30am - 12:00pm RACE: AMA Pro Honda Oils Supersport presented by Shoei (17 laps)
12:00pm - 1:30pm Lunch
12:35pm - 12:45pm Chris Pfeiffer - Stunt Show -Front Straight & Turn 1
2:00pm RACE: MotoGP World Championship
3:45pm - 4:45pm RACE: AMA Repsol Lubricants Superstock (17 laps)

Mysterious illness sidelines Lloyd Mysterious illness sidelines LloydAlex Lloyd won't get a chance for back-to-back wins in the Indy Pro Series. Lloyd won the Liberty Challenge on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 1 despite being treated in the care center immediately prior to the race. Lingering flu-like symptoms have forced him to withdraw from the Sunbelt Rentals 100 at Nashville Superspeedway scheduled for July 15.

"It's the same thing from before the run at Indy two weeks ago," said Lloyd, who passed Graham Rahal in the final two laps to win the Liberty Challenge. "A similar type of thing has been happening every day, not as bad, but similar. It happened a little bit yesterday. I don't really know what it was put down to. It happened again today. I went to go see the doctors. When it affects your vision, basically you're dizzy and stuff, especially on an oval, they don't want you out there.

"I don't feel too bad right now, but the problem they're having is it's coming in and out. It's been going on for quite a while, probably a month, so it's something we need to get sorted. It's probably something as simple as some antibiotics or something that will get it sorted, but they want to do some tests.

"Unfortunately, that means we're not cleared for this weekend, which is a real shame. But, you can understand where they are coming from. When you're wheel-to-wheel on an oval, you don't want anything where someone is feeling dizzy or anything like that." Lloyd will undergo tests at a Nashville-area hospital on July 15 and expects to spend next week in Indianapolis where league doctors can continue to evaluate him. He hopes to drive the No. 26 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc. car in the Milwaukee 100 at the Milwaukee Mile on July 22.

Veteran racer Arie Luyendyk Jr., who was the spotter for Lloyd during the first practice session, will drive AFS Racing's No. 25 car in the Sunbelt Rentals 100.

"I found out this morning. It's going to be difficult to jump in the car and qualify it without any practice time," said Luyendyk, who made his first Indianapolis 500 start in May. "All in all, if the car is good hopefully we can make up some positions.

"It's nice to be back in the car. Now, I'm a little bit nervous just because I haven't run in a while, and I haven't run in an Indy Pro Series car on an oval since Miami, so it should be interesting. But, last year we ran really well here, so we'll give it a go."

Racing News
Put Grand Prix on DVD effort Put Grand Prix on DVD effortUPDATE #4 A reminder that the DVD has now been released for the 1966 movie, Grand Prix. Click here for a current review.

Grand Prix (Two-Disc Special Edition) (1966)

Starring: James Garner, Eva Marie Saint Director: John Frankenheimer 
----------------------------------------------------------------------List Price: $20.98 
Price: $13.59 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25. Details 
You Save: $7.39 (35%)  by ordering here.
Availability: This title will be released on July 11, 2006. You may order it now and we will ship it to you when it arrives. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.

05/01/06 According to Rotten Tomatoes, a July release date is now anticipated for the movie Grand Prix to be out on DVD.

Here is a related story on the DVD.

'Grand Prix' to be released on DVD in 2006
Two-disc "special edition"
According to F1 Racing the DVD will be released in September. They say "expect a host of DVD extras, including exclusive analysis about the film and 60's F1 from F1 Racing's very own Peter Windsor and Matt Bishop. "

02/23/06 There is a grassroots effort underway to put one of the best racing movies ever made on DVD.  If you support this idea, we suggest you check out their website.

John Frankenheimer's 'Grand Prix', starring James Garner and an international cast, explores the lives of four racing drivers both on and off the track as they compete for the Formula 1 World Championship.

Frankenheimer's 'army' followed the Formula One circus through the entire 1966 Grand Prix season. Thanks to new camera technology developed by Frankenheimer, producer Edward Lewis and scientists at NASA, some of the most realistic racing sequences ever filmed kept theatre goers glued to their seats for nearly 3 hours with action from Monaco, Spa, Clermont-Ferrand, Brands Hatch, Zandvoort and Monza. Those lucky enough to see 'Grand Prix' on a 3-projector 'Cinerama' screen experienced the film in an environment unmatched until the development of 'IMAX'.

Cunningham wins IPS pole Cunningham wins IPS poleQualifying Friday for the Sunbelt Rentals 100 IRL Indy Pro Series event on the 1.33-mile Nashville Superspeedway, with starting position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis and speed: 
1. (1) Wade Cunningham, Dallara, 180.459
2. (7) Jay Howard, Dallara, 180.220
3. (11) Jaime Camara, Dallara, 178.883
4. (3) Brett Van Blankers, Dallara, 176.136
5. (52) Nick Bussell, Dallara, 175.747
6. (27) Jonathan Klein, Dallara, 175.693
7. (42) Tom Wood, Dallara, 175.027
8. (8) Scott Mansell, Dallara, 174.677
9. (24) Bobby Wilson, Dallara, 174.611
10. (25) Arie Luyendyk Jr., Dallara, 174.384
11. (51) Chris Festa, Dallara, 174.124
12. (41) Sean Guthrie, Dallara, 174.124
13. (33) Geoff Dodge, Dallara, 173.796
14. (9) Travis Gregg, Dallara, 172.500
15. (26) Alex Lloyd, Dallara, no speed
16. (76) James Chesson, Dallara, no speed


WADE CUNNINGHAM (No. 1 Brian Stewart Racing, SWE Race Car Parts Pole Award winner): "The year's been going well. We've been quick everywhere we've gone. The Indy road course was the exception. We struggled a little bit. We tested here a little bit. Every time we come here, we're quickest in testing, so it's nice to validate the crew's effort again with a pole. That says as much about what they put in as what I do. The car is good. We were quickest in the second practice today. I'm confident we've got a good car for tomorrow. The race is long, and it gets tricky with the marbles and tire wear. I'm pretty sure we've got enough to stay up front, and we'll be looking for a strong result." (About advantage of starting from the pole): "You have to race. The win doesn't come easy. Indy was a very tough race. Its looks like, sure, we led every lap on paper, but that wasn't really the case in the race. It was a struggle. We battled the last 15 laps with car problems and then with Jay (Howard). I'm imagining this race will be similar. Obviously being in front is an advantage around a place like this with tight turns. It is a race. Unknowns come out, yellow flags, full-course yellows, stoppages, who knows, so we've got to keep our nose clean and be there."

JAY HOWARD (No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, qualified second): "Not much to say. We'll see what happens tomorrow. The car is really, really good. We had a good practice session this morning and made a few changes, which made it even better. The car was good on the bumps and I didn't have any problems all day. We'll be up front tomorrow."

JAIME CAMARA (No. 11 Neo Quimica, qualified third): "That was not a bad run for us at all.  After the mechanical problems we had this morning cost us so much track time, I wasn't expecting to run as well as we did, and I certainly didn't expect to run a '26.1'.  I'm encouraged for the race tomorrow, I think we've finally turned around our bad luck."

BRETT VAN BLANKERS (No. 3 Inner City Recycling, qualified fourth): "Qualifying was pretty good. It is the best qualifying position I've been in this year. I'm happy about that. The car was pretty good.  I can't complain about the car. Lots of grip level. The grip level was really high.  The first corner was flat out.  I've never raced on a concrete track before. At first it was pretty bumpy but after everything warms up, it is alright."

NICK BUSSELL (No. 52 Cheever Racing, qualified fifth): "The run was pretty good.  Actually, it is the best we've been. I'm pretty happy with that.  We've still got some more work to do. I was pretty happy with the way the car felt.  I would like to have had a little more speed, but it looks like we are going to end up in fifth and that's not too bad."

Newman wins NH pole Newman wins NH poleRyan Newman has won the pole position for Sunday's Lenox Industry Tools 300 NASCAR Cup race at 1-mile New Hampshire International Raceway. Jeff Burton will start 2nd. More later....
Kenseth talks about being crashed out by Gordon Kenseth talks about being crashed out by GordonMatt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Fusion, heads into this weekend’s race in second place in the standings, 51 points behind the leader. He has two victories and leads the series with 10 top-five finishes through the season’s first 18 races. Last week at Chicagoland Speedway, he was in the lead in the closing laps only to be bumped out of the way. He subsequently ran out of fuel and ended up in 22nd place. Kenseth met with reporters this morning in the infield media center at New Hampshire International Speedway. More.....
French GP: Friday Press Conference French GP: Friday Press ConferenceParticipating: Flavio Briatore (Renault), Ron Dennis (McLaren Mercedes), Colin Kolles (Midland), Jean Todt (Ferrari). Transcript
Panther picks up associate sponsor Panther picks up associate sponsorVitor Meira’s dehydration in the 90th Indianapolis 500 in May has led of all things to a cash infusion for Panther Racing.

Panther Racing, which fields the No. 4 Honda-powered Dallara with Meira as the driver, announced an associate sponsorship agreement with Revive U.S.A., a Dallas-based food, nutrition and beverage company. The company, which was founded this spring, heard about Meira’s plight and shipped some product to the Indianapolis-based shop. Panther Racing officials and company principals then met in Texas in June, which led to the sponsorship agreement.

“As our newest partner, Revive U.S.A. has given Panther Racing the boost we need for a run at the 2006 IndyCar Series championship,” team co-owner John Barnes said. “Revive’s personnel and scientists have a history of helping professional athletes perform better in everything from the Olympics and NASCAR to the NFL, MLB and NBA, and now they can surely add Panther Racing to that list. We look forward to a long and healthy relationship.”

Revive will make two liquids (energy drink and re-hydration product) and two protein/fiber bar products available in September. Initially, they will saturate markets in Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Missouri and Louisiana.

“Revive has similar beliefs as Panther Racing,” Revive president and CEO Bruce Badgett said. “Their team is more than just a world-class championship-caliber Indy Racing League team. They promote the sport and represent it honorably. They are involved with the community and are looking for ways to reach kids and make a difference in the education system with the formation of the Panther Education Center. Panther does a lot more for the community than just race IndyCars.” IndyCar.com

Track News
G. Love and Special Sauce Debut New Album Denver GP G. Love and Special Sauce Debut New Album Denver GPDENVER - Life In The Fast Lane takes on a new meaning during the Grand Prix of Denver sponsored by Bridgestone on August 11-13, 2006. G. Love & Special Sauce will headline the Friday night concert with the band taking the stage at 7:00 p.m. at the City Lights Pavilion. The concert, sponsored by Jack Daniels, kick starts an entire weekend of high velocity fun.

G. Love & Special Sauce plan to release their new album, "Lemonade," in early August. The new album will be composed of a variety of collaborations with artists including Marc Broussard, Jack Johnson, Tristan Prettyman, Donavon Frankenreiter, Blackalicious, Ben Harper and more. The band has played many of the songs live while some, including "Ain't That Right," are old tracks that haven't been released yet. Selected tracks from the CD include: Can't Go Back to Jersey, Ain't That Right, Free, Lemonade, Breaking the Rules, Holla, and Dropping Bombs. The first single is "Hot Cooking."

Guests attending the Friday night concert during the Grand Prix of Denver will have one of the first opportunities to hear the band perform selections from the new album as well as past hits. zzzz

"We're thrilled to have one of Colorado's favorite bands rev up Denver's Grand Prix weekend this year," said Rob Johnson, Grand Prix of Denver General Manager. "And, while you won't want to miss G. Love & Special Sauce Friday night, downtown Denver will really rev up on Saturday night with a free street party on 14th Street with live music from The Samples and P-Nuckle, rated the #1 Reggae band in 2006 by Westword."

Denver is the only place you can cheer on your favorite drivers in round 10 of the Champ Car World Series, and the excitement roars on through the weekend with Motocross and other action sports exhibitions.

For ticket information, concert dates and times for the Grand Prix of Denver sponsored by Bridgestone go to www.gpdenver.com <http://www.gpdenver.com/> . Tickets can also be purchased by calling toll free 877-772-5425 or at trackside ticket offices during race weekend.

Champ Car Toronto TV rating Champ Car Toronto TV ratingUPDATE The final rating for the Toronto Champ Car race was a 0.9/2 share, up from a 0.8 overnight on CBS.  It is unusual for an open wheel race TV rating in the USA to go up from the overnight to the final rating.

07/10/06 The overnight TV rating for Sunday's Champ Car race in Toronto on CBS was a 0.8/2 share.
Stewart Foundation Makes Second Million Dollar Donation Stewart Foundation Makes Second Million Dollar DonationLOUDON, N.H. - Two-time and reigning NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Tony Stewart today announced his foundation's second donation of $1 million to the Victory Junction Gang Camp.

Located in Randleman, N.C., the Victory Junction Gang Camp is dedicated to creating empowering experiences for children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses.  The camp was founded by Kyle and Pattie Petty in memory of their son Adam. 

"I really admire Kyle and Pattie Petty for the people they are and for the work that they do," said Stewart.  "The Victory Junction Gang Camp was their idea, and they've done so much to make it happen.  The Tony Stewart Foundation is proud to donate $1 million to the Victory Junction Gang Camp so that Kyle and Pattie can continue to provide incredible experiences to kids who need it most."

"Having Tony's support has been huge for Victory Junction," said Petty, an eight-time race winner in the Nextel Cup Series.  "He was one of the first drivers to get on board with us, and beyond the money he and his foundation have donated to the camp, he's brought notoriety, which has helped fuel interest in the camp.  It's just one more example of how when we're on the track we're fierce competitors, but off the track we're all united in trying to improve the lives of others, especially children.  I've always admired his charitable work and it's an honor to have him as a part of the Victory Junction family." zzzz

This is Stewart's third major contribution to the Victory Junction Gang Camp, with his first donation having come in 2001 thanks to the collective efforts of Stewart, The Home Depot, Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing.  When Stewart competed in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600, he pledged $100 for every lap he completed, with The Home Depot, Target Chip Ganassi Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing each matching Stewart's donation.  And after completing all 600 laps, $240,000 was raised for the Victory Junction Gang Camp.

In November of 2003, the Tony Stewart Foundation pledged $1 million to the Victory Junction Gang Camp.  The Foundation met that goal by hosting benefit concerts at the Luther F. Carson Four Rivers Center in Paducah, Ky., and by staging the Nextel Prelude to the Dream - a dirt track race among Nextel Cup drivers at the Stewart-owned Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.

The Tony Stewart Foundation Benefit Concerts featured recording artists Diamond Rio, Trace Adkins, Montgomery Gentry, Phil Vassar and Kid Rock, who made a surprise appearance at last year's event.  And the 2005 Nextel Prelude to the Dream featured a who's who of NASCAR drivers, as Petty, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Ken Schrader, Dave Blaney and Kenny Wallace raced to a packed crowd, who in addition to seeing a great race, saw a portion of their admission fee go to the Victory Junction Gang Camp.

This year's Nextel Prelude to the Dream was originally scheduled for June 7, but rain postponed it to Sept. 6.  Nonetheless, drivers such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin and J.J. Yeley will join Prelude veterans Petty, Harvick, Kenseth, Labonte and others in raising even more money for the Victory Junction Gang Camp. 

Stewart now has cumulative unrestricted donations totaling over $2 million to the Victory Junction Gang Camp.  He is a founding member of the Victory Junction Gang Camp, along with the Pettys, actor Paul Newman and the Bahre family - owners of New Hampshire International Speedway.

Industry News
Corvette Victory Celebration in Detroit Corvette Victory Celebration in DetroitGM will salute the Corvette Racing team for its fifth class victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world's greatest sports car race, with a parade and presentations in downtown Detroit starting Tuesday, July 18, 12:30 p.m. from the GM World Headquarters at the Renaissance Center, Jefferson Ave.

The event will begin with a caravan of Corvette race cars, pace cars and collector cars through the streets of Detroit. The parade will start at Compuware Corporation (primary sponsor of Corvette Racing), travel down Woodward Ave. and Jefferson Ave., and conclude at the Jefferson Ave. lobby of the Renaissance Center. There will be presentation of the 24 Hours of Le Mans trophy and remarks by GM executives, followed by an autograph session with Corvette Racing drivers.

NASCAR teams told to get the lead out NASCAR teams told to get the lead outNASCAR officials have told Busch Series teams to make sure they burn off any remaining traces of leaded fuel during practices when they get to tracks where they will run unleaded fuel.

The Busch Series will use unleaded fuel for the first time July 29 at Gateway International Raceway, and then both the Busch and Craftsman Truck Series will use the unleaded fuel the following week at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis.
The notice from NASCAR to the teams included these instructions:

The unleaded fuel is green, while the current leaded fuel from Sunoco is blue.

Teams cannot mix unleaded fuel and leaded fuel.

Bladders, foam, fuel lines, dump cans, fill cans and filters that have been used for leaded fuel need to be flushed out. The foam portion of the fuel cell will be the most difficult for teams to "get the lead out."

López takes first GP2 pole López takes first GP2 poleJosé María López has taken his first career GP2 series pole position for the first of this weekend’s races at Magny Cours. The Argentine, who finished the all-important mid-season test as the fastest driver of all over the course of the two days for Super Nova International, proved that his pace in testing was no fluke by beating the resurgent Timo Glock of iSport International into second place, with Giorgio Pantano, Glock’s old Formula One sparring partner at Jordan, third for FMS International.

