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Team USA

Daly, Newgarden Awarded 2008 Team USA Scholarships
Conor Daly
Josef Newgarden
Two American teenagers, Conor Daly and Josef Newgarden, have been awarded prestigious Team USA Scholarships for the 2008 season.

The pair will follow in some illustrious footsteps. Jimmy Vasser won the first Team USA Scholarship in 1990. Other subsequent winners include Bryan Herta, Memo Gidley, Jerry Nadeau, Buddy Rice, Paul Edwards, Andy Lally, A.J. Allmendinger and J.R. Hildebrand.

Daly, 16, from Noblesville, Ind., and Newgarden, 17, from Hendersonville, Tenn., will fly the Scholarship’s patriotic red, white and blue colors in the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, England, on the weekend of October 18/19, and the Walter Hayes Trophy Formula Ford event at Silverstone, England, two weeks later on November 1/2.

"Our Scholarship winners have competed in a wide variety of cars and series since the program was begun in 1990," says Team USA Scholarship founder and auto racing writer/broadcaster Jeremy Shaw. "This year, my fellow Scholarship supporters and I have identified Conor and Josef from among a wealth of talented youngsters. We believe this chance to contest two of the world’s most prestigious Formula Ford events – in the sport’s most widely respected developmental category – offers the most appropriate opportunity for them at this stage in their careers."

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Gordon to lease Penske engines
Robby Gordon will lease engines from Penske Racing for the remainder of the Sprint Cup season beginning next weekend at Kansas. Gordon has used Gillett Evernham Motorsports engines all year, but when the two organizations resolved a lawsuit Friday in which they opted not to merge, that also dissolved their engine agreement. "He's never leased engines before," Gordon said of team owner Roger Penske. “This is a big deal for us. It's a great opportunity and we're just going to work hard to make it work." Gordon said he went to Penske three weeks ago when it became evident his relationship with GEM was at risk. He said Penske promised then to help out, and "one thing about Roger, he's a man of his word." Gordon said it is too early to determine if the deal could spill over into next season, but he didn't rule it out "if it works out for both parties." ESPN


Todd ends Schumacher's reign of Top Fuel
J. R. Todd ended Tony Schumacher's reign of terror in Top Fuel and Greg Stanfield scored an emotional first career victory in Pro Stock for team owner Greg Hill to highlight final eliminations at the 23rd annual O'Reilly NHRA Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex, the second of sixth events in NHRA's Countdown to 1 playoffs. Todd ended Schumacher's amazing win steak at 31 rounds and seven straight NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series wins.

Tim Wilkerson earned back his points lead in Funny Car by defeating then-points leader Tony Pedregon in the final while Chris Rivas defeated points leader Matt Smith to claim the win in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Todd, who's suffered through about as disappointing a season as the 2006 rookie of the year could have imagined in his worst nightmare, having scored just five round-wins this year, pushed the Lucas Oil Products dragster to his first win in more than a year, since the 2007 event in Houston, up upsetting the heavily favored Schumacher on a holeshot, 3.912, 309.84 to 3.910, 310.64.

En route to the final and his fifth career win, his first since the 2007 Topeka event, Todd defeated rookie Spencer Massey and dented the Countdown hopes of Hillary Will and best friend Brandon Bernstein to make the final, the eighth of his career.

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Niemela Scores First Atlantic Victory in Utah
Finnish driver Markus Niemela became the seventh different winner in the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda and remained one of three drivers still in mathematical contention for the championship in the SunRichGourmet.com 1000 at Miller Motorsports Park.

Niemela started from the pole position for the first time in his Atlantic career in the No. 8 Mr. Jones Bar & Kitchen/Rauma Town/Turku Karting machine for Brooks Associates Racing and led every lap to win by 0.446 seconds over American rookie Jonathan Summerton. It was Niemela’s fourth top-two result of the season and his ninth result of seventh or better in 10 races this season. It was also the third Atlantic victory for the Brooks Associates Racing team and the team’s first win since Kevin Lacroix won for the team at Portland last year.

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Yates: Robbery was an inside job
NASCAR team owner Doug Yates said it appears the thieves who broke into the Roush Yates Racing Engines facility in Mooresville, N.C., recently and stole three engines “knows the facility and knows the engines.” The break-in took place Monday at the shop located on Mazeppa Road. The engines, valued at $50,000 each, were built specifically for use in the NASCAR Nationwide and Craftsman Truck series. “We have security on the building,” Yates said. “But the area where they broke in, the motion sensor didn’t pick it up. If they had gone any further in the shop [it would have].”

Yates said sheetmetal had been peeled away to allow the thieves to gain access to the shop. “If you look at it, it looks like they opened it with a can opener,” he said. “The outside’s peeled up and the inside’s peeled back in ... they went in, pushed some engines out and just got out of there.

“It’s a shame. There’s not a home for these engines. So if somebody’s trying to sell you a Ford engine ... we do basically all the Ford engines so there’s only one place it could come from. If enough people know about it, maybe we can stop these guys from selling them.” Mooresville police say a cargo van, stolen from another race team, was used to transport the engines and then dumped. Yates Racing fields teams in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series. Roush Yates Racing Engines, a joint effort between Yates and fellow car owner Jack Roush, currently provides Ford engines for all Nationwide and truck series teams. scenedaily.com


PSV Eindhoven wins race 2 at Nurburgring
PSV Eindhoven emerged as winners of Race 2 of Superleague Formula in Germany on Sunday afternoon, driver Yelmer Buurman capitalizing on a late mistake by AS Roma to nip by the Italian car with just minutes of racing remaining.

Second was Anderlecht, with Leicester's Craig Dolby on board, with championship leaders Beijing Guoan third. Long-time leaders Roma were fourth.

In a reverse grid following Race 1's results, Roma and Liverpool got off to a flying start and streaked away from the field.

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Teams must embrace KERS technology if Formula One is to survive
Teams must embrace KERS technology if Formula One is to survive Honda CEO Nick Fry has affirmed following trouble-free testing of the system in Jerez. The Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS), which are designed to store and re-use energy lost as heat through braking and other episodes, are due to be introduced next year to make Formula One more environmentally sustainable.

But several teams, led by Renault’s Flavio Briatore, have tried to delay the introduction of the systems on the grounds of safety and cost. The concerns came after a BMW Sauber mechanic received an electric shock and a battery fire at Red Bull Racing’s Milton Keynes Factory. However, McLaren, Williams and Honda all ran fully functioning KERS systems at the four day test in Jerez last week and experienced no major problems.

Honda’s Nick Fry is adamant that KERS is necessary to secure the future of Formula One and has criticised those teams who want to post-pone its introduction.

“KERS is key to the future of Formula One, and unless we take major steps to make the sport more environmentally sensitive, then there is no future,” he told Forumula1.net.

“I think that the teams that are arguing against KERS have got their heads stuck in the sand because it is the future, and unless Formula One adapts we’re going to be in very serious difficulties.” Responding to criticism that the systems will be too expensive to implement Fry added that teams need to balance their priorities if Formula One is to become more affordable for smaller teams:

“We’ve got to re-orientate our expenditure to things which are useful like KERS, but away from things which are less useful such as the more obscure aerodynamic components that we spend huge amounts of time and money on.”

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Alonso hopes Massa beats Hamilton
Former double world champion Fernando Alonso has thrown his weight behind Felipe Massa's title campaign.

The Spaniard, who last year spent a difficult year at McLaren, told his local press at the weekend: "I would prefer if Massa wins, because if he does not, Hamilton will."

27-year-old Alonso's comments were met with laughter and applause from a packed press conference in Spain.

He continued: "The truth is that it is very difficult to predict, because they are virtually tied. If I had to bet money I would put it on Lewis, because throughout the year he was the most consistent."


Doornbos/AC Milan takes first race at Nurburgring
Robert Doornbos
AC Milan’s Robert Doornbos became the third different winner in three Superleague Formula races staged to date with a stunning drive from pole position at the Nurburgring today.

Doornbos grabbed the lead off the rolling start with second row starter Antonio Pizzonia on his tail in second.

RSC Anderlecht’s Craig Dolby made a storming start from position five to briefly challenge for second at turn one - almost running off the circuit on the exit. The young Brit settled into third place - ousting front-row starter Alessandro Pier Guidi from Galatasaray.

Back in the pack, trouble struck for AS Roma, Flamengo and Atletico Madrid. Roma was unable to get away off the starting grid and started from pit lane - only to retire on the opening lap.

Flamengo’s day also ended early with a spin into retirement on the first lap as well.

Newcomer Atletico Madrid suffered alternator issues and could not take part in the opening race.

Borussia Dortmund driver Nelson Philippe gave the German fans something to cheer for - moving from 10th on the grid to 5th in the early laps. However, the early progress of BVB came unstuck after three laps when Philippe retired with an oil pump issue - tragically forcing the home team out for the day.

The pit stop window opened on lap eight with FC Porto, Al Ain and Galatasaray the first to make their stops. Doornbos (AC Milan) and Dolby (Anderlecht) made perfect stops, but Corinthians driver Antonio Pizzonia stalled during his stop on lap 15 and lost additional time.

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tv news

Greg Biffle and Shane Carson to be guests on Wind Tunnel UPDATE A reminder that Greg Biffle and Shane Carson will be the featured interviews on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain tonight.

