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Lime Rock Kicks Off Busy Stretch for Atlantic Championship  While the 2009 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda has only raced four times since the season opener at Sebring International Raceway on March 20, the pace is going to pick up rapidly beginning with Saturday’s race at Lime Rock Park as part of the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix weekend.

The Atlantic Championship will contest six races In the 44 days that separate Saturday’s race at Lime Rock and the race at Mosport International Raceway on August 30, and those races will undoubtedly go a long way toward determining the 2009 series champion. With one-third of the season already in the books, however, the championship battle is plenty close, as just 16 points separate the top four drivers in the standings. More ...
Bourdais fired  UPDATE #2 "I feel badly for Seb.  I know how talented he is, after all, he won 4 championships for our Team in 5 years.  I also know that he will use this experience to learn and get back to the greatness he was within himself."  Carl Haas-Newman Haas Lanigan Racing

07/16/09 (GMM)  Toro Rosso on Thursday morning confirmed the immediate departure from the team of its French race driver Sebastien Bourdais.

"In Sebastien's second year with us, the partnership has not met our expectations and therefore we have decided to replace him as from the next round of the world championship, the Hungarian grand prix," said team boss Franz Tost.

It is widely expected that Red Bull's newly-appointed F1 reserve driver Jaime Alguersuari, a 19-year-old Spaniard, will be confirmed as 30-year-old Bourdais' replacement.

Toro Rosso said in a statement: "An announcement about (the) replacement will be made shortly before the Hungarian grand prix."

Prior to moving to F1 last year, Bourdais won four successive Champ Car championships in America between 2004 and 2007.  In 2002, he won the F3000 title, which is the equivalent of today's GP2.

07/16/09 Last weekend’s German Grand Prix was Sebastien Bourdais’ last race for the Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 team.

Franz Tost: “In Sebastien’s second year with us, the partnership has not met our expectations and therefore we have decided to replace him as from the next round of the World Championship, the Hungarian Grand Prix.”

An announcement about his replacement will be made shortly before the Hungarian Grand Prix.  Toro Rosso PR

IRL Awards Banquet moves to South Beach  The stars of the IndyCar® Series and Firestone Indy Lights® will cap off the 2009 season by celebrating at one of South Beach's newest hot spots and most exclusive resorts, W Hotel South Beach.  The 2009 Championship Celebration will take place Oct. 11 following the season championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway Oct. 10.

The championship festivities at the W South Beach, which held its grand opening earlier this month, will be held beachside under the stars at Grove, the hotel's expansive lush outdoor garden and WET, the location of two dramatic pools overlooking the ocean. The 2009 Championship Celebration's theme is casual beach flair, inspired by the style of trendy South Beach. The evening will be highlighted by the presentation of the IndyCar Series Championship Cup and $1 million bonus to the IndyCar Series championship-winning team and driver as well as the championship-winning Firestone Indy Lights team and driver. More ...

Bitter Bourdais threatens legal action against Toro Rosso  From Sebastien Bourdais' website in reaction to being fired today by the Toro Rosso team (rough translation).

"I am very disappointed and shocked by the decision taken by Scuderia Toro Rosso of not allowing me to drive for the Team until the end of the current season.

"I consider that, in doing so, Scuderia Toro Rosso has breached its contractual duties towards me; also I believe that nothing in my behavior would legitimate a decision of the Team to terminate the contract. I think that the Team’s decision is in clear violation of Scuderia Toro Rosso’s obligations under the agreement. I have instructed my lawyers to review the situation including the possibility of issuing legal proceedings.

"I am even more frustrated by the Team’s decision considering that the latter has been taken immediately before the Hungarian Grand Prix, where a new highly competitive racing package will be introduced by the Team in order to try and overcome its current difficulties. I am convinced that if I was given the chance to race with such new package I would have had the opportunity to achieve satisfactory results.

"Finally, I would like to thank all my fans for their support. My motivation is intact and I will continue to be strongly committed to my Formula One project, for which I have renounced to my career in United States."

racing news
Smrz Dominant in Return to Jim Russell Championship Series  American formula car rising star Brett Smrz proved to be unstoppable in his return to the Jim Russell Championship Series over the weekend (July 11-12) at Infineon Raceway. The 2008 series champion converted a pair of pole positions into race wins, taking the checkered flag well ahead of the rest of the field in both Round Seven and Eight. 

It had been a full month since he was last behind the wheel of race car, but Smrz was immediately up to speed in his return to the Jim Russell Championship Series. The talented American race pilot quickly adapted to the added horsepower on tap in 2009 edition of the series, turning faster times than the series test driver in the morning practice session. The left-leg amputee, the result of a freak trampoline accident in 2007, continued to be the driver that everyone was chasing in afternoon qualifying, eventually taking the pole position by nearly half a second. More ...

F1's 13 teams for 2010 meet in Geneva  (GMM)  Bosses of all 13 formula one teams for 2010 met on Thursday at FOTA's Geneva headquarters.

The intention was to discuss and hopefully sign a legally binding 'cost regulation document', which when done will lead to all teams, the commercial rights holders and the FIA ratifying a new Concorde Agreement.

As FOTA head Luca di Montezemolo was detained on business elsewhere, the meeting was chaired by Toyota's John Howett and ran positively, but not to the point where the document could be signed, according to a report by the German website motorsport-total.com.

The purpose of the document is to satisfy the FIA that costs in formula one will reduce to 1990s levels within two years, meaning the budget cap provisions can be deleted from the 2010 rules and FOTA can definitively drop its breakaway threat.

Despite reports earlier this week that peace was nigh, it might now be next week, or even after next weekend's Hungarian grand prix, before all the loose ends are tied up at the end of a heated political saga.

racing news
Vatanen says Todt wrong man for the job  Despite insisting he will not start a campaign of "mudslinging" and "dirt-throwing", Ari Vatanen says choosing Jean Todt for the FIA presidency will not herald the changes required.

Former World Rally Champ Vatanen announced prior to the German GP that he would be running for the presidency of motorsport's governing body in the October elections while outgoing president Max Mosley has long made it know that he wants Jean Todt to be his successor.

Earlier this week, the 69-year-old backed Todt in a letter sent to all FIA member clubs. "I believe the right person to head that team would be Jean Todt," Mosley wrote. More ...

racing news
Todt stands for FIA Presidency  
Jean Todt has Max Mosley's recommendation for FIA President
Jean Todt has confirmed that his name is now down as a potential candidate for presidency of the FIA once Max Mosley leaves the federation in October, Reuters reports. Mosley recommended the former Ferrari team principal with the announcement on Wednesday of his own decision to step down. For the first time since 1993, the FIA will welcome a new leader in three months' time when Max Mosley leaves the Paris-based senate having served four terms as president. Having announced his decision via letter to the coalition's many member groups this week, the 69-year-old also strongly suggested that Todt, six years his junior, should take the reigns.

'Following the decision of Max Mosley not to seek a further term of office and his unequivocal support of my candidacy, I have written to the FIA membership to inform them that I wish to stand for the Presidency of the FIA,' reads a statement from Todt. 'It is my intention to continue and expand the outstanding work of President Mosley.'

'I believe the right person to head (the FIA) would be Jean Todt,' Mosley has written. 'Jean is unquestionably the outstanding motor sport manager of his generation and arguably of any generation. Teams run by him have won the World Rally Championship, Cross Country rallies including Paris-Dakar, the Le Mans 24 Hour Race and, in the last 15 years, one Formula One World Championship after another.'

Todt's decision to stand places him as the second candidate alongside Finland's 1981 World Rally Champion Ari Vatanen.

tv news
Off weekend gives IndyCar Series driver chance to recharge  UPDATE A reminder that Danica Patrick will be a guest on ESPN's "Rome is Burning" today, Thursday, July 16.  Please check your local listings for your time zone.

07/14/09 Dan Wheldon is visiting with family at their summer retreat in Portugal. Tony Kanaan and Raphael Matos - who tested at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on July 13 -- also are visiting family in their native Brazil, while Dario Franchitti is checking on his house in Scotland.

Scott Dixon? Well, he'll be changing diapers during the first off week in the IndyCar Series since early June.

