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Richmond sellout streak ends
NASCAR had the crowd estimate at 110,000 for Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Richmond -- about 2,000 short of capacity. This ends Richmond's streak of 33 consecutive sellouts. HamptonRoads.com


GoDaddy.com gets in bed with NASCAR
Looks like another IRL sponsor (Danica Patrick personal sponsor) is moving money over to NASCAR.  With TV ratings 6 to 7 times higher than the IRL's, with a little salesmanship NASCAR could pluck every sponsor out of the IndyCar paddock if it wanted to.

GoDaddy.com today announced it will be the official broadcast sponsor for ABC's coverage of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 from New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. Live coverage begins at 1:00pm ET. Go Daddy branding will appear throughout the telecast, including on special segments and the running order. The deal marks Go Daddy's first Sprint Cup sponsorship.


More signs truck series is in trouble
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series faces the possibility of having its smallest field in nearly nine years as only 30 trucks are entered for the New Hampshire 200 this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.  The truck series can run a field of up to 36 trucks.


Target congratulates its champion
Target had plans to congratulate IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon with a series of full-page, four-color ads in several newspapers Sept. 8.

Ads were scheduled to run today in USA Today, Minneapolis Star and Tribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Indianapolis Star, Charlotte Observer, Pittsburgh Post Gazette and Pittsburgh Tribune Review. In addition, the company planned ads on ESPN.com, Yahoo Sports and MSN Sports.


Luyendyk Jr. celebrates first win
Luyendyk Jr. gets a kiss from 'mom' after his first win
Rick Schenk/AR1.com
Shortly after winning the SunRichGourmet.com 100, Arie Luyendyk Jr., received one of the two checkered flags that Indy Racing League starter Bryan Howard waved as he crossed the start-finish line.

The driver's father, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, asked if Howard had signed the keepsake, which the starter gives to each first-time winner. He wanted his son to remember everything about the moment.

"It's been a long-time coming," the elder Luyendyk said. "He’s had a lot of opportunities and chances before where he’s missed out on them. There have been ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ but finally he got the job done, so it’s awesome."

Luyendyk Jr., the only driver to compete in every season of the Firestone Indy Lights history, earned his first career win in the 2008 season finale at Chicagoland Speedway. He passed his teammate and 2008 Firestone Indy Lights champion Raphael Matos on a Lap 67 restart and held off Ana Beatriz for the win.

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Second championship sweeter for Dixon
Scott Dixon celebrates 2nd title
Dennis Ashlock/Firestone
Five years and 80 races later, Scott Dixon secured a second IndyCar Series championship. And like the 16-race 2003 season, he battled Helio Castroneves to the end.

Dixon was a 23-year-old rookie then, who made the move – like Castroneves and fellow title challengers Tony Kanaan and Gil de Ferran – full time from CART. Dixon won three races, including the season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and posted nine top-five finishes. He won the championship by 19 points.

This year, he won a series record-tying six races and led a record-setting 899 laps in a competitive field awash in veterans from the former Champ Car World Series and rookies looking to make a positive impact in the first year of unified North American open-wheel racing. The margin was 17 points.

“(This) championship means a lot more,” said Dixon, who secured the title Sept. 7 at Chicagoland Speedway with a runner-up finish to Castroneves in the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300. “I think this year is much tougher. I've said in the recent weeks that we didn't really know what we had won then. It was a rookie season for me in the (IndyCar Series) and for the team at that point as well.

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Sennheiser extends its sponsorship of Alex Tagliani
Ubisoft and Sennheiser sponsor Tagliani effort
Earlier today, Sennheiser, a world leader in the supply of high-end audio equipment to the aviation, entertainment and telecommunications industries announced an extension to its sponsorship of Montreal-born racing driver Alex Tagliani for 2009. The agreement contains an option to continue for a further two years thereafter.

Carrying the iconic Sennheiser branding on his helmet through the course of this year, Tagliani has facilitated business-to-business relationships between Sennheiser and Wal-Mart, as well as with another of his blue-chip sponsors, Ubisoft. The added benefit that the 34-year-old, tri-lingual driver has delivered through public appearances has combined to ensure that Sennheiser chose to extend their relationship for 2009. Following Alex's recent signing with Conquest Racing for the remaining races of the current IndyCar Series season - after impressing the team with his speed and technical knowledge - Sennheiser will continue to support Alex in his quest to participate in the IndyCar Series in 2009.

Speaking from Sennheiser Canada's Pointe Claire head office, company President, Jean Langlais commented, "We are excited to continue our sponsorship of Alex Tagliani. He's been a delight to work with this year and has delivered benefit in many more areas than we could have originally expected. He's the perfect ambassador for our brand, and we look forward to continued success in 2009."

Commenting on the announcement, Alex Tagliani offered, "It's a real honor to represent Sennheiser. The brand is all about high quality and technological advantage and I've really enjoyed representing them this year.

"I look forward to working in support of their newest products and brand initiatives in 2009 and remain fully-committed to their success."


IndyCar Series explains Timing & Scoring snafu
Upon review of its Timing & Scoring process following the conclusion of Sunday’s race, IndyCar Series officials have confirmed that the transponder on Scott Dixon’s No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car had been improperly installed, resulting in Dixon being shown in the top spot on the Indy Racing League’s T&S system rather than race winner Helio Castroneves.

A review of photos from the Indy Racing League’s state-of-the-art high-speed camera revealed that Castroneves had edged Dixon by .0033 of a second, about 12 inches. The margin of victory was the second-closest in IndyCar Series history.

“The improperly installed transponder clearly affected the data we were receiving from Dixon’s car,” said Jon Koskey, the Indy Racing League’s director of timing and scoring. “With the signal going the wrong direction, it could have bounced off of any number of things and made it difficult for the antenna to pick up an accurate signal. Because there’s always the possibility of electronic equipment failing and the possibility of human error, we have multiple systems in place to insure the accuracy of the data.”

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tv news

Motorsports This Week on ESPN and ABC
The Chase Begins: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Live from New Hampshire on ABC

After a season of racing, NASCAR’s version of the playoffs begins this week with the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. ESPN on ABC will have live coverage of all 10 races that make up the Chase, beginning with Sunday’s event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H. The telecast is presented by GoDaddy.com and begins at 1 p.m. with NASCAR Countdown on ABC and ABC HD.

ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will have live coverage of NASCAR Sprint Cup practice at NHMS on Friday, Sept. 12, at noon, as well as qualifying later that day at 3 p.m. More NASCAR Sprint Cup practice on Saturday, Sept. 13, will be televised live at 9 a.m., and same-day coverage of final practice airs at 6 p.m.

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

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

As part of the buildup to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, a special 30-minute Chase preview show airs Friday at 1:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

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Chicagoland IndyCar TV Rating
The overnight TV rating for the IndyCar Series Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 on ABC Sunday was a disappointing 0.8.  With the merger, the championship on the line, and a close finish in store, the IRL was hoping for a bump up in TV ratings.  That did not happen.  The split, which started in 1996, so damaged the sport of open wheel racing, the merger has not helped much.  In addition, the grandstands Sunday were only 50% full (about 40,000 in attendance), which was down slightly from other years, this on a beautiful day for racing.  The solution?  There is no silver bullet and the IRL can't turn back the clocks to 1996 to reverse the split.


A1GP Returns to Brands Hatch
A1GP World Cup of Motorsport is heading back to Brands Hatch, for the fourth year in succession and will hold the 2008/09 season finale there on 1 – 3 May 2009. The Kent circuit has played host to three superb A1GP events so far, with the inaugural race in September 2005 and the Season Two and Three finales.

A1GP Chief Executive Officer, Pete da Silva, said: “We are pleased to announce A1GP is returning to Brands Hatch for a fourth consecutive season. We have worked hard to put together an interesting calendar of challenging circuits for the new A1GP Powered by Ferrari cars, and Brands Hatch will provide an exciting final venue.”

Following the delay to the start of the season it has not been possible to find an alternative date to accommodate A1GP Mugello, Italy in this year’s calendar, therefore this event will now be taken out of the Season Four schedule.

Team testing begins at Donington Park this week with two days scheduled on the 9 and 11 September. The second team test in the UK has now also been confirmed for Snetterton in Norfolk on 23 – 24 September 2008, and there will also be a one day test at this track on 1 October. The season opener will be A1GP Zandvoort, Netherlands, 4 – 5 October.

track news

Next round of MIS Capital Improvement Projects approved
With an additional $7 million approved for various capital improvement projects for the 2009 season, Michigan International Speedway is once again investing in its property to enhance the fans race experience.

With the additional spending, MIS will have spent approximately $20 million total on improvements for fans since 2006.

Projects scheduled for completion before the 2009 season will include “phase 3” of the improved grandstand seating in Turn 1, continued installation of way-finding signage around the MIS property and a new state-of-the-art sound system. All projects are a direct result of fan feedback and a progressive effort from the speedway to make the race experience better for its fans.

“These projects are a continuation of what we’ve been trying to accomplish over the past three years, and that’s to give our fans the best experience possible when they visit with us each summer,” MIS President Roger Curtis said. “We are proud that we have been able to spend $20 million since 2006 to better enhance that experience. Fans choose to spend their vacation dollars with us every year, so it only makes sense to invest back into the facility to make it better for them.”

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Ralf also denounces Hamilton penalty
(GMM)  Ralf Schumacher, a winner of six grands prix who left formula one at the end of last year, has sided with those who believe FIA officials were wrong to strip Lewis Hamilton of his Belgian grand prix victory.

The German, whose elder brother Michael won five world championships with Ferrari, believes the Spa-Francorchamps episode is yet another piece of evidence that the Italian team is favored by formula one's ruling body.

"Lewis deserved to win but it was taken away," Schumacher, who now races in the German touring car series DTM, wrote in the German newspaper Bild.  "To me, it was fair overtaking," he added.

Ralf, 33, said the 2008 championship fight has entered a "crucial phase".

"In my experience, Ferrari has always had priority in formula one, which we have seen in many situations," he insisted.

In the German-speaking world, Schumacher is certainly not a lone voice, with the former triple world champion Niki Lauda on Monday dramatically denouncing the stewards' decision as the worst "in the history of F1".