López set his pole time early on in the session. With track temperature at over 50 degrees, conditions were far from ideal to get the most out of the tires, but López made the best of the early running to lead the field on a 1:23.911, narrowly ahead of Racing Engineering’s Adam Carroll and ART Grand Prix’s championship-leading rookie Lewis Hamilton.

On his second flyer, it was Glock who jumped up to second just 0.120 off López’s best, as Giorgio slotted into third position, 0.026 behind Glock. Luca Filippi got a bit excited and slammed into the back of Lucas di Grassi under braking for the Adelaide hairpin, with both out on the spot.

And then it all went quiet. The combination of Saharan weather and the mid-season test meant that most teams remained confident of their set-ups and felt it preferable to await the final flurry. zzzz

And when that flurry came, the drivers gave it everything. Adam Carroll spun at Chateau d’Eau having locked up moments earlier, but continued on his way back to the pits. Nelson Piquet Jr was pushing hard too, and after a relatively slow lap he attacked the final chicane… a little too much as it turned out and the Brazilian was launched into the sky and off over the grass. He managed to return to the pits after improving his lap time on his next tour to grab fourth.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton, however, wanted the pole and pushed all he could to get it. In the end though, López’s lap had just been too good and the Brit would have to settle for fourth, with Piquet relegated to fifth and Carroll sixth. The top six were covered by just over one third of a second as the checkered flag fell, with the top 14 covered by a second, and the top 23 by two.

José María López, Super Nova International
"We've been quick all the time at Paul Ricard, and all the people are saying he's only quick in Paul Ricard, so it's good to come here and show that we can be quick. I feel really, really, really happy. I know it's not the end, because we have the race tomorrow, but it's the beginning."

Timo Glock, iSport International
"It was quite good. I made a little mistake at the last corner, hit the curb a little which upset the car a bit. We had our first race together in Silverstone, and then the two day test in Paul Ricard, and I think now we are coming up to the top three all the time, which is where we should be."

Giorgio Pantano –FMS International
"I know we had a chance to be on the pole but to be honest I wasn't pushing so hard in the start of qualifying, and that was when the track was best to find a good time. I think third is not bad, very close to the other two, and it's just a question of making a good start and then see what happens." Source GP2

Engine row to reach climax in France Engine row to reach climax in France(GMM) The row over F1's engine rules is set to reach a crescendo at Magny Cours, with FIA president Max Mosley jetting into the region to oversee a Sunday deadline.

Carmakers including Mercedes, BMW, Honda and Toyota are trying to get smaller teams to sign the 'Indianapolis agreement', but - notably MF1 and Prodrive - are holding out for a better deal for customer engine supplies.

2008 entry Prodrive's David Richards is also in France as discussions with the manufacturers enter the final and most crucial stage.

Even if presented with an unanimously signed agreement, however, Mosley is insisting that the carmakers pool a multi-million dollar 'fighting fund' that would finance a subsidized engine option for the small teams.

''Then we will put the supply of engines out to tender,'' he explained in an interview with Speed TV, ''so that we know that we've got an engine supplier who can keep up with development.

''It's like a safety net. (But) if we get to Monday morning and there's no agreement, we will stay with what we've got.''

Rubens in wall, Kimi on verge Rubens in wall, Kimi on verge(GMM)  Scorching weather played host to an eventful final practice session at Magny Cours, as Rubens Barrichello met the barriers and Kimi Raikkonen pulled over on the grass with his usual technical trouble.

Raikkonen is not facing a ten-place penalty, however, with the damage said to be confined to an electronics glitch rather than a failed Mercedes-Benz V8 engine.

Toro Rosso's Scott Speed, like Barrichello, also fell foul of the tricky Nurburgring chicane, crunching the wall for good measure.

'Friday' man Alex Wurz encountered a gremlin at the rear of his Williams in the morning session, but emerged to complete 29 tours in P2.

Conversely, Honda's Jenson Button had impressed in the opening hour, but dropped a couple of seconds off the pace as 35C beamed down after lunch.

''We won't win this weekend,'' the Englishman insisted.  ''You don't gain a second a lap through some small changes.''

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Kubica BMW-Sauber (M) 1:16.902 33
 2. Alonso Renault (M) 1:17.498 + 0.596 14
 3. Davidson Honda (M) 1:17.750 + 0.848 37
 4. Wurz Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:17.859 + 0.957 29
 5. Fisichella Renault (M) 1:17.916 + 1.014 13
 6. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:17.938 + 1.036 16
 7. Sutil MF1-Toyota (B) 1:18.049 + 1.147 31
 8. Doornbos Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:18.175 + 1.273 28
 9. R.Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:18.274 + 1.372 21
10. Jani Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:18.639 + 1.737 32
11. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:18.721 + 1.819 23
12. Button Honda (M) 1:19.005 + 2.103 18
13. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:19.013 + 2.111 20
14. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) 1:19.108 + 2.206 15
15. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:19.140 + 2.238 9
16. Albers MF1-Toyota (B) 1:19.183 + 2.281 21
17. Barrichello Honda (M) 1:19.259 + 2.357 5
18. Webber Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:19.413 + 2.511 10
19. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:19.589 + 2.687 14
20. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:19.692 + 2.790 19
21. Monteiro MF1-Toyota (B) 1:19.701 + 2.799 19
22. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:19.809 + 2.907 14
23. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:19.996 + 3.094 22
24. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:20.003 + 3.101 12
25. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:20.135 + 3.233 12
26. Villeneuve BMW-Sauber (M) 1:20.154 + 3.252 11
27. Klien Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:20.409 + 3.507 14
28. Montagny Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:21.132 + 4.230 14
29. Yamamoto Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:21.969 + 5.067 32

Danica Patrick eyes first win Danica Patrick eyes first winDanica Patrick faces the same question at every stop along the IRL IndyCar Series schedule. When do you think you will win your first race? For Patrick who will make her 25th IndyCar Series start Saturday night, the question has come to represent what she feels is the hopes of her fans.

“Nobody puts higher expectations on my performance, than I do,” said Patrick. “I have always been my harshest critic and nobody wants to win more than I. In the grand scheme of things I am still very early in my IndyCar career. On the average it takes a driver 33 races to earn their first win and that takes me into next season. Every week I am doing the best I can and trying to maximize what I can get out of the car. Up until Texas we had finished in the top-eight at every race. The change to the Dallara has presented some new challenges, but it is the right move for the long term. We had maximized what we could get out of the Panoz.”

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in briefUPDATE
Villeneuve rules out Super Aguri seat
JV denies 'towers' impede view in BMW

Spaniard hopes to keep F1 seat
Absent Montoya causes a stir
JV hits out at teams' young-gun policies
Williams leaves Webber 'embarrassed'
Schu brothers share Magny Cours milestone
Heidfeld fit despite muscle twinge
Alonso wants Spaniard as 2007 teammate
World Cup battle resumes at Magny Cours
Brawn warns Hamilton of Alonso pairing
Industry News
Ghosn bullish about GM alliance Ghosn bullish about GM allianceCarlos Ghosn, chief executive of Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co., expressed confidence Thursday that the Franco-Japanese partnership would form an alliance with General Motors Corp. that would benefit all three automakers and transform the industry.

On the day before a crucial meeting with GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner, Ghosn told The Detroit News a deal would succeed only if GM's board and top managers wanted it. But in contrast with Wagoner's tepid response to the proposal made by GM shareholder Kirk Kerkorian, Ghosn was eager to move forward.

"There is a possibility that in a few weeks we'll say, we don't think it's going to happen because we don't think the prize is big enough, or we don't think the willingness from both parties is strong enough," he said in his first public comments about the proposal since it was disclosed on June 30. "But if I didn't think there was more chance that we will outline a big prize, I wouldn't be here today.

"I think the potential is big."

Ghosn, a well-traveled French national born in Brazil, is scheduled to hold preliminary talks today with Wagoner in a highly anticipated meeting.  More at Detroit News

More IRL drivers eye NASCAR More IRL drivers eye NASCARThis Nashville City Paper article says that IRL stars Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves both have an eye at doing some NASCAR races if the opportunity presents itself, after the IRL season ends in September.  Will they too eventually be lured by the NASCAR money pit?
French GP: Kubica tops practice 1 French GP: Kubica tops practice 1
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Kubica BMW-Sauber (M) 1:16.794 31
 2. Davidson Honda (M) 1:17.133 + 0.339 29
 3. Button Honda (M) 1:18.160 + 1.366 4
 4. R.Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:18.752 + 1.958 6
 5. Sutil MF1-Toyota (B) 1:18.777 + 1.983 32
 6. Jani Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:18.962 + 2.168 21
 7. Wurz Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:19.055 + 2.261 17
 8. Villeneuve BMW-Sauber (M) 1:19.063 + 2.269 6
 9. Doornbos Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:19.311 + 2.517 20
10. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:19.401 + 2.607 6
11. Albers MF1-Toyota (B) 1:19.465 + 2.671 7
12. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:19.806 + 3.012 7
13. Monteiro MF1-Toyota (B) 1:20.335 + 3.541 7
14. Montagny Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:20.790 + 3.996 11
15. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:21.160 + 4.366 10
16. Yamamoto Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:23.891 + 7.097 11
17. Fisichella Renault (M) No time 1
18. Alonso Renault (M) No time 1
19. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) No time 1
20. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) No time 1
21. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) No time 2
22. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) No time 1
23. Klien Red Bull-Ferrari (M) No time 1
24. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) No time 1
25. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B)
26. Massa Ferrari (B)
27. Webber Williams-Cosworth (B)
28. Barrichello Honda (M)
29. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M)
French GP: Thursday press conference French GP: Thursday press conferenceParticipating: Pedro de la Rosa (McLaren), Vitantonio Liuzzi (Toro Rosso), Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Franck Montagny (Super Aguri), Nico Rosberg (Williams), Jarno Trulli (Toyota). Transcript
Montoya leaves void in F1 Montoya leaves void in F1UPDATE A reader writes, The article on Juan a good one and so true. When Juan was in CART I listened to him on the radio all the time and if the car was right nobody could catch him, but if it wasn't, forget it! The McLaren was never to his liking. We saw this before with Cristiano da Matta and Toyota. Cristiano asked to change the springs to a softer setting and the engineer told him, we don't touch the suspension, it's all done with the aero! You saw the results of his F1 runs! I feel Juan just got sick of all the high class BULLSHIT and one-upmanships! In my view his going to NASCAR was " In your face F1." Bruce Hand, California

Dear Bruce, In your face F1 is probably a good analogy, and perhaps even more "In your face Ron Dennis."  There is little doubt that at McLaren Kimi Raikkonen was the favored driver, having been with the team longer.  It is interesting that the second half of last season, when McLaren found more front-end grip for Juan that he beat Kimi handily.  We suspect that in his mind he felt he was better than Kimi, but never got to show his true potential because of the limitations of the McLaren. With Adrian Newey leaving the team Juan may have also felt McLaren had lost its way, which appears to be the case.  The article is so right about Montoya being a breath of fresh air.  Listening to guys like the monotone robot Raikkonen speak left this American unimpressed.  Mark C.

07/14/06 Juan Pablo Montoya's decision to quit Formula One for the US NASCAR stock-car series is a terrible shame - for both the driver and F1.

The 30-year-old Colombian may not have had the best of seasons with McLaren this year, but his departure will leave a void in the sport. Right, Montoya kisses trophy after winning the 2003 Monaco GP

It is difficult to know the real reasons for Montoya's decision, but it smacks a little of impetuousness.

His options in F1 for next season were limited, and he appears to have decided that rather than face an undignified search for a drive in a middling team, he would go off and race somewhere he was appreciated instead.

But it is the impulsiveness in Montoya's character that make him such an inspiring, appealing and dynamic racing driver and personality - and that is what will be so badly missed.

His incredible skills at overtaking - to which he brings an improvisation, bravery, deftness and flair that has arguably never been seen before - are inseparable from his mercurial character.

It is easy to forget that until Montoya's arrival in the sport in 2001, overtaking in modern F1 was considered so difficult as to be almost impossible.

That is still the case, but Montoya has been able to transcend the limits imposed on drivers by complex aerodynamics and shorter braking distances and pull off passing moves that can only be described as breathtaking.

The fact that no-one else has been able to emulate him merely underlines his astonishing ability - he will probably be remembered as the best overtaker in F1's history. More at BBC Sport

IMSA cuts back diesel advantage IMSA cuts back diesel advantageTooele, Utah - IMSA today published a bulletin that affects the refueling rig restrictor of the diesel cars participating in the American Le Mans Series, specifically the Audi R10 TDI cars. The change limits the refueling restrictor from the current 38mm permitted under the regulations to 33mm, effective immediately.

"As was highlighted in today's press bulletin issued by the ACO, there is an overall desire by the organizing bodies to work toward a situation where all cars, no matter what fuel they choose to use, have the same amount of energy on board," said Tim Mayer, Chief Operating Officer of IMSA. "However, that is not the situation with the current regulations. So as an interim step, we have restricted the R10 so that it cannot receive more energy in the tank in a given time frame.

"We notified the team of this change at the Lime Rock Park event. However, because of a variety of test and calculation methods that are possible to determine the energy content of fuels, we chose to hold the public release of the bulletin until we had verification of the numbers," added Mayer.

The current regulations permit the same 90-liter tank on both diesel and gasoline cars but permit the larger restrictor on the refueling rig of diesel cars because of the different viscosities of the fuel.

"The original intent was to permit the full volume of the tanks to be filled in the same time," said Mayer. "However, diesel is a more energy-rich fuel for any given volume. The change that we have implemented means that the energy delivered will be similar, for the diesel versus gasoline, for the same length of refueling. The goal is to ensure that competitors have the opportunity to compete without a quirk in the physics of the fuels creating a particular advantage. We are currently working with the ACO to come up with a formula for tank sizes for a variety of different fuels."

TV News
Danica Patrick on Jimmy Kimmel Live Danica Patrick on Jimmy Kimmel LiveDanica Patrick will make a guest appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.  The show airs early Saturday morning, July 15, 12:05 am-1:05 am ET (late Friday night) on ABC.  Check your local listings.
TV News
Replay of Tradin' Paint with Montoya and Gordon Replay of Tradin' Paint with Montoya and GordonTradin' Paint, the June 2003 event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when Juan Montoya and Jeff Gordon swapped race cars, will be replayed Friday night, July 14, 10:30 pm-11:30 pm ET on SPEED.  Check your local listings.
Utah GP: Penske Porsches fastest Thursday Utah GP: Penske Porsches fastest ThursdayTOOELE, Utah (July 13, 2006) – In what could be considered a bit of a surprise, Penske Racing’s two Porsche RS Spyders set the two fastest times Thursday in a 90-minute test session for the Utah Grand Prix at the new Miller Motorsports Park.

Timo Bernhard in the No. 7 Penske Porsche LMP2 entry set the fastest time at the wide-open 4.5-mile, 24-turn road course at 2:24.143. The gap back to Sascha Maassen’s time in the No. 6 sister car couldn’t have been much closer: 0.004 seconds.

The two Porsche RS Spyders tested at Miller Motorsports Park in June, and for at least a day they enjoyed an advantage over the two diesel-powered Audi R10 TDIs from Audi Sport North America Team Champion. Allan McNish posted the quickest LMP1 time in the No. 2 Audi at 2:25.613. The Scot and Dindo Capello are the current championship leaders in class.

Next in P1 on Thursday was the Le Mans-winning tandem of Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro, who are competing in their first Series race since the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The 2005 Series champions were a half second back of their sister car and two seconds behind the leading Penske Porsche.

The two Aston Martin Racing DBR9s were 1-2 in GT1 with Stephane Sarrazin turning in the fastest time in the No. 009 at 2:38.677. In the last Series round at Lime Rock Park, Sarrazin and Pedro Lamy held off the Corvette C6.R of Johnny O’Connell and Ron Fellows by 0.033 seconds for a class win. zzzz

Thursday, Sarrazin was a full second ahead of the sister Aston Martin of Tomas Enge and Darren Turner. The two Corvettes were about a half second better back of their chief rivals.

In GT2, Jamie Melo made a late run to take the spot in class for Risi Competizione. The Brazilian turned in a lap of 2:46.050 in the Risi Ferrari F430GT in the waning minutes of the session. He was 1.4 seconds quicker than class championship leader Johannes van Overbeek and teammate Wolf Henzler in one of the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche, which sat atop the speed charts for a majority of the session. Third in class was the sister Porsche of Seth Neiman and Darren Law.

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.

TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday USA TV reminders for Saturday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Jimmy Kimmel Live - Danica Patrick (IRL)
(Part of Show)12:05am-1:05am
Check local listings for other time zones ABC
Formula 1 Qualifying France
8:00am-9:30am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! New Hampshire
9:30am-10:00am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Final Practice New Hampshire
10:00am-11:00am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Qualifying New Hampshire
11:00am-12:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! New Hampshire
12:30pm-1:00pm (L) SPEED
Champ Car Atlantic Toronto
7/9/06 3:00pm-4:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Busch Series Loudon, NH
3:00pm-5:30pm (L) TNT
Inside Grand Prix French Grand Prix
5:00pm-5:30pm SPEED
Movie: Grand Prix (1966)
5:00pm-8:00pm Turner Classic Movies TCM
Speed News Saturday
7:30pm-8:00pm SPEED
Tradin' Paint (NASCAR)
8:00pm-8:30pm SPEED
NASCAR Performance
8:30pm-9:00pm SPEED
IRL Nashville
9:00pm-11:30pm (L) ESPN
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Memphis
9:00pm-11:30pm (L) SPEED
NHRA Qualifying Denver
10:00pm-12:00am ESPN2

All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.

