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Catalyst Media reaches settlement with Champ Car
LONDON (Thomson Financial) - Catalyst Media Group PLC said it has reached an agreement with Champ Car World Series LLC for the payment of 0.4 mln usd in full and final settlement of dues owed to Champ Car as per an agreement on Dec 15, 2004 between Champ Car, CMG and Betelgeuse Productions Inc.


Milka Duno to be in Speed Racer film
Milka Duno, the first Latina to race in the Indianapolis 500, will travel this week to Berlin where filming is underway for the 2008 live-action movie Speed Racer. The driver of the #23 CITGO Honda Dallara IndyCar has been set to play the role of Gearbox in the film, which is based on the classic anime series of the 1960s.

"I am so excited about the opportunity to appear in such a large movie," said Duno. "Luckily I am only taking part in some of the races this year and when Warner Bros. invited me to take part, I asked my sponsor CITGO for their approval to change my race schedule, which they have kindly granted. I am also grateful to the IndyCar Series for allowing us to withdraw from the Kentucky event at the last minute"

To make up for lost race track time, additional testing is being scheduled in preparation for her remaining 2007 IndyCar race schedule.

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tv news

Dario Franchitti and Tony Schumacher on Larry King Live
Dario Franchitti and Tony Schumacher will be guests during the second segment of the Larry King Live show Wednesday night, August 8.  Jake Brown, X Games skateboarder, will also be a guest.  The show airs at 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm ET on CNN.  It is replayed at 12:00 am - 1:00 am ET and 3:00 am - 4:00 am ET early Thursday morning.


Montezemolo and Todt meet
It was a long and intensive reunion this morning at the motor sports department. Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo went to see CEO Jean Todt and the Scuderia's management to discuss the situation in the F1 Championship after two thirds of the season.

During the meeting the season was analyzed and the positive aspects underlined - such as the great competitiveness, shown with five victories, six pole positions and eight fastest laps in the eleven Grands Prix so far - but also the negative aspects were touched upon - such as the reliability level, which is not as high as the usual average of Ferrari and the number of mistake made.

Montezemolo invited everyone to give his best in sight of the last six GPs of the season and to remain 100 percent concentrated on the development of the F2007 and the handling of the race weekends. "We can win all the remaining races, because we have the capacity to do it," said Montezemolo at the end of the meeting. "The team has to believe in it. As I for myself and Todt believe in it, together with our lawyers. As I've already repeatedly said since the beginning of this story, what has happened is of an incomparable gravity, and we will go on with great determination and profound conviction, until the end, as far as the legal proceedings in Italy and England, but also as far as the sporting proceedings with the hearing at the FIA Court of Appeal, on 13th September in Paris, are concerned. For Ferrari it is fundamental that the whole truth about this ugly story can be seen before everybody's eyes."


Foyt almost kills himself again UPDATE The bulldozer that A.J. Foyt crashed in is pulled out of the pond on his property. Foyt was at the wheel of the bulldozer when the bank gave way, sending the machine -- and its driver -- to the bottom of the pond.  Rumor has it Foyt only knew how to turn left.  A right was required and he crashed.

08/03/07 Four-time Indianapolis 500 champion A.J. Foyt escaped injury, but got quite a scare Thursday when the bulldozer he was operating plunged into a lake and landed upside down in the water.  Foyt was working on the edge of the lake when the bank gave way under the bulldozer. He estimated the bulldozer dropped about 15 feet into the lake.

"It scared me," the 72-year-old Foyt said in a release early Friday from his spokeswoman, Anne Fornoro. "It was such a helpless feeling when that dirt broke away and I was going down and down."

Foyt still planned to fly Friday to Michigan to oversee his ABC Supply Racing team in the IndyCar Series race this weekend.  Foyt said the steel cage "probably saved my life, because without it, the dozer would have crushed me." Once in the water, Foyt had to crawl through the front of the cage to swim out.

"It was hard to do under water with all my clothes on and with my bum legs and all," Foyt said. "I'll be honest, I was panicked a little bit." Indy Star


Video: Franchitti applauds safety of IndyCar Series chassis UPDATE Dario Franchitti has seen the video replays of his crash during the Firestone Indy 400 and the Indianapolis 500 winner is appreciative for the safety features built into his racing maching.

"Mr. Dallara is a personal friend of mine; I've always been a fan of his," said Franchitti. "He has given us fast cars that are very strong as well. I have to say that the car absorbed all the impact. It is because of that car that I'm sitting here today with just a bruise on my nose. It is just incredible."
That Franchitti and the other drivers involved in the multi-car melee were not seriously injured is a testament to the integrity of the Dallara chassis -  especially the roll hoop -- borne from structural requirements and hours of testing.

"We have a number of mandatory structures to create the safest environment we can for the drivers," said senior technical director Les Mactaggart of the sanctioning Indy Racing League. "The current chassis has to undergo a number of mandatory tests to do with the crushability of the car, how we absorb energy in the side structure, how the roll hoop performs and how the structure of the chassis under the roll hoop performs because it's not just a roll hoop structure. You have to attach it to something that can withstand the forces as well."

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IRL beating Champ Car in 'USA' ratings race UPDATE
Champ Car Year to Date Ratings
DATE NET    RACE                                  RATING VIEWERS*
4/8  NBC    Vegas Grand Prix                         0.8   923
4/15 NBC    Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach          0.6   721
4/22 ESPN   Grand Prix of Houston                    0.3   298
6/10 ABC    Mazda Grand Prix of Portland             0.6   879
6/24 CBS    Grand Prix of Cleveland                  0.6   788
7/1  ESPN   Grand Prix of Mont-Tremblant             0.2   189
7/8  ESPN   Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto          0.3   336
7/22 ESPN   Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton            0.3   336
7/29 ESPN2  Canary Foundation Grand Prix of San Jose 0.3   341
                                                   Total  8.609M
Indy Racing League
DATE NET    RACE                                  RATING VIEWERS*
3/24 ESPN2 XM Satellite Radio Indy 300               0.7   829
4/1  ESPN  Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg        0.4   388
4/21 ESPN  Indy Japan 300                            0.4   379
4/29 ESPN2 Kansas Lottery Indy 300                   0.3   366
5/27 ABC   Indianapolis 500                          4.3 6,402
6/3  ABC   ABC Supply Co. A.J. Foyt 225              1.0 1,345
6/9  ESPN2 Bombardier Learjet 550                    0.7   875
6/24 ABC   Iowa Corn Indy 250                        1.1 1,593
6/30 ESPN  SunTrust Indy Challenge                   0.6   803
7/8  ABC   Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix              1.0 1,385
7/15 ESPN  Firestone Indy 200                        0.4   508
7/22 ABC   Honda 200                                 1.7 2,432
                                                   Total 17.305M

* in 000s  Data Courtesy of Nielsen Ratings

07/27/07 Year-to-date USA TV ratings. It's clear that Champ Car has much work to do in this area. For one they will need more American drivers and have to quadruple their marketing and advertising budget. How ironic that the IRL's highest rated race outside of Indy was a road course - Mid-Ohio - not shown on this chart. The overnight was a 1.9, but was an anomaly due to the British Golf Tournament knockoff.


Kahne to run at Knoxville
Kasey Kahne will return to competition at the Knoxville Raceway on Wednesday night, August 8, 2007 as he attempts to qualify for the 47th Annual SuperClean Knoxville Nationals. He will drive the car # 91, owned by Kasey Kahne Mororsports, and team with Joey Saldana in the Kasey Kahne #9. Kahne last competed in the Knoxville Nationals in 2003. In recent years Kasey has spent time at Knoxville as a car owner and fan, but the cockpit has beckoned. This year’s purse of over $913,000 and the winner’s share of $150,000 might just help pay for the jet fuel between Knoxville and Watkins Glen, NY where he will practice, qualify and compete in the NASCAR event this weekend as well. Reserved seats for the 4-day Knoxville Nationals are still available online at www.knoxvilleraceway.com or at the ticket windows on race days. Complete event schedules are available online as well. SPEED will air the event live, Saturday August 11th at 9:00pm/et.


Toyota/ Bill Davis Racing to give Mayfield the boot
Bill Davis Racing officials announced Tuesday that driver Jeremy Mayfield will not return to the team next year.

Mayfield joined BDR for the 2007 season as the team expanded to a two-car operation for Toyota's first season in Nextel Cup, but he has struggled this year, qualifying for only eight of the 21 races.

"Jeremy has done all we asked of him and more as part of what has been an enormous challenge in 2007 for the entire BDR Cup program," team owner Bill Davis said in a news release. "It has been a huge undertaking to bring Toyota online for their first NASCAR Nextel Cup season at the same time all the teams in the sport were facing the dual competition platforms as we transitioned to the car of tomorrow.

"Add to that the challenge of facing the healthiest overall car count in years for the Nextel Cup Series, the elements involved with the top-35 watermark, as well as the education of a company that was in its first NASCAR Nextel Cup motorsports sponsorship, and it has made for some trying times for all involved.

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South American club joins Superleague
Superleague Formula has signed its first non-European football club: the legendary Brazilian football team Flamengo joining the championship.

Flamengo joins AC Milan, FC Porto, PSV Eindhoven, Olympiacos, Borussia Dortmund and Anderlecht in the new series that will feature 750 horsepower V-12 powered single seaters displaying the colors of the world's leading football clubs.

Founded in 1895, Flamengo is one of the world's most popular football clubs with an estimated 33 million supporters. Based in Rio de Janeiro, Flamengo actually began its life as a rowing club – hence the official name of Clube de Regatas do Flamengo.

The team is one of the four clubs never to be relegated from the Brazilian First division. Its championship successes include 29 Rio de Janeiro State Championships and five Brazilian national titles. 1981 was a special highlight in Flamengo’s history for winning both the South American Championship and the World Club Championship – beating Liverpool in Tokyo.

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Bridgestone Road America preview
Race Details: Timed event - 1 hour, 45 minutes. Track distance is 4.048 miles (6.514 kilometers).

Television Broadcast: Live - Sunday, August 12, at 3 p.m. EDT on ABC.

Bridgestone Potenza Tires Supplied:

* Primary (black-sidewall) dry-condition slicks: 588, each car gets eight sets for the weekend.

* Alternate (red-sidewall) dry-condition slicks: 176, each car gets two sets.

* Wet-condition (rain) tires: 292 with tread pattern, each car gets four sets.

* In a normal dry-condition race, each car must use at least one set of primary and one set of alternate Potenzas. The primary and alternate tires' construction is identical, but the alternates possess a tread compound with better grip ("softer"), making them faster but possibly not quite as durable.

* Bridgestone Motorsport is bringing specifications of our primary and alternate Potenzas that are unique to this event.  Both are the same specs that were used at this track in 2006.  The wet-condition tire is the new, durable rain tire, referred to as the "road course rain."  The tires are designed to withstand the high speeds generated by this long, winding race track.

From Al Speyer, Executive Director, Bridgestone Motorsport: "Road America is a one-of-a-kind track, so it is fitting that Bridgestone Motorsport will bring unique specifications of our primary and alternate Potenzas to tackle this four-plus-mile natural terrain road course.  These same tires performed well here last year, especially considering that ambient temperatures were only in the upper 60s during the race.  With warmer weather expected this weekend, we should see plenty of grip from these tires even though they are also designed to be quite durable in order to withstand the high speeds encountered here.  It is always great to return to Road America - it is a track where these cars can really stretch their legs and the Bridgestone tires can showcase their consistency and high performance characteristics lap after lap."


