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A.C.O. announces 2009 rules
At Silverstone today the A.C.O. unveiled their long awaited 2009 rules. The main highlights include rebalancing the diesel vs. petrol equivalence, reduce costs, increase safety and postpone the next rule revision to 2011 instead of 2010.

Don Panoz, Patrick Peter and Stéphane Ratel were thanked initially to reinforce the link with the ALMS, LMS and FIA-GT series. Immediately afterwards, the headlines of the new rules were revealed. In the words of A.C.O. President Mr. Jean-Claude Plassart the rules intend to preserve “sportive competitiveness”, “safety improvement through speed reduction” and “cost reductions to ensure the preservation on motorsport” with special accent on environment areas (including noise) and economy of resources consumption. Le Mans also wants to profile itself as the big laboratory of new automotive technologies: hybrids, alternative energies, etc.

The rules were designed by an A.C.O. committee of 4 top executives advised by an engineering team. The guiding lines for the rules were the following:

1) A new equivalence in diesel vs. petrol engine performance for the LMP1 class.
2) Ensure equivalence in performance of open and closed prototypes, allow and encourage GT1 engine utilization in prototypes.
3) Maintain the performance differences between LMP1 and LMP2.
4) Make LMP2 and GT2 more accessible for privateers.

1) Reduce performance on all classes looking at a target of a 3.30 quickest lap around Le Mans.

Cost reduction
1) Increase tire change time to reduce tire consumption.
2) Allow only standard production engines in LMP2 (including GT2 engines)
3) Mandatory use of one engine for 2 races (exception made of the Le Mans 24 Hours)
4) Align GT1 and GT2 with FIA-GT rules for 2010

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John Edwards Wins New Jersey Star Mazda Race 1
John Edwards
New Jersey Motorsports Park – American racer John Edwards snapped the 3-race winning streak of Irishman Peter Dempsey with a win from the outside of the front row in Race 1 / Round 9 of the 2008 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at New Jersey Motorsports Park.  This is the third win this season for Edwards, who drives the #7 AIM Autosport Mobil 1 Mazda.  He won from the pole in his first-ever Star Mazda Championship race at Miller Motorsports Park and followed that up with a win in Race 2 / Round 5 at the Mazda Grand Prix of Portland.

Rounding out the top-3 in today's race were pole-sitter Joel Miller, who finished second in the #20 JDC Motorsports / Mazda / K&N Air Filters Mazda and the aforementioned Peter Dempsey, who drove the #21 Andersen Racing / LotusWorks / Quayside.ie / Allied Building Products Mazda to a third-place finish.  Finishing first in the Expert Series for drivers aged 30 to 44 was J.W. Roberts.  This was his second class victory in the #65 Team GDT / GDT Mazda.  The victor in the Master Series for drivers 45 and older was Chuck Hulse, scoring his sixth class win driving the #12 JDC Motorsports / Silicon Salvage Mazda.

"Luck was on my side this time and I caught the traffic right where it was good for me and bad for Joel," said Edwards.  "I had the pace to run with him, but both of us were off in the dirt battling for the lead and I came out in front.  After that, traffic again helped me build a lead and I just focused on managing my race and never looked back."

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Hornaday wins at Loudon
It was business as usual for Ron Hornaday Jr.

The king of restarts in NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series, Hornaday held off Johnny Benson and Travis Kvapil through a series of five late-race cautions Saturday to win the Camping World RV Rental 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

In a four-lap dash to close the race, Hornaday beat Benson to the finish line by .960 seconds, with Kvapil running third and Erik Darnell and Rick Crawford finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.

Hornaday's fifth victory of the season and his second in a row was his 38th in 218 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts. In winning and leading 149 of the 200 laps at the 1.058-mile flat track, Hornaday trimmed Benson's series lead to from 94 to 74 points with seven events left on the 2008 schedule.

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Skerlong Takes Provisional Pole for Mazda Formula X in NJ
Throughout Friday’s test sessions and practice on Saturday morning, Carl Skerlong has been the quickest driver at New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Thunderbolt Raceway. Skerlong continued the trend in qualifying on Saturday afternoon, claiming the provisional pole for Sunday’s Mazda Formula X event, which will be Round 9 of the 11-race Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season.

Driving the No. 14 King Taco machine for Pacific Coast Motorsports, Skerlong logged a best lap at 1:10.801 (110.693 mph) to take the number one position by nearly four tenths of a second over rookie Jonathan Summerton. Skerlong earned a bonus championship point for his efforts and will be looking to claim the second pole position of his Atlantic career on Sunday morning in final qualifying, which will be held a few hours prior to the race.

“It’s been going great so far,” Skerlong said. “(Engineer) Burke (Harrison)’s done an awesome job with the car all weekend, and the same with the guys. The morale has been good all weekend. Hopefully, we’ll be able to take it tomorrow. The weather is going to probably going to play a part in it. There is possibly going to be some rain tonight, and we saw how that affected the track this morning.  Hopefully we can keep it going and finally have that win that we’ve been looking for.”

Summerton was second on the provisional grid with a lap at 1:11.194 (110.082 mph) in the No. 36 Newman Wachs Racing entry. The Rookie of the Year points leader owns two top-three starting spots thus far in 2008 and he will be looking to cut into his current, 28-point deficit to overall championship leader Jonathan Bomarito. He will also be looking for his third victory of the season on Sunday.

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Rossi nips Stoner for Indy pole
Thumbs-up from #46 Fiat Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi as he successfully wins the pole for Sunday's Red Bull Indianapolis GP
Dana Garrett/IMS
The thousands of race fans getting their first taste of MotoGP action in Indianapolis will be treated to a star studded front row on Sunday, with World Championship leader Valentino Rossi lining up alongside reigning titlist Casey Stoner.

Rossi ended Stoner’s attempts at an eighth consecutive pole position with a stunning 1´40.776 lap of the IMS circuit, less than a tenth of a second faster than his title rival. It is the Fiat Yamaha man’s second top spot of the season, and a perfect placing from which to try and extent his own streak –that of three successive race victories.

All eyes will be on the MotoGP World Championship’s top two as they do battle from the front row for the seventh time this year, although there is not much separating the duo from the rest of the field at the newest circuit on the calendar. Rossi’s teammate Jorge Lorenzo qualified on the first line with his own late lap.

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Pantano claims GP2 title, Di Grassi wins the race UPDATE (GMM)  Former Jordan F1 driver Giorgio Pantano on Saturday wrapped up the GP2 championship, after finishing tenth in the penultimate race of the feeder series' 2008 season at Monza.

With just the sprint race on Sunday remaining, the Italian now enjoys an unassailable lead over Brazilian youngster Bruno Senna.

Delighted with his achievement on home soil, the Racing Engineering driver made no secret of his ambition to return to formula one.  "I really wanted to get this title as it was my last chance to show what I am really capable of, and in this way find a way back into F1."

All previous GP2 champions, including Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and the reigning title winner, Timo Glock, have graduated to F1.

But 29-year-old Pantano seems unlikely to continue the trend, as teams court younger drivers; Senna and Sebastien Buemi having both been linked with Toro Rosso for 2009.

Pantano had his first F1 test with Benetton in 2000, before a string of other tests led to his debut with the struggling Jordan team.

2004 was, however, a difficult season for the Italian, and he was replaced by Glock before the end of the year.

09/13/08 Giorgio Pantano has won the GP2 series championship without scoring any points at Monza on Saturday. The Italian finished tenth while his closest rival Bruno Senna finished in fifth. Lucas di Grassi won the race ahead of Pastor Maldonado.

It was a bittersweet moment for the Italian, who looked to have the win easily in his grasp only to slide across the white line as he emerged from the pitlane and pick up the inevitable penalty, but a joyous one for di Grassi who took the win he was looking for to keep his challenge for second place in the championship alive. Nevertheless it was hard to see the difference between the pair in the pitlane, as the Brazilian sprayed the champagne and Pantano was carried down the pitlane by his team.

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Elias tops Saturday morning session on drying Indy track
After the near-washout of Friday at The Brickyard, the MotoGP riders were given a near-full dry session to round off their Free Practice activity. The damp Indianapolis circuit was rapidly cleared in most places by some pleasant temperatures, leading to times some ten seconds faster than those recorded yesterday.