Ferrari's team boss Stefano Domenicali commented only reluctantly, telling reporters that he thought Hamilton's tactics in passing Kimi Raikkonen were "a little bit extreme".

The notorious Italian press was more forthright.

Summarizing the race, the sports daily Corriere dello Sport said: "Hamilton wins but then loses, because he cannot resist the temptation to try to be smarter than the others."


Kovalainen not ready to be McLaren no. 2
Heikki Kovalainen
(GMM)  Just as Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen is not keen to slip into the 'number 2' role to support his own teammate, so too countryman Heikki Kovalainen is not ready to take a back seat for the 2008 world championship.

At 33 points adrift his McLaren cohort Lewis Hamilton, the Finn cannot realistically claim to still be targeting the drivers' title.

But as for actively helping Briton Hamilton to win, 26-year-old Kovalainen counted himself out as he spoke with reporters at Spa-Francorchamps.

"I think the best help I could give would be to get ten points for the team at every race," he said.  "That is my goal.  Lewis does not need any assistance.  He has already proved that."

Kovalainen undoubtedly helped Hamilton at Hockenheim, however, when he pulled over to let the sister MP4-23 continue his progress unimpeded.

"Clearly, if we are in that situation, when he has the faster car and I am having problems, then yes (I will help).  But if everything is running normally, and the speed of the two cars is similar, then I will be fighting to the end to hopefully win."

He said he has not given up on winning the 2008 championship.

"I know my chances are not particularly good," Kovalainen acknowledged, "but I do not give up before the fight is over."


Red Bull to test Speed in Cup car
Scott Speed
Red Bull development driver Scott Speed will turn laps in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series open test at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on September 23 – 24.  Speed will drive the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota under the watch of NASCAR officials who will assess his ability to participate in future Cup races.  “I’ve really enjoyed testing and working with Red Bull’s Cup team,” said Speed. “They’re a very professional group and they operate at level that’s much closer to what I’m used to, so it’s nice to be a part of that.  I like driving the Sprint Cup car too because I can feel the car better and its much more sensitive to my input. I haven’t driven it in traffic yet though, so that will probably be a very different experience!” Speed will test alongside teammates Brian Vickers and AJ Allmendinger. Rumors surfaced that Speed had already been privately testing a Sprint Cup car. We can confirm - those rumors were true. Speed tested at both Nashville Superspeedway and Kentucky Motor Speedway. 

During the 2008 season, Speed has been running a full-time ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule under the wing of Eddie Sharp Racing, earning four wins to date.  Speed has also been logging seat time in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with Bill Davis Racing, earning his first Truck win at Dover.   

Scott Speed on Lowe’s Motor Speedway: “I raced at Lowe’s earlier this year in the Truck Series, so I’m in a good position to test the Sprint Cup car since I’m familiar with the track.  The track itself is nice to drive on because the two corners are very different.  Lowe’s is a track that has character too. It’s not a cookie cutter track so I enjoy racing on it a bit more than some of the others.  It will be good to see where we stack up against everyone else, since there are so many good teams that will also be testing.”


Boss says Ferrari decision looming
(GMM)  Felipe Massa on Sunday further strengthened his championship position, but Ferrari is still not ready to formally declare a number one driver for the final five races of 2008.

Mathematically, the recipient of the Italian team's full resources is now a no-brainer, after the controversy of the Belgian grand prix pulled Massa to within 2 points of Lewis Hamilton's championship lead.

Reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen, in contrast, is now nearly 20 points behind Hamilton, as his shunt into the Spa-Francorchamps wall puts him also in arrears of BMW's Robert Kubica in the drivers' chase.

"I don't know.  You are asking the question to the wrong guy," Brazil's Massa told reporters before leaving Belgium.

Certainly as Sunday's race began, Raikkonen was in no mood to fall in line behind his teammate's title bid.

"We almost touched wheel to wheel," a bemused Massa told reporters on Sunday, recalling the "strange" moment at the start of the race when Raikkonen pushed the sister car almost to the grass verge.

Raikkonen admitted he tackled Spa-Francorchamps, his favorite circuit, with a "win or lose" mentality as he struggled to get back into the title fight.

Given the outcome of the race, however, the Finn still seems reluctant to pledge his efforts to the occupant of the other Ferrari.

"It is not up to me if he wins or not," he said afterwards.  "I try to win races and we will see what happens."

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali admits a decision will soon be taken.

"We will take the decision in the team interests," he said in Belgium.  "It is something we need to think about with no rush."


Patrese latest to get Honda joyride
Ex Formula One driver Riccardo Patrese, who raced in 256 Grands Prix from 1977 to 1993, will get a taste of a modern Formula One car on Tuesday 9 September courtesy of the Honda Racing F1 Team. Riccardo will return to the driving seat when he takes the wheel of last year's Honda RA107 race car at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain. 

The Honda Racing F1 Team extended the invitation of a guest drive to Riccardo following the Italian's contribution to the celebrations for Rubens Barrichello's 257th Grand Prix earlier this year. At the 2008 Turkish Grand Prix, Rubens broke Riccardo's long-standing 15 year record to become the most experienced Grand Prix driver of all time. Whilst taking part in a celebratory golf tournament, Riccardo mentioned that he would love to try out a Honda F1 car, and the team were delighted to give him this opportunity. 

During his 17 year Formula One career, Riccardo Patrese achieved six wins, 37 podiums, eight pole positions and 13 fastest laps during his 256 race starts. He now commentates for Italian broadcaster Sky Sports Italia's F1 coverage.

racing news

Quotes of the week 
"I left him [Raikkonen] enough room, yet he picked up more pace going into the corner, and drove me as wide as he possibly could. I was accelerating so that I didn't lose too much ground because I thought that would be unfair. I didn't want to wait until he'd flown past because we were still racing.  Eventually I could see him accelerating and I knew, ok, this is alright, so I began to accelerate, but slowly.  I don't believe I was full throttle, I was waiting for him to accelerate past which he did. That was a great fight and I don't think there was anything wrong there. What more could I do?  I don't know what more I could have done. This is motor racing and if there's a penalty, then there's something wrong.  But you know what they're like, so we will see." Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1 driver, McLaren-Mercedes, commenting after receiving a penalty and losing his victory in the Belgian Grand Prix for cutting a chicane when battling with Kimi Raikkonen

"I think we put on a great show, but you saw there wasn't any overtaking. I was working my ass off in the race [European GP] and doing the best job I could. You couldn't get close to other cars [at Valencia], which is the same at a lot of the circuits we have. The new circuits are potentially just flat and boring." Lewis Hamilton, Formula 1 driver, McLaren-Mercedes 

"It might be his [Kimi Raikkonen] last chance [Belgian GP] to re-ignite his F1 career. Ferrari can't watch the man they brought in to replace Michael Schumacher self-destruct and become a midfield driver." Gary Anderson, former Jordan F1 team technical boss

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Jarno Trulli Looks Back on His Life in Motorsport
Jarno Trulli
Jarno Trulli heads home to Italy for this weekend's race in Monza, but it is 600km south in Pescara where his roots lay, and where his passion for motorsport began.

Jarno was born in Pescara, a city of just over 100,000 people on Italy's eastern coast, in 1974 to a modest family. Now, 34 years later, he is a Grand Prix winner and Panasonic Toyota Racing driver, enjoying one of his best seasons in the sport.

He is famously passionate about the art of motorsport; rightly acclaimed as one of the fastest drivers of his generation. Considering the history of Pescara, it is no wonder the motorsport bug bit young Jarno.

The port city hosted one of the most famous races of the early 20th century on an epic 25.8km street track which became the longest track ever to hold a World Championship Grand Prix when 200,000 fans watched Stirling Moss win the 1957 Pescara Grand Prix.

Now there is almost no sign of this once-daunting circuit, aside from an impressive monument which overlooks the Pescara countryside, but the memories remain.

"The background of this region in motorsport is quite strong," says Jarno. "The old days, back in the 1950s, we had one of the most important racing events, the Coppa Acerbo. Enzo Ferrari, Luigi Villoresi, Juan Manuel Fangio and many others raced in Pescara."

Given that local heritage, it was not long before young Jarno was behind the wheel himself at the Noleggio kart track. His father Enzo takes up the story: "His first kart race was when he was eight, it was for the Gioco della Giovent (Youth Games) project. He started going fast from the very beginning despite the fact he was lacking in preparation and didn't know much about the kart."

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McLaren to focus on Monza
McLaren will be fully focused on winning in Ferrari's backyard and embarrassing them in front of the tifosi when they arrive in Monza later this weekend, rather than the penalty on their driver Lewis Hamilton at Spa according to team CEO Martin Whitmarsh.

"We’ve got less than a week to go before the Italian Grand Prix and we’re going to focus on that," Whitmarsh said, speaking to ITV.  "We had a good test there and we’re going to make sure we can win in Italy.  So that’s the mood; we’re in one of those wars and we’re going to carry on fighting."

On the 25-second penalty itself, he added: "I don’t think it’s for us to comment on what it does for the sport.  I think for us it’s disappointing, but we’ve got to make sure we focus on the next race."


Hamilton defends maneuver
Lewis Hamilton has defended his move at the Belgian GP which saw him demoted from first down to third place after controversially being retrospectively penalized.

"It began to rain," said Hamilton.  "I caught Kimi and I got a good tow from him down the back straight and I was in a good position to dive down the inside at Turn 18.  He covered his spot, which was fair, but he braked very early, so I was able to outbrake him and go around the outside, which I did.

"I left him enough room. I didn't close the gap so much that he had to go on a curb.  Yet he accelerated, or picked up more pace going into the corner, and drove me as wide as he possibly could. I had no road left.

"There was a question I had to ask: if I stay where I am, I'm going to go over the Astroturf - there's some of it behind the last curb - or go over it and hit him. Or I go left.  That was the option I had to do, and I did it.

"But I knew I had to let him past, and also the team came over the radio and said 'you have to let him past' which I did.  I was accelerating so that I didn't lose too much ground because I thought that would be unfair.  Fortunately I got back in his slipstream, and again he moved to the inside and back to the outside.

"Again, I dodged him and went up the inside and at the apex to the corner he hit me at the back, and that nearly caused me to spin.  Fortunately I kept hold of it and went on from there. That was a great fight and I don't think there was anything wrong there.