09/20/08 Sprint CUP championship contender, Greg Biffle, will be a featured guest on Wind Tunnel this Sunday September 21st. After a two year hiatus, Biffle is back in the Chase for the Sprint CUP. He won the opening race for the Chase at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

World of Outlaws’ Industry Relations Coordinator, Shane Carson, will also be a featured guest on Wind Tunnel this Sunday. As the World of Outlaws celebrates its 30th year in business, Dave Despain will talk to one of the former drivers that was there in 1978 when the series was just getting off the ground.

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

racing news

Driver dies at Road America
A race-car driver killed Friday in a crash at Road America has been identified as Surjit Hermon, a 61-year-old radiologist from Sterling, Ill.

Hermon crashed shortly after 2 p.m. during a practice session for this weekend's Elkhart Lake Vintage Festival Races, said Road America spokeswoman Julie Sebranek. His 1957 Eastlake 11 was pulling out of turn 13 when he lost control and struck a disabled car that had pulled off the track, Sebranek said.

Hermon was taken by ambulance to St. Nicholas Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival, said Coroner David Leffin. Cause of death was blunt force trauma to the neck and chest.

The driver of the second car was treated at the track and released.

Hermon was a member of the Vintage Sports Car Drivers Association and participated in the group's races throughout the Midwest, Sebranek said. He is the second member of the association killed in a raceway crash in just over a month, following the death of a 71-year-old Illinois man in an Aug. 16 race in Michigan.

About 300 vintage and historic race cars are on hand for the Vintage Festival Races, which includes races Saturday and today. The 23rd annual event is staged by the vintage association, and this year celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Austin-Healey Sprite. Sheboygan Press


Clauson to test Ganassi's #40 Cup car at LMS
Bryan Clauson will drive the #40 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge during the Sprint Cup test session next Tuesday and Wednesday at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Clauson, who has competed in select Nationwide Series events this year and will run the entire season next year, could make his first Cup start later this season. Dario Franchitti drove the #40 car for the first half of the season before a lack of sponsorship resulted in the team being shut down. Crew chief Steve Lane remained with the team and will lead the test, while Franchitti has moved over to Ganassi’s IndyCar Series stable. Where the 19-year-old Clauson would make that first start is still to be determined, but Atlanta has been mentioned as a possibility. Clauson has spent time testing a Cup car at non-NASCAR tests. SceneDaily


Ferrari Boss unsure over new street circuits
Luca di Montezemolo
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo is concerned that Formula One's new street circuits are bad for the sport as the series builds up to its first night race at the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix next Sunday.

'I have the impression it will be another one of those letdowns where you cannot overtake, like Valencia. Going forward with these circuits heralds a bad future for Formula One,' he told reporters before also criticizing the points system.

'Another absurd thing is that there are only two points between the first and second drivers,' he added, alluding to the 10 points awarded for a race win and eight for second.

Mr. Montezemolo, who was named chairman of the new teams association before last weekend's Italian Grand Prix, would not comment on championship leader Lewis Hamilton's appeal on Monday over the stripping of his Belgium win for cutting a chicane.

However, Mr. Montezemolo did say rules should be respected.

With four races left this season, McLaren's Hamilton leads Ferrari's Felipe Massa by a point with world champion Kimi Raikkonen 21 points behind the Briton and almost out of the title running.

Mr. Montezemolo, whose team lead the constructor standings, backed the Finn to bounce back.

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Heidfeld has concerns over night rain
Nick Heidfeld
Nick Heidfeld has voiced concerns over racing at F1's first night race at Singapore this coming weekend, especially if it happens to rain while the cars are on track under floodlights.

"The floodlights should ensure it is actually as bright as during the day, but nobody has yet experienced how these light conditions will feel at Formula One speeds," Heidfeld said.

"I would have welcomed the chance to test on the track, especially in the rain," he added. "Rain combined with the artificial light is the great unknown for me with this race. The climate should be similar to that in nearby Kuala Lumpur, and - from experience - it rains frequently there, especially in the early evening."

"In principle, I think it's a great idea to hold a race at night. I'm more of a night person - I like to go to bed late, but am not a great early-riser. For that reason, the rhythm of this weekend should suit me," he went on. "It's a question of adjustment. It's important to eat and sleep at the right times in order to ensure you're really on the button when you need to be."


Skinner puts Toyota on top again
Mike Skinner was all smiles after winning Saturday's Qwik Liner Las Vegas 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The win was Skinner's first since Martinsville in October 2007.
Ronda Greer/NASCAR
Mike Skinner outdueled Erik Darnell on a green-white-checkered finish to win Saturday night's Qwik Liner Las Vegas 350 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race Saturday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Running second, Skinner's Bill Davis Racing Toyota bumped Darnell's Roush Fenway Racing Ford on the final restart and went to the outside in Turn 1. Skinner cleared Darnell entering Turn 3 and took the lead for the 147th lap, one over the scheduled distance on the 1.5-mile track.

Darnell went to the outside in Turn 3 and briefly went into the lead exiting Turn 4. But Skinner won the drag race to the checkered flag, arriving .020 seconds -- less than half a truck length -- ahead.

Skinner's victory was his first of the season and 25th of his NCTS career.

"I had one shot and I had to take advantage of it," Skinner said. "I had to fake to the bottom and go around the outside. I wasn't going to wreck him. We bumped him and had a little momentum, an old trick Dale Earnhardt taught me. The 5 truck is back."

Darnell had led 42 straight laps and held the lead through five restarts before the green-white-checkered.

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tv news

Weekend USA TV Reminders UPDATE The final TV reminders for Sunday are shown below.
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Car Crazy -Brooklands Museum
The first purpose built motor racing circuit in the world
7:30am-8:00am (R) SPEED
10:00am-11:00am ESPN2
NASCAR in a Hurry Dover 
10:30am-11:00am SPEED
NHRA Raceday Dallas 
11:00am-11:30am ESPN2
NASCAR Raceday Dover 
11:00am-1:00pm SPEED
NHRA Race Dallas
12:00pm (L) ESPN360.com webcast
NASCAR Sprint Cup Camping World RV 400 Dover
1:00pm-2:00pm (L) -Pre-race
2:00pm-6:00pm (L) -Race ABC
Superbike World Championship Italy
2:00pm-3:00pm (SD) -Race 1
3:00pm-4:00pm (SD) -Race 2  SPEED
Movie: The Racers (1955)
2:00pm-3:30pm FOX Movie Channel
Check local listings for your time zone
Ricky Carmichael: NEXT 
5:30pm-6:00pm (R) SPEED
Lucas Oil Motorsports Hour -Knoxville Nationals Knoxville, IA 
6:00pm-7:00pm Versus
World of Outlaws -Late Models Franklin, PA 
6:00pm-7:00pm SPEED
SPEED Report 
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Victory Lane Dover 
8:00pm-9:00pm SPEED
NHRA O'Reilly Super Start Batteries NHRA Fall Nationals Dallas
8:30pm-11:30pm (SD) ESPN2
Some schedules show race starting at 8:15pm
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Greg Biffle (NASCAR)
Shane Carson (World of Outlaws) 
9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED
11:30pm-12:30am ESPN2
All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV programs, see TVRacer.com


New complaint alleges racial bias at NASCAR
Dean Duckett, a former NASCAR technical inspector, has filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the stock car racing sanctioning body, claiming he was the victim of discrimination.

In his complaint, a notarized copy of which was obtained by The Charlotte Observer and ThatsRacin.com on Saturday, Duckett said he was subjected to a "hostile work environment" because of his "race and marital status" and was wrongfully terminated. He filed his complaint Sept. 4 with the Buffalo, N.Y., office of the EEOC.

Duckett, who is black, claimed incidents of discrimination began in May 2001 and lasted through his termination by NASCAR on Nov. 14, 2007.

In a brief statement included in the complaint, Duckett wrote: "During my employment I was subjected to different terms and conditions of employment and a hostile work environment because of my race and marital status and was wrongfully terminated in violation of Title VII and corresponding state laws."

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NASCAR dismisses suspended race officials
NASCAR has dismissed the two officials it suspended following an investigation into claims of sexual and racial harassment by former Nationwide Series official Mauricia Grant, a NASCAR official confirmed Saturday.

Grant, an African-American official who worked for NASCAR for about three years before being fired in October 2007, filed a $225 million federal lawsuit against NASCAR in June. Grant details more than 50 instances of alleged racial and sexual harassment in her complaint.

After the lawsuit, NASCAR began an internal investigation into her claims. The two officials were the only ones who were reprimanded by NASCAR as part of the investigation, which is now complete.

In court filings, NASCAR denies virtually all of Grant's allegations


Robert Doornbos grabs Nürburgring pole
Robert Doornbos
AC Milan ace Robert Doornbos returned to his pre-season testing form to grab pole position for round two of the Superleague Formula championship at the Nurburgring today.

Doornbos set the fastest time in the Group B qualifying session, stopping the clocks at 1 minute, 42.920 seconds. He went on to beat FC Porto’s Tristan Gommendy in the Quarter Final and new Corinthians driver Antonio Pizzonia in his Semi-Final.

The Dutch ex-Formula 1 and Champ Car ace was due to face Galatasaray’s Alesandro Pier Guidi in the pole position shoot-out, but the Italian was unable to take to the track for the final due to fuel issues.

