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Matos grabs Kentucky 100 pole
Raphael Matos won the SWE Pole Award for the Kentucky 100 Firestone Indy Lights race, his fourth pole of the season. The bonus point earned by Matos for winning the pole moves him into a tie for first place in the championship with Richard Antinucci, who will start 10th.

Ana Beatriz will start second, the same position she won from at Nashville when she became the first female driver to win in Firestone Indy Lights.

1. (27) Raphael Matos, 190.604
2. (20) Ana Beatriz, 190.211
3. (26) Arie Luyendyk Jr., 189.701
4. (15) Dillon Battistini, 189.630
5. (11) James Davison, 189.591
6. (16) Brent Sherman, 189.273
7. (34) Travis Gregg, 189.093
8. (23) Logan Gomez, 189.078
9. (5) Daniel Herrington, 188.929
10. (7) Richard Antinucci, 188.542
11. (22) Jonathan Klein, 188.516
12. (2) Jeff Simmons, 188.424
13. (25) J.R. Hildebrand, 188.337
14. (43) Mike Potekhen, 188.309
15. (3) Pablo Donoso, 187.993
16. (4) Sean Guthrie, 187.836
17. (17) Bobby Wilson, 187.503
18. (6) CR Crews, 187.464
19. (8) PJ Abbott, 187.096
20. (54) Micky Gilbert, 186.444
21. (55) Franck Perera, 185.775
22. (44) Robbie Pecorari, 185.699
23. (18) Cyndie Allemann, 185.605
24. (24) Christina Orr, 185.417 

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Said to Pilot No. 45 Marathon Dodge at Watkins Glen
Petty Enterprises announces that accomplished road course veteran, Boris Said, will drive the No. 45 Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil Dodge in the Centurion at the Glen at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.  This will be Said’s first competition in Petty Enterprises equipment.  He will start 40th due to rain washing out Friday’s qualifying session.

“Boris is known around the world as one of the premier road course racers,” said Petty Enterprises VP of Operations Robbie Loomis.  “He will give us another great opportunity to assess our program.  Everyone at Petty Enterprises is grateful to Boris for helping us out.”


Kentucky: Dixon again on top in practice 2
Target Chip Ganassi's Scott Dixon topped the 2nd practice session today for the IndyCars at Kentucky Speedway ahead of Vitor Meira and Marco Andretti. 


Pos Driver Name Best Time Best Speed Best Lap Total Laps
1 Scott Dixon (9) 24.2177 220.004 39 47
2 Vitor Meira (4) 24.2768 219.469 10 32
3 Marco Andretti (26) 24.3062 219.203 50 67
4 Hideki Mutoh (27) 24.3087 219.181 23 60
5 Ryan Briscoe (6) 24.3638 218.685 37 52
6 Tony Kanaan (11) 24.3661 218.664 36 42
7 Dan Wheldon (10) 24.4129 218.245 35 43
8 A.J. Foyt IV (2) 24.4164 218.214 52 80
9 Danica Patrick (7) 24.4277 218.113 14 16
10 Helio Castroneves (3) 24.4408 217.996 46 55
11 Marty Roth (25) 24.4457 217.952 27 58
12 Oriol Servia (5) 24.5215 217.279 46 51
13 Ed Carpenter (20) 24.5344 217.164 52 62
14 Darren Manning (14) 24.5593 216.944 22 26
15 Will Power (8) 24.5602 216.936 19 51
16 Ryan Hunter-Reay (17) 24.5690 216.859 15 44
17 Sarah Fisher (67) 24.5924 216.652 33 43
18 Jaime Camara (34) 24.6457 216.184 57 66
19 Graham Rahal (06) 24.6479 216.164 18 34
20 Justin Wilson (02) 24.6751 215.926 18 23
21 E.J. Viso (33) 24.6815 215.870 13 37
22 Buddy Rice (15) 24.6898 215.798 46 48
23 Enrique Bernoldi (36) 24.7238 215.501 63 71
24 Milka Duno (23) 24.7365 215.390 35 45
25 Mario Moraes (19) 24.9723 213.356 40 43


Cameron Takes First Career Atlantic Pole
On his final lap in qualifying for Saturday’s Race #1 of the Road Race Showcase doubleheader at Road America, rookie driver Dane Cameron scored his first career Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda pole position.

Driving the No. 19 MAZDASPEED/Finlay Motorsports/Lynx Racing machine for Genoa Racing, Cameron clocked a best lap at 1:59.190 (122.265 mph) and knocked fellow American Jonathan Bomarito off the pole position. The performance eclipsed a previous best qualifying run of second for Race #2 of the doubleheader at Edmonton two weeks ago for Cameron, and the 2007 Star Mazda champion has finished each of the last three races inside the top five. He is looking for his first Atlantic victory tomorrow.

“It was really great to get our first pole, especially after Edmonton, where we were really, really close and just kind of got pipped right at the end there,” Cameron said. “It’s really great for the team. The team’s been working really, really hard and making some really big strides the last couple of races with our car. We’ve finally been able to lock ourselves consistently in the top five. The first couple of races were really tough for us, but I think we have a good handle on it now. Jonathan made things pretty difficult for us in that session. He’s been pretty fast the whole time.

“We were trading back and forth. In probably the last three laps, the first two I made a couple of mistakes, but we were still trading back and forth and I knew there was a little bit more left in it. I was actually a bit surprised at how fast the last lap was, but it was a really good lap. I finally cleaned everything up and didn’t make any mistakes. Hopefully, the thing’s pretty consistent, so we should be good for the whole race, but these two guys are going to make it pretty tough for me.”

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NAPA renews with Michael Waltrip
NAPA and Michael Waltrip Racing announced today the extension of one of the longest sponsor/driver relationships in NASCAR history. Michael Waltrip will carry the blue and gold colors of NAPA AUTO PARTS for the ninth-consecutive season starting at the 2009 Daytona 500. It marks one of the longest running relationships in Sprint Cup Series competition. "I have celebrated my greatest racing moments wearing NAPA colors and we have enjoyed some wonderful on-track and commercial success," said Waltrip, the driver of the #55 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota. "Both of my Daytona 500 wins were with NAPA. The launch of my own race team was with NAPA. We have been together so long. It's hard to think of one without the other."

"Michael Waltrip is a terrific spokesman and brand ambassador for NAPA," said Bob Susor, president of NAPA AUTO PARTS. "In fact, our research indicates that Michael Waltrip and NAPA AUTO PARTS have become synonymous to many race fans. The bond we have forged has helped us sell a lot of auto parts through the years and we are pleased to have Michael represent us again in 2009." Waltrip won the 2001 Daytona 500 in his first Sprint Cup race with NAPA. In total, Waltrip has put NAPA in victory lane six times [2 Gatorade Duels races and 4 Cup points wins] and has posted 21 top-five and 43 top-10 finishes along with scoring two pole positions. In 2007, Waltrip launched his own team as part of Toyota's inaugural season in Sprint Cup competition and currently fields three Cup teams and one Nationwide Series team. NAPA/MWR PR


Cup qualifying rained out at Watkins Glen
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying at Watkins Glen International has been canceled because of rain. The field for Sunday's Centurion Boats at The Glen will be set based on owner points, meaning Joe Gibbs Racing's Kyle Busch will start from the pole.
NASCAR had already canceled the opening Cup practice. The NASCAR Nationwide Series teams are scheduled to practice from 2:45 to 5 p.m. EDT because that series has access to rain tires.



1 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's
2 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / AMP Energy
3 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot
4 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's
5 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility
6 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont
7 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser
8 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M
9 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot
10 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground
11 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil
12 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet DIRECTV
13 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT
14 6 David Ragan Ford AAA Insurance
15 8 Aric Almirola Chevrolet U.S. Army
16 12 Ryan Newman Dodge Kodak
17 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull
18 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker
19 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite
20 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal
21 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker
22 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Best Buy / Garmin
23 28 Travis Kvapil Ford Hitachi Power Tools
24 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet CARQUEST / Kellogg's
25 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Big Red Slim Pack
26 38 David Gilliland Ford DISH Network Turbo HD
27 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet Quaker State / Menards
28 44 David Reutimann Toyota UPS
29 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar
30 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target
31 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Jim Beam
32 01 Ron Fellows Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Red Head
33 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS
34 77 Sam Hornish Jr.* Dodge Mobil 1
35 66 Scott Riggs Chevrolet State Water Heaters
36 00 Michael McDowell* Toyota Champion Mortgage
37 84 A.J. Allmendinger Toyota Red Bull
38 96 P.J. Jones Toyota DLP HDTV
39 10 Patrick Carpentier* Dodge Charter Comm.
40 45 Kyle Petty Dodge Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil
41 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row Racing
42 70 Max Papis Chevrolet Haas Automation
43 21 Marcos Ambrose Ford Little Debbie
44 34 Brian Simo Ford No Fear Energy
45 160 Boris Said Ford 7-Eleven Slurpee / No Fear


Kentucky: Ganassi duo top practice 1
The Target Chip Ganassi duo to Scott Dixon and Dan Wheldon topped the first practice session today for the IndyCars at Kentucky Speedway.  Danica Patrick was third but then she clobbered the wall.  Enrique Bernoldi lost an engine.