"The rules say you should let him back past which I did."

"This is motor racing and if there's a penalty, then there's something wrong because I was ahead going into that corner, so I didn't gain an advantage from it.  We were still able to race at the next corner and I gave him his spot back, and I think it was fair and square, so I think it would be absolutely wrong."


Niki Lauda slams Hamilton penalty
(GMM)  Former Ferrari driver and triple world champion Niki Lauda hit out at the stewards' decision on Sunday to strip Lewis Hamilton of his Belgian grand prix victory.

The forceful reaction of the British press was expected, with the Daily Mail correspondent Jonathan McEvoy labeling the 23-year-old McLaren driver the "victim of a conspiracy against McLaren", with the FIA heading a "polluted sport".

But Lauda, the great Austrian driver, spoke on behalf of much of the wider international paddock population.

"This is the worst judgment in the history of F1," he slammed.  "The most perverted judgment I have ever seen.

"It's absolutely unacceptable when three functionaries (the stewards) influence the championship like this," Lauda added.

There may, however, be little recourse for McLaren, despite the British team's notification of its intention to appeal the decision in the International Court of Appeal.

Hamilton's 25-second adjunct was technically a drive-through penalty, which could not be served because the incident occurred so close to the end of the race.

Drive-throughs cannot be appealed.


IndyCar can be king again
Believe it or not, NASCAR wasn’t always king. In fact, as little as 15 years ago, stock-car racing was a niche, southern sport beloved by hicks and their inbred children.

OK, maybe that’s a little harsh. But it’s not too far off. Back then open-wheel racing and the Indianapolis 500 ruled.

But in 1996, a split (created by Tony George) ruined all that, and 12 years later a unification left both sides miles behind NASCAR. But after this transition season ended Sunday, it’s clear IndyCar can return to its former glory.  The competition level improved, and more cars and sponsors can only help.

But unless it’s the Indy 500, or unless Danica Patrick wins, no one cares about the IndyCar Series. The racing surpasses the Car of Tomorrow parades NASCAR has put on lately, but no one’s around to see them. The stands at Chicagoland Speedway were half empty. So, here’s how IndyCar can make a Helio Castroneves-like last-to-first rebound.

The series needs to continue to put on great shows.

Sunday’s race was an example. It was the second closest finish in history — Helio Castroneves, who started Sunday’s race in 28th place, won by 0.0033 seconds or 12-1/8 inches. The closest finish in Nextel Cup was 0.002 seconds in 2003, but IndyCar has five finishes closer than 0.01 seconds at three tracks. NASCAR can’t touch that.

Forget running two-wide. That’s for sissy Nextel Cup boys. The top three cars ran three-wide for about seven laps in the final quarter of the race without incident. 

The new cars don’t come for the series until 2011, IndyCar officials say. If they’re not Car of Tomorrow jalopies, the series has a strong future, if it can survive to that point.

All but five races will appear on the Versus channel next season. Unless it gets a really big timeslot bump from bull riding, the former Outdoor Life Network provides a huge challenge for the IndyCar Series.  More at Quad City Times


Late Pass Gives Edwards NASCAR Nationwide Series Win
Clint Bowyer led 195 of 250 laps in Sunday night’s rain-delayed Emerson Radio 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Richmond International Raceway, but Carl Edwards led the lap that counted.

Edwards passed Bowyer for the lead through Turns 1 and 2 on Lap 223 at the .75-mile track and retained the top spot through three subsequent cautions to win his fourth NASCAR Nationwide race of the season and the 17th of his career.

With Bowyer’s Chevrolet getting loose in the closing laps, Scott Wimmer passed his Richard Childress Racing teammate for the second position on Lap 225 and trailed Edwards across the finish line.

Bowyer held the third position, and Denny Hamlin and David Ragan ran fourth and fifth, respectively.

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F1 accused of fixing race results UPDATE This is not what sport or F1 is meant to be. Winning a race should be a black-and-white business. The driver of the car that crosses the line in first place is the winner and the glory is his. End of story. It is a sacrosanct principle and any violation of it can only be considered - let alone applied - in the most extreme of circumstances and with the supported of the most overwhelming weight of evidence. The results of a grand prix should be determined, like in any other sport, in its sporting arena, not in unseen backrooms by unknown officials. For that is politics, not sport, not F1.

This is the void and guiding principle that the race stewards of the Belgian GP leapt over - by their own impetus, it should be noted, for there was no protest made by Ferrari or any of McLaren's other competitors - when they delivered their notification of 'an investigation into an incident between cars 1 and 22' just at the moment Lewis Hamilton was being physically blocked by a Spa race official from celebrating victory with his McLaren engineers. That moment in the pits - the pits, a jobsworth denying the appreciation of sporting achievement - would gain a poignant resonance as night fell. Winning the already-quickly-forgotten Greatest Grand Prix in Living Memory will be the cause of obituaries rather than celebration.

The blurring of the distinction between politics and sport in F1 had already become a popular lament long before Sunday. F1 is a spectacularly political sport. Yet rarely, if ever, has it made such a leap from one to the other based on so little. For where is the justification in stripping Hamilton of victory? No, do not misread 'where' for 'what' nor confuse the plea for justification as the herald for further debate on whether Hamilton gained an advantage after he cut the chicane. Instead, consider the lack of justification cited by the stewards, who, remaining cloaked in anonymity, are still yet to offer any explanation for their punishment other than cite the terms of the offence and announce its punishment. Not a word of insight has been forthcoming, nor a single piece of telemetry or testimony in support. 

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FIA Statement on Hamilton Penalty
Below is the statement from the stewards explaining their verdict.

From: The stewards of the meeting

To: The team manager, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

The stewards, having received a report from the Race Director and having met with the drivers and team managers involved, have considered the following matter, determine a breach of the regulations has been committed by the competitor and impose the penalty referred to.

No./driver: 22, Lewis Hamilton

Time: 15:21:33

Facts: Cut the chicane and gained an advantage

Offence: Breach of Article 30.3(a) of the 2008 FIA Formula 1 sporting regulations and Appendix L chapter 4 Article 2 (go) of the International Sporting Code.

Penalty: Drive-through penalty (Article 16.3 (a)), since this is being applied at the end of the race, 25 seconds will be added to the driver’s elapsed race time.

FIA Stewards of the Meeting

Received by: Lewis Hamilton, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes


Ferrari boss responds to Hamilton penalty
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali left Spa Francorchamps this evening with more than he expected after the end of the race as three hours later news emerged that Hamilton had been penalized and Ferrari's Felipe Massa inherited the win.

"I have often said that the race is not over until the official results are published and that was the case today," said Domenicali. "As usual, Ferrari will not comment on the Stewards' decision."

"After the race, we were called to the Stewards and we explained our position," We are very disappointed for Kimi, who had driven a great race and deserved the win, especially at this rather difficult time," he added. "This result is obviously very important for our Championship hopes: now we must maintain maximum concentration and prepare as well as possible for the forthcoming races, starting at Monza where we will be racing in front of our home fans. We will also need their support at such a delicate point in the season."

Ferrari meanwhile insisted they had nothing to do with the stewards' investigation and that they did not lodge a complaint.


McLaren Statement to FIA over Hamilton penalty
McLaren have put an appeal into the FIA about the decision to give Lewis Hamilton a 25 second penalty. McLaren said Lewis Hamilton was 6 km/h slower across the start/finish line. Here is the statement.

"We looked at all our data and also made it available to the FIA stewards. It showed that, having lifted, Lewis was 6km/h slower than Kimi as they crossed the start/finish line.  Having passed the lead back to Kimi, Lewis repositioned his car, moving across and behind Kimi to the right-hand line and then outbraked him into the hairpin. Based on this data, we have no option other than to register our intention to appeal."

"We are a racing team and now focus on Monza, with a view to extending our lead in the drivers' world championship."


Hamilton cries 'Spa penalty wrong'
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton on Sunday said stewards are "absolutely wrong" to strip him of his Belgian grand prix victory at Spa-Francorchamps.

Before the 25-second penalty was added to his finishing time for an illegal overtaking move on Kimi Raikkonen, the McLaren driver answered "absolutely not" when asked if he felt he did anything wrong with 2 laps to go.

"I left him enough room, yet he picked up more pace going into the corner, and drove me as wide as he possibly could," said Hamilton, referring to the moment before he cut the Bus Stop chicane.

The championship leader, whose penalty cost him 6 points in the title fight with Ferrari's Felipe Massa, said he had to cut the chicane or hit Raikkonen.

He said he then obeyed a radio command to let the Finn re-pass him.  It is believed the stewards penalized the 23-year-old because he used the momentum of exiting the chicane escape-road to slipstream the Ferrari and overtake him at La Source.

Hamilton explained: "I was accelerating so that I didn't lose too much ground because I thought that would be unfair.

"I didn't want to wait until he'd flown past because we were still racing.  Eventually I could see him accelerating and I knew, ok, this is alright, so I began to accelerate, but slowly.  I don't believe I was full throttle, I was waiting for him to accelerate past which he did.

"That was a great fight and I don't think there was anything wrong there."

He told reporters he would be "absolutely" surprised if stewards issued a penalty.  McLaren subsequently declared their intention to appeal.

"What more could I do?  I don't know what more I could have done.

"This is motor racing and if there's a penalty, then there's something wrong.  But you know what they're like, so we will see," Hamilton said.


Indy Lights race channel update UPDATE The Firestone Indy Lights website says that the Chicagoland race will be rebroadcast tonight on ESPN2 at 10:30 p.m. ET.  We will keep you informed if there are any further changes to the broadcast schedule of today's Indy Lights finale at Chicagoland.  We apologize for any inconvenience these last minute program changes have caused our readers. 

09/07/08 Indy Lights is on ESPN Classic NOW (12:00pm), not ESPN2.


Hamilton demoted, Massa wins Spa UPDATE #3 With the win Massa pulls to within 2 points of Lewis Hamilton for the points lead, 76 to 74 points.  Raikkonen remains third but his performance of late means he's probably out of the hunt.

09/07/08 (GMM)  Felipe Massa has been declared the official winner of the Belgian grand prix at Spa-Francorchamps, after stewards penalized Lewis Hamilton.

