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Without stars, IRL is racing into oblivion  What if they gave an IndyCar party and only Danica came? This is the basic dilemma facing the IRL in general and our very own RIR in particular -- those initials standing for Indy Racing League and Richmond International Raceway, just in case your appreciation for speed and ovals is confined to the nags at Colonial Downs.

The IRL and RIR annually overlay their lettering in late June. It's the track's whine-and-grease alternative to those two thunderous NASCAR weekends when all the Jeffs, Tonys and Juniors come to town.

The NASCAR races routinely sell out.

The IRL is a harder sell.

And getting harder by the nanosecond.

Some (male) IRL drivers have grumbled about Danica Patrick stealing the show. By next June 28 when the circuit comes to Richmond, she might be the whole show.


OK, maybe not quite literally -- but it sure seems that way. Dario Franchitti, the Indy 500 winner and 2007 IRL points champion, is out the door (well, cockpit) and headed for NASCAR as soon as he can wiggle free from Andretti Green Racing. Sam Hornish Jr., who won the 500 and series championship in 2006, is within a snap of car owner Roger Penske's fingers of switching to NASCAR, too.

They'd join 1997 IRL champ Tony Stewart and open-wheel expatriates Jeff Gordon, Robby Gordon, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Juan Pablo Montoya and J.J. Yeley, among others, on the NASCAR tour.

Oh, and when Formula One pilot Jacques Villeneuve hits Daytona next January, he could give NASCAR four Indy 500 winners -- Montoya also having swigged milk in 2000 at the Brickyard -- on the starting grid.

Will the last hot-rodder to leave the garage please turn out the lights.

"The open-wheel series are struggling, and NASCAR is on the rise," is how Newman explained the tilt when he talked with reporters last week. "It's obviously a great way to make a living." More at Richmond Times Dispatch

Related article from 2005: That sucking sound you hear is NASCAR

Hamlin battles through flu, wins at Dover  DOVER, Del. -- Fighting off the effects of the flu, Denny Hamlin passed Martin Truex Jr. with 14 laps left in the RoadLoans.com 200 NASCAR Busch Series race on Saturday at Dover International Speedway and pulled away to win his third race of the season.
Hamlin, who had to take on fluids intravenously before the race, pitted for four tires and fuel under caution on Lap 167. He restarted eighth on Lap 170 and gained two positions before the caution flag flew for a track-record-tying 13th time because of AJ Allmendinger's spin in Turn 2 on Lap 171.
After the race restarted on Lap 175, Hamlin picked off the five cars ahead of him, passing third-place finisher Matt Kenseth for second on Lap 183 and Truex, the race runner-up, in a drag race through Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 186. More ...
Martinez visits Forsythe  Mexican driver David Martinez traveled to Indianapolis to visit Forsythe Championship Racing’s race shop this week.  The primary reason for the trip was to create a custom fit seat and adjust the different controls, dials and pedals in the new DP01 chassis which Martinez will be testing for the first time Monday and Tuesday at the historic Sebring International Raceway.  The 25 year old driver also took the chance to sit down with his engineer, Brandon Fry, and discuss the plans and strategies that they will develop during the Sebring test and the two races which he will take part off, Surfers Paradise and Mexico City.  

The Champ Car Atlantic graduate’s previous experience in a Champ Car came last year when he qualified and finished ninth in his Series debut at Mexico City also with the Forsythe Team after having only one test day to get used to the 750 horsepower machines.   

David Martinez #7 INDECK Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone.
“I am very motivated, I got to visit the team again after one year and felt a very warm and friendly welcome by everybody.  We made a seat which only took a couple of hours and right I way I felt very comfortable inside the car.  I’m trying to spend the most amount of time possible with the team so I can be relaxed and get up to speed right away in Sebring.   

I had a chance to meet my engineer, Brandon Fry, and right away I could tell that we have great chemistry just like I had last year with Alex Timmermans.  Really overall there is a great atmosphere within the team, I think everybody was very happy with the results that we had last year in Mexico and we are all motivated to do even better this year.”
Dominguez meets the Mexican media  UPDATE According to AutoRacing1.com sources Dominguez will drive a full year for PCM in 2008 as well.

09/21/07 Photos from today's press conference of Mario Dominguez announcing his deal with PCM to the Mexican media. No news about his sponsor yet, or for David Martinez. One can assume Telmex will be backing one of their cars and another last minute sponsor deal for the other. This press conference is the start of a buzz in the Mexican media (TV, print and internet) as OCESA has started to finally promote the race. No word yet about ticket sales. Hector Serrano reporting from Mexico.


Young Brit to test Champ Car  UPDATE Conquest Racing is keen to announce they will be participating in a two day test, September 24th and 25th, at the Sebring International Raceway in Florida with promising rookie driver, James Winslow. This will be an evaluation test for Winslow and an opportunity for Conquest Racing to check out future race talent.

Eric Bachelart, Conquest Racing Team Owner, and the rest of the team are constantly looking for opportunities to develop future talent for the Champ Car World Series and felt that with the six week break in the season schedule, this was an ideal time to test the Formula V6 Asia competitor.

"I am very happy to be joining Conquest Racing for the test in Sebring,” said Winslow. “They are an outstanding group of guys and a great team. This is a huge opportunity for me as I plan a career in Champ Car, I must thank Conquest very much for their invitation."