The surprise star of qualifying was young German racer Max Wissel aboard the FC Basel car. Wissel - the least experienced of the Superleague Formula drivers - set the fastest overall time in qualifying for the Swiss club in Group A - setting a time of 1:42.652. He continued to show strong pace in the Quarter and Semi Finals, defeating Flamengo in the Quarter Final and leading Galatasaray in his Semi before suffering an oil problem which forced him to abandon the lap.

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Hulkenberg wins in Barcelona
Nico Hulkenberg increased his Formula 3 Euro Series points lead Saturday with a comfortable win in Barcelona.


Pos Driver Team Car Time/Behind
1. Nico Hulkenberg ART D/M 40:54.636
2. Sam Bird Manor D/M +2.263
3. Christian Vietoris Mucke D/M +3.159
4. Yann Clairay SG D/M +11.194
5. James Jakes ART D/M +13.379
6. Dani Clos Prema D/M +14.150
7. Erik Janis Mucke D/M +14.731
8. Kazuya Oshima Manor D/M +18.069
9. Edoardo Mortara Signature D/V +19.215
10. Jon Lancaster ART D/M +20.148
11. Jens Klingmann RC D/V +24.617
12. Franck Mailleux Signature D/V +29.864
13. Peter Elkmann RC D/V +30.544
14. Brendon Hartley Carlin D/M +31.072
15. Stefano Coletti Prema D/M +32.793
16. Niall Breen Manor D/M +40.354
17. Jean-Karl Vernay Signature D/V +49.488
18. Stephane Richelmi Barazi Epsilon D/M +57.694
19. Richard Philippe SG D/M +58.902
20. Rodolfo Gonzalez Carlin D/M +1:03.918
21. Cong Fu Cheng RC D/V +1:04.666
22. Basil Shaaban HBR D/M +1 lap
Not classified
Driver Team Car Laps
Mika Maki Mucke D/M 33
Renger van der Zande Prema D/M 32
Henkie Waldschmidt SG D/M 9
Robert Wickens Signature D/V 3
Jules Bianchi ART D/M 0

Fastest lap, Waldschmidt 1:07.272 on lap 7


World Champion Nigel Mansell Visits MMP
Alan Wilson and Nigel Mansell
Nigel Mansell, the 1992 Formula One World Champion and the 1993 CART Indy Car Champion, made his first visit to Miller Motorsports Park this weekend. He was at the track to watch his sons, Greg and Leo, compete in the penultimate 2008 race for the Cooper Tires Presents the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda, part of the SunRichGourmet.com 1000 presented by The Grand and Little America Hotels.

The elder Mansell, who has raced at and visited racetracks all around the world, was very favorably impressed with the facility and staff at Miller Motorsports Park.

“It is a real privilege to be asked how I feel about this place,” he said, “because the facilities, the people who run it and the security staff are all top-notch. I have never seen anything so well put together.

“And the track is a big, long track. It’s a great circuit. I just can’t say enough about Miller Motorsports Park. This place speaks volumes when you look around at this great track.”

Mansell met with Alan Wilson, the track designer and CEO/General Manager at Miller Motorsports Park, who welcomed him to the Utah facility.

“It is a tremendous honor to have such a great champion visit our facility,” said Wilson. “To receive such high praise from a legendary driver like Nigel Mansell is very, very flattering. We appreciate his nice comments, and hope that he and his family will become regular visitors to Utah and to Miller Motorsports Park.”

Greg and Leo Mansell qualified eighth and 15th, respectively, in the first of two qualifying sessions for Sunday’s Atlantic Championship race.


NASCAR Amends Substance Abuse Policy
NASCAR announced today it has amended its longstanding substance abuse policy to include random testing beginning in 2009. The amended policy mandates that all drivers in NASCAR’s three national series be tested prior to the start of the 2009 season. Team owners must also verify that all licensed crew members have been tested by a certified lab prior to the start of the season. In addition, NASCAR will test its officials prior to the start of the 2009 season. Drivers, over-the-wall crew members and NASCAR officials thereafter will be subject to random tests throughout the year. “We have made a very good policy even better with the addition of random tests,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “NASCAR’s policy has long given us the ability to test anyone, anywhere, at anytime. Random tests now provide us and the industry with additional information.” NASCAR’s substance abuse policy has always prohibited the misuse or abuse of any drug. This means that a violation of the policy can be triggered with the use of any drug or medication if NASCAR believes it has been abused or misused. NASCAR’s sweeping policy of reasonable suspicion remains in effect. Penalties for violation of NASCAR’s substance abuse policy will continue to be among the toughest in sports – immediate suspension from competition. Competitors that violate the policy will continue to be required to meet detailed criteria prescribed by NASCAR’s outside experts in order to be considered for reinstatement. While it is possible that a competitor could receive a lifetime ban for just one violation, a third violation will automatically result in a lifetime ban. NASCAR will continue to work with its outside experts at AEGIS Sciences Corporation and Dr. David L. Black. AEGIS, which has worked with NASCAR on designing and implementing its substance abuse policy, is the largest independent sports and forensic certified testing laboratory in the United States. AEGIS personnel will be responsible for the administration of all preseason and random substance abuse tests. NASCAR PR


Niemela Takes First Career Atlantic Pole Position at Miller
Following a windy final qualifying session on Saturday morning at Miller Motorsports Park, Finnish rookie Markus Niemela retained his first career Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda pole position for Sunday’s SunRichGourmet.com 1000.

Niemela will start from the pole in the No. 8 Mr. Jones Bar & Kitchen/Rauma Town/Turku Karting machine for Brooks Associates Racing by virtue of a lap at 2:28.915 (108.448 mph) set in Friday’s provisional qualifying session. The windy conditions and cooler temperatures prevented virtually everybody from posting a quicker time in final qualifying, allowing Niemela to take it somewhat easy in final qualifying. He goes in search of his first career Atlantic race victory on Sunday.

“It feels all right, I like it,” Niemela said. “I’m really happy about the pole. Now, I have the rest of the day off. It’s nice to be on pole. It’s my first this year. It’s my first in Atlantic. Obviously, I’m really happy. I’m happy for me, I’m happy for the team. We’ve been very close to this so many times and now we could finally seize it and get the pole, so it’s good. Of course, we have the race to do and hopefully I get a good result from that as well. Now I can enjoy it for a while.

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Vettel 'not for sale' - Mateschitz
(GMM) F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone is keen to see Sebastian Vettel switch to a top team as soon as possible.

"We will help him to achieve that," the British billionaire is quoted as saying by Autobild Motorsport.

Vettel, 21, became formula one's youngest pole sitter and grand prix winner in history at Monza last weekend.

He currently drives for Toro Rosso, but is set to move up to Red Bull's sister senior team in 2009.

Ecclestone said: "I have always said that he is good. Now I say he is super."

But Vettel's boss, the Red Bull magnate Dietrich Mateschitz, is not interested in letting the exciting young German out of his grasp.

"Sebastian has a contract with us," the Austrian, who is also a billionaire, told the German newspaper Bild. "He is not for sale. With him, we want to attack the top teams and move to the top."


Giedo van der Garde: All F1-team bosses are gangsters
Giedo van der Garde said in Sportweek that "All team bosses are gangsters, one after the other. Nevertheless I want to race there, because Formula 1 is the highest level of motorsport. Once you are in there, one won't notice it very much, but you must however protect yourself well." 

FYI: Giedo van der Garde is currently leading the World Series by Renault championship by a mile ... but whether he will ever get into F1 after these quotes ... well, only Bernie can tell ... !


Five manufacturers working with IRL on 2011 engine
Five engine manufacturers left a two-day meeting at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week with homework assignments. "We had a couple of good days of meetings with [several engine] manufacturers back in town in a continuation of the process begun in late June with the initial roundtable," said Brian Barnhart, the Indy Racing League's president of competition and operations.

Barnhart said there is a consensus on about 70 percent of the package for a new engine that would be used in the IndyCar Series beginning in 2011. That's where the homework assignments, due in six weeks, come in. The timeline for defining a spec and receiving a commitment from manufacturers to replace the workhorse Honda Indy V8, which has been the sole power plant for the IndyCar Series since 2006, remains the end of the calendar year. That would allow proper lead time for design/development and manufacturing for full-scale testing in 2010.

Among the changes being considered are the addition of turbochargers to the currently normally aspirated engines used in the IndyCar Series. Honda, currently the sole engine supplier for the series, was one of the five manufacturers represented at the latest meetings. IRL officials declined to identify the other four.

"We're very encouraged again by their participation and enthusiasm about potentially joining the series," Barnhart said of the other manufacturers. "We clearly went into more specifics than in our June meeting and made a lot of progress toward defining the potential specs for 2011, and were encouraged by the fact that they're all very much interested in continuing this process." He said the remaining questions are very specific and very important.

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Honda happy with first major KERS test
Alex Wurz concluded the final test of the 2008 season for the Honda team in Jerez yesterday. After two days of testing in the RA108, Wurz spent the final day driving the car with the team's KERS development system in place. He completed 51 laps, evaluating the KERS system at various levels and gathering valuable data.

"It was good to spend three days in the car this week and we were able to achieve a great deal of beneficial work," said Wurz. For the first two days in the RA108, we concentrated on aerodynamic and set-up evaluations, and the car performed quite well on the new track surface in Jerez. Today we ran our KERS system which was a very interesting and promising experience. Every time that we run with KERS, we learn more and start to fully understand its possibilities. It's such an interesting challenge and one that we look forward to developing further over the next few tests."