NASCAR TV ratings continue to slide NASCAR TV ratings continue to slideNASCAR TV ratings continued their downward trend - down almost every race this year, which has the folks in Daytona worried sick.   The final TV rating for last Sunday from Chicagoland on TNT was a 4.3, down 24.6% from a 5.7/ 13 share on NBC in 2005.
Schumacher doesn’t understand NASCAR appeal Schumacher doesn’t understand NASCAR appealUPDATE A reader responds, Dear AutoRacing1, While I am no fan of NASCAR, this quote from Michael Schumacher regarding Juan Montoya just exemplifies how elitist F1 has become.  To have him say that after four years of racing against JPM he has  "no opinion" of him as a driver or even a person is pathetic.  JPM was one of the few willing to go wheel-to-wheel with Michael during his early Williams days. He certainly is colorful, even to those who don't like his style or demeanor.

After reading this statement, I think I understand better why Juan is moving to NASCAR.  F1 has become nothing more than high-stakes time trialing for the driver, and the real racing is left to the 15 guys in pit lane.

Kudos to JPM for wanting to break-out and do what he does best.  Drive a car fast and make the competition take notice. Kelly Konzelman, Santa Monica, CA

Dear Kelly, Rest assured that Juan would have stayed in F1 had a competitive ride been offered to him.  Only after things looked bleak in F1 did he elect to move to NASCAR.  NASCAR's TV ratings are exceeded by F1 in a small country like Italy.  Add in the cumulative ratings worldwide and NASCAR is but a small blip on the screen.  We chuckle at the NASCAR sheep (sorry media) that cover the series daily.  They are falling all over themselves gushing about how Montoya coming to NASCAR makes NASCAR so great.  The fact of the matter is he is a F1 reject.  It would be one thing if he was moving to NASCAR as World Champion, like Mansell did when he moved to CART in the 90's, and quite another to be moving there as a reject from the premier series in the world.  Sometimes we need to take a deep breath and put things in perspective. Mark C.

07/13/06 Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher says he can’t see the attraction of the NASCAR Nextel Cup following Juan Pablo Montoya’s shock announcement that he will switch to the US-based series in 2007.

“Personally I wouldn’t do it,” the German said at Magny-Cours on Thursday to ITV-F1.

“What do you do in NASCAR? What is exciting there?

“I can’t see that, running around on ovals.

“I don’t know how heavy the cars are, but they are heavy, very low developed cars compared to Formula 1.

“I don’t see the challenge.”

And when asked whether F1 would be the poorer without a “character” like JPM, Schumacher said: “I don’t want to really get into it too much.

“I mean you don’t need to be friends with everybody and I can’t really say I have been friends with him.

“I don’t really know him enough and I don’t really care what comments other people make about him.

“I have no opinion on him.”

Feedback: It’s up to Tony George Feedback: It’s up to Tony George
Another IRL team closes its doors Another IRL team closes its doorsCheever Racing announced today the suspension of its IndyCar Series team due to a lack of funding for the program. The team will not participate in the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway, July 15, or any remaining races of the 2006 IndyCar Series championship unless additional sponsorship is secured. 

"We will continue to look for partners to participate in the IndyCar Series," team owner Eddie Cheever Jr. said. "I really want to thank the crew we had on board this year. We threw this team together at the last minute and we consistently had solid cars able to finish races. We may have not had the best equipment, due to our limited budget, but we did the best with what we had. I am sorry to see these guys go, and I hope that we can be reunited again in the future." 

Cheever Racing continues to participate in the Indy Racing League Indy Pro Series and the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve. 

In the Indy Pro Series, Cheever Racing's Nick Bussell and Chris Festa rank fourth and eighth, respectively, in the driver's championship as they head to Nashville Superspeedway this weekend for the Sunbelt Rentals 100 on July 15. 

In the Rolex Series the Cheever/Crown Royal Special Reserve team, which finished second at Homestead this year, races next in Birmingham, Alabama with Eddie Cheever Jr. and Christian Fittipaldi driving in the Porsche 250 at Barber Motorsports Park on July 30. Cheever Racing

[Editor's Note: Coupled with the folding of Carmelo Hemelgarn Racing in June, Cheever's announcement brings the IRL field to a total of 18 cars for this weekend's Nashville race. Which team is next?  We remained appalled that some in the IRL still don't think a merger with Champ Car is necessary.  ]

Utah track presents some unique challenges Utah track presents some unique challengesTOOELE, Utah – This weekend’s Utah Grand Prix presents a new challenge not just for the world-class drivers of the American Le Mans Series, but also the television broadcast crew, as well.

The expansive new Miller Motorsports Park facility is requiring a record number of cameras for Sunday’s 2 p.m. EDT broadcast on CBS Sports. Across the 4.5-mile, 24-turn facility, 20 coverage cameras will be in place to capture all of the action for Round Five of the 2006 American Le Mans Series.

That number is far and away the most positions ever put in place for a Series venue. Road America sees 13 coverage cameras and Sebring 12. Two weeks ago at Lime Rock Park, TV crews used nine coverage cameras.

In addition this weekend, there will be two cameras in pit lane, three for “speed shots” along the fastest parts of the track, six in-car cameras, one for helicopter coverage and one in the broadcast booth.

HELLO, MY NAME IS…: Every turn at Miller Motorsports Park has been christened with a name – some more than one! The highlights include:

• Turn 1: Sunset Bend
• Turn 6: Right Hook (entry) and Knock Out (exit)
• Turn 7: Demon (entry), Devil (apex) and Diablo (exit)
• Turn 8: Indecision
• Turn 9: Precision
• Turn 13: Mabey Y’ll Makit
• Turn 15: Agony (entry) and Extacy (exit)
• Turn 19: Tooele Turn

A full track map is available here.

Red Bull USGP network TV deal Red Bull USGP network TV dealMONTEREY, Calif. (July 13, 2006) – In a landmark moment for the sport, MotoGP World Championship round during the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will be broadcast on network television across the United States this summer after an agreement was reached between ABC and MotoGP’s commercial rights-holders Dorna Sports.

The deal will see the 2006 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, July 21-23, on a tape-delay broadcast during an hour-long program on July 30th at 1:00-2:00pm ET and 3:00-4:00pm PT. The show will include not only the coverage of one of the most thrilling races of the season, but exciting features, news and interviews of one of the most spectacular sporting events to take place on American soil.

The race will also be broadcast live on SPEED, at 2:00pm PT (5:00pm ET). zzzz

The program is an important step for MotoGP which continues to expand its network of broadcasts to worldwide audiences. Currently the MotoGP World Championship reaches 207 countries, with 184 of those in live or same day delayed format. An average of 142 million spectators see the live/SDD broadcasts, with a total average audience per Grand Prix of 311 million viewers.

“We are happy to have the 2006 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix on ABC,” said Tag Garson, Sr. Director of Programming and Acquisitions. “It is an exciting event, which takes place at one of racing’s most renowned venues, and showcases some terrific action.”

Dorna Sports’ Managing Director, Manel Arroyo added, “It is great news for the sport to be broadcast across the United States on network television. Working alongside a prestigious network such as ABC will certainly help us achieve our objective of bringing MotoGP to the attention of a more mainstream audience.”

MotoGP is the world’s premier motorcycle championship, featuring the best racers on the planet riding multi-million dollar, prototype machines that can reach speeds in excess of 200mph.

MotoGP takes its glamorous circus to all corners of the globe. The machines produce more than 240 horsepower and weigh in at just 325lb (148kg), demanding the ultimate in riding skill, which is personified by the likes of Valentino Rossi and American contenders Nicky Hayden, John Hopkins, Colin Edwards and Kenny Roberts Jr.

For the first time since 1994 MotoGP returned to the U.S. last year, with 153,653 fans enjoying the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix throughout the weekend at legendary Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit in Monterey, California.

Helping to make the deal possible between the two parties was Van Wagner Sports Group, who will coordinate production matters with ABC and will work as Dorna's US TV ad-sales agent.

For those on-site, a number of spectator amenities have been announced to improve the 2006 Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix. A new traffic flow plan is in place to help increase the positive fan experience. Highlights of the plan include all general admission parking off-site, with spectators transported via shuttle bus; a motorcycle-only entrance; and increased staffing and directional signage. Additionally, the number of concession stands has been increased dramatically, the official souvenir store will now be housed in an 8,000 square foot tent in Yamaha Marketplace, and more and better-located restrooms will be available throughout the facility. More information is available at www.laguna-seca.com.

Tickets are on sale now for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s 50th Season of Racing including the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix July 21-23, the 33rd Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races August 18-20 and the Monterey Sports Car Championships featuring the American Le Mans Series October 20-22.

Tickets and more information are available by calling (800) 327-SECA or on-line at www.RedBullUSGrandPrix.com.

Formula BMW
Formula BMW news tidbits Formula BMW news tidbitsMunich, Germany/Woodcliff Lake, NJ … Formula BMW is in full swing around the world. Formula BMW Germany is joined by Formula BMW Asia, Formula BMW USA and the Formula BMW UK Championship on the motor sport calendar. Together, they have thrown up some interesting facts over the first half of the season.

Formula BMW USA: Did you know...?

… that in 2006 Formula BMW USA has the largest field ever with 26 drivers (from seven countries: USA, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Jamaica and Italy) and more drivers than the other Formula BMW championships? The record number of 29 drivers (from nine countries) raced in support of Formula One at the Canadian and the United States Grands Prix.

… that Formula BMW USA Junior driver Robert Wickens (CAN/Team Apex Racing USA) has led the Championship points since Round 3 at Lime Rock Park?

… that Formula BMW USA driver Simona De Silvestro (ITA/EuroInternational)  who had two third-place finishes in support of the US Grand Prix is the first woman ever on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway podium? She is the most successful female driver in Formula BMW worldwide as she stands fourth in the Championship points (after Round 8).

… that Formula BMW USA driver Frankie Muniz (USA/Jensen Motorsport) is a famous Hollywood actor known from the TV show "Malcolm in the Middle"?

… that Maryeve Dufault (CAN/Hearn Motorsports) who raced the Formula BMW USA Rounds in Montreal and Indianapolis is a former Miss Hawaiian Tropic International and top-model?

… that Formula BMW Germany drivers Stefano Coletti (MCO/EuroInternational) and Tobias Hegewald (GER/Atlantic Racing Team) raced in the US series in support of the Canadian and the United States Grands Prix?

… that all winners of the seven rounds to-date of the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship Series have been Formula BMW USA drivers (Andreas Wirth - 2004 Formula BMW USA Champion, Graham Rahal - 2004 Formula BMW USA Junior, James Hinchcliffe - 2004 Formula BMW USA Rookie Champion and Junior driver, Robbie Pecorari - 2005 Formula BMW USA races in support of the United States Grand Prix)?  zzzz

Formula BMW Germany: Did you know...?

... that Christian Vietoris (GER/Josef Kaufmann Racing) heads the standings with six victories after ten of the 18 Rounds of Formula BMW Germany?

... that the battle for the Rookie title in Formula BMW Germany is extremely tight? Philipp Eng (AUT/ADAC Berlin-Brandenburg), with 149 points, has a small lead over Jens Klingmann (GER/Eifelland Racing) with 147.

... that three guest drivers have lined up for Formula BMW Germany races? The Canadian Formula BMW USA driver Robert Wickens (CAN/ADAC Berlin- Brandenburg) and Briton Oliver Oakes (GBR/ADAC Berlin-Brandenburg) from the Formula BMW UK Championship used the opportunity to add an extra international element to the race on the undercard of the Formula One Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring. Jules Duc (USA/GU-Racing Motorsportteam) from Formula BMW USA then joined the field for Rounds 9 and 10 of the championship at Oschersleben.

... that the Romanian Andrei Harnagea (ROM/GU-Racing Motorsportteam) caused a sensation in a launch event in Bucharest taking place before the start of the season? The schoolboy driver piloted a Formula BMW FB02 around the Government Palace in a show of horsepower enjoyed by thousands of spectators. Six camera crews and numerous print media were on hand to report on the event.

... that Formula BMW Germany has a total of 21 drivers from eleven countries (Finland, Japan, Mexico, Monaco, the Netherlands, Austria, Romania, Russia, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Germany) lining up on the grid?

Formula BMW UK: Did you know...?

… that World Touring Car Championship leader Andy Priaulx is acting as mentor to all of this year's Formula BMW UK drivers and that Nigel Mansell, the1992 F1 World Champion, is ambassador to the Formula BMW UK Championship?

… that Nigel Mansell's two sons, Leo and Greg (both GB/Mansell Motorsport), are both competing in this year's UK series with Greg currently lying fourth in the Rookie Cup as they both continue in their first season of car racing?

... Niall Breen (IRL/Fortec Motorsport) actually leads the Formula BMW UK Championship with a total of four wins and studies law along the way?

… that Niall Quinn (IRL/Carlin Motorsport) has led the Rookie Cup since Round 2 at Mondello Park?

… that the Formula BMW UK Championship has produced six different winners from the first ten races of the season?

… that Oliver Oakes (GB/Team Loctite) went karting with Portuguese football player Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United as part of a feature being filmed for Eurosport (the largest European sports satellite and cable network) ?

… that Ross Curnow (GB/Nexa Racing) has made the most ever Formula BMW UK Championship starts with 50 races to his name (after Round 10)  and is the only person to win a race in each year the series has been running in the UK (since 2004)?

Formula BMW Asia: Did you know…?

… that this season, Formula BMW Asia includes 19 Rounds, the most ever?

… that Formula BMW Asia points leader Sam Abay (AUS/Team E-Rain) competed in the BMW M3 Track Attack race at the Formula One Foster's Australian Grand Prix along with BMW Sauber F1 Team test driver Robert Kubica, and Bruno Senna, nephew of the late Ayrton Senna?

… that the Formula BMW Asia Juniors visited the Formula 1 paddock and took part in a Q&A session with BMW Sauber F1 Team driver Nick Heidfeld at the Formula One Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix?

... that Formula BMW Asia Juniors currently occupy the third to sixth positions in the Formula BMW Asia Overall Championship standings?

... that 2005 Formula BMW Asia driver Michael Patrizi (AUS/Motaworld Racing) of Australia is currently seventh in the Formula BMW UK Championship, and is competing in a full season courtesy of BMW Motorsport as a reward for his outstanding performance last season?

… that 2004 Formula BMW Asia champion Ho-Pin Tung currently leads the German Recaro Formula 3 Cup? Formula BMW

One count dismissed in Haas case One count dismissed in Haas caseOne of the two counts of witness intimidation in the indictment of NASCAR team owner Gene Haas has been dropped.

The U.S attorney's office asked for the dismissal of the charge because the five-year statute of limitations had expired. The charge stemmed from a May 10, 2001, conversation, and the indictment, while handed down by the grand jury in October 2005, was not filed until June 8, 2006.

Haas, who owns the Nextel Cup team of Jeff Green and the Busch Series team of Johnny Sauter, still faces five counts of tax fraud and one count of witness intimidation.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which revolve around his Haas Automation business and not the race team. The company has blamed a former employee for the tax troubles. SceneDaily.com

Schu rules out team switch Schu rules out team switch(GMM)  Michael Schumacher has finally ruled out the possibility of switching to a different formula one team at the end of 2006.

Therefore simplifying speculation about his future, the German revealed at Magny Cours that - when the time finally comes at Monza later this year - he will either announce his retirement or a renewed Ferrari contract.

''There is nothing new,'' Schumacher said in France, before adding: ''If I continue, it is with Ferrari.''

Albeit improbably, Schumacher had been linked with potentially sensational switches to rival teams such as Renault.

So although now openly musing about whether to go or stay at his Maranello team, Schumacher denied that the real factor under consideration is whether or not he is prepared to occupy a red car alongside Kimi Raikkonen.

He insisted: ''I have never made a decision based on who my teammate is, and nothing has changed.''

Oliver Jarvis to test with A1 Team Great Britain Oliver Jarvis to test with A1 Team Great BritainLondon, England - Oliver Jarvis, winner of the 2005 McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award, will sample an A1GP car for the first time next week, Monday 17th - Tuesday 18th July, having been invited to test with A1 Team Great Britain at the Pembrey Circuit in South Wales.

Jarvis, the 2005 Formula Renault UK Champion, will have his first taste of the 500bhp A1GP car on Monday following an initial shake-down at the 1.456-mile track by Yorkshire's Darren Manning - who competed for A1 Team Great Britain in the season finale of the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport in China back in April, scoring a second place podium on his debut. zzzz

Previewing Jarvis' maiden A1GP outing, John Surtees, A1 Team GBR Team Principal commented:

"This is very much a getting to know you session so there's no pressure on Oliver to go out and set the world alight with stunning lap times. We're interested in testing him based on his previous performances and the ability shown in his racing to date. We wanted to do an evaluation in preparation for the official A1GP test which takes place later in August. We hope to continue this as a program dependent on A1 and the availability of equipment. Pembrey enjoys a reputation as a great test track so we decided to head there for this evaluation."

Competing in the 2006 British Formula Three Championship for Carlin Motorsport, Jarvis (22) scored his first win of the season at Mondello Park in Ireland last month, dominating the race from pole position. The young Brit from Burwell, Cambridgeshire currently sits third in the championship standings. Last season Jarvis captured the Formula Renault UK Championship racing for Manor Motorsport in a season that included five wins, seven podiums and four pole positions, his achievements and skills eventually leading to his naming as the winner of the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year in December.