James began his racing career in karting before making his way to single seat racing, starting with British ARP F3. After becoming the British ARP F3 champion, he moved on to the expanding Asian F3 championships. He successfully scored multiple podium finishes and won the 2006 Asian F3 series.

In 2007, Winslow has competed in multiple Australian F3 championship races and is currently the leader of the 2007 Formula V6 Asia Championship. James is now setting his sights on the Champ Car World Series with his first testing session at Sebring International Raceway. Conquest Racing PR

09/21/07 James Winslow will test with the Champ Car World Series team Conquest Racing at Sebring Monday and Tuesday [24-25 September] .

The Briton has been a race winner in both the Australian F3 and Formula V6 Asia championships this season, and currently leads the V6 series after a double victory at Chengdu last weekend.

“This is a very exciting opportunity for me,” Winslow said, “Champ Car is obviously a step up from what I have been doing over the last couple of seasons but, despite my success in both F3 and V6, I didn't expect to get a chance to try the DP01 quite so soon.

“Naturally, I am extremely grateful to Mr. Bachelart for giving me the chance to run at Sebring, and I hope to do a good job for him. After a few years in F3, I am looking to progress to something different next season, so it will be interesting to see what doors this test may open.

“Conquest may not be the most well-known team in Champ Car, but Mr. Bachelart runs a tight ship and Jan Heylen showed with his second place at Assen just what the team can achieve. I am looking forward to joining them at Sebring.”

“I know Sebring is famous for its bumps and for being a quick lap,” he said, “but I'm a fast learner and I hope to prove that next week.”

Dalziel Considering 2008 Offers  Following the news that his rookie season in the 2007 Champ Car World Series has been cut short prematurely, Scotland’s Ryan Dalziel is firmly focused on securing a full-time race seat for the 2008 season and has already received a number of solid offers from open-wheel racing and sports car teams.  In addition, the popular driver could return to the Champ Car grid at seasons-end with an offer currently being tabled by another team to return for the Mexico City round in November.

  Released by Pacific Coast Motorsports (PCM) on Thursday despite an impressive record this season of six top-ten finishes in 11 starts for the rookie Champ Car squad, the 25-year-old from Lanarkshire is currently reviewing his options with the Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series and the Indy Racing League figuring in his on-track plans for the future.

  “Obviously Thursday’s announcement came as a big shock to me,” stated Dalziel. 

  “I’ve had a good three-year relationship with Pacific Coast Motorsports and I’ve been grateful for the opportunity to race for them having represented them in the American Le Mans Series, Grand-Am and this year in the Champ Car World Series.  Naturally I’m disappointed with the team’s decision, not least given some of my performances this season including leading laps in Toronto and coming close to scoring their maiden podium.  That said it’s time to move on and I’m pleased to say that I’ve already received several offers for next season and I’ll be looking to firm up my plans as soon as possible.” More ...
Mortara wins wet first race in Spain  In pouring rain, Edoardo Mortara (Signature-Plus) came out on top. The Italian won the 15th season round of the Formula 3 Euro Series at the 2.977 kilometres long Circuit de Catalunya. Nico Hülkenberg (ASM Formule 3) and Romain Grosjean (ASM Formule 3) completed the podium. Sébastien Buemi (Mücke Motorsport), Grosjean’s fiercest rivals in the battle for the title in the world’s strongest junior racing series, failed to score points in the Barcelona region.

At the start, Hülkenberg took the lead. On lap eight, he locked up under braking and briefly came off the track. In the process, he lost two positions as Mortara and Dillmann wend past him. The German fought, overtook Dillmann on lap 17 and secured second place behind Mortara. For the Italian, it was already his second victory in the Euro Series after his success at Brands Hatch.

Grosjean crossed the finish line in third place, but he was given a one minute time penalty after the race because on the starting grid, the mechanics had been working on his car longer than admitted. He appealed against the decision, which has a delaying effect on the penalty. Thus, he was allowed to keep his third place for the time being. As a result, Grosjean extended his margin in the championship over Buemi to twelve points. More ...

Loudon winner barely qualifies at Dover  Car owner Bill Davis was shut out of the field here this weekend when both Dave Blaney and Jeremy Mayfield failed to qualify.  Also missing the cut: Ward Burton, Scott Wimmer, Sam Hornish Jr. and Kevin Lepage.

And Loudon winner Clint Bowyer was surprisingly far off the pace in qualifying and will start at the very back of the field.  RCR teammate Jeff Burton didn’t fare much better. But they’ll have good company back there, with Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon.  Adding insult to injury for Bowyer — he’ll have to share a pit stall Sunday with Michael Waltrip.

McGrath gives up on Nextel Cup dream  JR Motorsports development driver Jeremy McGrath has left the team and has joined a Late Model team on the West Coast, closer to his home.  JR Motorsports Vice President of Competition Steve Crisp confirmed Friday the departure of the motorcycle supercross star. 
"He's got a little girl, and he's got another on the way," Crisp said. "Looking at what he's done, he's had a full career, a very successful career - and a career that's every bit as taxing as a Nextel Cup driver. He traveled all the time, had to go all over the world.

"He wanted to drive a stock car, but he didn't want to get into the traveling. "And he didn't want to relocate his family. Looking at those two components, that mean he probably needed to do it on the West Coast."