Danica Patrick also is busy off the track this week. The Andretti Green Racing driver will be a presenter at the ESPY Awards on July 15, and be a guest on ESPN's "Rome is Burning" on July 16 and ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" on July 17.

Dixon and Helio Castroneves are nominated in the Best Driver category of the ESPYs, which will be broadcast at 9 p.m. (EDT) July 19 on ESPN. Castroneves also is nominated in the Best Moment category for his celebration and reactions following a third Indianapolis 500 victory in May.

NASCAR Chicagoland TV Rating  UPDATE TNT reports that its coverage of Saturday night’s LifeLock.com 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway drew a 3.0 final rating from Nielsen Media Research, 18.9 percent lower than the 3.7 rating it earned for the race last year.

07/14/09 The overnight TV rating for the NASCAR LifeLock.com 400 Saturday on TNT at 8PM was a 2.6 (2 million households), down 10% from last year.
Mayfield prepared to take Brian France down  UPDATE  On Wednesday's "Late Shift" on SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, hosts Nate Ryan and Buddy Baker spoke with NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield. NASCAR filed a motion with a federal appeals court saying Mayfield tested positive for methamphetamine in a second round of drug tests and should have his suspension from the sport reinstated.

Host, Nate Ryan: "Your reaction to [the allegations]?"
Jeremy Mayfield: "Well, first of all I didn't think they were going to come back and say I was clean you know what I mean? Because that's just not, doesn't seem which way they want to work anymore. I had a test done before their test and I had a test done 30, 35 minutes after their test that got different results than what they're mentioning there. We'll hear more about that tomorrow, more detail on that. But it's just part of the deal that's going on. It's just a bad deal all the way around for everybody involved and stuff just keeps popping up, one thing after another. It'll all come out and at the end we'll all know. And I think a lot of you guys that I've known and seen the past for years know for sure without a shadow of doubt there's nothing wrong here, nothing going on. And they have a hard time admitting when they're wrong or done something wrong and we all know that, whether we admit it or not, we know that and it's just part of the battle, part of the things we're going to have to fight here." More ...
Q&A with Buddy Rice on future  
Now: Grand-Am Rolex Series driver; businessman in Phoenix. Rice, a Phoenix native, owns Tony Kart West, a go-kart distributor for the western United States. He and three teammates won the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. Rice is competing in the Grand-Am Rolex Series, which has five races remaining this season.

How do you like driving in the Grand-Am series?

"It's great. I've been driving Grand-Am for quite a few years, only normally ran Daytona at the start of the year and the Miller Motorsports Park) at the end because of the IndyCar Series. But this is good, I enjoy it; it's a lot of fun."

Is it a difficult transition to make?

"No, you see a lot of guys do it at Daytona. It's why so many champions from so many disciplines all get together. "

What about sharing the car?

"You're used to your own ways. You have to be quite flexible."

What are you plans for next season?

"Wait and see. There's a lot of things happening. I'm working on a couple different things. I'm not 100 percent sure right now, but I have a direction, an idea."  AZcentral.com

NASCAR squashes Mayfield, calls stepmother a whore  UPDATE #4 Jeremy Mayfield didn't spare his stepmother or NASCAR in defending himself against Wednesday's report that he has again tested positive for methamphetamines. NASCAR filed court papers on Wednesday saying that his most recent drug test came back positive and including an affidavit from Mayfield's stepmother Lisa who claims to have seen the racer using drugs on numerous occasions.

Mayfield said he does not trust NASCAR testing and saved his strongest words for his stepmother. "She's basically a whore," he told ESPN.com's David Newton. "She shot and killed my dad." Mayfield's father Terry died in 2007 at age 56, and Mayfield told ESPN.com that his stepmother will be served with a wrongful death suit on Thursday. "She knows what we've got on her," Mayfield said. "For her to come out and do this is pretty ballsy. Everybody that's ever know me knows I never, ever have been around her for more than 10 hours of my life. She's a gold digger. I knew that from Day 1."

Although he said he has no proof, Mayfield claimed that NASCAR paid Lisa Mayfield for her affidavit. "It wouldn't take much money. She tried to get money from me," Mayfield said. "I have a very short fuse when it comes to her." Mayfield said he has been tested for drugs every two to five days by an independent lab and never tested positive. He said it was no coincidence that the tests by NASCAR's lab resulted in his suspension and now another positive test. In blasting NASCAR, he went straight for the top, chairman Brian France. More at ESPN.com More ...
GM looks to China for growth  After North America, there's no doubt which is the next most important region for General Motors Co. The automaker's decision to manage its international operations out of Shanghai signals the crucial importance of the fast-growing Far Eastern markets, and China in particular.

"When the dust settles from this automotive crisis, it'll be clear to see that Asia is the epicenter of growth," said Michael Dunne, managing director of J.D. Power and Associates' China operations. "Whereas Europe and the United States may have matured, Asia is just getting started."

China is on track this year to rival and possibly surpass the United States, with sales expected to exceed 11 million vehicles. More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Mosley letter stuns F1 teams into silence
  • Red Bull drivers summoned to test in Spain
  • Webber apologized for Hamilton bump
  • McLaren to keep KERS for Hungary GP
  • F1 drivers organize fun kart race

Mosley letter stuns F1 teams into silence
(GMM)  Formula one teams reacted with silence to the news that Max Mosley really will step down as FIA president later this year.

The last time the 69-year-old Briton mentioned stepping down, after the Paris faux peace deal last month, the reaction angered Mosley and he indicated he might actually stay.

But quite apart from the latest looming prospect of peace, there could be another reason the teams were quiet, according to Britain's Guardian newspaper.

"The formula one teams' lack of enthusiasm for Max Mosley's choice of successor as FIA president was made clear by the sound of silence," the newspaper said.

"As Mosley was lauding Jean Todt, the former Ferrari chief executive officer, as the best man for the job, the teams responded by keeping their own counsel.

"That wall of silence confirmed a deep-rooted suspicion that Todt is the favored successor largely because he thinks like Mosley and, perhaps more worryingly for the teams, may act like him too," the Guardian added.

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh hinted last weekend that the teams would rather see the independent presidential candidate, Ari Vatanen, take the top job.

The Telegraph sees October's election as a "straight fight between (the) former rally driver ... and Mosley's protégé (Todt).

"It represents a choice between change and continuity," the newspaper added.

Vatanen echoed that view in an interview with the Associated Press.  "You need a new star, you need an independent person who represents change," the 57-year-old Finn said. More ...

Matt Lee and JOJO Energy Drink Join Conquest Racing  Conquest Racing is returning to the Cooper Tires Presents the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda this week. Joining the team for the race at Lime Rock Park is former Conquest Atlantic driver Matt Lee along with sponsorship from JOJO Energy Drink.

“It will be nice to return to Atlantic racing for a second time this year,” said Conquest team owner Eric Bachelart. “We’ve worked with Matt in the past and we’re happy to be working with him again for this race.”

Lee previously drove for the Conquest Racing Atlantic team in 2007 alongside Giacomo Ricci. More recently, he competed at the 2009 Atlantic Championship season-opener in Sebring with Jensen Motorsports and took part in a couple of Firestone Indy Lights races at Watkins Glen in 2008. Prior to joining Conquest in 2007, the Syosset, NY-native finished second in the Formula BMW USA championship in 2006. This will be Lee’s third start at Lime Rock Park. In two races at the 10-turn, 1.51-mile permanent road course in the Formula BMW USA series in 2006, he started one race in 23rd and moved up to finish seventh while he started on pole and went on to finish runner-up in the second event. More ...

Real F1 Racing  
2009 Toronto Indy Highlights  
High-definition WRC coverage coming to America  Television coverage of the FIA World Rally Championship will be available to millions of households in the USA later this year thanks to a new partnership between series promoters, ISC, and the Discovery Channel's HD Theater network.

WRC programming will be shown weekly on HD Theater starting in October. As well as coverage from every round of the championship, a range of other features and news bulletins will be shown.

Part of the Discovery Channel's range of networks, HD Theater is one of the most widely distributed high-definition services available in the United States. Specializing in adventure, technology, nature and world culture programming, HD Theater also covers a number of racing events, all of which are shown in a 1080i picture format and with 5.1 digital surround sound. More ...