Hunter-Reay likely to win Indy Car ROY
For Ryan Hunter-Reay, he looks to continue the strong start to his blossoming IndyCar career and could possibly leave Kentucky this Saturday night with the lead in the fight for the Bombardier Learjet Rookie-of-the-Year Award. Despite joining Rahal Letterman Racing just two races ago, Hunter-Reay has finished seventh and sixth respectively in his first two starts and has already halved Milka Duno’s lead in the rookie points. Despite making just two starts to Duno’s six, Hunter-Reay is just 27 points behind the Venezuelan - who will not be competing in this weekend’s event.
“I'm actually really enjoying how compact the IndyCar Series schedule is, I'd be pretty bummed if we had a few weeks off right now,” said Hunter-Reay. “I've spent time with the team in Columbus over the past week and we have gone over lots of data from Michigan and we are looking to make that next step forward. I feel I am back into the rhythm of oval racing and expect another solid top ten this weekend for Team Ethanol. At this point we need to be smart and steadily move forward through the Kentucky race weekend, just as we have over the past two events. I'm loving this, we have lots of work to do, but I genuinely believe in everything that goes on here at Rahal Letterman Racing and I feel that we can continue moving to the front.” RLR PR

racing news

SPEED Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking
Updated 8-8-07
Pos.  (LW) Driver (Series)                     Pts
1. (23) Lewis Hamilton (F1)                    8.241
2. (4) Jeff Gordon (NASCAR)                    7.789
3. (5) Robert Doornbos (CCWS)                  7.561
4. (20) Kurt Busch (NASCAR)                    7.181
5. (8) Sebastien Bourdais (CCWS)               7.166
6. (6) Tony Stewart (NASCAR)                   7.110
7. (18) Denny Hamlin (NASCAR)                  7.080
8. (26) Tony Kanaan (IRL)                      6.922
9. (7) Kyle Busch (NASCAR)                     6.792
10. (11) Matt Kenseth (NASCAR)                 6.779
11. (9) Jeff Burton (NASCAR)                   6.726
12. (NR) Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NASCAR)           6.694
13. (3) Dario Franchitti (IRL)                 6.651
14. (1) Fernando Alonso (F1)                   6.644
15. (35) Kimi Raikkonen (F1)                   6.642
16. (2) Scott Dixon (IRL)                      6.601
17. (16) Clint Bowyer (NASCAR)                 6.597
18. (14) Will Power (CCWS)                     6.572
19. (12) Carl Edwards (NASCAR)                 6.432
20. (10) Kevin Harvick (NASCAR)                6.311

Dropped out: Felipe Massa (F1), Juan Pablo Montoya (NASCAR), Martin Truex Jr. (NASCAR), Jani Neel (CCWS)

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


Latest F1 news in brief UPDATE Updates shown in red below.

  • FIA books September date for spy appeal
  • Liuzzi says STR freeze 'possible'
  • Haug denies Alonso released from contract
  • Drivers to enjoy August break
  • Ferrari deal for Alonso unlikely - colleague New
  • Confirmed - McLaren proceed with points appeal New

FIA books September date for spy appeal
(GMM) As expected, the appeal against the World Council's espionage saga verdict will be heard by the International Court of Appeal in the second week of September.

F1's governing body, the FIA, booked the McLaren case for September 13, it confirmed in a statement on Tuesday.

"In the interests of transparency the hearing will be open to members of the press," it read.

In addition, "All of the teams competing in the 2007 (championship) have been given the opportunity to make written submissions ... and have been invited to attend the hearing to supplement their submissions with oral presentations."

Liuzzi says STR freeze 'possible'
(GMM) Italian driver Vitantonio Liuzzi has admitted the "possibility" of being officially frozen out of Toro Rosso's 2008 lineup with an announcement on Wednesday.

Swiss reports late on Tuesday said confirmation of multiple Champ Car title winner Sebastien Bourdais' move to the team and formula one is now imminent.

The Frenchman would for 2008 join at the Faenza based team the already-confirmed Sebastian Vettel, who recently replaced Liuzzi's former teammate Scott Speed.

Asked by the Italian website f1grandprix.it if the Motorsport Aktuell report was true, Liuzzi said: "I don't know.

"Anyway, I knew this possibility and I'm negotiating with other teams, so it's not a big change for me."

Liuzzi said it was "quite clear" even before the start of the season that both he and Speed had fallen out of favor with team bosses Franz Tost and Gerhard Berger.

He added: "That's why I decided to look elsewhere and Scott did the same. Now we are at this point.

"The atmosphere inside the team wasn't the best one, because many times the drivers were accused unfairly to hide the problems of the car."

Liuzzi, who turned 25 on Monday, would not reveal the identity of his alternate employers but f1grandprix.it said Williams was one possibility.

It is also believed that Sir Frank Williams' Toyota-powered outfit is strongly pursuing Renault test driver Nelson Piquet Jr as a potential new teammate for Nico Rosberg next year.

Liuzzi, meanwhile, dismissed German 20-year-old Vettel's debut alongside him at Toro Rosso in Hungary as "nothing special".

Referring to his bosses, he added: "Maybe they thought they will put him in the car and he would be half a second faster than me.

"Instead it was quite clear it was the contrary."

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Dover and ISC offering insurance policy on NASCAR tickets UPDATE World Access, a specialty insurance company, has struck a deal to offer insurance on tickets sold to all events at International Speedway Corp. tracks. ISC owns and operates 12 tracks that are the sites for NASCAR Nextel Cup events and promotes more than 100 racing events annually.

This is the second motorsports deal in the last month for World Access, which reached a similar agreement with Dover International Speedway. The insurance company offers insurance for customers of ticketing agencies, credit-card issuers, travel agencies and employers, among others.
Through its deal with ISC, consumers who purchase tickets to events at ISC tracks will have the ability to also buy insurance on the ticket, which will allow the fan a refund on the cost of the ticket as well as any tax and shipping fee. The insurance will be referred to as the Event Ticket Protector.

"Through this partnership, we can offer fans additional peace of mind with their ticket purchases," said Roger VanDerSnick, ISC's senior vice president of marketing and business operations.

A consumer would be eligible for a refund for missing an event because of unforeseen circumstances, such as medical issues, traffic accidents, jury duty or other covered reasons. A fan also would be eligible for a refund if a race is postponed because of weather and the fan cannot attend the make-up date.

Terms of the arrangement were not available. Cost of the insurance was not released, but in its deal with Dover, the insurance costs 5 percent of the total purchase, or a minimum of $6.25.

07/13/07 Dover Int’l Speedway (DIS) is offering an insurance policy guaranteeing a full ticket refund to fans if they cannot attend an event rescheduled due to weather.  The policy is available for 5% of the total purchase price, with a $6.25 minimum.  The track is the first facility hosting NASCAR races to offer the insurance, which can be used for all Nextel Cup, Busch , Craftsman Truck and Busch East series events at DIS.  Richmond-based World Access is providing the coverage (DIS). Fans with tickets to the Nextel Cup Dover 400 in September or any of the accompanying races can apply for the policy beginning later this month. Wilmington NEWS JOURNAL


Weekly NASCAR cheating report
NASCAR has penalized four Busch Series teams for infractions found during last weekend’s event at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.

Charles “Cully” Barraclough, crew chief of the No. 90 Ford driven by Stephen Leicht, was fined $10,000 for divider pistons in both front shock absorbers that were not installed to the manufacturer’s specifications and for oil volume that did not meet the minimum one-inch specification. Team owner Robert Yates was fined 25 owner points for the infraction, while Leicht was penalized 25 driver points. The infractions were discovered during post-race inspection on Aug. 4.

Paul Wolfe, crew chief of the No. 22 Dodge driven by Patrick Carpentier, was fined $5,000 for a front spring inside and outside coil diameter exceeded the 1/8-inch limit. Team owner Armando Fitz was docked 25 owner points, and Carpentier was penalized 25 driver points. The violations were also found during post-race inspection.

Chris Wright, crew chief for the No. 35 Ford driven by Bobby Hamilton Jr., was fined $2,000 for two hollow jacking bolts. The infraction was discovered during opening-day inspection on Aug. 4.

Jeff Spraker, crew chief of the No. 63 Chevrolet of Mike MacKenzie, was fined $2,000 for permitting individuals, without a proper NASCAR license, into the car servicing area and for entering the car service area without the proper safety equipment. These infractions took place during the event. The crew chief is held responsible for the actions of team members.


Burton to be Featured on ABC News Special
Richard Childress Racing’s (RCR) Jeff Burton is one of several drivers to be featured in a five-piece, non-narrative, unscripted series, “NASCAR in Primetime,” beginning August 15 on ABC News.

The nationally syndicated show will give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the preparation, logistics, drama and competition of America’s most popular motor sport. “NASCAR in Primetime” will take an inside look at Burton’s life in the fast lane by illustrating his passion and dedication for racing in addition to the importance of having support from his family.

“I’m excited that viewers can get a glimpse of what it takes to be competitive and successful in this sport,” said Burton. “This sport strives on dedication – not only from your team members, but from your family, as well.  Hopefully, this series will show viewers how exciting this sport really is and make new fans out of them as well.”

industry news

Ford sale of luxury brands on fast track
Negotiations on the sale of Jaguar and Land Rover have switched into high gear as Ford Motor Co. works to finalize a sale of the two British luxury brands by the end of September.

While prospective buyers were initially given scant details about the two enterprises, sources close to the talks told The Detroit News that bidders who made it through the first round are now being provided with detailed information about the brands' finances and operations.

Moreover, Ford is working to make senior executives at Jaguar and Land Rover available to potential buyers -- something the automaker had refused to do before.

Bidders are finding out that Jaguar's deep losses more or less cancel Land Rover's substantial profits. But the financial picture for both brands is looking better.

Ford has confirmed that it is talking with "interested parties," but the Dearborn-based company has not identified who those parties are. More at Detroit News


Mansell says Button could kiss career/title goodbye
Former world champion Nigel Mansell has dismissed Jenson Button's chances of ever winning the Formula One title during his career.

The 27-year-old Briton is still driving for Honda, which offers him a limited opportunity for success in the current standings, and Mansell feels that he blew his big chance for glory by not doing more while racing in a more competitive car with the then named BAR-Honda in 2004.

The 54-year-old, who won the F1 crown with Williams in 1992, said: "Jenson should have won more races, he has under-performed and that is down to him. He had the opportunity and he didn't take it; there won't be any more."

He added: "Jenson is a great talent. But he was far better years ago than he is now because he was hungry then. He's got a great reputation for partying and that's taken the edge off it. He's a typical example of too much, too soon."


Bernie reiterates why he axed USGP
Few men in world motor racing cross swords with Bernie Ecclestone. He is known for getting his own way. If not always, nearly always.

In short, what Bernie says usually gets done - and what Bernie wants to happen usually happens.

So when he started talking up the idea of running a street race under floodlights in South-east Asia, it soon became a project that was set for realization.

The Singapore Grand Prix was born.

And last week, it was confirmed as one of the 18 races to feature on the 2008 Formula One World Championship calendar.

Next year, there will be five races in Asia, if Bahrain is included, and six, if Turkey is included.

Add Australia to that figure and it is easy to see that the balance of power may be tipping away from Europe.

Then mix in the fact that the rapidly-growing A1GP World Cup of Motorsport has this week published its own calendar for 2007-08 - and includes two races in China, one in Malaysia and another in Asia yet to be designated.

Not to mention races in New Zealand and Australia.

It is easy to see that Asia, not Europe, is the new battleground for the future in top-level motor racing.

And the place where the big motor manufacturers, major sponsors, global companies and high-flying celebrities and sports stars are keen to promote themselves and their brands.

Asia is the fastest-growing market place in the world.

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Montreal race a huge success
67,150 fans showed up last Sunday to watch NASCAR's first Busch Series race in Montreal.  Normand Legault is happy as he made far more money with the race than he did with Champ Car in the past and NASCAR did a lot to bring in corporate sponsorship.


Drivers get taste of COT at Lowe's
Drivers got a taste of a car of tomorrow on an intermediate track as a select group did a Goodyear tire test Monday at Lowe's Motor Speedway.  Penske Racing's Ryan Newman, Roush Fenway Racing's David Ragan, Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s Martin Truex Jr. and Team Red Bull's Brian Vickers conducted the test on the 1.5-mile track in extreme heat and had another day of testing set for Tuesday.

Newman said his team had not been asked to use different wing angles or front-splitter lengths by Goodyear.

"It drives pretty good - I think mostly because it's a smoother race track," Newman said Monday afternoon. "There's things to learn. We're not here testing for us. If we'll get an opportunity, we'll do some things to try to make the car better for this type of race track, but we haven't done that yet.

"The car drives pretty good. It definitely has an aero-balance shift, and that feels better. It's a matter of how they race together, and we'll see what that's like next year."


Q and A with Ralf Schumacher
Q. How pleased were you with the strong 6th place in Hungary?

Ralf Schumacher: The aim is always to score points and we had been a bit unfortunate in the races before the Hungaroring. I was fighting for points at the Nurburgring, for example, but the incident with Nick Heidfeld put paid to that. These things happen in racing and you just have to get on with it. Hungary was very satisfying because I qualified very well and started fifth after Alonso was moved back, which is my best position of the season.

That was the clean side of the track and I made a strong start and was fighting for fourth place in the first few corners. The car was good but a little nervous in the first stint. We cured that by adjusting the front wing at the first pit stop. We then started to see some different strategies playing out. The BMWs opted for three stops but we stopped just twice. It was the right decision and it made for an interesting race all the way through.