25 seconds were retrospectively added to the British championship leader's finishing time, meaning his victory at the checkered flag now becomes third place, behind the Ferrari and also BMW-Sauber's Nick Heidfeld.

The amended result also means 23-year-old Hamilton's lead in the drivers' standings is reduced from a potential 8 to just 2 points with five races to go in 2008.

Stewards deemed Hamilton did not properly allow Kimi Raikkonen to re-pass after overtaking the Ferrari driver by cutting the Bus Stop chicane with 3 laps to go.

Hamilton did let the Finn pass him after the chicane, but he then used the slipstream of the Ferrari to immediately launch a successful overtaking move at the next corner.

Stewards also gave Toyota's Timo Glock a 25 second time penalty for overtaking the Red Bull of Mark Webber under yellow flags, which were waving in the wake of Raikkonen's race-ending crash.

The penalty promoted Webber back into to eighth place.

09/07/08 (GMM)  Lewis Hamilton's victory at the Belgian grand prix has been thrown into doubt, with news not only that stewards are probing an incident, but also that Ferrari has lodged an official protest.

Shortly after the championship leader took the checkered flag at the end of a frenetic finish to the 44-lap race at Spa-Francorchamps, it emerged that FIA officials would investigate his earlier battle with Kimi Raikkonen.

While the stewards are probing the Bus Stop chicane and La Source incident, it is believed Ferrari have also taken exception to a separate element of Hamilton's racing tactics.

09/07/08 After the Belgian Grand Prix came to its dramatic end at the Spa Francorchamps circuit, stewards of the course announced that car 1, the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen and car 22, the car of race winner Lewis Hamilton, are under investigation for an incident in the race.

At this stage it can only be assumed that it was for the incident that saw Hamilton take to the escape road after a failed overtaking maneuver on Raikkonen and then coming back onto the circuit ahead of the Ferrari. However, Hamilton corrected the situation and let Kimi back in front of him before re-taking the position under braking for the next turn.

“To be honest he pushed me wide, I was a little bit ahead and he could have been fair. I had no room,” Lewis explained in the post race press conference. “It was either hit the curb and crash into him or take the escape road.”


Matos clinches Indy Lights title
Matos raises his arm in victory
Rick Schenk/AR1.com
Richard Antinucci crashed out of today's Firestone Indy Lights race at Chicagoland Speedway and at that point last year's Champ Car Atlantic champion Rafael Matos locked up the 2008 Indy Lights crown, his second straight 'development series' title.  Matos led all but the last lap today but with one lap to go his AGR teammate Arie Luyendyk Jr. and Ana Beatriz used the slingshot to pass Matos putting Matos third at the flag, but Matos was happy to have won the title.

Matos said he missed a shift on the final restart which cost him the race win, but was very happy to win the title and complimentary of his team afterward and says he owes the championship to his whole team.

The Firestone Indy Lights website says that the Chicagoland race will be rebroadcast tonight on ESPN2 at 10:30 p.m. ET.  We will keep you informed if there is any change to this schedule. 



Driver Start Pos Diff Gap Status
1 Arie Luyendyk Jr (26) 3 --.---- --.---- Running
2 Ana Beatriz (20) 2 0.0817 0.0817 Running
3 Raphael Matos (27) 1 0.1700 0.0883 Running
4 Bobby Wilson (15) 12 0.2726 0.1026 Running
5 James Davison (11) 6 0.4281 0.1555 Running
6 Jonathan Klein (2) 8 0.4877 0.0596 Running
7 Robbie Pecorari (44) 14 0.8985 0.4108 Running
8 Logan Gomez (23) 10 1.1747 0.2762 Running
9 Mike Potekhen (43) 4 1.8484 0.6737 Running
10 Daniel Herrington (5) 5 2.0408 0.1924 Running
11 Jonny Reid (77) 15 2.1528 0.1120 Running
12 Micky Gilbert (54) 17 3.0125 0.8597 Running
13 Pablo Donoso (3) 16 3.3031 0.2906 Running
14 Cyndie Allemann (18) 23 3.9360 0.6329 Running
15 Brandon Wagner (29) 20 1 lap 1 lap Running
16 Christina Orr (24) 21 28.4885 28.4885 Running
17 Sean Guthrie (4) 22 29.3737 0.8852 Running
18 Brent Sherman (16) 11 2 laps 1 lap Running
19 Tom Wieringa (55) 24 41.6313 41.6313 Running
20 Tom Dyer (6) 18 5 laps 3 laps Running
21 Richard Antinucci (7) 9 42 laps 37 laps Contact
22 JR Hildebrand (25) 19 60 laps 18 laps Contact
23 Dillon Battistini (22) 7 67 laps 7 laps Contact
24 Wade Cunningham (9) 13 0.7621 0.7621 Contact

Race Statistics

      Winner's average speed: 130.622 mph

      Time of race: 46:46.7364

Read more & Comment...

Chandhok ready for test seat - Mallya
Karun Chandhok
(GMM)  Indian GP2 driver Karun Chandhok is ready for a formula one test seat in 2009, but not a grand prix debut, Force India team co-owner Vijay Mallya said at Spa-Francorchamps.

Despite previously saying he wanted a countryman at the wheel of one of his cars by next year, the Indian billionaire explained in Belgium that he does not believe 24-year-old Chandhok should join the grid in 2009.

Before Sunday's Belgian grand prix, he suggested strongly that Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil will be retained beyond the end of this season.

Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi is Force India's current test driver.

"I would love to give Karun a go as a test driver," Mallya said.

"He is a year away from a race seat.  I need to see him consistently winning in GP2, not an odd race here and there," he added.

"At the end of the day, on one hand I cannot be encouraging the team's performance, and then doing something that might compromise the result."

Mallya suggested that retaining Fisichella and Sutil would be straightforward, as both their current contracts contain options for 2009.


Whiting reckons no penalty for Hamilton - Dennis
(GMM) Charlie Whiting, the FIA race director, believes Lewis Hamilton should not be penalised for his battle with Kimi Raikkonen at the thrilling end of the Belgian grand prix, according to McLaren chief Ron Dennis.

Stewards are investigating the clash, and word in the Spa-Francorchamps paddock is that Ferrari may even have lodged an official protest, after the McLaren and Ferrari drivers fought for position from the Bus Stop chicane with three laps to go.

After celebrating his win on the podium, Briton Hamilton pointed the finger at Raikkonen.

"He pushed me wide," the McLaren driver said, questioning whether the Finn had been "fair" in muscling him to cut the chicane, and then tagging him on the apex of the next corner at La Source.

Probably the most contentious part of the incident was the manner in which Hamilton let the Ferrari re-pass him after the chicane, before promptly executing another overtaking move at La Source.

"I understood I had to let him past so I let him past," Hamilton said.

Dennis revealed that the team checked with Whiting after the move whether Hamilton had conformed with the regulations.

"Of course Charlie can only give an opinion because he is not the stewards, but he gave the opinion that we had probably complied. Charlie is of course a very important opinion to have," he added.


Glock demoted
Timo Glock has lost the single point he garnered at the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday after he was docked 25 seconds by race stewards. The German was deemed to have passed Red Bull's Mark Webber under a yellow flag following Kimi Raikkonen's crash. Glock drops outside the points as a result, with the Australian now classified eighth.


FOTA alliance to meet at Monza
(GMM) The new alliance of F1's ten teams, FOTA, is set to meet on Thursday in the Monza paddock, Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport has revealed.

Among the initial ideas to be discussed, the sports newspaper said, is the possible shortening of grands prix from their current 300kms.

"An hour and a half for a race is too long," said Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali. "We must aim to reduce the time, because often in the second half nothing happens."

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo is to chair the Monza meeting, with Honda team boss Ross Brawn in charge of technical matters.

Also on the agenda is the inauguration of the Formula One Teams Association constitution, with all F1 chiefs due to sign up.


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Spa crucial for Kimi - Anderson
  • Anti-doping tests at Spa
  • Prost backs French GP bid
  • Hamilton fit after Valencia problems
  • Hamilton title position 'lucky' - Alonso

Spa crucial for Kimi - Anderson
(GMM)  Sunday's Belgian grand prix is a crucial race for reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen, who is on the cusp of needing to fall in line behind the title bid of his Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa.

That is the opinion of former Jordan technical boss Gary Anderson, who told the Daily Star: "It might be his last chance to re-ignite his F1 career.

"Ferrari can't watch the man they brought in to replace Michael Schumacher self-destruct and become a midfield driver," the Irishman added.

Anti-doping tests at Spa
(GMM)  F1 authorities carried out anti-doping tests, on drivers selected randomly, at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit on Saturday.

Prost backs French GP bid
(GMM)  Quadruple world champion Alain Prost is reportedly throwing his weight behind a Paris suburb's bid to host the French grand prix in future.

Marne la Vallee, located about half an hour from the centre of the French capital, has proposed a 50 million euro project to become Magny-Cours' successor.

The event would be environmentally friendly, with solar power and trees neutralizing emissions, the news agency APA said.

The Austrian media source also said Frenchman Prost, the most successful F1 driver behind Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio, supports the bid.

Hamilton fit after Valencia problems
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton is fully recovered from his health problems of the recent European grand prix at Valencia.

The McLaren driver revealed after finishing second at Valencia two weeks ago that he almost had to sit out the race with flu, fevers and neck spasms.

The 23-year-old, however, subsequently tested at Monza, and was on fine form at Spa-Francorchamps as he captured pole.

"Lewis is absolutely fit and well," Hamilton's father and manager Anthony said in Belgium.

Championship leader Hamilton confirmed: "I am feeling better than ever and more and more comfortable in the car."

Hamilton title position 'lucky' - Alonso
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton is "lucky" to be in his current position at the top of the drivers' championship, his former McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso said at Spa-Francorchamps.

"We'll see how it ends," the Spaniard, who most certainly is not the 23-year-old Briton's biggest admirer, told the Spanish newspaper Diario AS.

"I feel it is the same as last year; fast at all the circuits, very steady, but with luck always on his side," Alonso continued.

The 27-year-old points out that without Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa's recent engine failures, or Raikkonen's exhaust problem on the way to victory in France, Hamilton's position would not be as comfortable.

On his own future, meanwhile, Alonso played down suggestions overnight that if Massa and Raikkonen fail to secure the title, a door at Ferrari may open for him in 2009.