Pos Driver Name Best Time Best Speed Best Lap Total Laps
1 Scott Dixon (9) 24.1983 220.181 21 73
2 Dan Wheldon (10) 24.2887 219.361 26 73
3 Danica Patrick (7) 24.3417 218.884 37 57
4 Hideki Mutoh (27) 24.3698 218.631 6 98
5 Ryan Briscoe (6) 24.3745 218.589 23 84
6 Vitor Meira (4) 24.3801 218.539 13 61
7 Helio Castroneves (3) 24.4151 218.226 67 70
8 Marco Andretti (26) 24.4193 218.188 41 49
9 Tony Kanaan (11) 24.4480 217.932 24 69
10 A.J. Foyt IV (2) 24.4722 217.716 33 44
11 Marty Roth (25) 24.5263 217.236 28 89
12 Ryan Hunter-Reay (17) 24.5500 217.026 34 67
13 Ed Carpenter (20) 24.5634 216.908 28 71
14 Will Power (8) 24.5724 216.829 25 85
15 Buddy Rice (15) 24.5730 216.823 34 71
16 Sarah Fisher (67) 24.5938 216.640 22 81
17 Darren Manning (14) 24.6144 216.459 49 84
18 Oriol Servia (5) 24.6292 216.329 20 74
19 Graham Rahal (06) 24.6383 216.249 40 56
20 Jaime Camara (34) 24.7207 215.528 33 58
21 E.J. Viso (33) 24.7218 215.518 12 45
22 Justin Wilson (02) 24.7602 215.184 30 44
23 Milka Duno (23) 24.7824 214.991 58 59
24 Mario Moraes (19) 24.9409 213.625 40 60
25 Bruno Junqueira (18) 24.9769 213.317 15 58
26 Enrique Bernoldi (36) 31.5975 168.621 4 4


AGR re-signs Kanaan through 2013
And you wonder why Tony is smiling?
Andretti Green Racing (AGR) announced today it has reached a long-term agreement with Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan that will keep the 2004 IndyCar Series champion with the team through 2013.

Andretti Green and Kanaan reached an agreement Thursday night after working throughout the 2008 season to craft a long-term deal.

Kanaan has been with Andretti Green since its inception at the start of the 2003 season, and in that time, he has been to victory lane 13 times in 94 starts including last season's Meijer Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway. Kanaan owns a series-record 63 top-five finishes and has led 62 races for a total of 2,487 laps over the past six seasons. His races led and laps led rank third and fourth all-time, respectively, in IndyCar Series competition.

Kanaan also owns one American Le Mans Series win with AGR, which came at the 2007 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring when he co-drove the XM Acura with Bryan Herta and Dario Franchitti.

The 33-year old Brazilian enters this weekend's race at Kentucky ranked fourth in the IndyCar Series championship standings, 118 points behind leader Scott Dixon. Kanaan has only finished out of the fop four in the final point standings once during his time at Andretti Green.

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NASCAR Pocono TV rating UPDATE The final rating for the Pocono Sprint Cup race held at a 4.5 rating with 6.19 million viewers tuned in.

08/05/08 ESPN officials say Sunday’s coverage of the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway earned a 4.5 Nielsen Media Research rating, matching the 2007 figure for the same race.

The network says ESPN2’s coverage of Saturday’s Napa Auto Parts 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, Canada, earned a 1.5, up 7.1 percent from a 1.4 last year.


Road America: Dumas Porsche lead way on Friday morning
Penske Racing’s Romain Dumas led the way in the first official practice for the Generac 500 presented by Time Warner Cable at Road America on Friday morning with a lap of 1:49.970 (133.732 mph) in the Porsche RS Spyder that he will share with fellow factory driver Timo Bernhard.

Dumas and Bernhard are the defending overall race winners from 2007, one of their six overall victories on the season. The LMP2 car was 0.309 seconds clear of Marco Werner and Audi’s first diesel-powered R10 TDI that also will see Lucas Luhr driving. The pair of Germans lead the LMP1 championship and won the last Series round at Mid-Ohio two weeks ago.

A pair of Acuras sat next with Franck Montagny third overall and second in P2 with new teammate James Rossiter. The Frenchman’s time of 1:49.533 (133.021 mph) was 0.184 seconds better than Simon Pagenaud in de Ferran Motorsports’ Acura. The second Audi of Emanuele Pirro and Marcel Fässler sat fifth overall and second in P1.

The Corvette C6.R of Olivier Beretta, who will drive with Oliver Gavin, headed the GT1 class with a time of 2:02.553 (118.910 mph). The second Corvette Racing entry of Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen ran second in class at 2:03.417 (118.078 mph) with Bell Motorsports’ Aston Martin DBR9 third in GT1 at 2:06.933 (114.807 mph).

In GT2, Ferrari sat first and second with Risi Competizione’s Jaime Melo turning a time of 2:07.495 (114.301 mph) in the F430 GT that he will drive with fellow defending class race winner Mika Salo. Tafel Racing’s Dirk Mueller and Dominik Farnbacher sat second at 2:07.656 (114.157 mph).

Panoz Team PTG kept Porsche out of the top three with the Panoz Esperante GTLM of Tommy Milner, Tom Sutherland and Joey Hand at 2:07.727 (114.093 mph).

racing news

Motorsports Hall of Fame of America to Induct
The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America will expand its honor roll by seven at its 20th annual Induction Ceremony on Wednesday, August 13, 2008, at the Fillmore Detroit.

The class of 2008 includes open-wheel racing champion Michael Andretti (presenter: Mario Andretti), NASCAR great Buddy Baker (presenter: Humpy Wheeler), drag racing king John Force (presenter: Tom Compton), sports car champion Richie Ginther (presenter: E. Forbes-Robinson), motorcycle hero Wayne Rainey (accepting for Mr. Rainey: Roger Edmondson), aerobatic pilot Betty Skelton (presenter: Patty Wagstaff), and one of America’s most versatile competitors, Paul Goldsmith (presenter: Donald Davidson).

Legendary Indy car team owner Carl Haas will also be recognized as the ninth recipient of the Bob Russo Heritage Award for his significant contribution to American motorsports.

The current list of 167 men and women that grace the Hall of Fame roster includes Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Lee and Richard Petty, Al and Bobby Unser, Chris Economaki, Don Garlits, Shirley Muldowney, Bill France Jr., and Dale Earnhardt, among the historic list of others.

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NASCAR off the air in Canada
After a tremendous fan turnout for the Montreal race weekend, Canadian fans of NASCAR are looking forward to the extended TV coverage from ESPN of both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series this weekend from Watkins Glen. Unfortunately, they will have to look very hard.

ESPN is not carried in Canada. So, ESPN has an affiliated network called The Sports Network (TSN). While ESPN has a minority stake in the network, it is actually owned by CTVGlobeMedia, a Canadian TV company. This single channel is very busy with sports from both the US and Canada, so it must sometimes expand to a second temporary channel. This is called the TSN - Alternate Feed.

On Friday, TSN-AF will carry the Sprint Cup qualifying from The Glen. Saturday, it will host the Nationwide Series qualifying. The live Nationwide race will be on TSN-AF and areas of Canada that receive the ABC Television Network on cable.

Finally, on Sunday the TSN - Alternate Feed alone will have full coverage of the big Sprint Cup Series race. That is the good news.

Here is the bad news. Effective July 29th, almost all of the Canadian cable TV providers have dropped their distribution of TSN-AF. A couple of big systems out West were first and now the East side providers have also given up.

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Heidfeld likes it wet
BMW's Nick Heidfeld loves racing in wet conditions and that a few more rain-soaked races before the season ends would not inconvenience him.

Heidfeld displayed his ability to drive well in wet conditions when he finished 2nd in the British Grand Prix and fourth, once again in wet conditions, at his home Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

"I like driving in the rain," Heidfeld told BMW's website.

"Even in my karting days I liked driving in the rain best. My brother Sven and I always preferred to go out on the track when it wasn't that full - and that used to be the case when it was raining. And in Germany the rain falls all too often.

"You have to opt for a positive approach. If you say: 'Damn, it's raining,' you are tense right from the start. And if you make a minor mistake with this approach, you tend to say, 'I knew this would happen.'

"But if you like racing in the wet, you won't even begin thinking about these kind of issues."


Singapore GP already sold 20,000 tickets over initial estimates
Two F1 favorites -- reigning champion Kimi Raikkonen and leader Lewis Hamilton -- are set for a new challenge as Singapore gears up for Formula One's first night race next month.

The SingTel Singapore Grand Prix, which is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. on Sept. 28, is the 15th leg on this year's F1 calendar. It is the first street race in Asia and will be raced on public roads around the Marina Bay area of Singapore.

Night will be turned into day, though for the speed battle with help from 3,180,000 watts of power to reach optimal visibility for the racers.

"The overall luminosity for this racing condition is 3,000 in lux levels, which is four times brighter than a stadium for a soccer match," said Geraldine Yeo, the director of leisure marketing and events management for Singapore's grand prix, in Jakarta on Thursday.

"Therefore, I'm sure the racers will sense no difference in visibility during the event," she said, adding that the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) supervisors had approved the circuit's facility for nighttime racing.

Singapore built the 5.07-kilometer track within the heart of the city. It is built for speeds greater than 300 kilometers per hour. Currently the organizers are furnishing the venue to accommodate 100,600 spectators -- seated and standing.

"Initially, we planned for 80,000 spectators and we are now sold out at over 100,000 tickets. Most buyers are from European countries," said Yeo, adding that ticket box offices are still open due to continued demand.  Jakarta Post


Kanaan signs new 5-year deal with AGR
Tony Kanaan cemented his IndyCar Series future Thursday night by signing a five-year contract to remain with Andretti Green Racing.

Team co-owner Kevin Savoree confirmed the signing, which culminated after four months of negotiations. The signatures came in Kanaan's motorhome at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky., where practice begins today for the Meijer Indy 300.