McGrath, who lives in the San Diego area, has Monster Energy Drink as one of his sponsors, and that would have been an apparent conflict with JR Motorsports owner Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s deal with Mountain Dew Amp Energy beverage. Scenedaily.com

NASCAR New Hampshire TV rating  UPDATE #2 CORRECTION: Last Sunday's Nextel Cup race at New Hampshire received a final 3.3 national TV rating on ABC, according to Nielsen Media Research.  The rating was down 11 percent from a 3.7 rating received on TNT last season.  According to unofficial statistics, this year's rating ranks among the lowest for a Chase race since the format's inception in the 2004 season.

The top-rated sports events the last two weeks, not surprisingly, were NBC’s Sunday night NFL games: an 11.6 rating (13 million viewers) Sept. 9 and a 9.8 rating (11.1 million) Sept. 16.  Any hope of NASCAR someday being on par with the NFL now appears to be a distant dream.

09/17/07 The final national rating on ABC was a 3.3, up from a 3.0 last year on cable but down from a 4.2 in 2005.

09/17/07 The overnight TV rating for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Sylvania 300 on ABC was a 2.8, down from last year's 3.0 on cable TNT and a 4.2 the previous year, also on cable TNT.
Robert Yates returns for parting words  Dover, Del. — Robert Yates, recently owner of the No. 38 and 88 Ford Fusions and a fixture in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series garage since the 1960s, made his first appearance at a race track on Friday since announcing his retirement a few weeks ago.

"A few weeks ago, I decided that it’s time for me to actually go find something that’s fun to do that I could do well, and pass the torch on to Doug [Yates, son]. I think that scenario is going to work out much better. I made that decision with the other people—and certainly they’re great people, but I just decided that I didn’t want to go back to work for them, and it’s a huge responsibility to tackle that. So, I apologized to them, they’re great people, but I just decided I had enough, and I just want to go try to enjoy a few years of my life.”

“The thing with Dale [Earnhardt] Jr., people don’t know, but Ralph Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Sr., his dad, they taught me a huge lesson in life. It would be a long story to explain that, but certainly they taught me that respect is earned, and not something that you can demand; you have to earn that. I didn’t quite understand it with Ralph, but after Dale came along—I had so many relationships and deals with those two guys, to see Ralph’s grandson and Dale’s son, he’s going to do a great job with the number. And some of my life really got started with Rick Hendrick, so I think they’ll do that number justice.

"It’s been a good number with the Gatorade car that I worked on, it’s been a good number for the Quality Care, and we’ve done pretty good with the UPS thing. I think these guys will take the 88 number to where it needs to be. It’s really not so much a number—we were going to do it anyway, but the fact that I could give back to the Earnhardts and be part of that family, for me, and some other people might not understand that, but for me I have a lot of reasons why I want to do that and I’m happy I could do it.”

“You’ll have to talk to Doug. It’s so much better, and I learned that, I’ll tell you people this: The kids do so much better when it’s their decisions, when they have to tough through it. It’s just hard to pass the wisdom, it’s hard to pass on anything to your kids, but Doug Yates is pretty close on my heels to help build this the last 20 or so years. He’s not like a normal second-generation, silver-spoon kid, but he’s learning, he’s challenged, he wants to do this, and the best thing for me to do is let him make these decisions, whether it be the number or how he runs or what he does. So, it’s up to Doug. You’ll have to talk to Doug, because if I make the statements for him, he respects his dad enough that he’ll try to do that. It’s totally Doug’s decision. So, you’ll have to talk to Doug.” More ...

NASCAR controls the numbers  A common misconception in NASCAR Nextel Cup racing is that the teams own their numbers and can trade them freely among each other. In fact, NASCAR owns each and every number in the Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series and licenses them to the teams on an annual basis. That’s the formal policy. Informally, NASCAR has on occasion permitted the exchange of number between teams, which was the case when Robert Yates Racing agreed to forego its right to the #88 so that Dale Earnhardt Jr. could use the number in 2008 when he moves to Hendrick Motorsports.

RYR agreed to give the number up and Hendrick went to NASCAR for approval of moving the #88 to Earnhardt’s car. But the transfer wouldn’t have happened without the OK from the Yates organization, which next year will campaign #28 in the Nextel Cup Series for Travis Kvapil and #38 for David Gilliland. The deal to move the #88 to Hendrick was negotiated between Robert Yates and Earnhardt’s sister and business manager, Kelley Elledge Earnhardt.  Ford Racing

Single tire proposed for MotoGP in 2008  In today’s Grand Prix Commission meeting at Motegi, the scene of the A-Style Grand Prix of Japan, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta proposed the introduction of a single tire rule for MotoGP in 2008.

Speaking shortly after the meeting, Mr. Ezpeleta explained to motogp.com the circumstances surrounding the proposal, which will be decided upon at the forthcoming Polini Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix.

“We have made a proposal in the Grand Prix Commission meeting today to reach an agreement between all the different tire manufacturers for the use of tires in 2008, owing to the situation in which some factories believe that they can’t have tires which they think are competitive. We thought that the best possibility is to go to a one-tire rule.” said Mr. Ezpeleta. “This is only an initial proposal. If the situation is not resolved by Malaysia, then all relevant parties –the FIM, IRTA and the MSMA- will reflect on the situation and during the Grand Prix weekend make their final decision.”