Edmonton Indy Sells Out Edmonton City Centre Tailgate Zone!  The Edmonton City Centre Tailgate Zone is now sold out for the Rexall Edmonton Indy, running from July 24-26, 2009.

The popular hospitality area, located at track level on Turn 1, offers race fans the opportunity to get close to the action while entertaining clients, suppliers and staff. Due to overwhelming demand, the Edmonton City Centre Tailgate Zone was recently expanded by over 100 seats. Those seats have now sold out with 10 days to go to the start of the Rexall Edmonton Indy.

“The Edmonton City Centre Tailgate Zone is a great place for the corporate community to experience the excitement of the Rexall Edmonton Indy,” said Ken Knowles, President of Northlands. “With trackside seating, fans in the Edmonton City Centre Tailgate Zone can expect to enjoy a true Indy experience.”

Tickets for the 2009 Rexall Edmonton Indy are on sale now, including 3-Day Grandstand Passes and Single Day Tickets, at all Ticketmaster outlets, or online at www.ticketmaster.ca.

Al Unser Jr. assesses IRL season so far  Q. We are 10 races into the IndyCar Series season, you've seen most of the races. How would you assess the championship to this point?

AL UNSER, JR.: I think it's very competitive. We've had some great races this season. We've had some not-so-good races this season. Quite honestly, I feel the most recent ones with Dale Coyne winning his first race at the Glen is something very, very special, and a real feel-good win that he had for his team. He's been trying for 25 years, so it's great that he finally got his.

Up in Toronto, we've entered into a new market up there. There was a lot of passing for the lead. Everybody's just very super close. You had some high drama with Tomas Scheckter throwing his gloves at Alex Tagliani. It reminded me of the good old days with our racing that we had up there in the '80s and '90s. I'm looking forward to the second half of the season. More ...

Tagliani owner urges IRL pit closure rules  UPDATE With all this talk about what to do to make the racing better in IndyCar because it has become obvious that fast front-running cars get bottled up behind much slower cars, usually on an alternate fuel strategy, they have decided to open the tech rules on what has been heretofore ‘spec’ regulations by allowing teams to run different parts, configurations, etc. This will of course benefit the teams with the money to take advantage of the new ‘open regulations’ and this will result in the top teams being able to get around the cars fielded by teams that can’t afford those upgrades, etc. How about something that is much simpler and doesn’t cost any money but would absolutely achieve the result desired? Institute mandatory fuel pit stop windows like they had for a number of years in Champ Car.  This would eliminate ‘off strategy’ fuel conservation runs and keep those slower cars in their ‘real’ place on the track. It would result in all drivers going as fast as they can for the entire race, as it would eliminate ‘lucky’ and ‘strategy’ runs resulting in unearned track position and finishes. Mark C.

07/15/09 The owner of Team Tagliani -- Conquest Racing's Eric Bachelart -- is urging Indy Racing League boss Brian Barnhart to change the pit closure rules before next week's Rexall Edmonton Indy.

Bachelart still is steamed that the IRL rule forcing cars to line up behind the pace car when a yellow flag comes out, cost Canadian Alex Tagliani at least the chance to win the Honda Indy Toronto.

Tagliani was in first place on Lap 58 when Graham Rahal and Ed Carpenter collided. If Tagliani had been allowed to pit right then, he likely would have retained his position with the other leaders, who has just completed what would be their final stop.

As a result, the No. 34 Edmonton Northlands/King Tut team had to form up behind the pace car putting Tagliani back to ninth place at that time. More ...

Allstate 400 Notebook  A variety of fan-friendly activities, including driver appearances and live music, are scheduled for the opening day of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on Friday, July 24 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The fun will start at 9 a.m. with a question-and-answer session with 2002 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner Bill Elliott on the Coke Zero Stage, located behind the famous Pagoda control tower. Elliott then will sign autographs from 9:30-10 a.m. in the Pagoda Plaza.

Five NASCAR Sprint Cup stars then will take on American troops in the popular Guitar Hero video game in the "Pros vs. G.I. Joes" activity from 10-11 a.m. on the Coke Zero Stage. Drivers scheduled to participate (subject to change): Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, Casey Mears, Martin Truex Jr. and Brian Vickers. More ...
Fired GM boss to get $8.2M  Former General Motors Corp. Chairman Rick Wagoner will officially retire from the automaker Aug. 1 with a package worth at least $8.2 million, following months of negotiations after his dismissal by the Obama administration's auto task force.

In a filing with federal regulators, the remnants of GM in bankruptcy court -- now known as Motors Liquidation Co. -- said Wagoner would receive payments of $1.6 million for 5 years and annual payments of $74,030, based on 32 years with the automaker. It said those amounts were consistent with the cuts in executive pay made as part of the automaker's bankruptcy.

In addition, Motors Liquidation will hand over a $2.6-million life insurance policy to Wagoner, but will not pay any additional premiums. It will also maintain liability insurance for him through January 2010.

Wagoner's lifetime of work at GM ended March 27, when auto task force member Steven Rattner asked him to resign as a condition of GM receiving additional aid from the federal government. Wagoner had been a vocal opponent of bankruptcy for GM, warning that it could permanently damage its sales and suppliers.

Since that fateful Friday, Wagoner had technically remained an employee of the automaker -- working for the $1-a-year salary he accepted as part of GM's turnaround efforts -- while his exit was negotiated with the Obama administration. Wagoner has declined requests for comment since his departure.

His retirement benefits had been valued at $22.1 million in 2008, but pensions for top executives were cut by two-thirds as part of the company's bankruptcy sale to a government-owned entity. Wagoner also had held about 3 million options to buy GM shares that are now worthless. Detroit Free Press

Jensen MotorSport snatches Atlantic Series Champion  Jensen MotorSport is pleased to announce 2008 Atlantic Series champion Markus Niemela has joined the team. Markus’ first race with the Jensen MotorSport team will be the Lime Rock Connecticut event the weekend of July 18th.

Team owner Eric Jensen states, “My team is pleased and proud to have a driver with Markus’ impressive talent and credentials in one of our cars. Our clear objective with Markus is to win races, poles, and to defend his series championship. I have assembled a terrific crew of engineers and mechanics in our team, and hopefully Markus is able to showcase the high-degree of their talent as well.”

Niemela, (26) hails from Rauma Finland, and currently resides in Southern California. Markus has driven the first 4 races of the 2009 championship for another team, and he is currently in 7th position in the Atlantic Championship season point standings.

Big Green Egg Joins Atlantic Championship  The smell of perfectly grilled meats and vegetables and even baked goods figures to become more prevalent in the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda paddock in the near future as series officials today announced that Big Green Egg, the World’s Best Smoker and Grill, has joined forces with the Atlantic Championship as the Official Tailgating Barbecue.

The Atlanta-based Big Green Egg Company -- which manufactures the unique barbecue product that can be used as a grill, smoker or oven -- will be an official partner of the Atlantic Championship through the end of the 2009 season, with an option to return to the series in the future. The partnership calls for the Atlantic Championship and each team competing in the 2009 series to receive one Big Green Egg cooker, and all Atlantic racecars will carry Big Green Egg decals. The Big Green Egg will also be front and center at a pair of Atlantic Championship race-weekend parties, at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course next month and at Road Atlanta in September. More ...

Formula Two is back at Brands Hatch  25 years after Brands Hatch hosted the last ever European Formula Two Championship race, the F1 feeder series returns to the Kent circuit for rounds seven and eight of the 2009 FIA Formula Two Championship this weekend (17/18/19 July).

Philippe Streiff won that race back in 1984, and the Frenchman will be watching on this weekend as he continues his mentoring role with compatriot Julien Jousse, who currently lies third in this year’s championship.

Momentum has swung several times so far this season, and the championship has seen four different leaders and nine different visitors to the podium. Spaniard Andy Soucek will carry the points lead into Brands Hatch courtesy of a fourth and a second last time out in Belgium, but he is just two points clear of Robert Wickens in second – the Canadian scoring the majority of his points during a fairytale opening weekend at Valencia where he won both races from pole. More ...

