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Ashley Force and Harvey Siegel will be guests on Wind Tunnel  NHRA Funny Car star, Ashley Force, will be a featured guest on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain this Sunday, August 31st. As the daughter of 14-time NHRA Funny Car champion, John Force, Ashley is in her second season racing with her father in the Funny Car ranks. Dave will talk to Ashley about her transition to the high-powered and dangerous world of nitro drag racing, her mid-season success, and get her thoughts on challenging for this year’s championship.

Harvey Siegel, one of the principals of the recently built New Jersey Motorsports Park, will also be a featured guest on Wind Tunnel this Sunday.  Having opened less than two months ago, NJMP is set to host its first professional racing series this weekend, the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. In addition, the track will host the Atlantic Championship, Star Mazda Championship, and ARCA in September which will run on a road course for the first time since 2000.

Wind Tunnel with David Despain airs live on Sunday at 9:00 pm - 10:00 pm ET on SPEED.

Aflac takes bigger role in No. 99  Roush Fenway Racing announced today that as part of Aflac’s designation as “Official Supplemental Insurance Company of Roush Fenway Racing”, they will be carried as the primary sponsor on the No. 99 Ford in the ARCA RE/MAX Series for the remainder of the 2008 season.  With six races to go, driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. sits second in the overall point standings and is closing the gap on point’s leader Scott Speed.  The Olive Branch, Miss.-native is proud to represent Aflac and is looking to give them a win and a championship before the year is out. Aflac will be running a new paint scheme showcasing its life insurance offering on the No. 99. 

“It’s great to have Aflac on the No. 99 Ford for the rest of this year,” said Stenhouse.  “They’ve been a great sponsor for Carl (Edwards) and the entire Roush Fenway Racing organization so I’m proud to have them as part of our ARCA team.  The Aflac Duck looks awesome on the No. 99 Aflac Ford, hopefully we can take him to victory lane soon.” 

Stenhouse is having a break-out year with two wins (first Kentucky and first Pocono), seven top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in 15 starts.  He led the points from May through July before Speed took over.  However, with a second place finish at Springfield and another dirt track on the horizon, Stenhouse has gained ground and is looking to gain more.   

The No. 99 Aflac Ford will make its debut on the one-mile clay dirt track of DuQuoin Monday, Sept. 1 when the ARCA RE/MAX Series returns to action.  Stenhouse will also race Carl Edwards’ No. 199 RE Technologies USAC Silver Crown car on Sunday, Aug. 31 as a precursor to the ARCA race.

Hybrid Race Car Planned For ALMS  
Corsa Motorsport announced that it will field a hybrid-powered Zytek starting at Petit Le Mans this season
Corsa Motorsports announced today that it has entered into a strategic alliance with the Zytek Group based in the United Kingdom.  The partnership will result in the production of the first Le Mans Prototype car fitted with a hybrid power system.  Corsa will compete as a works team in the LMP1 class of the American Le Mans Series.  The team’s plan is aimed squarely at Sebring 2009 and predicated on testing and progress.  The Zytek will be unveiled at and compete in the ALMS Green Challenge at Petit Le Mans (October 4), in addition to the season-ending Sports Car Championships at Laguna Seca (October 18). 

Initial tests of the car were held at Donington Park in the UK in July with additional tests ongoing in the UK before the car is transported to the United States for a final shakedown at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah prior to departing for Petit Le Mans.

Steve Pruitt (right): "If it proves successful, it will transcend motorsports by its social and technical relevance."
The Zytek LMP1 Hybrid
The car is based on a Zytek 07S carbon fiber/aluminum monocoque employing typical wishbone suspension with rack and pinion steering and fitted with a Ricardo 6-speed sequential gearbox using a Zytek electronic gear shift system.  The car will be powered through a combination of an ethanol-fueled (E10) internal combustion engine and a 3 phase induction electric motor. 

The ethanol-fueled engine is a newly designed Zytek 90° normally aspirated 4.5-liter V8 with four overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder with an output of 625 hp.  The electric motor is a direct drive Zytek proprietary design powered by an on-board lithium-ion energy storage system with a KERS (kinetic energy recovery) supplemental regeneration system.

The heart of the system is the energy storage/battery system which enables the collection and conversion of mechanical energy to electrical energy permitting use of the electric motor resulting in more efficient power and a lower carbon footprint.  The lithium-ion battery used on the car is supplied by Zytek shareholder Continental AG of Germany. More ...

Misano - Stoner out front in free practice  Despite dominating both Friday practice sessions with a flawless opening day performance at Misano, Casey Stoner's San Marino Grand Prix hopes are in doubt by a freak wrist injury.

The reigning world champion finished the day a comfortable 0.418secs ahead of world championship leader Valentino Rossi - but somehow re-opened a broken scaphoid bone, damaged back in 2003, in the process.

"The scaphoid is a really strange one because there has been no impact on it," explained a surprised Stoner. "I was just adjusting my back protector before going out for one of my runs this afternoon and I felt some pain.

"It got worse as the session went on so we decided to check it out with the Clinica Mobile and I couldn't believe it when they showed me the x-ray - it seems the bone I broke in 2003 has re-opened."

1. Casey Stoner AUS Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 1min 34.806 secs
2. Valentino Rossi ITA Fiat Yamaha Team (B) 1min 35.224 secs
3. Loris Capirossi ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 1min 35.377 secs
4. Randy de Puniet FRA LCR Honda MotoGP (M) 1min 35.620 secs
5. Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP (B) 1min 35.743 secs
6. Jorge Lorenzo SPA Fiat Yamaha Team (M) 1min 35.766 secs
7. Alex de Angelis RSM San Carlo Honda Gresini (B) 1min 35.861 secs
8. Colin Edwards USA Tech 3 Yamaha (M) 1min 35.913 secs
9. Shinya Nakano JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini (B) 1min 36.100 secs
10. James Toseland GBR Tech 3 Yamaha (M) 1min 36.105 secs
11. Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda Team (M) 1min 36.189 secs
12. Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team (M) 1min 36.219 secs
13. Andrea Dovizioso ITA JiR Team Scot MotoGP (M) 1min 36.356 secs
14. Toni Elias SPA Alice Team (B) 1min 36.425 secs
15. Sylvain Guintoli FRA Alice Team (B) 1min 36.619 secs
16. Marco Melandri ITA Ducati Marlboro Team (B) 1min 37.096 secs
17. Anthony West AUS Kawasaki Racing Team (B) 1min 38.239 secs

Monza: Hamilton tops final test day  Lewis Hamilton finished on top of the timesheets on the final day of testing at the Monza circuit in Italy, setting a best time of 1:22.967 after 97 laps to top Monza favorite Ferrari much to the chagrin of the tifosi.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:22.967 97
2. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:23.371 79
3. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:23.632 114
4. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:23.634 99
5. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:23.737 120
6. Alonso Renault 1:23.820 80
7. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:23.865 77
8. Glock Toyota 1:23.897 79
9. Kubica BMW-Sauber 1:24.089 57
10. Button Honda 1:24.321 96
7-Eleven renews to sponsor Kanaan's #11  Andretti Green Racing (AGR) announced today it has reached a multi-year agreement with 7-Eleven, Inc. to extend the company's long-running sponsorship program of the #11 entry driven by 2004 IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan.

7-Eleven, Inc., the world's largest operator, franchisor and licensor of convenience stores with more than 34,600 units worldwide, has been affiliated with Andretti Green and Kanaan since the team began competing at the beginning of the 2003 IndyCar Series season.

Kanaan, who drove the Honda-powered Team 7-Eleven car to the 2004 IndyCar Series championship, signed a five-year contract extension earlier this month with Andretti Green that will keep him with the Indianapolis-based team through the 2013 season.

7-Eleven will also continue to have a branding presence on AGR's three other IndyCar Series cars, which are driven by Marco Andretti, Hideki Mutoh and Danica Patrick.