Bridgestone are the current leaders in the MotoGP ‘tire war’, having experienced their best ever season in the World Championship. Rivals Michelin have previously been the dominant force in MotoGP, and have won the last fourteen World Championships since Wayne Rainey took the title on Dunlops in 1991. 

Japan: Pedrosa on pole, Hayden outside  Both Repsol Hondas will start Sunday’s Grand Prix of Japan from the front row after a highly impressive show of pace by the factory Honda squad in today’s qualifying session at the Twin Ring Motegi. Dani Pedrosa produced another dominant display and has been fastest in every session this weekend before taking his second pole position of the season by 0.391s Saturday afternoon.

Just as important as securing the front slot on the grid has been Pedrosa’s pace on race tires this weekend. The 21-year-old Spaniard was able to complete a high number of laps on his Michelin race tire options today including a lap of 1m 47.155s this morning which is inside the existing race lap record of 1m 47.288s.

As promised, Nicky Hayden made substantial improvements at Motegi today as he made full use of the two one-hour sessions. In the morning the World Champion knocked a full second from his best lap time of yesterday and finished the session in third place behind Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi. With his first qualifying tire in the afternoon the 26-year-old from Owensboro, Kentucky went to second on the time sheets before being nudged back to third by Rossi. A small mistake on his second qualifier cost the World Champion a chance of pole position, but Hayden was pleased to record his fourth front row start in successive races.

The weather is expected to be unpredictable tomorrow at the 4.801km (2.981-mile) Motegi circuit with a chance of rain for the 24-lap race, so the Repsol Honda Team will remain vigilant as the 14.00hrs start time approaches. More ...

Woman wins NASCAR race  Chrissy Wallace, daughter of NASCAR driver Mike Wallace, won the 50 Lap NASCAR Bojangles Late Model Stock Feature at Hickory Motor Speedway last Saturday night.
Ferrari accepts constructors' crown  (GMM)  Ferrari has now accepted that it "has won" the 2007 constructors' world championship.

Following news that McLaren will not appeal the World Motor Sport Council's sanctions for espionage, the Maranello based team announced in a statement: "Ferrari will now invest all its efforts over the final three races of this championship in trying to also win the drivers' world title."

The 2007 crown is Ferrari's fifteenth in total and seventh in the last nine years.

Allmendinger finally comes good  AJ Allmendinger tied for the 10th best time in qualifying for Sunday's Dover race Nextel Cup race.  After he and his rookie Toyota team struggled to even qualify early in the season, the former Champ Car driver appears to finally be getting the hang of the 3500 Lb stock cars.

Meanwhile another former Champ Car ace, Juan Montoya, who has already won two NASCAR road races, will start 2nd for the 2nd time. 

New Dale Jr. merchandise flying off shelves  When Dale Earnhardt Jr. cracked the tab on that first AMP Energy drink Wednesday in Dallas, traditional retail stores such as Wal-Mart and K-Mart gobbled up 160,000 t-shirts.

Gold mine.

"Right off the gun," said Joe Mattes, JR Motorsports VP of licensing. "That's a lot for this sport."

And Mattes would know. He used to run Dale Earnhardt's merchandising empire.

In all, 200,000 Dale Jr. No. 88 t-shirts have been ordered for sale.

"It makes sense," Mattes said. "There's two sponsors -- it's a double-hit. It's not like a [typical] guy coming out with a new sponsor. It's Dale Jr. with two sponsors. His fans have to have one of each.

"They're shipped and ready to go. We hit it right. Everyone kept quiet about it. By end of weekend, all said and done, there's a couple hundred thousand t-shirts sold. A lot of them are pre-booked. NASCAR.com and dalejr.com are close to record days. There's so much pent-up demand, [fans] are hitting it hard." More at ESPN.com

NASCAR pioneer G.C. Spencer dies at age 82  G.C. Spencer, one of NASCAR’s pioneer drivers, died Thursday at the age of 82. He made his NASCAR debut in 1958 and competed in 415 races before retiring in 1977.

"G. C. was one of those guys everybody liked," said NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter. "I never heard anyone say anything negative about him. He helped build the sport everyone enjoys today."

Spencer, who drove the No. 49 for much of his 20-year career, had 55 top-five finishes and 138 top 10s. Although he never won a race, he finished second seven times.

His best season was 1965 when he finished fourth in the standings behind Ned Jarrett, Dick Hutcherson and Darel Dieringer. He finished the year with 14 top fives and earned his only career pole, at Hickory Motor Speedway.

Toyota's Q and A with Dieter Gass  Dieter Gass, Chief Engineer Race and Test of Toyota, talks about the return of Fuji Speedway to the Formula One calendar for the first time in 30 years. He indicates how the team is preparing for this new challenge and what the expected problems might be.

With Fuji Speedway returning to the calendar for the first time in 30 years, how does the team begin preparing for a new circuit?
"First of all you get a CAD (Computer Aided Design) file with the circuit data, so we can start to run some simulations in our software and get a first impression of what the circuit is like. We are able to simulate all set up aspects of our car and see the results of set-up changes on the new track. Effectively our simulation software calculates virtual laps of the circuit showing the effects on lap time of running different levels of downforce or different set-up options. Using these simulations we are able to find the best starting set-up for the new circuit, so we arrive at the track well prepared."

