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Track Insurance Program for students at performance driving schools
Pukka Software, creators of MotorsportReg.com, and Lockton Affinity today announced the industry’s first comprehensive insurance program for high performance driving event participants. The HPDE Insurance Program, available exclusively via MotorsportReg.com, provides an a la carte, single-event policy designed to provide affordable physical damage coverage to cars used in performance driving schools at race tracks across the United States.

"Many automotive insurance policies now exclude coverage for non-competitive events at motor racing facilities," said Pukka Software founder Brian Ghidinelli.  "The HPDE Insurance Program allows enthusiasts to participate in exciting high performance driving schools without risking the vehicle they drive every day."

The HPDE Insurance Program, administered by Lockton Risk Services, offers an agreed-value insurance policy providing primary coverage for incidents in the paddock or on the racing surface whether the vehicle is being driven by the primary driver, co-driver, or instructor.  After-market modifications are covered and claims will not affect participants’ street insurance rates or claim histories.  $10,000 of damage coverage can be had for as little as $67.  HPDE Insurance Program policies are sold online and can be obtained as quickly as 5-10 minutes.

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KERS will hurt Red Bull team
Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner has expressed concerns that the introduction of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) will disadvantage Formula 1's independent teams and favor the larger manufacturer-backed outfits.

From 2009 F1 teams will be allowed to use KERS, a technology that recovers energy otherwise lost under braking and converts it into a power boost to be used for overtaking.

While Horner agrees with the principle, he is concerned that the system will benefit the car companies as they have greater resources for development and can justify the investment on the basis of its potential relevance to their production cars.

He warned that the result may be to entrench manufacturer dominance of F1 and halt Red Bull's progress just as it is showing the potential to break into the top division.

“Obviously it has no relevance to Red Bull’s business,” Horner told the official Formula 1 website.

“For us, KERS is part of the regulations so it is something that we will do. It is extremely costly and as we are an independent team we don’t have the resources to develop like a manufacturer has.

“It could become a big performance differentiator next year and it would be a shame, now that we have come so close, to see it all go due to the KERS system.” More at ITV-F1.com


NHRA technical bulletin/rule revision: Funny Car body
The NHRA Technical Department has announced that effective immediately in Funny Car, modification to the lower, rear corner of the front wheel opening(s) may be allowed, if required to meet the clearance for starting-line timing lights. In side view, the body should present clearance, all the way across the car, 3 inches from the ground, extending for a length of 12 inches + ¼-inch max, rearward from the front spindle centerline. Any exposed edges or openings as a result of trimming the wheel-opening corner should be patched and refinished. Such modifications must be authorized in advance by the NHRA Technical Services Department and approved upon completion.

Rulebook revision

Funny Car
Section 16
Body: 7
Page 259
(Effective 07/08)
Body: Add after second sentence in second paragraph: "Modification to the lower, rear corner of the front wheel opening(s) may be allowed, IF required to meet the clearance for starting-line timing lights. In side view, the body should present clearance, all the way across the car, 3 inches from the ground, extending for a length of 12 inches + ¼-inch max, rearward from the front spindle centerline. Any exposed edges or openings as a result of trimming the wheel-opening corner should be patched and refinished. Such modifications must be authorized in advance by the NHRA Technical Services Department and approved upon completion."


Star Mazda Race 2 at PIR
John Edwards
John Edwards, winner of Round 2 of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at Miller Motorsports Park, repeated the feat with a freight-train run from the front row in Star Mazda Race 2 / Round 5 this Sunday at the Mazda Grand Prix of Portland.  Finishing 2nd was Saturday race winner and Sunday pole-sitter Tom Gladdis, followed by Round 1 winner Joel Miller.  The top-finishing Expert Series driver, scoring his fourth class victory of the season and second win of the weekend was Vancouver, B.C. native Chris Cumming.  Leading the Master Series drivers across the finish line was 3-time winner, Californian Chuck Hulse.

After a disastrous start to the weekend that saw the clutch on his car fail on the first lap of Race 1 on Saturday, forcing him to limp around to a 24th-place finish, Edwards (#7 AIM Autosport Mazda) turned a terrible weekend into a great one, starting from the outside of the front row – as he did in Race 1 – and leading every lap.  Edwards came to PIR 8th in the championship and has now moved up to 7th.

"We finally got it organized and it all came good today," says Edwards.  "I got my first good start of the season – even when I won at Miller, I almost lost the lead on the start – and took the lead going into the first corner.  I concentrated on running consistent laps, on hitting my marks and not putting a wheel wrong.  I ran into traffic at the end and Tom Gladdis started catching me, but I had enough of a time cushion… and a little bet left in the car.  This one is for the AIM Autosport guys who have been working night and day to get me back to the front."

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Villeneuve Announces Sponsors for Montréal Nationwide Race
David Drucker, President The UPS Store Canada, Jacques Villeneuve and Larry Plotnick, Chairman The UPS Store Canada
Jacques Villeneuve, driver of the Braun Racing No. 32 Toyota Camry in the second annual NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal on August 1-2, 2008, met with all his Montreal race sponsors on Monday afternoon. In a private meeting, Jacques was introduced to the principals of each of the six companies that will back his homecoming race.

For the Montreal Nationwide event, Villeneuve's No. 32 Camry will be sporting the colors of Groupe Savoie of Les Résidences Soleil, Schick Canada, L'Équipeur and Marks Work Wearhouse, the UPS Store Canada, Hype Energy Drinks, and Ganotech.

Jacques Villeneuve has captured championships in both the CART Series in 1995 and Formula 1 two years later. He has also won the 1995 Indy 500. Villeneuve last raced in Montréal in 2006 with the BMW Sauber F1 Team. He scored his best Montreal F1 results in 1996, finishing second behind his Williams teammate Damon Hill. The Montreal race will mark Jacques Villeneuve's debut in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.


No amount of "spin" can salvage NASCAR's Indy debacle
It was ugly. It was absurd. It was inexcusable. And it was flat-out embarrassing. Other than that, the 2008 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard was a swell event. I will dispense with the particulars about who won (Jimmie Johnson), driving what (Hendrick Motorsports-prepared Car of Today), etc., because it doesn't matter at this point. What matters is that NASCAR and Goodyear conspired - by way of their incompetence and a stunning lack of preparation - to turn the second most prestigious event on the racing organization's schedule into a total and utter fiasco.

That NASCAR and Goodyear tested at The Speedway last April with a minimal contingent of cars and called it good, even when there were indications of severe wear problems on the right side tires - the right fronts in particular - makes it even worse. Goodyear and NASCAR both made assumptions that the premature wearing problem was caused by the "green" surface at the time, and that when the cars unloaded at Indy and started laying rubber down, things would be okay. Well, things were not okay - big time - and the race was a monumental waste of time because of it.

The Car of Today took some of the heat because of its lack of downforce and its higher center of gravity, but again, that's no excuse. NASCAR blew one of their premier events to smithereens, and as always, the fans were the ones who suffered. NASCAR ended up throwing six "competition yellows" last Sunday because the cars couldn't run more than 10-13 laps before catastrophic tire failures occurred, and NASCAR's vaunted "show" turned into a nightmare of gigantic proportions. Autoextremist.com


Tony George points finger at NASCAR and Goodyear
Indianapolis Motor Speedway CEO Tony George said today it’s up to NASCAR and Goodyear to find a solution for the tire debacle that spoiled Sunday’s Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

George, who missed the 400 while vacationing in British Columbia following the IndyCar Series race in Edmonton, Alberta, said there have been enough stock car races on that surface for the problem to have been avoided.

This was the 15th Sprint Cup Series race at the Speedway, which had its oval track resurfaced in 2005.

“They’ve run on it,” George said. “The problem is solely theirs, and by that I mean it’s theirs to figure out.

“(A solution) is not going to come with anything we do to the track. Figuring it out will only come with getting the car and tire combination right, and that requires actually spending the time and effort to do something about it.

“The track won’t change next year, so if they want to come back they better figure it out because I don’t think the fans want to come back and see that,” he said. “I think that’s obvious.”

Goodyear tested three cars at the track in April, had 15 years experience at the track and still came to Indy with defective tires, that's how bad a tire company they are.


29 Bubbas arrested Sunday during Allstate 400
Police arrested 29 NASCAR fans during Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.  Most of the arrests — 17 — were for public intoxication, according to the Speedway Police Department.


TRD's White mocks Jack Roush and others
Toyota Racing Development President and General Manager Lee White says his company won’t complain about the rule change aimed at reducing Toyota’s horsepower in the Nationwide Series.