John Lopes, Chief Marketing Officer, Andretti Green Racing:
"7-Eleven is one of the cornerstones of Andretti Green Racing and we're thrilled to extend our agreement with them. We've accomplished a lot together, but we feel like we can do even bigger things in the future. The Team 7-Eleven car has been a fixture at the top level of the IndyCar Series since it debuted in 2003 and we expect to keep it there for a long time."

Rita Bargerhuff, Vice President Marketing, 7-Eleven, Inc.:
"We joined forces when Andretti Green began racing in 2003, the year Tony joined the AGR team, and have worked together over the last five years to build an even stronger 7-Eleven brand through this international platform. Tony exemplifies the leadership, team orientation and values we embrace at 7-Eleven and has been a terrific spokesperson. The unification of open-wheel racing earlier this year has made the IndyCar Series even more relevant to our customers. We're looking forward to enjoying future successes together."

Detroit: Dixon tops opening IndyCar practice  The top two drivers in the IndyCar point standings, and the only two with a chance to win the title, were 1-2 in opening practice on Belle Isle Friday morning.  Scott Dixon was comfortably faster than Helio Castroneves who was comfortably faster than the rest of the field.


Driver Diff Gap Best Time Best Speed
1 Scott Dixon (9) --.---- --.---- 1:13.9714 100.742
2 Helio Castroneves (3) 0.5240 0.5240 1:14.4954 100.033
3 Ryan Briscoe (6) 0.9288 0.4048 1:14.9002 99.492
4 Tony Kanaan (11) 1.6780 0.7492 1:15.6494 98.507
5 Ryan Hunter-Reay (17) 1.7290 0.0510 1:15.7004 98.441
6 Danica Patrick (7) 1.7609 0.0319 1:15.7323 98.399
7 Graham Rahal (06) 1.9676 0.2067 1:15.9390 98.131
8 Dan Wheldon (10) 2.0046 0.0370 1:15.9760 98.084
9 Darren Manning (14) 2.0718 0.0672 1:16.0432 97.997
10 Vitor Meira (4) 2.0888 0.0170 1:16.0602 97.975
11 EJ Viso (33) 2.2768 0.1880 1:16.2482 97.733
12 Hideki Mutoh (27) 2.5160 0.2392 1:16.4874 97.428
13 Oriol Servia (5) 2.6325 0.1165 1:16.6039 97.280
14 AJ Foyt IV (2) 2.7502 0.1177 1:16.7216 97.130
15 Will Power (8) 2.8265 0.0763 1:16.7979 97.034
16 Tomas Scheckter (12) 2.8887 0.0622 1:16.8601 96.955
17 Bruno Junqueira (18) 2.9498 0.0611 1:16.9212 96.878
18 Mario Moraes (19) 3.4117 0.4619 1:17.3831 96.300
19 Buddy Rice (15) 3.4544 0.0427 1:17.4258 96.247
20 Marco Andretti (26) 3.6430 0.1886 1:17.6144 96.013
21 Justin Wilson (02) 3.9849 0.3419 1:17.9563 95.592
22 Ed Carpenter (20) 4.3502 0.3653 1:18.3216 95.146
23 Jaime Camara (34) 5.4329 1.0827 1:19.4043 93.849
24 Enrique Bernoldi (36) 5.4781 0.0452 1:19.4495 93.795
25 Milka Duno (23) 9.5586 4.0805 1:23.5300 89.213
26 Marty Roth (25) 19.6068 10.0482 1:33.5782 79.634

Detroit: Franchitti and Dyson out front early  Dyson Racing’s Marino Franchitti made a late jump to the top of the timing chart Friday morning in the first practice for the Detroit Sports Car Challenge by Bosch. Franchitti put the Porsche RS Spyder that he will drive with Butch Leitzinger in front with a lap of 1:23.240 (89.524 mph) on damp but drying circuit in Belle Isle.

LMP2 entries from the American Le Mans Series held the top four positions from the 90-minute session. Acura entries were second, third and fourth with Andretti Green Racing’s Franck Montagny and James Rossiter 2.551 seconds behind Franchitti in their Acura ARX-01b. Lowe’s Fernandez Racing’s Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz were third at 1:26.221 (86.429 mph) with the Patr¢n Highcroft Racing Acura of Scott Sharp and David Brabham third in P2 at 1:26.951 (85.703 mph).

Audi Sport North America’s Marcel Fässler was the fastest driver in LMP1. The Swiss driver got his first taste of racing at Detroit with a time of 1:27.694 (84.977 mph) in the Audi R10 TDI that he will drive with Emanuele Pirro.  More ...

BMW boss calls for more races but less testing  
Mario Theissen
(GMM)  BMW-Sauber chief Mario Theissen is open to the formula one calendar expanding to a maximum of 20 races -- but only if the format for the actual grand prix weekend is restructured.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone suggested recently that five potential new hosts are ready to join the annual schedule, which at 18 races this year is set to dispense with the August break in 2009 and expand to 19 events in 2009.

Theissen, however, thinks 20 races is the absolute limit, providing in-season testing is further reduced.

The German has always thought real free testing at the grand prix venues, prior to the official weekend schedule, is a good compromise, rather than simply the recent increase to three hours of Friday practice.

"I think it would make sense, because we have all the material with us anyway," said Theissen, proposing that Fridays became all-day free test sessions.

But while F1 fans hungry for more action at grand prix weekends would be unlikely to complain, Theissen admits his proposal would also "have consequences" for support events like GP2.

"In my opinion 20 races is the limit -- provided the testing is reduced considerably," he said.

Open Wheel drivers look like wankers in NASCAR  UPDATE All but one of the top 44 drivers in the Sprint Cup Series standings has earned at least $1 million this season, and that type of money certainly skews what’s considered a successful season — because even a millionaire-making season means nothing anymore.

Specifically, eight drivers have earned more than $1 million but less than $2 million this year, and most of them could be out of work before the next season begins. Some have already lost their jobs.

That group includes drivers such as J.J. Yeley ($1.8 million), Patrick Carpentier ($1.5), A.J. Allmendinger ($1.4), Kyle Petty ($1.0) and Dario Franchitti ($1.0).

Drivers atop the standings, those in contention for the series championship like Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards, have earned five times more than their soon-to-be-unemployed colleagues. With that success comes more support from sponsors and more money for their respective teams to continue their dominance as the rich get richer.

On a series that usually runs races in circles, it’s a fairly productive circle of success for those at the top. CentreDaily.com

08/28/08 Talk about ruining your racing career.  Neither Patrick Carpentier, Dario Franchitti, Sam Hornish, Jr., Michael McDowell, Regan Smith nor Jacques Villeneuve has scored a Top 10 finish this season. (Aric Almirola and Marcos Ambrose have finished as high as third, but they're limited part-timers and thus ineligible for the rookie award). If the trend holds, it would be the first rookie class in the sport's 60-year history to go without a Top-10. It's been so bad, only Hornish has attempted every race this season without being replaced.

With that type of track record, you can imagine job security might be a problem for this group -- and it's getting worse. Villeneuve's team was shut down after only one race, and sponsorship concerns have left the careers of Carpentier, McDowell, Smith and Franchitti in doubt. Once Reed Sorenson announced Tuesday he's signed with Carpentier's No. 10 car for 2009, that left Hornish as the only full-time freshman guaranteed a ride next season. And with Hornish's return to the IRL as simple as a phone call away, it's not a stretch to predict that none of these guys will show up with a full-time ride at Daytona in February -- which hasn't happened to a second-year class since 1992-93.

Drivers critical of New Jersey Motorsports Park track  The first major event at New Jersey Motorsports Park got off to an inauspicious start Thursday when a top driver was involved in a violent wreck during testing, leading to questions about the track's safety.

Scott Pruett, who along with co-driver Memo Rojas hopes to clinch the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series title at Sunday's Supercar Life 250, lost control of their No. 01 Lexus and hit the end of the pit-road dividing wall shortly after testing began Thursday afternoon on Thunderbolt Raceway.