The quickest rider of what could perhaps be the only dry run of the weekend was Alice Team’s Toni Elias, recording a 1´43.708 time as `leadership´ of the session changed thick and fast.

World Championship leader Valentino Rossi had been confident of his potential in the dry, something confirmed with his becoming the second fastest rider of the weekend so far. The Fiat Yamaha man was just 0.072 slower than Elias´ marker, with local hero Nicky Hayden and his Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa all under two-tenths of a second from the top spot. Pedrosa had been the last classified rider on Friday in the wet, getting to grips with a completely new track and package.

Andrea Dovizioso was the fastest of the Honda satellite lineup on Saturday morning behind the bars of his JiR Team Scot RC212V, with San Carlo Honda Grissini’s Alex de Angelis just behind. Ben Spies, Sylvain Guintoli, Chris Vermeulen and Randy de Puniet rounded off the fastest ten in the session.

2007 World Champion Casey Stoner was surprisingly off the pace in the dry, in seventeenth place and some 2´186 off Elias´ time, although tire choice may have had much to do with the separation between the factory and satellite Ducati competitors. His fellow Australian Anthony West went from being the fastest rider on Friday to the slowest on Saturday.


Dennis suggests some cars running too much downforce
(GMM)  McLaren boss Ron Dennis on Saturday was happy to see the team now run by his former driver, Gerhard Berger, achieve its first formula one pole position.

But the Briton did want to take some of the sheen off Toro Rosso standout Sebastian Vettel's top spot at Monza, by hinting his single seater may have benefitted from plenty of downforce on the sodden track.

"Many drivers drove today with a lot of downforce," Dennis suggested after the session.  "That will not do them much good tomorrow."

With the weather expected to clear for Sunday's Italian grand prix, having benefitted from high downforce in the rain may come back to bite down Monza's long and dry straights.

But Berger, who famously was Ayrton Senna's teammate at McLaren in the 90s, rejected Dennis' claim that Vettel is weighed down with downforce.

"He's going to be alright in the dry," the Austrian said.


GP2: Pantano takes Monza pole
Giorgio Pantano's title aspirations were given another boost this afternoon when he claimed the final pole position of the season at Monza ahead of Lucas di Grassi and Sébastien Buemi, with the Italian's championship rival Bruno Senna finishing in a lowly 12th position for tomorrow's penultimate race.

The championship leader's fastest lap of 1:31.220 took the top spot by just 0.019 seconds, but the two points picked up for pole give Pantano a 13 point cushion over Senna with a maximum score of just 18 points remaining in the title race. The Brazilian was only seven tenths off the pace today but, on a day where 17 drivers were within a second of pole and all 25 were within two seconds, it was a bridge too far.

Andreas Zuber, Pastor Maldonado and Lucas di Grassi initially fought over the top spot until Pantano took over just six minutes into the session, constantly improving his times over the period. Luca Filippi was the closest driver to his countryman's time for most of the session until di Grassi and Buemi just edged him out in the closing minutes of the session, pushing him back to fourth.

The iSport mechanics set to work on Senna's rear wing halfway through the session as he was clearly struggling for traction, but despite a small improvement he was unable to break into the top ten, which was rounded out by Vitaly Petrov, Pastor Maldonado, Andreas Zuber, Roldan Rodriguez, Javier Villa and Karun Chandhok. While Senna will be pushing hard to keep the championship alive for the final race, he will also be wary of being overtaken by Lucas di Grassi, who starts from the front row and is just seven points behind his countryman.


Hamilton Truck team joining Toyota ranks
Bobby Hamilton Racing-Virginia, which has run Dodges in the Truck Series since the organization’s inception in 1997, is expected to move to the Toyota camp next season, The Charlotte Observer and ThatsRacin.com have learned.

The team recently announced that Dodge, which provides manufacturer support to BHR and sponsors its No. 18 Dodge this season with driver Dennis Setzer, would not return to either role next season.

A formal announcement is expected in the new few weeks. A BHR spokesperson on Friday said no deals have been finalized.

Earlier this month, BHR shut down its No. 4 team, which was driven by Stacy Compton. Compton, Clay Campbell, Joey Arrington, Mac Bailey and Mark Melling jointly own the organization with former team owner Bobby Hamilton's widow, Lori, serving as chief operating officer.

In another move, Arrington's company, Arrington Engines, will begin producing Toyota engines next season, sources said. The company currently produces hemispherical combustion chamber engines (HEMIs).


McLaren chief to move to NASCAR
Steve Hallam, Head of race Operations at McLaren is leaving at the end of the season to pursue a career in NASCAR. Hallam was race engineer for the great Ayrton Senna. He also helped Mika Hakkinen become WDC.

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO of F1 for McLaren paid high tribute to the legend.

"Since joining us in 1990, Steve has become a senior member of our track operations team, doing a fantastic job"

"He informed us of his decision to leave some time ago but, since he is totally professional, it goes without saying that we are entirely comfortable with his continuing his work with us until the end of the season. "Next year we will all miss him greatly, but we nonetheless wish him all the very best in his new adventure."


Stewart, Earnhardt take swipe at ESPN
When does innovative and interesting become intrusive?

To a couple of NASCAR drivers bold enough to bite a hand that feeds the sport, it's what ESPN did on Sunday.

The network has been a pioneer in racing broadcasting. The synergy between NASCAR and ESPN has helped both grow in popularity. The network has provided "inside" coverage to enlighten its fan base.

After Sunday's race in Richmond, a frustrated Stewart came on his radio and blamed his crew for a poor performance. Stewart, a lame duck at Joe Gibbs Racing and well-known for his mercurial personality, was angrily chastised by crew chief Greg Zipadelli, with whom Stewart has had a long and friendly relationship, reminding Stewart that "we win as a team and we lose as a team."

ESPN picked up audio from the testy exchange between the two and aired it. It's been repeated countless times.

"I think it's just poor taste by the networks and I'm seeing it too often," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Wednesday in a teleconference involving the 12 drivers who have qualified for the Chase for the Championship.

"That's ESPN," Stewart said. "We've had a terrible relationship with ESPN for years. We've been very outspoken with them as a company about how they treat the drivers, treat the teams. They're a production team that wants to do everything they can to stir the pot up.

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FIA issues overtaking clarification
(GMM)  FIA race director Charlie Whiting clarified to formula one drivers and team officials at Monza what is expected in terms of fair overtaking.

A furor was triggered after the Belgian grand prix one week ago, when Lewis Hamilton's victory was retrospectively taken away because he had passed Kimi Raikkonen shortly after cutting a chicane.

In the regular pre-race drivers' briefing at Monza, scene of Sunday's Italian grand prix, Whiting told the gathering that, if a driver negotiates a corner illegally and gains a place, he should wait at least one more corner after giving back the position before launching another overtaking move.

Red Bull driver Mark Webber said after the briefing: "Generally, it is pretty clear (now) for people to probably not attack immediately again, which wasn't mega, mega clear in the past."

It is understood that Whiting made clear his information was simply a clarification, rather than a new interpretation of the existing rule, or a new rule altogether.


Monza: Glock tops final practice as rains continue
Timo Glock set the fastest time in the final practice session at Monza this morning, but heavy rain prevented anyone from getting any meaningful track time.  Glock some fast laps early in the session to produce a best time of 1:35.785 before the rain got too heavy.

Conditions were not as bad as in Friday morning practice, when the session had to be stopped when the heavy rain led to flooding in the garages.

But the weather was bad enough to force a 15-minute return to the pits for all drivers in the middle of the session.

The rain is predicted to continue on and off through the day and into race day on Sunday. Glock's best lap was 0.665secs ahead of fellow German Sebastian Vettel in the Toro Rosso.

Williams driver Nico Rosberg was third, 0.883secs off the pace.



Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Glock Toyota 1:35.464 + 0.000 16
2. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:36.129 +0.665 11
3. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:36.347 +0.883 13
4. Trulli Toyota 1:36.686 +1.222 9
5. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:36.706


6. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:36.972 +1.508 12
7. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:37.015 +1.551 7
8. Massa Ferrari 1:37.263 +1.799 6
9. Alonso Renault 1:37.270 +1.806 10
10. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:37.285 +1.821 9
11. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:37.504 +2.040 11
12. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:37.671 +2.207 7
13. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:37.778 +2.314 8
14. Piquet Renault 1:37.833 +2.369 9
15. Button Honda 1:37.882 +2.418 11
16. Barrichello Honda 1:38.689 +3.225 8
17. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:39.319 +3.855 8
18. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:41.164 +5.700 3
19. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:42.683 +7.219 6
20. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:46.325 +10.861 8


Another incident went unpunished at Spa - Coulthard
(GMM)  A more obvious case of a driver taking an "unfair advantage" went unpunished at the Belgian grand prix a week ago, according to David Coulthard.