On the contrary, White said, TRD and its teams will simply go to work to try to overcome the estimated 16 lost horsepower when NASCAR decided to shrink the openings of the tapered spacer in Toyota engines.

“Frankly, as far as I’m concerned, NASCAR filled up the whiner trough with slop, and all the hogs have jumped in there, and there’s no room at the trough,” White said. “I’d just as soon hang out with a higher-quality person anyway.” [Editor's Note: Referring to Ford's Jack Roush and other habitual whiners]

White and other Toyota officials were angry when NASCAR first made the rule change last Tuesday, but that anger has turned into “righteous indignation.”

White said Toyota doesn’t believe there was any prejudice toward the company over the change and admitted that the rule change likely came about because Toyota had too much success too soon.

“Unfortunately, that’s our job,” White said. “That’s how we make our living.”

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USAC fines hot-head Tony Stewart $10,000
Tony Stewart still has a real anger management problem and needs to seek the help of a shrink before he picks on the wrong person and they knock all his teeth out
USAC team owner Tony Stewart has been fined $10,000 and Tony Stewart Racing has been placed on probation for the balance of the 2008 USAC racing season following an incident on pit road during Thursday night’s USAC National Midget race at O’Reilly Raceway Park (ORP) in Indianapolis.

Stewart was fined for violation of USAC competition rules 10.28 (Unsportsmanlike Conduct) and 10.32 (Conduct Detrimental to Racing) after his interaction with USAC race officials following an on-track incident involving one of his Midgets driven by Tracy Hines. Hines had scraped the wall and pitted for a tire change, but his car was not deemed ready to re-enter the race in time to rejoin the field for the restart.

“USAC immediately assessed the incident and it was determined that unacceptable behavior detrimental to the sport had occurred, and that the professionalism and the integrity of the series and its promoters had been severely compromised,” stated Jason Smith, Vice President of Racing Operations for USAC. “While we respect the passion of our teams in the spirit of competition, we regret this incident occurred and are dedicated to averting a recurrence in the future.”

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Beijing club joins Superleague Formula
Beijing Superleague car
The football club that will move into the Beijing Olympic stadium following the 2008 Olympic Games is the latest team to join the new football-themed motor racing championship, Superleague Formula.

Beijing Guoan Football Club has joined the expanding Superleague Formula grid – becoming the Championship’s first Asian club. Superleague Formula now includes clubs from Europe, the Middle-East, South America and Asia – becoming a truly global competition.

The Chinese squad joins AC Milan, PSV Eindhoven, FC Porto, Olympiacos, Borussia Dortmund, RSC Anderlecht, FC Basel, Flamengo, Galatasaray, Sevilla, Corinthians, Rangers and Al Ain on the Superleague Formula grid.

Founded in 1992, Beijing Guoan is the only Chinese league club based in the Olympic city. Their existing home is the Beijing Fengtai Stadium.

The club finished runner-up in the Chinese league in 1995 and 2007, but has earned three Chinese FA Cup crowns in 1996, 1997, 2003. 

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tv news

Motorsports This Week on ESPN
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Live from Pocono on ESPN

The unique, triangular shape of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Raceway always presents a challenge to NASCAR teams, and ESPN will have live, flag-to-flag coverage of the 500-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Pocono, telecast presented by Cheez-It, on Sunday, August 3, at 1 p.m. ET. Pocono is the second of 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup events on the ESPN networks to close out the 2008 NASCAR season, with the first six on ESPN and the final 11 on ABC, including all 10 races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Coverage from Pocono Raceway includes a live telecast of NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying on Friday, Aug. 1, at 3:30 p.m., and coverage of practice sessions from 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 2, all on ESPN2. All programming also airs in high definition and is simulcast on ESPN MobileTV. The race replays on Monday, Aug. 4, at 1 p.m. on ESPN Classic.

Dr. Jerry Punch will be lead announcer for ESPN’s coverage, joined in the booth for analysis by 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Dale Jarrett and two-time champion crew chief Andy Petree. Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Mike Massaro and Shannon Spake will be pit reporters with two-time champion crew chief Tim Brewer in the ESPN Tech Center.

The pre-race NASCAR Countdown show from the ESPN pit studio will be hosted by Allen Bestwick, with 1989 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Rusty Wallace and analyst Brad Daugherty. The studio team will interact with the booth during the telecast of the race. 

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Bernd Schneider rain man in the Eifel
In what was the most thrilling DTM race of the year, the weather in the Eifel turned the seventh season round of the DTM at the Nürburgring into a turbulent tire lottery. Outstanding man of the day was the eldest driver in the field, Bernd Schneider. The 44-year old DTM record champion used all his experience and after 156.047 kilometers, he drove his AMG Mercedes C-Class across the finish line as the delighted winner.

“A great race with a good ending for me. Tonight, one round is on me”, the winner said. For Schneider, it was the 43rd DTM race win in his career. After a great recovery in the last couple of laps, his fellow Mercedes driver, Scotsman Paul di Resta, secured himself second place. The quadruple success for Mercedes-Benz was completed by British drivers Jamie Green and Gary Paffett, the latter being the best-placed driver with a year-old car in fourth place. Points’ leader Timo Scheider became the best Audi driver of the day. He remains in the lead of the points’ standings with a margin of four points over Green. DTM novice Ralf Schumacher scored his first championship point in a DTM race by finishing an excellent eighth.

Paffett finished best placed driver of an one year old car. The race started with a bang. Based on the internal weather forecast, all Audis started into the formation lap with rain tires. The opposition from Mercedes-Benz was entirely on slicks. Initially, the actual weather situation didn’t confirm the forecast and the Audi team management decided to call points’ leader Scheider, Mattias Ekström and Markus Winkelhock into the pits at the end of the formation lap, have their tires changed and have them starting from the pit lane. After a very good start from second on the grid, Audi driver Mike Rockenfeller overtook his fellow Audi driver Tom Kristensen from Denmark and took the lead.

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Dixon top scorer during six-race stretch
Scott Dixon
Drivers and teams who went through the first stretch of six consecutive races in IndyCar Series history can take a couple of days to exhale before they begin preparations for the Meijer Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway on Aug. 9.

The stretch that began June 22 at Iowa concluded July 26 at Edmonton. Five drivers, including series points leader Scott Dixon, recorded victories during the stretch. Dixon outscored every driver in his quest for a second IndyCar Series championship.

Dixon pocketed 221 points during the six races, including 50 each for wins at Nashville and Edmonton. Helio Castroneves, who trails Dixon by 65 points in the standings with four races remaining, was the second-highest scoring driver with 191 points.

“It’s been a stretch where I think we probably could have maximized a little bit more as well, but that’s the way it goes,” said Dixon, whose only finish outside of the top five during the stretch was an 11th at Watkins Glen International. “You have to try and make the most of it, especially when you have races that you don’t do the best at.”

Mike Hull, managing director for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, credited Dixon’s and the team’s mental toughness for its success.

“Maybe that’s an understatement, or maybe we don’t give it enough consideration – one or the other, but we’ve worked really, really hard since we began this season to try to be in the position that we’re in today,” Hull said.

“You can use the cliché that you take one race at a time, but in actual fact, that’s exactly what we’ve done here. We’ve just worked one week at a time to do each race. Our job at hand is to be ready to race every week, so I think our guys have done a great job. The drivers have stayed strong through the whole process. All the Target mechanics have done the same thing. We got spit out the other side pretty successfully here.”

Other drivers who faired well during the six consecutive weekends of racing on a variety of ovals and road/street courses were Ryan Hunter-Reay and Darren Manning. Hunter-Reay scored his first career victory at Watkins Glen and moved up five positions in the standings to ninth. Manning, the seventh-highest scoring driver since Iowa, had four top-10 finishes to jump seven spots in the standings to 12th.

“It has been really grueling going all over the country and completely different racetracks every race weekend,” Manning said. “From Iowa to Richmond, they were probably about the only two tracks that were pretty similar, but when you’re actually driving them, they’re actually quite a lot different. Iowa is a very high-grip track, and even though Richmond is pretty high-grip, it’s still just a single-groove track, so it’s quite a lot different driving. The road courses back to the ovals and back to the road courses, it’s tough. You have to try and make sure you take every opportunity to relax when you get back home, even if it’s just for a day or so.”


PEAK to sponsor race at Infineon
Infineon Raceway and Old World Industries have reached an agreement that will make the PEAK automotive brand the title sponsor of the IndyCar Series race on the 2.245-mile road course.

The PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma County will be held Aug. 22-24.

"We are excited to launch this new partnership and we are proud to be associated with a company as involved and committed to IndyCar racing as Old World Industries with their PEAK brand," Infineon Raceway vice president of sales Frank Gullum said. "Infineon Raceway has quickly become IndyCar racing's premier destination, and we look forward to entertaining PEAK's retail partners here in the Sonoma Wine Country."