A1 Team GBR finished third overall in the inaugural A1GP World Cup of Motorsport courtesy of eight podium finishes with Robbie Kerr and Darren Manning representing Great Britain.

Zandvoort, Holland hosts the opening round sell-out when A1GP's new season starts, 30th September - 1st October 2006 - www.a1gp.com

Rocketsports to give Kasemets more test time Rocketsports to give Kasemets more test timeEAST LANSING, Michigan – Rocketsports Racing and driver Tonis Kasemets decided that more time behind the wheel is critical to the future success of the #18 Flexovit Abrasives/Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone Champ Car so they are heading to Joliet, Illinois today for a one-day test before heading off to Round Eight of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season in Edmonton.

The Autobahn Country Club Joliet offers a 3.56-mile permanent road course and is one of the nation’s largest race courses.  That is the full course, but the course can be divided into two separate courses.  The South Course will be the testing course of the day for Rocketsports which offers a 2.1-mile track that is 40 feet wide with 15 turns.  The Joliet course is fairly new, as it opened up in spring of 2005 and this will be the team’s first trip to the new venue in Illinois.

Kasemets made his Champ Car debut about a month ago in Portland, Oregon with Rocketsports and has three Champ Car starts under his belt.  He only had one day to test with the team, so this time will allow him to get a little more comfortable with the car in a non-race weekend environment, which is anticipated to help his runs in the future races that he will be competing in this season with the team.

“I am looking forward to this test with Rocketsports Racing,” said the Estonian driver.  “Hopefully we will be able to improve on my driving of the #18 Flexovit Abrasives/Rocketsports car so that we can be faster for our upcoming races.  It is a completely different mental experience driving a Champ Car.  The horsepower of these race cars is so overwhelming and exciting, so I could use some extra time behind the wheel and just drive the car, with nothing else to worry about.  That is something that I need to work on, and the team is doing a great job helping me out with that.”

The team will return to the East Lansing-based race shop from the test tonight.  They will have a little time to recuperate before heading back north of the border to Canada for the next race in Edmonton, Alberta.  The West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix Presented by The Brick will be held during the weekend of July 21-23.

Atlanta cash funding Japanese invasion Atlanta cash funding Japanese invasionUPS has become the fourth Atlanta-based company to help fund the Japanese invasion of NASCAR racing. United Parcel Service announced it will leave Robert Yates Racing and follow driver Dale Jarrett to the Toyota team owned by Michael Waltrip next year.

The announcement means Georgia companies will be providing the major funding for the three-car team being built for Waltrip by Toyota for the 2007 NASCAR season.

Waltrip had announced earlier that NAPA Auto Parts, Aaron’s  and Coca-Cola would continue to sponsor his team in the switch to Toyotas next year. All are Atlanta based.

Patrick more aggressive when PMS’d Patrick more aggressive when PMS’dNASHVILLE — A fellow IRL driver says Danica Patrick has what it takes to succeed if she switches to the paint-swapping world of NASCAR and she's plenty aggressive in open-wheel racing when it's "the right time of the month."

Ed Carpenter, who trails Patrick by four slots in the IRL IndyCar Series' points race, made the comment when asked how Patrick might handle NASCAR racing during a radio appearance to promote Saturday night's Firestone Indy 200.

"I think Danica's pretty aggressive in our cars," Carpenter said Wednesday on WGFX-FM in Nashville.

"I mean, you know especially if you catch her at the right time of the month, she might be trading plenty of paint out there," he said. "But I think she'll hold her own. Who she's going to drive for is hard to say. I don't think she's leaving, so we'll see."

Carpenter later told The Associated Press he didn't mean to be disrespectful of Patrick by using a female stereotype.

He said he was trying to make the point that Patrick is competitive and already proven as a capable driver. He predicts she'll stay in the IndyCar Series.

"It's obvious when you're around her, she's very competitive," he said in a telephone interview afterward. "I think she has goals that she hasn't accomplished yet in the IRL Indy cars. That's going to want to make her stay."  More at USA Today

FIA confirm F1 rule changes FIA confirm F1 rule changes(GMM)  It's official -- 'Friday' drivers will not be needed in 2007 and qualifying is to be five minutes shorter as of this weekend's French grand prix at Magny Cours.

The governing body's World Motor Sport Council rubber-stamped the F1 Commission's range of changes after a fax vote, the FIA said in a statement on Thursday.

Industry News
Toyota, Nissan recall tops 500,000 Toyota, Nissan recall tops 500,000Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday it was recalling 367,500 Toyota and Lexus sport utility vehicles in the United States because a piece in the front console area could come loose and interfere with the gas pedal.

In a separate announcement, Nissan North America Inc. said it would recall 200,000 Altima and Sentra sedans from the 2003 model year to fix a faulty sensor that can cause the engine to shut down in routine traffic.

Judd reveals new engine details Judd reveals new engine detailsJudd Engine Developments is today pleased to release the first details of its new, 5.5 liter LMP1 engine for the 2007 season.

The engine is based on the highly successful GV5 S2 and will use the same architecture and lightweight cylinder head design that enabled Pescarolo to win the gasoline powered class at Le Mans this year. Installation of the new engine in the chassis therefore will remain unchanged.

"As always, we are continually looking at ways of improving our competitiveness to maintain our position as the top LMP1 customer engine provider", says John Judd, MD of Engine Developments. "We have therefore studied the performance of the GV5 engine relative to its sister engine the GV4, and our competitors', and have decided that an increase in capacity will significantly improve what is already the best engine available."

"To that end, we are now working on a 5.5 liter version of the engine that will be available to customers for testing prior to the start of the 2007 season. The increase in capacity will give us 10% more torque, even better drivability, which is particularly important for endurance racing, and improved fuel consumption over the GV5."

"We see this as a logical and sensible step in the development of the engine, and by no means its last evolution. We have further enhancements in mind for the platform, and are therefore fully committed to the long-term future of LMP1." (See related item)

Quote of the Day Quote of the DayA reader writes, On The Golf Channel's conversation program, "19th Hole" last evening, Sporting News Radio's David Stein, referring to European golf sensation Sergio Garcia's seeming inability to reach his potential/win a major tournament:

"Sergio Garcia is now becoming the Danica Patrick of golf to me.  He's got to come out and win and get the momentum and win a major."

Danica's inability to win has been noticed by the mainstream media, apparently.  It's time for her to get "The Call."  Ed Reed

Montoya will have to dumb-down his driving skill for NASCAR Montoya will have to dumb-down his driving skill for NASCARSpeaking exclusively to Autosport magazine, Juan Pablo Montoya's former Champ Car rival Paul Tracy - who has raced in the second-tier Busch Series this year – said the transition from a light, rear-engine open wheel car to a heavy front-engine NASCAR car will be a huge test of Montoya's driving skills.

"Montoya can't just go as fast as he can the whole time or he's gonna kill the tires," said Tracy. "It's tough to make the transition because coming up the single-seater ladder you reach corners faster, brake harder, turn in harder, get on the throttle earlier – the whole experience gets more intense the higher you go.

"You get into a NASCAR, and you suddenly have to go back to almost Formula Ford levels of corner speed and braking performance – the whole process slows down.

"Montoya's got to go with that way of driving, not fight against it. I've followed him and, even on ovals, you see how quick he is with the steering. He's got good reactions, quick hands and he drives on instinct, but a NASCAR doesn't respond to that. It responds to finesse, and he's not exactly known as a finesse driver, is he?"

"They have so much understeer built into them," added Tracy. "They call it 'tightness' – that's all you hear: 'my car's too tight, it won't turn in'. You take fuel out of a [open wheel] car for qualifying, right?

"Well in NASCARs, they have so much understeer dialed in that to get the optimum balance for qualifying they fill the fuel tanks up and stick a load of ballast in the trunk to get the tail to move out on the turns, just in order to get the front end to turn in. It's the absolute opposite of what a single-seater racer is used to.

"At the start of a race stint, you want the car as loose [oversteering] as possible because the balance changes so badly over the course of a stint, and you know you're gonna get more and more push – or tightness – as the fuel load comes down and the tires are getting near the end of their life.

"But the important thing is that when it's loose at the start, even if that suits Montoya's driving style, he can't overplay it otherwise he's gonna just burn those tires off, especially with that heavy fuel load. By the end of the stint he won't have grip front or rear, so he's just going to be floating out to the high line and the marbles mid-turn and into the wall on the exit."

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Aguri confirm Montagny's last start
New tunnel shows Honda 'commitment'
Flav tips Schu to race on
Wurz hopes for 2007 break
Ferrari not dominant says Alonso
Todt plays down Ferrari revival
TV News
USA TV reminders for Friday USA TV reminders for Friday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com

Formula 1 Practice France
8:00am-9:00am (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! New Hampshire
2:00pm-3:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying New Hampshire
3:00pm-4:30pm (L) SPEED
Trackside New Hampshire
7:00pm-8:00pm (L) SPEED
Gordon/Montoya Tradin' Paint (2003) Indianapolis
10:30pm-11:30pm (R) SPEED

All times listed are ET.  For a complete listing of TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.
Cedric the Entertainer on with Jay Leno Cedric the Entertainer on with Jay LenoCedric the Entertainer, one of the co-owners of the CTE Racing-HVM Champ Car team, will be a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Thursday night, July 13.  The show airs at 11:30 pm ET on NBC.  Check your local listings.
French GP - one hundred years of grand prix racing French GP - one hundred years of grand prix racingMagny-Cours - It has passed into motor sport history that it was at the 1993 French Grand Prix that Jean Todt started his career as head of Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro. Today, Todt is Ferrari Managing Director, while still retaining control of the Formula 1 team. The anniversary is still important to the Frenchman, but this year he shares the significance of the event with the fact that the 2006 race marks the one hundredth anniversary of the first race to be given the title "Grand Prix," when a two day event was staged around the town of Le Mans in 1906.

"It is an important year for the French Grand Prix as we celebrate one hundred years of grand prix racing," says Todt about this forthcoming weekend's eleventh round of the World Championship. "There are various events and initiatives taking place to commemorate the event and we are involved with a partnership between the organizers of the French Grand Prix and the ICM (the Institute that researches spinal chord injury and illness.) Michael and I are involved in the lottery draw for a prize of a guitar being donated by Roger Waters, the guitarist with Pink Floyd. That takes place on Friday night when all our colleagues and those of the ICM will be there to explain the work of the ICM, combined with the launch of a charity initiative." zzzz

There is little room for sentiment in professional motor sport, which means that Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro will tackle this weekend at Magny-Cours just as they would any other event on the calendar. However, Todt is not immune to its significance. "The French Grand Prix is of course a home race for me," he admits. "But I have many home grands prix as the Italian GP is a national race for me too. However, having said that, I am not really the sort of person for whom anniversaries mean that much, as I do not attach much significance to these rather institutional events. But it's true that the French Grand Prix is the first one I attended when I started work for Ferrari in 1993. I had come here from Peugeot, switching from one day to the next to Ferrari. Actually the anniversary, the first of July fell on the Saturday in Indianapolis. The thirteen years should really have been celebrated then, but all the same the French Grand Prix was the day I began work for Ferrari. I still think about it in the same way one remembers an anniversary or a birthday.

"If I had been told back in 1993 that I would still be here today, I would not have believed it. It is the longest I have ever spent in one job. In fact my career consists of being a professional co-driver for fifteen years, from 1966 to 1981, but with a lot of different teams and drivers. Then came my time with PSA, Peugeot-Citroen: from October '81 to 30th June 1993, a period of twelve years and around three months. Since then, it's been thirteen years with Ferrari, the longest period in my career and it's not over yet!"

Asked to pick the best Magny-Cours moment during his time with Ferrari, Jean Todt has no hesitation in selecting the 2002 event. "Michael took the driver's title here, when it was just the eleventh race of the season," he points out. "In a way, that day, that event revolutionized Formula 1, because it led to a new points distribution system and new rules, as we had discouraged all our opponents. We took the title at only the eleventh race and a couple of races later we took the Constructors' championship. The 2004 race when we won with Michael running a four pit stop strategy was unique. It was an all-or-nothing plan. It owed a bit to despair and a need to win, whereas 2002 was total domination. To win you have to bring so many elements together and we managed to do it better than the other teams."

While this weekend might well be a home event for Ferrari's managing director, the colors in the grandstands will reflect the fact it is also home soil for the current champions and even for their tire supplier. "It's true that when Renault is in France or when Renault is with Alonso in Spain, you see more of their T-shirts in the grandstands, more of their flags and more of their blue than our red," admits Todt. "Ferrari has one major difference when compared to other teams in that it has genuine support on a world wide basis. Whatever our performance level and the results we achieve, we have support in every country in the world. It's true there is an even stronger presence than usual from our "tifosi" in Italy, just as there is in Germany with Michael. So this weekend, our rivals will be more in the spotlight than at other races."

In the past, it was fair to say that "racing at home" could actually bring some practical advantages, in terms of team and driver having a better knowledge of their particular home track. However, this is no longer the case, especially at a circuit like Magny-Cours, which is not used much for testing by any of the teams. Therefore, this weekend, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro and its rivals will be relying more on technical elements rather than expertise. Last week, the Scuderia joined other teams for a test session at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain, with Michael Schumacher joined by long-time test driver Luca Badoer.

The 248 F1 will appear in Magny-Cours sporting some updates on the aerodynamic side: new turning vanes, new bodywork and other minor elements. "The two day test went well," confirms Todt. "But I would not say the new parts can be defined as significant in terms of performance. The last race at Indianapolis went very well for us and helped us to close the gaps in both championships. Here in France, I think we will find that, once again, our main rivals will be more competitive and it will be very close between the top teams. As we have seen for most of the season, the final outcome will depend on various factors, but the 'tire window' (by that I mean at what point in the race and for how long) the tires will work at their best, is likely to make the most significant contribution to the result. Home race or not, it makes no difference; we at Ferrari will be fighting as hard as usual." Ferrari

Michael Schumacher: "Motivated by the challenge" Michael Schumacher: "Motivated by the challenge"Maranello - Following his win at the United States Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher is preparing for a new challenge, this time at Magny-Cours. "The nature and tranquility of this rural and agricultural area of France has always enchanted me", confessed Michael. "I love driving around here. I also like the track as it is quite demanding and varied. It is not an easy circuit owing to the high temperatures that often characterize races here. This makes Grand Prixs even harder". Magny-Cours, despite its calm appearance, has some traps: "We have noticed that the surface becomes slippery as the temperature rises", revealed the Ferrari driver. "We have to take the differences in the level of grip into consideration". "As for the other races, we have prepared well for Magny-Cours", concluded the seven-time champion. "As we know, the gap to Alonso is 19 points and we want to make this up. The second part of the race will be a dash to the title. I have certainly not given up hope; on the contrary, the challenge of a making up the gap will bring out the best in us".
Q and A with Jeff Gordon Q and A with Jeff GordonSee the complete transcript from NASCAR media teleconference with Jeff Gordon. More....
Ganassi and Montoya again address the media Ganassi and Montoya again address the mediaSee the complete transcript from Chip Ganassi and Juan Pablo Montoya on the Dodge Motorsports Teleconference. More....
Rain again interrupts Indy testing Rain again interrupts Indy testing
Danica warms to NASCAR Danica warms to NASCARWhereas initial reports were that Danica Patrick was not really interested in NASCAR when stories broke that TJ Patrick, her father and agent, was in Chicagoland putting feelers out for interest in the IRL's biggest star, her tune has suddenly changed.

This USA Today article says, A season's worth of setbacks and upcoming free agent status has IRL IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick thinking about something she never gave that much thought to — NASCAR.

"It's important for me to know what's out there and who is interested in me and who will give me the best chance to win," she told USA TODAY in a phone interview from Los Angeles, where she will be presenter at the ESPY Awards being taped Wednesday night. "NASCAR is so big, how can you ignore it?"

Patrick, 24, says it's been a "frustrating" and "confusing" season as Rahal Letterman Racing has struggled mightily. A year after capturing three poles and leading the Indy 500, Patrick has struggled along with her team's two other drivers who only have two top-five finishes among them.

"My priorities haven't changed," says Patrick, whose contract is up at the end of the season. "I still want to be a winning IndyCar driver. If I'm given an opportunity to drive for an IndyCar team and win races, I'm going to do it."

But if the right opportunity isn't there, she has her eye on NASCAR.

"I think I'm capable to taking on the challenge, but it would have to be with the right team and with the right deal," she said. "Then I would consider it. Until then, I'm investigating what the interest level is." More at USA Today

Wal-Mart to sponsor Ranger in Montreal Wal-Mart to sponsor Ranger in MontrealMontreal – Canadian driver Andrew Ranger, who is linked to Wal-Mart Canada and Opération Enfant Soleil through his charity work, will be connected to these organizations in another fashion during the August 25-27 Champ Car Grand Prix of Montreal race weekend.

In addition to sporting the logos of his regular sponsors, Ranger’s Champ Car for the Montreal event will bear the colors of Wal-Mart on the wings and side pod and Opération Enfant Soleil, which is affiliated with the Children’s Miracle Network, will be prominent on the back wing and engine cover. Ranger’s regular sponsors are Tide, Folgers, Kodak, Duracell, Kellogg’s and Sharpie.

“I really like the look of this Champ Car,” said Ranger at a news conference today. “With Wal-Mart and Opération Enfant Soleil appearing on the car, it’s a reminder for me that we share a common bond in wanting to help sick children who are going through some rough times get better.”