Pruett, 48, was taken to an area hospital for precautionary reasons but did not suffer any major injuries.

The track was shut down for racing for the day.

"We wanted to really just check out the track, and make sure that whatever damage was done during the incident was cleaned up," NJMP co-owner Joe Savaro said. The accident occurred as Pruett was approaching the longest straightaway on the three-week-old, 2-mile track. He was going approximately 145 mph, according to Ken Brooks, an assistant engineer for Pruett's Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team. More ...

Doornbos proud to drive for AC Milan team  Scuderia Playteam Sarafree’s two V12, 750- horsepower cars will feature the colours of international football club Galatasaray SK on one car, and the popular magic red and black colours of AC Milan on the other. Both cars will make their race debut at the start of the season this weekend on August 30-31, 2008 at Donington (UK) after an ultimate test session on the British track scheduled prior to the event.

25-year-old Dutch driver Robert Doornbos will race in the prestigious red and black colours of AC Milan and the Dutchman can’t wait for the racing to begin…..….

“I am very pleased that the race time is now here. It has been almost one year now since I last drove a car in a proper race. Even if we did a lot of kilometers testing, an official test session never duplicates the feeling of a real race. I just can’t wait to drive for the AC Milan team at the first race. For me it is a really exciting moment and I can’t wait for the start,” he said. More ...

Toyota lowers its worldwide sales goal  Toyota lowered its global sales target for 2009 by 700,000 vehicles to 9.7 million Thursday, showing that even one of the world's most durable automakers is being hurt by rising material costs, a slowing U.S. market and soaring gas prices.

"We have been going at top speed up to now," President Katsuaki Watanabe told reporters at a Tokyo hotel after announcing the numbers. "It is time to set more cautious targets."

Toyota Motor Corp had previously set a 2009 global sales goal of 10.4 million vehicles.

The lower target would still be a 2 percent increase from the company's 2008 sales goal of 9.5 million, but even that figure was cut last month from an initial 9.85 million units.

Toyota has been on such a potent growth track in recent years it is getting closer to ending General Motors Corp.'s 77-year run as the world's top automaker by sales.

A1GP Heads to the Streets of Indonesia  At an event in Indonesia today plans were announced for the street circuit which will be the venue for A1GP World Cup of Motorsport’s return to the country for Season Four. Lippo Village, near Jakarta will host the series only street race of the season, A1GP Indonesia, on 6 – 8 February 2009.

This will be the first time Indonesia has seen a street race of this scale. It will be held in the downtown area of Lippo Village, which was formerly known as Lippo Karawaci.  “This is a very exciting occasion not just for Lippo Village, but also Indonesia as a whole,” said Mr. Gordon Benton, Senior Executive from PT. Lippo Karawaci Tbk. “Lippo wanted to bring a top international event to Indonesia like A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, and we are working very closely with the Ikatan Motor Indonesia (IMI), the Ministry of Youth & Sport and rights holder Carbon Worldwide to make this event the pinnacle stop on the A1GP calendar for years to come.”

“A1GP is glad to be back in Indonesia once again. Season Four will mark our third visit to the country which always draws a strong and passionate fan base in support of A1Team Indonesia. This race will be of great interest to the world’s motorsport fraternity, as Indonesia will be part of a select group of nations capable of hosting a street circuit. Lippo Village will now join venues like Surfers Paradise, Monaco, Melbourne, Long Beach and also Singapore,” said David Clare, CEO – Asia Pacific, A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. More ...

Racing toward fuel-efficient technology  Both the American LeMans Series and the Indy Racing League want to encourage the development of fuel-efficient technology through racing and find ways to transfer more of that technology to the general automotive industry.

Chris Aylett, CEO of the Motorsport Industry Association, urged the industry to push even faster with racing rules that foster the development of fuel-efficient technology so the racing industry can become more relevant to the automotive industry and the public. He spoke at a conference at the Belle Isle Yacht Club on Thursday.

The American LeMans Series will race on Saturday as part of the Belle Isle Grand Prix and the Indy Racing League will race on Sunday. More ...

A1 Team Monaco Joins Series  The Principality of Monaco is famous worldwide for its racing heritage, so A1GP World Cup of Motorsport is delighted to announce A1 Team Monaco will be competing in the series in Season Four. Not only will the red and white colours of the Monaco flag adorn the car, but the venture also has the personal blessing of His Serene Highness, Prince Albert II of Monaco.

The team will be headed by joint seat holders, Clivio Piccione and Hubertus Bahlsen. A former F3 and GP2 race winner, Piccione will also be only the second person in the series’ history to take on the dual role of being the race driver as well as seat holder. The 24-year-old Monegasque has enjoyed the patronage of Prince Albert II throughout his career, and also has the support for this venture from the Monaco Government and the President of the “Conseil National”. More ...
Kubica - I don't like the spotlight  
Kubica does not prefer the spotlight
(GMM) Robert Kubica has ruled out returning to live permanently in his native Poland.

The highly rated BMW-Sauber driver's burgeoning success in formula one has utterly transformed the popularity of the sport in the central European country -- and made Kubica, 23, arguably the biggest Polish celebrity.

The straightforward and pokerfaced driver, however, is most certainly not a fan of the attention.

"I am proud of what I have achieved as a driver," he told the Swiss newspaper Blick. "But I certainly do not drive in formula one in order to be popular."

Similar to his friend Fernando Alonso's impact in Spain, Kubica said he is happy that his success has opened the eyes of Poland to the possibilities of motor racing's highest echelon. More ...
Valencia F1 buildings to be razed  (GMM) Perhaps the most charming and interesting feature of the new Valencia street circuit was the building housing the pits and team garages.

At the rear of the F1 teams' allocated areas for the inaugural grand prix last weekend, transporters and motor homes could be accommodated under cover, which made for an unique atmosphere.

But according to the Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell, two of the charismatic market buildings, erected in 1912, will be torn down over the winter, as part of the commercial development of the Spanish port.
Massa ends his Monza test in Ascari gravel  (GMM) After going quickest on Wednesday, Valencia winner Felipe Massa had an ignominious end to his test driving duties on Thursday by beaching his Ferrari in Monza's Ascari chicane gravel bed.

Mechanics quickly covered the Brazilian's machine with a red tarpaulin, and all four wheels with red plastic, as it was returned to the pitlane on the back of a truck.

Massa, 27, reportedly lost control of the F2008 in the late afternoon in excess of 250kph, for reasons not specified by the Italian team.

It was the only red flag of the day, at the end of which BMW-Sauber's Nick Heidfeld headed the field of 12 drivers representing all ten formula one teams.

The group test concludes on Friday.
AS Roma tops final pre-season test  AS Roma driver Enrico Toccacelo topped the timesheets in final testing today as teams underwent preparations for this weekend's opening round of the inaugural Superleague Formula championship.

Toccacelo stopped the clocks at 1 minute, 18.262 seconds in the morning test session to head the times. He backed that up in the afternoon to be P1 again aboard his Fisichella Motor Sports' prepared car.

Spanish ace Borja Garcia (Sevilla FC) was second fastest after setting his time in the morning while AC Milan's Robert Doornbos recorded the third fastest time of the day – the Dutchman laying down his time after lunch.

Ex-Champ Car driver Nelson Philippe (Borussia Dortmund) and Adrian Valles (Liverpool) were the best of the "rookies' having their first Superleague Formula runs today – setting the 5th and 6th fastest times respectively. More ...

ASE drops NASCAR truck team sponsorship  With gas guzzler trucks viewed as a horrible thing for American’s dependence on foreign oil, and with truck sales in the toilet. who wants to be associated with such a negative thing as the NASCAR truck series, which has dwindling fields and horrible race attendance?

The Longest Running Primary Team Sponsor In NASCAR Craftsman Truck History, Team ASE, Will Not Return For 2009 Season 

The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) will not return as a primary team sponsor in the 2009 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series  season, nor will it return as title sponsor of TruckSeries.com Presented by Team ASE, the nation's leading NCTS news and information site.