New crew chief not helping wanker Jr.  
NASCAR's most popular driver is a wanker
[Editor's Note: When are American racing series going to realize that your biggest star can't be a wanker?  The biggest heroes in any sport must be the best of the best.  Dale Earnhardt Jr. is riding on his father's coattails.  Meanwhile his fans cannot swallow the cold hard facts that Earnhardt Jr. never was and never will be the best.  There is always some excuse.]

Did You Notice? … That seven weeks into Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s tenure with Lance McGrew, the No. 88 continues to struggle? Yes, I do understand it’s important in light of the change to give a grace period for this new partnership, especially considering the personal adjustment involved; Earnhardt not only lost his crew chief but his cousin. However, while the sport’s Most Popular Driver may be a little happier on the radio these days, it’s not necessarily translating into much on the race track.

Here’s a quick comparison between the first seven races with Tony Eury, Jr. at the helm this season compared to the last seven with McGrew:

1st Seven Races (Eury): 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 2 Top 10s, 1 DNF.
Average Finish: 18.4.

Last Seven Races (McGrew): 0 Wins, 0 Top 5s, 0 Top 10s, 1 DNF.
Average Finish: 20.9. More ...

IRL holding spot on schedule for Milwaukee  The Indy Racing League is interested enough in returning to the Milwaukee Mile next year that it will hold open several dates in the 2010 IndyCar Series schedule in hope that a viable promoter group emerges.

On Tuesday, a top state fair official disclosed that at least six groups had contacted State Fair Park about taking over the troubled track. Whether any of them is serious or capable might come to light when the State Fair Park Board of Directors holds a special meeting on the topic Monday night.

"If somebody's out there and has looked at it before or knows enough about racing and has personal relationships with IRL and NASCAR, that might be all that they really need to be able to get this going," Craig Barkelar, the park's interim executive director, said Tuesday.

"I still hope that we can do this, and I think our board does, otherwise they wouldn't meet a few weeks before the Fair." More ...

Mosley calls for Todt to replace him  UPDATE Mosley letter to FIA member clubs in full:

To all FIA Member Clubs

Geneva, 15 July 2009

Dear President,

Since my announcement on 24 June that I was not going to seek re-election, I have received almost 100 messages from FIA member clubs urging me to think again. This absolutely unprecedented level of support is very rewarding and I am deeply grateful.

Following the World Motor Sport Council meeting on 24 June, we were expecting to extend the 1998 Concorde Agreement with a few minor amendments. In the event, we received a completely new draft. However, after three weeks of intensive negotiations (including weekends and evenings), Nick Craw, (as deputy president, sport) and I feel that, with the help of our lawyers, we have negotiated an agreement which brings to Formula One the new teams and lower costs which were so urgently needed.

At the same time, again largely thanks to Nick, we now have very satisfactory contracts for the World Rally Championship and the new World Championship for GT cars. In addition, a new structure is evolving on the mobility side which I believe will greatly strengthen the FIA in this area.

From a personal point of view it would be very difficult for me to change my mind and stand again. I began some months ago to rearrange my family life with effect from next October. I also informed senior FIA staff that I would not be a candidate. To continue now would greatly complicate my domestic arrangements and be inconsistent with my obligations to my family, particularly after our recent loss. Also, I have felt for some time that I would like to work less. After all, I will be 70 next year.

Therefore, with these new arrangements in place, extremely grateful though I am for all the letters, emails and messages I have received, I have decided to reconfirm my decision. I will not be a candidate in October.

I believe the objectives of those who have been kind enough to support me can be achieved if you elect a strong, experienced, competent team, one which will maintain the independence of the FIA and ensure that both the sport and the mobility side are properly run. As an ex officio member of the Senate, I hope to play a modest role myself.

I believe the right person to head that team would be Jean Todt. More ...

Dyson teams talks about Lime Rock  
Dyson Racing Mazda
Every trip to Lime Rock Park is a special one for Dyson Racing. America’s premier sports car team debuted at the Lakeville, Conn., circuit in 1983 as team owner Rob Dyson competed in a three-hour IMSA race. The squad - based in Poughkeepsie, NY - is hoping this year’s American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix will mark another breakthrough at Lime Rock, where the team will race its two new Mazda-powered Lola B09/86 LMP2 coupes before the home crowd.

Chris Dyson
“Well, (last year) was a really emotional weekend for my Dad. The commitment level that is needed to stay in this sport for one year, let alone 25 years, is just incredible. I think looking back on it from a year on, what impressed me the most about it is that my dad still 25 years into the effort gets just as much buzz about it as he did when I was a kid growing up. It’s fantastic to be carrying on the family tradition and to be racing (in 2008) the car in the same colors as when we made our IMSA debut was just fantastic.” More ...

Webber to have more leg surgery after Hungary  
Mark Webber
(GMM)  In F1's August break following the forthcoming Hungarian grand prix, Nurburgring winner Mark Webber will have more surgery on his right leg.

The 32-year-old Australian, who dominated from pole position last weekend, had two locking screws removed from the leg, which was badly broken in a winter cycling incident, before the German grand prix.

Webber told Germany's Bild newspaper that the remaining screws will come out "in August".

"The titanium rod is coming out only after the season -- and then the bump (visible in his shin) will disappear," he revealed. More ...

Buemi not excited by Gachnang rumors  (GMM)  Sebastien Buemi this week insists he is not getting excited by the prospect of being joined in formula one by his female cousin.

We reported last month that F2 driver Natacha Gachnang, who is Buemi's first cousin, has been in talks with the new-for-2010 F1 entrant Campos.

It has been speculated that a test contract with the Swiss 21-year-old is a possibility.

But on a visit to a Swiss kart circuit, Toro Rosso's Buemi, the only rookie on the formula one grid this year, said he will only believe new teams are entering the sport when he sees them in Melbourne next March.

Asked about the Gachnang rumors, he told the Swiss press: "It would be very positive for Swiss motor sport, but for the moment, the new teams ... no one has seen anything concrete (from them) yet.

"We will see who will really be there at the beginning of next season," Buemi added.

Alguersuari to test Toro Rosso on Friday  (GMM)  Jaime Alguersuari will adjust to his new cockpit surroundings with a test in Toro Rosso's heavily revised STR4 car this Friday.

The news was revealed by the Spanish teenager's teammate for the forthcoming Hungarian grand prix, Sebastien Buemi, even though the Red Bull sister team is yet to confirm officially that Sebastien Bourdais has been ousted.

It is believed Alguersuari's straight-line aerodynamic test, which is the only kind of non-grand prix running allowed within the 2009 season, will take place at a circuit in Italy. More ...

Brawn enters tougher 'second phase' in F1 career  (GMM)  The past two races demonstrate that Brawn GP has entered the "second phase" of the team's career in formula one, according to an expert observer.

After dominating six of the opening seven grands prix this year, the Brackley based team succumbed to the superiority of Red Bull Racing at Silverstone and the Nurburgring.

"For Brawn, the solitude and isolation since the departure of Honda is beginning to weigh," former F1 team manager Joan Villadelprat, who recently made a bid to bring his Spanish outfit Epsilon Euskadi into the sport in 2010, said.

He said that while Red Bull can list no problems whatsoever, it is a lack of funds that have made Brawn come unstuck. More ...

Letting Webber win 'an error' - Ralf S  
Ralf Schumacher
(GMM)  Red Bull made a mistake in not appointing Sebastian Vettel the team's number 1 driver prior to the German grand prix, according to Ralf Schumacher.

The former grand prix winner believes the outfit led by Christian Horner should have ensured Vettel was not beaten to the checkered flag at the Nurburgring by dominant pole sitter, winner and teammate Mark Webber.

"There are no team orders at Red Bull, where the sport is in the foreground," Schumacher, who lost his Toyota seat at the end of the 2007 season, told the German newspaper Bild. More ...

CVC official hints Ecclestone should have quit  (GMM)  A board member of F1's commercial rights owners CVC believes Bernie Ecclestone should have stepped down as the sport's chief executive after giving his now infamous Hitler interview.