PEAK Motor Oil became the Official Motor Oil of the IndyCar Series in 2007, and since its product rollout the PEAK motor oil bottles feature the IndyCar Series logo and 2008 schedule. Old World also sponsors an IndyCar Series title race at Chicagoland Speedway on Sept. 7.

PEAK expanded its relationship with the series at the start of the 2008 season with sponsorship of the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award at all IndyCar Series events.

"All of us at Old World Industries are excited to expand our role with the IndyCar Series. Open-wheel racing fans are very brand-loyal automotive Do-It-Yourselfers, and our PEAK brand car-care products fit perfectly with their interests and passions," said Jerry Riccioni, senior vice president of retail sales at Old World Industries. "Sponsorship at Infineon Raceway will enhance our Northern California and national PEAK brand presence."

The upcoming IndyCar Series weekend also features a Firestone Indy Lights doubleheader Aug. 24 and 25.


Budweiser Shootout Returns to Daytona in 2009
The Budweiser Shootout, NASCAR's season-opening event, will return in 2009 as part of Budweiser's multi-year sponsorship renewal with Daytona International Speedway. "For more than 30 years, race fans have circled the Budweiser Shootout on their calendars in the way baseball fans look toward Opening Day," said Tony Ponturo, vice president of Global Media and Sports Marketing, Anheuser-Busch, Inc. "February is the start of our important spring selling season, and big events such as the Budweiser Shootout and Daytona 500, plus the Super Bowl, NHL and NBA All-Star weekends, provide a powerful combination to excite consumers and energize our wholesaler family."

"We're pleased and excited to welcome back Anheuser-Busch's sponsorship of the season-opening Budweiser Shootout," said Speedway President Robin Braig. "Together, Anheuser-Busch and Daytona International Speedway look forward to providing our fans with a memorable event to start the 2009 NASCAR season at 'The World Center of Racing.'"

The multi-year agreement for the Budweiser Shootout includes exclusive alcohol and non-alcohol malt beverage sponsorship of the race weekend, four new interior track wall signs, and sponsorship of the annual Budweiser Shootout Draw Party televised by Speed Channel and the popular post-race infield concert. The 2009 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona is scheduled for Feb. 7. The "Great American Lager" will continue to sponsor the "Great American Race" as the Official Beer of Daytona International Speedway, the Daytona 500 and the track's numerous annual events. Budweiser, sponsor of Kasey Kahne and the #9 Budweiser Dodge, retains significant at-track presence through the Budweiser Bistro concession area in the Sprint FANZONE, a major presence on the infield scoring tower, use of the Speedway's logo and Daytona 500 logo, Sprint FANZONE and on-track visits by the world famous Budweiser Clydesdales, and will continue to offer its "Green Team" recycling programs to help keep Daytona International Speedway clean. Anheuser-Busch is also the exclusive beer and malt beverage advertiser of the Daytona 500 national broadcast on FOX.


Coulthard to use same engine for third race
(GMM)  David Coulthard in Hungary will use his Renault V8 engine for a third consecutive race.

In accordance with the FIA's mandatory one-engine per two weekends rule, the same 2.4 liter unit was fitted to the Scottish driver's Red Bull car at both Silverstone and Hockenheim.

But Renault, the energy drink-owned team's engine supplier, revealed on Monday that they will not be taking the opportunity to fit a fresh engine to Coulthard's car on Saturday ahead of qualifying at the Hungaroring circuit.

On the other hand, the occupant of the sister RB4, Mark Webber, will receive a new Renault engine at Budapest, after retiring from the recent German grand prix with an oil leak.

"This is the first time we have taken this decision," Renault's Fabrice Lom, who is in charge of Red Bull's engine supply, said, referring to Coulthard's situation.

He said he is not worried about reliability.  "First of all his V8 has not done too much running," explained Lom, referring to Coulthard's first-lap retirement at Silverstone three weeks ago.

"Plus, having our two drivers out of synch on the engine cycle means that we won't be putting all our eggs in the same basket," he added.

"This decision will also help us in the second half of the season in terms of the logistical challenge.  And finally, it means that David will not have to use the same engine in Spa and Monza, which are two of the toughest challenges on the calendar," said Lom.


Low downforce Indy Car? UPDATE In this latest Gordon Kirby article Al Unser Jr. agrees with AutoRacing1.com - if the IRL switches to a low downforce setup it will be a disaster.  Unser Jr. knows as he lived through that era as a driver when CART tried it.  It was a disaster on the ovals.  How soon we forget.  Mark C.

Key excerpt from article: "The IRL is changing a little bit now because we're starting to get on some road courses which separates your A drivers from your B drivers," Al observes. "But you can't see it on the mile-and-a-half ovals and the superspeedways. They run so much downforce in them today that when you go to Texas, Chicago, Kansas, Kentucky, or Nashville, it really is about the car.

"The driver comes into it as far as not making a mistake. It's not a performance thing. It's about not running into the guy in front of you, or trying not to let the guy behind you run into you. The way it is now in the IRL it's about giving each other enough room and that has allowed the eighteen or nineteen-year old who gets with a good team to be a frontrunner.

"Even Indy is just wide-open all day. Your car has to be just close and you can run every stint, the whole 500 miles, wide-open. You come in to get fuel and new tires and the Firestone tire technology is so good the tires don't go off at all."

The combination of massive downforce and superb tires makes everyone equal and these things in turn make passing on the ovals almost impossible. Unser believes the IRL will make some detail changes to the aero package for next year at Indianapolis, at least.

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track news

Pikes Peak track to reopen UPDATE A private company, consisting of motorsports enthusiasts and businessmen, today announced its acquisition of Pikes Peak International Raceway (PPIR) from International Speedway Corporation (Nasdaq/NM: ISCA; OTC Bulletin Board: ISCB) ("ISC").  The transaction was completed on June 27.

The new owner, Pikes Peak International Raceway, LLC, maintains the name for the track facility, which holds great value with drivers and fans across the country.  The company plans to inject the necessary capital to expand the facility's offerings, and says it will creatively collaborate with motorsports organizations, corporate interests and the entertainment and hospitality industries, in an effort to diversify the offerings at PPIR and return to Colorado the vibrancy once associated with the raceway south of Colorado Springs.

The combination of the one-mile oval and 1.3-mile road course provides an immediate venue for motorsports participant events.  Approximately 10,000 grandstand seats will remain to accommodate spectators.  The entire facility sits on a 1,200-acre parcel of land, with ample room for additional high performance road courses, test tracks, automobile storage and maintenance, as well as general commercial real estate development, giving the new owner opportunities to work with other interests that serve motorsports enthusiasts.

"Our vision is to create a destination that fully encompasses all aspects that appeal to the motorsports industry, including participant-based events, driving experiences, corporate entertainment, testing and retail," said John H. Molloy, CEO, Pikes Peak International Raceway, LLC.  "PPIR is a unique facility, and it provides an excellent platform for further expansion and development," he said.

Specific plans for PPIR and a timeline for its formal re-opening are now in development, although the roar of engines is expected to heat the once-popular track very soon, as the new owner prepares the raceway for initial rental and events.

The original raceway opened in 1997, and hosted a regular schedule of world class racing events.  It remains in excellent condition.  International Speedway Corporation purchased the facility in September 2005 and shortly thereafter closed PPIR, after moving its NASCAR races to other ISC facilities. Press Release

07/25/08 Pikes Peak International Raceway (PPIR) has a new owner with plans to resume racing  at the 1.5 mile track. Arden Weatherford, the new owner is saying little. But the group planning to hold a race at the facility Labor Day weekend says the grounds and asphalt are in good shape. Members of the National Auto Sport Association plan to hold road races and offer high performance driving  during the three day weekend. Their regional director walked the grounds on Monday. Dave Balingit says the new owner has a great deal of experience as a racing promoter and track manager and believes the new venture will be successful. PPIR closed in November of 2005.


Statement about Timo's incident in Hockenheim
Following Timo Glock's incident during the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, Toyota Motorsport initiated a thorough investigation.

This initially established that a rear toelink (trackrod) gave way causing Timo to lose control of the car, but confirmed that there were no exceptional circumstances before or during the incident in the German Grand Prix.

Further investigation has established that damage sustained in the British Grand Prix two weeks earlier was the cause. During that race Tim suffered several incidents.

As is normal practice, some parts from the British Grand Prix were carried over to Hockenheim, including most of the rear right suspension. Although the parts were subjected to the normal test and screening process following the Silverstone race and passed fit for use at Hockenheim, it has become apparent that it did not identify an issue which subsequently led to the incident at Hockenheim.