"As one of the original NCTS sponsors, our Team ASE racing program has served the organization well since 1994, but our board has decided that it's time to redirect those resources," said Tim Zilke, ASE President.

ASE is the primary sponsor of the No. 59 Harris Trucking/Team ASE Toyota Tundra driven by 2005 NCTS Champion Ted Musgrave. With 16 of 25 races on the 2008 schedule completed, Musgrave currently sits 14th in points, with five top-10 finishes.

Scott Pruett in big crash at New Jersey Motorsports Park  
Scott Pruett was involved in a practice crash Thursday at New Jersey Motorsports Park while testing for Sunday's Supercar Life 250. The Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 championship leader was taken to South Jersey HealthCare Regional Medical Center, where he was evaluated and released.

As a result of the incident, the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team will go to a backup No. 01 Lexus Riley for Pruett and Memo Rojas. The backup car, an original-style Riley chassis with bodywork approved by Grand-Am, last competed in the 2008 Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Currently, Pruett and Rojas hold a 42-point lead in the Daytona Prototype standings with only two events remaining in the season. The pair won six races this season - including the team's third consecutive triumph in the Rolex 24 - in addition to a second and third.

Pruett was exiting the final turn on the 2.22-mile Thunderbolt Raceway when a GT car spun in front of him. When he took evasive action, Pruett's car snapped sideways and impacted the end of the barrier separating pit road from the racing circuit. The impact tore the car in half. The cockpit of the car remained intact, with Pruett coming to a stop on pit road. More ...

Final drivers named for Donington  Stars joining the championship will include ex-Champ Car World Series race winner, Nelson Philippe (Borussia Dortmund); Brazilian driver, Tuka Rocha (Flamengo); Spanish GP2 ace, Andy Soucek (Corinthians); UAE-based Austrian, Andreas Zuber (Al Ain); Danish ace, Kasper Andersen (Olympiacos); Italian, Davide Rigon (Beijing Guoan) and young British stars, Craig Dolby (RSC Anderlecht) and Duncan Tappy (Tottenham Hotspur).  More ...
Goodyear completes test at Kansas, more planned  In preparation for the upcoming NASCAR race weekend at Kansas Speedway (Sept. 26-28), The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company held a test at the track on Tuesday and confirmed it's tire recommendation. Taking part in the test were Martin Truex Jr. in the #1 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevy and Brad Coleman in the #96 Hall of Fame Racing Toyota. "We were able to confirm the intended race recommendation as an appropriate tire setup for the upcoming race at Kansas next month," said Rick Campbell, Goodyear's NASCAR project manager. "We were very pleased with the results of the test as both drivers were able to complete long runs on the specified tire combination with positive feedback on grip and performance. The right-side tire has already seen action at both Fontana with the Cup and Nationwide cars and Kansas with the Craftsman Trucks earlier this year, while the left-side is a new code incorporating an updated construction that has a strong track record at the intermediate tracks this year." Additionally, this right-side tire code (D-4150) will be run at California Speedway again this coming weekend. Goodyear will continue it's aggressive testing program throughout the coming months. Already scheduled are confirmation tests at Dover (Sept. 3), Atlanta (Sept. 16), and Homestead (Oct. 14), with two large scale test sessions planned at Indianapolis (Sept. 22-23 and Oct. 6-8). Goodyear PR
Briscoe added to Penske Porsche Lineup  Ryan Briscoe appears set to do double-duty in Detroit this weekend as the Australian is joining Patrick Long in one of Penske Racing’s two Porsche RS Spyders for the Detroit Sports Car Challenge by Bosch, Round 9 of the 2008 American Le Mans Series.

Briscoe, a Porsche works driver last year, is replacing Sascha Maassen in the No. 6 entry. He will use Detroit to prepare for next month’s 1,000-mile/10-hour Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. The race pays 10 additional championship points, which are in critical supply given the tight LMP2 standings for the manufacturers crown. Porsche leads Acura by six points heading into this weekend’s race at Belle Isle.

Last season for Penske in P2, Briscoe scored three class victories - two overall - to go along with five fastest race laps and the overall pole position at Belle Isle. He has won twice this year for Penske in IndyCar, which is the co-feature at Detroit with the American Le Mans Series. ALMS

Belle Isle News and Notes  Today’s IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines

Championship battle heads to Belle Isle
Briscoe will pull double duty in Detroit
Patrick eyes another podium finish

1. Championship battle heads to Belle Isle: Last year, Scott Dixon came into the inaugural IndyCar Series event at Belle Isle with a four-point lead in the championship. He was running third with two laps to go when the car ahead of him spun. Dixon spun and made contact with the wall, finishing eighth and dropping into second place in the standings.

The 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner doesn’t dwell on events such as that or his 12th-place finish Aug. 24 at Infineon Raceway where his points lead this year was cut from 78 to 43.

“No, not at all,” said Dixon, who will be attempting a record-setting seventh victory this season in the Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone on Aug. 31. “You’ve got to take it race by race. There’s no point dwelling on what happened. I think the weekend was just frustrating in the fact that the decisions we made were the wrong ones. I guess after such a successful season so far we probably deserve one that didn’t go our way.

“We’re still very confident. We’ve still got a big lead. Forty-three points in two races is pretty hard to soak up, but I’m sure they’re going to do the best they can to try and take over that. All in all, we’re pretty motivated." More ...

Dyson Racing discusses Belle Isle  Just because Dyson Racing is going head-to-head with Penske Racing in LMP2, don’t think the Dyson gang doesn’t appreciate all the work that Roger Penske and his organization has done at Detroit’s Belle Isle. As the American Le Mans Series prepares for this week’s Detroit Sports Car Challenge presented by Bosch, the Dyson team discusses the high points and enthusiasm for Belle Isle.

Chris Dyson
“I think we have a much better car this year from race to race. Certainly, last year we had a very good car at Detroit. I’d say overall, the difference from 2007 to 2008 is that we have a car now that when we roll it off the truck every weekend, we have a reasonable idea of where we are going to be and that is a great way to start the weekend. So, I think based on last year’s race and where we stand this year, we should be in a good position at Detroit." More ...

Phil Hill 1927 - 2008  
Phil Hill
Phil Hill, a reserved Californian who became a gifted race-car driver and the only American-born driver to win the Formula One international auto-racing championship, died today He was 81.

Hill died at Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula of complications from Parkinson's disease, according to John Lamm, a close friend who is also editor-at-large of Road and Track magazine.

"It's a sad day," said Carroll Shelby, a close friend of Hill's who won Le Mans himself in 1959 and then became a celebrated sports car builder. "Phil was an excellent race car driver with a unique feel for the car, and his real expertise was in long-distance racing." More ...

Heidfeld tops Monza Test - Day 2  Nick Heidfeld posted the quickest time on the second day of testing at the Monza circuit, where all Formula One teams were in action today.

Monza Test: Day 2
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber 1:22.621 89
2. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:22.879 100
3. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.341 92
4. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:23.424 47
5. Massa Ferrari 1:23.445 86
6. Alonso Renault 1:23.606 95
7. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:23.823 92
8. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:23.936 101
9. Trulli Toyota 1:24.158 77
10. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:24.311 44
11. Barrichello Honda 1:24.695 51
12. Button Honda 1:25.058 42
Olympics hurt IRL ratings  Officials for the Indy Racing League are probably happy the Olympics happen only once every four years. This year’s games in Beijing, IRL officials said, have done a number on their TV viewership lately.

The IRL’s Aug. 24 race in Sonoma County, California, earned a 0.41 rating, according to New York-based Nielsen Media Research. The rating for the race at Infineon Raceway, which aired at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN2, means about 450,000 households nationwide tuned in. That’s a significant decrease from the 0.61 rating (650,000 households) the same race earned a year ago. More ...

track news
Smith wants Lowe's incentive payments ramped up  Billionaire Bruton Smith doesn't like waiting up to 40 years to get his $80 million in incentives from Concord and Cabarrus County. That's the message the 81-year-old Lowe's Motor Speedway owner conveyed to local leaders this week. Much of the deal Smith is receiving involves incentives that could take up to 40 years to recoup.