The F1 veteran claims in his new online column for the British broadcaster ITV that Force India's Adrian Sutil cut the top of Spa-Francorchamps' Eau Rouge corner on the first lap and then passed him at the next corner.

"I reported it over the radio, and (race director) Charlie Whiting told the team he was looking into it, but because there was no TV footage available, no action was taken -- not for the first time this year," Coulthard, 37, said.

The Scot made it clear, however, that he does not believe suggestions that the Lewis Hamilton controversy proves an anti-McLaren conspiracy.

He said: "At the end of the day the race stewards have a difficult job to do and sometimes they will make controversial or unpopular calls."


Mosley slams biased British press amid penalty furor
(GMM)  Max Mosley at Monza lashed out at what he perceives to be bad reporting by the British media.

Following the sex scandal, his attitude towards what he describes as "gutter press" is well known.

But he also turned his attention to British F1 journalists, who have openly questioned Lewis Hamilton's Spa-Francorchamps penalty, including the fact that stewards' advisor Alan Donnelly has in the past done private work for Ferrari.

"I am sorry to have to say this but I think the British press have gone into complete hysteria over this matter," Mosley, the controversial president of F1's governing body FIA, said on a rare visit to a grand prix paddock on Friday.

He said British newspapers seem "utterly incapable" of presenting a balanced view on the issue.

"The proof of that is the fact that five drivers sat in the press conference yesterday and expressed a view of what happened in Belgium.  That view does not accord with the view of the British press.

"I have just been through the cuttings and did not find one single mention of that press conference," Mosley added.


Skerlong Leads Test Day at New Jersey Motorsports Park
The drivers and teams Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda got their first look at the new Thunderbolt Raceway at New Jersey Motorsports Park on Friday for a test session in advance of this Sunday’s Mazda Formula X race.

Carl Skerlong posted the quickest lap of the day in the second of three test sessions with a lap at 1:10.259 in the No. 14 King Taco entry from Pacific Coast Motorsports. Skerlong has finished inside the top five in five of the season’s eight races and he will be looking to add to that record this weekend.

“If I can do what I do in practice in the race, that’d be great,” Skerlong said. “It’s a new track, and it’s a pretty level playing field for everyone. To show up and be a fair margin ahead of everybody is definitely a good feeling going into the weekend. All the guys have worked really hard in our little break. It’s been a long break, but well needed. It’s kind of nice to enjoy the last few months of good weather for summer. I’m really excited for these last three races. Hopefully, we’ll be able to improve on our little dilemmas we’ve had throughout the year.”

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Anthony West tops opening day at Indy
Anthony West
The MotoGP World Championship’s first day of action at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway saw attention turning away from the impressive new circuit and towards the skies, as torrential rain hit the American track during the 800cc action at The Brickyard.

After a sunny and humid day yesterday, an area of low pressure brought non-stop rain today, which grew heavier throughout the afternoon. These were less than ideal conditions for the riders to begin getting to know the track, which uses part of the main straight before winding its way around inside the famous Oval.

Whilst the conditions were to few riders´ tastes as they looked to set up their bikes from scratch, wet weather star Anthony West was able to settle in nicely onboard the Kawasaki Ninja ZX-RR. The Australian star is known for his adaptation to new tracks and ability to perform amidst a deluge, and didn’t disappoint Stateside with a 1´53.034 lap of the IMS circuit in the opening practice session. He was also the fastest in the second run under even heavier rain, albeit with a slower time.

The Kawasaki rider was out to impress as he looks for a ride for 2009, and at the very least put himself on the highlight reel for the day with a spectacular save from the brink of a huge highside in Free Practice 2. With the meteorological picture unlikely to change this weekend, West could be one of the principal beneficiaries.

With no rider able to improve on their times in the second session, Alex de Angelis retained his second place on the combined standings list, a tenth of a second behind West. The San Carlo Honda Gresini rider pushed hard on his afternoon run, going off-track and onto the grass onboard his satellite RC212V.

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Reactions to Hamilton's Spa penalty UPDATE #3
"Any suggestion there is a bias for or against any team or driver is completely untrue. Absolutely not. I think it's a reflection, and I'm sorry to say this, of the stupidity of the people who say it because they haven't really thought the thing through and put themselves in the position of the people who have to take these very difficult decisions. I think he [Lewis Hamilton] is a brilliant driver and it would be really excellent for Formula One and the world championship, if he won it. But that doesn't mean we are going to help him or hinder him. We are going to be utterly neutral. But that said, it would be brilliant if he won because he is a supreme talent and when it's difficult, that's when we see it. He has done a great job, and whilst we can admire, we mustn't assist or hinder." Max Mosley, FIA President

"If Lewis had taken the chicane correctly, he would never have been able to pass Kimi on the very short straight that follows it. What Lewis did is the sort of thing that can happen, but I think he was maybe a bit too optimistic in thinking he could just hand back the position, albeit only partially to Kimi, and then immediately try to pass him again. Incidents like this have often been discussed in the official driver briefings, when it was made absolutely clear that anyone cutting a chicane has to fully restore the position and also any other eventual advantage gained Maybe if Lewis had waited and tried to pass on the next straight, that would have been a different matter." Felipe Massa, Formula 1 driver, Ferrari, awarded Belgian GP win after Hamilton received penalty.

"There are rules about cutting chicanes and gaining an advantage.  I don't have anything (else) to say." Kimi Raikkonen, Formula 1 driver, Ferrari, 2007 World Drivers Champion

"I thought it was an absolutely appalling decision." Sir Stirling Moss, best Formula 1 driver never to win the World Championship

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Rain washes out NASCAR Cup qualifying
Rain has washed out qualifying in Loudon today so Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup field has been set on points with Toyota's Kyle Busch on the pole.

1 18 Kyle Busch
2 99 Carl Edwards
3 48 Jimmie Johnson
4 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5 07 Clint Bowyer
6 11 Denny Hamlin
7 31 Jeff Burton
8 20 Tony Stewart
9 16 Greg Biffle
10 24 Jeff Gordon
11 29 Kevin Harvick
12 17 Matt Kenseth
13 9 Kasey Kahne
14 6 David Ragan
15 8 Aric Almirola
16 83 Brian Vickers
17 12 Ryan Newman
18 1 Martin Truex Jr.
19 26 Jamie McMurray
20 2 Kurt Busch
21 43 Bobby Labonte
22 42 Juan Montoya
23 19 Elliott Sadler
24 28 Travis Kvapil
25 5 Casey Mears
26 38 David Gilliland
27 44 David Reutimann
28 15 Paul Menard
29 01 Regan Smith*
30 41 Reed Sorenson
31 22 Dave Blaney
32 55 Michael Waltrip
33 66 Scott Riggs
34 84 A.J. Allmendinger
35 00 Michael McDowell*
36 77 Sam Hornish Jr.*
37 21 Bill Elliott
38 7 Robby Gordon
39 10 Patrick Carpentier*
40 96 Joey Logano
41 45 Chad McCumbee
42 78 Joe Nemechek
43 70 Johnny Sauter
44 34 Tony Raines
45 146 Carl Long


David Ragan to be sponsored by UPS
United Parcel Service announced today that it will sponsor Roush Fenway Racing’s David Ragan in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starting in 2009.

The 22-year-old Ragan barely missed making NASCAR’s Chase For The Sprint Cup this year, his second season of full-time Cup competition. The American Automobile Association, which has sponsored Ragan the last two years, is not sponsoring a Cup car next year.

"I'm thrilled and excited to here this morning," Ragan said at the announcement at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, site of Sunday's Sylvania 300. "… To be talking about the 2009 racing season already, combining great groups of people like the UPS family, the 425,000-plus employees they have, the Fenway Sports Group, Roush Fenway Racing, I think that's a pretty good combination to talk about going into the 2009 season and beyond. We've still got 10 races to go this year. We need to find victory lane, get our team into championship form, and I think we've got a pretty good schedule to do that.