Q. Has the team made a step forward?

RS: We were already quite quick in the USA and Montreal in June but for various reasons things didn't quite come together. We were unlucky with the safety car and so on, but the potential was there. We have got both cars into the top 10 in qualifying in recent races and I think it's going in the right direction.

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Hunter-Reay says Indy Cars not easy flat
Post-Michigan race comments: “I want to make one thing clear: these cars, at least ours today, are anything but easy to hold onto flat in traffic,” Hunter-Reay continues. “In fact, they move around a lot. When the car breaks loose at 220 MPH with cars on both sides of you as you're running three wide, it's quite a feeling. Unfortunately, we had a problem with my visor tear-offs. I lost all of them within a few laps and my visor was completely sand blasted as if there was a layer of frost over my shield, and I could hardly see. The first two caution periods were not long enough to allow a helmet change but the third for Castroneves and Meira’s crash was and I can’t say enough about how the team dealt with it”.

From there we were competitive for a bit, I made passes, moved up through the pack and by lap 90 or so, we were up into 9th place under green flag conditions. Unfortunately, at that point we started to experience electrical problems that forced us down into 5th gear, then into 4th gear. We were almost five miles per hour off the pace of the leaders. It's a shame because we were sitting second on the final restart and the Rahal Lettermen Racing engineers dialed in a good setup and balance on the car, even lowering the ride height on one stop, and I know we could have been up there fighting for a podium if we would have not had the electrical issues.” 

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ALMS drivers love Road America
There may not be a track in North America that gets a driver’s heart thumping and pounding more than Road America. A drive around the circuit offers four miles and 14 turns of adrenaline-pumping thrills that go up, down, around and through rural Wisconsin. No wonder it’s a favorite of drivers in the American Le Mans Series, who get their annual crack at Road America in this weekend’s for-hour Generac 500.

Tim Pappas, Team Trans Sport
Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT2)
“Road America is definitely one of the most European-like tracks because it’s long and flowing, it has a lot of elevation change, and it’s got a lot of constant-radius corners. Some of the American tracks are a little choppier and smaller. Road America just is big and beautiful and you can really stretch your legs on it.”

Jim Tafel, Tafel Racing
Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT2)
“It’s very reminiscent of Le Mans. Being able to go down some of those back straights gives you the feeling with the trees going by. It’s just a really fast track and it’s really smooth. We just spent two days testing there a couple of weeks ago, so I’m looking forward to going there for the race. We should have a good setup.”

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Wallace says Gordons, Montoya and Stewart NASCAR's best
ESPN Analyst and NASCAR Cup Champion Rusty Wallace on Racing at Watkins Glen

Q – You were one of the most successful NASCAR drivers on road courses, with six road course wins in your career. How did you do so well?
“Road racing is all about rhythm and compromise. There are so many corners and you’ve got to be able to understand them all. You have to really enjoy road racing. A lot of people don’t like it and consider it a nuisance. I actually went to a driving school in California and really learned a lot there on technique. I really loved it from the start. I won the final race at Riverside Speedway in California before they closed it down. I considered it an honor.”

Q - In your opinion, which NASCAR drivers are the best on road courses in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup and NASCAR Busch Series racing?
“Jeff Gordon and Robbie Gordon are the two best right now, and Tony Stewart is right up there with everybody. But, the odds-on favorite is Juan Pablo Montoya, because of his victories at Mexico City and Infineon Raceway this year.

“In the NASCAR Busch Series it will be a lot of the same guys, but you’ll see some Busch Series regulars do well, too. Robby Gordon and Jamie McMurray will be real tough competitors.

“Montoya will be doing a double, trying to win both of them. There are going to be a lot of ringers out there, too – non-NASCAR Cup drivers like Ron Fellows and guys you haven’t heard of – a lot of names that nobody’s accustomed to seeing will be entered. Look out for the road racing ringers in both of them. Every time we run a road race, there’s always a specialized road-course racer who pops up. They’re used to turning right and left and do it better than most because they do it all the time.”

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Daly wins Stars of Karting (East)
At the Snap on Stars of Karting event held at the USA Raceway in Schwano, WI over the weekend, Cytomax driver Conor Daly proved to be the dominant driver in the TaG class by scoring two pole positions, four fastest race laps and a first and second place finishes in the finals to clinch the Snap on Stars of Karting (East) TaG Championship.  Driving an Italian build Top Kart for the first time in Stars competition, Conor showed his versatility during the difficult wet Sunday morning qualifying session where he qualified on the pole almost a full second clear of the field. Conor will go to Las Vegas in October to attempt to also win the Snap on Stars of Karting TaG National title.


Robby Gordon fined, placed on probation
NASCAR announced today that Robby Gordon, driver and owner of the #55 Ford in the Busch Series, has been fined $35,000 and placed on probation until Dec. 31, 2007 due to a rule violation during last Saturday’s race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. Gordon was found to be in violation of Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) of the 2007 NASCAR Busch Series Rule Book. The fine and probation also carried the stipulation that if, during the remaining NASCAR events in 2007, there is another action by Gordon that is deemed by NASCAR officials as detrimental to stock car racing or to NASCAR, or is disruptive to the orderly conduct of an event, he will be suspended indefinitely from NASCAR. NASCAR PR


Spygate hearing date set
The International Court of Appeal (ICA) will meet in Paris on Thursday September 13 to hear a referral by the President of the FIA concerning a decision of the World Motor Sport Council regarding a breach by the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team of Article 151(c) of the International Sporting Code.

The hearing will be open to members of the press.

All of the teams competing in the World Championship have been given the opportunity to make written submissions and have been invited to attend the hearing to supplement their submissions with oral presentations. This is a very odd decision given that the case involves only McLaren and Ferrari, although Renault's Flavio Briatore has been making a lot of noise on the subject and presumably will want to have his say.


New livery for Heylen's Champ Car
Conquest Racing will be unveiling a brand new look for the #34 car at the upcoming Road America race at Elkhart Lake, WI on August 10th - 11th and 12th.   The new green and white custom designed paint scheme will feature Grafiprint Digital Printing Materials as the primary sponsor across the side-pod. Grafiprint is a product brand of Grafityp Self-Adhesive Products which boasts more than 60 years of service in the sign industry.  GRAFITYP, founded in 1969, is a division that is completely dedicated to a new range of digital print media and laminates. The Grafityp group occupies more than 400,000 sq ft of modern production facilities in Belgium that house four coating lines and one casting line. These facilities allow them to strive for perfection, which is also endorsed by their ISO-9001 quality label. Grafityp has 2 subsidiaries in Europe, Spain and the UK, and delivers its materials through distributors all over the world.

Herman Bosman, CEO Grafityp Group Quote
“We have been following Jan Heylen's performances for more than 10 years, and have supported him on several occasions in the past. The idea of having a completely Belgian team at the starting grid has appealed to us from the very first contacts.  As a Belgian company, it is a unique opportunity for us to cooperate with a Walloon team owner and a Flemish driver. Our products are used in the advertising and sign industry all over the world, and the digital print materials in particular are growing enormously.  Wherever it is possible, we manufacture our products in the most ecological way.  For instance, we have our own water purification plant, to ensure that we don't have to dispose of any industrial waste water.”

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Carpentier to Drive No. 10 Dodge at Watkins Glen
In an effort to move closer to securing a top-35 position in Owner’s Points, Valvoline Evernham Racing has reached a one race agreement with Patrick Carpentier to drive the #10 Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge in this weekend’s Nextel Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International. Carpentier recently made his first NASCAR start in the Busch Series race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. The road course veteran proved to be a quick learner as he won the pole for the event, led 14 laps and finished an impressive second. Carpentier has competed in CART, IRL, CASCAR, and Grand-Am series with much success. Now just one week after his Busch Series debut, Carpentier will make his Nextel Cup debut in the #10 Dodge Avenger. Valvoline Evernham Racing currently sits in 37th position in Nextel Cup Owners Points, 134 points out of the crucial top 35 cutoff. “We look forward to having Patrick Carpentier behind the wheel of the #10 Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge this weekend at Watkins Glen,” said Jim Rocco, Team Owner of Valvoline Evernham Racing. “Carpentier turned a lot of heads with his strong run in Montreal last weekend. This Valvoline Evernham Racing team is focused on doing everything we can to make races, and we have made twelve so far while outside the top 35. As part of those efforts, we believe that Patrick can place Valvoline Evernham Racing in a good position leaving Watkins Glen in order to help Scott Riggs make a run to the top 35 in points by the end of the season.” Clear!Blue/Evernham Motorsports PR

Industry news

GM Completes Sale of Allison Transmission
General Motors Corp. today announced that it has completed the sale of its Allison Transmission commercial and military business to The Carlyle Group and Onex Corporation for approximately $5.6 billion.  The company expects to use the funds to strengthen liquidity and support heavy investments in new products and technology, such as its continued energy diversity initiatives.


Conquest Racing announces new sponsor
Conquest Racing is proud to welcome Voxdale, a Belgian engineering firm with their headquarters in Antwerp, to The Champ Car World Series. In this high level of international motorsport competition, Voxdale and Conquest Racing will be working together through their new technical partnership focusing on racing technologies. Voxdale will implement its aerodynamic and structural simulation tools for the further development of the team's Champ Car DP01 chassis. Conquest Racing will be relying on Voxdale’s expertise in simulation, design and development to boost Jan Heylen’s DP01 Conquest Racing entry to improved performances.

Koen Beyers Quote
Koen Beyers, President of Voxdale: “As an R&D agency, we're delighted to be able to use our unique Finite Elements and Computational Fluid Dynamics technologies to boost the team's competitive level. We've successfully used our tools in yacht design, space industry, and car development before. With Jan Heylen, Don Bricker, Conquest Racing Chief Engineer and the entire Conquest staff, we have selected experts for technical feedback on all areas of development.”

Eric Bachelart Quote
“I am very pleased and excited to announce this new technical collaboration with Voxdale,” said Eric Bachelart, Conquest Racing Team Owner. ”This company has a great expertise in developing the latest racing technologies in terms of simulations and fluid dynamics. As we could see during the last race in San Jose, we have an incredible close field and we are looking to find the little advantage that can make a big difference on the grid.”


Bernie to sell classic car collection
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is selling 50 of the world's rarest cars from his own personal collection. RM Auctions - which is handling the sale in October - has the listed the lots and highlights include a 1955 Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing and a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster, now thought to be worth £3.25million. There is also a rather more modest Ford Anglia, too.  A spokesman for RM Auctions said: "The collection, built up over decades of careful acquisition, is composed of a variety of automobiles that represent many marques and eras. This auction marks what will be the first and only public exhibition of the Ecclestone Collection."  Reuters


Man dies after falling from RV at Pocono Raceway
A Toms River, N.J., man died after accidentally falling from the roof of a recreational vehicle during Sunday afternoon's race at Pocono Raceway. Peter DiPierro, 29, was flown to Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, PA, where he was pronounced dead at 5:32pm/et. Sunday, said Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim. The cause of death was blunt-force trauma to the head, Grim said. Pocono Record


Detroit GP almost a sellout
With only 25 days remaining before the roar on the shore returns to Belle Isle, Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix officials capped Monday's media lunch with the news that grandstand seating for both Saturday and Sunday's events is rapidly approaching a sell-out (though there are not many grandstand seats).

Joining event officials, along with representatives from Audi and race sponsor Bosch, was two-time American Le Mans Series champion and Audi factory pilot Allan McNish. McNish, who drives a diesel-powered Audi R10 TDI with Dindo Capello, was extremely enthusiastic about the venue and the potential competitiveness of the track. He concurred with race officials that the design of the track and the attention to detail showed all the makings of a superb circuit, and McNish was especially impressed with the widening of the turns and the increased visibility for the drivers.

"Usually with temporary and street circuits you feel like you're in a tunnel because of the walls on either side of you," noted McNish. "At the Belle Isle course, the turns actually widen through the apex allowing for much greater sight lines and faster exit speeds. The track looks fantastic."

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The Race for the Vanderbilt Cup
As the Champ Car World Series prepares to head to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin’s Road America, the Race for the Vanderbilt Cup continues to add an extremely interesting subplot to a season filled with great stories.