“(Smith) was frustrated over how long it was….He thought it should be less” time, county commissioners Chairman Jay White said Wednesday. He said Smith had called him Monday to voice his concerns, but did not go into specifics. White suggested that Smith make a counterproposal, but did not know when that would happen. More ...

New livery for Aussie A1GP team  

This is the new livery A1 Team Australia will race with this season, as it targets its first race victory in A1GP.
Shown here by a special artist’s impression, the livery will again feature Australia’s national sporting colors of green and gold. The design is an evolution of previous efforts, but features a new green ‘swoosh’ on both sides of the car.

"We're proud to be the Australia flagship in A1GP and look forward to this new season with the new A1GP Powered by Ferrari car and our team partners,” said seat holder Alan Jones. “The car is superbly designed and built, the now it is up to the rest of the team to bring home the results we need for this new era of A1GP and A1 Team Australia." The color scheme will be seen for the first time in the flesh at the official A1GP test at Donington Park next month.
Hamilton to do demo laps at Brands Hatch  After finishing second in last weekend’s European Grand Prix, McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton will be taking part in the team’s Monza testing session this week before racing again on the weekend. While it won’t be an official Formula One event, Lewis will be driving his Formula One contender at a DTM event at Brands Hatch instead….

What was the idea behind driving your Formula 1 car at the DTM event at Brands Hatch on Sunday?
I am really looking forward to the DTM event at Brands Hatch next Sunday. It is always really good fun when we run the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 car away from the race weekend, as the spectators can get closer to the action. I have done a couple of events this year in front of my home crowd, such as Goodwood and the Double 12 Festival, and you get to have some fun and spend some time with the fans. I’ve not driven at Brands Hatch for a few years, but I love the track, so it is great that Mercedes-Benz have organized for this demo. I think the last time a current Formula 1 car ran at the track was in 1986, when Nigel Mansell won the race, so it is pretty cool to be taking it back!

What do you think about the DTM?
DTM is fantastic! I was involved with the DTM when I competed in the F3 Euro Series supporting races back in 2004 and 2005. It is a great series, the racing is always pretty exciting, and the atmosphere is really open and welcoming. The drivers get close to the fans, as they can buy tickets for the paddock pretty easily. There is always something happening on and off the track, it is definitely worth coming down for the day.

Will the Brands Hatch Indy-Circuit be challenging for the DTM drivers?
Definitely, it is a great track and they get to race 82 laps of the shorter Indy circuit. There is so much going on a lap of the track because it is so short with so much packed into it, that the drivers have no time at all to relax. I can always remember thinking the lap at Brands is over so quickly… the drivers will have to be very fit to stay focused in those hot DTM cockpits for 82 laps! More ...

Weather key to title - Whitmarsh  McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh believes unpredictable weather conditions at the remaining rounds of the 2008 season will be the key to who ends up winning the drivers' and constructors' championships, with hotter conditions in particular favoring rivals Ferrari.

"I think Ferrari were pleased the sun came out on Sunday as I'm sure they feel when the track temperature really heats up that's when their car really comes to them," Whitmarsh said.

"We’re now entering extremely interesting territory where we wont be entirely certain what sort of temperatures we'll be encountering at some of the future races: Monza is likely to be hot and Singapore will probably be cooler, but the races at Spa, Fuji, Shanghai and Brazil could just as easily be sweltering as torrential," he added. "Regardless, we will continue to make changes to our car right through until Brazil

track news
Belle Isle GP Organizers pay $5.5 million  The race cars speeding around Belle Isle this weekend will leave more than burned rubber at the park, as organizers rev up millions of dollars in improvements for the city's neglected cultural gem.

Grand Prix organizers have poured more than $5.5 million into the massive city park since last year's race -- $1.5 million more than the city of Detroit budgets to run Belle Isle for the entire year.

"We want our mark to be left the other 51 weeks of the year and we want to help the city in these tough economic times," said Roger Penske. Besides his businesses in autos, trucking and racing, Penske is chairman of the Downtown Detroit Partnership, which organizes and promotes The Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix through a subsidiary.

The money comes even though the Labor Day weekend race lost $1.5 million in its initial run last year and hopes to break even this year, notes Bud Denker, senior vice president of Penske Corp., and the man who oversees operations at the Grand Prix. "That's ingrained in our mission -- a world-class event in a world-class venue," Denker said. More ...

Dennis: I changed my mind  Ron Dennis has admitted that although he was thinking about retirement last season, this year's Championship has resulted in a change of heart.

The McLaren team boss's future has been one of the hot topics of late as the F1 paddock questions whether he'll be retiring at the end of this season. Dennis, though, says he has no plans to do so despite hinting at retirement last year.

"I've already said on the record that at the beginning of 2007 I'd privately decided to step aside at the end of that year, moving to the role of Chairman of the McLaren Group, leaving the role of Chief Executive Officer of the McLaren Group to Martin Whitmarsh, currently Chief Operating Officer of the McLaren Group," he told the official F1 website. More ...

NASCAR Bristol TV Ratings drop on ESPN  It had the shortest laps, the most excitement and was live in East Coast prime-time. It featured the top stars in the sport and came when the scramble for Chase spots was in full-swing. ESPN had all their TV stars on-hand and covered the racing action from start-to-finish. In the end, that wasn't enough.

National TV ratings on ESPN for Saturday night's Sprint Cup Series race from Bristol were down. The numbers show viewership fell from 5.7 million to just under 5 million homes. A 3.5 rating this year as opposed to a 4.1 last season.  Blame the Olympics perhaps.

Kimi would back Massa title charge - boss  (GMM)  Reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen will if required support his teammate Felipe Massa's charge for the 2008 title, Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali insists.

Amid the Finn's current performance trough, many observers believe the time has come for the Italian team to relegate 28-year-old Raikkonen into a support role for a newly appointed 'number one' Massa.

"If he has to, Kimi will help Felipe, as we said at the beginning of the year," Domenicali said in interview with Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"But, first, let's see how things evolve," he added.

Massa, 6 points behind drivers' championship leader Lewis Hamilton, is 7 points ahead of Raikkonen with six races left to run.

With his favorite circuit looming, however, Raikkonen has not given up on defending his crown.

"One third of the season is still left and it's enough to fight back," said the Finn, who will test at Monza on Friday.

After the Monza test, F1 moves on to the Belgian grand prix, staged at the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit, where Raikkonen has won on his last three visits.

"I love that circuit and, obviously, I would love to race there for the whole year long.

"Hopefully we finally get the car working the way I want," he said.

Valencia chief apologizes to unhappy spectators  (GMM)  Valencia race organizers have apologized to spectators whose grandstand offered no view of the Spanish street circuit at last weekend's European grand prix.

We reported at the inaugural event that hundreds of paying spectators on Saturday complained to organizers Valmor Sports that their seats offered an inadequate view of the action.

The president of organizer Valmor Sports, Jorge Martinez Aspar, said he wants to "apologize to those spectators who have had visibility problems" at the race.

He suggested that they will be compensated.

Aspar also confirmed reports that the race, with a maximum capacity of 112,000 seats, did not quite sell out.

He said other "small matters", including installing better curbs, will be addressed before the next grand prix at Valencia in August 2009.

"It is obvious that for next year we want to improve over this year, but we are still very satisfied," Aspar insisted.

Ferrari boss predicts no more engine failures  (GMM)  Ferrari's highest-placed championship contender, Felipe Massa, is confident the Italian team has overcome its engine reliability problems of recent races.

The Brazilian's V8 power plant failed almost within sight of the Budapest checkered flag, and last Sunday at Valencia his teammate Kimi Raikkonen exited the race with a near-identical broken conrod.