Alan Labrosse, the promoter of the Champ Car Grand Prix of Montreal, said the wholehearted support of the initiative by Ranger’s sponsor-partners is “a fitting gesture, for which they deserve praise. They are all well aware of Andrew’s efforts on behalf of the Children’s Miracle Network, through such programs as the Tide @ Wal-Mart Victory Lap Charity Program. This is an opportunity to draw attention to the children and the very noble cause this represents.” zzzz

Wal-Mart’s involvement is an extension of its ticket program in conjunction with the Champ Car Grand Prix of Montreal. Racing fans can buy a three-day ticket package that includes paddock access and a seat in the Start-Finish grandstand for just $81. Wal-Mart and the CCGP of Montreal are donating $27 – one third of the proceeds – to Opération Enfant Soleil.

“We are proud to be associated with such a talented athlete and caring person as Andrew Ranger,” said Yanik Deschênes, Director of Communications for the Quebec region for Wal-Mart Canada. “Now, when people go to Wal-Mart stores and buy a ticket for the race, they will not only be supporting a very worthy cause, they will also be rallying around a home-town driver. It gives them more of an attachment and a greater sense of belonging.”

Nathalie Plante, Director of Marketing for Opération Enfant Soleil, said the organization is delighted to be associated with a major event such as the Champ Car Grand Prix of Montreal. “The visibility derived from being on Andrew’s car, and the funds raised through ticket sales are instrumental in helping Opération Enfant Soleil enhance the care and improve the quality of life of children throughout the province.”

Two Canadian youngsters to test A1GP car Two Canadian youngsters to test A1GP carJames Hinchcliffe and Kevin Lacroix, two of Canada’s most exciting open-wheel racing prospects, have been invited by A1 Team Canada to sample the power of an A1 Grand Prix car at a test to be held at the Pembrey Circuit in the United Kingdom next week, Monday 17 – Tuesday 18 July.
The driver evaluation, hosted on the 1.456-mile track in South Wales, will allow Hinchcliffe (19) and Lacroix (17) to experience the power and performance of the 500bhp A1GP car, built by Lola and powered by a V8 Zytek engine, while working with A1 Team Canada.
Commenting ahead of the test, John Surtees, A1 Team Canada consultant and 1964 Ferrari F1 World Champion remarked: "This is not a shoot-out and there will be no pressure on the drivers to go out and set startling times. This is a getting to know you session. We have brought the drivers along based on their past experience and the ability shown in their racing to-date.   We wanted to do an evaluation in preparation for the official test which takes place in August.  We hope to continue this as a program dependent on A1GP and the availability of equipment.” zzzz 
James Hinchcliffe is currently impressing in the Champ Car Atlantic Series, racing as part of the four-car Forsythe Racing squad. He started the year with a podium performance on the streets of Long Beach and captured his first win last month at Portland International Raceway.   James sits fifth in the title chase following last weekend’s round in his native Toronto.
Prior to stepping up into the Champ Car Atlantic Series James showcased his potential in both Formula BMW USA and the Star Mazda Championship.    He claimed ‘Rookie of the Year’ honors on his way to second in the 2004 Formula BMW USA Championship with three wins before a run to third overall in the 2005 Star Mazda Championship with three more victories.
Kevin Lacroix enjoyed similar success in the Formula BMW USA championship, finishing second overall in last season’s championship having been awarded a BMW scholarship to compete in the series. Kevin subsequently lived up to his potential by scoring four wins from a total of ten top-ten finishes. The Saint-Eustache teenager graduated to the Star Mazda Championship for 2006 and despite missing the opening round of the series he currently sits sixth in the standings after five starts. Competing for John Walko Racing, Lacroix made an immediate impression taking third place podium finishes in his first two races for the team. Team Canada
Track News
GP of Denver announces helmet design winner GP of Denver announces helmet design winnerDENVER - The Grand Prix of Denver sponsored by Bridgestone announced 15-year-old Yamir Velazquez as the winner of the Boys & Girls Club helmet design art contest.  Colorado-based RuSPORT driver Justin Wilson, who pilots the CDW No. 9 Champ Car, donated his helmet for the project, and will wear the specially designed helmet during the Grand Prix of Denver race on Sunday, August 13.

Velazquez and family will receive VIP treatment at the Grand Prix of Denver.  He will participate in a photo opportunity with Wilson during race weekend, meet his team, tour the team paddock, participate in opening ceremonies and receive VIP seating.

"All helmet design entries were very creative, and we want to say thank you to all the kids at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver who participated," said Rob Johnson, Grand Prix of Denver's general manager." We chose Yamir's design because he had all the elements we were looking for: representation of the driver, the state of Colorado, the city of Denver and the Boys & Girls Club."  zzzz

"I'm excited to be a part of the helmet design contest," said Wilson.  "Yamir did a great job on his design, and I'm looking forward to everyone seeing it at the Grand Prix of Denver.  The CDW No. 9 car team and I plan to work hard to bring the car and the helmet to the podium in Denver.  Hopefully, we can turn in a good result for Yamir and everyone at the Boys & Girls Club, as well."

Following the Grand Prix of Denver, Wilson will give his specially designed helmet to the Boys & Girls Clubs, who will then auction off the item at their largest annual fundraising event, the Youth of the Year Gala, on August 26th.

Full ticket pricing options for the Grand Prix of Denver sponsored by Bridgestone race and the Life In The Fast Lane action events are listed at and can be purchased through www.gpdenver.com <http://www.gpdenver.com/> .  Guests can also purchase tickets toll free at 877-772-5425 and at trackside ticket offices during race weekend.

NASCAR using 'funny' TV ads to win over viewers NASCAR using 'funny' TV ads to win over viewersIn much of sports advertising, superpowers sell. Kevin Garnett has been cast as Roman gladiator and intergalactic commando. Bo Jackson was the multisport phenom who could swing bat, club or racket with championship grace. Michael Jordan swished jumpers from atop skyscrapers.

In NASCAR commercials, though, the hook is more Seinfeld than Superman. A sport where success is intertwined with sponsors likes mixing its omnipresent shilling with regular-guy slapstick. Dale Jarrett tries to explain why he can't win the Daytona 500 in a brown delivery truck. Tony Stewart orders a piñata of a rival for swatting at a niece's birthday party. Jamie McMurray slides into a hot tub wearing his fire suit.

"It's not like Nike or Gatorade, where it's about selling performance," said Bob Dorfman, a creative director at Pickett Advertising. "Most NASCAR sponsors have a very tenuous relationship to the sport. Ultimately, there's not a lot to talk about, so with nothing to say, you try to be funny about it. These drivers are more accessible to the public, ... and using that in funny situations, it does create appealing ads."

An influx of big-ticket companies into the Nextel Cup Series has resulted in a rise of big-budget ads featuring drivers in self-deprecating situations. NASCAR's star spokesmen frequently appear in 30- and 60-second Saturday Night Live-style sketches created by high-powered agencies in New York (BBDO, TBWA\ Chiat\Day) and Chicago (Leo Burnett).  zzzz

They don't mind poking fun at themselves to heighten visibility. For a group accustomed to stepping out of cars and rattling off the laundry list of companies necessary to fund a championship team (estimated price tag: $15 million to $20 million annually), all pitch and no play can grow tedious.

"Everybody knows if we're going to do a commercial, they better make it funny or we don't want to do it," Stewart, 35, said.

During the June 25 telecast of the Nextel Cup race in Sonoma, Calif., roughly one of four commercials involved a driver doing something humorous.  More at USA Today

Grand Prix Masters launches 2-seater Grand Prix Masters launches 2-seater
Honda launches new wind tunnel Honda launches new wind tunnelHonda Motor Company today celebrated the launch of its newest facility in the United Kingdom, a state of the art wind tunnel at the Honda Racing F1 Team's Operations Centre in Brackley, Northants. Officially opened in a ceremony hosted by the Rt. Hon. Alistair Darling MP, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, and Shigeru Takagi, President of Honda Motor Europe, the new facility represents further evidence of Honda's commitment, not only to Formula One, but to investment in the UK.

Honda's presence in the UK began over 40 years ago with the creation of Honda UK in London. The company currently has seven locations employing 5500 people throughout the country, with total investment now reaching over 1.3 billion pounds.

For a company synonymous with engineering excellence, Honda recognizes the value of investment in the most up to date infrastructure available. The new facility effectively provides the Honda Racing F1 Team with an in-house 'test track' - a fully automated, fully instrumented testing facility able to accommodate one of the team's full-size RA106 race cars. The tunnel can generate a wind speed of 80 meters per second (the equivalent of 180mph), driven by the 5.3m diameter fan and its 16 rotating and 27 static blades, and is powered by a 2263kW electric three-phase induction motor, generating 43560N.m of torque at 495rpm. The rolling road is also capable of running at 80 meters per second. zzzz

Shigeru Takagi, Chief Operating Officer for Regional Operations (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and President of Honda Motor Europe Ltd. commented: "This facility is a demonstration of our strong commitment to the United Kingdom, to motor sport and to our research and development capability. Our passion for the toughest challenge in motor sport and our desire to become Formula One champions requires a very strong infrastructure and it is with this in mind that we have invested in our new wind tunnel at Brackley.

"This kind of deep commitment to racing is not new to us. It has been a constant throughout Honda's history, simply because we regard racing as an investment in the research and development that drives our future. It is our aim that the same spirit of challenge which goes into making Formula One racing cars should go into every one of the twenty million Honda products we will sell around the world this year.

"I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all our partners and to the citizens of Brackley for their co-operation in allowing us to complete the wind tunnel ahead of schedule."

The Rt. Hon. Alistair Darling MP, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, said: "This impressive new facility shows Britain is still attracting the best engineering and manufacturing in the world. One of the great strengths of the British automotive industry is its ability to evolve and create new opportunities in the face of change. Engineering is the future in Britain.

"The wind tunnel I am opening today is another excellent example of partnership between the best of British and the best of Japanese industrial know-how.

"People don't talk enough about our successful automotive industry. Last year we made 1.6 million cars, not far below the peak in the early 1970s, and nearly twice the number built in the early 1980s." Honda

Foyt hires Bucknum Foyt hires BucknumJeff Bucknum will drive No. 14 ABC Supply Co. Dallara/Honda/Firestone for the remainder of the 2006 IRL IndyCar Series season, team owner A.J. Foyt announced July 12.

Bucknum, the son of former Formula one driver Ronnie Bucknum, will replace Felipe Giaffone, who parted ways with the team on July 10.
Bucknum, who drove twice for Foyt last year at Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen International, will make his first oval track start for Foyt at Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway on July 15.

"We worked with Jeff a couple times last year, and he did a good job for us," Foyt said. "I know he hasn't got much experience on the ovals, but I think he can adapt to them. The next two ovals that we're taking him to are the hardest on the circuit, so if he can adapt to them, I think he can adapt to any oval. By the same token, I'm not expecting miracles. I told him to just go out and get some experience and try to come home clean."

Foyt will not be in Nashville this weekend because he is still recovering from knee replacement surgery. Noted race engineer Bruce Ashmore, who worked with the Foyt team at Indianapolis in May, work with Bucknum at the challenging 1.3 mile concrete track. Ashmore Bucknum, who recorded his career-best finish of 10th with the Foyt team at Watkins Glen in 2005, has made three previous starts on ovals: Japan's Twin Ring Motegi in April 2005 and the last two Indianapolis 500s. He said he is up to the challenge.  zzzz

"I don't have a lack of confidence when it comes to ovals," Bucknum said. "But I'm smart enough to know I need someone to tell me the things that I don't know because of my lack of experience. A.J. is one of the best when it comes to the oval tracks and teaching drivers to run the ovals. This is the best opportunity I could ask for. In the long run I think it will pay off for both of us." 

Bucknum Fact Sheet

Hometown: Pismo Beach, California
Residence: Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
Birthday: July 12, 1966
Height: 5' 8"
Weight: 145 lbs.
Spouse: Suzanne
Children: Spencer, Ashley, Dylan
Hobbies: Surfing, water sports zzzz
Personal: His father Ronnie Bucknum drove race cars in the ‘50s and ‘60s. He drove Honda’s first ever
Formula One entry in the mid-60s (scored points in the 1965 Mexico Grand Prix). The senior
Bucknum competed at Indy and won the inaugural Indy car race at Michigan, the Michigan 250 in
1968. He also finished third in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966, a month before Jeff was born.
Jeff began racing go-karts in high school but spent three years as a professional surfer. He
turned to racing cars in 1992, the year his father passed away. His first car race was at Infineon in
the Skip Barber Series, he became an instructor at Infineon in 1995-96. His 6- year-old son
Spencer has begun racing go-karts.
Career Summary
- Hired to drive A.J. Foyt’s No. 14 ABC Supply Indy car for last half of season. Qualified 22nd and placed 32nd in
Indy 500 driving for Hemelgarn Racing.
- Finished second in LMP2 Class Drivers Championship standings in American Le Mans Series LMP2 class,
driving for Miracle Motorsports with co-driver Chris McMurry.
- Won LMP2 Class races at 12 Hours of Sebring (finishing 12th overall); Lime Rock Park and Road America
- Competed as a rookie as a rookie in four IRL IndyCar Series events: two for A.J. Foyt’s team, placing 10th at
Infineon Raceway and 11th at Watkins Glen International, and two for Dreyer & Reinbold’s team, placing 22nd at
both the Japan Indy 300 and the Indy 500.
- Finished eighth in American Le Mans Series LMP2 class competing for Team Bucknum Racing and Miracle
Motorsports with best finish of second (Laguna Seca). Earned two pole positions (Mid-Ohio and Lime Rock).
- Finished 15th in American Le Mans Series LMP 675 class for Team Bucknum Racing, with best finish of second
- Competed in 24 Hours of Le Mans with Team Bucknum Racing.
- Finished third in American Le Mans Series LMP 675 class for Team Bucknum Racing with three wins (Mid-Ohio,
Trois-Rivières and Mosport).
Bucknum Fact Sheet….2
- Competed at Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona for TRP Racing in an SRII Lola Nissan.
- Finished second in Star Mazda Pro Series for Worldspeed Motor Sports with two wins and 10 podium finishes.
- Finished third in Star Mazda Pro Series for Worldspeed Motor Sports with one win and nine podium finishes.
- Competed in Barber Dodge Pro Series.
- Competed in Barber Dodge Pro Series qualifying on the front row and finishing third in debut at Phoenix and
winning in his seventh start at Mid-Ohio.
- Finished second in the Skip Barber Championship, with multiple wins and podium finishes.
- Selected as one of 10 drivers in the United States to compete in the Barber Dodge Big Scholarship Shootout.
- Began racing career after attending Skip Barber Racing School and won first two Skip Barber Formula Ford

Track News
Mid-Ohio school news Mid-Ohio school newsDUBLIN, Ohio – Motorcycle ownership and ridership are on the rise in Ohio, as are motorcycle-related traffic fatalities.  Together they demonstrate the growing need for comprehensive rider education and training, and a new Ohio riding school is working to meet that need.

The Ohio Department of Transportation reports that Ohio has the third-most motorcycle riders in the nation, and motorcycle sales are growing at about 16 percent annually.  Motorcycle registrations have risen by 22 percent in the state over the past five years, and rising gas prices should drive those numbers even higher.  According to a USA Today article, motorcycle sales have risen eight percent in the first three months of 2006 alone.

Unfortunately, along with the increase in motorcycle riders has come an increase in motorcycle fatalities.  In 2005, 177 motorcyclists died in riding accidents in Ohio, a 33 percent increase over the previous year.  In 73 percent of those cases, the rider was not wearing a helmet.

The combined growth in motorcycle sales and fatalities demonstrate the necessity of quality riding instruction and precipitated the April launch of The Mid-Ohio Motorcycle Riding School, based at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

The school offers two Motorcycle Safety Foundation® courses: the Beginning and Experienced Rider Courses take place in a controlled environment with a focus on safety, proper training and skill exercises.  Other courses offered include Advanced Cornering and Performance Track Riding.  zzzz

“Awareness and proper training are important for all riders and a solution to reducing these unfortunate injury statistics,” said The Mid-Ohio Motorcycle Riding School Director Steve Bidlack.  “About 30,000 Ohioans have a registered motorcycle but do not have the proper license to ride it.  We’re offering them and thousands of new riders a convenient and affordable way to learn safely and ride legally.”

The Mid-Ohio Motorcycle Riding School offers the most comprehensive variety of motorcycle activities in the United State.  All courses include classroom instruction, supervised exercises and individual evaluation with expert rider coaches.

“Our goal is to provide motorcycle riders with programs that allow them to learn and/or hone their skills in a safe environment,” said Bidlack.  “It is a place where riders can come get licensed, get safer, get smarter and get more out of every ride.”

The Mid-Ohio Motorcycle Riding School, which is part of The Mid-Ohio School, also helps alleviate the months-long wait many riders experience to sign up for the state safety courses.

“In many states, the waitlist to receive a motorcycle license is long,” Bidlack said.  “We’re another option for beginning and re-entry riders in Ohio and the surrounding states to learn properly, get licensed more quickly and start enjoying safe motorcycling sooner.”

Enrollment is available through The Mid-Ohio School’s toll-free number (1-877-793-8667) and website (www.midohioschool.com), and programs are affordably priced from $185 to $295.