The Vanderbilt Cup – Established in 1904 by William K. Vanderbilt Jr., The Vanderbilt Cup is America’s first major Motorsports trophy. Resurrected in 1996 to serve as the race trophy for the US 500, the re-creation of The Vanderbilt Cup was produced by Tiffany and Co. The trophy is considered priceless since any re-creation of The Cup must meet approval of the Vanderbilt family. Starting in 2000, The Vanderbilt Cup has been awarded to the Champ Car World Series champion. The original Cup sits in the Smithsonian Institute.

Comfortable up Front – Since coming to North America to drive in the Champ Car World Series, Sebastien Bourdais has led the Series points standings after 42 of the 68 races he has competed in. This includes the incredible 2006 season in which the Frenchman led the points standings wire-to-wire. In all, the three time champ, Bourdais, has spent nearly 62% of his time in Champ Car at the top.

Bridging the Gap – Rookie Robert Doornbos cut his championship deficit in half at San Jose. After struggling in Edmonton, the Dutchman used a heavy right foot and a little luck to earn his second career win at San Jose. The win along with points leader Sebastien Bourdais’ fifth place finish has Doornbos within 10 points of the Series lead.

Powerful Start – Sophomore Will Power is currently sitting third in the Race for the Vanderbilt Cup, 24 points back of Bourdais. After final qualifying two weeks ago in Edmonton, the young Aussie was tied with Bourdais for second in the standings. Unfortunately, a broken piece in his steering assembly saw Power finish 15th in Edmonton, while Bourdais triumphed. Power reversed his ill fortune at San Jose though, as he started 12th but moved up to fourth at the checkered flag.

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Conquest Racing re-hires Chris Mower
In a move that is certain to help the team, last Wednesday August 1st, Chris Mower was re-employed by Eric Bachelart as Team Manager for Conquest Racing.  Recall that Mower left Conquest and was trying to start his own Champ Car team for the past 9 months but sponsorship opportunities fell through.


Kalkhoven JDSU case may go to trial UPDATE This letter sent to all JDS Uniphase shareholders provides more information on this class action lawsuit.

07/06/07 Shareholder class-action lawsuits rarely go to trial, but a long-running case against JDS Uniphase Corp., a late 1990s stock market darling that nearly collapsed when the tech bubble burst, could soon be an exception.

Investors embraced the fiber optics parts provider during the dot-com boom as it went on a dizzying merger spree, but they quickly soured on JDSU, which rang up a staggering $50.6 billion net loss in fiscal 2001 when business spending on telecommunications products stalled.

Its shares plunged 99 percent, erasing billions in stockholder value, and the company laid off thousand of workers. Now, JDSU, a much smaller version of its former self, and four former top executives are preparing to go to trial in October to defend themselves against a shareholder lawsuit stemming from the company's huge stock declines.

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Red Bull Toyota team management shakeup UPDATE There were rumors at Pocono that Red Bull wants to move from Toyota to Chevy next year, but team officials denied that rumor.  However, given Gibbs is moving from Chevy to Toyota........hmmm.......

08/06/07 Team Red Bull officials announced Monday that Vice President and General Manager Marty Gaunt is no longer with the Toyota team, citing a difference in team philosophy between Gaunt and other management.  TRB's No. 83 team of Brian Vickers is 39th in owners points while its No. 84 team of AJ Allmendinger is 48th in owners points.  Gaunt had been with the team since its formation was announced in January 2006.


Video: Drivers talk about Road America
For the first time in Road America's track history, both the Champ Car World Series and the American Le Mans Series will perform during the same race weekend. The event, which runs from Aug. 9 – 12, features a four-mile circuit that many Champ Car drivers say can be difficult when trying to create a perfect lap. The circuit will also host the Tour de Road America – a ride to benefit the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Driver Graham Rahal says he has been practicing for the race and looks forward to meeting Armstrong, one of his personal heroes.  Interviews with Bourdais, Doornbos, Legge (including footage of last year's crash), Rahal, Power and Wilson.  See video on our home page.


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Spy knowledge boosted McLaren - Briatore
  • Mateschitz backs his two F1 teams
  • Press vents opinions after Hungarian GP
  • September date likely for spy appeal
  • Drivers think time running out for Prodrive
  • Storms damage Shanghai circuit

Spy knowledge boosted McLaren - Briatore
(GMM) Flavio Briatore has suggested that McLaren was only able to keep up with Ferrari this year because of the spy scandal.

The Renault boss, who respectively beat McLaren and Ferrari for the world championships in 2005 and 2006, said he does not believe his counterpart Ron Dennis that no-one except Mike Coughlan at McLaren knew about the 780-page dossier of Ferrari secrets.

Briatore said the biggest disadvantage compared to Ferrari this year was its rivals' lack of knowledge of the Bridgestone tires.

"Had I only known Ferrari's weight distribution, or how big their tank is, if I had a bit of those documents, then we surely wouldn't be in this situation today," the Italian told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

McLaren is currently subject to the suspicions of the FIA about the espionage saga, but Dennis insists that his suspended chief designer Coughlan acted entirely alone.

Briatore charged: "Dennis says he's immaculate, but it's hard to believe him. No, I don't believe in his good faith.

"In a team everyone knows everything."

He also criticized Dennis for not yet sacking Coughlan, while Ferrari has on the other hand dismissed alleged McLaren informer Nigel Stepney.

"It's an extremely serious thing that he hasn't yet been fired," Briatore said, referring to Coughlan.

"All the team managers should say that in F1 there's no more room for them."

Mateschitz backs his two F1 teams
(GMM) Team owner Dietrich Mateschitz last weekend refused to criticize Red Bull Racing for struggling to break out of the formula one midfield in 2007.

In its third consecutive season on the grid, Milton Keynes-based RBR is still far from a regular podium-getter and has also struggled notably with reliability with the Adrian Newey-penned RB3.

But Mateschitz said in Budapest: "We will simply increase our efforts.

"This is only our third year. Even Jean Todt said once that he took five years to have Ferrari where he wanted it," the Austrian billionaire, on a rare visit to a formula one paddock, told the newspaper Kleinen Zeitung.

He also defended the decision in late 2005 to buy Minardi and run a second team, with the jointly Gerhard Berger-owned Toro Rosso project also yet to bear fruit.

Niki Lauda said recently that it is harder to succeed in formula one if efforts are split.

"He is right," Mateschitz agreed. "But we want Toro Rosso for our rookies. It is their door into formula one."

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Road America start of 3-in-row
Competitors in the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear will be facing a test of both their hunger -- and their ability to satisfy it -- during an intense August that will see them doing battle on back-to-back weekends at Road America, Trois Rivières and Mosport.

Drivers of all ages (17 to 64), both sexes and from a veritable UN of countries (U.S., Canada, England, the Philippines, Australia and Switzerland), will be battling for pride, honor, money, TV time and the ultimate prize - Mazda's ladder program scholarship that will help the 2007 series champion move up to the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.

First up is the Generac 500 Champ Car/American Le Mans event at Road America, August 9 - 11. Star Mazda championship points leader Dane Cameron (#19 JDC Motorsports/Finlay Motorsports) comes to this event with the advantage of having tasted victory here in 2006, driving in the Formula Ford 2000 series. Cameron has won three Star Mazda races so far in 2007, started from the pole four times and scored two 'hat tricks' - fastest in every practice session, qualified on the pole and led every lap on his way to victory.

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Government wants Assen race to be huge success UPDATE A reader writes (and many others) Please let my eyes be wrong. Looks like an IRL car in the picture. Says Firestone on the leading edge of the sidepod, you see an airbox about the cockpit and the straight wings are speedway wings. 

Who jacked that up? Somebody needs to get on the details...Nice job promoting the IRL. 

Why didn't they use a picture of the new Panoz? It's not like there aren't plenty of them to go around. Bob Toth

08/06/07 The local government in Holland has given their full support to the upcoming Champ Car race. To the right is a photo of the huge billboards, which they have placed around the freeways in the area. We hear that the race promoters are very happy with this support. This has never happened before in Holland for motor racing.


Further check-up needed
Team Penske's Helio Castroneves and AAMCO/Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's Sarah Fisher will need clearance from Indy Racing League director of medical services Dr. Michael Olinger at Kentucky after separate accidents at Michigan International Speedway.

Castroneves injured his right knee in a two-car accident on Lap 58, while Fisher strained her neck in a one-car accident on Lap 83 after her car suffered a mechanical failure.


Indy Pro Series readies for first night race
When the Indy Pro Series opened the 2007 season with qualifying under the lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway, it was the precursor for the series' first race under the lights. That will occur Aug. 11 at Kentucky Speedway when the 67-lap race is scheduled to begin at 9:10 p.m. (EDT).

Drivers are looking forward to showcasing the series in prime time at a track that has featured multiple laps of side-by-side racing. Last year's Kentucky 100 was the second-closest in series history with a margin of victory of 0.0190 of a second.

"I think the night race will be great fun," said series points leader Alex Lloyd, who will be vying for his record eighth victory of the season in the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon Systems entry for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. "I have never raced a night race before. The biggest thing for us will be the fact that we run after the IndyCar Series. The track will have a lot of marbles on it and therefore the second and third grooves will be slippery. This puts more of an emphasis on qualifying, but even if the high line is harder to use effectively I am sure our race will be as exciting as always."

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Treasure to trash
Dario Franchitti's Indy 500 winning car totaled in crash: Michael Andretti showed quick wit following a tense situation.

"You can have it now," the Andretti Green Racing co-owner told driver Dario Franchitti. The reference was to Franchitti's Indianapolis 500-winning No. 27 Canadian Club Dallara/Honda/Firestone, which Franchitti had requested of the team to place center stage in the racing memorabilia room of the Scottish farmhouse he recently renovated.

For the immediate future, it's moot after the car's airborne escapade on Lap 143 on the 2-mile oval. Franchitti was uninjured in the incident that caught up seven cars.

"I'm devastated to see my '500' car torn up like that," Franchitti said. "I have to say though that it did its job; it really saved me. I guess I owe that car a lot. Hopefully, now Michael will drop the price on it for me. I hope we can eventually get it repaired and to Scotland sometime."


Big one doesn't change point race
You'll have to excuse IndyCar Series title contenders Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon if they refer to the Firestone Indy 400 as a mulligan.

The top two drivers in the point standings were among the seven drivers involved in a multi-car accident on Lap 143 at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 5 and resulted in both drivers first DNF of the season.
But despite their early exit from the race, which was won by Tony Kanaan, the gap from Franchitti to Dixon remains at 24 points.

Franchitti finished 13th, but earned the three-point bonus for leading the most laps. Dixon's Target Chip Ganassi Racing team kept pace by repairing his battered race car, and he returned to the race nearly 45 minutes after the crash to improve to 10th position.

"I tried to get past Dario (Franchitti), he just ended up on top of me," Dixon said. "The Target team did a great job getting the car back together so we could get back out there and finish ahead of Dario. It keeps the points the same as it was coming in, so it's like this race never happened."


Symonds says Alonso messing with Hamilton's head
Renault engineering director Pat Symonds says he is not surprised that there may have been some gamesmanship going on in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix between Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

"I think there was a bit of gamesmanship in it," said Symonds who helped Alonso to his two World Championships. "You've got to remember these are very competitive people. They've got to use everything they can to go for it."


Haas to receive award
INDIANAPOLIS -- Carl A. Haas, one of the most successful team owners and businessmen in motorsports history, has been chosen by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association to receive its Pioneer In Racing Award. Haas will accept at the 38th All-America Team dinner, Saturday, January 12, at the Indianapolis Hyatt. 

The Piotigious honors from AARWBA, the country’s oldest and largest organization of motorsports media professionals. The award recognizes long-time dedication and achievement that have made a difference in the sport. Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones, Andy Granatelli, Kenny Bernstein, the Agajanian family, Les Richter, Hershel McGriff  and Robert Falcon are among the previous recipients. 

While Haas spent his early years winning races behind the wheel of various sports cars, he attained legendary status as a team owner, with 15 major championships. His All-Star roster of drivers has included Mario, Michael and John Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Jackie Stewart, Paul Tracy, Cristiano da Matta, Alan Jones, Brian Redman, Jackie Ickx, Peter Revson, David Hobbs, Patrick Tambay, Masten Gregory, Chuck Parsons and Skip Scott. This season, Sebastien Bourdais and Graham Rahal drive for him in the Champ Car series. Haas entries, co-owned by Paul Newman, have won seven CART/Champ Car titles, including the last three. Haas teams also won three SCCA Formula 5000 championships, four in Can-Am, and another in Super Vee. He’s also campaigned cars in Formula One and the NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series. Haas, along with Champ Car partners Newman and Michael Lanigan, recently announced a new partnership with Robert Yates Racing for NASCAR competition.