Kanaan is in his sixth season with the Indianapolis-based team. He has 13 wins in the series, third-highest among active drivers.

Kanaan has had a pair of three-year contracts in the past, but Savoree said the Brazilian deserved the new longer deal.

"He's an original part of Andretti Green Racing," he said. "This means a lot to all of us." Indy Star


After team owner yells, Patrick now a team player
Danica Patrick described herself as "a complete team player" Thursday, insisting she would have obeyed orders to allow a teammate to pass her in the IndyCar Series' most recent race had her radio been functioning properly.  The problem with Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan was caused because Patrick and Marco Andretti did not let the championship contender go by during the July 26 race in Edmonton, Alberta, even though Kanaan was on a different fuel strategy.

Patrick insists she didn't hear the instruction, but she got the message team owner Michael Andretti delivered in a fist-pounding heated session following the race.

Andretti was angry his son and Patrick didn't do what they were told. Neither driver is realistically in contention for the season title. Marco Andretti argued he was fighting for a victory.

"I think if I am in that situation (again) . . . I'll help Tony," Patrick said at Kentucky Speedway, where the Meijer Indy 300 will be held this weekend. "I'll do that." Indy Star

[Editor's Note:  Patrick's car has rearview mirrors.  She could not see Kanaan was trying to find a way past lap after lap?]


Budweiser Shootout To Have Different Look, New Format In 2009
The 2009 Budweiser Shootout will have a different race format and a new method for qualifying. NASCAR's top officials, from Chair & CEO Brian France to President Mike Helton, have worked with Anheuser-Busch and Daytona Int'l Speedway (DIS) to recreate the event as part of A-B's sponsorship renewal with DIS. In the past, pole winners from the previous year have automatically qualified for the non-points race, which is considered the unofficial kickoff to the Sprint Cup season. But when Coors replaced Bud as the official beer of NASCAR and took over entitlement of the Coors Light Pole Award, A-B sought to separate its marquee event from the award. The specifics of those changes are still being finalized. Changes are expected to be announced later this month. The 2009 race is scheduled for February 7, the weekend prior to the Daytona 500. Sports Business Daily


No rain tires for Cup, but maybe NNS
As of Wednesday, forecasters were saying that there was a 50% chance of rain for Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen and a 40% chance for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race. Could more history be written this weekend? Not in the Sprint Cup series. NASCAR officials have torpedoed the chances for that. NASCAR vice president Jim Hunter on Wednesday laid out the guidelines for racing on wet pavement. “We’ll likely continue to use rain tires in Nationwide Series road course races, but not in Sprint Cup,” Hunter said. “We have the flexibility to reschedule postponed Cup races to Monday, or even Tuesday, something we can’t do with our other national series.” Kansas City Star


Road America: Thursday Notebook
Direct fuel injection Porsche engine
This weekend’s Generac 500 presented by Time Warner Cable will mark the second race that both Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyders will compete with a new 3.4-liter direct fuel injection engine. The development by Porsche Motorsport has moved away from a standard port fuel injected motor and toward a more powerful and more efficient powerplant in the LMP2 car for the American Le Mans Series.

The project can be traced back to 2004, more than a year before the racing debut of the RS Spyder at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The decision to transition to DFI technology came in November after extensive simulations, dyno tests and studies showed further competitive advantages even after Penske posted eight LMP2 victories and 11 class pole positions in 2007.

Ironically enough in a Series that stresses the development of technology that passes from the track to the production showrooms, Porsche’s road car department simultaneously started work toward DFI with the motorsport branch for track use. The Porsche Cayenne has been equipped with DFI since 2007 with the Porsche 911 production car slated to receive the upgrade for 2009.

“There is an automotive link between the motorsports and road car departments,” said Thomas Lauderbach, Porsche’s Head of Motorsport Powertrain. “Motorsport can affect road car development. We can learn from them and they can learn from us.”

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Audi strong early at Road America
Not surprisingly, Audi flexed its diesel-powered muscles early at Road America with the quickest time in Thursday’s test session for the Generac 500 presented by Time Warner Cable. The No. 2 Audi R10 TDI of Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner posted a lap of 1:46.016 (134.913 mph) in preparation for Saturday’s four-hour race.

Audi leads the Penske Porsche around the 4-mile Road America circuit
The Audi held off a slew of LMP2 challengers from Porsche and Acura. Penske Racing’s first Porsche RS Spyder of Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard at 1:48.654 (134.121 mph), good enough to put the defending overall race winners second overall. Next was the Lowe’s Fernandez Racing Acura ARX-01b of Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz at 1:50.123 (132.332 mph). The second Penske Porsche of Sascha Maassen and Patrick Long was third in P2 and fourth overall, just 0.003 seconds behind the Lowe’s Acura.

One of Intersport Racing’s two Lola B06/10-AER prototypes sat third in P1. The car of Ryan Lewis, John Faulkner and Gregor Fisken posted a time of 1:55.459 (126.216 mph).

Corvette C6.R
In GT1, Corvette Racing’s No. 4 Corvette C6.R of Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta led in class with a time of 2:03.147 (118.337 mph). It was good enough for a 0.708-second advantage over the sister car of Johnny O’Connell and Jan Magnussen. Bell Motorsports’ Aston Martin DBR9, back after a heavy crash in early July at Lime Rock, was third at 2:07.610 (114.198 mph).

The top two cars in GT2 also sit first and second in the class championship. Jörg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler went quickest in Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with a time of 2:07.610 (114.198 mph), nearly a half-second ahead of Tafel Racing’s Dirk Mueller and Dominik Farnbacher in the No. 71 Ferrari F430 GT.

Third in class was the rapidly improving Panoz Esperante GTLM of Panoz Team PTG’s Tommy Milner, Tom Sutherland and Joey Hand. The Esperante turned in a time of 2:08.640 (113.284 mph).


Penske to back rookie in ARCA
Penske Racing today announced that Billy Wease, 21, a current test driver for the organization, will drive the Cunningham Motorsports No. 29 Kenwood Dodge in the upcoming ARCA RE/MAX Series Toyota 150 at Nashville Superspeedway on Saturday, August 9.  The race will be broadcast live on SPEED at 4:30 p.m. EDT.

The association of Penske Racing and Cunningham Motorsports, an established and proven team across the developmental racing ranks, was created to assist Cunningham’s competitive programs, while allowing Penske Racing the ability to develop talented young drivers, crew and team members for the future.

“Billy has lots of short-track experience, and driving for Cunningham Motorsports in Nashville will provide him with a great opportunity at the next level,” said Tim Cindric, President of Penske Racing.  “Seat time in the highly competitive ARCA Series will be invaluable for Billy as we continue to evaluate his potential in stock cars.” 


Toyota's Lexus Again Rates as Most Dependable Car Brand
Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus ranked as the most dependable auto brand in the U.S. for a 14th straight year while Ford Motor Co.'s Mercury won back the No. 2 ranking in a study that shows vehicles are becoming more reliable. Lexus logged just 120 complaints for every 100 vehicles, down from 145 last year, according to the annual Vehicle Dependability Study from J.D. Power & Associates. Mercury tallied 151 reported problems, 17 fewer than last year. The survey tracks consumer complaints for 3-year-old cars and trucks.

Lexus has been the nation's top-selling luxury brand for eight straight years, underscoring Power's contention that companies that consistently deliver the most reliable vehicles are rewarded by consumers.

``Understanding and minimizing quality deterioration is critical for manufacturers, as it is a key driver of owner satisfaction and word-of-mouth recommendations,'' David Sargent, J.D. Power's vice president of automotive research, said in a statement.

The study by the Westlake Village, California-based consumer research firm focused on 2005 models. It found the number of complaints per 100 vehicles fell to an average of 206, down from 216 in last year's study, 227 the year before, and 237 before that.

General Motors Corp.'s Cadillac retained the No. 3 spot with 155 reported problems, 7 fewer than the year before.

The Toyota brand, excluding Lexus, was fourth, at 159, followed by Honda Motor Co.'s premium Acura brand with 160.

The following table shows the scores of the top 10 brands that ranked above the industry average of 206 problems per 100 vehicles and their scores from last year's Vehicle Dependability Study.

Complaints Per 100 Autos

Rank Brand 2008 2007
1. Lexus 120 145
2. Mercury 151 168
3. Cadillac 155 162
4. Toyota 159 178
5. Acura 160 207
6. Buick 163 145
7. BMW 164 182
8. Lincoln 165 182
9. Honda 177 169
10. Jaguar 178 197
Industry average 206 216


Vallelunga Test Report - Day 2
A second full day of testing took place at Vallelunga circuit today for nine Superleague Formula teams in extremely hot and humid conditions.

The best times were set in the closing stages of the day when the weather was slightly cooler and all teams improved on yesterday’s times with the front runners, AC Milan (Robert Doornbos) and Borussia Dortmund (Davide Rigon) finding six tenths and eight tenths of a second respectively. Local team, AS Roma (Enrico Toccacelo) also improved by just under a second to put them in third place while Galatasaray (Alessandro Pier Guidi) found six tenths of a second.

However, it was not to be all plain sailing for the Anderlecht car this morning. A fuel line disconnected and the car was engulfed in flames. This has put paid to its test. The Glasgow Rangers car also took to the track for the first time today in the hands of Scottish star, Ryan Dalziel for two tentative laps at the end of the session. These were installation laps only and the car will be out in action tomorrow.