What areas are we able to simulate?
"You start to determine what downforce level gives the best lap time on the new circuit. Once you know that, you look into which gear ratios suit the track with the given level of downforce, before you get into more detailed simulations of different set-up solutions. Getting a bit closer to the weekend, you start running race simulations in order to predict the optimum race strategy. This prediction takes into account estimates of relevant characteristics of the new track, like the degradation of the two Bridgestone tire compounds and the effect the fuel has on lap time. If you have more fuel in the car, this affects your lap time, but we can accurately predict how much time is lost with every extra kilogram of fuel carried." More ...

tv news
Weekend USA TV Reminders  UPDATE The full Saturday and Sunday TV listings are now shown below.

Courtesy of TVRacer.com

NASCAR Live! Dover
11:00am-12:30pm (L) SPEED
Go or Go Home Dover
1:00pm-1:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Busch Practice Dover
1:30pm-3:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying Dover
3:00pm-4:30pm (L) ESPN2
NASCAR Grand National Busch East Division Dover
4:30pm-6:30pm (L) HDNET
NASCAR Live! Dover
5:00pm-6:00pm (L) SPEED
6:00pm-6:30pm ESPN2
Trackside Dover
7:00pm-8:00pm SPEED
FIM Motocross -World Championships
10:00pm-11:00pm The Outdoor Channel More ...
Hulkenberg takes F3 pole  Nico Hülkenberg (ASM Formule 3, 1:06.755 min) set the fastest lap time in free practice of the Formula 3 Euro Series in Barcelona. At the 2.977 kilometers long track, the German outpaced Franck Mailleux (Manor Motorsport, 1:06.974 min) who was second. Romain Grosjean (ASM Formule 3, 1:07.008 min), who arrived in Spain as the points leader of the world’s toughest junior racing category, finished the 60 minutes’ session in third place from James Jakes (Manor Motorsport, 1:07.092 min).

Halfway through the session, Nico Hülkenberg took over the lead in the classification from Romain Grosjean. At this time, the German was the only driver in the field to achieve a lap time under 1.07 minutes. Afterwards, Grosjean tried to claim back first place with a few improvements of his personal best time. However, the 21-year old failed to do so and Hülkenberg remained first. “The position is okay, but we still have to improve. The set-up of the car isn’t perfect yet”, the German summed up.

In the closing stages, Franck Mailleux also outpaced Grosjean and took second place. The French rookie was the second driver in the 25 cars strong field to crack the 1:07 barrier. “Compared to yesterday’s test, the track was different, because it was warmer and the DTM cars already had left some rubber on the track. Now, we have to adapt our set-up to the changed conditions, but we are on the right way.” More ...

Split has open-wheel drivers flocking to NASCAR  UPDATE A reader writes, While all these drivers from CCWS, IRL and F1 are going over to NASCAR, are the fans following them?  I think not by looking at the attendance in the stands and the TV ratings.  I believe racing in the US has peaked and people are getting tired of all the changes.  Most NASCAR fans hate the open wheel drivers coming into their turf along with TOYOTA.   NASCAR has managed to eliminate the true racing teams that try to find that little advantage to beat the other guy.  Cookie cutter cars now just add different decals on them, and PLEASE don't lean on the fender you may change the aero on it. Yes CCWS and the IRL have shot themselves in the foot and need to somehow get together. Each series has its good and bad points but it can be put together and win in the long run.  In the short run money talks but how long will that last.  All the series are losing sponsors and most teams are merging.  Why, because of the cost involved. NASCAR has too much TV coverage while CCWS & the IRL has so little.  Joe Steber, Albrightsville, PA.

09/21/07 [Editor's Note: The creation of the IRL in 1995 and the damaging split it caused in open wheel racing has led to the exodus of sponsors, teams and now drivers out of all levels of open wheel racing in America.  In essence Tony George cut his own throat (and that of the many players in open wheel racing) because when the sport eventually dies, so too will his Indy 500.  And that will forever be George's legacy.]

The expected and heretofore not denied jump of freshly crowned IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti to NASCAR is more than just one of them deals.

The shocker raises several pertinent questions.

Among them:

Does the Scotsman's departure signal the beginning of the end for the Indy Racing League and its elite IndyCar Series?

Is NASCAR, anathema for North American open-wheel aficionados, deserving of the best the open-wheel genre has to offer?

But before we get to the answers, this sidelight. In an interesting twist, Daytona International Speedway is touting the fact February's 50th running of the Daytona 500 might very well include past Indianapolis 500 champions Franchitti, Sam Hornish Jr. and Jacques Villeneuve, not to mention Juan Pablo Montoya . . . which begs another question.

When was the last time the stock car world gave credence to the possible presence of past Indy 500 champions in one of its premier races?

Anything to sell tickets I guess, but if the speedway can't sell out this 500, it might as well lock the doors and turn the place into an amusement park.

But, back to the germane issues, namely the exodus in the IndyCar Series.

Can it survive without 2007 Indy 500 winner Franchitti and 2006 champion Hornish, who also is headed to NASCAR next season? More at Florida Today

Latest F1 news in brief  UPDATE Updates shown in Red below.