The Mid-Ohio School provides professional driving and riding instruction to drivers and motorcyclists of all skill levels.  The school’s 20 programs vary from Defensive Driving, Performance Driving and Racing programs on the automobile side, to Beginning, Experienced, Advanced Cornering and Performance Track Riding programs on the motorcycle side.  Students enjoy classroom sessions, skill drills, expert private instruction and lapping on the same track that challenges the world’s top racers.  The Mid-Ohio School has graduated more than 19,000 students since 1993.

Founded in 1981 and headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, TrueSports, Inc. is a privately held motorsports entertainment enterprise.  The company owns and operates Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and The Mid-Ohio School, and promotes a wide variety of motor racing, driver and rider instruction, corporate and family entertainment events throughout the year.

Briatore 'still working on' Alonso successor Briatore 'still working on' Alonso successor(GMM)  Arguably the top seat on the 2007 grid is still yet to be filled.

Heikki Kovalainen, Mark Webber and Kimi Raikkonen appear to be in the running to replace McLaren-bound Fernando Alonso at Renault, but boss Flavio Briatore is still contemplating the identity of Giancarlo Fisichella's new teammate.

The obvious choice is Raikkonen, with the Finn - undisputedly in departing champion Alonso's league - thought to be waiting on Michael Schumacher's plans.

It is also speculated that F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is pushing hard for a Kimi-Renault linkup, which would mean that Raikkonen, Alonso and Schumacher are spread next year among the top-three teams.

''We are still working on our options,'' Briatore was quoted as telling the 'dpa' agency.

The Italian said: ''Renault is a strong team which gives its drivers the chance to become world champion.  We are not under pressure to rush our decision, so we will let everyone know when we do.''

Another pending decision, meanwhile, is the possible prolongation of Briatore's own Renault contract.

Team president Alain Dassas has told Autosprint magazine in Italy that a 'definitive answer' should be forthcoming at Magny Cours.

He added: ''Flavio has our proposals on the table.''

Racing News
SPEED Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking SPEED Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking
Updated 7-12-06
Pos. (LW) Driver (Series) Pts
1. (1) Michael Schumacher (F1) 8.382
2. (2) Fernando Alonso (F1) 8.245
3. (3) Sam Hornish Jr. (IRL) 8.022
4. (5) A.J. Allmendinger (CCWS) 7.994
5. (12) Sebastien Bourdais (CCWS) 7.609
6. (9) Jeff Burton (NASCAR) 7.598
7. (17) Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR) 7.351
8. (11) Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NASCAR) 7.217
9. (8) Kyle Busch (NASCAR) 7.185
10. (NR) Jeff Gordon (NASCAR) 7.070
11. (10) Kevin Harvick (NASCAR) 6.974
12. (7) Kurt Busch (NASCAR) 6.974
13. (24) Justin Wilson (CCWS) 6.943
14. (19) Greg Biffle (NASCAR) 6.800
15. (4) Matt Kenseth (NASCAR) 6.787
16. (13) Denny Hamlin (NASCAR) 6.637
17. (15) Dan Wheldon (IRL) 6.450
18. (18) Scott Dixon (IRL) 6.374
19. (23) Vitor Meira (IRL) 5.938
20. (NR) Brian Vickers (NASCAR) 5.926
Dropped out: Tony Stewart (NASCAR), Jamie McMurray (NASCAR), Ryan Newman (NASCAR), Casey Mears (NASCAR)

Provided by STATS Inc.

Current year results, last 10 races, last five races and last race are factored in equally, with an adjustment factor to compensate for the series different scoring systems. In addition, a competition difficulty factor has been included to balance the competitive depth of each series.

Brumos team switches chassis Brumos team switches chassisBrumos Racing has purchased two Riley Daytona Prototype chassis for Rolex Sports Car Series competition. The Jacksonville, Florida-based team has been competing with Porsche powered Fabcar machines since the inception of the DP class in 2003. However, the team has been winless for nearly three years. 3.8l Porsche engines will continue to power the team's cars.
Petrobras and Cosworth roll out new fuel/engine Petrobras and Cosworth roll out new fuel/engineThis weekend’s French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours will see the WilliamsF1 Team race with an upgraded version of Petrobras’ Formula One fuel, the 17-PodiumF1. The revised product has been developed in association with the team’s engine partner, Cosworth, in order to produce fuel that will compliment the new Series 6.01 engine specification that will also make its debut in France.

Designed by engineers and chemists from the company’s Refineries and the R&D Centre (CENPES), 17-PodiumF1 is derived from Brazilian crude oils and is processed at Petrobras’ refining units. Petrobras has spent a significant amount of time testing its new product on Cosworth’s dynamometers in order to achieve a fuel which maximizes engine performance and track tests have also been performed to enhance power output while reducing fuel consumption. Once the best composition was identified, the new fuel was evaluated over long run tests to assess its effect on the engine in terms of fuel economy, deposit build-up, durability and lubrication.

For Frederico Kremer, Petrobras Manager of Commercial Solutions and Products Development, the new fuel represents a step forward for the company by improving Petrobras’ understanding of the fuel’s properties in relation to its relationship to the engine, “Our engineers and technicians have invested a significant amount of time studying and researching the design of this premium fuel in conjunction with the development of the Cosworth engine,” explains Kremer. "The result of this project has consolidated our knowledge of the formulation of our commercial fuel, as well as some special fuels and other products used in our motorsport programs.” zzzz

The aim of the new product is to increase the power generated by the engine in certain revolution ranges and, at the same time, to improve fuel economy. Other than reducing lap times by precious tenths of seconds and increasing fuel efficiency, the new fuel will additionally help to reduce pit stops times and offer the team’s engineers greater flexibility in terms of race strategy.

While developing the new fuel, Petrobras reinforced their on-going commitment to environmental awareness. 17-PodiumF1 is unleaded and has a very low sulphur content. The new fuel is also free of the highly toxic compound, Benzene. 17-PodiumF1 also contains oxygenated products similar to almost all commercial fuels which are used around the world today.

The partnership between Petrobras and the WilliamsF1 Team commenced in 1998 and is now regarded as one of the most enduring in motorsport. Aside from being an important showcase for the Petrobras brand and technology abroad, Formula One is the ideal laboratory for the development of new products and advanced technology. One key example is Podium fuel which is the most readily available fuel in Brazil and Argentina today, underlining Petrobras’ international strategy and ambition in new markets.

Champ Car assumes partial ownership in Denver Champ Car assumes partial ownership in DenverDespite the financial troubles of the main sponsor of the Grand Prix of Denver, the race will be held in August with the help of the Champ Car World Series.

Centrix Financial struck a deal last week with the series-sanctioning body, and Champ Car is now an ownership partner with Centennial businessman Robert Sutton, Centrix CEO and owner of Sutton International Motorsports.

The deal stems from the business struggles of Centrix, the title sponsor of the 1.65-mile street race around the Pepsi Center since 2003. Last month, Centrix announced it had cut 30 percent of its workforce and was considering backing out of its race sponsorships.

"Centrix came to us and said, 'Work with us this year and help us make sure this race is not affected with (our business problems),"' Champ Car president Dick Eidswick said. "We have agreed to help out. That means we will make sure the marketing dollars get spent the way they're supposed to get spent to have a first-class event."

"Centrix's problems have nothing to do with the race," Champ Car co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven said. "We think it is a very valuable asset and will continue to develop it."  More at Denver Post

Arden announce driver replacement for Magny-Cours Arden announce driver replacement for Magny-CoursFollowing further examinations, Nicolas Lapierre will unfortunately miss his home GP2 race at Magny-Cours this weekend.

Whilst recovering well from the back injuries sustained during the Monaco GP2 race, Nicolas will make his return to the Arden cockpit at Hockenheim on 30 July, on his doctor’s advice.

His place will once again be taken by Scuderia Toro Rosso’s 3rd driver, Neel Jani, who also substituted for the young Frenchman at Silverstone.  Nicolas remains in joint 5th place in the Drivers Championship with Arden lying 2nd in the Team Championship.

Mick Cook commented:
“It is obviously disappointing that Nicolas won’t be able to race for us in Magny-Cours, however we are pleased he’s recovering well and we will look forward to welcoming him back hopefully in Hockenheim.  I am delighted to work with Neel in France where we finished 1st and 3rd  with Heikki and Nicolas last year.”

Industry News
Toyota managers under fire Toyota managers under fireThis Detroit News article talks about the extreme pressure placed upon Toyota quality control managers for covering up a steering problem in the 1990's.  Compare that to the USA car companies where a quality control problem results in recalls all the time and no one thinks twice about it.  Just another example of the Japanese holding someone responsible for failure, whereas in the USA the labor unions (the downfall of the USA automotive industry) protect them.
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Montoya to get early NASCAR start
BMW to race vertical wings in France
Yamamoto set for Hockenheim debut
Honda not ready to win - Barrichello
Mosley wants 'fighting fund' for engine makers
Toyota test F1 car indoors
Kenseth gets 'wrecked' again Kenseth gets 'wrecked' againForgive Matt Kenseth for thinking his rental car got tapped by another NASCAR driver.

No, it wasn't Jeff Gordon following him to the track. Nor was it Kenseth's other suspect, teammate Greg Biffle. This time, Kenseth was done in by a complete novice.

``On the way to the racetrack, I got ran into by a student driver. That was the start of my morning,'' Kenseth said, shaking his head after arriving at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for testing Monday. ``They wanted to stop and fix it. I didn't care whether the bumper was laying on the ground or not, it was a rental.''  More at AP article

Industry News
Delphi's final '05 red ink report Delphi's final '05 red ink reportAfter delaying its annual report for months, Delphi Corp. reported Tuesday a $2.4-billion loss for 2005 and gave a lengthy warning that it may be forced to sell its assets if it can't fix its problems in bankruptcy court.  The big annual loss was about half as much as the Troy-based supplier lost in 2004.
Rahal team reeling Rahal team reelingThis USA Today article talks about the woes of the Rahal Letterman Racing team over the past two seasons.  The team's last victory was Rice's at Michigan International Speedway in August 2004. RLR's best finish this year was fourth by Rice at Watkins Glen International last month, and the team hasn't had a top-three finish since former driver Vitor Meira took third at California Speedway in October.

A chassis change seems like a minor inconvenience compared with some of the other adversity the team has endured this season. RLR driver Paul Dana was killed before the season-opening race during a practice session, and the team plodded along most of the season without COO Scott Roembke, who has been ill. Team co-owner Bobby Rahal has seen more limited time with the team as he follows the racing career of his son, Graham, who races throughout North America on the Champ Car Atlantic circuit.

"He's a proud father, and his son is doing really well. I respect that," Patrick said. "Unfortunately, the team needs a leader, and we need the team to stay upbeat. Us drivers are doing the best we can, and the guys (in the shop) are working hard day in, day out."

Racing News
Quotes of the week Quotes of the weekUPDATE #2
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, F1 driver (soon to be NASCAR driver)
"In Formula One, when you touch wheels, you’re an animal. Ask anybody. Every time I race with anybody – and I don’t want to downplay Formula One at all because it’s a great sport as well – but the close racing is so good (in NASCAR) that it really caught my attention.  I think it’s just the close racing. And, generally just how clean all the drivers are and how much they respect each other. You can be driving a car at 200 mph, with another car two to three inches off of you all the way around the track. It really got my attention."
"I think what happened at Indy (USGP) was just a racing incident. We try to run as close as we can to try and make up positions – and we all just got together. It was just one of those things. If somebody wants to blame me for the incident, then blame me. I don’t care – you know what I mean. I’m out there to race. That didn’t have anything to do with my future, to be honest."  (Referring to the curious McLaren-Mercedes press release that said, 'No, the crash didn't have anything to do with Juan's future')

"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 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. 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."

Mike Helton 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."

CHIP GANASSI, NASCAR, IRL and Grand-Am team owner
''He said, 'I want to get back to racing','' said Ganassi, who farewelled the former CART champion at the end of 2000 as he started a six-year stint in F1.  ''The guy loves racing.  And what better place than here?''  Ganassi added that Montoya, who has signed a multi-year contract, could make his debut in the Busch Series later this year.  He will then race full time in NASCAR.  ''He's bound by contract until the end of the Formula One season.  We have some opportunities to do some things after that,'' Ganassi explained.  (Referring to the announcement that Juan Pablo Montoya will leave McLaren and Formula One to race in NASCAR full time starting in 2007 for his former CART boss Chip Ganassi)

"It's a long time ago I picked up a teammate and threw him up in the air," Schumacher said. "There are many reasons for that. First of all, we're getting on very well together. He's really a special teammate, I have to say, for many ways, for his speed, for his character and the way we work together in the team. Plus he's so light - it's easy. Last year, I would have struggled to pick up (former teammate) Rubens (Barrichello.)"  (Referring to celebrating Ferrari's 1-2 finish with teammate Felipe Massa at the USGP)

"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."  (Referring to the accident at the Grand Prix of Cleveland where Paul Tracy drove over Sebastien's head)
"Every time there is an incident, he's somewhere around. It's just a fact," said Bourdais of 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.  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.  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."  (Referring to the accident at the Grand Prix of Cleveland where Paul Tracy left tire tracks on Sebastien's helmet)
PAUL TRACY, Champ Car driver
"I've got a good race car.  My car is fast on old tires.  We're right there; we're not far away.  We're starting fourth.  Our hope is we get through the first corner.  As long as Bourdais doesn't cry tears all over my tires and make them wet and I slide out, well be OK."  (Referring to the start of the Molson Grand Prix of Toronto where Bourdais and Tracy will line up side by side, 3rd and 4th, in the second row)
NASCAR drivers remain country folk at heart.  Said journeyman Morgan Shepherd to NASCAR Illustrated, when asked what he likes most about getting away from it all on his motorcycle: "Probably going down the road and smelling all the different smells, such as honeysuckle and cow manure....That's so relaxing."

Katherine Legge’s Champ Car debut car Katherine Legge’s Champ Car debut carGary Pino, President and CEO of Chapparrel's Diecast http://www.chapparrelsdiecast.com writes to say their latest project was to create a special replica diecast of Katherine Legge's Long Beach car - her Champ Car debut.


Q and A with Bill Elliott Q and A with Bill Elliott
Industry News
IRL barking up wrong tree with Ethanol IRL barking up wrong tree with Ethanol
Edwards Scheduled to Run 600 Laps Edwards Scheduled to Run 600 LapsCONCORD, N.C. - Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion is looking forward to a triple-duty weekend in New Hampshire.  Aside from running his normal Cup and Busch schedule this weekend, Edwards is scheduled to run in Saturday's Whelen Modified race.  With running all three races, Edwards will log 600 laps and more than 634 miles around the 1.058-mile speedway.

Racing is what Edwards does and it seems he cannot get enough.  Before arriving in New Hampshire, Edwards will compete in a 100-lap shootout at a local dirt track in Middletown, N.Y.  Once in New Hampshire, Edwards will prepare for three races; Sunday's Cup race and two races on Saturday.  On Saturday afternoon, Edwards will run a Ford Mustang in the Whelen Modified race scheduled for a 1:10 p.m. start.  Following the Modified race, Edwards will move to his Ameriquest Ford Fusion to compete in the Busch series race, with a scheduled start of 3:00 p.m.  On Sunday, Edwards will turn another 300 laps around the New Hampshire International Speedway for the running of the LENOX Industrial Tools 300. zzzz

The last time this feat was accomplished was in 1996, when Steve Park completed 631 laps in a two day span (September 7-8).

Edwards hopes the extra laps around New Hampshire International Speedway will help him prepare for Sunday's Nextel Cup race.  Edwards is currently 14th in the point standings and 193 points out of 10th place.

"It's going to be an awesome weekend," said Edwards.  "I love racing, so this will be as good as it gets for me.  I have been working with my trainer at Carmichael Training Systems and he was just telling me what I need to do this week to be prepared for this weekend.  I am really excited to see how I feel after these three races.  I am also running at the dirt track on Thursday night, so this is going to be awesome weekend for me."

"I think it's great that Carl has decided to add the Modified race to his normal Busch and Cup Series schedules this weekend," said Bob Bahre, NHIS Chairman.  "I have met Carl, and I know that he definitely has the stamina to run 600 laps in two days.  He should have a great handle on the track and which grooves to run in the LENOX Industrial Tools 300."

Rain washes out Day 2 of Indy testing Rain washes out Day 2 of Indy testingPersistent rain doused the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 11, washing out the scheduled second day of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series testing at the famous 2.5-mile oval.

Due to the lack of track time for the teams preparing for the 13th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Sunday, Aug. 6, NASCAR and IMS officials have extended the testing schedule for Wednesday, July 12 to 8 a.m.-6 p.m. (ET), with a one-hour lunch break from noon-1 p.m.

Forty-two drivers are scheduled to test Wednesday. Right, Ryan Newman goes fishing while waiting for the rain to stop.  Photo by Ron McQueeney/IMS

Thirty-nine drivers turned laps in testing July 10, with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon posting the three-fastest speeds, respectively. NEXTEL Cup points leader Jimmie Johnson and his teammate Jeff Gordon, the only four-time Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner, were among the additional drivers scheduled to join testing July 11. zzzz

Instead, drivers spent the day relaxing, visiting the IMS Hall of Fame Museum or watching rain fall from the cover of their team transporters.

One driver eagerly awaiting the chance to test was Tony Raines. A native of LaPorte, Ind., Raines will drive the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet at IMS for the new Hall of Fame Racing team, co-owned by NFL legends Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman.

Raines wants to do well for the new team at one of NASCAR's biggest annual events, in front of a crowd gathered less than three hours from his hometown.

"If there is one racetrack you want to run really good at, this would be it for me," Raines said. "Hopefully we can do that."