But Massa, 27, said that the fresh engine he used at Valencia contained a conrod component, supplied by a third party, that was not from the same bad batch.

Ferrari, meanwhile, elected to take the risk with Raikkonen's engine at Valencia rather than fit another one and take a costly ten-place penalty.

"Now the batch of 'cursed' conrods is no longer being used and we have instigated very close controls on the parts we are using," Massa, who on Wednesday opened the Monza group test with the fastest time, said.

"I hope the problem has gone away for both of us," he added.

Team boss Stefano Domenicali told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport: "The failure will not be repeated."

Kimi's cool not reason for crisis - boss  (GMM)  Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali has fended off claims that world champion Kimi Raikkonen's cool approach to formula one has finally caught up with him.

In the eight races since his last victory at Barcelona, the 28-year-old Finn has added just 28 points to his championship tally -- little more than half the number achieved by chief title contenders Felipe Massa, who drives an identical F2008, and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.

Exploring the possible reasons for his performance struggle at present, the major German newspaper Bild claims that while Massa prepared for Valencia in a simulator, fellow Ferrari driver Raikkonen enjoyed three consecutive nights out with friends at Ibiza.

"Kimi goes flat-out only at night," the newspaper headlined.

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali this week told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport: "I have never forced matters of a personal nature with him.

"I don't think his way of preparing for a grand prix has anything to do with the current situation," the Italian added.

Domenicali also would not be drawn on the latest suggestions that, irrespective of Raikkonen's personal plans for the future, Ferrari may be moved to replace him sooner or later.

"His contract expires only at the end of next year," the team boss insisted.  "So we do not have any hurry to decide.

"Right now we are concentrated on the title."

Indy Lights races from Infineon Raceway to be televised  The broadcast of the Carneros 100 and the Valley of the Moon 100 Firestone Indy Lights races run at Infineon Raceway last weekend will be shown on ESPN2 on Friday, August 29, 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm ET.  Tune in to watch all the action.
Logano to drive in 7 Sprint Cup races  Joey Logano will drive in seven Sprint Cup races this fall as a tuneup before the 18-year-old star begins his full-time ride at Joe Gibbs Racing.  Logano, who will replace two-time Cup champion Tony Stewart in the No. 20 Toyota in 2009, will make his Sprint Cup debut Sept. 6 at Richmond International Raceway in the No. 02 Toyota prepared by Gibbs. JGR will also field a car for Logano at Atlanta in October.

Hall of Fame Racing announced Wednesday that Logano will then drive in the No. 96 Toyota in five more races: at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sept. 14, at Kansas Speedway on Sept. 28, at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Oct. 11, at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 18 and at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 2.

Hall of Fame Racing gets its engines and chassis from Gibbs’ race team.

“We appreciate Hall of Fame Racing helping us get Joey ready for 2009,” said president J.D. Gibbs. “They came to us with the idea before the August Michigan race and we think it’s a great win-win for all of us.”

HOF Racing announces drivers plans  Hall of Fame Racing announces Driver Plans for Upcoming Races: Rookie Joey Logano will drive the #96 DLP HDTV Toyota in five Sprint Cup Series races for Hall of Fame Racing, team officials announced Wednesday. Logano, who is under contract with Joe Gibbs Racing and will drive the #20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in Sprint Cup starting in 2009, will pilot the #96 DLP HDTV Toyota in five Sprint Cup races in 2008, beginning at New Hampshire. Logano will also drive the #96 at Kansas, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Martinsville and Texas. Logano, 18, will make his Sprint Cup debut next weekend at Richmond driving the #02 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Hall of Fame Racing receives chassis, engines and manufacturing support from Joe Gibbs Racing. Veteran Ken Schrader, who started seventh and finished 21st in the DLP HDTV Toyota last weekend at Bristol, will drive the #96 Toyota in this weekend's Pepsi 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif then at Richmond, Dover and Talladega. Brad Coleman, who has been under contract as a test driver for Hall of Fame Racing since November 2007, will continue to test for the team in the coming weeks. "Ken Schrader brings practical experience and stability to our race team that will help in a lot of ways," said Tom Garfinkel, co-owner of Hall of Fame Racing. "Brad did a great job testing for us at Kansas this week, and Ken will be an asset to Brad as we continue to get him more laps in a Sprint Cup car." Hall of Fame Racing PR
Grand-Am race debuts at New Jersey Motorsports Park  America's newest road circuit is set to hold its first professional racing weekend, as the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16 visits New Jersey Motorsports Park for Sunday's Supercar Life 250. The Daytona Prototype and GT classes will tackle the 14-turn, 2.25-mile Thunderbolt Raceway in the event - which will cover 250 miles (112 laps) with a two-hour and 45-minute time limit - at 1:07 p.m. Sunday. The race will be televised live on SPEED (1 p.m. ET Sunday).

With only the season finale remaining following Sunday's race, the Supercar Life 250 will play a major role in determining the respective Rolex Series champions. Defending Daytona Prototype titlists Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty have been able to trim the lead owned by Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas from 63 to 42 points (364-322) over the last two events. In GT, three teams are battling for the lead with only the Sunchaser 1000 on Sept. 20 at Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City, Utah, following the New Jersey race. More ...

IRL Teleconference Transcript: Oriol Servia and Bud Denker  

An interview with Oriol Servia and Bud Denker
(Note: Numbers in parentheses are the approximate time codes on the audio MP3)

THE MODERATOR: Thank you for joining us for today's Indy Racing League teleconference. Our guests today are Oriol Servia and Bud Denker. Good afternoon, gentlemen.

BUD DENKER: Good afternoon. Thank you for having me on today.

ORIOL SERVIA: Yes, good afternoon.

THE MODERATOR: Oriol is in his first season for KV Racing Technology following eight seasons in Champ Car. He's ninth in points and is the highest‑ranked drivers among the drivers new to the IndyCar Series and who is not a member of the Ganassi, Penske or Andretti Green Racing teams. Oriol has three top‑five finishes this year, and in the past, he competed at Belle Isle in 2000 and 2001, finishing third in 2000.

Bud is the chairman of The Raceway at Belle Isle Park where the IndyCar Series will race for the second time this coming weekend.

Bud, the IndyCar Series had a great debut at Belle Isle last year. We saw our championship contenders, Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti engaged in late‑race controversy. We saw Helio Castroneves getting knocked out of the race; he was the polesitter, and of course we saw Danica Patrick finish second.

So who knows what will happen on the track this year, but tell us about what we'll see off the track and the event itself. More ...

Texas Motorplex making safety changes  Texas Motorplex, the site of next month's NHRA Fall Nationals, is in the midst of several new safety initiatives, including extending the run-off area beyond the finish line. The changes come in the wake of the fiery crash in June at Englishtown, N.J., in which drag racer Scott Kalitta was killed.

"Even though we have one of the longest tracks and sand trap areas in the sport, we decided after the Scott Kalitta accident that we should extend our safety area as much as possible just because you never know," said Billy Meyer, owner and president of the Texas track.

"Right now, our sand trap is about the length of a football field, and we are extending it so it will be three times as long," he added. "The walls are going to not only be taller than the height on the track, but the walls also are going to continue to narrow down to be able to funnel a car into a safe zone eliminating the chance that a car hits anything." Meyer, a former drag racer, said Kalitta's accident taught everyone in drag racing a lesson. More ...

New Bluetooth communications system unveiled  Indy Racing League officials are unveiling a new communications system using Bluetooth technology that will beam audio messages straight into the wireless telephone earpieces of fans attending their races.
Fans at the track will get specific messages based on the time of day, and using global radio technology, where they are at the track. For instance, if a race fan passes a concession stand, they could receive a message from Coca-Cola or information about special prices on discounted food items if it’s near the race’s conclusion.

“This application delivers event messaging, promotions and venue specific details at no cost to the consumer,” said IRL spokesman John Griffin.