As a result of this investigation, Toyota Motorsport has revised its inspection processes to include such cases and is extremely confident there will be no repeat. Toyota PR


Bayliss & Webber sign up for The Race of Champions
The Race of Champions will feature an all-Australian team for the first time when the spectacular event returns to Wembley Stadium on December 14, with Ducati’s Double Superbike World Champion, Troy Bayliss, partnering Red Bull Racing F1 driver, Mark Webber.

The ‘Duo from Down Under’ will go head-to-head with competitors from the world of Formula 1, World Rally, Le Mans and motorbike racing, as they battle in identical cars on a specially-built circuit inside Wembley Stadium. Names already confirmed include seven-times F1 World Champion, Michael Schumacher, and triple World Touring Car Champion, Andy Priaulx.

Bayliss last entered The Race of Champions when the event took place in Gran Canaria in 2001, when he was part of an All-Star team that reached the finals of The ROC Nations Cup. This will be the first time a Team Australia has been entered, however, and Webber is relishing the challenge.

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Latest F1 news in brief
  • Another tire fiasco at Indianapolis
  • Raikkonen eyes rallying after F1 career
  • Raikkonen has lost 200,000 Corvette
  • Valencia receives final FIA approval
  • Berger to drive own F1 car in Hungary
  • Schu crashes Ferrari road car prototype
  • Another Nakajima on road to formula one

Another tire fiasco at Indianapolis
(GMM)  Three years after the farcical US grand prix of 2005, history almost repeated when the NASCAR world gathered at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the weekend.

Unlike the Michelin withdrawal and subsequent six-car formula one fiasco, however, the premier class of American stock car racing still managed to put on a show at the former grand prix venue.

But the crowd was less than amused that Goodyear's tire problems resulted in officials ordering mandatory 'competition yellows' - caution periods - every 10 to 12 laps.

Goodyear's problem was similar to Michelin's in 2005; the tires were simply no match for the unique diamond-cut grooves in the Indianapolis tarmac.

But in 2005, it was the construction of the Michelin tire that was failing because of the demands of the banked corner, while NASCAR competitors were simply wearing through to the canvas in a handful of laps.

Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya competed in both events, and was one of the victims of a failed tire at Indianapolis on Sunday.

Raikkonen eyes rallying after F1 career
(GMM)  World champion Kimi Raikkonen says he would try his hand at rallying once his formula one career is over.

The 28-year-old Finn, who is currently weighing up whether or not to renew his contract with Ferrari beyond 2009, told the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport that he is not afraid of life after grand prix racing.

"I will not be bored," Raikkonen said.  "When I stop formula one, I will keep going for fun to other races.  At some point I will try rallying.

"That interests me; asphalt, gravel and ice, it must be fun," he explained.

The 2007 drivers' title winner stopped short of saying his ambition would be to compete at World Rally level.

"It's difficult to say, because I have never done a rally seriously.  On asphalt I would probably be okay but on gravel I have no experience.  And having a co-pilot for me would be difficult."

Raikkonen's interest in rallying is probably stirred by the exploits of his older brother Rami, who is a rally driver of some repute in Finland.

What is clear, however, is that if Raikkonen does hang up his F1 helmet in the near future, he will not walk away from motor racing entirely.

"I have spent my whole life in motor sport.  I have never had the plans to do anything else," he explained.

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racing news

Quotes of the Week
"I had many journalists that I'm friends with say, 'Don't do this, it's going to be a bad deal. You're going to be set up to look bad. They're only using you to sell tickets.'  I went home back to Las Vegas and trained like crazy in the hundred-degree heat for four days. I wasn't in the best shape of my life. I learned that guys that were my crew guys and engineers from last year were making bets that I wouldn't crack the top 20, you know, because they felt it was me that was the problem at Forsythe. So that definitely gave me some extra motivation, to prove that, 'Hey, I can still do this. I can run up front with these guys that are a lot younger than me.' It sure feels like a win. It's great and I'm really excited. To work our way forward and run with that lead group, the Penske, the Ganassi, and the Andretti Green cars, and show that this team, who put together a car in just two weeks, with a driver that hadn't driven since April, can run and finish like we did is outstanding. If we hadn't had to save so much fuel we could have had a shot at the podium. We just barely missed it. I had to let those guys go by because I was saving fuel. People said I had to come out and prove that I can still drive and we went from 15th on the grid to fourth. It was hard race and I'm just really proud of the job these guys did for me in the pits, the way the sponsors treated us first class in Canada, and the great Canadian fans. I have to thank Derrick Walker, Tony George, Subway and Northlands for giving me this opportunity. It was just a great job by the whole Vision-Walker team." Paul Tracy, IndyCar driver, Vision-Walker team, finished 4th at the Rexall Edmonton Indy race

"That wasn't a race [Allstate 400 at the Brickyard]. It's ridiculous. That's a lack of preparation from NASCAR to Goodyear to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to put on a show like they did for the fans. It's disrespectful to the fans, and I wish that it didn't have to be that way. That's not the way NASCAR racing is supposed to be." Ryan Newman, NASCAR driver, Penske Racing

"We did what was right. NASCAR did everything right. But when that's happening at the test, you can't say, 'Well, it will get better.' That can't happen anytime. I don't care if it's one car on the racetrack testing, that can't never happen. You can't sit there and go, 'Well, you get everybody here to do it, it will go away.' That ain't good enough. That's still dangerous even if it's one cat out here testing." Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR driver, Hendrick Motorsports, commenting on the Goodyear tire fiasco during the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard

"I really don't give a damn if they race 10 laps at a time. It's frustrating, but it's the same for everyone. I'm sure we won't have that race again. I'm sure that will not happen again. That's the only thing I can say. I guarantee there will be some sort of better testing that comes from this." Carl Edwards, NASCAR driver, Roush Fenway Racing, commenting on the Goodyear tire fiasco during the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard

"It is just frustrating. They said the track was getting better in Happy Hour, but we didn't see that. It never really did take rubber, so I got really mad in the middle because they were letting us run until the tires were blowing up. I was like, 'You can't put us in that situation.' You have to throw the tire before we blow a tire because if someone gets hurt we could have prevented that. Thankfully, they let us run about 12 laps, and then they'd throw the caution. Just about every time the caution would come out, the lap before I would be like, 'I am done.' There it is. That's an odd way to race." Jamie McMurray, NASCAR driver, Roush Fenway Racing, commenting on the Goodyear tire fiasco during the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard

"Obviously, the tread wear didn't improve as we thought it would over the course of the afternoon. We don't have the answer as to why that didn't happen, so we've got to go back and look at that and try to figure out how to make it better." Greg Stucker, director of race-tire sales for Goodyear

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tv news

Tim Cindric and Brian Vickers on Wind Tunnel UPDATE SPEED channel did not have the correct guests listed for tonight's Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain show.  Tim Cindric will be a guest on Wind Tunnel next Sunday night, August 3, 2008.

07/27/08 Tim Cindric, President of Penske Racing, and Brian Vickers, Red Bull Racing Team NASCAR driver, will be the featured guests on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain Sunday night.  Robin Miller, Expert Open Wheel Analyst, will also join Dave and his guests.  Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain airs at 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm ET live on SPEED.


Coulthard wants FIA probe into Toyota racer
(GMM)  David Coulthard is expecting the FIA to launch a probe into the "structural integrity" of Toyota's current formula one single seater.

The Scottish veteran, who drives for rivals Red Bull Racing, said that incidents involving the Cologne-designed TF108 can be compared with earlier this season, when the governing body looked into the integrity of the Adrian Newey-penned RB4 car.

Off the back of several incidents involving crumbling suspension pieces at both Sepang and Melbourne earlier this season, FIA stewards ordered Red Bull to explain in a detailed technical report how its car is safe enough to race.

In a section of his latest website column for the British broadcaster ITV entitled 'Double standard?', Coulthard pointed out that Toyota has now also had a run of apparent chassis problems.

Toyota confirmed last week that Timo Glock's heavy crash at Hockenheim had been tracked to the right-rear trackrod, while at Silverstone Jarno Trulli ended in the tire barrier following a rear wing failure.

But Coulthard said: "I didn't hear of any investigation into the structural integrity of the Toyota -- but presumably that will happen because when we had a suspension breakage in Malaysia we came under the spotlight of the FIA in a way that was publicly uncomfortable for the team."


Speed Holds off Allgaier, Kimmel to Win at Berlin
SunTrust Rookie of the Year contender Scott Speed held off veterans' Justin Allgaier and Frank Kimmel to win the ARCA RE/MAX 200 Saturday night at Berlin Raceway.