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Ana Beatriz: Don't call her Danica
Ana Beatriz won in Nashville earlier this year
Ana Beatriz is not out to become the next Danica Patrick. But that doesn’t mean the Brazilian open-wheel racer—who took third in this year’s Indy Lights Series driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports—isn’t bent on becoming an Indy Racing League champion.

“She hates being compared to Danica,” said Kaaveh Akbari, Sam Schmidt Motorsports spokesman. “She respects Danica, but wants to develop her own identity.”

Beatriz, her crew members said, is laid back off the track, but fiercely competitive on the track, going head-to-head with the likes of Arie Luyendyk Jr. and this year’s Indy Lights champion Raphael Matos. Beatriz became the first woman to claim an Indy Lights victory in July and earned nine top five finishes in 16 starts. In addition, she has proven popular with fans and sponsors, bringing Healthy Choice with her to SSM.

Not surprisingly, SSM is eager to retain her. SSM officials are negotiating a new contract with Beatriz and hope to have her signed by year’s end. “The best case scenario,” Akbari said, “would be to get a deal done in the next 60 days, and set her up for some winter testing.”

Beatriz will likely be in the Indy Lights series again next year, with an eye on jumping to the Indy Racing League in 2010. Sam Schmidt’s team might make that jump with her, Akbari said. “What’s most important to Sam is to be in a situation where he can be competitive and win,” Akbari said. “We know that making a jump to the next level costs a lot more money.”  More at IBJ.com


Lienhard to Retire as Driver
Sunday's 1,000 Kilometers of Silverstone will not only bring the 2008 Le Mans Series (LMS) to an end, but it will also mark the last race for Horag Racing driver Fredy Lienhard. Lienhard, of Niederteufen, Switzerland, has told his fellow teammates that he will retire from the cockpit of the Lista Office LO Porsche RS Spyder following Sunday's race, which falls on his actual 61st birthday. "It's simply a matter of my age, which I think that everyone understands," Lienhard said.  "Some drivers say that they decide to retire due to health reasons, but I'm in better shape now than I was a few years ago. I wanted to go out at the top of my game, and I'm happy to say that our team is one of the top LMP2 teams around."


NASCAR Truck champ admits to drug use UPDATE Ron Hornaday Jr. met NASCAR officials Friday to discuss his admission that he took testosterone during the 2005 season. NASCAR accepted Hornaday's explanation that he was seeking medical treatment, not a competitive edge. According to the league, the case is closed. "It's over and done with, he's clear to race," said Jim Hunter, NASCAR vice president of corporate communications. "We don't see that Ron did anything wrong."  More at ESPN

09/12/08 Ron Hornaday Jr., the defending NASCAR Craftsman Trucks champion who is second in this year's standings, admitted using testosterone for more than a year before it was added to the sport's banned list.

Hornaday, 50, told ESPN he received shipments of testosterone and human growth hormone from December 2004 to January 2006, and that the drugs came from an anti-aging center that has been linked to drug-related scandals in the NFL and Major League Baseball.

Hornaday, who won the Sam's Town 400 at Texas Motor Speedway last Friday, acknowledged taking testosterone when shown records from the Palm Beach (Fla.) Rejuvenation Center during an interview with ESPN at his home in North Carolina on Tuesday. He said the growth hormone was sent to his home for his wife's use.

He said he used the testosterone to treat a medical condition that later turned out to be a hyperactive thyroid.

Hornaday provided records to ESPN showing that the drugs were prescribed by doctors at the clinic within a day of his visit. He said he didn't see or speak with a doctor before receiving the prescription, and used it roughly every day for 13 months by rubbing a "pea-sized" amount onto his thigh. 

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Indy rains put a damper on Indy MotoGP event
Rain is putting a damper on the economic forecast for the first MotoGP motorcycle race held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday. The first motorcycle race at the Speedway in 99 years will run rain or shine. But fair weather fans, curious onlookers and those who were planning to ride their own motorcycles to the event are likely to stay away in droves.

Speedway officials are hoping for 100,000 fans at the race, but sources close to the IMS said to accomplish that goal at least 20,000 to 25,000 walk-up ticket sales are needed. Several sources close to the Midwestern motorcycle community said a number of rider groups from neighboring states are considering coming to the event en masse if the weather is good. Mother Nature is planning a deluge of rain for Indy right through Sunday.

Speedway officials won’t be the only ones hurting financially. City officials said they expected a $100 million economic impact, but those figures are based on turnout forecasts by the IMS. Several outdoor festival-like events from Broad Ripple to downtown are planned to maximize visitor spending at area bars, restaurants and stores.

Tim Frost, president of Frost Motorsports, a Chicago-based motorsports business consultancy, said the rainy weather could drag down the economic impact by $20 million. Favorable weather, he said, could have pushed the city’s projected economic impact up 15 percent.

“A forecast for days-long rain is about the worst thing that could happen to this inaugural event,” Frost said. “It even makes it difficult to evaluate the race’s long-term viability at the Speedway.” IBJ.com


Mosley admits pressure to stay FIA boss
(GMM)  Max Mosley on Friday refused to rule out performing a u-turn on his earlier promise to step down as FIA president at the end of his current term in 2009.

On a rare post-sex scandal visit to a grand prix paddock at Monza, the 68-year-old Briton said he is under pressure to commit for yet another term.

In April, Mosley admitted that continuing in the role into his 70s, 16 years after first accepting the presidency, would be "very marginal".

But he said at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza after Friday practice: "I have to say there is an awful lot of pressure coming from different parts of the world saying 'continue', which is very nice of them."

Mosley maintains that he would like to enjoy a quieter life when his current term ends.

"We'll see," he told reporters.  "You can't rule anything out.  You should never say never, as the old cliché goes.  But at the moment my inclination is that I would like a quieter life."

Mosley, who dismissed those who have been espousing pro-Ferrari conspiracy theories earlier this week as "stupid", admits the FIA presidency is still a role that fascinates him.

"You can see the problem and it needs to be solved, and that's interesting.

"(And) I really do think something needs to be done about formula one, otherwise it's going to be a big problem, and I would like to do that," he said.


Mosley rejects accusations of bias against Hamilton
Motor racing chief Max Mosley rejected any accusations of bias against McLaren and Lewis Hamilton on Friday after the Briton was stripped of victory in Belgium.

"Any suggestion there is a bias for or against any team or driver is completely untrue. Absolutely not," the International Automobile Federation (FIA) president told Reuters at the Italian Grand Prix.

"I think it's a reflection, and I'm sorry to say this, of the stupidity of the people who say it because they haven't really thought the thing through and put themselves in the position of the people who have to take these very difficult decisions."

Championship leader Hamilton was demoted from first to third at Spa last Sunday after stewards ruled he had gained an advantage from cutting a chicane while fighting Ferrari's world champion Kimi Raikkonen for the lead.

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FIA clarifies chicane cutting procedure
Following the incident that saw Lewis Hamilton given a 25 second penalty for crossing a chicane and gaining an advantage, clarification has been communicated to the drivers with regard to future conduct.

It is understood that the FIA have told drivers to wait at least one corner, after ‘handing back’ an advantage, in order to be certain that claims of unfair advantage can be fairly refuted.

Hamilton dropped behind Raikkonen after overtaking him on the grass in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa last weekend, only to dive past him at the following corner.

McLaren are appealing the penalty on the grounds that in ceding the position Hamilton had given up any advantage gained.

Mark Webber, Red Bull driver and GPDA director, said the decision was welcome and cleared up a point that was previously unclear. Speaking to Autosport.com, the Australian said:

"We are still trying to find a solution for the second chicane here, because we still think there is a way to roll through there," Webber told autosport.com. "But generally, it is pretty clear for people to probably not attack immediately again, which wasn't mega, mega clear in the past."


Monza: Friday Quotes


Kimi Raikkonen (1st, 1:23.861): "I am pleased with how today went. Step by step, the car finally seems to respond well and I think we can be very quick here. The set-up is good and I don't think that any rain that might fall will represent a handicap. I will try and do my best, as always. The contract? I am happy to be part of this team, otherwise I wouldn't have signed! There's a good atmosphere between us all and I continue to enjoy the driving. So it was definitely not a difficult choice to stay for one more year. Even in the most difficult moments, we have continued to work hard and now we are moving in the right direction. I am sure the results will also come soon."