Raines echoed the sentiments of many drivers and teams that came to Indianapolis with a large testing "to do" list.

"It's certainly very disappointing," Raines said of the rainout. "Being in the top 35, when you get here we know we'll race, but being in the race and racing are two different things. We'd like to get some track time tomorrow and get this thing going, so we know we'll have a good race that August weekend.

"We had some things we wanted to try today just to see how they'd affect the car, then tomorrow we were going to work on getting the car as fast as possible. We had a two-step program, so now we may have to condense it into one day or just skip that first part. We've got two cars, so we need to figure out which car will be faster here, and then make that car better yet. We'll have a lot of work to do in a short period of time tomorrow."

July 12 is scheduled to be the final day of on-track activity at IMS for NEXTEL Cup Series drivers until they begin practice for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Friday, Aug. 4.

Fans are welcome to view the testing for free July 12 from the South Terrace grandstands, located inside the track between Turns 1 and 2.

Marijuana found in Carmelo Anthony's car Marijuana found in Carmelo Anthony's carLOCHBUIE, Colo. -- Police found marijuana in IRL team owner Carmelo Anthony's car during a traffic stop, but the Denver Nuggets star wasn't in the vehicle at the time, officers said Tuesday. Anthony and team officials refused to comment. Anthony is set to sign an $80 million, five-year contract extension on Wednesday.

Police said Tyler Brandon Smith, who identified himself as Anthony's friend and roommate, was pulled over late Sunday in this small town 20 miles northeast of Denver and cited for marijuana possession and three traffic infractions.

Dickson learning ropes, chasing dreams with RLR Dickson learning ropes, chasing dreams with RLRWhen IndyCar Series teams arrive at the track for a race weekend, one of the first duties on the list is to set up their respective pit areas.
Each team has a crew member responsible for such a task. In the case of Rahal Letterman Racing that crew member is Brandon Dickson.

"Mainly, I make sure that the pits are stocked and everything is ready to go," Dickson said. "I set up all of the pit equipment. This includes the timing stand, where our engineers and the Honda engineers will have all of their data available to them. I also set up the fuel rig. I set up all of the nitrogen bottles, which enable us to change the tires with the air gun and also provides the ability to use the air jack on the car. I make sure that the tires are ready to go for when the team wants to practice as well."

The 24 year-old native of Hilliard, Ohio is cut from some very unique racing cloth. zzzz

His uncle, Larry Dickson, raced at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the late 1960's and early 1970's, and his father, Steve Dickson, is the team manager for Rahal-Letterman Racing.

"(Racing) has been in my family for generation after generation," Brandon Dickson said. "I just kind of grew up going to dirt tracks and watching sprint cars. Along the way, you meet the right people and kind of fall into this business."

Dickson has been with Rahal Letterman Racing team for four years. In that time, he's taken on many duties, including stints in hospitality, the composite shop, and most recently, the transporter driver for the No. 17 Team Ethanol-sponsored, Honda-powered Dallara of rookie Jeff Simmons.

This season, has also brought an added role. Dickson was named as a tire changer for Danica Patrick's No. 16 Team Argent car, a new role that Dickson cherishes.

"It's always been a dream of mine to change tires on an IndyCar (Series car)," Dickson said. "To be able to do that with Danica Patrick is really neat. With all of the media frenzy that follows her, it's really a cool thing to get to do."

Looking forward, Dickson hopes to move into a management role someday with an IndyCar Series team. He knows that in order to make it to the next level however, he'll continue to face challenges along the way.

"Year to year you have so many different hats that get thrown on your head," he said. "Last year, I worked in marketing and hospitality and dealt with all of the sponsors. This year, I'm going totally opposite of that, so it's just learning new things and trying to keep up with the pace. You just have to stay on everyone's heels and get things done when people need them. IRL

Richmond sells out again Richmond sells out againRichmond International Raceway officials announced that tickets for the Sept. 9 Chevy Rock & Roll 400 Nextel Cup race have sold out.  This is the 30th consecutive NASCAR Cup series the track has sold out, a streak that stretches over 15 years. According to ISC filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Richmond has 105,000 grandstand seats.  "The sellout streak, which is unrivaled in NASCAR, proves that we have the greatest, most dedicated fans in the sport," track President Doug Fitz said in a news release.
Solar cars to complement Champ Car in Montreal Solar cars to complement Champ Car in MontrealBesides CASCAR and Atlantics, this year's Champ Car race in Montreal will feature a solar car demonstration.  This Montreal Gazette article gives more details.
Montoya quotes on Wind Tunnel Montoya quotes on Wind TunnelDave Despain interviewed Juan Pablo Montoya after his press conference during this weekend’s NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway. Montoya will join Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates next year, replacing Casey Mears in the No. 42 Dodge NASCAR Nextel Cup Series entry.

Montoya’s announcement has reverberated throughout the racing world. He will become the first driver to move full time into Nextel Cup Series competition from the Formula One World Championship – and Wind Tunnel was there to chronicle it for SPEED.

Here is what Montoya told Despain:

Despain: I spoke with Juan Pablo Montoya after his press conference, and before he headed back to Europe. I wanted to start with the issue of the contract with new employer Chip Ganassi. How long is the contract?

Montoya: It’s multi year.

Despain: I would assume its multi year because it’s going to take some time for you to get a handle on it. Where I’m going with it is, what are your goals?

Montoya: Here is what I told Chip (Ganassi). We needed to commit because I was going to swap from Formula One to NASCAR, and I know I’m not going to perform in my first year. Now, yes, I will have some success in two or three races or so, but generally, it’s going to be a tough season. We’re all going to be learning and there’s going to be mistakes made by me. I know that’s going to be part of it. That’s why it’s a multi-year deal. zzzz

Despain: One, two, three races you said in the first year. Meaning what? One, two or three races you could win? Run out front or what?

Montoya: Well, I’m sure when we go to the road courses we should do pretty well, or at least I hope so. I think I have more road course experience than any other driver here (in NASCAR). And I think going to a road course race, people will expect me to do well. We’ll see. At the same time, this is a different deal and different ballpark and it’s a different car – even though it’s going left and right.

Despain: You have had experience driving a stock car in Tradin’ Paint on SPEED. What do you think will be the most difficult thing to learn in order for you to be successful in these heavy, under-tired cars?

Montoya: I will need to learn the limits of the car…learning to time your self and slow your self down. I’m used to cars with a lot of grip and a lot of tire and you have your foot to the ground. In these cars (Nextel Cup), I think timing is very important and it’s a lot about the tires and being able to hook up with the tires. In a way, I think (NASCAR) racing is very technical. It’s very competitive. One week you can be running in the top 10, the next week your 30th and you don’t even know why. NASCAR by itself is such a big challenge. It makes it exciting.

Despain: It caught my attention this morning when you said, ‘In Formula One, when you touch wheels, you’re an animal.’

Montoya: Ask anybody. Every time I race with anybody – and I don’t want to downplay Formula One at all because it’s a great sport as well – but the close racing is so good (in NASCAR) that it really caught my attention.

Despain: Do you watch it on TV? You know in NASCAR, if you don’t bump wheels you’re going to get left behind. What appeals to you most when you watch this form of racing? What are you eager to do?

Montoya: I think it’s just the close racing. And, generally just how clean all the drivers are and how much they respect each other. You can be driving a car at 200 mph, with another car two to three inches off of you all the way around the track. It really got my attention.

Despain: Let me ask you about Indianapolis. When the team feels compelled to put out a press release saying, ‘no, the crash didn’t have anything to do with Juan’s future,’ we suspicious reporters immediately think there’s something behind that. What is your reaction to what happened at Indy? And what was your team’s (McLaren-Mercedes) reaction to what happened?

Montoya: I think what happened at Indy was just a racing incident. We try to run as close as we can to try and make up positions – and we all just got together. It was just one of those things. If somebody wants to blame me for the incident, then blame me. I don’t care – you know what I mean. I’m out there to race. That didn’t have anything to do with my future, to be honest.

Despain: What about Formula One just doesn’t fit with your lifestyle?

Montoya: I think Formula One has been great to me. I’ve had six-straight years there. In looking at the future and how many more years I had there – and I did have chances to stay in Formula One and everything – but when looking at my future, I would have a better future in coming here and this challenge. And it’s a challenge I can look at for another 10 to 15 years. I love living in the States. I’ve been living in Europe the last six years, but I still have a place in Miami and a lot of my family lives in Miami. Everything works really well.

The wheels of Montoya’s move to NASCAR may have been put into motion on SPEED back in June of 2003 in the network special, Tradin’ Paint. The Colombian Formula One star, and then driver for Frank Williams’ factory BMW operation, swapped vehicles with Jeff Gordon and his Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet NASCAR Nextel Cup Series entry at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

On Friday night, July 14, SPEED will once again air Tradin’ Paint at 10:30 pm ET, immediately following a replay of Nextel Cup Series qualifying from New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon.

Montagny retains Aguri seat for Magny Cours Montagny retains Aguri seat for Magny Cours(GMM)  Franck Montagny will contest his home grand prix at Magny Cours this weekend, despite earlier suggestions that his Super Aguri race ride could be in doubt.

Undoubtedly, new 'Friday' Sakon Yamamoto is being groomed for the role alongside Takuma Sato, but team chief Aguri Suzuki admits that the Japanese rookie is not quite ready for the F1 grid.

''Sakon has made a good start,'' Suzuki was quoted as saying by Motorsport Aktuell, ''but he needs more experience.

''We do not want a repeat of the (Yuji) Ide situation and, besides, we do not want to rob Montagny of his home race.''

Open-wheel racing in trouble Open-wheel racing in troubleA news conference was not called. The media did not assemble. Tears were not shed. It was not an official pronouncement.

But it is true: Open-wheel racing in the United States gasped its final breath last weekend.

It did, at least, as any semblance of a major sport. Just read between the latest headlines:

"Patrick Reportedly Interested in Move to Nextel Cup"

"Montoya Leaving F1 for NASCAR"

Patrick is Danica, of course, the hottest name in what is left of open-wheel racing in this country despite the fact that she hasn't accomplished anything except look better than all the guys while leading a lap last year at Indy.

Montoya is Juan Pablo, a CART champion, Indy 500 winner and Formula One driver who, with roots in Colombia, has a fan base that covers North and South America and stretches into Europe.

NASCAR doesn't need either. But without them, the Indy Racing League and CART, now known as Champ Car, may as well be out of gas. They're about to become as relevant here as camel racing. It is too late for IRL head Tony George and Champ Car lead owner Kevin Kalkhoven to see their reported ownership-sharing agreement through to a reuniting of open wheel racing in this country, which split 10 years ago into the two leagues George and Kalkhoven now represent. They may as well just meet to plan a fire sale.

What NASCAR is about to pull off is proof that the break up of open wheel racing in this country in 1996 was one of the dumbest decisions ever in American sports business history.  More at Dallas Morning News

[Editor's Note: As we have stated on numerous occasions, the IRL/Champ Car merger has to happen NOW, not later, or you may as well order the flowers and plan the funeral for the sport of Indy Car Racing.  In its weakened state, all popular drivers will forego open wheel racing and go for the NASCAR or F1 money. ]

Marco has no interest in NASCAR now Marco has no interest in NASCAR nowMarco Andretti doesn't care much about Juan Pablo Montoya's impending move to NASCAR, and he's in no hurry to see the Formula One world the way his grandfather and father did.

"I'm 19 years old, I drive Indy cars. . . . I'm happy," Andretti said.

That's what the third-generation open-wheel star was doing Monday, driving his Andretti Green Racing Dallara-Honda at the Milwaukee Mile in preparation for the Indy Racing League ABC Supply / A.J. Foyt 225 on July 23.

Marco would seem to have the potential to try Formula One, Norbert Haug, vice president of Mercedes-Benz motorsports, said recently, but he'd have to get serious soon about racing in the European junior formulas.

Mario, the 1969 Indy winner and 1978 Formula One champion, has pointed Marco in that direction for years. Meanwhile, Michael had a miserable partial season in Europe in 1993 and would like to keep his son on his team to win the Indy 500 as Michael never did.

For the time being, anyway, the younger Andretti is content to follow his father while keeping Europe in the back of his mind. He'd like to try it, but he knows that if he went now, he'd be distracted by the lure of Indy.

"If I go over there, it's not going to be a 15-year deal. I need to figure out how to do it," Andretti said. "Timing is huge over there to try make things work. It has to be right, and that's the only way I would do it."

But what about the NASCAR option?

Mario won the 1967 Daytona 500 in his limited NASCAR run. Stock cars have become the preferred destination for young American racers, and for at least one Colombian, too. Montoya, the 2000 Indy winner and a seven-time grand prix winner, showed that Sunday, when he announced he'd leave F1 to join Chip Ganassi's Nextel Cup team.

But it's not a real option for Andretti now. He's having too much fun driving Indy cars.

"Yeah, it's fine," he said. "That's probably where I want to be when I'm at the end of my career. I wouldn't say (Montoya is) at the end of his career at all, but when I have no other options, that's what I definitely would do is go there for the money."  More at Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Montoya and Hispanics Montoya and HispanicsMaybe one day somebody will explain to the boys at NASCAR that "Hispanic" is not a Race or Language or even a Nationality. Montoya is Colombian. What makes them think that Mexicans will embrace him as one of their own?

For example, in Miami, one of the largest so called "Hispanic" markets, the Montoya story was a couple of lines buried in the back pages of the Sports Section. Why? Because Cubans, Venezuelans, Brazilians, Ecuadorians, Peruvians, Mexicans, Argentineans, Chileans and Nicaraguans could care less about a Colombian Race Car driver.

BTW, Adrian Fernandez, Mexico's most beloved driver, really did wonders for NASCAR south of the border. Didn't he?

Industry News
GM joint venture takes lead in China GM joint venture takes lead in ChinaSHANGHAI, China -- Auto sales in China rose nearly 50 percent in the first half of this year, with General Motors taking the lead, according to industry data reported Monday.

The data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers showed total sales in the first half at 1.8 million units, up 46.9 percent from the same period of 2005.

Shanghai GM, General Motors Corp.'s joint venture with state-owned Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corp., or SAIC, nudged aside former market leader FAW Volkswagen, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Recent data have shown a continued revival in sales following a slump in early 2004. Vehicle sales rose 21 percent in 2005, up from 15 percent in 2004.

The report gave no sales figures for individual automakers. However, GM earlier reported that its sales at Shanghai GM had jumped 49 percent in the first half from a year ago to 201,901, helped by the popularity of its best-selling sedan, the Excelle.

Next was Shanghai Volkswagen Co., Volkswagen AG's venture with SAIC, the Xinhua report said, followed by FAW Volkswagen, domestic maker Chery Automobile Co., Beijing Hyundai Motor Co., Tianjin FAW Toyota Automobile Co., Tianjin-FAW Xiali Automobile Co., local maker Geely Automobile Co., Guangzhou Honda Automobile Co. and Dongfeng Peugeot Citroen Automobile Co., the report said.  More at Detroit News

McLaren replaces Montoya McLaren replaces MontoyaWoking, Great Britain - Team McLaren Mercedes and Juan Pablo Montoya have mutually agreed for him to step down in the forthcoming races of this year's Formula 1 World Championship. The team has decided that Pedro de la Rosa will join Kimi Raikkonen in the race driver line-up.

Juan Pablo has been an energetic member of the team since 2005, but will now spend the next few months based in Miami with his family and wife Connie who is expecting their second child in September. Following his agreement with Chip Ganassi Racing for next year, Juan Pablo will also be making initial preparations for his debut in a Chrysler Dodge NASCAR.

Pedro will make his second race appearance for the team following a thrilling points scoring debut in the 2005 Bahrain Grand Prix.

"Juan Pablo is an exciting driver and immensely likeable character who will undoubtedly make a successful transition to the NASCAR scene," said Ron Dennis, CEO and Chairman of the McLaren Group. "We have agreed that with so many things happening in Juan Pablo's life right now, he should take some time out of the car and prepare professionally and personally for the future."  zzzz

"We believe that Juan Pablo's decision to move to NASCAR is very important for him professionally and we will give him every support to ensure that it is a successful transition," said Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport.

"I know that it will be a tough transition but I'm really excited about the opportunity to move into the NASCAR championship," said Juan Pablo Montoya. "I have enjoyed most of my time in Formula 1 and I'm grateful for this opportunity to settle my personal life and concentrate on my future career."

"I'm of course extremely thrilled to have this opportunity to race the MP4-21 – a car in which I'm really comfortable," said Pedro de la Rosa. "I know the MP4-21 better than anyone else and I'm confident that I can achieve important World Championship points for the team." McLaren

A lap of Magny Cours with Kimi Raikkonen A lap of Magny Cours with Kimi RaikkonenMcLaren racer Kimi Raikkonen describes a lap around Magny Cours

“A burst of acceleration along the short pit straight at Magny Cours sees you reach 298km/h in sixth gear on the approach to Grand Courbe, before dabbing the brakes slightly to take the flat out long left hander. The sweeping right hander of Estoril follows immediately, and you must keep as much speed as possible as the corner swings you round 180-degrees onto the longest and fastest section of the track, Golf.”

“Powering along the back straight, which has a gentle curve to the right, you reach speeds of 306km/h in sixth gear before braking hard for the Adelaide hairpin, which is a good overtaking opportunity. A first gear right hander, you pull some 1.6g as you slow to 58km/h to negotiate the tight bend. You push hard on the throttle as you exit, reaching 290km/h in sixth gear along the straight, through the slight right kink, before dabbing the brakes for the fast Nürburgring chicane. You take the right-left weave at some 232km/h in fifth.”