CVC managing partner Donald MacKenzie this week stepped in to deny reports the 78-year-old Briton risked being sidestepped into an honorary position over the controversy.

However, other figures at CVC, which is one of the world's biggest private equity firms, held very strong views over the issue, including Sir Martin Sorrell.

It is believed that Sorrell, who is Jewish, asked Ecclestone to stay away from the German grand prix at the weekend; advice ignored by the diminutive billionaire.

"His comments were disgusting," he is quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.  "He issued a full apology after taking advice.  Any other CEO in any other business would be gone."

Readers blame Helio, Tracy blames Helio  UPDATE #3 After Castroneves limped back into the pits and got out of his car, he was besieged by boos from both sides of the straightaway. They booed long and loud and then began chanting “Helio sucks.”  Tracy defused a public lynching by stopping Helio as he walked back to the paddock and they shook hands, agreeing it was just a racing accident.

That was until Tracy saw the overhead video replay Sunday night on television.

“I didn’t think he meant to do it until I saw that replay and he turned right into me,” said Tracy, who lost the 2002 Indy 500 to HCN on a disputed call under caution. “Now I wish I hadn’t been such a nice guy.” SPEEDTV.com

07/13/09 Another reader adds, Paul Tracy himself did not blame Castroneves, saying it was hard racing, so fans had better think twice before saying Castroneves did it on purpose.  Ted Mallory  [We were racing hard," Tracy said of Castroneves. "He didn't want to let me by. He didn't block. He left me the room to get in there, we got intertwined and we seemed to not be able to get off each other. I'm not saying he squeezed me, I didn't squeeze him. It was just one of those things."]

07/12/09 Another reader adds, If you examine the aerial footage it is easy to see that it's not a traction issue.  Helio's left white glove flashes to the right when he belts Tracy into the wall.  Just watch it and you can see.  Helio played it off well to make sure that it would blow over and not blame Paul.  The broadcasters don't even mention it.  Let me know what you think. It wouldn't be unheard of to have Helio take him out.  Dan Michaelian

07/12/09 Readers comment on the Tracy/Castroneves accident: Dear AR1.com, If you look at the TV coverage of the crash with the view from the camera in front of them, you can see that Helio turned hard directly into Tracy.  His car is not out of shape and so he wasn't trying to correct something.  He was trying to take him out. Dennis Honeywell

Another reader writes, That was blatant. Helio just stuffed him intentionally. That looked horrible. I think Tracy should go punch him in the face. Scott Morrison, Indianapolis

Dear Dennis and Scott, We believe both drivers were skidding on the limit of adhesion at that point and when Helio tried to get off the marbles and back onto the racing line a bit too quickly he got traction faster than he expected and the car veered right and into Tracy's tires.  The rest was history.  We'll call it a racing accident.  Mark C.

Villeneuve gets a ride for Montreal race  
Jacques Villeneuve will race in the Nationwide Series at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Braun Racing announced Tuesday that Jacques Villeneuve will drive the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota at next month's NASCAR NAPA Auto Parts 200 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, the track named after his father.

Villeneuve will be making his second NASCAR Nationwide Series appearance after qualifying fifth last year in Montreal. Driving in heavy rain in the race, he ran in the top five until he was collected in an accident and went on to finish 16th.

"I am very happy to return to the track this year in Montreal with Braun Racing," Villeneuve said in a news release. "I enjoyed greatly my experience last year and their trust is greatly appreciated. It is also a team that prepares great cars. I am confident the No. 32 will be at least as good as the car the team prepared for me last year, which is exciting. But what makes me even more happy is the fact that this time around, I'm part of the equation from a much earlier stage. Together we will be able to better prepare for the end of August race and it should have a good influence on our results." More ...

Hamlin’s Team Wins Tissot Pit Crew Award  Denny Hamlin’s crew took top honors in the Tissot Pit Road Precision Award during Saturday night’s (July 11) Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.

Hamlin’s No. 11 crew became the 13th Tissot winner in the 19 Cup races contested in 2009. 

The pit crew win was the result of Hamlin’s FedEx Toyota Camry spending the least amount of time on pit road – 194.055 seconds. The quick work helped Hamlin and the Joe Gibbs Racing team to a fifth-place finish in the 267-lap, 400-mile race.

"The No. 11 FedEx team was awesome on Saturday night," said Hamlin. "I think we gained or held positions each time I was on pit road and as competitive as this sport is that makes a huge difference. We need to keep improving during this summer stretch so everyone is at their best for the Chase. I see how hard they are working to improve and it paid off on Saturday." More ...

Bank of America to offer Tesla financing  With a Tesla — like a Ferrari — if you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it.  Starting at $109,000, the all-electric Tesla Roadster would hardly appear to be the car for the financially responsible among us. But now, thanks to Bank of America, there is a financial path into the electric sports car market.

The Charlotte, N.C.- based banking behemoth, long a leader in auto loans, will begin offering financing for the purchase of a Tesla. Qualified borrowers will be eligible for a loan of up to 75 percent of the value of the car and can have up to five years to pay it off.

According to San Carlos-based Tesla Motors, that means for just $20,000 down, you can buy a Roadster.

Of course, that number isn't exactly accurate. It includes a $7,500 tax credit that you don't get until you file your taxes next year. It also doesn't account for $10,628 in sales tax and an estimated $1,300 in registration fees you would pay depending on what county you live in. Sadly, the new car sales tax deduction included in this year's stimulus bill doesn't apply to cars that cost as much as a Tesla.

So, in reality, for $30,237.50 down — or about the sticker price for a Ford Mustang Premium GT, you can buy the Roadster. More ...

Weekly NASCAR cheaters report  UPDATE NASCAR announced that Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #1 Chevy in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, crew chief Kevin Manion and car owner Teresa Earnhardt have been penalized for rule violations during last weekend’s event at Chicagoland Speedway. Truex was penalized 25 points in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver standings. Manion was fined $25,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31, 2009. Earnhardt was penalized 25 points in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner standings. The three were penalized for violating Section 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); Section 12-4-I and Section 20-12.8.1C. NASCAR PR

07/12/09 The #1 Chevy driven by Martin Truex Jr. did not pass a post-race inspection when NASCAR officials discovered the right rear quarter panel was too high on the car. Truex finished 16th in the LifeLock 400 race at Chicagoland Speedway. The car will be taken back to the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C., for further evaluations. NASCAR officials will determine if the height problem is a violation that requires a penalty. Any announcement of the process will come later this week, likely on Tuesday or Wednesday. Similar height situations have resulted in championship point reductions and fines in the past. ESPN.com
Fourth good enough for Wilson  Stefan Wilson finally got the result his Walker Racing team deserved.  The Englishman, who has shown the speed to compete as the front of Firestone Indy Lights races, only to be set back by mechanical woes, scored a fourth place finish at Toronto, narrowly missing the podium.

"I was quick in the wet and soon as it started to dry out we pitted for slicks at just the right time and it was the right choice," said Wilson, the younger brother of IndyCar Series driver Justin Wilson. "We were really quick straight away when we exited the pits and were probably the fastest car on the track.  Obviously we'd like the podium but James (Hinchcliffe) did a great job and the two Andretti Green cars did really well so it was getting pretty hard to catch them so I'm pretty pleased."

But Wilson nearly didn't make it to fourth place. Part of his seat slipped forcing him to drive for several laps around the tricky 1.755-mile circuit with one hand.

"There's three parts to the seat, and one of the parts came loose, actually," Wilson said. "Going in to Turn 9, it fell forward and jammed my right hand up in the air, so I was going through all this last sequence with one hand. So it pretty much slowed me down so I had to get rid of it and lose it on track.

"There was no way I was going to catch Hinch (Hinchcliffe) so I just preserved and kept my fourth place my best finish all year."

Canadian racing an important part of IndyCar Series history  The United States and Canada share a border, but philosophies about auto racing are worlds apart.

While the USA is dominated by oval racing, Canada -- much like the rest of the world -- has a strong preference for road racing. And certainly for the past 40 years there is a rich history of Canadian open-wheel road racing to draw on.