"It would not change much," he insisted.  "If Ferrari want me, they will hire me, and if they do not, they won't.  Who wins the title or not is not going to change anything."


Spa: Maldonado wins chaotic race two
Pastor Maldonado outdragged local hero Jérôme d'Ambrosio on the long top straight on the last lap of this morning's race two at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit to claim victory after a superb race for both men in changeable weather conditions.  Vitaly Petrov held on for the final podium position.

D'Ambrosio looked to have done enough to take his home win but Maldonado came out on top after blasting by a string of drivers to move up from P6 on the grid to first as the checkered flag dropped. Once again the rain came with the drivers sitting on the grid, but after a few anxious moments the entire field decided to risk taking the start on slicks as the rain let up.

With the driver's championship unchanged at the top Giorgio Pantano leads Senna by 11 points going into the final round at his home circuit of Monza, where he has had much success over the years, while Grosjean and di Grassi are all square seven points behind Senna on 53 points. With four drivers mathematically in contention, and GP2's reputation for throwing up the unexpected, the Monza round of the championship promises to be worth watching!


Pos Driver Team Time
1. Maldonado Piquet Sports 39:35.698
2. D'Ambrosio Dams + 1.256
3. Petrov Barwa Campos Team + 5.439
4. Buemi Trust Team Arden + 6.390
5. Di Grassi Barwa Campos Team + 7.222
6. Kobayashi Dams + 7.890
7. Valsecchi Durango + 8.213
8. Chandhok iSport International + 8.767
9. Villa Racing Engineering + 12.199
10. Grosjean ART Grand Prix + 16.317
11. Tung Trident Racing + 17.065
12. Herck DPR + 18.351
13. Iaconelli BCN Competicion + 20.023
14. Valles BCN Competicion + 20.350
Driver Team Laps
Soucek Super Nova Racing 15
Filippi Trust Team Arden 12
Asmer FMS International 10
Senna iSport International 9
Nunes DPR 7
Parente Super Nova Racing 5
Valerio Durango 5
Conway Trident Racing 4
Rodriguez FMS International 4
Yamamoto ART Grand Prix 2
Zuber Piquet Sports 1

Racing News

Lloyd re-signed by Ganassi
Alex Lloyd told the Indy Star newspaper he has been re-signed by Chip Ganassi's organization.  He didn't do much this year with Ganassi.  He will probably run the Rolex 24 with the team.  The rest of the time, who knows, maybe he's been sweeping floors at the shop all year.


Franchitti, Dixon and Montoya to team
Dario Franchitti told the Indy Star newspaper that he will team with soon to be IndyCar champion Scott Dixon and Juan Pablo Montoya in Ganassi Racing's 24 Hours of Daytona entry in January.

tv news

Marcus Smith and 2008 IndyCar Series Champ guests on Wind Tunnel UPDATE A reminder that Marcus Smith and the newly crowned 2008 IndyCar Series champion will be guests on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain tonight.

09/05/08 Marcus Smith, President and General Manager of Lowe’s Motor Speedway, will join Dave Despain on Wind Tunnel in the studio as a featured guest this Sunday, September 7. When H.A. ‘Humpy’ Wheeler retired after this year’s Coca-Cola 600 in May, Marcus was named as his replacement. 

The 2008 IndyCar Series Champion will also be a featured interview on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain.  Either Scott Dixon or Helio Castroneves will be crowned the 2008 IndyCar Series Champion this Sunday at the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300 season finale at Chicagoland Speedway.

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

tv news

Weekend USA TV Reminders UPDATE The final TV reminders for Sunday are shown below.
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Note: The schedule will vary today because of NASCAR's rescheduled races due to the storm.
1:30am-2:30am ESPN2
Craftsman Truck Replay Camping World 200 Madison, IL 
2:00am-2:30am (R) -Pre-race
2:30am-5:00am (R) -Race SPEED
GP2 Series Belgium 
6:00am-7:30am SPEED
Formula 1 Grand Prix of Belgium 
7:30am-10:00am (L) SPEED
NHRA Lucas Oil Sportsman Series Indianapolis 
10:00am-11:00am ESPN2
Star Mazda Quebec 
11:00am-12:00pm (8/17/08) SPEED
World of Outlaws 
1:00pm-2:00pm  SPEED
Firestone Indy Lights Joliet, IL
12:30pm-1:30pm (L) ESPN2
Note: Schedule at http://www.indycar.com/pro/ says race starts at 12:00pm
NASCAR Sprint Cup Chevy Rock & Roll 400 Richmond
1:00pm (L) ESPN
Rescheduled due to storm
KONI Challenge Series Millville, NJ 
2:00pm-4:00pm (8/31/08) SPEED
IndyCar PEAK Antifreeze Indy 300 Joliet, IL
3:30pm-6:00pm (L) ABC
ARCA RE/MAX Chicagoland ARCA 200 Joliet, IL
4:00pm-6:00pm (9/6/08) SPEED
Superbike World Championship Donington
6:00pm-7:00pm (SD) -Race 1
Race 2 - Tuesday, September 9: 12:00pm-1:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Nationwide Series Emerson Radio 250 Richmond
6:30pm-7:00pm (L) -Pre-race
7:00pm (L) -Race ESPN2
Rescheduled due to storm
SPEED Report 
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
Movie: Driven (2001)
8:00pm-10:00pm ESPN Classic
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Marcus Smith (Lowe's Motor Speedway, Speedway Motorsports, Inc)
2008 IndyCar Champ 
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED
Movie: Driven (2001)
10:00pm-12:00am ESPN Classic
All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV programs, see TVRacer.com


Castroneves qualifying run disallowed UPDATE “It's hard going to a place where there are so many variables and so many other drivers and competitors,” said Castroneves about Chicagoland Speedway, one of the few places on the IndyCar Series’ schedule where he has not claimed victory. “The difference can be one car - even if one car is one mile-an-hour faster when you have the draft, it definitely accomplishes that. What I need to do is what I've been doing since I started racing here, so there is not much of a difference. We've got a goal, and we've got a plan. We need to win, and we're going to try everything we can to do that.”

09/06/08 The Indy Racing league has disallowed the qualifying run of Helio Castroneves for Sunday's IndyCar race at Chicagoland because he ran below the white line several times during his 4-lap run and the drivers were specifically told in the drivers meeting to stay above the white line by Brian Barnhart.  That means all the drivers move up one position and Castroneves moves to 28th on the grid from his original 4th starting position.  This hurts Castroneves' chances of beating Scott Dixon for the title, but if his car is fast he will be able to move up through the field by the end of the race since this is an oval track and passing is easier than, say, a street circuit.  Mark C. reporting from Chicagoland


Pantano excluded, Zuber disqualified
GP2 championship leader Giorgio Pantano was excluded from the Spa-Francorchamps event after the stewards have considered that he caused a collision with Lucas di Grassi on the last lap through “reckless driving and unsportsmanlike behavior” which ended the Campos man’s participation in the race.

In addition, in a separate incident, it was shown that Pantano overtook whilst the safety car was deployed. As a consequence, it has been decided that the Racing Engineering driver was excluded from this event, including classification in Race 1.

Meanwhile, Andreas Zuber was disqualified after Race 1 when unauthorized repairs to his Piquet Sports car were noted. Third place thus goes to his teammate Pastor Maldonado, and Jérôme d’Ambrosio will start from the reversed-grid pole position in today’s sprint race while Zuber will start last.


Chicagoland Saturday Notebook - 2
Qualifying has begun for the IndyCars but the weather has changed.  The wind has picked up and the temperature has dropped.  The cars are already fully trimmed out and easy flat, so the cooler temperatures probably won't change things much.  Will Power told us that they were easy flat on the very first lap out of the pits this morning and they have completely trimmed the car out and they are still easy flat.  Then why is the car slower than the top teams?  Because of all the aero changes the IRL has allowed teams to do and with AGR, Penske and Ganassi having the money to do a lot of wind tunnel testing during the off-season when no track testing is allowed, it means the deepest pockets in IndyCar continue to dominate.  Our question is why does the IRL allow these expensive modifications?  It certainly does not help the show and it only makes it harder for the less financed teams to be competitive.......The next engine manufacturers meeting is scheduled for September 16th and we hear all the OEM manufacturers (i.e. factory teams) who attended the first meeting will attend the 2nd meeting..........We ran into ex-Penske driver Andre Ribeiro again and this time stopped to chat.  He said he is still running Penske's dealerships in Brazil and has no intention of driving again.........Did you know that the backstraight here at Chicagoland is slightly curved?  Indeed because ISC thought they would someday build grandstands all the way around the track and the curved backstraight would give the fans better sight lines.  Does not matter now, attendance is shrinking and will have trouble filling the 75,000 seats they have here now.......Dario Franchitti is here and making the rounds.  He spent 30 minutes answering questions from the media.  He said it took less than 30 minutes for he and Ganassi to agree to his return to IndyCars in 2009.  What else was he to do, collect unemployment?  It was his best opportunity.  Over the Detroit weekend, Chip (Ganassi) said to me, ‘So do you wan t to do this or what?’ and I said, ‘Yeah.’ The deal was done in a half an hour. It wasn’t a long drawn out negotiation. He (Chip Ganassi) broached the subject a couple of months ago. He said that when the #40 (Sprint) Cup car shut down, ‘This guy can drive anywhere he wants in my organization.’ People kind of thought, ‘Yeah, yeah, whatever, Chip.’ But he was serious about it.”......Derrick Walker tells us he has zero intention of buying Penske's ALMS Porsches.  Mark C. reporting from Chicagoland


Matos wins pole for Indy Lights finale
Points leader Raphael Matos gained one point over his championship rival Richard Antinucci by claiming the pole position for tomorrow's Indy Lights finale at Chicagoland.  Antinucci could only manage a 9th on the starting grid but he thinks his car will race better than it qualified.