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Whitmarsh and Haug looking forward to most exciting première in F1
Formula 1 continues to break boundaries as it travels to the Republic of Singapore for Asia’s first street race and the first night race in the history of the sport. The anti-clockwise, 5.067km track will wind through the heart of one of the world’s most striking and energetic cities.

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula 1, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes:
What will be the key logistical challenge faced at the Singapore Grand Prix?
"Inevitably, ensuring all the team personnel have the opportunity to get enough sleep will be the main challenge over the course of the weekend. For example, the mechanics won’t be going to bed until 4 - 5am, because we finish running late in the evening and there is a program of work to complete prior to the next day. There is a clear plan, because we know the timings of the sessions and how much work needs to take place after each of the sessions. The reality is, it will be hard work for the mechanics, engineers, support crew, marketing operation and we will take measures to support this, but I don’t believe it will have a massive impact on the cars and the drivers, with the program for Lewis and Heikki being very carefully planned and monitored."

Is the team planning to take additional lighting?
"Ordinarily, the garage is lit for work at night anyway so that won’t be a new phenomenon. There will be some functional lighting on the pitwall which we don’t currently have, that will be the only addition. In the car the cockpit display is illuminated so that won’t be a problem, and there is an assumption that there will be sufficient ambient luminosity that you can see knobs and buttons in a way you ordinarily could. We are going with a variety of visors with high-contrast, different colorations, as with artificial light you will not have natural shadow and depth perception can be reduced. However, we are expecting the quality of light is so good that we wouldn’t have to do anything, the purpose of floodlighting is to be operating as though it was daylight."

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A step in the dark at Singapore
Formula 1 continues to break boundaries as it travels to the Republic of Singapore for Asia’s first street race and the first night race in the history of the sport. The anti-clockwise, 5.067km track will wind through the heart of one of the world’s most striking and energetic cities. The drivers will race on public roads past landmarks such as the historic Anderson Bridge, St Andrews Road and Raffles Boulevard.

The Singapore event is the second Grand Prix of the season to take place in a city state, Monaco being the other location. However, unlike the tight, twisting Monte Carlo track, the Asian street circuit is wider and significantly faster. An average speed of about 175km/h was calculated for this track. The average speed during qualifying in Monaco this year was about 160km/h. The drivers are expected to reach top speeds of approximately 290km/h along the main straight.

The temporary lighting system is in itself a feat of engineering. 108,423 meters of power cables, 240 steel pylons and around 1,500 light projectors are installed, creating light that is four times brighter than that used at sports stadiums.

The drivers will take to the track for the first time for Friday’s opening free practice at 19:00hrs. Qualifying is the latest session of the weekend, kicking off at 22:00hrs, with the race starting at 20:00hrs on Sunday. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes will be adopting a bespoke nighttime work program, to ensure the drivers and all other team members are able to function to their optimum level during the night. Usually the acclimatization process is vital for the fly-away races that are in significantly different time zones to Europe, however for the Singapore Grand Prix the opposite is true.

Lewis Hamilton:
What are you looking forward to in Singapore?
"I’m looking forward to visiting the country, trying the food, seeing what the track is like, seeing what it will be like to race on. It is going to be an exciting weekend. The race will be quite a fun challenge, and I like a challenge! I’ve never raced at night before, but I don’t think it is going to be a problem. It doesn’t seem to be a problem in other sports and there have been huge preparations for this, so I think it will be great. We are racing on another street circuit, which are a particular favorite of mine. From what I understand it is wide and fairly flowing in nature, which is not what you usually expect from a street circuit, but it sounds like it will be pretty spectacular."   

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Del Worsham to drive Al-Anabi Funny Car
Del Worsham has been named the driver of the Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing Funny Car effective at the conclusion of the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season.  In addition, Aaron Brooks has been named the team's crew chief, it was announced today.

After five years with Don Schumacher Racing, legendary NHRA crew chief Alan Johnson will return to team ownership when Alan Johnson Al-Anabi Racing debuts in 2009 as a two-car NHRA team with one entry in both Top Fuel and Funny Car competition. The driver and crew chief for the Top Fuel car have not yet been finalized. The location of the team's shop is also yet to be determined. 

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Mazda grad Raphael Matos wins Indy Lights crown
Raphael Matos celebrates winning title in Chicago.  This guys deserves an IndyCar shot
Raphael Matos, the talented Brazilian racer who won the 2005 Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear, has clinched his fourth open-wheel racing title in six years by winning the 2008 Firestone Indy Lights championship for AFS/Andretti Green with a record of three wins, five poles and 13 top-10 finishes.  His performance also earned him 'Rookie of the Year' honors.

Matos began his climb up the open-wheel ladder with the Formula Dodge National Championship in 2003.  He moved up to the Star Mazda Championship in 2004, finishing 7th in the championship.  Returning to Star Mazda in 2005, he won the first four races, captured three pole positions and scored eight podium finishes in 12 races on his way to winning the championship.

2005 was the first year of the MAZDASPEED Motorsports Driver Development Ladder, and Matos utilized the sponsorship provided by the program to move up to the Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda in 2006.  He finished 4th in the championship with three second-place finishes and also drove four races in the Indy pro Series, winning the first two.  Returning to the Atlantic Championship in 2007 with Sierra Sierra Enterprises, Matos scored six wins in twelve starts on his way to the championship.

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Multi-year deal sees Honda sponsor Toronto race UPDATE #2 Added photo from announcement Thursday below.

09/18/08 There may be only one Canadian in the field though that will line up for the green flag - Marty Roth of Toronto.

Paul Tracy of Toronto finished fourth in the Rexall Edmonton Indy in July for Vision Racing, in his first IRL appearance since 2002. But the Champ Car veteran hasn't been able to secure a permanent ride.

Michael Andretti said it wouldn't hurt to have a high-profile Canadian in the lineup, but it's not crucial.

Toronto Honda announcement
"Obviously it would be really great to have Paul back in there for sure for the event, but having said that, there is a following for our series here, you just feel it when you come here, everybody knows everything that's going on," Andretti said. "It would be a great bonus if we had them, but we don't I still think it's going to be a great success."

The Ontario government is providing $1 million a year for the next three years for the event, which generates an estimated $50 million in Toronto. CP

09/18/08 Honda to sponsor IndyCar Series race in Toronto: Andretti Green Toronto has signed a multi-year agreement with Honda Canada for the title sponsorship rights to the Toronto-based IndyCar Series event that will debut July 10-12, 2009.

2001 - One of 7 Michael Andretti wins at Toronto
"This is a great day for everyone that is a fan of IndyCar racing in Toronto,” said Michael Andretti, co-owner of Andretti Green Racing and Andretti Green Toronto. “Honda has been a great partner of ours for years, and this will take that partnership deeper into the future. Andretti Green and Honda plan to do great things with this event, and everyone associated with the event is very excited for July 2009 to get here."

Honda employs more than 22,000 Canadians, buys $1.1 billion of goods and materials annually from Canadian-based suppliers, and manufactures about 390,000 vehicles per year. Honda Canada began operations in 1969, selling motorcycles and power equipment. Four years later the Civic was the first car to be sold by Honda in Canada. Today Honda Canada sells more than 170,000 cars and trucks annually, led by the Civic which has been the best-selling car in Canada the past 10 years.

"We are very pleased to be sponsoring this exciting event which has been one of the top attractions in Ontario since it first roared to life in 1986,” said Jerry Chenkin, executive vice president, Honda Canada Inc. “We salute Andretti Green for its commitment to bring the IndyCar Series back to the streets of Toronto as a premier open wheel race series, powered by Honda."

Honda and Andretti Green's event promotions business unit have also partnered on the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Fla.) since 2005.

Press Release

Andretti Green Toronto (AGT) announced today it has signed a multi-year agreement with Honda Canada for the title sponsorship rights to the company's Toronto-based IndyCar Series event. The announcement was delivered at a media conference held today at the Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place in Toronto. 

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Are DPs still as slow as they are ugly? UPDATE #2 The Atlantic Series cars qualified 5 mph faster than the Grand-Am Rolex Series Daytona Prototype Series today at Miller Motorsports Park.  Since the Atlantic Series is considered a third tier ladder series below IndyCar and Indy Lights, one might think that the Grand-Am Series is a fourth tier ladder series for training kids right out of go-karts or Formula BMW.

09/14/08 The Atlantic cars that ran at NJMP this weekend clocked 1m10.211s for pole position, even they are faster than the Daytona Prototypes, which had a pole time of 1m11.76s.  Not only were the Atlantics faster - they actually used the chicanes that the Grand Am did not!  The Atlantic Series is a development series, so not sure where that puts the Rolex Series on the food chain.

09/13/08 In a word, "Yes." A couple years ago, I compared the qualifying times of the Grand American DPs to those of the American Le Mans Series LMPs. As expected, the DPs were slower. The only surprise was that they were so much slower. Having heard that the DPs are considerably quicker now, I decided to compare them again.

Both series ran at Mid-Ohio, about a month apart, this year. The pole time for DP was 1:17.883. The pole time for LMP was 1:07.969, (average speed 104 vs. 119). Put another way, the fastest DP was slower than all of the LMP1 and LMP2 cars, and only 7/1000's of a second faster than the lead GT1. The slowest DP was well off the pace, so I excluded it. The second slowest DP was slower than the first four ALMS GT2 cars.