The league will debut the new system at its race in Detroit Aug. 31. The system will allow the league’s corporate sponsors to deliver their message to race fans multiple times during an event weekend, Griffin said.

The IRL will set up five transmitting units that will allow them to reach fans in all corners of the track’s or course’s viewing boundaries.

“Fans are excessively exposed to print materials and brochures while on-site at an event,” Griffin said. “The [IRL] is taking the next step in being green by utilizing this technology to deliver targeted fan messaging while preserving nature’s resources." IBJ.com

O'Reilly Raceway Park has new top-end safety system  NHRA announced Tuesday that it has modified the top end at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis, where the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals will be contested this weekend. The changes at the top end were made by NHRA after consultation with the racing community and taking into account the layout of O'Reilly Raceway Park to assist in keeping race vehicles at the top end of the racetrack within the confines of the dragstrip. The system includes four-foot-high concrete walls on each side of the sand trap, replacing two-foot-high steel Armco guardrails. 

Atop the concrete walls is an eight-foot-high catch fence on both sides of the track, making the total height from the ground to the top of the fence a distance of 12 feet. The catch fences on the sides and at the end of the track are similar to what is used in speedway ovals in stock-car and open-wheel racing. More ...

Busch and Edwards put on six-race probation  NASCAR announced Wednesday it has placed Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards on probation for the next six Sprint Cup Series races as a result of their on-track brush on the cool-down lap of last Saturday night's Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The sanctioning body said that Joe Gibbs Racing's Busch and Roush Fenway Racing's Edwards both violated NASCAR's rule against hitting another competitor’s car after the conclusion of a race.

Busch and Edwards, who are 1-2 in the series standings with a combined 14 wins in 2008, first made contact late in Saturday night's race when Edwards nudged Busch out of the way to take the lead with 31 laps remaining. Busch, who finished second to Edwards, bumped into Edwards on the cool-down lap to express his displeasure with the Roush Fenway driver's winning move. Edwards immediately retaliated by spinning Busch before doing his traditional backflip and heading to victory lane.

The probation takes effect beginning with this weekend’s Pepsi 400 at Auto Club Speedway in California. SceneDaily.com

Target to return as sponsor to Ganassi  Target has agreed to an extension that should afford Chip Ganassi to run two Cup cars next season and Juan Pablo Montoya is committed to him. If he had lost either, as many had speculated would happen, the end indeed would be near. Ganassi president Steve Lauletta made it clear that Ganassi has no plans to merge.

He said that the organization without a doubt will field two teams next season and that, if sponsorship comes along, it easily could go to three or four teams. He could sign another open-wheel driver [to fill Sorenson's #41 ride], perhaps Dan Wheldon or Scott Dixon off his own IndyCar Series team. He could bring back Franchitti, which Lauletta said is a possibility based on the way Franchitti has performed in the Nationwide Series car. AutoRacingSport.com
Massa tops Monza Test - Day 1  Felipe Massa picked up where he left off after his victory in the European Grand Prix at Valencia as the Ferrari driver set the pace on the first day of testing at Monza.

Monza Test: Day 1


Driver Team Time Laps
1. Massa Ferrari 1:23.428 101
2. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.439 78
3. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:23.461 60
4. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:23.691 99
5. Barrichello Honda 1:23.827 85
6. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:24.005 96
7. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:24.075 77
8. Liuzzi Force India-Ferrari 1:24.239 99
9. Trulli Toyota 1:24.510 92
10. Piquet Renault 1:24.546 117

McLaren doctor treated both Hamilton and Dennis at Valencia  (GMM) Championship leader Lewis Hamilton was apparently not the only high-profile McLaren member who struggled through the European grand prix at Valencia. Hamilton, said after finishing second at the Spanish street circuit that he nearly had to miss the race with 'flu and neck spasms.

But team doctor Aki Hintsa also had to administer painkillers to treat boss Ron Dennis' bad back, the website of the British broadcaster ITV reports on Wednesday.

Hamilton, meanwhile, said before leaving the port city that he is confident his health troubles will be resolved prior to the forthcoming Belgian grand prix, which is to be staged back-to-back with the subsequent race at Monza. More ...

Massa tops Monza Test - Day 1  Felipe Massa picked up where he left off after his victory in the European Grand Prix at Valencia as the Ferrari driver set the pace on the first day of testing at Monza.

Monza Test: Day 1

Pos  Driver        Team                    Time      Laps
1.  Massa        Ferrari            (B)  1:23.428    101
2.  Kovalainen    McLaren-Mercedes    (B)  1:23.439    78
3.  Rosberg      Williams-Toyota    (B)  1:23.461    60
4.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari  (B)  1:23.691    99
5.  Barrichello  Honda              (B)  1:23.827    85
6.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault    (B)  1:24.005    96
7.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber          (B)  1:24.075    77
8.  Liuzzi        Force India-Ferrari (B)  1:24.239    99
9.  Trulli        Toyota              (B)  1:24.510    92
10.  Piquet        Renault            (B)  1:24.546    117

NASCAR throws manufacturers a bone  Regular readers of this column know that I'm not a big fan of the NASCAR marketing machine. I respect the drivers and the talented people working on the teams, but I find that the France family-led obsession with driving the NASCAR brand and "the show" - to the detriment of tradition, common sense and pretty much everything else - to be pathetic and one that's contributing to the myriad problems the racing organization is suffering with now. The visionary leadership of "Big Bill" France and Bill France Jr. has been replaced by the wildly ineffective posturing and arrogance of Brian France, who has embarked on a career path of managing NASCAR's downward spiral, and who is directly responsible for much of NASCAR's burgeoning slide into oblivion.

The arrogance being perpetuated by Brian France's reign is having a direct impact on the relationship Daytona Beach has with the Detroit Three manufacturers, too - the companies that fed the NASCAR money machine in its formative years. The fact that the NASCAR leadership first woke up to the seriousness of the Detroit manufacturers' financial woes in informal meetings at The Brickyard several weeks ago is a testament to just how out of touch and self-absorbed the powers that be in NASCAR really are. More ...

Kris Draper Grand Marshal of Detroit Belle Isle GP  The Motor City loves its sports heroes and the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix has selected one of the city’s most recent champions to serve as Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone.

Detroit Red Wings center Kris Draper, who won his fourth Stanley Cup in June as the Red Wings once again claimed the NHL Championship, will serve as the official Grand Marshal of the IndyCar Series event at The Raceway at Belle Isle Park.

As part of his duties, Draper will give the traditional command of “Drivers, Start Your Engines” to the 26 star racers of the IndyCar Series before the start of the Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone at 3:45 p.m. ET Sunday afternoon. He’ll also ride in the E85 Corvette pace car to lead the driver’s parade during pre-race festivities. One of the most popular Red Wings on and off the ice, Draper will also be on hand after the race to celebrate in Victory Circle. More ...

Q&A with Toyota's Jarno Trulli  An issue with the gearbox oil pump on Jarno Trulli's TF108 eliminated any chance for the Italian to take part in the final practice ahead of qualifying for the European Grand Prix last Saturday. Undeterred, the Italian went into qualifying and put the Toyota seventh on the grid and on race day got the jump on Sebastian Vettel to finish in fifth position. All in all a good weekend for Trulli...

Did you have an enjoyable summer break?
"It was good and it was nice to be able to spend some time with the family. The F1 calendar might not be as packed as NASCAR but it is still pretty busy because our season is more compact and you have the testing program to concentrate on between races. With the August testing ban we took the opportunity to go across to the US. I didn't go to any races but we did actually spend a day with Juan Pablo Montoya and his family in Miami. It was nice to spend some time together away from the race track. Instead of being in the paddock it was great to be on the beach with our wives!"

What were your impressions of Valencia?
"I think they did a good job and it is a great new venue for Formula 1. It is always nice when you have a race in the middle of a city. The atmosphere was nice and this year's race was extra special because it was the first one."