In that respect, 1967 was a banner -- the first Canadian Grand Prix for Formula 1 cars and the first Canadian appearance by Indy cars. Both occurred at Mosport Park (now Mosport International Raceway), a 2.4-mile road racing facility just outside Toronto that opened in 1961 as the nation's second purpose-built road course.

The F1 Canadian GP was staged from 1967-2008, with the exception of 1975 and 1987. It was held at Mosport from 1967-77 (excluding 1968 and 1970, when it was run at the Circuit Mont Tremblant in Quebec), and from 1978 onward at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve on the Ile Notre Dame in Montreal. Canadian GP winners is a who's-who of Formula 1 history, with names including Brabham, Stewart, Fittipaldi, Villeneuve, Piquet, Prost, Senna, Mansell, Hakkinen and Schumacher.  More ...

Toro Rosso braces for huge step forward in Hungary  (GMM)  Toro Rosso's technical upgrades in Hungary in two weeks could amount to nearly a full second per lap in gained time, according to Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi.

It is already known that the Faenza team will finally fit a double diffuser to its car at the next race.

But it also emerges that the new package will involve most of the recent developments featured on the dominant sister car of Red Bull Racing, including the fatter front nose.

The urgency of the Toro Rosso upgrade is that the Ferrari-powered team has at recent races dropped clearly behind Force India.

Force India's business director Ian Phillips believes Force India has found 1.7 seconds since the beginning of the 2009 season, culminating in Adrian Sutil's impressive seventh grid position with a big load of fuel.

"The modified car brings us nine tenths," rookie Buemi told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, "and I would be happy if it was only seven."

German Grand Prix Debrief - Q&A with Jarno Trulli  
How was the German Grand Prix weekend for you?
Cold! The weather was more like a winter test, with very low track temperatures and some rain, which didn't help us. Our car works best in warmer conditions so when we saw the weather forecast for the weekend we knew it wouldn't be ideal for us, and that's how it turned out.

Practice seemed to go well, so what were your expectations going into qualifying?
I was quite happy with our performance in practice and we were in the top six in both Friday sessions which gave me confidence. Of course, it's difficult to know exactly where you stand after Friday because you don't know what programs the other guys are running but I was quite hopeful. Apart from Monaco I have always been in Q3 this year and fighting for the top six, so that was the target again. More ...
Following outburst, Barrichello now 'over it'  (GMM)  Following Rubens Barrichello's controversial outburst after the German grand prix, the Brazilian veteran insists he is now "over it".

Despite leading early, the 37-year-old finished the Nurburgring race even behind his Brawn teammate Jenson Button in sixth place, ranting that it had been a "good show from the team on how to lose a race" and that he didn't want to go to the debrief because "it will be all 'bla bla bla bla'".

Barrichello did however attend the debrief, but even after a shower as well he insisted he view is "quite the same" and warned that he might "quit at the end of the year".

He subsequently flew straight from Germany for a holiday in Florida, and on Tuesday announced on his Twitter feed: "It was a tough day yesterday ... I was very upset ... but I am over it."

Barrichello also vowed to not let the affair affect the remainder of his season, with many observers interpreting his outburst as a sign of resignation.

"I will fight until I have (no more) chances for the championship.  I promise," Barrichello said.

Nurburgring cannot afford to take German GP fulltime  A shadow has been cast upon the future of the German Grand Prix as the Nürburgring has said that it will not be taking full reigns of the event after Hockenheim's requested departure from the F1 calendar, as they already lose their shirt hosting the race every other year. The two venues are currently hosting the race on an alternating basis, although the Grand Prix is set to have no home for 2010.

With Hockenheim due to the host the race next year, local authorities - which own 96% of the venue - have already announced that €6m losses from 2008 cannot be sustained; with the council no longer assisting and administrators at Hockenheim seemingly stranded in finding a solution, general assumptions would place the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring for the second consecutive year although the Eifel-located track has said that it would not be happy with this arrangement, as the current deal is a stronger financial proposition.

"We are definitely not available for next year, we are planning only for 2011," Nürburgring manager director Walker Kafitz told Autosport, adding that only a cutback in its race hosting fee from commercial rights holder Formula One Management (FOM) may persuade a change of mind. "Bernie (Ecclestone, head of FOM) could manage it but I cannot imagine that he is willing to accept my wish."
Boss desperate to return Ferrari's attention to track  (GMM)  Stefano Domenicali has admitted that F1's political war has been a distraction and is looking forward to returning his full focus to Ferrari's on-track fortunes.

Coinciding with the battle over the future of the sport, the defending constructors' champions have been struggling with the pace of their 2009 car and are on the verge of turning their attention to 2010.

Ferrari has been at the centre of the FOTA movement, and Domenicali confessed: "To be honest, I would have preferred to have been more balanced for the team. More ...

Mayfield loses crew chief  Carter/Simo Racing officials said Tony Furr has joined the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team as crew chief for driver Terry Labonte.  The team announced last week that Labonte and Boris Said will share the team’s No. 08 entry, beginning with next weekend’s Allstate 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  When Labonte drives the No. 08, it will be a Toyota, with Furr as crew chief. When Said drives, it will be a Ford with Frank Stoddard as crew chief.  Furr joins Carter/Simo after a stint as crew chief for Mayfield Motorsports and driver Jeremy Mayfield earlier this year.
Bang! New GM shoots self in foot already  Sporadic reports have begun popping up in the Camaro5 forums about issues with V8-powered SS models equipped with the manual transmission. It seems that doing a hard launch or using the launch control system occasionally results in a broken output shaft, a serious failure that will most likely leave the car immobile and in need of repair. We spoke with General Motors spokesman Adam Dennison about the problem and, as this is being written, a factory hold has been put on deliveries of manual transmission V8 Camaros while Chevrolet engineering teams investigate the problem.

Based on the reports, the transmission issues may not be related to the launch control system as the failures seem to happen whether or not launch control is engaged. The Camaro SS uses the Tremec 6060 six-speed gearbox – the same transmission fitted to the Dodge Viper, Mustang GT500, Corvette Z06 and other performance cars – so this is likely a manufacturing issue with a batch of gearboxes.

Dennison told Autoblog that an engineering meeting is being held this evening to identify the cause and establish a timing for the fix – and a recall seems likely. In the meantime, if you have a manual model Camaro SS, you might want to go easy on the launches for now – and if you have one ordered, you'll have to wait a bit longer. Autoblog

Toronto grandstands papered to make it look good  Despite empty seats in the sparse grandstands and long lines at ticket sellers outside the track, race organizers left Toronto pleased with the first race under new management.  While it might seem that attendance at the Honda Indy Toronto was disappointing, the organizers stressed that 2009 is only the first in a five-year plan to rebuild the event.

“As far as the on-track product, today, it was fantastic,” said Kevin Savoree, managing director of Andretti Green Promotions, which runs the race.

“We accomplished everything we wanted to accomplish with the 2009 event, and we’ve established a very strong foundation and we are going to build on that.”

Organizers refused to divulge the attendance, saying it is not their policy. But estimates put attendance at about 15,000 [1/4th of even the worse Champ Car years].

And a glance across the track toward the pit lane during the race showed grandstands with large blocks of empty seats and the general admission was not standing room only. Part of that may have been because fans gave up on buying a ticket after finding the long lines outside the track, where sellers were using calculators and cashboxes.

Before the race, groups of women in event gear were seen handing out free grandstand tickets to people inside the grounds.  Globe and Mail

Luis Diaz on Lime Rock  
Luis Diaz
Luis Diaz enters Lime Rock Park and the American Le Mans Northeast Grand Prix unbeaten in LMP2 with Lowe’s Fernandez Racing teammate Adrian Fernandez. The pairing was a perfect 4-for-4 in the first half of the 2009 American Le Mans Series behind the wheel of their Acura ARX-01b.

To make it five straight and extend their P2 championship lead, the two will have to win at track that hasn’t exactly been kind to them. They did place fourth in P2 last season but retired early in 2007. As has been the case in each of the five previous visits to Lime Rock for the Series, successfully overtaking traffic will be paramount. More ...

Red Bull duel won't be 'dirty' - Lauda  
Vettel and Webber
(GMM)  Niki Lauda does not believe the 2009 championship is set to turn into a hostile inter-teammate scrap between Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.