  • Speed set to launch NASCAR career
  • Spy emails 'not big deal' - Montoya
  • Spyker agree to F1 team sale
  • Wurz agrees to silence over F1 future
  • Sutil admits other teams want him for 2008 New
  • Heidfeld wants several more years on grid New
  • McLaren will not appeal spy saga penalty New

Speed set to launch NASCAR career
(GMM) Axed Toro Rosso driver Scott Speed is set to kick off a new career in American tin top racing.

The Californian, who was replaced by Sebastian Vettel recently following a falling out with his F1 team bosses, will drive a Red Bull-sponsored car in the ARCA race - a stepping stone to the NASCAR series - at Talladega next month.

"I come from a completely different world of racing, so there's no doubt it's going to be a challenge learning how these cars handle," he said. "But I'm ready to get out there and see what I've got," Speed said.

Spy emails 'not big deal' - Montoya
(GMM) Former McLaren driver Juan Pablo Montoya has played down the involvement of the team's drivers in the espionage saga.

The Colombian, who switched to the NASCAR series last year, agreed that the spotlight deserved to be shone on McLaren because the Stepney-gate affair was "crossing the line" in terms of formula one cheating.

But he played down the emails, that ultimately led to McLaren's $100m fine and championship exclusion, that were sent between Fernando Alonso and Pedro de la Rosa.

"They aren't really that big of a deal because you can always find out what everybody else is running," Montoya said in an interview with the news agency AP. "Somebody will always open their mouth.

"You go for dinner, and somebody will say 'We are running this weight and doing that.' So most of the time you can find out what people are running anyway."

He suggested that even de la Rosa's discussions with Mike Coughlan about Ferrari's weight distribution and other detailed matters was not overstepping the mark. More ...

A speed bump in ethanol country  Construction of new ethanol plants in Illinois has stalled, a sign that the ethanol boom that's fueled a Farm Belt renaissance has peaked.

Falling ethanol prices, combined with rising costs for financing, construction and the corn used to make ethanol, have forced developers to put dozens of plants on ice.

Since 2006, the state has issued permits for 38 new plants. So far, just five are under construction. Observers doubt the remainder will be built anytime soon.

"None of the new projects are going to go forward in this environment," says Chet Perry, CEO of ITEC Refining & Marketing Co. in Barrington, whose plans to build an ethanol plant in Downstate Princeton are now on hold. "It's not even a situation where the banks have to tell us" to stop, he says. "We see the red ink."

The slowdown in plant construction signals, at best, a cooling of the ethanol-driven transformation of the perennially dicey farm economy.

Rural towns plagued by population loss and disinvestment over the past three decades had in the past two years started attracting dollars and new jobs as investors rushed to capitalize on ethanol and build plants.

Demand for corn as an ethanol feedstock has driven prices to record highs, filling farmers' pockets with cash that they spent on new tractors, pickup trucks and equipment. Land values have risen with the price of corn, further boosting farmers' wealth. More ...

Rahal Challenges Chicagoans  The Champ Car World Series and rookie driver Graham Rahal of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing today will visit Chicago-area students and ask visitors at the Grand Opening of the 200th Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes store in the Calumet Park area, south of Chicago, Illinois, to take the Champ Car Hands on the Wheel safe driving pledge.

The day begins with young Rahal returning to High School, albeit for only an hour, to meet with students at Dwight D. Eisenhower High School this morning. The visit is designed to raise awareness on safe driving, talk about the dangers of texting while driving, and secure students’ pledge to practice safe driving techniques. Rahal will challenge the Advanced Automotive Class students of Frank Valentino to secure additional pledges from friends and family, and plans to treat the class to lunch if they reach their goal.

“Unsafe driving is an on-going problem that requires attention,” says Rahal, who currently sits fifth in the Champ Car World Series championship points race. “I have signed the pledge, and all other drivers in the Champ Car World Series and Champ Car Atlantic Championship did so as well. It takes great concentration and precision to handle a 750-horsepower Champ Car, but it takes that same level of focus to handle your every day car so we can keep our streets and highways as safe as possible. I hope that everyone follows our lead and takes the pledge to not be a distracted driver.” More ...

How Hamilton’s title hopes were saved  The following outlines Counsel for McLaren rookie Lewis Hamilton, Mark Phillips QC pleas at the recent World Motorsport Council hearing to allow the drivers to keep their points and race for the crown:

"Mr. President, Gentlemen and Ladies, my opening remark is that, from the length of time that Lewis Hamilton spent giving evidence earlier today, you may think that this has very little to do with him. However, in our respectful submission, it probably has more to do with him than with many others involved.

"You have received a written statement from Lewis Hamilton and you almost heard oral evidence from him. Every word I am about to say has been read and approved by Lewis himself. You know that he knew absolutely nothing about Mr. Stepney and Mr. Coughlan or any Ferrari information. He knew nothing of the e-mail exchanges you saw between Mr. de la Rosa and Mr. Alonso. You have had evidence and heard submissions from many others, and have obviously formed your conclusions. As an informed observer, having looked at the evidence from the outside, I ask you whether, if that information had been present at the last hearing, would you now be thinking as you are, or whether your thought process has been affected by the fact that those particular e-mails were not identified at the time and have emerged subsequently. I leave you with that thought. More ...