What about the circuit itself?
"It was not what you would call a typical street circuit with slow average speeds. 

The race-winning average was 193km/h and there was more run-off than normal at a street track. I was expecting that there would be some incidents in the race but in fact we got through without any Safety Car appearances, which was unexpected." More ...

Q&A with McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh  McLaren may not have taken victory around the streets of Valencia on Sunday afternoon, but with Lewis Hamilton finishing second and Heikki Kovalainen fourth, the team did make slight inroads into Ferrari in the constructors' championship.

Team CEO Martin Whitmarsh looks back on the European Grand Prix weekend.

After several weeks’ simulation and preparation, did the European Grand Prix weekend play out largely as you had expected?
"It’s fair to say we predicted more drama from a track lined with concrete walls and had factored the appearance of at least one Safety Car period into our pre-race calculations. The reality is that the race had its moments of controversy but never quite delivered the level of incident we’d been anticipated beforehand."

"I don’t know whether that’s down to us misinterpreting the level of risk involved in racing around this track or whether it was just a testament to the good driving standards of modern Formula 1 drivers. Nonetheless, we came away from Valencia having made gains in both championships, which was very encouraging."

How close did Lewis come to not taking part in the race?
"At 8am on Saturday, I received a phone call from the team’s doctor, Aki Hintsa, telling me that Lewis was in some difficulties - he’d woken up with a severe migraine and with his neck in spasm. 

Aki treated Lewis but, when he arrived at the circuit on Saturday morning, he could barely move his neck at all, so things looked very severe."

"As a precaution, we readied Pedro to take over - but, despite delaying his start to Saturday practice, Lewis was able to continue with his full race program. His physical problems are unlikely to disturb his fitness program and we expect him to make a full recovery for both the Monza test and next week’s Belgian GP." More ...

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Audi develops race version of the R8  
Race version of Audi R8
For the first time, Audi Sport will offer a racing sports car specifically developed for customer use in the form of the powerful 500 hp plus GT3 version of the Audi R8 which will be available from autumn 2009. The logistics and factory space required for the AUDI AG customer program will be created over the next few months in Ingolstadt, Neckarsulm and Györ.

"The R8 is the first production Audi bearing the name and genes of a successful racing sportscar and is therefore an excellent base from which to build up our first big customer sport program," explains Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "Ever since the R8 was unveiled we’ve been inundated with enquiries about a race version. With the Audi R8 we will offer customers a racing sportscar equipped with high-caliber technology and the typical Audi qualities, but which is nevertheless easy to handle."

The Audi R8 conforms to the production-based GT3 regulations allowing the car to be fielded in numerous national and international race series.

Because the GT3 regulations prohibit the use of four-wheel drive the Audi R8 comes with the typical GT rear-wheel drive. The power is transmitted via a newly developed six-speed sequential sports gearbox. The suspension uses almost exclusively components from the production line. A comprehensive list of safety equipment guarantees the highest-level of passive safety. A modified front end and a large rear-wing generate the required downforce for the race track.

The Audi R8, which bears the project name "R16" within Audi Sport, was developed under the direction of Audi Sport. Mid August, the first prototype successfully completed a roll-out in the hands of Audi factory driver Frank Biela.

The first test races in various European racing series are scheduled for the 2009 season. Delivery to the customers is planned from the autumn of this coming year.

The customer cars are manufactured together by Audi Sport and the Quattro GmbH, which is also responsible for production of the Audi R8 street version, and Audi Hungaria Motor Kft. (Györ).
Raikkonen - I'm not cruising into trough  (GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen has hit back at claims his current performance trough is caused by waning motivation.

At Valencia, the reigning world champion and Finn was overtaken in the points standings by his teammate Felipe Massa, as rumors gain momentum that retirement looms around the corner.

The latest reports, in the Spanish newspaper Diario AS, claim that former double world champion Fernando Alonso is more than ready to step into the Ferrari cockpit next year.

"If somebody has doubts concerning my motivation, let them doubt," Raikkonen, 28, said on Wednesday.

"One thing I can say is that right now I am more motivated than ever."

He insists his slump, particularly with getting the F2008 to perform over a single lap, has been exaggerated.

"Obviously there has been a lot of talk about my qualifying problems.

"But in Hungary I just went wide on my last lap of Q3.  Without that we would easily have been third."

Amid the open criticism of the Italian media, it is no surprise that Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali strongly backed the team's highest paid driver.

Less predictable has been the backing of his former team, with separate comments of defense coming from McLaren chiefs Martin Whitmarsh, as well as Ron Dennis.

"Kimi is a fierce competitor, a highly talented racing driver and I wouldn't levy any criticism at him at all," Dennis said.

Same tires as last year for Belle Isle  Firestone Racing engineers have elected to bring the same tire specifications to Belle Isle as were used last season. The dry slicks are a step more durable in compound formula than the street-course tires used at St. Petersburg in April, but with the same sidewall construction. The Belle Isle tire spec has not been used in 2008 race competition, but was run at the Sebring, Fla., open tests and will be used again at Surfers Paradise, Australia, in October. The tread-patterned rain tires selected are the softer "street-course rains."

From Al Speyer, Executive Director, Firestone Racing: "It's a special weekend for Firestone in several ways. Once again, Firestone is the presenting sponsor for the IndyCar Series race and the Penske promotional group has done another terrific job getting us sensational brand exposure through signage around the facility. We'll help keep the focus on the championship battle as the remaining contenders, Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves, will both ride on the 'Magic Rings' Firehawk tires to make them easily identifiable to the fans. Finally, when the checkered flag waves Sunday, it will produce Firestone's 150th race victory in IndyCar Series competition. It's a feat that is the result of much hard work and an accomplishment in which we'll take great pride."

De la Rosa still hoping for F1 race return  
Pedro de la Rosa
(GMM)  At the age of 37 and two years since his last grand prix, Pedro de la Rosa has not given up on one day returning to the formula one grid.

The Spaniard, who has not had a full time race seat since 2002, today attends all the grands prix as McLaren's primary test and reserve driver.

He has been needed at the races by McLaren on a few occasions, most notably in 2006 following Juan Pablo Montoya's departure.

At Valencia, de la Rosa was put on standby while Lewis Hamilton struggled with the 'flu and neck pains, but ultimately the Briton took his usual place on the starting grid.

De la Rosa told sport.es that coming to the races simply to watch is a tough job.

"This year we have had two grands prix in Spain, so for me it is terrible," he said.

"I have to just think about the next test, the next time I will get into the car -- that's the only thing that motivates me," he explained.

"Also, Hamilton is doing a good job and I am happy about that because it means I must be doing my job well too.

"But it is only a consolation.  Let me be very clear that my only aim is to be racing again, and as long as there is hope, I will continue to try," he said.

Pedro de la Rosa said any possible options for the 2009 season will become clearer within the next few months.

"Obviously I don't just come to the races to commentate for television or watch how my team is doing.  I know it is very difficult, but I still have small hopes that I can be racing again."

FIA defends Massa's Valencia penalty  
A huge crowd was on hand again last weekend to see Felipe Massa destroy Lewis Hamilton for the 2nd consecutive race, but will his Ferrari engine's reliability prevent him from taking the crown?
(GMM)  The FIA's Alan Donnelly has hit back at claims the stewards at Valencia made the wrong call following a controversial pitlane incident involving race winner Felipe Massa.

The three race stewards appointed for the Spanish event, overseen as usual by permanent supervisor Donnelly, decided to reprimand the Ferrari driver's release into the path of Adrian Sutil, but apply only a monetary penalty.

Former triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart subsequently observed that, "in the eyes of many", the arguably lenient verdict "underlines once again that in such cases Ferrari is treated with kid gloves".

Stewart also told Britain's Daily Mail that F1 stewards are "part-time amateurs" who are not paid properly.

But Donnelly replied: "We watched the incident from every angle.  I'm perfectly happy with the decision.  Remember that Massa did not gain any sporting advantage."

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