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racing news

Quotes of the week UPDATE
TONY KANAAN, IRL IndyCar driver
"We did not have the fast car.  I did not enjoy a single bit of it. People are just chopping people off and cars flying, that's not a way to race. I definitely think a lot of people disrespected each other out there, and it's not anybody's fault but ours. I saw at least 25 potential cars that could have flipped at some point in this race. I really don't think it's a way to race.  For us, it was just like death row waiting for somebody to kill you. I knew it was going to happen. I knew it. I avoided two times sending (Tomas) Scheckter to the grandstands. Somebody had to give up, and I knew somebody in the front was going to get stubborn enough and say I'm not going to give up and I'm not going to give up and I'm not going to give up, and that's what happened here.  Thank God nobody got hurt." (Talking about suicidal racing at over 200 mph in open wheel Indy Cars where one touch of tire to tire results in what we saw Sunday at Michigan. The poor drivers who sign up to put themselves in this situation (i.e. possible death at anytime) must like being sacrificial lambs for the 'Vision.' )

"We (Dario and Dixon) touched and the next thing I knew I was upside down going backward. I thought, 'This isn't good.' I'm glad everyone is OK. I said to Scott (Dixon), 'We have to stop meeting like that.' We've been running side-by-side in so many races recently. When I stopped and realized I was in one piece, I couldn't believe it. I'm a lucky guy."

BOBBY UNSER, former IndyCar driver
"I knew this was going to happen," Unser said of the final Michigan race. "NASCAR owns the track, and they don't spend any money promoting Indy cars. "Look at what they did with Phoenix, which used to be a big deal for (Indy cars). NASCAR got it and that was the end of us. Look at California. As soon as NASCAR bought it, that was the end of us. Now, it's Michigan." (He blames International Speedway Corp., the parent company of all three tracks -- plus nine others, along with NASCAR for the demise of open wheel racing at these and other tracks)

LEWIS HAMILTON, McLaren F1 driver
Details of the heated radio argument Hamilton had with team boss Ron Dennis after the Alonso blocking incident.

Hamilton: "Don't ever f---ing do that to me again."

Dennis: "Don't f---ing talk to me like that."

Hamilton: "You can go and f---ing swivel."

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Major shakeup at Chrysler
Cerberus Capital Management LP announced a stunning management shakeup at Chrysler within two days of taking ownership of the Detroit automaker, bringing in a new chief executive, Robert Nardelli, the hard-driving and controversial former CEO of retailer Home Depot.

Current Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda will be president and vice chairman of Chrysler, reporting to Nardelli, sources at Cerberus and Chrysler told The Detroit News on Sunday.

Nardelli also will serve as chairman of the board of the new Chrysler LLC. In a major surprise, Wolfgang Bernhard, a Cerberus adviser and former high-ranking Chrysler executive, declined an offer to be chairman of Chrysler.

Eric Ridenour, Chrysler's chief operating officer, will leave the company.

The management changes were surprising, given the recent assurances by Cerberus officials that LaSorda would remain as CEO of Chrysler.

A source familiar with the situation said the top management at Cerberus held LaSorda in high regard but preferred to install someone with Nardelli's sharp business acumen. The source said Nardelli, who rose to a high position at General Electric Co., would look at Chrysler with "fresh eyes."

Nardelli is expected to be in attendance today at a midday event scheduled in Auburn Hills to mark the start of a new era for the U.S. automaker. Detroit News


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Angry Spaniards side with Alonso
  • Albers rules out Spyker test seat
  • Todt defends Dennis talks snub
  • BMW says no to Alonso gossip

Angry Spaniards side with Alonso
(GMM) Spain sided vigorously against all quarters - except its national hero - after the Hungarian grand prix.

"Like that, you could win anything," the newspaper Marca said, deriding the circumstances in which Fernando Alonso's McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton won on Sunday.

Diario As called Hamilton's win "an immoral triumph" and "the victory of Judas", referring to how the British rookie disobeyed a team order before accusing Alonso of deliberately holding him up in the infamous qualifying pitstop.

Marca added: "Hamilton took advantage of the gift from the FIA".

Spain's motor sports federation, the RFEA, also attacked the stewards' decision to penalize Alonso, and vowed to explore "all the available measures ... to clear up this conflict".

Marca even claimed that Alonso and his father Jose Luis have asked former team boss, mentor and manager Flavio Briatore, of Renault, for advice about how to break his contract with McLaren and flee to another team.

The newspaper adds that Alonso placed a "Hamilton or me" ultimatum to Ron Dennis in Hungary regarding 2008.

Briatore said: "I don't know anything about that. This is a McLaren problem, not mine."

Albers rules out Spyker test seat
(GMM) Christijan Albers has now dropped his threat to sue Spyker for dumping him from its formula one lineup.

After a defaulting sponsor failed to pay its bills to Spyker, the 28-year-old has now told a Dutch television station that he is currently in talks with the team head Michiel Mol about the future.

"I would like to race, but that is not possible," Albers, who has now been replaced full-time by Japanese pay-driver Sakon Yamamoto, said.

"We must examine how and if I can remain in the Spyker family," he added, but he ruled out becoming a test driver.

Albers commented: "I do not see that as an option. We all know that Spyker do not test much."

Todt defends Dennis talks snub
(GMM) Jean Todt has justified rejecting his McLaren counterpart Ron Dennis' plea for espionage peace talks as "too little too late".

Confirming Dennis' statements this week that Todt had ruled out finding a behind-the-scenes settlement to the saga, the Ferrari boss told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "I would have preferred if he made this proposal four months ago.

"Then we could have avoided all this damage to the image of formula one and the serious consequences that Ferrari is enduring."

BMW says no to Alonso gossip
(GMM) BMW's Mario Theissen has counted the Munich manufacturer out of speculation that Fernando Alonso could be Hinwil-bound at the end of 2007.

A Renault return is the obvious favorite amid speculation that Spaniard Alonso wants to desert his McLaren contract, but it has been pointed out by the media that BMW-Sauber team principal Theissen has been recently open in his admiration for F1's reigning world champion.

Sport-Informations-Dienst, however, quoted the German chief as saying in Hungary: "That is not momentarily a topic for us."

Instead, it is rumored strongly that - during the August break - Theissen will finalize Nick Heidfeld's new contract to drive alongside Robert Kubica in 2008.


Castroneves tries to blame Meira for accident he caused
It's a good thing most Americans can't read lips or understand Portuguese because Helio Castroneves gave the television audience a mouthful after Sunday's crash with Vitor Meira at Michigan International Speedway.  Photo courtesy of the IRL

The two Brazilian drivers touched tires and slammed into the outside wall on the front straightaway on lap 58, spraying debris all over the track.

Castroneves couldn't wait for Meira to climb from his car to give him some angry comments in their native language. Then the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner stormed off to the track's care center. He left on crutches, nursing a sore right knee that had no structural damage. But he was still upset.

"I have a lot of respect for Vitor and his driving abilities, but I think he was being a little too aggressive for so early in the race," he said. "Unfortunately, we touched."

Castroneves and Meira were coming up on the car of Scott Sharp when they touched. The impact was fierce, but Meira said he shouldn't be blamed for it. "My point of view, I didn't move up; he moved up," Meira said. Indy Star

[Editor's Note: Meira is right, the TV replays show that Castroneves clearly changed his line and moved up and never saw Meira. For all the animated cursing he did, acting like a spoiled child, he has no one to blame but himself. His fiancée got a good feeling of what it will be like married to him. That nice happy go-lucky personality is just a fake facade it appears.]


IRL parks Duno
The Indy Racing League has put rookie driver Milka Duno on probation, forcing her to hone her skills elsewhere if she is to continue with the series.  According to chief steward Brian Barnhart, probation means that "virtually everything she does will be scrutinized, with no mistakes (allowed)."  Barnhart instructed SAMAX Motorsport officials to have Duno begin testing with IRL veteran Tomas Enge to improve her skills racing with other cars. Duno will not compete in Saturday night's race at Kentucky Speedway. Indy Star


F1 to blame for Alonso/Hamilton incident UPDATE A reader writes, Correct me if I'm wrong but aren't the 'real racing series' in the US the only ones that use a pitbox for each driver (are there any 'real racing series' left in the US these days anyway)? And if you were going to award the 'moron of the year award for sheer stupidity' to someone surely it should go to the two US Open wheel organizations for continuing their idiotic split? Sure F1 has its moments of idiocy but they've got nothing on that lot. F1 is still charging ahead like a steam train, US open wheel barely has a pulse in comparison. John Cook, Sydney

08/05/07 For all its claim that it is the highest form of racing in motorsports, F1 forces the team drivers to share a single pit box during qualifying and the races.  This has to be the most idiotic rule in all of motorsports  and has over the years led to one teammate or the other getting balked during the race or qualifying waiting for their teammate to get serviced.

If Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso had their own pit box (like all other 'real racing' series do) to stop in Saturday the controversy would have never happened and its F1's dumb single pit rule that has caused yet another race to be ruined.  So instead of seeing the top two drivers in points racing for the win Sunday in Hungary we witnessed another boring F1 parade with Alonso stuck behind slower cars all race.

This year's moron award goes to the FIA and FOM for sheer stupidity.


Audi driver Emanuele Pirro about Road America
Road America (Wisconsin state) plays host to the American Le Mans Series on 11 August. Audi is unbeaten to date on the 6.515 kilometer (4.048 miles) circuit. Last year’s winner Emanuele Pirro (Italy) talks about the fastest circuit of the season with its average lap speed of approximately 215 kph.
The previous circuits were very difficult for the Audi R10 TDI. Are you looking forward to Road America?
"It’s great knowing that we’ll be driving on a fast circuit again, which suits our Audi R10 TDI a little more. We’ll have less of a disadvantage compared to 150 kilogram lighter LM P2 cars at Road America. However, the fundamental problem remains until such time as the regulations change, which is expected to be in 2008."
Do you like the Road America track?
"In my opinion, Road America is the most picturesque circuit in the United States and the best circuit on the American Le Mans Series calendar. It suits our car and is very pleasurable to drive. I can hardly wait to drive there."
What are the key points at Road America?
"Road America is a driver’s circuit. It is very long and one of the most varied circuits that I know: There are slow corners, very quick corners, long straights and it runs uphill and downhill. At Road America you also need a car with plenty of downforce and good engine performance. However, you also need an agile car in some sections, which is where we’ll really notice the weight difference we have to the lighter LM P2 cars."

For you as a driver, which section is the most spectacular?
"Unfortunately, it is the only point on the circuit where spectator access is prohibited because it would be too dangerous: the ‘Kink’ on the back straight. It’s one of the most exhilarating corners that I know. You can take it flat out when everything is right. It actually has very little influence on the lap time if you lift off a little. But it’s a unique feeling to stay on the gas. It’s a shame that the spectators see nothing of it. So, it’s merely a private thing for us drivers."
What is your fondest memory of Road America?
"In 2002, I had a fantastic duel throughout a complete stint with Tom Kristensen. I was able to overtake him around the outside under-braking at the end of the back straight. We drove side-by-side through the following two corners. It was on the limit, but a fantastic experience."


Situation 'worse' than Senna-Prost struggle
(GMM) Ron Dennis in Hungary said the situation at McLaren this year is "worse" than his struggle to control the loathing shared in the past by Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.

"There didn't used to be the internet," he told Spanish reporters, after F1's new media this weekend revealed the rifts that exist within the Woking based team in 2007.

The Briton looked haggard and tired on Sunday evening and admitted to looking forward to the August break.

"The only thing I need now is some peace, to get home and to have a good glass of wine. I am sixty years old," he smiled wryly.

Dennis also expressed little patience for Fernando Alonso's refusal to guarantee fulfilling the full term of his contract.

"I will continue to operate a team with specific values," he said, also hinting that other teams are probably feeding the rumors to take advantage of a tumultuous period for McLaren.

He added: "If anybody does not want to respect them, they know what to do. Our drivers have contracts and we hope that they fulfill them, because we certainly intend to."