Felipe Massa (6th, 1:24.247): "I'm not 100% happy with the way things went today. I struggled a bit to find the right grip level on the first timed lap, unlike the others. So, this means we still have to work to get it right, but I am still confident. It all looks very close and we must always take into account the unknown regarding how much fuel everyone has run. I am happy that Kimi has extended his contract: we have a good relationship and it is important for a team to have stability."

Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "The weather was definitely the main feature today. Obviously, we were unable to complete the usual Friday program, because it was only towards the end that the track was really dry. It was still useful however to get some indication of how the car goes in the wet, given that the forecast for the rest of the weekend is definitely not encouraging, especially for tomorrow. From what we have seen, taking into account the usual Friday afternoon unknowns, we can be satisfied with our level of competitiveness. Kimi's contract? We have always said that we are very happy with our two drivers and it seemed natural to equalize the lengths of both agreements."

Luca Baldisserri, Head of Trackside Operations: "Clearly, today's work was limited by the weather, which was particularly bad this morning. Only when there was less than an hour to go to the checkered flag were we able to run in the dry and then the track conditions were very different to those at the test. We are reasonably satisfied with what we have seen, because the F2008 has confirmed it is competitive, even on an unusual circuit like Monza. The forecast for the rest of the weekend is not good and so it was useful to be able to get some reference points as to how the car works also on a wet track."

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Monza: Friday Press Conference

Q: First of all a question to you all: In the last four grands prix we have seen drivers who perhaps we wouldn’t expect to see on the podium and perhaps one or two drivers who we would expect to see on the podium not on the podium. What do you think are the reasons for that?

Mike GASCOYNE: Obviously in the last couple of races there have been quite a lot of incidents with pace cars. I think with the pace car regulations as they are now you can obviously luck in. It has always been the case under the safety car you can luck in and that happened to Piquet in the last race. People can get lucky, but having said that, he had good pace afterwards and drove a great race and made the most of it. But I think we do need to revise the safety car regulations as we have them. They are pretty confused and I don’t think they achieve what they set out to, so I do think we need to look at it. But it is good for F1 when things like that happen.

Q: Pascal, perhaps Jarno Trulli’s might be considered to be one of those incidents?

Pascal VASSELON: I think it is quite different because as Mike says one obvious reason to change the pecking order is the safety car and it has happened two times in the last few races – Canada and Hockenheim. In our case, at Magny-Cours, I would say we are always fighting close to the podium and this time we were on the high of our performance and our close competitors were probably on a low and we got this podium on merit. But I cannot see only luck here. It is just a combination of a high on our side and a low for our immediate competitors.

Aldo COSTA: I tend to agree with my colleague. We had very unusual circumstances, very difficult races, with weather, different events in terms of weather, different track temperatures’ conditions, accidents and as Mike mentioned, the safety car. The safety car is a real gamble at this moment, so it can change very much the result of the race.

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Pizzonia joins Corinthians Superleague assault
Ex-Formula 1 and Champ Car driver Antonio Pizzonia is set to do battle for Brazilian football club Corinthians in the new Superleague Formula championship – climbing aboard the club’s 750 horsepower black and white machine from the next round at the Nurburgring.

The former Jaguar and Williams Formula 1 driver was revealed as the club’s new star this week in Parque São Jorge, the club’s headquarters, in São Paulo, Brazil.

Currently competing in the Brazilian Stock Car Championship, Pizzonia is looking forward to climbing back aboard a high-powered single seater – especially knowing he has the backing of millions of passionate Corinthians’ supporters.

“I am extremely happy to drive for Corinthians in Superleague Formula and really looking forward to my first race at the Nurburgring,” Pizzonia said.

“I think the format and the whole concept for the championship is excellent and I am very confident we can be very competitive.

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Mansells to race in NJ
The Mansell brother racing duo has always competed together, starting out on go-karts in 2005, to open wheel in the Formula BMW UK championship in 2006 and, subsequently, the British F3 International Series in 2007. Most recently, the brothers moved to the IMSA Atlantics series driving for Walker Racing for whom they will be racing at Millville, NJ's new world-class facility.


Monza: Team-by-team summary: Friday
After doing just five laps in the morning rain, Kimi Raikkonen - whose renewed stay at Ferrari to the end of 2010 was announced on Friday - showed he is back on form at Monza as he topped the drier afternoon session.  Felipe Massa was nearly 4 tenths slower and sixth.  "I struggled a bit to find the right grip level on the first timed lap, unlike the others," the Brazilian said.


Neither driver turned a timed lap in the morning deluge, but Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld were right on Raikkonen's leading pace in the afternoon.  "The lap times don't look too bad, which was also the case when we were here for testing," said Heidfeld.


After the morning wash-out, Lewis Hamilton ended Friday about a tenth off the leading pace, with Heikki Kovalainen seventh.  "We concentrated on running on heavy fuel loads in order to refine our race setup and tire choice," said boss Ron Dennis.


Among the 14 drivers who set times in the morning wet weather, Nico Rosberg was fifth, and the German was still competitive in the drier afternoon session.  "Because the car is performing well for this one-off low downforce race, we need to make the best of it," he said.  Kazuki Nakajima did not run in the morning and was more than a second off his teammate's pace in the dry.  "I never really had enough clear track to get my times down," he explained.

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Four teams to test KERS next week UPDATE (GMM)  After it emerged that four teams will test KERS systems at Jerez next week, it now appears that Toyota and Renault will not be ready to run the new 2009 technology until January.

Toyota's engine chief Luca Marmorini confirmed the news, according to the Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell.

Renault engineering boss Pat Symonds, meanwhile, says the French team's decision to delay the KERS debut until early next year is fundamentally for economic reasons.

"We came to the conclusion that the construction of a transitional car is simply not worth it," the Briton is quoted as saying.

09/12/08 (GMM)  After the electric shock incident, BMW-Sauber will get its track testing of KERS technology back on track at the Jerez test next week, the German magazine Auto Motor und Sport reports.

In fact, it emerges that, as well as the Swiss based team, McLaren, Honda and Williams are also planning to run KERS systems at the final in-season group test of 2008.

It is believed test drivers Gary Paffett and Pedro de la Rosa will be at the controls of McLaren's initial KERS efforts.

But chief executive Martin Whitmarsh cautioned: "The prototype is too heavy.  The next version will weigh a lot less."

BMW-Sauber tester Christian Klien, meanwhile - who was at the wheel when the team mechanic was shocked at Jerez in July - was due to give the system a trial run on Friday, at BMW's own test circuit in Miramas.

Honda test driver Alex Wurz will head the Japanese team's KERS efforts at Jerez next week, and it is believed Super Aguri refugee Anthony Davidson may also be present.

Jerez will also mark the track debut of Williams' unique KERS system, which uses a flywheel rather than a normal battery to store the collected energy.


Kubica loses respect for Hamilton
(GMM)  Robert Kubica, BMW-Sauber's Polish race driver, has chided Lewis Hamilton's suggestion that world champion Kimi Raikkonen didn't "have the balls" to beat him at Spa-Francorchamps a week ago.

Ferrari's Raikkonen shrugged off the Briton's comments with his typical cool disregard, but Kubica sounded surprised when he too was informed at Monza about Hamilton's brash words.

"Did he really say that?" Kubica, who like McLaren driver Hamilton is 23, is quoted as saying by Motorsport Aktuell.

"I cannot imagine that.  We drivers should have a fundamental respect for each other," he concluded.


Montagny, Kanaan, Andretti Set for Petit Le Mans
Andretti Green Racing (AGR) announced today that IndyCar Series drivers Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti will join Franck Montagny in the #26 XM Radio Acura for the 11th running of Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Kanaan will also join Montagny for the final race of the season at Laguna Seca.

Petit Le Mans will mark Kanaan's first start for Andretti Green in the American Le Mans Series in 2008. However, in 2007, Kanaan was part of the AGR lineup that captured the LMP2 victory in the team's debut at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Kanaan was also slated to drive at Petit last season. However, a punctured radiator sidelined the AGR entry early and prevented Kanaan from making an appearance in the race.