“Flicking up through the gears, you briefly touch 260km/h in fifth gear on the approach to the second hairpin. Wider than Adelaide, and therefore slightly quicker, the 180-degree left hander is taken at 84km/h in second gear. On the power on the exit through another right-left weave, you reach 296km/h in sixth on the approach to the fast fourth gear Imola chicane. The track dips as you take the right-left chicane at 228km/h.”

“A short burst of acceleration takes you to the Château d'Eau, the long right hander, which has been altered slightly, sees you slow from 237km/h in fifth to 101km/h in second. Accelerating out you reach 310km/h along the new approach to Lycée, which has a gentle curve to the left. We will have to brake hard for the sharp right of Lycée, which is taken at 71km/h in first, and leads back onto the start-finish straight, through a right-left kink, to begin another lap.”

Floods wash out Team Penske shop Floods wash out Team Penske shopUPDATE Two weeks ago, Penske Racing's facility in Reading, PA was flooded with four feet of water from the Schuylkill River and the race shop was rendered uninhabitable. The race equipment was saved after the Team departed for the Kansas Lottery Indy 300 a day ahead of schedule in order to beat the bulk of the flooding. However much of the equipment used in the shop was lost due to water damage. The Team has since moved its operations to its REI (Racing Experience Inc.) facility in nearby Exeter, PA.

For the first two days, Penske Racing cohabitated with the REI personnel sharing work space. However, over the course of the past week, the Team has set up its own infrastructure within the REI facility and is now working independently. Penske Racing is outfitted with four work bays and preexisting office space. The Team had storage/office space in a building adjacent to REI's main facility that they converted into their current headquarters and subassembly work area. What was previously housed in that space has been sent to Penske Restoration in Detroit to make room for the operation.

"Hats off to Jerry Breon (facilities manager), Mark Stewart (IT) as well as the entire Team," said Marlboro Team Penske Team Manager Tom Wurtz. "We've all got desks, we're connected and we're running at 100%. Obviously, things have changed as far as our surroundings and working environment, but other than that it's business as usual. We've had to adapt to our new facility over the past week, but things are moving forward and coming along nicely." Marlboro Team Penske

07/07/06 Marlboro Team Penske lost its Reading, Pa. Indy Car facility due to recent flooding in southeastern Pennsylvania. Rumors suggest the team will work out of temporary facilities in PA or may work out of their NASCAR facility in Mooresville, North Carolina, which is where the team was going to move their IRL team next year anyway, so now they may move there sooner than expected..
Martin’s ’07 plans still up in air Martin’s ’07 plans still up in airMark Martin, who was expected to retire from racing full-time in Nextel Cup after this year, says that he hasn't determined his schedule for next season yet and could be interested in running more Nextel Cup races.

Asked about his goals for his final season during a teleconference from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Martin offered this answer Monday.

"I haven't made the final determination on what [the] 2007 race schedule is going to look like for me," he said. "Roush Racing hasn't presented me with the truck contract yet, although if they would have I would have signed it and that would be done. I know what they're doing and so I would consider doing a limited Cup schedule if it was with the right team and if I did so, to answer your question, the Brickyard would be on that, the Daytona 500 would be on that, races like Michigan and Dover and some of those races that might be in conjunction with the truck racing or whatever.

"That's why, last year I said I learned never to say never, so I'm not saying this is my last year on Cup, I'm not even saying this is my last - I'm not saying anything, if you get my drift. I'm waiting. Right now I'm focused on trying to make the Chase so that if we do that maybe we can have another chance to contend for a championship and somewhere along that line things will really fall into place.

"Silly season in 2006 is going to be the craziest in NASCAR history. I think we already see that. We've got Juan Montoya coming. That's just the start. It is going to be the craziest silly season I think you've ever seen. Experienced drivers are really hot commodities right now, guys that can get it done, and it's going to be a really interesting fall."

NASCAR Busch crew member arrested NASCAR Busch crew member arrestedA crew member for a NASCAR Busch Series team was arrested Saturday morning at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport after an alleged confrontation with a crew member from another team.

Gregg Edward Pasi, 43, who served as jackman for Team Rensi Motorsports No. 35 team, was charged with simple assault and battery, a misdemeanor offense. He was released on $1,000 secured bond.

According to officer David Strickland of the airport police, city police were called to the Wilson Air Center - the charter section of Douglas airport to investigate "some type of disturbance."  zzzz

Pasi was arrested for allegedly punching Shannon Myers, whom Strickland said had a cut on his head. Myers is a tire changer for Robert Yates Racing's No. 90 team.

Pasi was scheduled to appear in Mecklenburg County District Court on Monday.

A spokesman for Team Rensi Motorsports said Pasi was a contract, weekend-only employee with the team and was immediately fired.

"We do not condone that activity, and we have taken appropriate measures," spokesman Charlie Roakes said. "He will no longer be used by Team Rensi Motorsports."  More at Scenedaily.com

Q and A with Midland’s Colin Kolles Q and A with Midland’s Colin KollesLike the deceptively fast V8-powered cars brought in for 2006, the season seems to be going by much more quickly than expected. The two North American races have taken us past the half way mark, and there are now just eight races to go. Although everyone at MF1 Racing is naturally frustrated at letting some good point-scoring opportunities slip away, the good news for the team is that the M16 package is clearly getting better.

For example, even carrying serious bodywork damage after his early contact at the U.S. Grand Prix, Christijan Albers’ best lap was only 0.001s slower than that of David Coulthard, who finished seventh. And had he been able to run beyond half distance before the damage stopped him, Christijan might have been even quicker.

With an eye toward the remaining races, Colin Kolles was asked for his thoughts on the season so far...

How hard were things at the beginning of the season, especially with the problems getting off the line?
The first few races were difficult, to be honest, but now it seems to be quite stable. Our reliability seems to be fine, so the engineers can concentrate on making the cars quicker.

So are things going better now?
I think that we are improving a little bit. The gap to the cars in front of us is getting smaller, and it’s becoming more and more obvious to everybody. We’ve proved since Imola that the gap is getting smaller. We’re not 4.5 seconds away from the frontrunners anymore; we are maybe 1.8s-2.0s off the pace. And to the mid-field cars that are our direct competitors, it’s a matter of a few tenths. In the last few races, we've been quicker than Red Bull, so we are making progress, and that’s positive. zzzz

Was seeing Tiago get into the top 16 qualifiers for the first time at Silverstone a highlight?
This is what we expect every weekend, so it was not a highlight for me. It was actually a disappointment, because we could have been in the top 16 with both cars! The problem was that Christian missed getting his lap in by five seconds.

What about getting both cars through at Indy?
Again, I’m satisfied in that it shows we are closing the gap, but there’s still nothing to celebrate. We had some chances to achieve this at previous races, but we were a little bit unlucky with circumstances. I think we should always be able to be in the top 16. We just have to work hard to keep closing the gap and catch up.

At Indy, they both got their timing right and did their laps right at the end of the session…
It shows that we are learning every day, and that the team is confident. That’s important. There are teams out there that are not as confident as we are.

How hard is it to make progress with the budget that you have to spend?
I think that we have one of the most efficient teams, and I’m very proud of the people working for us and the job they do. Pound for pound, we are extremely effective.

The two cars collided off the line in Monaco, and afterwards you said they could have been in the points. Is that a major regret?
I never look back, so it's no longer an issue for me, to be honest. At the time, yes, it was annoying, but not to the point where I couldn’t sleep! Sure, it was possible to for us to get some points there, so we may have lost some, basically. But for me, as long as we keep moving forward, it’s positive.

Isn’t the problem that everyone else is continuing to develop and improve their cars as well?
Yes, it's true, nobody in F1 is standing still, but obviously we are closing the gap quicker than the others are moving forward - at least the ones immediately in front of us. As long as we continue to make gains like this, it’s fine. In Canada, Williams was one-and-a-half tenths away, and the rest of the cars were only a few tenths away. We know that we have improvements coming in the wind tunnel, and we’ll bring them in race by race.

Indy is a bit of a one-off circuit. What can the team expect to achieve in Magny-Cours?
Hopefully, a better result. It’s definitely a circuit that suits our car. We’ll have some new components with us which should help keep us ahead of the teams we overtook last time.

What’s the latest news on your engine plans for next year?
The latest is that we have no problems in this respect. We have enough options, and we have very good options.

Could there be a driver as part of a deal?
We take a lot of drivers with deals, so we don’t exactly need manufacturers to bring us drivers. I think we have enough internal knowledge to find good drivers ourselves.

But you wouldn’t rule out taking a driver who came with an engine deal?
We are not against it as a matter of principle. So, yes, we are open to this, too.

Finally, it’s now been a year since Tiago finished on the podium at Indianapolis. How do you feel about that achievement now and what it did for the team?
We lost money, actually, because we had to pay bonuses to the drivers and the entire factory, so it was quite an expensive exercise and an expensive trophy! But still, it was nice… In fact, we would be very happy to see everyone at MF1 earn more prize bonuses in the future. MF1

Feedback on CDW article Feedback on CDW articleA reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Good interview with Bruce Delahorne. I wrote CDW when RuSPORT announced sponsorship of Justin Wilson's #9 car. I wrote to tell them that as a Network Administrator and Champ Car fan I would be placing orders for IT equipment with CDW whenever possible. Mr. Delahorne was eventually forwarded the email and he wrote to me personally, thanked me, and sent me a Justin Wilson poster. And guess what? We order from CDW now, their prices are on par with anyone's, and I feel like I'm doing my part to support my favorite racing series. That's how it's supposed to work, right? Thanks again, Patrick Harte

Another writes, Dear AutoRacing1, Read the interview with Bruce Delahorne. It was good to hear that CDW is doing more with their sponsorship than just slapping their decal on the side of the car. I am most disappointed with McDonald's. Bourdais has brought them two titles and many wins yet you hardly see them do anything with their sponsorship. They could at least have a drawing at all the McDonald's near each event and the one winner from each store be brought into the Champ Car paddock, given special passes, food in the Newman/Haas hospitality, and even get to see Paul Newman. One only knows how many new fans that can generate, as well as generate more customer visits for McDonald's in their stores. And what about featuring Sebastien Bourdais in their TV ads? It's most disappointing to see a company as large as McDonald's so clueless when it comes to activating their Champ Car sponsorship. Donna Reed, Washington, DC

Scott Miller Wins Crew Chief Award Scott Miller Wins Crew Chief AwardJeff Burton had a near-perfect weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.  With guidance from crew chief Scott Miller, Burton sat the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevy on the pole for the USG Sheetrock 400 and came home with a second-place finish. The No. 31 team’s performance earned Scott Miller the WYPALL® Wipers Crew Chief of the Race award.

Burton led 60 laps of the event, second only to Matt Kenseth.  As good as the No. 31 machine was, the cooling track temperatures made its handling tighten up as the race went on.  “We were a little bit on the tight side all day long and as the race went on, the track cooled down and got even tighter,” said Miller.  Miller remedied the car with a series of adjustments that kept Burton in contention, and allowed him to make a stab at Jeff Gordon for the win.  “If we were out in front, I think we could have held our own, but in traffic, it made it a little bit difficult.”

A panel of voters; including a member of the local media, Tony Eury Sr. and a WYPALL® Wipers representative; all voted for Miller as the crew chief of the race.  “That team [No. 31] has come a long way since last year, and it showed today,” said Eury Sr.  “Scott (Miller) has them headed in the right direction.  They’re unloading fast cars each week and running good races.  They had a great car this weekend and it was getting better and better as the race went on.  He had to make a few adjustments to keep up with the track and it was its strongest at the end.  It’s a real testament to his leadership how well they ran this weekend.”

For winning the Crew Chief of the Race award, WYPALL® Wipers presented Miller $1,000.  At the end of the season, the Nextel Cup crew chief with the most weekly wins will receive $20,000 and be crowned the WYPALL® Wipers Crew Chief of the Year.  This was Miller’s first Crew Chief of the Race award in 2006, which ties him for third place with Darian Grubb, Todd Berrier, Doug Richert, Philippe Lopez, Frankie Stoddard and Roy McCauley. Robbie Reiser, Chad Knaus and Tony Eury Jr. are tied for second-place, all with two wins. Kenny Francis is in the lead with four wins.

Montoya’s comments on RaceDay Montoya’s comments on RaceDayThe NASCAR RaceDay on SPEED crew was LIVE from this weekend’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. Wendy Venturini spoke to team owner Chip Ganassi of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, and Formula One star Juan Pablo Montoya, who will take over next year for the departing Casey Mears in the No. 42 Texaco-Havoline Dodge.

Montoya, who leaves Formula One and the McLaren-Mercedes entry after winning seven races, rejoins with his old boss following his 1999 Champ Car World Series championship and winning the 2000 Indianapolis 500 for Target-Chip Ganassi Racing.

Here is what was said on the most recent edition of NASCAR RaceDay on SPEED.

Venturini: The big announcement this weekend came from Chip Ganassi, who announced today he has signed Juan Pablo Montoya to race NASCAR. What a big announcement for you.

Ganassi:  Felix (Sabates) and I were looking for someone to put into the car. And from the people who met Juan this morning, they know he has a real infectious personality. He’s up for the challenge in NASCAR. He knows it’s going to be a tall order and I know there’s a steep learning curve. But there’s no one I want more to drive this car than this guy. I’m looking forward to it.

Venturini: Juan has gone through a whirlwind of emotions the last couple of days; and you’ve been bombarded by the media the last hour haven’t you?  zzzz

Montoya: Yeah. It’s really been pretty crazy, but I’m just happy to be here. The challenge is big. I don’t think people know how big of a challenge this is really going to be in coming here. As Chip said, it’s a steep learning curve, but we are here for business.

Venturini: You’ve driven a stock car before. Tell me what it was like, and what you can add on to that for the future?

Montoya: The experience was fun…and that’s one of the reasons why I thought about it. Yes, it was a road course, but I drove the car and was very comfortable in it. And before, I have done well when racing on ovals. Since I’ve come here, I have talked with all the drivers and it’s been really good – I know there are great drivers here.

Venturini: …It was definitely a big shock in the garage area this morning; as Montoya has signed on to drive the 42 car.

John Roberts: …Montoya is no stranger to racing with Chip, but Jimmy (Spencer) and Kenny (Wallace), he’s got a big learning curve coming his way because this is a whole different ballgame.

Jimmy Spencer: That guy (Montoya) is a race car driver. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, go down the list, Juan Pablo is that caliber of a driver. Chip Ganassi did a great job in getting him to NASCAR. Kenny, there’s no question in my mind. You don’t go to Formula One and win. You don’t go to IRL and win. This guy will win in NASCAR.

Kenny Wallace: One thing I like about Chip Ganassi hiring Juan Pablo Montoya is that he’s Colombian. I think it’s a good move by Chip because he didn’t stay within a realm. Chip Ganassi has another world we don’t know about. Other than NASCAR, he’s got Indy Cars; he’s got a whole world out there, so he went a different route. It’s just like hiring Ryan Newman from open wheel, or Kenny Schrader years ago…this guy’s a good race car driver.

Roberts: What does it mean for NASCAR? Here’s an F1 guy coming over to NASCAR on a full-time basis. We’ve had some guys dabble before, but never full time.

Wallace: This is a major breakthrough. He’s conquered Champ Car …and he’s gone over to Formula One and been successful over there. He’s got the respect of the fans and everyone over at Ganassi Racing. There is going to be a learning curve, but Chip, just like he did with Casey Mears, is going to make sure he gets through ARCA, the Busch Series and make sure he’s ready to go. Teams like Penske and Ganassi don’t do things lightly. Even the IRL and CART guys, they’re going to be looking this way now. It’s important that they got Juan Pablo because this guy is big time.

Spencer: I think the big thing is that (certain) people don’t want to give credit to the NASCAR family. We definitely have the biggest fan base in the world as far as the driver’s are concerned. Jeff Gordon’s okay. Tony Stewart’s okay, according to the outer limits. Now, Juan Pablo’s looking over here saying, ‘hey, these guys are pretty darn tough and I have a big learning curve.’ But for me, I think this opens up an entirely new market to help our fan base grow. The biggest thing I think is going to happen is, now all at once with him coming into the Ganassi camp, that whole team can now say, ‘I’ve got something here.’ That can strengthen Chip’s team, which is good for the sport.

Wallace: One more comment. For years, NASCAR has been looking for that Latino driver, whether it’s Michel Jourdain or anybody outside the United States. Here he is. He’s big time. He’s got the money behind him…

Spencer: …and he’s got the talent.

Wallace: Yes. He’s got the talent.

Later, Spencer asked guest and current NASCAR Nextel Cup Series points leader Jimmie Johnson about Montoya’s decision.

Spencer: Jimmie, you’ve come out of off-road racing and through the Busch Series. With the big announcement today, and I know you are friends with Juan Pablo, what do you think this says about the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series with the caliber of guys coming in here and wanting to race this series?

Johnson: I think it’s great for our sport. Our sport is looking for new people and new fans to get involved outside the sport all of the time. Actually, this opens up a whole new world for us. I have to say I was shocked when Juan Pablo Montoya walked into my transporter about 30 or 40 minutes ago. I just saw him in Indy at the F1 race and asked, ‘What are you doing here?’ He told me the news. I’m shocked and I’m glad to hear it. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates and those guys are known for doing things outside the box.

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