Gordon responds to NASCAR suspension UPDATE Robby Gordon issued the following statement: “I want to start by expressing my regrets to the sponsors, fans, and all competitors for any part I played in the miscommunication, confusion and uncertainty surrounding the finish in this weekend’s Busch race in Montreal. Immediately following the last caution when I was spun out by the 59 car, at first I was told that I was scored in first place and I should be in that position. Later, I was told that I was in second place and I assumed that position, which was fine. Moments before the green flag dropped, I was told that I was scored in 13th position. Obviously I objected, and I stated that I would complete the race under protest. I believed that my protest would be a foregone conclusion if I moved to position 13. I was confident that most people who watched the race or see the replay would agree that I should have been scored in first or second. I also wanted to make sure that the race played out the way it should if the officials ultimately agreed with me after seeing the tape and granted my protest. Therefore, I decided to preserve the status quo by holding the second position and racing from that position to the end of the race. My belief was that it would be no harm no foul if my protest was denied because I would then be disqualified in the race regardless. On the other hand, if I moved to position 13 and my protest was granted, then the race results would be affected. In order to preserve the integrity of my protest, I decided to stay in second position. It was not my purpose to disrespect the authority of NASCAR or the officials. I do respect their authority to run the race and make the calls, and I understand the significance of the black flag. I strongly disagree with the calls that affected me at the end of the race. Being spun under the yellow and not being allowed to resume my position prior to the spin put me in a position to react as I did. Nonetheless, I accept NASCAR’s decision and I intend to move forward under the rules.”

08/05/07 As a result of his actions on the race track at Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Series race at Montreal, NASCAR has parked driver Robby Gordon for today’s Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway.  Referencing Section 12-2 of the 2007 NASCAR rule book … “if the act or omission of a member is determined by a NASCAR official to constitute a threat to the orderly conduct of the event, NASCAR may take emergency action against that member …”  That action includes parking a driver for an event.  Parking is final, non-appealable and non-reviewable.

Towards the end of Saturday’s race at Montreal, Robby Gordon demonstrated blatant disrespect and disregard for NASCAR directives – on multiple occasions.  His actions were certainly disruptive to the orderly conduct of the event.

NASCAR will continue to review this situation and address any further actions at the beginning of this week.

P.J. Jones will be driving the #7 car today – he practiced in it here on Saturday.  Since he did not qualify the car, he will start the race at the end of the line.


Dixon will not be first to win four in row
A reader writes, During the 1990 Indy Car (IndyCar - CART) World series Al Unser Jr. won four consecutive races.  Why are all the reporters who are stumbling over themselves (as usual) reporting that Dixon will be the first to win four consecutive Indy Car (IndyCar) ignorant of that? Mark McCauley

Dear Mark, The IRL announcers and reporters like to make believe that the CART days, i.e. the best days Indy Car Racing ever had, didn't exist.  It's called selective memory.  Mark C.


It’s raining in Michigan UPDATE The rain has stopped and the track is drying.  We estimate around a 4 PM ET start.

08/05/07 In the month of July, Brooklyn Michigan had a rainfall deficit of 5 inches.  Today, we've got lots of rain, with a rain band stretching west to some place in Iowa.  Like last year, rain will be a story here for today's Firestone Indy 400.  If you need rain, schedule a race....


Honda embarrassed in Hungary UPDATE Honda's woes hit a new low in Hungary when Rubens Barrichello finished dead last, two laps down, and beaten by a Spyker.

The Brazilian's teammate Jenson Button was also struggling backmarker until his RA107 broke down.

"Everyone at the team is feeling the pain at the moment," Rubens said.

As ever in formula one, however, one team's pain is invariably another's gain, and Dutch straggler Spyker heralded Adrian Sutil's 3.6 second victory over Barrichello, a former grand prix winner for Ferrari.

Referring to the minor triumph, technical boss Mike Gascoyne said: "For a team with our limited resources we can be quite proud of this."

Sutil and teammate Sakon Yamamoto, who spun and crashed just six laps into his formula one return, will race a 'B' spec version of the Spyker car in Turkey in three weeks.

Until then there is now a testing ban in place, and most of the leading players in pitlane now take a well earned break.

08/05/07 The Honda F1 team received the biggest embarrassment in all of racing Sunday when their driver Rubens Barrichello radioed in to his crew during the race that "the car is so slow I cannot even pass the Spyker in front of me."  In fact he never did, finishing behind the Spyker of Adrian Sutil. He was the last place car still running. 

Why is Honda still in F1?  Like Toyota, year-in-and-year-out they continue to show they are inferior to Ferrari, Mercedes, BMW and Renault.  They are spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually to look inferior.  Brilliant marketing!


Dennis admits driver ’mistrust’ at McLaren
(GMM) Ron Dennis on Sunday admitted for the first time that 'tension' and 'mistrust' between McLaren's drivers has become an issue at his team.

Following the controversial 'pit-gate' incident in Hungarian GP qualifying, Lewis Hamilton told reporters that he has not yet uttered a word to his teammate and championship rival Fernando Alonso.

Alonso, meanwhile, said "nobody" at McLaren is speaking to Hamilton, but reiterated that it is "not my problem but a big problem for the team".

After winning in Budapest, meanwhile, Hamilton said of his Spanish teammate: ""He doesn't seem to be speaking to me so I don't know if he has a problem."

Admitting that the stress and emotion of the 2007 season and this weekend has got to him, team boss Dennis openly admitted that the pair are not currently the best of friends.

He told ITV: "There is a tremendous amount of tension in the team. There are frustrations with both of them and sometimes mistrust with both of them."

Dennis said he blamed both Hamilton and Alonso for interfering with the team's attempt to handle qualifying in Hungary equitably.

Alonso had his pole position taken away by the stewards for impeding Hamilton, and the British rookie blankly refused a team order to give his teammate track position on Saturday.

The situation spiraling out of control then cost McLaren its 15 - and potentially more - championship points from this race.

Dennis said: "We have taken a difficult emotional blow and we have got to dig deep and emerge from it."


Victory for Hülkenberg in F3 Masters race
Nico Hülkenberg (ASM Formule 3) claimed victory in the “Zandvoort Masters of Formula 3 @ Zolder”. In the competition with the best Formula 3 drivers from Europe, the 19-year old German beat Frenchmen Yann Clairay and Jean Karl Vernay (both Signature-Plus),who finished second and third respectively.

At the 3.977 kilometres long former Grand Prix circuit in Zolder in Belgium, New-Zealander Brendon Hartley (Mücke Motorsport) made a successful Formula 3 debut by finishing fourth. The first nine places were locked out by drivers and teams from the ranks of the Formula 3 Euro Series, proving once more why the Formula 3 Euro Series is being considered as the world’s strongest junior racing category.

At the start, Nico Hülkenberg beat Franck Mailleux (Manor Motorsport) and took the lead. Romain Grosjean (ASM Formule 3), who started from pole position, lost all chances of a good result at the start already as he stalled his engine. On lap 14, Mailleux was given a drive through penalty because of a jump start. The Frenchman eventually came home in 17th place.

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Winner Hamilton apologizes for Hungarian goulash
(GMM) Lewis Hamilton says he apologized to his boss Ron Dennis after their radio swearing match in Hungary.

The pair exchanged 'f'-words following the qualifying pitstop bungle on Saturday, which ultimately cost Fernando Alonso his pole position and McLaren 15 championship points.

Dennis and Alonso revealed to the press in Budapest that the incident had been triggered by Hamilton repeatedly ignoring a radio order to let his Spanish teammate past in the 'Q3' phase of qualifying.

"I am in a lot of trouble with my boss," Hamilton told the British broadcaster ITV before he won the race, albeit reiterating that Alonso does not have "a great excuse" for holding him up in the pits.

Championship leader Hamilton revealed after the incident that Alonso had not spoken to him, while Alonso told Spanish reporters that "nobody" in the team is communicating at present with Lewis.

Hamilton confirmed that he is living in a difficult moment within the Woking based team.

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No winner's trophy for McLaren in Hungary
(GMM)  Hungaroring winner Lewis Hamilton will not be accompanied on the podium by a McLaren colleague, it emerged in Budapest on Sunday.

The Briton was able to extend his lead of the drivers' championship over teammate Fernando Alonso to seven points here, but stewards on Saturday night ruled that his team should not score points for the constructors' chase due to the 'pit-gate' scandal.

McLaren would have scored 15 points, with Alonso finishing fourth after starting sixth -- five positions lower than his pole position that was also stripped away by the Hungarian stewards.

Instead, Ferrari closed its constructors' deficit to McLaren from 27 to 19 points, with Kimi Raikkonen narrowly unable to beat Hamilton for the win despite setting the fastest lap of the race on the last tour.

Because McLaren was excluded from adding constructors' points on Sunday, stewards clarified that the winners' trophy would not be presented to a representative of the Woking based team on the podium.

McLaren have appealed the stewards' verdict.


Dodge Reconfirms Commitment to NASCAR
Mike Delahanty, senior manager of the Dodge Motorsports program, confirmed on Saturday at Pocono Raceway the manufacturer's long-term intent to remain in the series and an extension of Petty Enterprises' deal with Dodge. He also said its flagship Evernham Motorsports cars might have a different look next season. Cerberus Capital Management, an investment group, this week finalized its agreement to split the Chrysler brands away from DaimlerChrysler, but Delahanty said Dodge's motorsports involvement would not be affected, with the plan for four teams to run 10 cars next season. Delahanty declined to go into the details of rumors that connect Ray Evernham's team to possible deals with commercial sponsors such as Budweiser or a Masterfoods brand such as Snickers -- but said the #9 and 19 Dodges, which have carried Dodge Dealers and UAW sponsorship since the newest program began in 2001, might look different next season. NASCAR.com


Gordon thinks he won Montreal race
Oh Canada, what a race you saw. It was 49 years ago the last time NASCAR had a major event north of the border, and it was probably at least that long since NASCAR had a finish as crazy and controversial as this one.

Kevin Harvick earned the most improbable victory of his career, going from worst-to-first in a car that had no business being in Victory Lane.

Robby Gordon not only thought he won the NAPA Auto Parts 200, he celebrated at the finish line as if he had won it. Gordon was doing doughnuts and raising his arms in front of the crowd while Harvick was doing the same.

Gordon did cross the line ahead of everyone else, but NASCAR had black-flagged him before the two-lap overtime finish began.

"In my opinion, I won the race," Gordon said. "I completed all laps. We'll appeal because we won it."

Confusion, anger, deliberate wrecking, penalties to the apparent leader at the end. The packed grandstands on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road course saw it all in the Busch debut in Canada.

"If they came here for a show, that was one awesome show," said Max Papis, who finished third.  More at ESPN.com


Unser blames NASCAR
Bobby Unser was one of the winningest drivers in Michigan's open-wheel history, capturing three Indy-car races and seven poles.

He doesn't think it's a coincidence that Indy cars no longer race at Phoenix International Raceway, California Speedway and, after today's race, Michigan.

He blames International Speedway Corp., the parent company of all three tracks -- plus nine others, along with NASCAR.
"I knew this was going to happen," Unser said of the final Michigan race. "NASCAR owns the track, and they don't spend any money promoting Indy cars.

"Look at what they did with Phoenix, which used to be a big deal for (Indy cars). NASCAR got it and that was the end of us. Look at California. As soon as NASCAR bought it, that was the end of us. Now, it's Michigan."

Track officials at Michigan wanted a date that wasn't two weeks before its second Nextel Cup race, set for Aug. 19. The IRL couldn't deliver one.

In fairness, ISC has shown no signs of abandoning IRL races in Homestead, Fla.; Richmond, Va.; Watkins Glen, N.Y.; Kansas City, Kan.; and Joliet, Ill. Indy Star

[Editor's Note: Bobby Unser is 100% correct.  They did the same to CART and Champ Car.  Nazareth was another ISC track that killed off open wheel racing due to lack of promotion.  It's a very underhanded way of killing off the competition to their 'stock car' racing by making them look like failures.  Of course they will deny it but history shows otherwise.  The conspiracy theorists say that the France family wants to monopolize racing and get rid of the many forms (they deem it too confusing to the fans) of racing so that Americans think of racing as only stadium style oval stock car racing called NASCAR.]


Alonso protests innocence before race
GMM)  Fernando Alonso was in no mood to chat as a swarm of media engulfed him on Sunday.

Having controversially secured pole in Hungary on Saturday, the Spaniard awoke for the grand prix in Budapest to learn that he had been demoted to sixth after stewards ruled that he "unnecessarily impeded" his McLaren teammate.

"You can write what you want to write," Alonso told journalists in Hungary.

"Perhaps the stewards don't know the rules well enough.  I did not do anything wrong.  I did not offend against any rule."

His McLaren team, docked of any potential championship points, was equally unhappy in the hours before the race.