1. AC Milan - Robert Doornbos - Scuderia Playteam - 1.23:184 - 51 laps
2. Borussia Dortmund - Davide Rigon - Zakspeed - 1.23:192 - +0.008 sec - 42 laps
3. AS Roma - Enrico Toccacelo - FMSI - 1.23:474 - + 0.282 sec - 41 laps
4. Galatasaray - Jason Tahinci - Scuderia Playteam - 1.23:475 - + 0.001 sec -  56 laps
5. Flamengo - Tuka Rocha - Team Astromega - 1.24:950 - + 1.475 sec - 42 laps
6. Olympiacos - Jens Hoing - GU Racing - 1.25:306 - + 0.356 sec - 28 laps
7. FC Basel - Carlos Gaitan - GU Racing - 1.25:849 - + 0.543 sec - 19 laps
8. Anderlecht - Nico Verdonck - Team Astromega - 1.26:034 - + 0.186 sec - 26 laps
9. Glasgow Rangers - Ryan Dalziel - Westec - no time - 2 laps

Ryan Dalziel managed 2 laps in the last 10 minutes of today's afternoon testing session, but he had to abandon his car on the track on his 3rd lap, causing the red flag to come out early.

Cars seem to be very competitive, the first 4 cars today all within 0.3 sec of each other.  Team Astromega won't be out again tomorrow with their Anderlecht car, due to a terminal technical problem, not repairable at the scene.


Car design head Pininfarina dies in scooter crash
Andrea Pininfarina
Andrea Pininfarina, head of the company which designs Ferraris, Fiats and the Ford Focus, died in a road crash in the early hours of Thursday near the Italian city of Turin, riding his Vespa scooter.

Pininfarina, 51, was chairman and chief executive of the company founded in 1930. He was the grandson of founder Battista "Pinin" Farina and his death prompted speculation that the entrance of new investors will speed up, sending its shares sharply higher.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said in a statement Pininfarina was "the representative of a dynasty that helped bring the story of 'made in Italy' to the world".

Fiat and Ferrari Chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo praised his business acumen.

"Italy, Turin and the Fiat group have lost a business figure who knew how to follow and develop the work of his grandfather Pinin and his father Sergio," Montezemolo said in a statement.

The driver of the car, 78-year-old Giuliano Salmi, was taken to hospital suffering from shock.

"I didn't see him, I was going slowly and I really didn't see him," Salmi said, according to local news agency Ansa. Reuters


Indianapolis 500 to Remain on ABC through 2012
The Indianapolis 500 will remain on ABC through 2012 as part of a new, four-year rights agreement between the Indy Racing League and ESPN. ABC will televise the race for the 45th consecutive year in 2009.

In addition, four other races in the IndyCar Series will appear on ABC in each year of the agreement, continuing coverage that has existed since the formation of the series in 1996. The four events for 2009 will be determined in the near future.

"We are very pleased to extend our long relationship with the Indianapolis 500 and the Indy Racing League,” said John Skipper, executive vice president, content, for ESPN, which produces all sports coverage for ABC. “The Indianapolis 500 is one of the world's marquee sporting events and one that sports fans look forward to every year."

ABC televised the 2007 Indianapolis 500 in high definition, a first for the historic event, and all IndyCar Series race telecasts on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC were elevated to high definition in 2008.

“2009 is the beginning of the Centennial Era celebration of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race,” said Tony George, the founder and chief executive officer of the Indy Racing League. “We are proud of our heritage, history and tradition; and we are proud of our long standing association with ABC Sports. The 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500 will mark the 45th consecutive year that ABC has broadcast the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ and they have been a great network partner. We enjoy their past and continued support of the IndyCar Series, who, along with ESPN, has broadcast nearly all of the series’ races since its inception in 1996 and for that we are grateful.”

ESPN also has the rights to televise its five races on ESPN’s international networks and highlights rights for the five races across all ESPN digital platforms.  [Editor's Note: What international reach will the 13 races on Versus have?  Almost none.  Bad for the sponsors.  Bad move by the IRL.  See TV poll on Home Page]


Designing fast cars is my job
Technical Director Willy Rampf holds a key position in the BMW Sauber F1 Team. The German is responsible for the design of the cars Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica are racing when battling it out for points and race wins.

"You have a lot of responsibility - but a lot of freedom also," says Willy Rampf, who has been enjoying his task since the days when Peter Sauber used to be the Team Principal. "Designing fast cars is my job."

In Canada, he was able to celebrate the first win of a racing car designed under his aegis. "This triumph was a major pleasure and satisfaction," says Rampf, recalling his feelings following the success. "We are making huge efforts to win races, and this victory confirmed that we are on the right path. It provided the entire squad with self-confidence. First of all, however, it was a team result. The car isn't built by me alone - I've got a lot of extremely skilled colleagues."

And what is the BMW Sauber F1 Team's future Technical Coordinator dreaming about? "My dream? I'm living my dream right now," replies Rampf. But there's still one thing he would love to do: a motorbike tour of Lesotho, together with his son. "When I was working for BMW in Africa I made some fantastic tours there. And I absolutely want to repeat that sometime," concludes the 55-year old.  Source BMW Sauber


Briatore furious with BMW and Williams
While the action was taking place on the Hungaroring, the political side of Formula One was going its own way behind the scenes with team bosses meeting once again to discuss the KERS situation. After the accident with the BMW mechanic in testing, most of the teams are pushing to postpone the technology for one year mainly due to the subsequent safety concerns and cost.

According to our spies in Hungary, six teams are in favor of holding it back, two are against postponing it, BMW and Williams, while Mercedes and Honda would be happy either way, but to have a clear vote the newly founded association FOTA needs 7 out of the 10 possible votes.

If the teams decide that they will not run KERS next year, it will not have any influence on the rules as they state that the teams can race with or without in 2009, therefore a gentlemen’s agreement would be enough to postpone its introduction.

Renault team boss Flavio Briatore is furious about BMW and Williams, who insist on having it in 2009….

"BMW should be warned after having that accident, and Frank I do not understand. We have calculated that developing and running the system will cost 700,000 euros per race. If Frank tells me that his development costs only 2 million, than I can only laugh. Does he really think he can do the job with two million against manufacturers, who spend ten times as much?"  Automoto365


ESPN's Outside the Lines to Examine Diversity in NASCAR
Sunday’s Outside the Lines (9:30 a.m. ET ESPN; noon ESPNEWS) will look at minorities and women who work on the NASCAR circuit. This past June, former NASCAR official Mauricia Grant filed a discrimination lawsuit against the stock-car racing association. In light of Grant’s lawsuit, OTL will explore the work culture inside the NASCAR community.

Excerpts from Sunday's Outside the Lines:
"It's a hostile work environment. It took a lot of emotional blows. I would have to gear up in the morning to get prepared for that." -- Mauricia Grant, NASCAR's first African-American official whose job it was to inspect cars, call penalties and supervise the pit box.

"On any given day there is some thing -- or some action or somebody -- that does something that could be perceived as insensitive.” -- Max Siegel, the President of Global Operations for Dale Earnhardt, Incorporated

"There are a lot of apprehensions because you have the people -- sometimes it's the 'old schoolers,' some of the older gentleman that are in the sport -- that say women aren't supposed to work on race cars, they don't know what they're doing, they doubt you.”  -- Katie Muir, a 24-year-old shock specialist for the #88 car in the Nationwide series.

"I can tell you from my 20 years I didn't have that feeling, I never was harassed that way. You know no one ever touched me inappropriately or did anything out of the ordinary.  I demanded respect.” -- Lisa Smokstad, a tire specialist for Hendrick Motorsports in the Sprint Cup Series.


DISH Network® to Sponsor David Gilliland
Yates Racing announced today that DISH Network (Nasdaq: DISH), the nation’s second largest satellite TV provider and leader in HD, will sponsor the No. 38 entry with driver David Gilliland for this weekend’s Centurion Boats at the Glen on Sunday, August 10.  The DISH Network car will feature its TurboHD paint scheme, promoting its new line of all-HD programming packages and 1080p movie offerings.

“I am thrilled that our No. 38 team will have the opportunity to showcase DISH Network for this weekend’s race at Watkins Glen,” commented Gilliland. “Yates Racing has had a great show of support from various sponsors this season already, and I’m honored that DISH Network chose to sponsor this team. I truly enjoy road racing and now with the added excitement of having DISH Network on our car at Watkins Glen, this should be a tremendous weekend for our No. 38 team.”   

“DISH Network is excited to promote the launch of TurboHD – the only suite of all-HD packages in the country – and 1080p movies to NASCAR fans nationwide via the TurboHD-wrapped car David Gilliland will drive for us,” said Jessica Insalaco, Chief Marketing Officer for DISH Network. “DISH Network is again proving its leadership in high definition. Our HD offerings –including NASCAR events in HD – paired with our award-winning technology at the lowest price in the market provides a value that the NASCAR audience can truly appreciate.”


Bridgestone happy in post tire-war period
(GMM)  The absence of a competitive 'tire war' does not mean Bridgestone's formula one tires are now of a lower quality, the Japanese marque's racing chief Hiroshi Yasukawa insists.

As reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen searched for a reason for his competitive slump recently, he - and, to a lesser extent, other drivers - suggested that the reversion to a single-tire formula in F1 had affected the consistency of the products Bridgestone now offers to its partners.

"Our F1 tires are still at the height of technological innovation," Yasukawa is quoted as insisting as CNN.

The Japanese also said Michelin's withdrawal at the end of 2006 has not changed the value of the sport to Bridgestone.

Yasukawa said F1 still feeds into the marque's road tire development, while formula one is an "excellent marketing platform" and a way to work with some of the world's largest carmakers.