Results (Based on average of two laps)


Driver Lap 1 Time Lap 1 Speed Lap 2 Time Lap 2 Speed Total Time Avg Speed
1 Raphael Matos (27) 28.7183 190.541 28.8060 189.960 57.5243 190.250
2 Ana Beatriz (20) 28.8880 189.421 28.9201 189.211 57.8081 189.316
3 Arie Luyendyk Jr (26) 28.9541 188.989 28.8910 189.402 57.8451 189.195
4 Mike Potekhen (43) 28.9184 189.222 28.9427 189.063 57.8611 189.143
5 Daniel Herrington (5) 28.9764 188.843 29.0376 188.445 58.0140 188.644
6 James Davison (11) 29.0224 188.544 29.0631 188.280 58.0855 188.412
7 Dillon Battistini (22) 29.0133 188.603 29.0732 188.215 58.0865 188.409
8 Jonathan Klein (2) 29.0434 188.408 29.0671 188.254 58.1105 188.331
9 Richard Antinucci (7) 29.0430 188.410 29.0948 188.075 58.1378 188.242
10 Logan Gomez (23) 29.1121 187.963 29.0737 188.211 58.1858 188.087
11 Brent Sherman (16) 29.1975 187.413 29.2001 187.397 58.3976 187.405
12 Bobby Wilson (15) 29.2517 187.066 29.1861 187.487 58.4378 187.276
13 Wade Cunningham (9) 29.2423 187.126 29.2737 186.925 58.5160 187.026
14 Robbie Pecorari (44) 29.2445 187.112 29.2832 186.865 58.5277 186.988
15 Jonny Reid (77) 29.2482 187.088 29.2889 186.828 58.5371 186.958
16 Pablo Donoso (3) 29.2770 186.904 29.3202 186.629 58.5972 186.767
17 Micky Gilbert (54) 29.3197 186.632 29.3020 186.745 58.6217 186.689
18 Tom Dyer (6) 29.3055 186.723 29.3551 186.407 58.6606 186.565
19 JR Hildebrand (25) 29.3230 186.611 29.3493 186.444 58.6723 186.528
20 Brandon Wagner (29) 29.4666 185.702 29.3603 186.374 58.8269 186.037
21 Christina Orr (24) 29.3910 186.179 29.4393 185.874 58.8303 186.027
22 Sean Guthrie (4) 29.4064 186.082 29.4680 185.693 58.8744 185.887
23 Cyndie Allemann (18) 29.9056 182.976 29.9080 182.961 59.8136 182.968
24 Tom Wieringa (55) 30.2116 181.122 30.1770 181.330 1:00.3886 181.226


Beatriz tops 2nd Indy Lights practice
Pos Driver Name Best Time Best Speed
1 Ana Beatriz (20) 28.5009 191.994
2 Mike Potekhen (43) 28.5282 191.810
3 Raphael Matos (27) 28.5302 191.797
4 Daniel Herrington (5) 28.5464 191.688
5 Brent Sherman (16) 28.5538 191.638
6 J.R. Hildebrand (25) 28.5552 191.629
7 Arie Luyendyk Jr. (26) 28.5663 191.554
8 Robbie Pecorari (44) 28.6067 191.284
9 Jonathan Klein (2) 28.6104 191.259
10 Bobby Wilson (15) 28.6109 191.256
11 Micky Gilbert (54) 28.7042 190.634
12 Richard Antinucci (7) 28.7398 190.398
13 Pablo Donoso (3) 28.7807 190.127
14 Sean Guthrie (4) 28.8145 189.904
15 Cyndie Allemann (18) 28.8486 189.680
16 Tom Dyer (6) 28.8692 189.545
17 Dillon Battistini (22) 28.8999 189.343
18 Wade Cunningham (9) 28.9178 189.226
19 Brandon Wagner (29) 29.0054 188.655
20 James Davison (11) 29.0461 188.390
21 Jonny Reid (77) 29.0580 188.313
22 Christina Orr (24) 29.0933 188.085
23 Logan Gomez (23) 29.1451 187.750
24 Tom Wieringa (55) 29.5243 185.339


Chicagoland: Dixon tops 2nd IndyCar practice
Pos Driver Name Best Time Best Speed
1 Scott Dixon (9) 25.1102 217.919
2 Ryan Briscoe (6) 25.2345 216.846
3 Tony Kanaan (11) 25.3134 216.170
4 Danica Patrick (7) 25.3150 216.156
5 Helio Castroneves (3) 25.3808 215.596
6 Marco Andretti (26) 25.4075 215.369
7 Graham Rahal (06) 25.4076 215.369
8 Vitor Meira (4) 25.4091 215.356
9 Will Power (8) 25.4119 215.332
10 Dan Wheldon (10) 25.4138 215.316
11 Sarah Fisher (67) 25.4435 215.065
12 Darren Manning (14) 25.4766 214.785
13 Tomas Scheckter (12) 25.4786 214.768
14 Marty Roth (25) 25.4934 214.644
15 Hideki Mutoh (27) 25.4967 214.616
16 A.J. Foyt IV (2) 25.5097 214.507
17 Ed Carpenter (20) 25.5130 214.479
18 Franck Perera (41) 25.5197 214.423
19 Oriol Servia (5) 25.5208 214.413
20 Bruno Junqueira (18) 25.5301 214.335
21 Alex Tagliani (36) 25.5562 214.116
22 Justin Wilson (02) 25.5772 213.941
23 Ryan Hunter-Reay (17) 25.5898 213.835
24 Jaime Camara (34) 25.6489 213.342
25 Buddy Rice (15) 25.6581 213.266
26 Mario Moraes (19) 25.7359 212.621
27 Milka Duno (23) 25.7561 212.455
28 E.J. Viso (33) 25.7579 212.440


Williams 'embarrassed' at Spa
(GMM)  Sir Frank Williams on Saturday admitted witnessing his formula one cars qualify so badly at Spa-Francorchamps was nothing short of "embarrassing".

Four tenths slower than the next quickest car, Nico Rosberg qualified fifteenth on the legendary Belgian track, while his teammate Kazuki Nakajima will start Sunday's race next to last.

"This result is more than disappointing.  It is embarrassing," said Williams, the co-owner and team principal of the Grove based squad.

The Toyota-powered FW30 features some updates for this race weekend, but Williams reveals that the factory is now fully focused on next year.

"I hope we will look better then," Williams, whose team has won 9 constructors' titles and 7 drivers' championships, mostly recently in 1997, explained to motorsport-total.com.

The 66-year-old said there may be some more small additions for the car this year, "but essentially we are going to have to make the best of what we have got".

"Our concentration is on 2009," Williams said.


Webber now happier with Renault engine
(GMM)  After venting his frustration at Valencia two weeks ago, Red Bull driver Mark Webber on Saturday backtracked over the performance of his car's Renault engine.

Fifth fastest through the speed traps in qualifying at the high speed Spa-Francorchamps circuit, the 31-year-old steered his Renault-powered RB4 to seventh on the grid, just behind works Renault driver Fernando Alonso.

"It's good to see Alonso and me up there today, it's encouraging for Renault," said the Australian in Belgium.

Webber's comments follow the much less competitive weekend on the Spanish streets of the European grand prix, where he complained of a lack of power from the 2.4 liter Renault.

There is undoubtedly a slight air of suspicion in the F1 paddock at present about the engine freeze, with some figures wondering how the power pecking-order has moved when only limited alterations to the frozen block are allowed.

But McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh said at Spa-Francorchamps: "I believe at the moment, by comparison to the various suspicions and concerns that we've had in the sport in the past, we're in a fairly healthy situation."


Grosjean wins GP2 race
Romain Grosjean drove to a strategic GP2 feature race win at Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday. The Frenchman passed Alvaro Parente with five laps remaining. Grosjean's victory moves him back into third place in the points. More to follow....


New start time for Indy Lights race
The start time for Sunday’s Firestone Indy Lights SunRichGourmet.com 100 at Chicagoland Speedway has been moved up 30 minutes to 11 a.m. (CDT).  Due to the rescheduling of several sporting events affected by Tropical Storm Hanna, the start time was changed to maintain the live television window on ESPN2.

The IndyCar Series PEAK Antifreeze and Motor Oil Indy 300 will maintain its original start time of 2:30 p.m. (CDT).  The race will be telecast live in High Definition by ABC and air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com


Chicagoland Saturday Notebook - 1
Floyd Ganassi with arm in sling
The day dawned bright, sunny and cool as the rains that hit Chicago the past few days finally moved out.........The Indy Lights cars took to the track first and although there were almost no fans in the grandstands, Arie Luyendyk Jr. topped the opening practice.  Championship contenders Raphael Matos and Richard Antinucci were 4th and 10th respectively.  Both come of road racing backgrounds so it's not surprising to see them lead the championship and dominate the drivers who tried to come out
Oriol Servia in CDW colors
of, say USAC, which is oval track racing..........Ran into Floyd Ganassi (Chip's Father) with his arm in a sling.  He told us he fell down in Detroit and broke his right shoulder.  He's hoping the car holds together and Scott Dixon wins the title tomorrow.  Dixon needs to finish 8th or better to clinch, regardless of what Castroneves does........Oriol Servia is carrying CDW sponsorship
Ubisoft and Sennhauser sponsor Tagliani effort
for this one race and Justin Wilson jokingly said to him "That drivers suit is too big for you isn't it?" CDW sponsored Wilson the past couple of years in Champ Car and the livery on Servia's CDW car is identical to what Wilson's Champ Car carried.........We learned that Tagliani brought the two new sponsors to the Conquest team.  They both have been with Tagliani for quite sometime.  They hope it turns into a full-time ride in 2009.  Mark C. reporting from Chicagoland


Chicagoland: Dixon tops opening IndyCar practice
Pos Driver Name Best Time Best Speed
1 Scott Dixon (9) 25.0833 218.153
2 Ryan Briscoe (6) 25.2498 216.715
3 Helio Castroneves (3) 25.2552 216.668
4 Marco Andretti (26) 25.2586 216.639
5 Vitor Meira (4) 25.2597 216.630
6 Dan Wheldon (10) 25.2688 216.552
7 Tony Kanaan (11) 25.2790 216.464
8 Ryan Hunter-Reay (17) 25.3252 216.069
9 Danica Patrick (7) 25.3266 216.057
10 Hideki Mutoh (27) 25.3352 215.984
11 Tomas Scheckter (12) 25.3553 215.813
12 Will Power (8) 25.3853 215.558
13 Justin Wilson (02) 25.3904 215.515
14 Oriol Servia (5) 25.4025 215.412
15 Darren Manning (14) 25.4151 215.305
16 Ed Carpenter (20) 25.4245 215.225
17 A.J. Foyt IV (2) 25.4533 214.982
18 Sarah Fisher (67) 25.4650 214.883
19 Marty Roth (25) 25.4665 214.871
20 Jaime Camara (34) 25.4938 214.640
21 Graham Rahal (06) 25.5058 214.539
22 Bruno Junqueira (18) 25.5060 214.538
23 E.J. Viso (33) 25.5066 214.533
24 Alex Tagliani (36) 25.5180 214.437
25 Franck Perera (41) 25.5467 214.196
26 Buddy Rice (15) 25.5611 214.075
27 Milka Duno (23) 25.5858 213.869
28 Mario Moraes (19) 25.6685 213.180