Speed, in the no. 2 Red Bull Toyota, took the lead from Kimmel on the 153rd lap of the 200 lap race and never relinquished it to earn his third career victory and second consecutive triumph of the 2008 season.

"It was an epic battle," said Speed, who was one of four different lap leaders. "This track is like nothing I've ever raced on. It's actually a lot of fun and quite challenging to drive. Had a great time out there tonight. Really feel good for the guys on this team, who worked so hard to give me the perfect racecar. They certainly met the challenge tonight."

Speed also earned the SunTrust Highest Finishing Rookie of the Race award.

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Sunday Notebook from Indy - 1
Tire wear woes continue today here at the Brickyard as teams prepare for today's Allstate 400 Sprint Cup race. The Goodyear tires were wearing out down to the cords within 3 to 5 laps on Friday. Yesterday, with more rubber on the track, it was 10 laps before the cords were showing.

As a backup plan for what looks like a complete and utter disaster, two things have been done. Goodyear brought in Pocono tires overnight. There will be a competition yellow at lap 10 and at lap 20. If the tires are junk the race will be red-flagged and Pocono tires will be mounted on all the wheels and the race restarted. Talk about yet another PR nightmare for Goodyear and for NASCAR. Stick a fork in Goodyear, they're done.


Kovalainen not Hamilton support driver - Dennis
(GMM)  McLaren boss Ron Dennis has rubbished Sir Jackie Stewart's advice that Heikki Kovalainen must up his game in support of Lewis Hamilton's championship push in 2008.

Scot Stewart, a three time drivers' champion and former team owner, said earlier this weekend that championship leader Hamilton, 23, "has to be well supported by his teammate" as his fight with the Ferrari drivers continues over the final 8 races of 2008.

"Kovalainen has got to be able take a position away from a Ferrari driver," Stewart, 69, is quoted as saying by The Mirror.

But Dennis hit back by suggesting that Stewart, who still attends grands prix as an ambassador for Williams sponsor RBS, is out of touch with modern-day formula one.

"The fact is that Sir Jackie retired from motor racing in 1973, which is 35 years ago, and the sport has moved on in that time," he said on Sunday, according to the news agency Reuters.

Briton Dennis denies that the role of Kovalainen, 26, is to drive in support of his McLaren teammate.

"Jackie's suggestion that Lewis' world championship campaign depends on Heikki's assistance presupposes that Heikki's task is to drive in support of Lewis -- and that simply isn't the case," he said.


Alonso eyes another decade on F1 grid
(GMM)  Despite once suggesting he would quit when he won a third world title, Fernando Alonso is now setting his sights on emulating Michael Schumacher, who retired in 2006 with a record seven championships at the age of 37.

The Spaniard, who currently drives for Renault, is resigned to completing a second consecutive season this year without adding to his triumphs of 2005 and 2006.

But he is determined to reside a fully competitive car in 2009, and now tells Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper that retirement is the last thing on his mind.

"I still love this sport," Alonso said.  "The good moments are hard to forget.  I can't get those feelings from anything else in life."

He admits that, two or three years ago, he wondered how Schumacher kept up the energy to stay pushing for wins and titles even with hundreds of grands prix and plenty of success in the bag.

"I started at 19 with Minardi.  Back then I was thinking that 19 or 20 years in F1 would be too many.  F1 can sap your energy so I was thinking I did not want to lose my life to F1.

"Now my opinion has changed.  I'm 26 and thinking, 'why not another 10 or 11 years?'  I want more success and I'm ready to spend the time needed to get that success back," Alonso added.

He also insists that, despite his imploded relationship at McLaren last year alongside Lewis Hamilton, his own feelings about Britain generally have not changed.

"I like the culture and the respect that the (British) people have for famous people," said Alonso, who lived in Oxford during his Renault days, and learned to speak English as a 17-year-old in F3000.

"(In Oxford) I could walk about the street without being disturbed.  For sure people recognized me, but it was never intrusive.  I like this mentality, this approach to life," he added.


More proof IndyCars too slow
Many say the next IndyCar needs more horsepower.  Here's a comparison of lap times from Champ Car and Indy Car at Edmonton.  With one year of development, the new Panoz Champ Car would probably have been in the 57 second bracket this year.

2007 (Champ Car) Fast Lap Sébastien Bourdais: 58.653s.

2008 (Indy Car) Fast Lap Will Power: 1m02.023s

track news

ISC really screwed up in Pikes Peak
ISC really screwed up when they bought Pikes Peak International Raceway (PPIR) if they thought they could really shutter it to kill competition for a track they still hope to build closer to Denver as this article says.

A company formed by South Carolina businessmen has paid $9 million for the shuttered Pikes Peak International Raceway, which is scheduled to host its first race in more than three years on Labor Day weekend.

Pikes Peak Raceway Inc. of Greenville, S.C., bought the 12-year-old track and 1,115 surrounding acres in Fountain on June 24 from a subsidiary of Daytona Beach, Fla.-based International Speedway Corp. Pikes Peak Raceway immediately transferred parts of the property into three other companies all formed by the same group of South Carolina businessmen, according to El Paso County land records.

One of those companies, Raceway 200 LLC, financed the purchase by borrowing $6.75 million for three years at a 6.54 percent interest rate from Chicago-based financial giant Northern Trust Co. Pikes Peak Raceway agreed to buy the property in June 2007.

Vincent Salas of Austin, Texas-based Salas Public Relations LLC, spokesman for the new owners, declined to comment on the sale or answer any questions about the owners or their plans for the track and surrounding land.

The track and surrounding land are adjacent to Fort Carson, which is expected to add 15,000 troops in the next five years. Of the 1,115 acres purchased in June, 640 are zoned for residential use.

Although the track can accommodate more than 40,000 fans, the track's future will not include major races because the sale included a condition that Pikes Peak International not host races with more than 5,000 fans if they are sanctioned by national motor sports groups such as NASCAR or the Indy Racing League and more than 10,000 for unsanctioned races. The restriction applies to all future owners of the track and surrounding land.

The National Auto Sport Association is renting the track's 1.3-mile round course for races involving 120-130 cars scheduled for the Labor Day weekend, said Revkah Balingit, an association regional director. The races are expected to draw crowds of 300-400, she said.

"A $12 million sale of the track fell through in February 2007 after the buyers, who were never identified, determined that Colorado Springs Utilities would have the right to buy back a 200-acre parcel used as a parking lot if the land use changed. A Utilities spokesman Friday said he did not have any information on whether the city-owned agency planned to buy back the land, or whether the buy-back provision had been triggered."


Tagliani wins NASCAR race, but longs for IndyCars
The sixth race of his NASCAR career was a charm for Alex Tagliani on Saturday, as the versatile driver from Lachenaie, Que., claimed his first stock car victory at the Rexall Edmonton Indy.

Tagliani controlled the 32-lap NASCAR Canadian Tire Series event, with a time of 59:23.678. Scott Steckly (59:25.082) finished second, while Tagliani's teammate Andrew Ranger of Roxton Pond, Que., placed third (59:25.583).

Tagliani credited Steckly for giving the race a clean finish.

"I was trying all kinds of tricks to keep him behind (me)," Tagliani recalled. "Fortunately for us we had the Tide logo on the car so we have to race clean and we definitely did that and came back with no scratches.

"Scott was as very fair driver. He didn't force the issue, he didn't push me or punt me or anything like that so thank you to him."

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Kyle Busch talks about how he and Toyota won again
Can you put into words the performance of this team in 2008?

“Man, what a great car and what a great team.  Joe Gibbs Racing – it’s no wonder that we’ve won this many races this year.  The guys just come to the race track prepared.  There wasn’t much that we changed on this thing from where we unloaded.  I’m so proud of Jason Ratcliff (crew chief) and everybody at the shop, they made this weekend worthwhile.”

How were you able to overcome the rule change and still pull into victory lane?

“I was kind of disappointed.  I feel like those 15 horsepower cost me the pole.  I really want to thank all my competitors out there for the complaining they did because they gave me some traction control.  That was nice.  Tonight we had better traction control all night long.  I felt like that was a good key for us by being able to get off the corners a little bit better.  All around we’ll see how it goes at the big tracks.”

How were you able to control so much of tonight’s race?

“It was awesome and it’s great to be a part of this team.  Jason Ratcliff (crew chief) and all these boys showed up to the race track with a great race car.  We didn’t’ change much off the truck and that’s what made our night.  We were good off the bat and were able to tune on it and get it better.  I have to thank everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing – everybody on this Nationwide team that works so hard around JGR.”