He said Bridgestone entered F1 in 1997 to compete directly with Goodyear, and then enjoyed the 'war' with Michelin.

But Yasukawa insists there are other "benefits" of being F1's sole tire supplier.

"Brand awareness/recognition was one of the main reasons for our initial entry to the sport," he said.

It is believed Bridgestone's UK-based motor racing effort costs around $100m.

The contract to supply all F1 teams with tires continues until the end of 2010.

Yasukawa said Bridgestone will assess the situation going forwards at the conclusion of the current deal.

"The current economic climate is not an easy one so there should always be continual assessments," he said.

"However, we are committed to our involvement in F1."


Nasty fire at Mid-Ohio UPDATE #3 Injured de Ferran Motorsports crew member Keith Jones’ condition has been downgraded from serious to fair, as the Greenwood, Ind., racing veteran continues to make good progress at Wishard Health Services, according the Fairbanks Burn Center doctors.

Jones will currently continue his recovery at the Indianapolis medical facility.

Jones was critically injured in a pit incident in the American Le Mans Series race on July 19 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.  Jones has been a veteran crew member of the ALMS and IndyCar Series for over ten years including stints at Panther Racing, Andretti Green Racing and de Ferran Motorsports.

Many American Le Mans Series and IndyCar Series teams will be supporting Jones’ recovery effort this weekend by donning “Get Well Jonesie” stickers during the American Le Mans Series race at Road America and IndyCar Series race at Kentucky Speedway.

07/22/08 De Ferran Motorsports crew member Keith Jones, injured in Saturday’s American Le Mans Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, was transferred Tuesday from the Ohio State University Medical Center to the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center at Wishard in the Wishard Health Services in Indianapolis.

Jones’ condition has been updated from critical to serious today.

The team has asked that all wishes and cards for Keith Jones be sent to the de Ferran Motorsports headquarters in Brownsburg, Ind.  The team headquarters are listed below:

Keith Jones
c/o De Ferran Motorsports
485  Southpoint Circle, Suite 900
Brownsburg, IN 46112

07/20/08 Keith Jones, the fueler for de Ferran Motorsports who was injured Saturday in a pit lane fueling incident at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course during the Acura Sports Car Challenge, was transported by medical helicopter to The Ohio State University Medical Center. As of Saturday evening, he was listed in critical condition in the intensive care unit of the hospital.

Members of the de Ferran Motorsports team, including drivers Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud, joined his family at the hospital.

Part of one of the most comprehensive health science campuses in the country, The Ohio State University Medical Center includes the College of Medicine and its schools of Allied Medical Professions and Biomedical Science, six hospitals, two research institutes, and primary and specialty care facilities throughout central Ohio.

In 2007, U.S. News & World Report recognized seven specialties at OSU Medial Center among "America's Best": cancer care; ear, nose and throat; gynecology; kidney disease; orthopedics; respiratory disorders; and rehabilitation. This is the 15th consecutive year OSU Medial Center has been on the list. In addition, the College of Medicine is ranked 30th, and is 14th among public medical schools in the 2009 edition of "America's Best" graduate schools according to U.S. News.

07/19/08 The Acura Sports Car Challenge is underway here at Mid-Ohio.  During a routine pitstop the De Ferran Motorsports Acura driven by Simon Pagenaud pulled away before the fuel man had removed the nozzle.  A major fire erupted and refueler Keith Jones from Indiana was pulled down into the fire.  Despite being fully clothed in fire protection clothing, Jones was burned fairly badly, but it is not life threatening.  He was talking to the medics and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.  With 30 minutes to go Lucas Luhr in the Audi leads Emmanuelle Pirro in the sister Audi.  Luhr is pulling away to a comfortable lead and appears to have everything in hand.


ISC puts the screw to Denver race fans
According to this Denver Post article, when ISC sold the Pikes Peak International Raceway after it bought it to eliminate competition in the Denver market (this is how monopolies operate, and NASCAR and the France family certainly push their weight around like a monopoly), the deal forbids the new owners from selling more than 5,000 tickets for sanctioned races and 10,000 tickets for unsanctioned events. 

In other words, go pound sand Denver race fans -- either you come to see races at our track, which we might build, in Denver, or you are screwed.  Given its outrageous ticket prices for its NASCAR events, ISC (essentially the France family) is once again asking race fans to bend over.


Stuck compares Glock with Ralf
(GMM)  Hans-Joachim Stuck, a former grand prix driver of the 70s, has hailed the burgeoning talents of Timo Glock -- and Toyota predecessor Ralf Schumacher won't be pleased to hear it.

"In once sentence: Timo's strengths were Ralf's weaknesses," the German, now a motor racing official for the German marque Volkswagen, told the Cologne newspaper Express.

Glock, the reigning GP2 champion, recorded his first podium last Sunday at the end of a consistently impressive weekend at the Hungaroring.

Schumacher, who lost his seat at the end of 2007 and is this year racing in the German DTM series, failed to similarly finish in the top-three throughout last season, despite a salary some 8 times higher than Glock's reported $2m per-year contract.

Stuck believes the two racers' "attitudes" are vastly different.

"Timo is a substantially harder and more consistent worker," the German explained.  "It's not just between Friday to Sunday; he lives, thinks and dreams F1, as his bosses such as Dieter Gas tell me.

"He is fully integrated with the team, communicating with everyone -- even in his spare time.  He has chosen to live in Cologne, to be near the team," Stuck added.

In the personality department, 26-year-old Glock also has the edge over Schumacher, a six time grand prix winner, according to Stuck.

"Their nature?  Timo is a chirpy, eloquent type.  Ralf could also be eloquent, but also moody at times.  And (Timo) has good management.  If Ralf had taken some well-intentioned advice, he might not be where he is today," said Hans-Joachim Stuck.


Board tightens watch on GM
The lead outside director of General Motors Corp. said Wednesday that Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner has the board's unanimous backing but added that directors are keeping closer tabs on the automaker during this difficult stretch for the industry.

At the close of a meeting Tuesday of the 14-member board, headed by Wagoner, GM officials said the board reiterated its support for Wagoner and his management. Board member George Fisher reinforced the message Wednesday to quell talk in the media of mounting pressure on Wagoner after GM's first-half losses totaled $18.8 billion.

"I can assure you that the board is unanimous in its support of Rick Wagoner and the management team to get through these difficult times," Fisher told The Detroit News. "We truly feel we have the best management team to get this job done."

At the same time, directors now hold more frequent consultations with the company. "We have not only regular (board) meetings, but we have weekly update information calls on all the key issues we're dealing with," he said.  Detroit News

track news

No sale at Kentucky Speedway?
Speedway Motorsports Inc. may not wind up buying Kentucky Speedway after all. SMI has until Aug. 18 to decide whether to complete the $78 million deal that includes the assumption of $63 million in debt. "I can't answer definitively whether or not we would go forward with the transaction," Bill Brooks, the company's chief financial officer, said during a conference call with financial analysts Wednesday. The track in Sparta, Ky., isn't going to be on the 2009 Sprint Cup schedule. Marcus Smith, chief operating officer and president of SMI, said the company would consider moving a Cup date from one of its current tracks to Kentucky if the deal does close. "It's one of the potential options that we would have," Smith said. Charlotte Observer


First news & photos from Vallelunga Superleague test UPDATE #1
Overall times for Wednesday
  1. AC Milan (Robert Doornbos - Scuderia Playteam - 1.23.754 - 46 laps)
  2. Borussia Dortmund (Davide Rigon - Zakspeed - 1.23:965 - 33 laps)
  3. Galatasaray (Jason Tahinci - Scuderia Playteam - 1.24:012 - 56 laps)
  4. AS Roma (Enrico Toccacelo - FMSI - 1.24:372 - 18 laps)
  5. Flamengo (Giacomo Ricci - Team Astromega - 1.24:445 - 29 laps)
  6. Anderlecht (Kasper Andersen - Team Astromega - 1.25:521 - 29 laps)
  7. Olympiacos (Daniel La Rosa - GU Racing - 1.26:482 - 24 laps)
  8. FC Basel (Maximilian Wissel - GU Racing - 1.27.753 - 18 laps)

Tomorrow there will be a few teams testing other drivers. There will - probably - also be a few new cars on the track, which were still being worked on today ...One of these two cars, run by British/Spanish team WestTec, will be the car Nelson Philippe will make his SF debut in.

Team Azerti, which runs PSV Eindhoven and Al-Ain FC (Abu-Dhabi), decided to skip this test.

There is no news regarding Eurointernational (Corinthians and Sevilla FC).

Zakspeed, which will be running Beijing Guoan FC, only have one car with them for this test.

Also spotted in the Vallelunga paddock was Ryan Dalziel

All cars, which were on the track today, ran trouble free!

Ryan Dalziel Robert Doornbos Enrico Toccacelo Nelson Philippe talking to Tristan Gommendy

08/06/08 Below are exclusive first photos from AutoRacing1.com of the Superleague test that got underway at Vallelunga (near Rome, Italy) today.

So far 6 cars have gone out in the morning of the first test day.  The test runs through Friday.

Morning test times
1. Galatasaray Team (Jason Tahinci - 22 laps - 1.24:174)
2. AC Milan Team (Robert Doornbos - 28 laps - 1.24:509)
3. Borussia Dortmund Team (Davide Rigon - 14 laps - 1.26:967)
4. Anderlecht Team (Kasper Andersen - 10 laps - 1.27:431)
5. Flamengo Team (Giacomo Ricci - 4 laps - 1.27:910)
6. FC Basel Team (X -1 lap).