Andretti will co-pilot the #26 XM Radio Acura for the third time this season and in his career. His first American Le Mans Series race came at Sebring where the team was forced to retire early due to a mechanical issue. Andretti's second start came with Montagny at Lime Rock as part of a doubleheader weekend for Andretti, who also drove in the IndyCar Series race at Nashville Superspeedway after completing his stint in the car at Lime Rock Park.

Montagny joined AGR mid-season as the primary driver for its ALMS entry. He partnered with James Rossiter for the team's first win of the season in LMP2 and overall at the Detroit Sports Car Challenge presented by Bosch at the Raceway at Belle Isle.

Michael Andretti, co-owner, Andretti Green Racing:
"We're happy with the lineups we've set for these last two events. Franck, Tony and Marco are going to be very compatible teammates and should work very well together. They all give very good feedback and know what we need out of the XM Radio Acura to stay up front. Winning at Detroit was something we felt was long overdue for us. Now we need to capitalize on that momentum and finish out the 2008 season as strong as possible."


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Coulthard says Monza not his last race
  • Raikkonen back on song at Monza
  • BMW denies Monday driver announcement
  • Renault disowns Symonds penalty comments

Coulthard says Monza not his last race
(GMM)  David Coulthard has rubbished rumors that Sunday's Italian grand prix at Monza could be his last ever formula one race.

It has been suggested that, as the 37-year-old is due to retire anyway, Red Bull might ask him to step aside early so that Sebastian Vettel can switch camps in preparation for 2009.

Vettel's subsequent vacancy of his Toro Rosso race seat would also give the junior team a chance to evaluate at actual grands prix his replacement for next year.

The speculation then stepped up a gear at Monza on Thursday, when Red Bull opened a photographic tribute to Coulthard's long F1 career in the team motor home.

"This is not my last grand prix," the Scot is quoted as saying on Friday by Formule 1 Race Report.  "I am finishing the season, no matter what some of you want," Coulthard joked.

"Only after Brazil is it really going to be all over for me."

Raikkonen back on song at Monza
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen on Friday marked the renewal of his Ferrari contract for two more years by returning to top form in practice for the Italian grand prix at Monza.

The Finn, who led his favorite Belgian GP at Spa-Francorchamps a week ago until the controversial closing laps, set the fastest time of the drier afternoon practice session at Monza.

"Today it looks like we're fast," the 28-year-old Ferrari driver told reporters at the circuit.

"It's good, it's totally the best that the car has been this year.  Little by little, we found what we want from the car."

BMW denies Monday driver announcement
(GMM)  BMW-Sauber boss Mario Theissen has denied rumors at Monza that the German team is set to announce its 2009 driver lineup the day after Sunday's Italian grand prix.

"There is no announcement on Monday -- and not on Tuesday," he is quoted as saying by German broadcaster RTL, amid speculation that former double world champion Fernando Alonso has signed a three-year contract.

Theissen added: "A decision has not yet been made."

Renault disowns Symonds penalty comments
(GMM)  French formula one team Renault has distanced itself from comments made by one of its prominent chiefs in the wake of Lewis Hamilton's controversial Belgian grand prix penalty.

Pat Symonds, the Enstone based team's veteran engineering boss, said the fact the McLaren driver lost his Spa-Francorchamps victory could be a further deterrent to overtaking.

"I think it does call into question (F1's) philosophy," Symonds said, "because everyone is saying we need more overtaking, we need more excitement, and we need more personalities," he said.

"And yet it seems to me that everything that actually happens seems to be against that."

Renault, whose team boss Flavio Briatore was at Monza nominated a director of the new F1 teams' FOTA alliance, distanced itself from Symonds' comments.

"The team states that Pat Symonds was expressing his personal opinion on the matter and that his comments were not representing in any way the team's position," a statement read.

tv news

Cindy McCain and son featured on ESPN's E:60 UPDATE #2 Cindy McCain doesn't remember all the details. It might have been six years ago. Maybe seven. But this much, at least, McCain recalls with perfect clarity: She was watching television with her oldest son, Jack, when footage flashed across the screen of race cars skidding sideways as though they were on ice.

Looks kind of cool, McCain thought to herself, but how'd they do that?

For most people, the curiosity probably would have ended there. But McCain, the wife of the Republican nominee for president, Sen. John McCain, is anything but ordinary. Although a wide swath of the public views her as reserved and distant, she is actually quite the opposite in private. When Cindy McCain, 54, encounters something that intrigues her, she embraces it with the zeal of a toddler on Christmas Eve. More at ESPN.com

09/09/08 A reminder that this program will be shown tonight.

Mike Helton talks to Cindy McCain at Pocono
Jim Garrahan/AR1.com
ESPN's primetime newsmagazine E:60 airs Tuesday, Sept. 9, at 7 p.m. ET, and will include a feature on the passion for auto racing of Cindy McCain, wife of presidential candidate Sen. John McCain. In the piece, Cindy McCain and her son, Jack, discuss their participation in the sport of drifting, in which drivers compete in controlled slides. She also is shown during her recent visits to NASCAR Sprint Cup and IndyCar Series races.


Pantano closes on GP2 title with pole
Pastor Maldonado had taken the top spot in free practice for the GP2 cars today in Monza after a one hour delay as a result of a massive storm which flooded the paddock and the circuit, with Alberto Valerio and Mike Conway following in his wake on the still soaking circuit.

However, when it counted Giorgio Pantano scored pole position - and the two points that go with it - while title rival Bruno Senna could do no better than 12th position. Pantano is now 13 points ahead with 18 still up for grabs in the races.



Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Pantano Racing Engineering 1:31.220 + 0.000 12
2. Di Grassi Barwa Campos Team 1:31.239 + 0.019 14
3. Buemi Trust Team Arden 1:31.330 + 0.110 14
4. Filippi Trust Team Arden 1:31.440 + 0.220 14
5. Petrov Barwa Campos Team 1:31.527 + 0.307 14
6. Maldonado Piquet Sports 1:31.546 + 0.326 14
7. Zuber Piquet Sports 1:31.663 + 0.443 13
8. Rodriguez FMS International 1:31.708 + 0.488 16
9. Villa Racing Engineering 1:31.797 + 0.577 15
10. Chandhok iSport International 1:31.810 + 0.590 11
11. Grosjean ART Grand Prix 1:31.949 + 0.729 13
12. Senna iSport International 1:31.964 + 0.744 15
13. Valsecchi Durango 1:32.090 + 0.870 16
14. Yamamoto ART Grand Prix 1:32.092 + 0.872 14
15. Soucek Super Nova Racing 1:32.165 + 0.945 14
16. Conway Trident Racing 1:32.229 + 1.009 14
17. Nunes DPR 1:32.236 + 1.016 14
18. Kobayashi Dams 1:32.361 + 1.141 16
19. D'ambrosio Dams 1:32.503 + 1.283 16
20. Valerio Durango 1:32.550 + 1.330 15
21. Parente Super Nova Racing 1:32.604 + 1.384 15
22. Asmer FMS International 1:32.808 + 1.588 16
23. Tung Trident Racing 1:32.817 + 1.597 14
24. Herck DPR 1:33.021 + 1.801 16
25. Iaconelli BCN Competicion 1:33.264 + 2.044 16


New Yorkers not buying NASCAR
They're supercharged heroes of NASCAR, a sport watched by more Americans than baseball or pro basketball. Jeff Gordon and fellow titans of stock-car racing rolled into Times Square Wednesday to showcase NASCAR's championship series, but found New York is a place where almost nobody knows their names. "I don't see the appeal in it except crashes," said Victoria Calas, 26, of Long Island. "It's a big left turn over and over." With the Jets, Giants, Mets, Yankees and Knicks, New Yorkers said they simply don't have the energy to focus on racing. "Few people would waste a New York minute watching NASCAR," said Alby Cohen, 29, of Brooklyn. Determined to change that, NASCAR officials say the sport has come a long way. "Every time we come here, we get more and more recognized," driver Jeff Burton said. "We've got to get out of the ... stereotype that it's what rednecks do in the South." Champion Jeff Gordon blamed the low popularity on the lack of a stock-car track in New York and bemoaned the failure of a proposal to build one on Staten Island a few years ago. "There are a lot of race fans in the area that would love to see it," Gordon said. Gordon and the other drivers appeared at the Hard Rock Cafe to promote the Chase for the Sprint Cup, NASCAR's premier championship.  New York Daily News


FIA sets date for McLaren's penalty appeal
(GMM) F1's governing body has set a date for the appeal lodged by McLaren against the penalty that cost Lewis Hamilton victory in the Belgian grand prix a week ago.