Was this a disappointing week with NASCAR’s engine rule announcement?

“It’s just been a tremendous year for us.  The opportunity that I’ve had a Joe Gibbs Racing and all the guys there.  Everybody in the Nationwide shop and the Cup shop as a whole and Toyota has really stepped it up this year.  We’ve really come ready to play.  We wanted to come out here and get a little sweet revenge on everybody.  It turned out that way and worked out in our favor, fortunately for us.  For me it’s been a dream season all around and we’re still running and still able to win races so that’s been the greatest fact.”

What would your race have been like if the change from this week wasn’t made?

“We probably would have sat on the pole and had more wheel spin up off the corner, that’s about it.  It kind of worked in our favor here tonight.  I’m not complaining about it, I’m just saying they sort of gave us an advantage here for ORP.  It’s going to come down to next week and seeing what all we have.  Joey (Logano) is going to go run the Nationwide race for JGR up in Montreal so hopefully he’ll have some good luck up there and be able to bring home a solid finish.  We’ll see what the Toyotas bring to the table there and hopefully it’s a good enough package that we’ve been able to catch up a little bit this week and getting some more power back in the car.  We’re really looking forward to getting that all back when we get to Michigan.”


McMurray says he’s definitely back with Roush
Jamie McMurray said emphatically that he will be back at Roush Fenway Racing next season with Crown Royal as the sponsor of his No. 26 Ford – period.  “If you guys want to print the truth, the truth is I’ll be there with Crown Royal,” he said. “There’s not a question. It’s 100 percent. I know there’s been some reporters that have speculated again on where I’ll be and who the sponsors will be – and certainly everyone is entitled to their opinion – but I wish that for all the media that they would base it on facts.”


Tracy proves to Forsythe that it was them, not him
With his gutsy, near-perfect drive on Saturday Paul Tracy proved to his ex-Forsythe team that he was not the problem with the failure of their Champ Car team
When Paul Tracy had the chance to return to an IndyCar cockpit he had second thoughts.  "I had many journalists that I'm friends with say, 'Don't do this, it's going to be a bad deal. You're going to be set up to look bad. They're only using you to sell tickets."'

He called  Derrick Walker. Would he get a fair shot in Edmonton?

"Look," he recalled Walker telling him. "I'm going to give you the best, everything I got, to make us look good this weekend. So just believe in me."

He did and events moved quickly. Walker borrowed a third car from Vision Racing and crewed it with his own staff. Subway came on board as the main sponsor and they were off to the races. Tracy roared back from a commitment in England to Indianapolis, met his crew and got fitted for a seat.

"I went home back to Las Vegas and trained like crazy in the hundred-degree heat for four days. I wasn't in the best shape of my life."

He arrived in the Alberta capital four days before the race and drove his white No. 22 Dallara car for the first time in practice Thursday. Behind his back there were snickers.

"I learned that guys that were my crew guys and engineers from last year were making bets that I wouldn't crack the top 20, you know, because they felt it was me that was the problem at Forsythe.

"So that definitely gave me some extra motivation, to prove that, 'Hey, I can still do this. I can run up front with these guys that are a lot younger than me."'

The fans remembered. The crowds of well-wishers and picture-takers across from his pit stall matched that of fan favorite Patrick.  Tracy ran well in practice, skidded his one precious chassis off course, kissing the safety barrier but keeping it intact.  In qualifying Friday his bid to start up front was shattered when fellow Canadian Marty Roth spun out and brought out a yellow caution, wiping out Tracy's flyer lap.

He started 16th in the 28C heat on race day in the middle of the pack, the eighth-row, outside of Patrick.  The race was fast with multiple lead changes and few caution flags. Tracy methodically worked his way up the grid.  And then his radio gave out. Paul could hear the crew, but the crew couldn't hear Paul.

So they reverted to hand signals. Need more tire pressure Paul, stick your hand in the hair. Need a wing change? Raise your hand.

"We kind of did it, I guess, the way the guys like Mario (Andretti), A.J. (Foyt) and those guys did it back in the '70s when there was no radio."

He ran a fuel strategy race, knowing he didn't have the horses to run with Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon up front, but able to fight with the rest. 

"I was fighting with many different drivers, passed a lot of guys, made a lot of really daring passes in the infield," he said.

"My car wasn't so strong in the faster corners, where I could run up on guys. So I had to really make my moves in the infield.

"I did that on Justin (Wilson). I did it to (Ryan) Hunter-Reay and Danica, Dan Wheldon. They were all done in the tight, twisty stuff, which is hard to get by."

He passed Oriol Servia as the race on the 14-turn airport-street course wound down to finish just short of the podium in fourth.  To the cheers of the fans, he exited the car and headed for the post-race news conference in a nearby building, to sit in the exact same chair where he squirmed four days earlier.  Canoe.ca

"It sure feels like a win," said the veteran driver of his return to IndyCar Series competition. "It's great and I'm really excited. To work our way forward and run with that lead group, the Penske, the Ganassi, and the Andretti Green cars, and show that this team, who put together a car in just two weeks, with a driver that hadn't driven since April, can run and finish like we did is outstanding. If we hadn't had to save so much fuel we could have had a shot at the podium. We just barely missed it. I had to let those guys go by because I was saving fuel."

"People said I had to come out and prove that I can still drive and we went from 15th on the grid to fourth," added Tracy. "Oriol (Servia) ran out of fuel right or had a problem at the end and we were able to get in front of him right at the line. I'm just super happy I was able to get through the whole race without running out of gas myself. It was hard race and I'm just really proud of the job these guys did for me in the pits, the way the sponsors treated us first class in Canada, and the great Canadian fans. I have to thank Derrick Walker, Tony George, Subway and Northlands for giving me this opportunity. It was just a great job by the whole Vision-Walker team."


Franchitti agrees to step down to AAA farm league
Dario Franchitti is set to remain in NASCAR with Chip Ganassi Racing for the remainder of the year and will compete in a limited number of races, primarily in the Nationwide Series, following the closure of his Sprint Cup series [#40] team last month. Franchitti is set to stay focused on NASCAR for now after pondering the options he was offered by Chip Ganassi, following their meeting two weeks ago at Chicagoland Speedway. Franchitti plans to compete in seven Nationwide Series races, alternating with fellow rookie Bryan Clauson at the wheel of the #40 Fastenal Dodge. Autosport


Saturday Notebook from Indy - 1 UPDATE Maybe NASCAR officials should have had the field test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after all, considering the tire issues here this weekend -- tire issues that are not unexpected.  NASCAR surprised a lot of people by not scheduling an Indy test. And yesterday, on the eve of the sport's second-biggest race, crew chiefs and drivers were worried and upset about the tire issues they're seeing: excessive tire wear.

And apparently it's not getting any better. It's been like this the past several years at this flat, abrasive track. [Editor's Note: Gee, you would have thought the Goodyear engineers would know this by now.  They have only been racing there for over 10 years.  And you wonder why Goodyear can't compete with any other manufacturer head-to-head on the race track without getting trounced?]

Usually by the end of the three-hour race, things have settled down and tire wear isn't that much of an issue.

But for the first hour or two of today's 400, tires are likely to be a major issue. Again. Winston Salem Journal

07/26/08 The first afternoon practice is over at Indy.  Jeff Gordon was fasted in this practice session, followed by Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick.   

The teams are very concerned with tire wear.  One can tell whether a car is tight or loose by looking at the amount of tire dust under the rear wing on the butt end (aka "sponsor panel") of the cars.  Most have never seen the severe tire wear that we're seeing today.  Gasoline Alley smells more like the drag strip at O'Reilly Raceway Park on Labor Day weekend, as Essence du Goodyear hangs heavy in the air.  NASCAR has limited camber to 8 degrees, so the Indy-style extreme camber of years past is gone, but right now the cars are only getting 5-7 laps for each tire change -- last year the cars were getting 15 laps by this time in the day.  It is hoped that the better cars will see 20 laps at the end of the last practice before the cords start showing, but after the first practice the drivers remain doubtful.  The teams are expressing concern that they'll run out of tires for the race, since most teams ran through 4 sets in the first practice.  Unless things change radically, you won't see any 2-tire or no-tire changes tomorrow.

The tire wear patterns are telling too.  Some cars have the front wearing out, while others are wearing the front.  Strangely, some of the rear tires are worn on the outside (expected) while others are worn out on the inside edge, so obviously those teams are running a lot of rear camber.  One team had both rear tires worn evenly, but the tire dust on the back of the car was so thick that it obscured the sponsor logo, so the team got to work changing springs. 