Luyendyk tops opening Indy Lights practice
Pos Driver Name Best Time Best Speed
1 Arie Luyendyk Jr. (26) 28.1580 194.332
2 Mike Potekhen (43) 28.2507 193.694
3 Jonathan Klein (2) 28.3485 193.026
4 Raphael Matos (27) 28.3528 192.997
5 James Davison (11) 28.3588 192.956
6 J.R. Hildebrand (25) 28.3869 192.765
7 Dillon Battistini (22) 28.3920 192.730
8 Pablo Donoso (3) 28.4128 192.589
9 Ana Beatriz (20) 28.4477 192.353
10 Richard Antinucci (7) 28.4505 192.334
11 Micky Gilbert (54) 28.4593 192.275
12 Brent Sherman (16) 28.4624 192.254
13 Daniel Herrington (5) 28.4913 192.059
14 Wade Cunningham (9) 28.5220 191.852
15 Bobby Wilson (15) 28.5224 191.849
16 Robbie Pecorari (44) 28.5398 191.732
17 Logan Gomez (23) 28.5773 191.481
18 Jonny Reid (77) 28.6312 191.120
19 Tom Dyer (6) 28.6328 191.109
20 Cyndie Allemann (18) 28.7117 190.584
21 Brandon Wagner (29) 28.7298 190.464
22 Sean Guthrie (4) 28.7505 190.327
23 Christina Orr (24) 28.8374 189.754
24 Tom Wieringa (55) 29.0867 188.127


Rosberg disappointed with Williams' Spa form
The Williams Toyota team struggled with performance today at the Spa Francorchamps circuit, especially across the twisty, eleven corner sector two from Les Combes to Fagnes and, as a consequence, failed to make the desired impression on the qualifying standings for tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Nico Rosberg progressed into Q2, but was six-tenths short of making into the final session and starts 15th, while team-mate Kazuki Nakajima could fare no better than 19th.

Nico Rosberg
"I didn’t really expect us to struggle so much in qualifying today. While we knew that Spa was not going to be our best track, being this far back is unexpected and very disappointing. In one respect, my car was okay from a balance perspective, but there was a serious lack of grip which meant I couldn’t go any faster. Obviously looking ahead to the race tomorrow, some rain would give me a small chance to achieve something, otherwise it’s going to be very difficult."

Kazuki Nakajima
"I felt our car was better in practice this morning despite the fact that the dry conditions for qualifying made the circuit better this afternoon, but when we got into the qualifying session, I just couldn’t find any grip and I am still not able to understand why. It’s going to be a long race tomorrow and starting 19th will make things more difficult."

Sam Michael, Director of Engineering
"It was obviously a disappointing session for Nico not to make it through to final qualifying and for Kazuki not to progress into Q2. Nico got the best out of the car and he was competitive in sector one and sector three, but he couldn’t improve in sector two which is where our weakness lies. We did expect that Spa would be one of our difficult tracks. From here we will work on strategy to, as always, keeping pushing and see if we can get into the points tomorrow."


Fiat wants to drive Jaguar with Tata
Fiat is talking to partner Tata Motors for supply of future powertrains to Jaguar-Land Rover once the Ford agreement runs out. Speaking on the sidelines of the SIAM annual general meeting, Fiat global CEO Sergio Marchionne said Fiat is looking to extend its alliance with the Tatas to include architecture, design, platform and powertrain collaboration for Jaguar-Land Rover as well.

“There is a lot of openness in Fiat about its partnership with Tata and JLR is a great opportunity for collaboration on architecture, powertrain, design and platform,” Mr. Marchionne said. “So, yes, we are talking to the Tatas. We are keen to get a move on JLR. Currently, JLR has an arrangement to source engines from Ford, but if we were asked to supply engines to them we would be happy to do so. It is certainly one of the available options.”

The Tata-Fiat alliance, he said, was not product or market-specific. “We have said that we want to be partners with Tata Motors in whatever fashion possible, and that is by no means restricted to a single product or market,” Mr. Marchionne said. ET had reported on Fiat’s interest in collaborating with Tata on JLR in its edition dated August 19.


F1 "dull" says Hamilton
(GMM)  Championship leader and Belgium pole sitter Lewis Hamilton claims formula one "can be a bit dull".

The McLaren driver's comments were made to Eurosport in the wake of the European grand prix at Valencia, 23-year-old Hamilton identifying a lack of overtaking as a key concern.

"I think we put on a great show, but you saw there wasn't any overtaking," said the Briton.

A report in the June edition of F1 Racing magazine showed there were 270 overtaking maneuvers during the 2007 season, equating to nearly 16 passes per race.

"I was working my ass off in the race and doing the best job I could," said Hamilton.  "You couldn't get close to other cars (at Valencia), which is the same at a lot of the circuits we have.

"The new circuits are potentially just flat and boring."

Among the F1 teams, there is now an Overtaking Working Group (OWG), and the first fruits of its efforts will be in 2009, when new bodywork regulations, slick tires and 'boost buttons' powered by KERS systems arrive on the grid.

McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh supports the initiative but thinks F1 cars should not be too easy to overtake.

"I guess there is a point that if it was very easy to overtake during the race you would quickly put the cars in order, with the quickest at the front, and then they would just spread out over the track."

Honda's Ross Brawn, meanwhile, questions suggestions that banning pitstops - thereby taking away the element of fuel strategy - would necessarily make F1 more exciting.

"I think a race could easily be very boring without the pitstops," he said at Spa-Francorchamps, pointing out that some of the enduring talking points of the recent Valencia race involved pitstop mishaps.

"I think it's quite an entertaining part of the sport and we shouldn't be looking back with rose-tinted spectacles, thinking it was all so wonderful a few years ago, because it wasn't."


Mladin and Hayden DQ'ed From Friday Qualifying UPDATE "AMA Pro Racing announced today that the appeal of the disqualification of Mat Mladin on the #6 Suzuki from the Superbike races at Virginia International Raceway on August 16-17, 2008 has been deemed without merit and has been denied. The original penalty remains as previously announced and becomes final with this decision."

The decision by the AMA not to allow the appeal gives Mladin's teammate Ben Spies an insurmountable points lead going into the final round of the series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca next weekend. Going into Laguna, Spies now holds at 101-point lead over Mladin, 620-519. It also gives Spies both of Mladin's wins from VIR, with the Texan now getting credit for 10 wins on the season to Mladin's 8.

Mladin, however, will end up second in the title chase as he is 79 points clear of Jason DiSalvo with just the Laguna round remaining.

American Suzuki Motor Corporation and Yoshimura Racing were shocked and dismayed when, less than 30 minutes after they submitted, on behalf of Mat Mladin, the written evidence demanded by the AMA, the request for an appeal of Mladin's disqualification from the VIR Superbike races was summarily rejected. Both companies believe the decision is arbitrary and unreasonable, and flagrantly ignores the letter and spirit of the AMA rules.

On Saturday, August 30th, AMA Special Projects Manager Bill Syfan informed Don Sakakura of Yoshimura Racing that they must produce supporting documentation and crankshaft production records and information by 5:00 p.m. (EST) today. The written submission, along with an opinion from an independent crankshaft expert, was faxed to the AMA shortly before 5:00 p.m. (ET) this afternoon. In addition, early this morning Yoshimura Racing and American Suzuki Motor Corporation delivered to the AMA offices in Ohio an exemplar crankshaft for inspection and comparison.

Shortly after 5:00 p.m. (ET) today, less than half an hour after the written submission was timely sent to the appropriate AMA officials, Don Sakakura and Mat Mladin were notified by phone by Bill Syfan that an appeal board would not be convened. However, it took a posting on roadracingworld.com for them to learn that the AMA had, within minutes after receiving the written submission, concluded that the appeal was "without merit."

A spokesperson for Yoshimura Racing stated that the decision stunned everyone, and team officials were bewildered as to why the AMA would make such an onerous request for evidence on short notice and then refuse to consider any of it. "It makes us question the integrity behind the enforcement of the rules and suggests that there was never an intention to assemble an appeal board to conduct an objective and impartial hearing. From all appearances, the AMA had clearly made its decision well before 5:00 p.m. The 'deadline' was obviously a ruse to create the impression of fairness."

Mladin has asked the AMA to immediately provide a written statement of the basis for its summary rejection of his appeal.

[Editor's Note: Too funny.  Did Mladin actually think he could speak out vehemently against the France Family owned AMA and not get his wrists slapped and basically told "Son, keep your mouth shut and just race.  We're boss around here and you had best mind your manners."]

08/30/08 For the second race in a row, The France Family of Daytona owned AMA Pro Racing tech inspectors have alleged that the crankshaft in Mat Mladin’s Rockstar Makita Suzuki GSX-R1000 was illegal, only this time they alleged the same of Tommy Hayden’s machine.  Recall that Mladin has spoke out against the series recently on a number of issues, so they are making him pay for this by inspecting his machinery very intensely with the goal of finding him to be illegal every race.

Following Friday’s qualifying session at Road Atlanta, in which the Rockstar Makita Suzuki team of Ben Spies, Mat Mladin, and Tommy Hayden qualified one-two-three, the engines in all three race bikes were inspected. AMA tech inspectors, after a preliminary inspection, didn’t find a problem with the crankshaft on Spies’ machine, but did with the two others. Hayden's and Mladin's were torn down and the crankshafts removed.

Hours later, a press release issued from Daytona Beach, Florida said that all of Mladin’s and Hayden’s Friday qualifying times would be disallowed “for use of non-homologated crankshafts.” Both will be allowed to take part in the Saturday morning qualifying session prior to Saturday’s 17th of 19 Superbike races.