The FIA's International Court Appeal is to hear the case in Paris on September 22, the Monday before the inaugural Singapore grand prix.

A decision, including whether the appeal is even admissible, is expected the following day.


Red Bull pays tribute to Coulthard's career
(GMM) As the last few races of David Coulthard's 14-year formula one career near, Red Bull is at Monza displaying a photographic exhibition in celebration of the retiring Scot.

The photos encompass the 37-year-old's grand prix racing career, from his early days with Williams, race wins with McLaren, to the present day with Red Bull Racing.

Several drivers, including Mark Webber, Nick Heidfeld and his former F3 rival Rubens Barrichello, were on hand at the Red Bull motor home as Coulthard spoke at the opening of the exhibition.

"I feel honoured that so many of you came here today to see what I did over the years," he said. "I have had a fantastic life over the years and I wouldn't have wanted to miss one single second if it."


Monza: Kimi tops practice, sends tifosi into frenzy
Kimi Raikkonen celebrated the announcement of his Ferrari contract extension by sending the Italian tifosi into a frenzy by setting the fastest speed in the second practice session at Monza for Sunday's Italian GP.  He beat the BMWs of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld with points leader Lewis Hamilton taking fourth for McLaren.

Practice began on a damp track, but unlike the first session, this time conditions steadily improved.



Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:23.861 + 0.000 31
2. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:23.931 + 0.070 26
3. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:23.947 + 0.086 29
4. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:23.983 + 0.122 25
5. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:24.110 + 0.249 33
6. Massa Ferrari 1:24.247 + 0.386 34
7. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:24.365 + 0.504 29
8. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:24.521 + 0.660 35
9. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:24.669 + 0.808 22
10. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:24.773 + 0.912 35
11. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:25.100 + 1.239 25
12. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:25.192 + 1.331 39
13. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:25.204 + 1.343 24
14. Barrichello Honda 1:25.296 + 1.435 25
15. Button Honda 1:25.309 + 1.448 34
16. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:25.330 + 1.469 28
17. Glock Toyota 1:25.397 + 1.536 28
18. Alonso Renault 1:25.481 + 1.620 22
19. Trulli Toyota 1:25.753 + 1.892 29
20. Piquet Renault 1:26.195 + 2.334 23


Riccardo Patrese frightens wife in fast ride at Jerez
While Riccardo Patrese was at Jerez last week to drive the Honda FA107, he took his wife on a fast ride in a Honda Civic Type-R road car.  Here is a video posted on YouTube of a very frightened Mrs. Patrese screaming and gesturing at an amused Riccardo in an attempt to slow him down.


Kubica fascinated by high top-speeds at Monza
From a driver's angle, the "Autodromo Nazionale di Monza" isn't the biggest challenge on the Formula One calendar. Nonetheless, Robert Kubica is fully aware that the high-speed circuit is going to take the BMW Sauber F1.08 to its very limits. Furthermore, Robert is fascinated by high top-speeds...

At the circuit located in the Royal Park, the drivers will have to cope with just eleven corners - seven right-handers and four left-handers - less than at any other venue on the F1 calendar. Therefore, the cars' straight-line performance is particularly important for gaining those crucial fractions of a second.

"Monza is one of the most challenging tracks for the cars," explains Kubica. "It is where we drive with the lowest downforce level and the highest top-speeds. The key factors at Monza are low drag, in order to reach the highest speeds possible without losing too much downforce, and good braking stability."

Therefore, the teams contest the Italian Grand Prix with an aero package that was specially designed for the Northern Italian 5.793-kilomtre circuit and is used nowhere else. "The track is unique because of some very long straights where we easily reach more than 300 kilometers per hour. There are some really famous corners such as Parabolica, Ascari or Lesmo, and they are faster than the first chicanes. But you have to approach them braking heavily."

A glance at the Formula One record books reveals that Monza suits Robert and the BMW Sauber F1 Team well: in 2006, Monza was the venue of Robert's maiden podium finish in Formula One and last year he was the fastest driver with a top speed of 351.7 km/h.  Source BMW Sauber


Ferrari confirms same drivers for 2009, 2010
(GMM) Ferrari on Friday announced that Kimi Raikkonen will stay with the Italian team at least until the end of 2010.

"Therefore, the ... driver lineup remains unchanged for the next two coming seasons," the team said in a statement issued at Monza.


Free engine change for Webber
(GMM)  Red Bull will install a new Renault engine in the rear of Mark Webber's RB4 for the official Italian GP action on Saturday, a spokesman for the Milton-Keynes based team confirmed on Friday.

The Australian will not however suffer a 10-place grid penalty, as it is the 31-year-old's first engine change of the season.

The team spokesman said the change is precautionary, given the arduous nature of the two-race cycle on power circuits Spa-Francorchamps and Monza.

Under current regulations, teams - with a clause nicknamed the 'engine joker' - are allowed to swap out one engine per season without penalty.

Webber scored one point for eighth place at last Sunday's Belgian grand prix.


Izod gets it
Izod ad featuring American IndyCar driver Ryan Hunter-Reay
This is the kind of activation IndyCar needs from its sponsor partners.

September will see this Izod ad featuring IndyCar driver Ryan Hunter-Reay in a 5 Million circulation double page magazine insert, with billboards in Times Square and Los Angeles.

  • Sports Illustrated (Sept 15 issue- on newsstands now)- Circulation approx. 3.2MM
  • ESPN magazine (Sept 22 issue- on newsstands next week)- Circulation approx. 2MM

American driver, American sponsors, in an American motorsports series.  It's about the drivers.  This sponsor gets it (including the car, a Champ Car, which is what IndyCar will hopefully morph into.  While Champ Car failed as a business, it certainly got the car and engine right)


Riders concerned about Indy track
The MotoGP community expressed near unanimous admiration of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway complex, but there was also near unanimity that the layout itself was very much a work in progress. Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi was one of the many riders who voiced concern about the safety of the 16-turn, 2.621-mile IMS MotoGP layout.

Capirossi, a member of the rider safety commission, spoke about his concerns on Thursday, prior to the first day of practice. His impression was based on a firsthand look and the word of teammate-for-the-weekend Ben Spies, who tested here in July. At the time, Spies said parts of the track were too tight and that the surface in the early corners was an issue.

“Yeah, well I’m thinking I say it’s pretty interesting for us to ride here, but this track is basically for cars and we try to modify for motorcycles and in that moment is not 100% safe,” Capirossi, who recently re-signed with Rizla Suzuki, said. “We have to modify something else. We can make already this morning a couple laps with the safety commission for check and we change a little bit the position of the air fence. We ask to change a little bit the curve. Anyway, we will see tomorrow.

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NHRA Eliminations Rounds to Air Live on ESPN360.com
Fans of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series will have a new opportunity to enjoy exclusive, live coverage of the sport as ESPN360.com will stream eliminations rounds from the final six events of the 2008 season. ESPN360.com, ESPN’s signature broadband television network, is providing the first-ever live streaming of NHRA eliminations rounds.

The new coverage will be in addition to ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD’s same-day coverage of qualifying and eliminations from each of the 24 events in the series. Coverage begins with the NHRA Carolinas Nationals at the new zMax Dragway @ Concord, located adjacent to Lowe’s Motor Speedway near Charlotte, N.C., on Sunday, Sept. 14, and will include all events in the NHRA’s Countdown to 1 playoffs.

“ESPN360.com is defining itself as the home for live sports online, and a place that serves sports fans of all kinds,” said Damon Phillips, vice president, ESPN360.com.  “Adding live coverage of the NHRA elimination rounds fits perfectly with that vision.”

ESPN360.com’s coverage airs from 11 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. local time for each event and will include the same production values and camera shots as the ESPN2 coverage. Lead announcer Paul Page, analyst Mike Dunn and pit reporters Gary Gerould, John Kernan and Dave Rieff will call the action.


Hot Wheels to become sponsor in IndyCar
According to former IndyCar driver Davey Hamilton, on Indy Racing Weekly, Hot Wheels has entered into a relationship with the IRL and says it's going to be a significant deal.