Interestingly, no Goodyear reps are to be seen in the press room.....Tim Wohlford reporting from Indy


Kyle Busch wins record 15th race of year
CLERMONT, Ind. -- Kyle Busch led 197 of 200 laps in winning the Kroger 200 at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis on Saturday night and captured his series-leading sixth NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the season.

Busch now has 15 wins across NASCAR's top three series, surpassing the record set by two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Kevin Harvick in 2006. It was the 14th NASCAR Nationwide Series win for Joe Gibbs Racing this season, also a new NASCAR Nationwide Series mark, and the 15th win overall for Toyota. Richard Childress Racing had 13 wins last season.

"I was kind of disappointed because I feel like that 15 horsepower cost me the pole," Busch said. "I really got to thank my competitors for doing the complaining they did, because we were able to have good traction control all night long. I feel like that was important, to get off the corners a little bit better than everybody," Busch said from victory lane.

Had Busch not been around, Roush Fenway Racing's up-and-comer, polesitter Colin Braun, 19, may have walked away with his first piece of NASCAR hardware but instead settled for second. Mike Bliss, despite spinning in Turn 2 on Lap 22, came back to finish third, while Scott Wimmer and Josh Wise finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Wise's finish was the best of his series career.

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tv news

Weekend USA TV Reminders UPDATE The final TV reminders for Sunday are shown below.
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
10:00am-11:00am ESPN2
NASCAR in a Hurry Indianapolis 
10:30am-11:00am SPEED
NHRA Raceday Sonoma 
11:00am-11:30am ESPN2
NASCAR Raceday Indianapolis 
11:00am-1:00am SPEED
NASCAR Sprint Cup Allstate 400 at The Brickyard Indianapolis
1:00pm-2:00pm (L) Pre-race
2:00pm-6:00pm (L) -Race ESPN
Championship Off Road Racing Chula Vista 
3:00pm-4:30pm (L) NBC
Movie: Days of Thunder (1990)
5:30pm-8:00pm CMT
SPEED Report 
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NHRA Fram Autolite NHRA Nationals Sonoma
7:00pm-10:00pm (SD) ESPN2
NASCAR Victory Lane Indianapolis 
8:00pm-9:00pm SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Brian Vickers (NASCAR)
Tim Cindric (Penske Racing)
Robin Miller (Open Wheel Analyst)   
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED
10:00pm-11:00pm ESPN2

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


Star Mazda PIR Race 1
Tom Gladdis, the 17 year-old racer from the English territory of Gibraltar, started from the pole and led a youth-fest to the top step of the podium in Race 1/Round 4 of the 2008 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at the Mazda Grand Prix of Portland.  Finishing second was 19 year-old Louisiana racer Alex Ardoin, who won the season-ending race in 2007 and scored his second podium of the 2008 season in the #51 Mundill / Oral & Facial Surgery Center / Twister Trailer Mazda.  And rounding out the top-3 was 18 year-old Californian Billy Goshen, the first podium of his 4-race Star Mazda Championship career driving the #82 Goshen Motorsports / Merv Griffin Entertainment / Global Tracking Communications Mazda.

The top-finishing Expert Series driver (ages 30-44) was Vancouver native Chris Cumming, scoring his third class win (and finishing 6th overall) in the #16 World Speed Motorsports / Inviro Medical Mazda.  Winning the Master Series was Mike Guasch, driving the #91 Phenom Racing / Molecule Mazda.  Guasch normally races in the West Coast Formula Mazda series and this is his first win as a Master Series driver in the Star Mazda Championship.

"My car didn't feel that great at the start of the race, but I started playing with the roll bars and it got better and I was able to push a bit harder," said Gladdis, driver of the #5 Andersen Racing / Law firm of Marrache & Co. / Allied Building Products Mazda.  "When Charles had his mechanical problem and I was able to get by, I knew then that I had a chance.  I knew Alex was behind me, and that he was quite quick, so the last part of the race was about managing my tires while still staying ahead.  Fortunately, it worked out just right and I'm really pleased for my team and sponsors to be able to win my first race from the pole here with Star Mazda as the main event."

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Rosberg gives Russian GP the thumbs up
Nico Rosberg has given plans to bring Formula One to Russia a ringing endorsement.  The Williams driver gave Moscow residents a taste of Formula One last week when he hustled the FW29 around the perimeter of the Kremlin and Red Square as part of a promotional event.

When asked if he thought Formula One could take off in Russia the German responded to his team’s official podcast:

“I really think so, definitely yes. Why not? In terms of business it would be a really interesting place to go for Formula One.”

“Also for fans, I’m sure they would be really enthusiastic once they start to get introduced to the sport.”

“It’s a fantastic sport but I don’t see why the Russians can’t be really into it. I’m sure they love their cars, so it would be great for the Russians to have that sport near them.”

F1 Supremo Bernie Ecclestone has been trying to organize a Grand Prix in Russia for several years and St. Petersburg and Moscow are both in with a chance of hosting the event.

Ecclestone visited St. Petersburg earlier this year to discuss holding the grand prix on a purpose-built track from 2010.

“Nothing is done yet but this could be an interesting development for the sport,” he said.

“We’d like to get it in the calendar as soon as we can but that depends on them. It’s down to how long it takes them to get the circuit ready.”


Winning Indianapolis 500 riding mechanic Dunham dies at 96
Jimmy Dunham, the riding mechanic on board for Kelly Petillo's storybook victory in the 1935 Indianapolis 500, died Friday, July 25. He was 96.

A truly delightful gentleman who had been living for the last few years in an assisted living facility in Santa Maria, Calif., the Ohio-born Dunham came from a family of automotive engineers.

He had just moved from Michigan to Los Angeles, and was supplementing his income with a milk route, when he stumbled upon the garage in which Curly Wetteroth, Harvey Ward and Petillo were building a car for the 1935 Indianapolis 500. No sooner had Dunham begun pitching in to help than he was offered the job of riding mechanic.

That Petillo should end up winning the race was considered a minor miracle at the time. He had apparently won the pole until it was determined he had exceeded the maximum allowable 3 gallons of fuel by 5/8ths of a pint. The qualifying runs at the time were 10 laps (25 miles). The second run ended in near-disaster when a rod smashed through the crankcase on the last lap, cracking three of the four cylinders, breaking the crankcase in two and wrecking the Offenhauser engine.

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Summerton wins in Edmonton, Hinchcliffe takes point lead
It was a good weekend to be named “Jonathan” in the Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda at the Rexall Edmonton Indy, as Jonathan Summerton became the second driver with that first name and the fifth different driver in five races this season to win in Saturday’s second half of a doubleheader weekend north of the border.

Driving the No. 36 Newman Wachs Racing machine, Summerton got a great jump on the standing start from third on the grid to take the lead from polesitter Carl Skerlong entering Turn 1. From that point on, Summerton kept Skerlong and the rest of the field in his mirrors as he led every lap on his way to a 2.222-second victory over Skerlong.

“It feels awesome to win a race the fifth race in,” Summerton said. “I’m real happy. We had a couple of races before where we should have been up there, but it didn’t come our way. Now, we’ve put it together. The team did a great job. (Team owner) Eddie Wachs supports me very well. I’d like to just thank the team for doing such a great job all weekend, consistently running the car and keeping the car out there, and putting the car together all the time.”

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Colin Braun wins pole for Kroger 200 at O’Reilly Raceway Park
Colin Braun, driver of the No. 16 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion, will start on pole for tonight’s Kroger 200 at O’Reilly Raceway Park.  This is Braun’s second career pole in six races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Colin Braun – No. 16 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion – “I have a great crew chief in Eddie Pardue.  He makes this No. 16 CitiFinancial Ford Fusion run really fast.  We had a fast truck last night.  We had a fast car in practice here.  It just paid off in qualifying.  All these guys have been working so hard.  We’ve had some ups and downs lately, but at least we’ve been qualifying strong and we have fast cars.” 

DID YOUR LAPS FEEL THAT FAST? “I really didn’t think the first lap was that good.  We got pretty free off of four, but I guess that was good enough for the pole.  I figured we got the pole by doing that second lap.  My crew chief Eddie Pardue said, ‘That was the pole.’ But I wanted to make sure we got it in the books there, so we ran that second lap.  These guys have done a great job with the car here.  They certainly got it tuned up and I’m excited.” 

YOU HAVE A LANE CHOICE.  WHERE ARE YOU GOING TO START? “Yeah, we have lane choice and we’re going for the outside just like my teammate Bobby East did in the truck race.  It is the preferred groove. Kyle [Busch] has always raced me real smart and fair and I hope he will tonight, too.” 