A comparison of Laguna Seca times yields about the same results -- taking DP from this year and LMP from last year. The DP pole time was 1:19.843, while last year's LMP pole was 1:10.528, (average speed 100.9 vs. 114.2). The DP pole sitter loses out to all LMPs (except for one that was 7 seconds off the pace) and both GT1 Corvettes. The slowest DP would have started behind three GT2s.

Dumbed down racing just doesn't work for me, even though they have some excellent drivers and go to some great tracks. Roger Wyman, Pleasant Hill, CA


Niemela Takes Provisional Atlantic Pole
After a season full of second-place results in practice, qualifying and races, Finnish rookie Markus Niemela found his way to the top of the charts in provisional qualifying for Sunday’s Cooper Tires Presents The Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda race at Miller Motorsports Park.

Driving the No. 8 Mr. Jones Bar & Kitchen/Rauma Town/Turku Karting machine for Brooks Associates Racing, Niemela posted a best lap at 2:28.915 (108.448 mph) to take the provisional pole for the SunRichGourmet.com 1000. Niemela, who is currently third in the championship standings, earned a bonus championship point for his efforts, and he is guaranteed a front-row starting position for Sunday’s penultimate round of the 2008 Atlantic season. He started second last weekend at New Jersey Motorsports Park.

“It was good,” said Niemela. “I got P2 time pretty much in the beginning, then I felt my tires started going out and they told me that I’m two tenths (of a second) from the pole and I have one more lap left. I just thought, ‘I have to throw down everything I have.’ I got the pole by two tenths. I still got one more lap, actually, with the fuel that was going to be a little bit better, but then I made a mistake in the third from last corner and lost a couple of tenths. Anyway, I’m so happy with this. I know there is qualifying tomorrow and this is not the definite pole, but it’s so good to be first on some time sheet. Nobody has been really dominating this year’s championship, but I’ve been definitely dominating the second position. So many times I’ve been second in qualifying, practices and races, and I’ve never been first on any list, pretty much. This is just so good already. Hopefully, tomorrow goes good. I’m going to have 30 minutes of enjoying this and then start thinking about tomorrow.”

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Gordon-GEM Lawsuit dropped - no merger
Robby Gordon Motorsports and Gillett Evernham Motorsports today announced that they have agreed on terms for the resolution of the issues growing out of their former plan to merge the two teams. Disagreements over the merger led to the recent filing of a lawsuit to have the court determine the parties’ rights under the merger agreement. As part of the resolution, the lawsuit will be dismissed and the merger will not proceed. Management personnel for the two teams acknowledge that there were misunderstandings, but both sides acted in good faith throughout, and in the end it was circumstances beyond their control that caused the merger not to proceed. RGM/GEM PR


Franchitti replaces Wheldon for Surfers
Target Chip Ganassi Racing (TCGR) announced today that Dario Franchitti will make his first appearance in the No.10 Target Honda Dallara for the team alongside Scott Dixon (No.9 Target Honda Dallara) in the final race of the IndyCar Series season in Surfers Paradise, Australia on October 25th (10:30pm ET, ESPN Classic).

“I'm really looking forward to getting into the Target IndyCar and to do so in Surfers Paradise, which is one of my favorite tracks, is a big bonus,” said Franchitti. “I'm excited to start working with the team, and Scott as my new teammate. I think this will give us a good jumpstart on the 2009 season.” 

Franchitti was the 1999 winner of the CART sanctioned event at Surfers Paradise. The fight for the series title between he and current Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Juan Pablo Montoya took a dramatic turn that race as Franchitti stormed to a victory from the pole to unseat the rookie sensation Montoya for the championship lead before a record crowd on Australia’s Gold Coast.

With over 180 starts under his belt between the CART and IndyCar Series resulting in 18 wins, 17 poles, 63 top-five and 95 top-10 finishes (1997-2007), Franchitti is the winningest driver in U.S. open-wheel history from Great Britain.


Risi weathers damage from Ike
There have been more than a few tense moments for Risi Competizione in the past week. The Houston-based team sits on the same site as Ferrari of Houston, owned by team principal Guiseppe Risi. Hurricane Ike damaged the dealership but spared the racing infrastructure.

“It’s just nasty and messy,” said Risi’s Don Pierce, general manager of both the dealership and the race team. “There was no food in the supermarkets. No ice. No landline phone service. No power. The dealership (under renovation) was closed for three days. It’s just plain messy. The only break we caught was a cold spell with low humidity.”

Jaime Melo, who will team with Mika Salo and Gianmaria Bruni in one of the team’s Ferrari F430 GTs, said Thursday from Road Atlanta that he had not been to his Houston home since the hurricane came ashore near Galveston. Needless to say, he was eager to get back.

“I have not gotten any calls about anything,” said Melo, who won in GT2 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year with Salo and Bruni. “I hope that means nothing happened.”


Academy Sports + Outdoors to sponsor Kvapil
Yates Racing announced today that Academy Sports + Outdoors,  a leader in the sports and outdoor industry, will sponsor the No. 28 entry with driver Travis Kvapil for the Talladega and Texas races in the remaining NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule.  The primary sponsorship will debut at Talladega Superspeedway on October 5th for Kvapil’s scheduled 100th career start in the Cup series.  The sponsorship marks the first time Academy Sports + Outdoors has been a primary sponsor in any of NASCAR’s numerous divisions. 

“Its pretty cool to be partnered with Academy Sports + Outdoors,” commented Kvapil.  “We’ve had the honor this season of introducing a lot of powerful sponsors to NASCAR’s highest division and Academy has stepped up and told us that they believe in what we’re doing at Yates Racing.  My family is very active when it comes to sports and the outdoors, so this sponsorship is significant to me.  I look forward to serving as a representative for Academy Sports + Outdoors and I’m honored that they chose to sponsor us at Talladega and Texas.”

“This partnership makes sense for Academy Sports + Outdoors as we are a family-owned business with a track record of high performance just like Yates Racing,” commented Rodney Faldyn, President of Academy Sports + Outdoors.  “As NASCAR is more than a sport, it is a lifestyle with a passionate fan base, we to are more than a sporting goods store with many outdoor and lifestyle offerings.  Many of Academy's loyal customers are big NASCAR fans and our sponsorship is a way of supporting the sport they love.”


MotoGP Indy TV Rating
The final TV rating for the inaugural MotoGP Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix on NBC last Sunday was a 0.5/1 share.


NASCAR New Hampshire TV Rating UPDATE The final TV rating for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Sylvania 300 on ABC Sunday was a 3.8/8 share, up 15.1% from a 3.3 final rating in 2007.

09/15/08 The overnight TV rating for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Sylvania 300 on ABC Sunday was a 3.1, up 10.7% from a 2.8 overnight rating in 2007.


Goodyear to test 2 days at Brickyard
Goodyear will conduct a NASCAR tire test Sept. 22-23 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, continuing its development of a racing tire for the 2009 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

This initial test on the 2.5-mile oval will feature one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car equipped with technology to gather data that will be used to construct tires for a major NASCAR Goodyear tire test Oct. 6-8 at IMS that will feature up to 14 cars.

"We're pleased to see Goodyear's commitment to building a tire that will help to create the competitive racing that our fans at IMS expect for the 2009 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard," said Joie Chitwood, IMS president and chief operating officer. "This test is just the first step in a joint effort between NASCAR, Goodyear and IMS to create a first-class race next July."

The 16th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard is scheduled for Sunday, July 26, 2009 at IMS. Tire-wear issues in the first "Car of Tomorrow" race at IMS prompted NASCAR to call six competition cautions at this year's event.

"We've set a very aggressive schedule to come up with the right tire recommendation for the 2009 race at IMS," said Stu Grant, Goodyear's general manager of global race tires. "This is the first test of two we have scheduled for this fall, and our intention is to return again in the spring."


F1 teams complete final test of 2008
Formula One teams completed their final test of the 2008 season at the Jerez circuit today under sunny skies, with air temperatures of up to 38 degrees Celsius.  Pedro de la Rosa was fastest in his McLaren.



Driver Team Time Laps
1. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes 1:18.992 90
2. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber 1:19.250 98
3. di Grassi Renault 1:19.280 102
4. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:19.470 93
5. Buemi Red Bull-Renault 1:20.005 84
6. Glock Toyota 1:20.482 111
7. Wurz Honda 1:22.658 51
8. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:22.806 102


India not ready to host GP - Karthikeyan
(GMM)  Narain Karthikeyan, the only Indian ever to have raced in formula one, has expressed doubt that his country is ready to host a grand prix any time soon.

Another Indian, Force India team boss and Indian national motor sporting federation chief Vijay Mallya, said recently that preparations for a Delhi race are on track, with the backing of a major Indian bank.

He also said organizers have obtained land, set aside race fees, and will begin building a circuit outside the capital city in early October.

"Right now there is no infrastructure to hold (a) F1 race," 31-year-old Karthikeyan, who raced for Jordan in 2005 and now contests the A1 series, is quoted as saying by Merinews.

He said India's hopes of staging a grand prix, despite the country's booming economy, cannot be compared to the arrival of other new F1 hosts on the calendar, like Bahrain.

"The kingdom of Bahrain had unlimited funds and could hold the race successfully.  Whether we have such funds?  I don't think so," Karthikeyan said.