Another 5 cars are in the pit boxes and some of them might go out this afternoon. Also spotted in the paddock was former Champ Car driver Nelson Philippe with girlfriend Sarah Buller (photo will follow ...).  We'll try to find out what his plans are.

Robert Doornbos Robert Doornbos Kasper Anderson Kasper Anderson


SPEEDtv.com to Stream ALMS, Grand-Am Qualifying
SPEEDtv.com, the online motor sports authority, will offer streaming audio and video coverage of qualifying sessions from a pair of upcoming sports car events, beginning with the Grand Prix of Mosport on Aug. 23 from Ontario, Canada.

Online qualifying coverage begins at 2:35 p.m. ET and will include audio provided by American Le Mans Radio.

On Aug. 30, live from Thunderbolt Raceway at New Jersey Motorsports Park, SPEEDtv.com will stream qualifying coverage from the Rolex Grand-American event beginning at 1:45 p.m. ET. Audio will be provided by track and Grand-Am public address announcers.

“SPEEDtv.com is constantly looking for ways to deliver more original content, more insight and more action to motor sports fans,” said Kevin Annison, SPEED VP of Digital & Interactive Media. “We are looking to increase our digital video distribution offerings and streaming these events online when we cannot air them on the linear network is a great way to support the race series, the tracks and our online broadband initiatives.”

SPEED™ will cover both races with the ALMS scheduled for Aug. 24 at 3 p.m. ET and the Rolex Grand-American race scheduled for Aug. 31 at 1 p.m. ET.


Meijer 300 pre-race appearances
Here is a list of Thursday's IndyCar Series driver appearances in advance of the Meijer Indy 300 Meijer at Kentucky Speedway, 4990 Houston Road, Florence,  6-7 p.m.: Marco Andretti will join his father and team owner Michael Andretti for an autograph session for 200 fans. Admission wristbands will be distributed beginning at 5 p.m. Visitors also will be able to participate in IndyCar Series street-legal two-seater rides from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and test their skills on race simulators from 5 to 8 p.m.

Duke Energy Children's Museum, Cincinnati Museum Center, 1301 Western Ave., 10 a.m.-noon: Milka Duno will read the children's book she wrote, "Go Milka Go!", with students from several area organizations.


Q and A with Lewis Hamilton
Although victory slipped through his fingers at Hungary due to a tire puncture, Lewis Hamilton is happy that his team mate brought him his first every GP victory. The young Briton gives us some insight in his Hungarian race and his plans for the summer break.

What feelings do you take away from the Hungarian Grand Prix?
“Firstly, I was so pleased for Heikki – he deserved this victory, and it was great to celebrate with him and the rest of the team afterwards. For me, it was an unusual race: I didn’t expect Felipe to be so strong, particularly in the first stint, and I was pushing the whole way to keep up with him. The car wasn’t at its best in the opening laps but, after the first stop, I was able to stabilize the gap and start clawing it back bit by bit until I had the tire problem.”

What happened with the tire?
“It was a sudden puncture – it must have occurred at Turn One and the tire was flat by Turn Two, so I had to travel a long way back to the pits at reduced speed. After that, I needed to look after the super-soft tire because I had a longer-than-expected final stint to the flag. But the car felt good and I just kept pushing until the finish and picked up a useful handful of points. After a day like that, you’ve got to look at the big picture; and given the problem we had with the tire and the difficulty looking after the car in the final stint, I can’t really complain about finishing fifth. Salvaging the maximum possible points from a difficult race is always important; with the championship as tight as it is, you can’t afford to drop too many points. So I can’t be too disappointed to have come away from a difficult race like that having extended my lead in the world championship.”

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Atlantic series gears up for Road America doubleheader
INDIANAPOLIS – With just 23 points separating first from fifth in the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, it’s still anybody’s race as the series heads to historic Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis. for the second and final doubleheader of the 11-race season this weekend on Saturday, August 9 and Sunday, August 10.

Leading the way, as he also did heading into Round 3 at Mont-Tremblant in June, is Canadian driver James Hinchcliffe in the No. 3 Indeck/Tire Rack/NOCO machine for Forsythe/Pettit Racing. Topped by a victory in Round 2 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May and back-to-back third-place results in the doubleheader at Edmonton last month, Hinchcliffe has finished all five races this season inside the top 10 and hasn’t finished worse than fourth in any of the last four races. As a result, he leads Finnish rookie Markus Niemela by five points, 118-113.

Niemela returns to the cockpit of the No. 8 Mr. Jones Bar & Kitchen/Rauma Town/Turku Karting machine for Brooks Associates Racing this weekend still looking for his first career Atlantic victory, but well within sight of the championship lead and with plenty of time to make his move. Like Hinchcliffe, Niemela has also finished inside the top 10 in every race this season—in fact, he hasn’t finished worse than seventh this year—and he owns a pair of second-place results.

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Allmendinger ticket special
To the right is information about a AJ Allmendinger ticket special to the Pepsi 500 at California Auto Club Speedway for the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup race on Labor Day weekend.  Allmendinger fans get a discount, a seating section reserved all for them and a chance to meet AJ in person and listen to him talk.


Yeley released by Hall of Fame Racing
J.J. Yeley
J.J. Yeley’s was sacked by Hall of Fame Racing today. The third-year Sprint Cup driver was released by the team and will be replaced by Nationwide Series driver Brad Coleman.

P.J. Jones is in Hall of Fame’s No. 96 Toyota for this weekend’s race at Watkins Glen International, with Coleman taking over next weekend at Michigan.

“J.J. is a talented race car driver and a great person and this was a difficult decision to make,” said Tom Garfinkel, co-owner of Hall of Fame Racing. “We all share responsibility that our performance hasn’t been what it needs to be, but we concluded it was time to make a change.  This is a performance-based industry and we need to perform better.  We’re confident J.J. will be successful in this sport in whatever his next challenge is.”

“I really appreciate [co-owner] Jeff Moorad and Tom for giving me this opportunity,” Coleman said.  “I have really enjoyed my time testing with the people on the team and I’m looking forward to having a successful weekend at Michigan in the DLP HDTV Toyota and helping Hall of Fame Racing finish out the season as strong as possible.  It is truly an honor to be a part of this organization.”


Sugar Ray to Perform at Detroit GP
The good-time rock of Sugar Ray on the XM Stage at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix will enhance an electric weekend of high-speed excitement at the Labor Day weekend celebration.

Shortly after 6 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 30, the summertime groove of Sugar Ray will entertain fans at the Grand Prix, presented by XM Radio. The concert on the XM Stage in the Meijer Family Fun Zone is free for Saturday ticketholders at the Grand Prix and Sugar Ray will take the stage shortly after the completion of the Detroit Sports Challenge presented by Bosch American Le Mans Series race on Belle Isle.

“The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix is really more than three days of world-class racing, it’s three days of fun and entertainment on and off the track – a great celebration to conclude the summer,” said Bud Denker, Event Chairman of the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. “Sugar Ray provides great summertime music and they’re going to be a terrific addition to the XM Stage on Saturday night of Grand Prix weekend.”

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Camara goes camping with Bengals
Conquest Racing driver Jaime Camara took time out of preparations for Saturday’s Meijer Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway to travel to Georgetown College and attend the Cincinnati Bengals Training Camp. Camara took in the morning practice from the sidelines and watched the squad, including quarterback Carson Palmer and wide receiver Chad Johnson, run through its daily workout routine.

After practice, Camara visited with kicker Shayne Graham and linebacker coach Jeff FitzGerald about the upcoming IndyCar Series race at Kentucky Speedway. Graham recently hosted a celebrity go-kart race benefiting his Shayne Graham Foundation while FitzGerald spends the off-season as a part-time instructor for the Richard Petty Driving Experience. The IndyCar Series rookie presented Graham with a pair of signed driving gloves, which should get use when Graham visits Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for a few laps around the track later this year.

“It was great to have the opportunity to go out to camp,” said Camara. “It was definitely a new experience. Coming from Brazil where soccer is the top sport, American football is something very new to me. I’ve watched the Super Bowl before, but after today I might have to start watching more football. It was a great opportunity to learn about the game and see other athletes doing what they love. It was good to meet with Shayne and Coach FitzGerald and to learn that they are huge racing fans away from the field.”


Firestone Indy Lights drivers shuffle seats
There will be several familiar faces returning to the Firestone Indy Lights this weekend at Kentucky Speedway.

Heading the list is Robbie Pecorari, who has signed to drive a fifth Guthrie Racing entry for the remaining four races of 2008. Pecorari, who finished second for team owner Jim Guthrie's team at Kansas in April will drive the SAI Hydraulics Guthrie Racing No.44 machine.

“Robbie has raced with us a few times this season, and the kid just has talent,” said Guthrie Racing team owner Jim Guthrie. “Adding Robbie brings even more experience and talent to our already top-class roster.”

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track news

New logo, new look for LB Grand Prix
The April 16-19, 2009 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will have a decidedly new look for its 35th anniversary.

Today, the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach rolled out an all-new race logo, the event's first logo change since 1987, reflecting the debut of the IndyCar Series after years of Formula One, CART and Champ Car racing on the historic street course.

The colorful new logo features an IndyCar against a background of a city street, palm trees and an updated artistic rendition of the Long Beach skyline.

"With the beginning of the new IndyCar era at Long Beach, it was appropriate that the logo be updated," said Jim Michaelian, president and CEO of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach.  "The new logo captures the dynamic nature of our event, and, happily, it coincides with our 35th anniversary weekend which will feature Helio Castroneves, Danica Patrick, Graham Rahal, Marco Andretti and the rest of the series stars on circuit in IndyCars for the first time.