WHAT DOES THIS POLE MEAN TO YOU?  “This pole really means a lot, not only to me but the entire team.  Wayne Kanter, our motor tuner, isn’t here with us this weekend.  His son Shawn passed away.  He’s been a big part of this team since the beginning of the year.  It’s just too bad he isn’t here.  He was in Mexico City when we got the pole.  All of us are thinking about him and wishing he was here.”


Saturday Notebook from Indy - 2
- The tire situation at Indy continues to develop.  Goodyear is urging NASCAR to have a competition caution at lap 15 to address tire wear issues.  In addition, each team will have up to 10 sets of tires available to them tomorrow.  Towards the end of practice, teams were reporting that they were up to 10 - 12 laps on a set of tires before the cords start to show.  A thunderstorm — which is a distinct possibility in the hot, humid Hoosier summer weather — would wash away all the rubber currently ground in the track, which would mean that the tires might only last 4-5 laps at the start of tomorrow's race. 

- Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's VP of Competition, issued the following press release:  "We've got enough tires for Sunday's race and there will be 10 sets per team.  Not everyone is going to use all of their tires in the last practice session.  There may be some teams that keep an extra set behind.  There is only one NASCAR series here this weekend, and you don't get a chance to put enough rubber on the track.  If you make a tire that lasts during the practices, when you get into the race then they have issues with the handling.  It's always a challenge here.  It's a "on-off" tire that Goodyear builds for this place.  The track is very abrasive because we don't run on it very often.  Goodyear's doing the best they can.  It's a situation we do see probably every time we come here."

- In fairness to Goodyear, these are 3,500 pound cars, running an average of 175 mph, making tight corners at Indy on an abrasive surface.  These cars have less downforce than the previous cars, and NASCAR has severely limited the camber that the cars can run.  However, Firestone has virtually no problems here in May, or at most IRL races.  The track is normally said to be abrasive because of the diamond grinding that was done years ago to make it pool table smooth, and one would think that all of the laps in May would've made it less abrasive if that was indeed the answer.  NASCAR is obviously loathe to suggest that its cars are not the best suited to run Indy, or that Goodyear can't come up with a good solution. 

- Groovy.  If you see a NASCAR vehicle with grooved competition tires (kinda like the F1 grooved tires), they're the "setup" tires.  Goodyear requires all tires to be returned at the end of the purchase term — for instance, all Friday's tires had to be returned on Friday afternoon to Goodyear, where they were destroyed with a hole saw on the end of a cordless drill, even if the tires were never used.  If a team buys 18 sets of tires for this weekend, they all must be returned by Sunday evening after the race — if they are not returned, Goodyear has been known to call the FBI to find the lost tires.  In order for the teams to have tires to move the cars during non-competition periods, these grooved "setup" tires are issued, with the thought that they are worthless for any other purpose. 

- Engines take a beating at Indy.  Robby Gordon's motor took a fiery dump during practice, and it was reported that Carl Edwards' car would be getting a new engine as well. 

-  Once again, Jimmie Johnson was fastest in practice.  Second fastest was Jeff Gordon, followed by Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, and Ryan Newman.

-  Surprising in is lack of speed is Tony Stewart, who was 27th fasted in Happy Hour, 30th fastest in the previous practice, and 34th fastest in yesterday's practice.  Stewart qualified 14th.  One can imagine that Toyota might not want Tony to have any momentum as he transitions to owning a Chevy team, or that mandated camber limitations have affected Tony's driving style.  Perhaps the pressure of the big sponsorship press conference has taken its toll as well.  One doubts, at any rate, that Tony has forgotten how to get around this place. Tim Wohlford reporting from Indy


Castroneves tops Edmonton warm-up
With a large crowd pouring in Helio Castroneves  of Team Penske topped morning warm-ups for the IndyCars at Edmonton with a lap of 1:02.0210. Justin Wilson of  Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing  was close behind at 1:02.0291. Tony Kanaan, Will Power and Scott Dixon  rounded out the top-5. Race time is 5:00PM ET.


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Racing News

FCC approves XM-Sirius satellite radio merger
The FCC has finally approved the XM-Sirius satellite radio merger.  Both companies are sponsors and involved in racing, XM with the IRL and Sirius with NASCAR. 

Sirius Satellite Radio Inc.'s $3.3 billion buyout of rival XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. will mean millions of subscribers will be able to receive programming from both services, while executives say it will create huge cost savings for the industry.

Federal regulators formally approved the merger of the nation's only two satellite radio operators Friday.

"I think it's going to be, in the end, a good thing for consumers and be in the public interest," Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin told The Associated Press. "Consumers will enjoy a variety of programming at reduced prices and more diversified programming choices."

Subscribers will not have to buy new radios to receive a mix of programming from both services, according to the companies. But if they want to pursue a special pay-per-channel a la carte option, they will need new sets.


Hülkenberg wins and closes up in the points’ standings
Nico Hülkenberg
At the 3.629 kilometers long Nürburgring, Nico Hülkenberg (ART Grand Prix) celebrated his third season win in the Formula 3 Euro Series. Jules Bianchi (ART Grand Prix) and Tom Dillmann (Jo Zeller Racing) occupied second and third places. In the points’ standings, Hülkenberg and Mika Mäki (Mücke Motorsport), who finished fourth in the eleventh season round of the Formula 3 Euro Series, have now closed up to four points behind leader, Edoardo Mortara (Signature-Plus). The Italian already retired in the opening stages.

At the start, both pole-sitter Christian Vietoris (Mücke Motorsport) and sixth-placed James Jakes (ART Grand Prix) stalled at their grid positions. Nico Hülkenberg led the field into the first corner, followed by his team-mate Jules Bianchi and Tom Dillmann. In this order, they took the checkered flag after 29 race laps. Behind Mäki and Dutch driver Renger van der Zande (Prema Powerteam), Daniel Ricciardo (SG Formula) had a great debut in the world’s strongest junior race series by finishing sixth. Vietoris and Jakes, who had dropped back in the field after their problems at the start, collided on lap seven while trying to catch up and retired.

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Chrysler to quit leasing business
Chrysler Financial will get out of the leasing business beginning Aug. 1, as the automaker shifts its incentive dollars toward vehicle purchases, the company announced Friday, signaling intensifying financial pressure on the automaker.

The decision to cut leasing costs suggests the Auburn Hills automaker is strapped for cash and its financial arm is having more difficulty acquiring credit, analysts said.

"I see this as indicative of some financial difficulty ... banks may not be willing to lend Chrysler money on the same favorable terms as in the past," said Aaron Bragman, automotive research analyst at Global Insight Inc. "It's very risky to leave the leasing business up to a third party. Some customers will go to competitors and they will lose volume."


Bomarito Scores First Victory of Season
Jonathan Bomarito became the fourth different winner in four races for the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda in the first race of the Rexall Edmonton Indy doubleheader on Friday evening.

Driving the No. 26 Del Taco/Stone Brewing/Rockview Builders/RLM Investments machine for Mathiasen Motorsports, Bomarito stalked polesitter James Hinchcliffe throughout the race before making his move in Turn 1 with eight laps remaining to take the lead. A late full-course caution set up a one-lap shootout, but Bomarito managed to hold off a charging Markus Niemela to take the victory by 0.691 seconds.

“The race was very difficult, but smooth in the same sense,” Bomarito said. “I had a decent start and from there, I was just kind of hanging onto the coattails of James, letting him tow me around the track a bit and let things pan out. I was able to develop a little bit of a gap to third. 

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Benson's Toyota wins again
Benson's Toyota was too much for everyone else Friday
Johnny Benson claimed his second straight NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win on Friday night at O'Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis, holding off the challenge of Ron Hornaday, Jr. during a final two-lap run to the checkered flag in the Power Stroke Diesel 200.

Benson has claimed three wins this season in the No. 23 Bill Davis Racing Toyota, all falling over the last four races. He was also the 10th different winner in the last 10 truck races at ORP.

Benson started the race eighth, the farthest back any truck series driver has started and won. Previously, nobody had won the event starting outside the top five.

Though falling short at the finish, Hornaday dominated the event, taking the lead from polesitter Bobby East on Lap 5. He led a race-high 153 laps before Benson swooped in for the lead by using the high lane in Turn 2 on Lap 162.

"There was no doubt we were the best two trucks," Benson said of himself and Hornaday from victory lane. "I started running his groove, it wasn't too bad. We made that pass on the outside of Ron. I didn't think it was going to stick."

Erik Darnell and Matt Crafton finished third and fourth, while Crafton's ThorSport Racing teammate Shelby Howard, who will make his first NASCAR Nationwide Series start of the season Saturday -- the first for NCTS staple ThorSport -- was a career-best fifth. The race also marked the first time that both ThorSport teams finished in the top five.

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