Conquest Racing strengthens marketing staff
With the 2008 season coming to an end, the Conquest Racing team has begun work on 2009 by taking on a new direction with the implementation of the team’s “Accept No Limits” business philosophy and by appointing marketing and sales veterans to the Conquest Marketing Department.

While the drivers and engineers continue to work with the car’s competitive limits, the business side of the team is making sure nothing is holding them back and accepting no limits as they keep moving forward in preparation of the 2009 season and beyond.

One of the first steps taken by team founder Eric Bachelart under Conquest’s new philosophy was the addition of key sales and marketing professionals. Making up the bigger and better Conquest Racing marketing team are Lou Cantin, Director of Sales and Marketing, Pablo Santa Cruz, Business Development Consultant and Brian Skinner, Sales and Marketing Consultant.

“We’re focused on moving ahead, on growing this team as we continue to pursue excellence in the IndyCar Series. It’s been a year of learning for us, of getting used to our new surroundings and now we’re ready to take this one step further,” said Eric Bachelart, Conquest Racing Team Owner. “The additions of Lou, Pablo and Brian are an important first step in helping us take on this new direction, their experience and different expertise will be of great value to us as we take this team to the next level.”

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McLaren eyes engine 'joker' advantage
(GMM)  McLaren boss Ron Dennis has questioned Ferrari's decision last weekend to send Felipe Massa into the Italian grand prix with a new engine.

With a new rule nicknamed the engine 'joker', each driver on the grid is permitted one out-of-sequence change without penalty.

Given the rain in Monza and the fact that peak engine performance is not needed, Ferrari appears to have wasted their 'joker' engine change for Massa
But Dennis believes Ferrari's move at Monza was a "brave decision", given the Brazilian's delicately poised championship battle with Lewis Hamilton and still four races to go.

"Ferrari will be heavily penalized if they have an engine failure during practice," he is quoted as saying by The Guardian.

On a dry track in equal conditions, Ferrari and McLaren are closely matched for performance, which makes additional factors including weather conditions and engine 'jokers' all the more key.

"I think this world championship will boil down to whichever team and driver makes the fewest mistakes from now on," McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh observes.

"We're lucky that both our drivers can still play their engine 'joker' card, which is reassuring, but it's all about finding strength in every single area and not exposing any weaknesses," he said.


Teams test tire markings at Jerez
(GMM)  F1 teams this week tried a few of Bridgestone's proposed solutions for visibly distinguishing its tires in 2009.

With the sport set to revert to slicks next year, it will no longer be possible to set the compounds apart by painting a groove white.

At the Jerez test this week, which is the last group test of the 2008 in-season, cars were spotted running some of Bridgestone's ideas for the slick tires -- including painting white and also colored (such as purple) lines on the sidewalls.

It is understood that, based on the results of the several alternatives tested this week, and also at other previous tests including recently at Monza, the Japanese supplier will examine video and photo evidence and then make a decision.


Audi strengthens driver squad for Petit Le Mans
Two of this year’s Le Mans 24 Hour race winners Dindo Capello (Italy) and Allan McNish (Scotland) strengthen the Audi driver squad at the 1000-mile race Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (Georgia) on 4 October.

Audi is unbeaten to date in this classic US long-distance race. The Audi R8 won six times in succession between 2000 and 2005. In 2006 and 2007, Dindo Capello and Allan McNish triumphed with the Audi R10 TDI diesel-powered sportscar.

On the first weekend in October, Capello and McNish compete together with the Italian Emanuele Pirro. The Audi R10 TDI with start number 2 is driven as usual by the two Germans Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner, who already clinched the LM P1 Drivers Championship in the American Le Mans Series 2008. The two Germans will attack the 1000-mile race at Road Atlanta without the support of a third driver.

This year we won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the American Le Mans Series and the Le Mans Series in Europe with the R10 TDI, says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. Obviously wed like to continue our winning streak in the American Le Mans Series most important race alongside Sebring. In the shape of Acura/Honda, Peugeot and Porsche we have very strong competitors, some of which have also strengthened their driving squad. I’m convinced that we are in a good position with our driver line-up.

Four of the five Audi drivers have already won the 1000-mile or maximum ten hour race at least once. With a total of four overall victories (2000, 2002, 2006 and 2007) Dindo Capello is the most successful Petit Le Mans driver. Allan McNish triumphed at Road Atlanta in 2000, 2006 and 2007, Emanuele Pirro 2001 and 2005, and Marco Werner 2004.

racing news

Racing names make Forbes 400 Richest Americans list
These racing names are among the Forbes list of 400 Richest Americans.

Rank Name Net Worth ($ Billion)
68 John Menard Jr. 5.0
321 Tracy Krohn 1.5
321 Roger Penske 1.5
355 James France 1.4


Testing at Lowe's next week
Ticket holders for the Oct. 11 Bank of America 500 are invited to experience Sprint Cup Series testing from pit road on Tuesday, Sept. 23 and Wednesday, Sept. 24. More than 40 drivers are scheduled to participate in the test which runs from 1pm to 9pm with a break from 5pm to 6pm each day. Fans that purchase, or have purchased, a ticket to the Bank of America 500, can get a closer look at their favorite drivers and watch the teams work on their cars with access to bleachers set up behind pit road near victory circle. In addition, Lowe's Motor Speedway's frontstretch grandstands will be open to the general public for viewing free of charge. Gates open at 9am each day. Tuesday also marks the first day that all remaining 2009 tickets for the historic 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600 and the 25th running of the Sprint All-Star Race go on sale. The Lowe's Motor Speedway ticket office will be open extended hours from 9am to 9pm both Tuesday and Wednesday during testing. Additional information about tickets for all Lowe's Motor Speedway events can be obtained by calling 1-800-455-FANS or online at www.lowesmotorspeedway.com


Racing After Dark in Singapore
Click on image to watch video
Formula 1 takes a step into the unknown with the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix on September 28 - the first Grand Prix to be held at night. The Panasonic Toyota Racing team has experience of night racing from its Le Mans 24 Hours campaigns in the 1990s and it has used that knowledge to prepare for the Singapore Grand Prix. Around 1,500 lights will illuminate the 5.067km Marina Bay circuit but the lack of natural light is not the only unique factor; rain is possible and teams face the unusual situation of air and track temperatures falling during the course of the race and practice sessions.


Key Ford exec quits company
One of the key executives responsible for overseeing Ford Motor Co.'s global cost-cutting efforts has quit to become chief financial officer of an Ohio paper company.

David Prystash, a 24-year Ford veteran, submitted his resignation last week. He was the controller of Ford's global product development operations.

Prystash will be taking a job as CFO and senior vice president of NewPage Corp. of Miamisburg.

"He had an opportunity outside the company," said Ford spokeswoman Marcey Evans. "He's elected to leave the company."

His last day at Ford will be today, the company said.

Ford has been struggling to rein in costs as part of a massive restructuring effort aimed at returning the Dearborn automaker to profitability.

The automaker has lost $23 billion since the end of 2005, including $8.7 billion in the second quarter this year.  Detroit News


Alonso would hire Kubica
(GMM)  Two time world champion Fernando Alonso has singled out his friend Robert Kubica as his ideal pick for a grand prix team.

Amid speculation that Alonso might switch to BMW-Sauber for 2009, Poland's 23-year-old Kubica this week said he would have no problem teaming up with the Spaniard.

"If I was a team boss I would take on Kubica," 27-year-old Alonso said in interview with Germany's Sport Bild.

"Why?  Because he was always the fastest one, even in karts when he raced against Hamilton and Rosberg," he added.


Toro Rosso faster than Red Bull - Vettel
(GMM)  Monza winner Sebastian Vettel has played down his notable performance this week at the wheel of Red Bull's Renault-powered RB4 chassis.

The 21-year-old German won last Sunday's Italian grand prix from pole in the Ferrari-powered STR3; an almost identical car raced by sister team Toro Rosso.

Vettel then travelled to Jerez to test for Red Bull, in order to get used to the team he will switch to for 2009.

He was always among the fastest two runners on both Wednesday and Thursday, despite gearbox and engine problems.

Speaking to the Cologne publication Express, Vettel said of the RB4: "It has potential, but our (Toro Rosso's) car is faster."

Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz said after Monza that he believes the teams' Adrian Newey-penned chassis is arguably the fastest on the grid at present.

"Our handicap is the Renault engine.  We don't have this problem with (Toro Rosso) Ferrari," the billionaire told Austria's Kleine Zeitung.

But Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost rejects suggestions that, given the Italian team's current form, Vettel should be lamenting his call-up to the senior outfit.

"With the many regulation changes that are coming, Toro Rosso cannot keep up.

"With Red Bull he is taking a step forward towards a top team."


Singapore race almost sold out already UPDATE (GMM)  Singapore is on the verge of securing a full house for its inaugural formula one night race, race organizers said on Thursday.

It was announced that more than 99 per cent of the tickets that went on sale for the new street race, representing all but a few hundred tickets, have been sold, with the rest likely to be snapped up prior to the event next weekend.

The finishing touches are now being put to the Marina Bay circuit, including the testing of the full lighting system, which will be put through its paces for a total of 100 hours in the coming days.

Lighting boss Valerio Maioli said the tests will only be carried out during the day, so that the effect of the floodlit circuit after sunset will be a surprise.

"At the end of this weekend, many visitors will arrive, many journalists will arrive, and I wish (this) will be a surprise for them," he said.