"It promises to be quite a celebration."

Additionally, the official Web site of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, www.gplb.com, has been updated to reflect the look of the new logo and the debut of IndyCar.

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industry news

Speedway Motorsports earnings up 17%
Atlanta Motor Speedway owner Speedway Motorsports Inc. on Wednesday reported a 17 percent increase in second-quarter earnings to $47 million, or $1.08 a share.

The Concord, N.C.-based promoter of motorsports entertainment posted earnings of $40.3 million, or 92 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Revenue in the latest quarter grew to $212.8 million from $180.8 million a year earlier.

The company attributed its increased earnings to successful NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series racing events at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which it acquired in January, and significantly improved operating results of Motorsports Authentics, Speedway Motorsports’ merchandising joint venture with International Speedway Corp. (NASDAQ:ISCA) of Florida.

In addition, Bristol Motor Speedway hosted a successful National Hot Rod Association racing event in the second quarter of this year. It was held in the third quarter last year.


DEI withdraws fifth Watkins Glen entry
Dale Earnhardt Inc. has withdrawn the entry of its No. 81 Sprint Cup car for Regan Smith for Watkins Glen this weekend after NASCAR informed the team that it couldn’t put Smith in that car because of the four-team limit.

Teams are permitted to enter a fifth car for a maximum of seven races for a rookie to get the driver familiar with Sprint Cup competition. Smith, an upstate New York native, has 20 starts this year, and NASCAR determined he did not fit the criteria for the fifth-car exception, NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said Wednesday.


Franchitti to compete in seven more Nationwide races for Ganassi
Chip Ganassi Racing officials announced Wednesday that Dario Franchitti will compete in seven more Nationwide Series races this season, beginning with this weekend’s Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen International.

In addition to Watkins Glen, Franchitti will drive the team’s No. 40 Nationwide Dodge at Michigan, Bristol, Richmond, Kansas, Charlotte and Phoenix.

“I’m really looking forward to going to the Glen for my first Nationwide race there, as it’s a track I have always enjoyed,” Franchitti said. “The No. 40 Fastenal Dodge has been quick all year, and as a team we’re really looking forward to continued success throughout the rest of the season. I have confidence in [crew chief] Brad Parrott and the boys that we can get it done at Watkins Glen, particularly after a very productive and enjoyable test at Road Atlanta last week.”


How McLaren plans to conquer Valencia and Singapore
Formula One's newest Grands Prix, Valencia and Singapore, may both be street races, but they represent very different and unique challenges. This is how the McLaren Mercedes team plans to conquer them:

Take Silverstone, Magny-Cours and the Circuit de Catalunya. Their locations are very different, but many of the components of their laps are much the same. Compare street circuits, though, and there are more differences than similarities. Two new street circuits are joining the show this year and they offer markedly different challenges, with the added factor that one of these will host the first grand prix run after nightfall. The races in Valencia (August 24) and Singapore (September 28) add an extra dimension for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes as it strives to arrive for these grands prix better prepared than its rivals.

Barney Hassell, McLaren Racing's head of vehicle dynamics, explains the process: "We start off by creating a track model for our simulation tools, using the outline plans of a circuit and checking them against satellite photos. Then we factor in the location, type of curbs and other details we obtain from a full survey we've commissioned. We also work in such aspects as the likely track temperature. We also use ground-level photos to provide detailed data, but this can prove a problem for a new venue such as Valencia if the circuit itself is incomplete at the point that we're preparing.

"It's all about building up as detailed a profile as possible of the circuit," Hassell continues. "We'll run simulations to work out likely lap times, and to establish the racing line. We check the downforce level requirement, and from there can determine braking severity, cooling requirements and tire operating conditions to make sure that our car development schedule is able to provide optimized components in time for the circuit in question."

Just imagine how a driver from the 1980s would have been bowled over by the extent of this analysis, yet to drivers today this level of detailed preparation is just one of the tools of the trade.

The drivers are then consulted to discuss car set-up and their individual preferences – critical if they are to fine-tune the car to their liking and pare those vital fractions of a second from lap time.

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Ford rally boss offers Raikkonen test
(GMM)  World Rally team boss Malcolm Wilson has offered reigning formula one champion Kimi Raikkonen a test in one of the squad's Ford Focus cars.

Raikkonen, the Ferrari driver whose contract expires at the end of next year, said recently he would be interested in trying rallying once his F1 career is over.

"I'd offer him a test," Wilson is quoted as saying by Eurosport. "It'd be a great opportunity for us."

Reigning World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb is also open to the idea of Raikkonen, embroiled in speculation about his future beyond 2009, switching codes.

"I would welcome (him) because it's good to have big names coming into rallying," he said.

Frenchman Loeb predicts it would be difficult for the Finn to turn his hand to rallying, given its fundamental differences to circuit racing.

"But with the talent he has and with some practice he will adapt and find the feeling," the 34-year-old explained.

Reports indicate that Ferrari parent company Fiat's rallying effort, the Abarth team, intends to move from the Intercontinental Rally Challenge to World Rally in 2010.

They would reportedly be thrilled at the prospect of having Raikkonen on board.


Carpentier committed to NASCAR, hopes to stay with GEM
Patrick Carpentier says that he should know by Aug. 15 what his future with Gillett Evernham Motorsports holds, but the NASCAR rookie isn't obsessing over his contract status at this point. Instead, he's focusing on running in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series races on the road course at Watkins Glen International this weekend, a pair of events in which he expects to perform well.
Carpentier finished second in the Nationwide Series race on the road course in Montreal last weekend, so he's already primed for a winding track. He says that he and his team have been steadily improving over the course of the last five weeks and that could pay off for them this weekend.
As to his contract status, Carpentier's future with the team seems to hinge on sponsorship for his No. 10 car.
Asked what could be the largest factor in the process, the former open-wheel driver frankly assessed the situation.
"Money," he said. "You know how racing is, it's always guided by sponsorship. They've done an amazing job this year to get my car sponsored. I think they've found like $5 million in sponsorship during the year, so it's a lot. It's quite an achievement.  … I think I'm going to stay there, but you never know in life and it's racing, so things change pretty quickly."  More at Scenedaily.com


Nissan Motor unveils new prototype electric car
Nissan EV-02
Nissan Motor Co. unveiled a new prototype electric vehicle Wednesday with batteries twice as powerful as conventional technology, aiming to take a lead in zero-emission cars.

Japan's third-largest automaker said the front-wheel drive, boxy-shaped car has a newly developed 80 kilowatt motor with advanced lithium-ion batteries installed under the vehicle's floor to avoid taking up space.

The laminated batteries, jointly developed with electronics giant NEC Corp., pack twice the electric power of conventional nickel-metal hydride batteries currently used in hybrid and electric cars, it said.

Nissan aims to start selling an electric car in the United States and Japan in 2010 and the rest of the world in 2012. It will have a new "unique bodystyle" that is not based on any existing model, the company said.


Raikkonen welcomes 3-week break
After getting trounced by his teammate Felipe Massa lately, Raikkonen welcomes the 3-week break
After a couple of difficult races, World Champion Kimi Raikkonen is happy that the three-week summer break has finally arrived. The Finn hopes that Ferrari can turn the tables around at the European Grand Prix in Valencia in three weeks time.

Kimi Raikkonen said: "This short break comes at the right time. We have to recharge our batteries after six months of giving it all, racing and testing, so we're ready for the next race and for the finale of the season. The situation in the Championship is not too bad: obviously one can always improve and this is exactly what we want to do.

"The Hungarian weekend was quite disappointing for me: the only positive thing is the result. Whenever you're able to narrow the gap to the leader it's very important. I gained more points than any other of my direct competitors, which is pretty positive as well before this short break. I'm going to Finland to chill out a bit, although the weather forecast is not really good.

"I don't want to deny that the last races didn't go as I wanted. Every time something strange happened and we didn't manage to find the best possible set up for the car. We tried to find a good compromise, but it didn't help. We've got to solve that problem now for the upcoming race at Valencia. The Qualifying was the decisive moment also at Budapest, in a negative way. In my second try in Q3 I couldn't keep the car on the track: that was my fault. You can't pretend to win the title if you're always starting from the sixth position. You can even drive one second faster per lap than the one ahead of you, but if you start from behind you can't use the pace you've got.

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GM cuts back on NASCAR and it's about time - BusinessWeek
Here’s something that’s long overdue. The Associated Press today reports that General Motors is cutting back spending on NASCAR. It’s about time. Here’s a company in crisis that can’t afford enough advertising for its bloated family of eight brands, and they have been blowing more than $100 million a year on NASCAR.

Before I explain why I think GM has put too much into NASCAR, let me admit my bias. I hate NASCAR. While I can get into watching everything from Rugby Union and the NFL to golf and women’s tennis, I just can’t get into NASCAR. (As an aside, I can get into Le Mans series races) But as motor sports go, NASCAR races are the snooziest. The cars are slow and bumbling. The circuit strictly legislates body dimensions, chassis engineering and engine size so you don’t get new technology on the track. The cars still have carburetors and only recently got rid of leaded fuel! It’s yesteryear’s race cars running around in circles. A Luddite’s paradise. For more on the limits of NASCAR as a marketing tool, go to www.autoextremist.com and read Peter DeLorenzo’s Fumes column.