In a statement, the Ron Dennis-led outfit slammed the penalties as not "appropriate" and said its explanations to the stewards had been "misunderstood".


McLaren team mystified by Stewards decision
"Every effort was made yesterday by the team to maintain our policy of equality," the team said in a statement. "However in the heat of the battle there are occasions when the competitive nature of drivers sees them deviate from the agreed procedures. During this intense and frenetic period of qualifying, decisions are necessarily made in seconds to enable the drivers and the team to position their cars on the track at the optimal moment. We agree with the stewards, that when the team decided to hold Fernando for 20 seconds there were four cars on the circuit. However, we do not understand the relevance of this observation as the team needed to estimate where all the remaining cars would be in the final minutes of the session. Similarly the team does not agree with the statement of the stewards that the 20 second hold caused Lewis to be impeded.

"Tensions were undeniably high and the problem at Fernando’s first stop; the desire to enter a clear track and concerns expressed following the fitting of used tires undoubtedly contributed to the delay in Fernando’s ultimate departure. We do not believe that the findings of the stewards and the severe penalty imposed on the team are appropriate, and that our strenuous efforts to maintain the spirit of fair play and equality within the team have been misunderstood.

"We are, however, now only hours away from an important race and are focusing all our efforts on achieving the best possible result for the drivers."


Ambrose robbed of first NASCAR victory UPDATE A reader writes, Ambrose robbed? What a crock. Robby and Marcus were side by side coming into the chicane when the yellow came out on TV and at the corners. Tell me, if you are racing, are you going to see that yellow flag that fast in a chicane and hear what your spotter/crewman is saying at same time? All 3? The yellow is clearly out when Robby got spun and put in him in 12th or 13th? Get real. This is another NASCAR political crap to stage a win, pole or whatever else they try to do to market their series. The field was frozen right at the chicane. Robby passed Marcus at first chicane, rule is reverse the order. Marcus kept racing and spun Robby. Now tell me the rule on that. The order should be Marcus and Robby 2nd. Did anyone not see Marcus spin Robby? Marcus raced 74 laps and now he runs in the back of him? He knew when to back off.

But no, beat on Robby cuz everyone classifies him as bad boy. Then make him go back to 12th or 13th wellllllll after yellow and others had passed him, who would not be pissed off. Kevin Harvick spun Scott Pruett with his aggressive move, and no stories or anything on him for that? His blunder caused his own teammate car to be smashed up. Come on! Be fair.... I give Kevin credit for respecting the understanding of Robby celebrating and etc. because he is a racer and he knows the rules and real evidence inside a car, not a NASCAR hauler and he had his opinions. Smart as he is he kept quiet and acknowledged what he saw and he also knew what he did regarding Scott Pruett, but kept quiet since the heat was on Robby.

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Villa wins GP2 sprint race
Javier Villa has claimed his third Sunday win for the season in race two at the Hungaroring, regaining the lead after an accident in front of him and then soaking up race long pressure to take the checkered flag just 0.6 seconds ahead of yesterday's winner Adam Carroll.

The win came despite a relatively slow start from pole which saw fellow front row starter Adrian Zaugg storm away into the lead, with third place starter Roldan Rodriquez also making short work of his countryman further around the track. Behind then Carroll had a storming start from eighth to fifth at turn one before disposing of Borja Garcia at turn three and heading off after his former teammate.

Lucas di Grassi had been confident of a good result this morning, but an uncustomary slow start dropped the Brazilian to sixth place, just ahead of a fierce battle between Andi Zuber, Kazuki Nakajima, Timo Glock and Giorgio Pantano, whose usual rocket start had propelled him up from sixteenth on the grid to the fight for the final points finish.

Further back Pastor Maldonado was looking ragged, hoping for gaps that weren't there as he tried to go inside Bruno Senna: the pair inevitably came together and both men went wide. It was a fight that was to bound to continue as the Brazilian could not seem to escape his rival, and the Venezuelan seemed unable to make a clean pass.

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Dennis admits difficult relationship with Alonso
(GMM) Ron Dennis in Budapest admitted that he is enduring a difficult relationship with double world champion Fernando Alonso.

Spaniard Alonso, whose pole position was later stripped by the stewards, refused to acknowledge his McLaren boss as they met in the weighing area following qualifying on Saturday.

It was the latest in a string of reminders that the pair do not get on.

"We are trying to improve our relationship," Dennis told the Spanish media in Hungary before the 'pit-gate' controversy was sparked.

He admitted that Lewis Hamilton is better integrated with the Woking based team due to his long relationship with McLaren.

"For sure Fernando is right at the beginning of his relationship with the team," Briton Dennis said.

"Fernando is a remarkable guy and I like him a lot. He is very private, and I respect that. I think he didn't expect Lewis to be so competitive, but that's life.

"He is a double world champion, he is doing a great job with us and I hope that with the passing of time he ends up loving the team."

Dennis admits that their public encounters, such as when Alonso again ignored his team principal after winning at the Nurburgring two weeks ago, are cold.

"Fernando was somewhat preoccupied with the situation with Massa, but it is obvious that our encounter was slightly distant.

"I am aware of the fact that he does not feel as comfortable with me as I would like, but I feel the pressure of two very competitive drivers who want to win.

"It is a difficult task to handle the situation and to create the level of tranquility in those circumstances."

Dennis admits that Alonso was particularly annoyed after Monaco, when the McLaren boss openly admitted to holding back Lewis Hamilton rather than simply celebrate Alonso's dominant win.

Dennis replied: "I am not perfect. The British press jumped on me, attacked me.

"It was difficult. I had to think about what was best for the team. What was put about in the media did affect our relationship. But we are trying to improve that.

"He absolutely deserved to win in Monaco. He drove one of the best races that I have even seen."


Stewards penalize Alonso, McLaren, for Hamilton hold-up
(GMM)  Stewards late on Saturday night stripped Fernando Alonso of pole position following the qualifying pit controversy in Hungary.

His McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton has been promoted to top spot, while the Spaniard drops to sixth after FIA representatives at the Hungaroring accepted neither Alonso or the Woking based team's explanations for the delay that cost Hamilton a shot at pole.

That decision is not subject to an appeal, but McLaren has appealed the stewards' decision to strip it of any potential constructors' points in Sunday's race in Budapest.

It means McLaren has booked a second date at the FIA's International Court of Appeal, which will be held separately to the case relating to the espionage saga at some point in the near future.

The stewards' statement read: "The explanation given by Alonso as to why he remained in his pit stop position is not accepted."

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Harvick takes controversial Busch win
NASCAR's first foray into Canada produced a melee in Turn 1 on a restart with four laps to go and a scoring decision that turned the NAPA Auto Parts 200 NASCAR Busch Series race inside out.

For the record, Kevin Harvick took the checkered flag Saturday in front of a packed house at the vaunted Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, holding off local Quebec favorite Patrick Carpentier by 0.338 seconds in a green-white-checkered finish to win the first NASCAR event on Canadian soil.

Harvick started the race from the rear of the field because he missed qualifying the No. 21 car while tending to his Nextel Cup duties at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania.

Harvick took the checkered flag because NASCAR refused to display it to Robby Gordon in an ending reminiscent of Davey Allison's controversial victory over Ricky Rudd at Infineon Raceway in 1991.

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The full FIA decisions against Alonso Team McLaren
From: The Stewards of the Meeting
To: Team McLaren

During the final minutes of Qualifying, the car driven by Fernando Alonso remained in its pit stop position at the completion of his pit stop notwithstanding the fact that his team-mate Lewis Hamilton was waiting immediately behind him to commence his own pit stop. The delay prevented Hamilton from being able to complete his final flying lap of Qualifying.

The Team Principal, together with the team manager and both drivers were called before the Stewards and asked to explain their actions. Reference was made to video and audio evidence. The facts and the explanation given by the team are as follows:

At the commencement of the third period of the Qualifying practice it had been agreed within the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Team ("The Team") that Fernando Alonso would leave the pit exit ahead of Lewis Hamilton in order to benefit from the possibility for purposes of fuel burn allowance of being able to complete an additional lap.

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Alonso stripped of pole
Fernando Alonso was dropped from the pole of the Hungarian Grand Prix and will start sixth after a ruling by FIA on Saturday. World motor sport's governing body overruled stewards and determined that the two-time defending Formula One champion and his McLaren team had delayed teammate Lewis Hamilton during a pit stop.

FIA also ruled that any points McLaren earns in Sunday's 70-lap race will only count toward the driver standings – and not the constructors championship. Hamilton, who leads Alonso in the driver standings 70-68, will take the pole. Hamilton had questioned Alonso's tactics after a lengthy pit stop, and FIA issued a statement detailing its ruling one hour after the qualifying placings –with Alonso first and Hamilton second – had been sanctioned by the stewards.

FIA's statement said that McLaren's Alonso sat stationary for 20 seconds after the completion of a tire change and “therefore delayed Hamilton's own pit stop.” “The actions of the team in the final minutes of qualifying are considered prejudicial to the interests of the competition and to the interests of motor sport generally,” the statement said. “The penalty to be applied is that such points (if any) in the Formula One constructors championship as accrue to the team as a result of their participation in the 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix will be withdrawn.” McLaren leads the constructor standings with 138 points to 111 for Ferrari.

Nick Heidfeld of BMW-Sauber will start second and Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari will start third.


Shades of Senna-Prost at McLaren
Ron Dennis is not happy with the recent Hamilton/Alonso controversy because he has seen this before.  Sounds like Lewis screwed Alonso in Q3 and Fernando returned the favor.  Brilliant!  It is only a matter of time until one of those two takes the other out.


Franchitti on pole
Dario Franchitti will pace the field for the 57th — and possibly last — Indy car race at Michigan Speedway.  He will be followed by Sam Hornish, Helio Castroneves, Scott Sharp, and Dan Wheldon. More to follow....


Michael McDowell wins crash filled ARCA RE/MAX Pennsylvania 200
Update from Pocono... Jeremy Clements nearly won his first ever ARCA RE/MAX series race but ran out of gas coming out of the final turn and gave the victory to Michael McDowell. McDowell took the lead for the final 500 feet and cruised to a win, Josh Wise finished second in a Toyota while Clements coasted across the start finish line in third. Evernham Motorsports development driver Erin Crocker finished in fourth. The race was brought under caution nine (9) times, including a red flag stoppage for 24 minutes brought out for a multi car pile up on lap 56 that ended several teams day early. The End


Jimmie Johnson fastest in Happy Hour
Update from Pocono... Jimmie Johnson (No 48 Lowes Chevrolet) was fastest in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series final practice with a top speed of 165.281 mph for tomorrow's Pennsylvania 500. Tony Stewart (No 20 Home Depot Chevrolet) was second fastest with a speed of 165.591 and Casey Mears ( No 25 National Guard/GMAC Chevrolet) posted the third fastest time with a speed of 164.396. 


Todt turned down offer to solve spy crisis - Dennis
Ron Dennis on Saturday said his Ferrari counterpart Jean Todt turned down an offer to settle the espionage scandal away from the courts.

The Spanish news agency EFE quoted the McLaren CEO, chairman and team principal as confirming that he had spoken to Todt in recent days to also investigate ways to resolve the dispute away from the circus of public spotlight.

Ferrari "did not want" to explore those avenues, Dennis said.

He also explained that he barred drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton from media engagements in Budapest on Thursday to protect them.

Asked specifically about Alonso's cancelled attendance at the official FIA press conference, Dennis said: "It's a shooting gallery.

"If Fernando had gone, all the questions about the spy issue would have been a considerable distraction for him.

"I try to be a good head of this team and I believe that I have dealt with this subject in an appropriate way."

Mercedes-Benz's head of competition Norbert Haug also confirmed that the cancelled media dates were to "reduce the pressure" on Alonso and his teammate.

"Ron Dennis thought this was the best thing to do and so that is what we did," the German told the Spanish newspaper Marca.

"Of course there are discussions about what we decide, and if we are criticized for that, we will have to live with it."


Alonso exposes McLaren team’s pro-Hamilton bias
(GMM)  More than four hours after the incident at the end of Hungarian GP qualifying, the Fernando Alonso versus Lewis Hamilton pit stop controversy is still sizzling.

Pole sitter Alonso, under investigation from the stewards, told Spanish publications including the newspaper 'Marca' that the intricate timing of McLaren's qualifying strategy got out of sequence because Hamilton ignored an instruction from the pit wall.

Team boss Ron Dennis, who was visibly angry despite seeing his cars qualify first and second, confirmed the news to reporters in Budapest.