While the form of championship leader Jenson Button's Brawn team dwindles, the Red Bull duo have dominated the last two races and are now separated in the standings by just 1.5 points.

RBR boss Christian Horner is for now refusing to step in with team orders nor assign number 1 status, meaning that for the time being Vettel and Webber seem destined to fight out their duel at the front of the field.

"It's going to be a great duel," triple world champion Lauda, a commentator for German television, told Bild newspaper," but not a dirty one.

"Sebastian is too intelligent for that.  And Webber is a gentleman," the great Austrian added. More ...

Alonso eyes podiums with improved Renault  
Fernando Alonso
(GMM)  A major step forward thanks to an aerodynamic overhaul means the R29 is a potential podium contender for the eight remaining races of 2009, according to Fernando Alonso and his boss Flavio Briatore.

The 27-year-old Spaniard, although outqualified for the first time ever by his teammate Nelson Piquet amid the Q2 rain, finished the German GP seventh.

But towards the end of the grand prix, the Renault was easily the fastest car; in the hands of Alonso setting the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth best lap times of the entire Nurburgring race.

Alonso says the car has benefited from significant aerodynamic changes, particularly to the double diffuser.

"The car felt good and from now on we can be closer to the podium.  That's the goal," he told Spanish radio Cadena SER. More ...

racing news
Quotes of the Week  UPDATE “It is hard to say what happened.  We (Paul Tracy and Helio Castroneves) were racing really hard.  He was saving fuel, coasting at the end of the back straightaway.  I made a move down the inside.  He gave me some room, then he moved over and we hooked up wheels.  It was just a racing incident.  I wanted to get by and keep in touch with Dario (Franchitti).  I want to thank the Ontario Honda Dealers, Wounded Warriors.ca. and all the sponsors who have help to this point,  GEICO, Monster everybody who help us get to this point.  I also want to thank the entire KV Racing Technology team.  They did a fantastic job all weekend and gave me a great race car.  I think I have shown I can run with these guys. It was just a sad way to end the day. I guess that is why they call me the Thrill.”  Paul Tracy after being taken out by Helio Castroneves in Toronto

"It was a good show from the team on how to lose a race today.  I'm terribly upset with the way things went.  I did all I had to do.  I went first on the first corner and then they made me lose the race.  If it is really what's going on, we're going to end up losing both championships.  I feel sorry for myself, the team.  To be very honest, I wish I could get on the plane and go home.  I don't want to talk to anyone in the team.  It will be all 'bla bla bla' and I don't want to hear that." Rubens Barrichello, Formula 1 driver, Brawn GP, upset after finishing sixth in the German Grand Prix.

"It's an incredible day. I wanted to win so badly after Silverstone, as I thought I had a good chance there, then after yesterday's pole I knew I was in a good position to try and win the race today. The only thing that I thought was going to test me was the rain, but even that held off. It was testing to get the victory today, I lost Rubens completely at the start; I thought he was gone a little bit to the left so I went to the right and banged into him. That's not normally my style and I got a drive-through penalty for that, so had to recover. My engineer kept me calm and I pushed as hard as I could when I needed to, so it's a great day. It was a difficult winter, Sebastian showed in winter testing what the car could do, so that kept my motivation very high when I was hurting a lot with all the rehab. I had great people around me to recover from all the injuries I had and the team have been incredibly patient with me as well. I want to thank Dietrich Mateschitz, Red Bull and everyone at Red Bull Racing for what they did for me over the winter, everyone in Australia who has supported me on the way through my career - and there are a few people that doubted me too, so hello to them as well. It's just an incredible day for all the people who have helped me get to where I am today." 
Mark Webber, Formula 1 driver, Red Bull, ecstatic after winning his first F1 race at the German Grand Prix More ...
racing news
Prairie Hills Partners with Pit Fit Training  Prairie Hills proudly announces partnership with PitFit Training, the leader in racing fitness. PitFit Training has stood for the most cutting-edge training programs for professional and amateur racers since they began working in motorsports in 1994. "It’s a privilege to take this expertise to the exclusive membership at Prairie Hills, and enhance a facility that will exceed the expectations of the most demanding individual", says PitFit President Jim Leo.

"The driver human performance center at Prairie Hills Motorsports Club is second to none in the areas of driver-specific fitness equipment as well as overall training options. The staff at PitFit Training guides each driver through the same training programs as it uses with their world-class drivers, including the 2006 and 2007 Indianapolis 500 champions"

Training and diet programs are custom-designed to suit each specific need of the club member, whether to improve muscle strength or assistance in losing weight. Let the Prairie Hills PitFit staff take your overall and racing conditioning to the next level.

Saving Abel leads music lineup for Allstate 400  Virgin Records recording artists Saving Abel will headline a diverse lineup of musical acts scheduled to play during Allstate 400 at the Brickyard weekend July 24-26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Popular rock band Saving Abel will play from 11 a.m.-noon (ET) Sunday, July 26 on the Coke Zero Stage, concluding 30 minutes before 2009 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard pre-race ceremonies begin. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series superstars such as four-time Allstate 400 at the Brickyard winner Jeff Gordon and two-time "400" winners Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson will contest the 16th running of the mid-summer classic at 2 p.m.

The Coke Zero Stage is located in the IMS Pagoda Plaza, located directly behind the landmark Pagoda control tower. More ...

tv news
Motorsports This Week on ESPN and ABC  
NASCAR Nationwide Series in Prime Time from St. Louis

The NASCAR Nationwide Series races in prime time on Saturday night as it makes its only appearance of the season at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis. ESPN2 will have a live, high definition telecast of the 250-lap race on Saturday, July 18 beginning at 9 p.m. ET with NASCAR Countdown. ESPN2 is the home of the NASCAR Nationwide Series all season, with selected races on ESPN and ABC.

Also this weekend, live coverage of NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying airs Saturday at 5 p.m. on ESPN2, while coverage of final practice airs Friday, July 17, at 9 p.m.

Marty Reid will be lap-by-lap announcer for ESPN’s coverage, with analysis by 1989 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Rusty Wallace and two-time NASCAR champion crew chief Andy Petree. Reporting from the pits will be Dave Burns, Jamie Little and Mike Massaro. More ...

23 cars entered for Edmonton race  The 2009 Rexall Edmonton Indy, running from July 24-26, 2009, is expected to feature 23 cars on the starting grid, and an international cast of drivers representing 12 countries from around the world. Though the starting line-up is subject to change, the list of drivers includes:

Scott Dixon

Target Chip Ganassi Racing New Zealand
Dario Franchitti Target Chip Ganassi Racing Scotland
Helio Castroneves Team Penske Brazil
Ryan Briscoe Team Penske Australia
Danica Patrick Andretti Green Racing USA
Tony Kanaan Andretti Green Racing Brazil
Marco Andretti Andretti Green Racing USA
Hideki Mutoh Andretti Green Racing Japan
Alex Tagliani Conquest Racing Canada
Paul Tracy KV Racing Technology Canada
Mario Moraes KV Racing Technology Brazil
Dan Wheldon Panther Racing United Kingdom
Will Power Penske Racing Australia
E.J. Viso HVM Racing Venezuela
Ryan Hunter-Reay A.J. Foyt Enterprises USA
Justin Wilson Dale Coyne Racing United Kingdom
Ed Carpenter Vision Racing USA
Tomas Scheckter Dreyer & Reinbold Racing South Africa
Mike Conway Dreyer & Reinbold Racing United Kingdom
Richard Antinucci CURB/Agajanian/Team 3G USA
Graham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing USA
Robert Doornbos Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing Netherlands
Raphael Matos Luczo Dragon Racing Brazil

2008 Rexall Edmonton Indy Champion Scott Dixon will lead the charge for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, while Canadian’s Alex Tagliani and Paul Tracy will put the pedal to the metal in front of their fellow countrymen.

Tickets for the 2009 Rexall Edmonton Indy are on sale now, including 3-Day Grandstand Passes and Single Day Tickets, at all Ticketmaster outlets, or online at www.ticketmaster.ca.