There’s more ’Indy’ in NASCAR than IRL  A reader writes, Dear AutoRacing1.com, Looks like now and again next season there will be more Indy 500 winners in NASCAR than the IRL. So much for Anton's Vision! If Penske and Ganassi are such big IRL supporters why do they keep moving their top divers to NASCAR? Are they getting ready to bail after Honda decides to leaves the IRL? Mike Neubaurer

Dear Mike, We stated long ago when the IRL was created that NASCAR would steamroll right over Indy Car racing because of the weakened state of open wheel racing as a result of the split. We doubt 100% throttle racer Danica Patrick is good enough for NASCAR, but if she leaves the IRL for NASCAR and Honda leaves too, it will be lights out as the IRL will be in serious trouble and Anton's legacy (the complete destruction of America's oldest form of racing - open wheel) will be complete. Mark C.

Nico is not for sale!  Williams’ driver Nico Rosberg has been touted as a replacement for double world champion, Fernando Alonso, should the Spaniard and McLaren go their separate ways, however team boss Sir Frank Williams has reiterated that the young German is not for sale, in fact he is a very big part of their future and he is not for sale, no matter what the price.

"We want to come back into the top three, and for this target we need a driver of Nico’s qualities,” Sir Frank told our spies in Belgium. “If I sell him, I would act against this plan."

Nico scored points for the fourth time in a row at the recent Spa event, and this proves even more that he could be a winning driver in a winning car, especially as his 5th place on the grid was just as impressive as Hamilton’s 4th place. Even his teammate, Alexander Wurz is full of respect. More ...

Team USA
Barrett and Miller Impress in Atlantic Test  Buttonwillow, Calif. – Patrick Barrett and Joel Miller enjoyed a new highlight in their burgeoning careers on Tuesday when they each tested a US RaceTronics Atlantic car at Buttonwillow Raceway.

Aside from the sheer thrill of spending virtually a whole day behind the wheel of a 300-hp Champ Car Atlantic machine, they also learned a great deal about what lies in store for them in the future.

The test was made possible by support from the Pacific Coast Motorsports Champ Car World Series team, Buttonwillow Raceway, the Champ Car Atlantic Championship, Cosworth USA and Cooper Tire.

"This was a fantastic experience," said Barrett, 18, from Los Osos, Calif. "I had a great time working with everyone at US RaceTronics and really enjoyed driving the Swift 016.a Atlantic car. I learned a lot about what it takes to pilot these cars successfully and how important it is to get up to speed quickly. Driving the car is more physically demanding compared to the F2000 that I currently race. It gave me a good reference on what I need to work on most with my training program in terms of strength and endurance." More ...

Revenge is sweet.....and getting sweeter  UPDATE In his latest SPEEDTV.com article Robin Miller (who had his hard card media credential pulled in 2007) hammers Champ Car once again for dumping Ryan Dalziel and Oriol Servia for Mexican drivers Mario Dominguez and David Martinez ahead of the Mexico City race. As Miller points out, Dalziel and Servia outperformed their teammates all year long yet they were the ones who got the boot.

"Canceling three races in one season is bad enough but this amateurish treatment of two good racers illustrates just how little Gerry Forsythe and Kevin Kalkhoven understand about professionalism, continuity or racing," said Miller.

"To end a three-year relationship like this is what is so disappointing," said Dalziel, who teamed with Figge in Grand Am before they moved to Champ Car. "We were talking about next year a couple days ago and now I'm done? I'm totally confused.

"I don't know whether to blame PCM or Champ Car but I can't take too many more of these things from Champ Car. This has really been a bad day."

Asked if he'd spoken with his PCM teammate Alex Figge, Dalziel replied: "No, and that's unusual because we talk every day but I'm sure he's quite disappointed."

Along with everyone else who knows what Servia and Dalziel have endured to make it into Champ Car. They weren't ride buyers, they were serious racers who didn't deserve this kind of bush league treatment.

Make it two more black eyes for Champ Car.

09/19/07 What did Champ Car accomplish by pulling Robin Miller's media hard card except to cut its own throat? Making an enemy with the media can never be good. In his latest SPEEDTV.com article Miller points out all the flaws that surrounded the old CART series and then aims for the Champ Car juggler vein with this closing:

"I really like these two guys [Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty] and I want them to have a successful financial future as well as continued success on the track," said GAINSCO team owner Bob Stallings, who also serves as manager of the two drivers.

"I've been approached by every organization, IRL, Champ Car, ALMS, about moving to their series for 2008 but we really like this series because you don't have to spend $15 million to be competitive.

"You just need a couple excellent drivers and some great people around them."

With sports car racing having a bit of a renaissance in this country, Fogarty and Gurney seem content. Now both 32, open wheel racing, specifically Champ Car, doesn't hold the allure it did for them a few years ago.

"Right now Champ Car is just a blip on the radar and we don't have a huge desire to do it," said Fogarty. "We've got families and we want to be in something with a future.

"This is good racing and we've got a helluva team."

Plus an environment where they're appreciated.

Tracy reaffirms commitment to Champ Car  With all the recent news about open wheel racers making the move to NASCAR, Tracy once again set the record straight that he has no plans to leave Champ Car anytime soon.