08/19/08 Ticket sales for the 2008 FORMULA 1™ SingTel Singapore Grand Prix continues to be brisk as the countdown clock hits the 40-Day mark.

“More than 95% of the tickets have already been sold, with 40,000 of the 100,000 tickets available per day, or 40%, sold to purchasers outside of Singapore,’’ said Mr. Teo Hock Seng, chairman of Singapore GP Pte Ltd, promoter of the world’s inaugural night Formula One race. “Over the three day event over 300,000 spectators will get to enjoy this unique race”.

The strong sales performances impressive, given that Singapore GP initially planned only 70,000 tickets when launched in February 2008. Though this number was subsequently increased to over 100,000 in the last few months, less than 5% of tickets are still available.

Although the larger grandstands are already fully sold out there are still some great viewing opportunities at the Padang, Connaught, Singapore Flyer, Turn 2, and Esplanade grandstands. Walkabout tickets are also fully sold out.

General tickets can be purchased via the official website at www.singaporegp.sg or Singapore GP’s appointed ticketing outlets in key markets outside of Singapore, including North America, Europe, Australia and Asia. Details of authorized distributors can also be found on the website.


Kimi still not ready to back Massa title UPDATE #2 (GMM)  The Italian press is continuing to push world champion Kimi Raikkonen about his reluctance to declare his full efforts to the championship charge of his Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa.

The Finn took over from team test driver Luca Badoer at the Mugello circuit in Italy on Thursday, where local reporters asked him again if he feels ready to race as Massa's lieutenant for the final four races of 2008.

"I do not feel like I am the second driver; I will continue to try as hard as I can," Raikkonen, 28, is quoted as saying by the Turin-published La Stampa.

He said winning the world championship for himself is still his main target.

"It is not going to be easy, but you never know.  I am going to keep thinking from race to race, not about what has happened recently.

"Only at the end will we find out where everybody finishes," Raikkonen insisted.

Meanwhile, some sections of the press are repeating rumors that Raikkonen, who has not won a race since April's Spanish grand prix, may be having relationship problems with his wife Jenni.

09/15/08 (GMM)  Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali has dropped a big hint that the balance of reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen's 2008 campaign will be spent helping teammate Felipe Massa to the title.

On Sunday at Monza, the Finn's failure to score points dropped him a full 21 points behind championship leader Lewis Hamilton with four races to go, while Massa is just 1 point adrift the McLaren driver.

Raikkonen, 28, did not seem keen to fall into line when he spoke to reporters after the Italian grand prix.

But Domenicali told the press: "Our main interest is the team and the drivers know it.

"Of course Kimi will do his best to be as aggressive as possible but also consider the fact that Felipe is much closer to Lewis," the Italian added.

While the majority of teams test at Jerez this week, Ferrari will be in action alone at its own circuit, Mugello.

09/14/08 (GMM)  World champion Kimi Raikkonen fell further behind the 2008 title fight on Sunday, but the Finn will still not pledge his remaining efforts to Felipe Massa's more promising campaign.

Raikkonen, in finishing out of the points at Monza, is now a full 20 points behind Massa in the drivers' standings, while Brazilian Massa trails leader Lewis Hamilton by a single point with four races to run.

But to reporters after the race in Italy, 28-year-old Raikkonen would not commit to now supporting Ferrari's best hope for the crown.

"I don't know, we will see what happens," he said, just days after Ferrari announced he will stay with the Italian team for at least two more years.

"I'm not really interested in thinking what we are going to do in the next races."

Recovering to fight for the 2008 title must now be a distant hope for Raikkonen, while doing so may steal points from Massa, who has not been declared Ferrari's number one driver for the rest of the season.

The Finn, who recorded the fastest lap of the race at Monza, insisted of his own chances: "It is not good but we'll keep trying and hoping to do better in the next races."


Price vs. fuel savings for Chevy Volt debated
Chevy Volt Power
by Dick Pong/AR1.com
The average U.S. driver of a Chevrolet Volt is expected to save $1,500 to $2,000 a year on fuel, compared with today's compact cars and about $1,000 a year compared with a Toyota Prius hybrid.

But the debate continues over how much consumers will pay to get the fuel savings.

If the batteries being tested measure up, General Motors Corp. expects to launch the Volt in November 2010, with a propulsion system that can drive 40 miles on an electric charge alone before using an onboard gas-burning generator to power its electric motor for several hundred more miles.

GM heralds the Volt as the vehicle that will change the auto industry. While the vehicle has the potential to save the average U.S. driver a significant sum annually, some say sales will be constricted by the vehicle's price or by new competition.

GM, which unveiled the production design of the electric Volt on Tuesday, has yet to say how much the range-extended electric vehicle will cost when it goes on sale, but early estimates have put the cost in the mid-$30,000s to low-$40,000s.

"My research tells me people won't pay that kind of premium," said Kevin Tynan, an analyst at Argus Research. His research shows that consumers won't pay more than $2,000 extra for a fuel-efficient vehicle.

Kelley Blue Book lists the sticker price of a 2009 Toyota Prius as starting at $22,720 and a 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid as starting at $24,225.

David Thacker of Fairfield, Calif., said consumers are willing to pay a premium to reduce their carbon footprints.

"I would pay $30,000 to $40,000 today for an electric vehicle," Thacker said. The bigger problem for GM, he contends, is that it could have serious competition by late 2010.  Detroit Free Press


Records show settlement in NASCAR plane crash
NASCAR has verbally agreed to a settlement in the death of a pilot killed when a company plane crashed in central Florida last year, a newspaper reported Thursday.

A handwritten document in the court file of NASCAR pilot Michael Klemm noted a $2.4 million “wrongful death claim approved,” according to records viewed by The Daytona Beach News-Journal this week before they were sealed.

Klemm and Dr. Bruce Kennedy, husband of International Speedway Corp. President Lesa France Kennedy, died when their twin-engine plane crashed into this suburban Orlando neighborhood on July 10, 2007. The crash ignited a blaze that killed three people in two houses.

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Indy 500 champs headline Petit Le Mans lineup
Four Indianapolis 500 winners, including the past two who also happen to be IndyCar Series champions, will be among seven IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights drivers competing in the 11th Petit Le Mans on Oct. 4 at Road Atlanta.

Dario Franchitti, who will return to the IndyCar Series for 2009 in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car, is the latest to be announced for the 1,000-mile/10-hour race. He’ll co-drive the No. 9 Patr¢n Highcroft Acura prototype sports car with 1996 IndyCar Series co-champion Scott Sharp and David Brabham.

Earlier, Penske Racing entered a third RS Spyder -- to be driven by 2008 IndyCar Series championship runner-up Helio Castroneves, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, and Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe. Reigning Indy 500 and IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon will co-drive the No. 66 de Ferran Motorsports car with 2003 Indianapolis 500 champion Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud.

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Panther Racing signs another foreigner for Firestone Indy Lights
Martin Plowman has signed with Panther Racing to drive one of the team’s Firestone Indy Lights entries for the 2009 season.

Plowman, a native of Burton-Upon-Trent, England, is following in the footsteps of English drivers who have successfully driven Firestone Indy Lights cars for Panther: Mark Taylor, who won seven races en route to the 2003 series title, and Dillon Battistini, who won four races as a rookie in 2008.

“It’s a real honor and a fantastic opportunity to join the Panther Racing team,” said Plowman, who competed as a factory-supported driver for Volkswagen in the Formula 3 Euro Series in 2008. “Moving up to the Firestone Indy Lights series will be a big step for me on many levels, as I will have to face driving on an oval for the very first time. Everything will be new to me, from the car to all of the circuits and even the culture and way of life as I will be moving to live in Indianapolis shortly.”

Plowman, 20, has made 14 starts in the Formula 3 Euro Series, which has produced drivers such as IndyCar Series standout Ryan Briscoe and current Formula 1 drivers Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.

Plowman began karting at age 8 and won the 2000 British Yamaha Open title at 12. He went on to become the youngest winner of the French Open International Championship in 2003 before winning the 2004 Asia Pacific Championship. In 2006 and 2007, Plowman raced in the Formula Renault 2.0 Italy series and the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, where he amassed four podium finishes and a pole position.

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3 Roush Engines stolen
Thieves made a fast getaway after taking three NASCAR racing engines from a well-known race shop in Mooresville.  Police say someone broke into the Roush/Yates engine shop and got away with three of the big Ford engines used by the team in the Nationwide and Truck Series.

If the thieves are thinking of dropping one of these engines under the hood, they better think again.

They are 358 cubic inch Ford racing engines known for putting out lots of horsepower.  The engines are worth $50,000 each. 

"These are not everyday engines, these are NASCAR specific engines, you can't put them in a car, plus they are Roush Yates engines, very specific," said Mooresville Police Lt. Joseph Cooke.

The engines were taken sometime Monday night from the shop off Mazeppa Road.

One of the workers said he knew it was going to be a bad day when he came to work and saw a big hole in the wall.

The hole is big enough for thieves to get inside, then open the door. 

Each of the engines weigh more than 500 pounds.  They're kept on rollers and that made it easy for thieves to roll them into a cargo van they happened to steal from another race team.

"They stole a Penske rental truck, like a cargo van and used the cargo van to load up the engines and take the engines away." wbtv.com


Suspended crew chief apologizes for fighting
Benched for a week by NASCAR for the fight between the Germain Racing crew and the Red Horse Racing team, crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. said that his team will not appeal the penalty and he will take responsibility for his actions.