Corvette returns to ALMS  The Acura Sports Car Challenge will officially mark the start of a new era in Corvette Racing with two new Corvette C6.R entries set to debut in the American Le Mans Series’ annual visit to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Wearing the familiar Nos. 3 and 4, cellulosic E85-fueled, V8-powered Corvettes will go head-to-head with Ferrari, Porsche, Panoz, BMW, Ford and Dodge among others throughout the second half of the 2009 season.

Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen will drive one Corvette C6.R at Mid-Ohio with Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin in the other. The team is transitioning to GT2 from GT1 where Magnussen, O’Connell and Antonio Garcia won in class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and gave Corvette Racing its sixth victory in the world’s greatest race since 2001. More ...

ISC launches aftermarket automotive brand  International Speedway Corporation (“ISC”) today announced the launch of DAYTONA Elite™, a new automotive aftermarket brand and license platform named after the world famous Daytona International Speedway.

“This program creates a perfect synergy as DAYTONA boasts nearly unmatched brand equity in motorsports and is globally recognized for speed, performance, history and prestige.” stated ISC Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Daryl Q. Wolfe.  “The DAYTONA Elite platform will be positioned around high end premium products across a wide variety of categories in the automotive aftermarket.  It not only establishes an instantly credible brand name, but also provides direct marketing opportunities for our partners.  These manufacturers will have the ability to leverage our at-track assets to activate around motorsports events at our thirteen motorsports facilities across the country.” More ...

BMW willing to supply customer team  (GMM)  BMW is willing to supply a customer team with engines in 2010, formula one team boss Mario Theissen has revealed.

"We have the capacity to make our engines available to other teams," the German told the Sport Bild magazine.

The German publication suggests Theissen's offer is a message to Red Bull, the currently Renault-powered team that is considering switching to Mercedes engines next year.

Sport Bild believes a Red Bull-BMW linkup would be a perfect bid to eventually woo Sebastian Vettel back to the Hinwil based team in the future.

RBR team boss Christian Horner said he is not in a rush to make a decision.

"Regarding our engine choice, we can wait even until the winter time," he insisted.

Lauda scolds Hamilton for giving up  (GMM)  Niki Lauda has scolded reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton for wanting to abandon the German grand prix.

On the back of a strong weekend with significant car improvements at the Nurburgring, the McLaren driver made a bid for the lead at the start but cut a tire in contact with eventual winner Mark Webber.

When subsequently running last, the McLaren driver pleaded on the radio with the pitwall to "save this engine and gearbox" in the form of a voluntary retirement, but was told to "concentrate on the driving and leave the strategy to us".

Asked about Hamilton's request, former triple world champion Lauda told Germany's Bild newspaper: "I wouldn't have dared.  A driver should drive because that's what he is paid to do.

"Everything else is decided by the bosses." More ...

Honda not considering F1 return - new CEO  (GMM)  Even if the world economy rapidly recovers, Honda is not keen to return to formula one, the Japanese carmaker's new chief executive said on Monday.

Takanobu Ito has now succeeded former chief executive Takeo Fukui, who due to the global financial crisis decided to withdraw Honda from the sport and hand the Brackley team to its current owners headed by Ross Brawn.

"It was a real shame that we had to leave formula one," Ito is quoted as saying from Tokyo.

Financial considerations aside, he suggested F1 has become less attractive due to its regulatory restrictions.

"On the other hand, F1 is becoming less of a medium in which companies can test their various strengths and more of an event with mounting restrictions.

"There's little room for us to challenge new fields, so bearing in mind the current state of series, I don't think we have the desire to return, even if the economy improves," he added. More ...

Toronto group happy with attendance  Andretti Green Promotions, which bought the rights to bring this event back to Toronto following a year layoff, did not release attendance figures, but the crowd was regarded as less than in the Champ Car years (not even half). That series raced here from 1986 to 2007. "It's a five-year plan to rebuild this car race," said Kevin Savoree, a co-owner of AGR. IndyStar
Button happy Vettel didn't win in Germany  
Button watches as the Red Bull duo chip away at his points lead
(GMM)  After two consecutive Red Bull victories while himself failing to finish higher than fifth, Jenson Button has attempted to bat away the mounting pressure.

The Brawn driver's championship lead over Sebastian Vettel has plummeted from 32 points before Silverstone to just 21 points now, meaning the young German could at this rate top the standings with four races to go.

But Button told reporters after the German grand prix that he sees the situation differently, with his teammate Rubens Barrichello dropping from second to fourth in the standings at the Nurburgring.

"My championship lead has stayed the same, although it's over a different person now," he said.

He also welcomed the fact that it was Mark Webber, and not Vettel who is now 1.5 points ahead of his Australian teammate, who dominated on Sunday. More ...

Barrichello issues new Brawn quit threat  
Barrichello has made excuses for a decade why he is not a consistent winner.  You make your own luck.
(GMM)  Even after a shower and a post-race debrief, Rubens Barrichello was still unhappy with his F1 employer Brawn GP as he left the Nurburgring.

Having suspected favoritism towards Jenson Button at Barcelona earlier this year, the 37-year-old Brazilian threatened to quit.

He repeated the warning in Germany.

"At the end of the day I can quit at the end of the year if I want to but now I want to get on with racing," Barrichello said.

Team boss Ross Brawn told reporters after the race that Rubens' good relationship with the Brackley outfit would not be ruined due to a frustrated outburst. More ...

Ford hasn't cut support this year  Last week there was a call placed to Ford Motor Company's Brian Wolfe in Dearborn, Mich., to get an idea where those boys at the Blue Oval were going with their stock-car racing program. Ford, he says, drafted a slimmed down business plan under the company's new CEO Alan Mulally, and yes, cuts were made to the racing budget -- last year. "For our part at Ford, our story hasn't changed a whole lot since the start of the season, other than we haven't won enough races," Wolfe howled. "We're in a little different position than two of the other players in the sport." Those players are GM and Chrysler, which competes in NASCAR with its Dodge brand. Wolfe said Ford had to make some "tough cuts" at the end of the 2008 season, which included an end to direct financial support to Nationwide and Truck Series race teams. "But we have kept our engineering support," he said. "That is really critical; that hasn't changed. The Cup teams, that we have long-term contracts with, have stayed the same. We're pushing along with our plan." Daytona Beach News Journal
tv news
Craven, Said, Blount on NASCAR Now Roundtable  ESPN NASCAR analysts Ricky Craven and Boris Said and ESPN.com reporter Terry Blount will be panelists on NASCAR Now's weekly roundtable discussion program airing Monday, July 13, at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Allen Bestwick will host the edition of ESPN2's daily NASCAR news and information program. ESPN PR
Gibernau's team pulls out of MotoGP  Sete Gibernau's MotoGP team has pulled out of the world championship and will not compete in this weekend's German Grand Prix.

The Francisco Hernando Group, who brought the team into the championship for the start of the this season, has announced that it is pulling out of the sport due to financial reasons.

"Grupo Francisco Hernando will not complete the 2009 season," the team said in a statement.

"The reasons for this termination is the world's crisis. The Group has decided to concentrate on its investments, focusing all its efforts in its projects as a promoter and constructor."

NASCAR Newscast: LifeLock.com 400 Recap  
Franchitti rekindles fond memories at Toronto  
Dario Franchitti
Ah, how Exhibition Place in Toronto rekindles memories for Dario Franchitti. There were the pole starts in 1997 and '98 that didn't end up so well.

But 1999 was something different -- 11th race of the PPG/CART season, a mid-July afternoon with a sizable crowd watching the competitors on the tight turns and long straits of the temporary street circuit. Franchitti picks up his first victory at Toronto (and fourth overall) with Team KOOL Green to creep up to Juan Pablo Montoya in the championship standings. He's seven points back, with Emerson Fittipaldi and Michael Andretti also in striking range.

Ten years almost to the day removed and Franchitti again visited Victory Circle at Toronto by virtue of holding off Ryan Briscoe and Will Power for his third victory of the season (11th in the IndyCar Series).

With the victory - and three bonus points for winning the PEAK Performance Pole Award and leading the most laps on the 1.755-mile, 11-turn course - Franchitti regained the championship points lead after 10 of 17 races. More ...

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