Kubica wants BMW focus back on him UPDATE (GMM)  BMW boss Mario Theissen has rejected driver Robert Kubica's claim that the focus of the team's attention should return to him.

After an unhappy Belgian grand prix, the Pole voiced his discontent about BMW-Sauber helping teammate Nick Heidfeld back to form while falling "asleep" in other areas.

"Maybe the priority of late for the team was a bit different from myself," he confirmed to reporters at Monza.

To the German news agency SID, Theissen denied that Heidfeld is BMW-Sauber's focus, rather than thinking about the small possibility that Kubica is still in the hunt for the 2008 title.

"It simply is not correct," the German said.  "We have put a lot into Nick, but we also did that with Robert, when he was having problems last year."

Pole Robert Kubica thinks he should be top dog on the German team
(GMM)  After an unhappy Belgian grand prix, Robert Kubica has continued to voice his discontent as F1 makes the dash this week to Monza.

The Pole struggled to capture the same attention as his resurgent BMW-Sauber teammate Nick Heidfeld at Spa-Francorchamps, and on Friday we reported that he used "harsh words" upon discovering incorrect settings on his car.

"The team has helped Nick a lot," France's sport24.com quotes Kubica as saying.

Kubica has won just 12 points from the last 5 grands prix, and while he finished sixth at Spa-Francorchamps, Heidfeld was on the podium.

"I hope that they will start to work a little for me, because these last four races, I think we have been asleep," the 23-year-old added.


Monza: Sutil tops practice 1 in torrential rain
Force India’s Adrian Sutil was the quickest overall here in Italy this morning as rainfall affected the majority of the session. Sutil’s best time was set in the opening twenty minutes before the rain affected the running conditions. Honda’s Rubens Barrichello was second followed by the second Force India of local racer, Giancarlo Fisichella.

The session comes to a close, five minutes early, with the news that we could have rain for the remainder of the weekend.  The second free practice session will start at 2.00pm local time with hopefully a bit less water on the track.



Driver Team Time Behind Laps
1. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:32.842 + 0.000 18
2. Barrichello Honda 1:33.428 + 0.586 14
3. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:33.695 + 0.853 19
4. Glock Toyota 1:36.800 + 3.958 13
5. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:36.900 + 4.058 9
6. Alonso Renault 1:36.965 + 4.123 10
7. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:37.142 + 4.300 20
8. Trulli Toyota 1:37.214 + 4.372 13
9. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:37.392 + 4.550 5
10. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:37.754 + 4.912 13
11. Piquet Renault 1:38.057 + 5.215 11
12. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:38.303 + 5.461 7
13. Button Honda 1:39.062 + 6.220 12
14. Massa Ferrari 1:40.233 + 7.391 5
15. Heidfeld BMW Sauber No Time +------ 1
16. Nakajima Williams-Toyota No Time +------ 2
17. Kubica BMW Sauber No Time +------ 1
18. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes No Time +------ 1
19. Webber Red Bull-Renault No Time +------ 1
20. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes No Time +------ 1


Practice deluge floods Monza track
(GMM)  An incredible deluge towards the end of morning practice for the Italian grand prix on Friday halted running and left the F1 teams' garages flooded.

Drainage systems in the pitlane of the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza struggled to cope with the reams of driving rain, leaving drivers needing to sit on benches in order to keep their boots dry.

Mechanics had to switch their attention from the cars to simply sweeping water out of their pit boxes, and some lifted the grates on the pitlane drains to see why the water was not dissipating.

Race control threw the red flag on the 90 minute session with a few minutes still to run.

For the record, Force India's rain specialist Adrian Sutil topped the timesheets, with his teammate Giancarlo Fisichella third quickest.

The two Ferraris did only 5 laps apiece, while the McLarens ventured out only for untimed installation laps.

It was still raining hard five minutes after the session ended.


Spa steward says 'Italians love me'
(GMM)  Despite trying to quash conspiracy theories, one of the three stewards involved in the Lewis Hamilton penalty controversy has given an unfortunate quote to the press.

We reported earlier this week that Surinder Thati, who signed off on the McLaren driver's post-race penalty that cost Hamilton his Belgian GP victory, denied the decision was made with a pro-Ferrari bias.

But Thati, of Kenya, only added fuel to the fire when he also spoke with his country's Daily Nation newspaper.

"The British press hate me," he said, "but I can walk into any Italian restaurant.  The Italians love me."

23-year-old Hamilton was instructed by his team, which has lodged an official appeal against the ruling, not to talk specifically about the Spa-Francorchamps stewards investigation as he met with reporters at Monza.

But he let slip that he did not speak after the race with Thati or the other two stewards.  "I only spoke to one person," the Briton said, nodding when asked if it was the FIA's advisor Alan Donnelly, a close associate of FIA president Max Mosley.

Donnelly declined to comment, but an FIA official said the routine followed in Belgium was standard practice.


Hamilton tempts rivals into mind games
(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton at Monza tempted his Ferrari rivals into a psychological battle of words, as the championship battle whittles down to just five races to go.

With a two point advantage over Felipe Massa, the championship leader was in defiant mood on the eve of the Italian grand prix weekend.

"I think Massa is on the back foot and he is the one that has to work damn hard to keep up with me," said Hamilton, who drives for McLaren.

Brazilian Massa, 27, spoke with less of a swagger as he also addressed the media on Thursday.

"We saw this year that you have some races where maybe Ferrari was a little bit better.  You had other races where perhaps McLaren were a little bit better.  It's really difficult to make a clear comment on whether we have an advantage or they have an advantage," he said.

Hamilton's strike did not end at one Ferrari driver, however, as he analyzed the reasons for how he closed on world champion Kimi Raikkonen in the drizzly last laps at Spa-Francorchamps a week ago.

"That's the way he drives.  If you don't have the balls to brake late, that's your problem," the Briton said, referring to Raikkonen.

"At the end of the day, in those situations, it's the driver who can feel the grip more - and put the car more on the edge - that gets past.  I'm great in those conditions," Hamilton added.

Both Raikkonen and Massa, who have said Hamilton was right to have had his Belgian GP win taken away, did not agree.

"Everyone has an opinion but I don't see it like that," Finn Raikkonen replied.  "He had more grip and he was in a better position after he cut the corner."

Massa added: "We have seen many times this year that in the rain we lost a little bit of performance."


McCain to visit NASCAR race Sunday
A visit from a presidential candidate, a free customer transportation system and additional showers in the camping area are just a few of the amenities race fans can expect at this year's Sylvania 300 NASCAR race at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Republican presidential candidate and Arizona Sen. John McCain will make a brief appearance at Sunday's event.

McCain and his wife Cindy, (there is no information yet as to if she will accompany her husband to Loudon Sunday) are no strangers to racing — McCain was the grand marshal of the 2006 Sylvania 300 and Cindy McCain is a trained racecar driver.

"We've done a lot of events like this," said speedway media spokesman Fred Neergaard. "We prepared twice for President Bush — once when he was the governor of Texas and once when he was president."

Neergaard included North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani as two of the many prominent politicians who have visited the speedway.


A1GP Impresses at First Team Test
Trouble free was the best way to describe the second day of testing at Donington Park with the new A1GP World Cup of Motorsport Powered by Ferrari cars. Heavy rain interrupted day one on Tuesday, but today was much drier with the cars covering a total of 466 laps of the 2.5-mile circuit between them and also beating the circuit’s 15-year-old track record.

The honor of going faster than the lap record went to A1 Team Malaysia’s Fairuz Fauzy who continued where he left off on Tuesday on top of today’s timesheets. The 25-year-old, who has competed in ten races for his nation with fifth in South Africa this year being his best result, was the driver who beat the time set by Ayrton Senna in the 1993 Grand Prix of Europe. “It was great today, the team did a good job to get the car together with no problems. Today we did a lot of laps and the more we do, the more data we are collecting. To finish fastest today and beat the lap record is a real achievement but we still need to work hard and I am looking forward to Zandvoort,” Fauzy said.

A1 Team Netherlands was in action with Jeroen Bleekemolen in the Dutch car. “The level of downforce and brakes are a lot better than before. The power doesn’t seem much greater but I think that is due to the fact we have a lot more downforce now. I don’t think the top speed will be a lot higher but lap times will be a lot faster because of both the downforce and brakes,” he commented.

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