The crew chief for Todd Bodine apologized once again Wednesday for the fight, which occurred after the Craftsman Truck Series race won by Ron Hornaday on Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“The biggest thing I want to get across is to apologize to NASCAR and their officials, Ron Hornaday, [crew chief] Rick Ren, KHI, our sponsors, … [and] to all the fans, especially the families that have to try to explain to their children like I had to do on Sunday that it’s not OK to fight, it’s not OK to let your tempers flare and get into those kind of confrontations,” Hillman Jr. said in a phone interview.

“Sometimes you get passionate about what you do and sometimes you do things out of passion and you have to serve the penalties and consequences.”

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Ginetta-Zytek LMP1 for team LNT at Petit
Ginetta-Zytek LMP1
Team LNT will make its American Le Mans Series return - and first foray into prototype competition in North America - with a Ginetta-Zytek LMP1 entry for Petit Le Mans powered by the Totally New MAZDA6, team officials announced today. It joins Corsa Motorsports’ P1 entry for two Zyteks on the grid for the American Le Mans Series’ cornerstone event.

Danny Watts (under management with LNT) will again drive for Team LNT with the yet unnamed second driver said to be one of considerable “experience and speed.”

Team LNT’s last appearance in the American Le Mans Series was a fifth-place GT2 showing in 2006 with a Panoz Esperante GTLM. That was a precursor to a class victory at Le Mans, the first for the team and the Panoz brand at the world’s greatest auto race.

The new Ginetta branding of the Ginetta-Zytek LMP car is symbolic of the recent announcement that Bill Gibson (Zytek founder) and Lawrence Tomlinson (Ginetta’s Chairman) now have an equal controlling interest in Zytek Engineering.

Tomlinson's Zytek involvement has accelerated several development areas such as the new Zytek LMP2 engine and a new 4.5-liter LMP1 engine that will form the basis of the recently announced hybrid project with Steve Pruitt’s Corsa Motorsports.

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Vettel tops Thursday times at Jerez
Sebastian Vettel has topped the timesheets at Jerez. In this third day of testing, the German was lapping the Red Bull car in preparation for 2009. Nick Heidfeld was second fastest, followed by Renault's test and GP2 driver Lucas Di Grassi.

Vettel set the quickest time today, despite missing what's known as "happy hour" in the first part of the morning when the track is at its fastest. He was forced to sit this out as the RB4 required an unscheduled engine change. Once out on track,  the  team  successfully  worked  through  both  an  aero  and  a  mechanical comparison  test  which  produced  positive  results.  Unfortunately,  shortly  after starting a long run test, the rain arrived and although Vettel did some running on rain  tires,  it  effectively  put  an  end  to  the  day.  The  track  surface  is  completely new and this was the first time it had been used in the wet and it was, therefore, extremely slippery.  For the final day tomorrow, Sebastien Buemi takes over at the wheel of the Red Bull car, having tested for Scuderia Toro Rosso here yesterday.

1. Sebastien Vettel Red Bull 1:18.001
2. Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:18.167
3. Lucas Di Grassi Renault 1:18.999
4. Pedro De La Rosa McLaren 1:19.281
5. Alexander Wurz Honda 1:19.499
6. Takuma Sato Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:19.574
7. Kamui Kobayashi Toyota 1:19.863
8. Kazuki Nakajima Williams 1:21.892


School honors pupil Vettel
(GMM)  Sebastian Vettel's high-school has changed its name following his debut grand prix win at Monza last Sunday.

Attended only a couple of years ago by the now 21-year-old German, the Starkenburg-Gymnasium, located in Vettel's native Heppenheim, announced this week it will temporarily be officially called 'Sebastian-Vettel-Gymnasium'.

"We are extremely proud of him, even if perhaps we contributed not so much to his success," deputy head master Karl-Heinz Diedrich told the German news agency SID.


Stuck - BMW should have kept Vettel
(GMM)  Hans-Joachim Stuck, a former German racing driver with long links to BMW, has questioned the Hinwil based team's decision last year to let Sebastian Vettel switch to Toro Rosso.

Vettel, who wowed the world of formula one by winning last Sunday's Italian grand prix from pole, was - despite firm existing contractual links to Red Bull - actively involved with BMW-Sauber last year as test driver.

"A year ago it wasn't possible to put him in our car, he was very inexperienced and you cannot gamble," team boss Mario Theissen explains.

But Stuck doesn't see it like that.

"The BMW management have missed what was the right time to have the right driver," he told Spox.

"That he drives now for a different team, makes no sense to me," Stuck, who raced in F1 in the 70s, continued.

"BMW surely had their reasons, but I would have probably done things differently," he added.


Goodyear completes tire tests at Atlanta, Daytona
Goodyear officials brought the three drivers who tested at Atlanta Motor Speedway in late July back to the track Tuesday to make sure that its new right-side tire will be conducive for good racing at the track.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch, Yates Racing’s Travis Kvapil and Haas CNC Racing’s Scott Riggs spent the day testing the new right-side tires that were to go along with the same left-side tire that ran in Atlanta last March. At that race, drivers complained that the tires were so hard, they were too slick and made for dangerous racing.

"The spring race at Atlanta was the first for the new car on this track, and many people felt we were too conservative in our tire selection," Goodyear general manager of global racing Stu Grant said in a news release. "We have returned to the track twice for testing since the race in order to develop a tire combination that provides a higher level of grip under race conditions.

“Based upon the data and driver feedback at the test this week, we believe that we've found a solid package for the fall race."


Penske signs Justin Allgaier as part-time driver
Penske Racing has named Justin Allgaier as its Nationwide Series driver for select races in 2008 and 2009.

“We’ve had our eye on Justin for some time, and Penske Racing is fortunate to be in a position to bring him on board,” Penske Racing president Tim Cindric said in a news release. “Roger always enjoys the opportunity to grow people within our system and we are looking forward to helping him achieve his career goals.”

The 22-year-old Allgaier was the youngest driver in Chili Bowl history to advance to the final event when he accomplished that feat in the prestigious Midget race at age 14. Allgaier has three career ARCA wins and 13 top-10s in 18 career ARCA races. He also has competed in eight Craftsman Truck Series races.

“What a great opportunity to join Penske Racing and to show what we are capable of together in the Nationwide Series,” Allgaier said.


IRL has 2nd meeting with 5 engine manufacturers
Indy Racing League officials and prospective manufacturers of the next generation of IndyCar Series engine retired from Round 2 of discussions Sept. 17 with homework assignments due in six weeks.

The sanctioning body has targeted introduction of new engine and chassis specifications for the 2011 IndyCar Series season -- the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 - with a desire for multiple manufacturer participation in the engine program. Dallara will be the sole supplier of the chassis, which also is currently on the drawing board.

"We had a couple of good days of meetings with (five) manufacturers back in town in a continuation of the process begun in late June with the initial roundtable," said Brian Barnhart, the Indy Racing League's president of competition and operations, who noted that this round of talks purposely did not include engine rebuild shop representatives who were present at the initial roundtable.

"We're very encouraged again by their participation and enthusiasm about potentially joining the series. We clearly went in to more specifics than in our June meeting and made a lot of progress toward defining the potential specs for 2011, and were encouraged by the fact that they're all very much interested in continuing this process."

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"Red Bull's handicap is a Renault engine
At Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso they work with the same equipment and Red Bull Technology. But in the last couple of races, to the surprise of most fans, Scuderia Toro Rosso is doing extremely well and fighting for positions with its big brother Red Bull Racing. According to Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz the biggest problem is the team's engine supplier Renault.

"Since a couple of months we have one of the best chassis' in Formula 1. But we also have a handicap, which is the Renault engine," Mateschitz told Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung. "Toro Rosso doesn't have that problem with Ferrari engines. That is the reason why Toro Rosso's combination is faster than Red Bull Racing."


Latest F1 news in brief
  • Kimi admits title defense nearly over
  • STR chiefs fly in to assess Vettel successor
  • Mosley defends plan for standard F1 engine
  • Bridgestone confirms special paint for night race
  • Clos likely to test for Williams again

Kimi admits title defense nearly over
(GMM)  Kimi Raikkonen has admitted that, in the absence of a dramatic turnaround in his current form, he is not going to defend his world championship.

Monza last Sunday was his fifth failure to score points at a grand prix this season, meaning the Finn has dropped a full 21 points off Lewis Hamilton's title lead.

"Obviously you don't have to be Einstein to realize that this is not the way to fight for the championship," the Ferrari driver admitted on Wednesday.

Raikkonen is, however, refusing to either give up, or pledge his full support for the much more realistic championship challenge of his teammate, Felipe Massa.

"It's not over, I'll never give up," he said.  "I would like to win a couple more races before the end of the season."

Raikkonen said the crux of his problem is getting the tires to work for him, especially on a wet track, "and it seems to rain almost in every race nowadays", he lamented.

McLaren chief executive Martin Whitmarsh agrees that his team has a definite advantage when the skies turn dark.

"While Singapore is something of an unknown quantity," the Briton said, "I think we've all experienced wet races in Japan, China and Brazil so we feel well prepared."

Ferrari is testing away from the other teams at Mugello this week, hoping to get to the bottom of the F2008's problems.

"We wouldn't mind if it would rain the whole week," Raikkonen said.

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