The teams didn’t get both of their machines back until around 7:00 p.m., after which they had to begin to prepare them for Saturday’s races.


Dalziel Set for Grand Am Return at Miller
Scotland's Ryan Dalziel will make a welcome return to the 2008 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Presented by Crown Royal Cask No.16 driving for Michael Shank Racing in the season-ending 'SunRichGourmet.com 1000' at Miller Motorsports Park just outside Salt Lake City, Utah, Friday 19th -- Sunday 21st September.

The 26-year-old scored his maiden Daytona Prototype victory earlier in the season in Round 5 at California's Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, his second podium of the year, but has been absent from the series since July's eighth round at Daytona International Speedway due to circumstances beyond his control.

"I'm really excited to be returning to Michael Shank Racing," said Dalziel. "Mike gave me my first opportunity to come race in the United States and we've maintained a great relationship since then. We'd discussed working together again on plenty of occasions but the timing was never quite right so I'm pleased we've now been able to change that and go racing again. I'm obviously pretty happy to be heading back to Miller after last year's podium there. It's one of my favorite circuits here in the U.S. so I'm looking for a strong result in a couple of weeks time!"


HVM Racing Announces Expansion to Indy Lights
In line with their intended goal to become a key player in the IndyCar Series, HVM Racing announced today that they will field two entries in the Firestone Indy Lights Series in 2009. The addition of the Indy Lights team will complement HVM Racing’s program in the IndyCar Series and confirm the team as one of the fastest-growing in the Indy Racing League.  The Indy Lights team will be run by Michael Crawford, who will be the General Manager

HVM Racing has a long history of competition and success in North American open-wheel racing primarily in the Champ Car World Series where they captured six wins, 23 podiums and two poles.  In 2008, Keith Wiggins, HVM Racing team owner, followed the unification of open-wheel racing and is determined to put all the pieces in place for a winning organization.

“This has been the plan since we committed to the IRL,” said Wiggins.  “We didn’t want to come into this league and just be another team.  We want to be a premier team, but also understand it takes the necessary steps.  The move into the Firestone Indy Light Series is very important to us.”

“This will allow us to immediately become a stronger team in 2009,” continued Wiggins.  “We are going to add additional engineers, mechanics, and obviously we have begun the process of searching for drivers that are the right fit for the HVM Racing brand now and in the future.”

Michael Crawford has been a major player in the Indy Lights Series since the series’ inception in 2002 when he was the successful General Manager for Sam Schmidt Motorsports before taking ownership of his own team in 2006. For Crawford, this is an opportunity to join HVM and gives him the resources to perform at a racing organization with proven credentials.

“I am thrilled to be joining HVM.  I look forward to delivering race wins and a championship run in 2009,” commented Crawford.  “Keith (Wiggins) has a super organization and HVM’s expansion into the Firestone Indy Lights Series comes at a perfect time for us to work together.  We will begin finalizing our driver lineup and infrastructure immediately after Chicago.”


Ford would welcome government welfare checks
Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford voiced his support Friday for government loans for the auto industry and growing attention on the nation's lack of energy policy.

Bill Ford has been largely out of the limelight since hiring CEO Alan Mulally in September 2006. But he made his remarks outside of Ford Motor Co.'s world headquarters in Dearborn, where the company was hosting a centennial celebration event for the Model T.

Read more & Comment...
track news

Donington submits first phase plans
New Proposed Layout
Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd submitted plans for the first phase of the re-development of Donington Park with North West Leicestershire District Council on Friday 5th September.

The Parkland circuit faces massive re-development in preparation for the British Formula One Grand Prix that will be staged at the circuit in 2010 (click here for further details). An agreement was signed between Donington Park Leisure and the FIA in July to stage the British Grand Prix for ten years, starting in 2010.

Existing Layout
"The submission of these plans heralds the start of a massive re-development project and a new era for Donington Park. It's an incredibly exciting time for everybody involved," explained the circuit's Chief Executive Officer Simon Gillett. "We are delighted with the plans and when the work is completed we will have a facility that will be the pride of World Championship motorsport."

The 2009 program of major events at Donington including the British Motorcycle Grand Prix and the World Superbike Championship will be unaffected by the re-development.

Donington Park will not be issuing any more releases or making any comment about the re-development until the North West Leicestershire District Council announces their decision on planning in early November.


Gore fined and ordered to get a license
Craig Gore
Indy Car team owner Craig Gore, is due to face court this morning charged with driving without a license after police discovered the flamboyant businessman had never held a driver's license.

The 41-year-old was caught speeding in a luxury Mercedes-Benz on the M1 at Helensvale last month.

Checks revealed Mr. Gore -- son of Sanctuary Cove's developer the late Mike Gore and co-founder of the Atkinson Gore group -- appears to have never obtained a license.

With a personal wealth recently estimated at $210 million -- the businessman could easily afford the $71.05 for a five-year license.

When contacted for comment about the charge, Mr. Gore yesterday initially declined to comment, but then denied the allegation he had never held a driver's license.

"Well that's just not true," he said.

When asked if he had or had not been licensed to drive a car he said: "I'll leave it to the court to decide.

"I have no comment to make. This is a complete error ... it's just complete stupidity."

Read more & Comment...

Vettel to get two-day RBR test
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel's forthcoming test with Red Bull Racing will take place over two of the three days at Jerez, it has emerged.

It emerged on Friday that the current Toro Rosso driver, who is to replace David Coulthard at RBR next year, is being given the opportunity to drive the senior team's car essentially in order to get used to the different Renault engine and characteristics.

It is now clear that Vettel, 21, will be in action on three consecutive days at the Spanish session later this month, as he drives two days with his future team and then rounds out his duties by returning to his usual STR cockpit.


Heidfeld quickest in final practice at Spa
The under pressure Nick Heidfeld has to perform to keep his job
Nick Heidfeld went quickest in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps.  A late dash from the BMW Sauber driver saw him edge out McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen with a 1:47.876 ahead of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton in third and fourth.

Friday’s pace-setter Felipe Massa was fifth fastest with his under pressure team-mate Kimi Raikkonen lining up in seventh behind Sebastian Vettel.

Although the session began with a dry racing line, heavy overnight rain had washed away most of the rubber laid down on Friday, and this coupled with low track temperatures meant the drivers were battling with low grip levels.

Light rain midway through the session made the track conditions worse, but the showers soon swept away from the track as the drivers made their runs in qualifying trim.



Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:47.876 + 0.000 19
2. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:48.165 + 0.289 10
3. Alonso Renault 1:48.307 + 0.431 19
4. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:48.356 + 0.480 10
5. Massa Ferrari 1:48.692 + 0.816 6
6. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:48.768 + 0.892 16
7. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:48.815 + 0.939 10
8. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:48.836 + 0.960 13
9. Piquet Renault 1:48.946 + 1.070 17
10. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:49.054 + 1.178 14
11. Trulli Toyota 1:49.057 + 1.181 16
12. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:49.125 + 1.249 11
13. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:49.250 + 1.374 12
14. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:49.256 + 1.380 19
15. Glock Toyota 1:49.535 + 1.659 18
16. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:49.830 + 1.954 12
17. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:49.949 + 2.073 16
18. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:50.034 + 2.158 16
19. Barrichello Honda 1:50.061 + 2.185 17
20. Button Honda No time


Bernie hopes Donington honors GP contract UPDATE (GMM)  A spokesman for the Donington Park circuit has rubbished reports the departure of joint CEO Lee Gill indicates plans for the 2010 British grand prix are in danger of becoming derailed.

"Absolutely not," he said.  "Everything is still fully on-stream."

Donington Park
Subsequent to the Gill news, however, London newspaper The Times suggested that finance director Peter Edwards may have departed, while PR company Sidhu and Simon also left the project.

Simon Gillett, the remaining chief executive, reportedly dismissed fears Gill walked out over a disagreement about the F1 project and accusations - again in The Times - that plans are being devised "on the back of a fag packet".

But also on Friday, the plans to upgrade Donington for formula one, including slight modifications to the layout itself, were lodged with the North West Leicestershire District Council.

The timeline for the development to be completed before 2010 is short, as official approval from the council is expected only in November.

The spokesman continued: "Everything is in motion -- there is no threat at all to the 2010 grand prix being staged at Donington."

Donington from the air
(GMM) Another dark cloud has moved above the future of the British grand prix.

While some hailed July's announcement of the 2010 switch from Silverstone to Donington Park as the rescue of the embattled event, others questioned the likelihood that the latter venue can get up to scratch in time.

Questions of time and money aside, it then emerged on Friday that a slight exodus of leading figures has occurred at Donington in recent days -- most prominently the former joint CEO Lee Gill, but possibly also others.

Bernie Ecclestone said days ago: "If there is no Donington, there is no British GP."

The F1 chief executive was questioned about the latest adverse reports about Donington's grand prix plans in the Spa-Francorchamps paddock on Friday.

"We've a contract with them, which I hope they honor," the 77-year-old said.


Massa a true contender - Damon Hill
The Brits are worried Massa might beat their beloved Hamilton to the title
(GMM)  Felipe Massa is definitely a contender for the 2008 world championship, 1996 title winner Damon Hill believes.

However, the retired 47-year-old Briton, whose most memorable battles were against Massa's former Ferrari teammate Michael Schumacher, admits he often wonders precisely how the 27-year-old Brazilian is a formula one frontrunner.

"What I don't quite understand is how Massa gets the lap times he does when he so often misses the apexes of the corners," Hill told The Guardian.

Messy or not, Hill thinks Lewis Hamilton's 6 point advantage in the drivers' standings is not safe, given Massa's current form.

"What really does impress me is the fact that he displays a determination not to be counted out, or overlooked, when it comes to fighting for the world championship.  No question about it, he is a contender," he added.

There is no doubt Massa is a far cry better than his early days in F1, when he was derided by Jacques Villeneuve for not being able to drive "in a straight line", before losing his Sauber seat.

Hill said: "What you've got to remember is that people evolve and Felipe has demonstrated quite a strong determination to make the most of his opportunity as well as showing a willingness to take advice, particularly from Michael Schumacher, which has to be a positive thing."

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