But my sports preferences aren’t the ones that matter here. For the Big Three, NASCAR speaks to the working class white guys who already love their trucks and suvs. It preaches to the choir. To the people on the coasts who drive Japanese and European cars, it affirms the red neck, Midwestern and unsophisticated image that most American brands carry. This will enrage some people. But it’s a commonly-held view among the cadre of consumers that don’t like American cars. I get their email and letters all the time. Foreign car owners trick out their Civics, fawn over cars like the BMW M3 and Audi S4 and watch Formula 1 and Le Mans series races. They think NASCAR is about as hip as Conway Twitty’s Greatest Hits.

Add in the fact that the coolest cars Detroit can come up with (save the new Cadillac CTS) are a retro-styled Mustang, a Dodge Challenger that’s a dead knock off of the car from the ‘60s and a Chevy Camaro that again reaches back to its muscle car roots, and the old school image is complete. To the sophisticated, technology-savvy buyer who left American brands years ago, NASCAR sponsorships and nouveau muscle cars affirm what they have long thought. These companies are stuck in the past.

GM is making the right move to pull back on NASCAR. The problem is that they’re doing it too late. GM needs to save money. It would have been better if they scaled back their stock car efforts year ago and put the money toward something that reached a different kind of buyer. Now it’s just a survival move. Businessweek


Optimism for 2009 auto sales is fading
When 2008 began, many in the automotive industry thought that the U.S. economy would begin to improve by mid-year, and automotive sales would also begin to recover.  Now, that hope has almost completely faded away and automotive sales in the United States in 2009 are likely to be just as bad as this year.

Next year, U.S. vehicles sales may drop to 14.1 million, down from a peak of 17.8 million in 2000, Daniel Cheng, an A.T. Kearney vice president, said today as he presented his firm’s 12th annual automotive study.

Rising oil prices, higher transportation costs and higher raw material prices are all hurting the automotive industry, but the industry’s biggest problem is the decline in revenue caused by the slumping automotive sales, Cheng said.

A.T. Kearney’s study includes 105 automotive manufacturers and suppliers. Over the four years, the U.S. supplier base to absorb losses of nearly $50 billion the next four years, Cheng said.

“In our best case optimistic scenario, we have operating profits fort the supply base basically falling for three years and starting to recover by 2011,” Cheng said.  Detroit Free Press


Spurs Join the Superleague Formula Grid
Superleague Formula is pleased to announce that Tottenham Hotspur will become the first Premier League team to join the football-themed motor racing championship.

The north London club becomes the 15th Superleague Formula outfit and the second UK club alongside Scottish giants, Rangers.

Spurs' blue and white livery will be carried by one of the 750 horsepower, V12 powered Superleague Formula Panoz chassis at the championship s debut round at Britain's Donington Park circuit on August 30/31.

Tottenham Hotspur is one of the most successful football clubs in both England and Europe with two championships, eight FA Cup wins, seven FA Community Shield wins and four League Cups wins (now known as the Carling Cup), including last season's victory against Chelsea.

Once again Spurs will be competing in Europe having qualified for the UEFA Cup last season, a competition the Club won in 1972 and 1984.

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Williams - 'we will not sell'
(GMM)  Sir Frank Williams, one of the last true privateers on the formula one grid, says he has no plans to sell up.

His contemporary Ron Dennis, of the McLaren team, has effectively sold out to Mercedes-Benz and also Bahraini interests, while most of his other current rivals are either headed by carmakers or billionaires.

But even though his Oxfordshire-based team has been struggling for pace of late, Williams is quoted as saying by sportnet: "In the next few years we will not sell."

Recent speculation hints at a burgeoning relationship with the Icelandic investment group Baugur, but Frank Williams insists: "We would sell no more than shares, the name Williams is staying in formula one."

But veteran Williams, who is 66, acknowledges that he and the team's co-owner and engineering chief Patrick Head are "not getting younger".

However, he rules out suggestions that his son Jonathan, involved with a GP2 team but also with an office at Williams in Grove, will succeed him.

Jonathan is "too nice for formula one", Frank Williams smiles.


Alonso slams Renault
Fernando Alonso has dismissed Renault's chances of returning to the winners' circle in Formula 1 in 2009, stating his belief that the former double world championship-winning outfit is currently ‘one of the worst' teams in the top flight.

Having claimed both of his drivers' crowns with the Régie back at the height of the French concern's form and success in 2005 and 2006, Alonso's return this year has been anything but satisfactory, with just 18 points and not so much as a single rostrum finish to his name leaving the Spaniard sitting a lowly eighth in the drivers' title chase.

Despite the raft of sweeping new regulation changes being brought into F1 from next season, 19-time grand prix-winner Alonso remains unconvinced Renault will be capable of making a significant leap up the pecking order.
The squad currently sits in fourth spot in the constructors' rankings, four points shy of its target – fourth-placed Toyota.

“From one year to the next it is difficult to improve so drastically,” the 27-year-old told Spanish radio program El Larguero. “It may be difficult for Renault to step up to the level of the top teams in 2009.

“Never has a team gone from being one of the worst to winning [in one year].”


Wagoner still has GM's support
General Motors Corp said its board continues to support Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner despite the company's deteriorating performance in the second quarter, when it lost a staggering $15.5 billion.  The board's 13 directors gathered in Detroit on Monday and Tuesday for previously scheduled meetings that took place at a challenging time for the automaker.

GM is struggling with record oil prices, tight credit, sagging consumer confidence and a dramatic shift in demand from the automaker's profitable pickups and SUVs to more fuel-efficient cars and crossovers. Wagoner, CEO since 2000, has been hampered in his turnaround efforts by the weakest U.S. auto market in more than a decade.

"The board has expressed support for Rick Wagoner and the GM management team on several occasions and that has not changed," GM spokesman Steve Harris said Tuesday.

Some analysts say it's hard to fault Wagoner for most of the problems GM is facing, such as $4-a-gallon gas and the market collapse for its most profitable vehicles.

"I can understand the pressure, but from where I sit, it's hard to see anybody else coping any better than what they have done," said auto analyst David Healy of Burnham Securities.


Klien says IRL too dangerous
Red Bull backed Christian Klien says the IRL's ovals are too dangerous
Christian Klien has this week said he sees retaining his test seat at BMW-Sauber as his best opportunity for 2009.

The Austrian, a former race driver at Jaguar and Red Bull, has often expressed his desire to get back to the F1 grid, but he ruled out again making a bid for a Force India cockpit.

"As it is I would rather test for BMW-Sauber than race with them.

"Of course, a lot of good people are with Force India, but with their car, you can basically only show your talent when it rains," he said in interview with motorline.cc.

It is expected BMW-Sauber will decide its full driver lineup for next year in August or September.

"I would like to stay with the team," Klien said, ruling out taking a step back into the GP2 series but remaining open to the idea of contesting the Le Mans 24 Hour race again in 2009.

He also ruled out going to America's oval-predominated IRL series, because it is "too dangerous".


Martinez replaces Garza on Forsythe/Pettit team
David Martinez
David Martinez announced today that he has been chosen by the Forsythe/Pettit Team to replace David Garza temporarily in the #7 Axtel/Tecate/Madisa Atlantic Car.  Garza suffered a dislocated hip injury during a training accident last weekend at his hometown of Monterrey.

Martinez will take part in an official series test day today at the picturesque Road America track, in preparation for rounds seven and eight of the championship which will take place this weekend (August 9th and 10th) at the same track.

Martinez and Garza have worked together closely for many years, with Martinez coaching Garza at the track, and by training together at the gym and at the karting track in their hometown of Monterrey, Mexico.  This will be the second time that the young Mexican drivers share the driving duties in the same race car, the first time being at the Mexican A1GP race in March where Martinez competed in the rookie sessions and Garza took over for the remainder of the weekend.

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Course changes at Infineon for IndyCars
The IndyCars will exit the left-hand Turn 6 and go straight down the dragstrip rather than take their previous route to Turn 7 at Infineon Raceway
This month's IndyCar race at Infineon Raceway will feature a course change that will shorten the 12-turn circuit from 2.26 to 2.245 miles. Cars will go up the track's drag strip after exiting Turn 6 (Carousel).

Dixon said he tested the modified course in December and is confident that it will allow for more passing.

"It will help," Dixon said, "but it still comes down to strategy."

Nevertheless, Dixon does not think teams will need to adjust the setup of their cars.

"I don't think it will affect it too much," Dixon said. "You're going to brake a little longer and a little harder."

More than 10 drivers, including 2006 winner Marco Andretti, will be at Infineon next week (Aug. 13-14) for a two-day test session.


Quick fix needed for title tilt - Raikkonen
(GMM)  World champion Kimi Raikkonen admits he cannot defend his drivers' title this season if he fails to find a quick fix to his qualifying struggles.

Once out of Fernando Alonso's slipstream, the Finn and his F2008 was the fastest car at the Hungaroring last Sunday, setting the fastest lap of the race.

"It was good to drive, it felt nice, but it was much too late to fight for the victory," the Ferrari driver, who had to nurse a failing rear suspension to the checkered flag, said.

Raikkonen qualified just sixth in Budapest and admits he currently cannot make the car work over a fast lap on Saturday afternoons.

Teammate Felipe Massa and championship rival Lewis Hamilton's problems meant he actually closed in on the points deficit in Hungary, and Raikkonen now lies just 5 points behind with seven races to go.

But the 28-year-old said this week: "It's obvious that you cannot win the championship if you start every time from the sixth place in the grid.

"You can be one second quicker than anybody else, but if you start from the sixth at Hockenheim or Hungary, you cannot use that speed at all," Raikkonen explained.

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