"Lewis should have slowed and let Fernando past," Dennis said.  "And he didn't.  He charged off."

But Alonso has threatened to widen the tension with his British teammate and team even further by speculating as to why so many long faces could be seen in McLaren overalls after qualifying.

"Because I am first and Hamilton is second," he told Marca.  "This is something that is very hard for me to say, but that is what I see."

Alonso, 26, added that Hamilton had been asked during the 'Q3' phase on Saturday to let him past, "but he did not do it," the Spaniard said.

"That was the only problem within the team today.  The annoyance of Ron and the annoyance of everyone was because Hamilton did not accept an order that was repeated to him on the radio five or six times," Alonso added.

After Hamilton's radio order refusal, Alonso said the pit stop delay was to rectify the fact that he had lost a lap in the crucial 'fuel burn' phase.

[Editor's Note:  This 'truth' should get the biased pro-Hamilton British media's panties in an even tighter knot.]


Michigan: Kanaan fastest, Duno slowest in opening practice
Rank  Car  Driver Name  Time  Speed
1  11  Kanaan, Tony  33.0803  217.652
2  9  Dixon, Scott  33.0950  217.556
3  6  Hornish Jr, Sam  33.0979  217.536
4  27  Franchitti, Dario  33.1488  217.202
5  7  Patrick, Danica  33.1593  217.134
6  10  Wheldon, Dan  33.2241  216.710
7  26  Andretti, Marco  33.2253  216.702
8  2  Scheckter, Tomas  33.2958  216.243
9  55  Matsuura, Kosuke  33.3085  216.161
10  3  Castroneves, Helio  33.3311  216.014
11  8  Sharp, Scott  33.3548  215.861
12  4  Meira, Vitor  33.4076  215.520
13  19  Herb, Jon  33.4099  215.505
14  17  Hunter-Reay, Ryan  33.4980  214.938
15  5  Fisher, Sarah  33.5034  214.904
16  20  Carpenter, Ed  33.5401  214.668
17  15  Rice, Buddy  33.5945  214.321
18  22  Foyt IV, AJ  33.6405  214.028
19  14  Manning, Darren  33.6690  213.847
20  23  Duno, Milka  33.9179  212.277


Adam Carroll wins GP2 race
Petrol Ofisi FMS International today celebrated its second victory of the season as Adam Carroll scored a stunning race win at the Hungaroring near Budapest. The 24-year-old put in a stellar drive, benefiting from a clever pitstop strategy from the team who called him during a safety car period. He then battled hard for the remaining 24 laps against a storming Kazuki Nakajima and Andreas Zuber, who eventually filled the remaining podium spots.

Starting from sixth on the grid, Adam retained his position over the opening lap. He passed Pastor Maldonado on lap six, and was up to fourth when Timo Glock endured a lengthy pitstop due to a sticking right rear wheel. With the three cars ahead then pitting, Adam found himself in the lead and continued to push hard. On lap 12, the safety car was deployed and FMS called Adam in for his compulsory pitstop. It turned out to be a perfect strategy with Adam emerging in the lead. Over the remaining 24 laps, he pushed hard to defend Nakajima and crossed the line after the 41-lap race just seven tenths of a second ahead of his Japanese rival. 

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Duno crashes again UPDATE Added photo below of Duno losing control entering pit lane.  The wreck took out the 4 wheels with suspension pieces, but the tub, motor and tranny were intact.   Photo courtesy of the IRL

08/04/07 The world's worst race car driver lived up to her reputation again on Saturday morning. The No. 23 of Milka Duno spun and hit the pit wall. She's fine but how long is it going to be until the IRL yanks her drivers license. She's an embarrassment to the sport and the reputation of the IRL.


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Todt bars drivers from title photo session
  • Lauda slams Alonso for 'unsporting' pole
  • Stewards investigate Fisichella for blocking
  • Latest intrigue grips paddock in Hungary New
  • Stewards probe Alonso pole New
  • Ferrari take blame for Massa mishap New

Todt bars drivers from title photo session
F1's espionage scandal reached a new and dispiriting low at the Hungaroring on Saturday.

It emerged from the scene of the Hungarian grand prix near Budapest today that Bernie Ecclestone had to think again after summoning the four championship-challenging drivers to his motor home.

The F1 supremo wanted a photograph with himself and the four McLaren and Ferrari drivers; but, because of the tension between the two top teams at present, Ferrari boss Jean Todt barred his drivers from playing along.

The German broadcaster Premiere asked Mercedes' Norbert Haug what he thought of Todt's decision.

"Then we should do a photo with Bernie and the other two drivers," the German said.

It also emerged in Hungary that Renault's Flavio Briatore has well and truly entered the spy argument by calling for McLaren's exclusion from the championship.

Italian media quoted him as also threatening to protest the FIA's decision to use McLaren as its supplier of standard Electronic Control Units (ECU) for 2008.

Premiere asked Haug if he thought Renault's Briatore was wrongly interfering in the issue between McLaren and Ferrari.

"I don't see it that way," the German answered. "If I am right, what he said is that we should be guilty -- but we are not."

Lauda slams Alonso for 'unsporting' pole
Triple world champion Niki Lauda on Saturday slammed Fernando Alonso's apparently "unsporting" tactics that earned him pole position for the Hungarian grand prix.

In Budapest to commentate for German television, Lauda clearly sided with paddock wags who believe Spaniard Alonso deliberately delayed his McLaren teammate in the pits so that Lewis Hamilton could not defend his quickest lap time in the dying moments of the top-ten shootout.

"That was unsporting and wrong," Lauda told the broadcaster RTL after witnessing Alonso sat stationary in the McLaren pit box with Hamilton queuing behind him.

"I hope that Hamilton can strike back at him tomorrow."

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industry news

Ford can lay claim to largest recall in history
There isn't much Ford can brag about these days, especially not their dismal performance in racing, but the battered American car manufacturer can lay claim to one record.  Ford Motor Co. announced Friday that it is recalling another 3.6 million vehicles because of ongoing problems with a cruise control switch that has already sparked several fires and prompted five other recalls. All told, the company has now recalled some 10.4 million vehicles because of the defect, making it the largest recall for a single vehicle problem in U.S. history.

The latest recall involves more than a dozen cars, trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles built between 1991 and 2004, including such popular models as the Ford F-150, Mercury Mountaineer and Lincoln Town Car.

The issue involves a speed control deactivation switch manufactured by Texas Instruments Inc. The switch, which is powered at all times, can leak over time and increase the chances of an electrical fire. Fires in vehicles covered by previous Ford recalls have led to garage and house fires, and deaths in several states. More at Detroit News

industry news

Toyota’s earnings hit record at $4.13B
Toyota Motor Corp. reported a record profit of $4.13 billion for the first quarter of the Japanese fiscal year, a 32 percent surge from year-earlier levels in spite of weakening demand for vehicles in its two biggest markets -- the United States and Japan.

The Japanese automaker still managed to achieve a 7 percent rise in vehicle sales in the April-June quarter, helped by a solid reputation for making reliable and fuel-efficient cars and trucks.

It also benefited from a slide in the yen against other major currencies during the quarter that boosted the value of its export earnings and pared some of its components costs.

"We posted substantial increases in both revenues and profits, our highest ever quarterly results," Takeshi Suzuki, Toyota senior managing director, said in a statement.

After years of steady gains, Toyota is closing in on General Motors Corp., the No. 1 automaker for more than 70 years.  Toyota outsold GM in the first six months of the calendar year, reporting sales of 4.72 million vehicles, compared with 4.67 million for the U.S. automaker. But GM sold slightly more vehicles in the three months to June 30.


Briatore pushed for McLaren's exclusion
Now we know why Renault's Flavio Briatore wants to attend the Ferrari appeal of the ruling on the 'spygate' case. Flavio Briatore told Autosport.com, "Last winter, I was saying how lucky McLaren are to be immediately that quick on Bridgestone tires. I'm a lucky guy, so it's OK for other people to be as well.

"We, on the other hand, we're in full crisis mode: Michelin's retirement turned out to be a disaster for Renault.

"It's evident that they had the data on the weight distribution by Ferrari, who used Bridgestone tires for almost ten years. That page in the famous stolen dossier would have been enough to save months of work and to find the solution immediately."

The 2007 championship is corrupted, and not just for us and Ferrari, but for everyone else. Here is a team that acquired an advantage illegally."

"I'm not a judge. Just read the regulations: for intellectual property theft the punishment is exclusion."

Asked why he will go to the appeal trial, the feisty Italian said, "Yes, obviously. In my opinion we are an injured party."


Hungary: Massa tops practice 3
Ferrari's Felipe Massa was fastest in the final practice session before qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix. After struggling previously on slower circuits like Hungary, the  Ferrari drivers were much more competitive this morning, with Massa beating Friday fast man Fernando Alonso by a comfortable 0.231 seconds.  His McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton was third, with BMW's Nick Heidfeld in fourth ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in fifth.

Pos  Driver        Team                Time     Behind   Laps
 1.  Massa         Ferrari             1:20.183           15
 2.  Alonso        McLaren-Mercedes    1:20.414 + 0.231   11
 3.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes    1:20.461 + 0.278   11
 4.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber          1:20.565 + 0.382   18
 5.  Raikkonen     Ferrari             1:20.741 + 0.558   15
 6.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota     1:20.868 + 0.685   16
 7.  Trulli        Toyota              1:20.878 + 0.695   22
 8.  R.Schumacher  Toyota              1:20.933 + 0.750   21
 9.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault    1:21.220 + 1.037   13
10.  Wurz          Williams-Toyota     1:21.323 + 1.140   15
11.  Davidson      Super Aguri-Honda   1:21.501 + 1.318   20
12.  Kubica        BMW Sauber          1:21.652 + 1.469   18
13.  Kovalainen    Renault             1:21.666 + 1.483   22
14.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Renault    1:21.752 + 1.569   15
15.  Sato          Super Aguri-Honda   1:21.839 + 1.656   18
16.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari  1:21.909 + 1.726   21
17.  Fisichella    Renault             1:22.131 + 1.948   22
18.  Button        Honda               1:22.202 + 2.019   23
19.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari  1:22.394 + 2.211   20
20.  Barrichello   Honda               1:22.596 + 2.413   18
21.  Sutil         Spyker-Ferrari      1:23.560 + 3.377   22
22.  Yamamoto      Spyker-Ferrari      1:24.062 + 3.879   24


Button discounts win a year after breakthrough
(GMM)  Jenson Button has defended his decision to stay on at Honda for another season in 2008.

Ten races into the Japanese team's disastrous 2007 campaign, and with nearly five years at Brackley netting the Briton only one win, 27-year-old Button suggested to The Guardian newspaper that Honda is his best option.

"That's easier said than done," Button smilingly replied when asked why he doesn't simply leave the struggling team.

"Where precisely would I find another drive?"

The British press, totally occupied with Lewis Hamilton's stellar first half to 2007 so far, turned its attention to Button on Friday on the eve of the anniversary of his maiden grand prix win here.

But in Hungary a year on, he confessed that another win on a slippery track is not even on his radar at present, particularly with weather forecasts predicting that nearby rain will miss the Hungaroring on Sunday.

"Even getting on the podium would feel like a win," he admitted, after taking his RA107 to a lowly sixteenth place in afternoon practice.

Button added: "Even a point would be fantastic."

He insists, however, that although buried in the midfield, he is actually driving better than ever.

Button said the first few laps before spinning off at the Nurburgring two weeks ago were "the best I've ever done".

"It reminded me why I love this sport so much, why I am here," he told reporters in Budapest.


Alonso expects to keep up pace in Hungary
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso says he has a chance of matching or beating the Ferraris in Hungary this weekend.

The Spaniard topped the times in his McLaren on Friday, after Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen dominated the pace at the recent few grands prix.

Speaking to the international press after practice, following the spy scandal media gag a day earlier, 26-year-old Alonso did not want to exclaim that his single seater is definitely quicker than its Maranello rivals here.

After Raikkonen complained about a poor car setup, Alonso observed of Ferrari: "They went well in the morning and not so well in the second session.

"But in Silverstone or Magny Cours it was obvious that they were in front of us, so I think we will be more even here."

Alonso dominantly won the Monaco grand prix in May, whose tight and twisty characteristics are similar to the slow Hungaroring.

He agreed in Budapest: "This circuit suits our car and also me as a driver.

"I am optimistic of having a strong weekend."

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