"Right now the series is on rocky ground but I'm going to be loyal, and I'm not looking around. I'm happy with the amount of money I make, and though I'm not happy with how we're running right now, that's something we can work on.

"And I told Kevin that Champ Car can use me as a utility to promote the series and I'm committed to try and see it through. I've been through the best and been through the worst and I'm committed to Champ Car."

Japan: Pedrosa again fastest in practice 2  Still in with the slimmest of mathematical chance of becoming 2007 MotoGP World Champion, Dani Pedrosa was the fastest rider at Motegi on day one of MotoGP practice for the A-Style Grand Prix of Japan.

The Spaniard, who also made the unsurprising announcement today that he would be continuing as a Honda rider for at least the next two seasons, cut over a second and a half off his fastest time from this morning with a 1’47.865 lap of the Japanese track originally designed to test Honda bikes.

For the moment, Pedrosa has been the only rider to have gone round in under 1’48, with his closest rival today being Randy de Puniet - nearly four tenths of a second behind him. Just over a tenth of a second separated the remainder of the top six, all using Bridgestone tires chasing the times of the Michelin shod timesheet-topper. More ...

Montoya: Ron Dennis favors Hamilton  In an interview with news agency the Associated Press, former McLaren F1 driver Juan Montoya said: "Fernando is a nice guy, but he was the No. 1 at Renault and he was used to winning and getting everything.

"Then he went to McLaren, and when Connie and I heard that Lewis was going to be his teammate, we said 'Oh my God.'

"We immediately felt sorry for Fernando because Lewis is Ron's baby. Ron paid his whole career, so Ron wants him to win and not Fernando. He would rather see Lewis win, who is like his own child to Ron. Fernando is nothing to him."

"Ron, outside the work environment, is a great guy," Montoya said. "But he's two different guys. The guy who I signed with and played golf with, he just didn't exist in the office. He was just a different person, you wouldn't even recognize him.

"He wants to control everything, and I think Fernando is (angry) about that because he is not used to someone controlling everything and did not like that Ron was like that. I think Ron is used to drivers who don't say anything back.

"They are very quiet and very nice and do what everyone says, and I came along and he didn't like that. Now I guess Fernando is the same way."

"He thought he was going to come in and be No. 1, and he's just not.

"They try to make them be equal, but Lewis is genuinely a really fast driver. And apart from being really fast, he's Ron's favorite. It's just the truth, and it makes it bad for Fernando."

Montoya not surprised by spygate episode  "It's just how Formula One is," said Montoya in an interview with the Associated Press.

"Teams are allowed to bend the rules too much. That's just my personal opinion, but I always felt like people bent the rules and that some teams were allowed to bend the rules more than others. But this? This is crossing the line."

"Someone is always cheating. All the teams have photographers who take pictures of everything on the car. Everybody does it. Here in NASCAR, you have the car right next door to you, you can see it and everything on it.

"But in F1, if someone tried a new wing or something, everyone would go and take pictures of it. A million pictures of the wing at every angle and then they'd put it on the wind tunnel and go try it.

"Everyone copies. It's just the way F1 works. There are so many ways for people to bend the rules." More ...

Dani Pedrosa re-signs with HRC  Dani Pedrosa has today renewed his contract with HRC (Honda Racing Corporation) and signed to ride in the factory Repsol Honda MotoGP squad for 2008 and 2009. The two-year deal continues the 21-year-old Spaniard’s long and highly successful association with Honda which has spanned his entire motorcycle racing career.

Pedrosa is already a three-time World Champion with Honda, having won the 125cc title in 2003 and the 250cc title in 2004 and 2005. Last year Pedrosa had a brilliant debut season in MotoGP, scoring two race wins (GP of China, British GP), eight podium finishes, setting four pole positions and taking the coveted Rookie of the Year title. In 2007 he has won the German GP to date.

Today’s announcement ensures a talented rider line-up in the factory Repsol Honda squad with Pedrosa once again joining American World Champion Nicky Hayden for a third year together. More ...

Indonesian champion joins Speedcar Series  Former Indonesian Formula 3 champion Moreno Soeprapto is the latest racer to confirm his participation in the first-ever Speedcar Series.

The 25-year-old, known as 'Reno', made his racing debut at the age of 12 in national karting championships, and is now regarded as one of Indonesia's best drivers, having competed in various single-seater and touring car series.

Reno will drive the number 14 Speedcar chassis, and will be officially assigned to a team shortly.

His confirmation as the latest Speedcar driver comes just days after the championship announced its inaugural calendar, beginning at the Bahrain International Circuit on November 3, and ending at the Dubai Autodrome on April 12, 2008. Reno's supporters will be able to see him in action on February 17 next year, when Speedcar visits his 'home' circuit, the Sentul International Track, Indonesia. More ...

Long back in prototype for Petit Lemans  It’s hard to believe that it has been more than 18 months since Patrick Long last completed a racing lap for Penske Racing. But it has been that long, which made the sight of America’s lone Porsche factory pilot behind the wheel of a Porsche RS Spyder all the more refreshing.

The native Californian will pair with Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas for Penske at the 10th running of Petit Le Mans, the cornerstone event of the American Le Mans Series.

When last we saw Long in Penske attire at Sebring in the spring of 2006, he was on his way to a sixth-place finish in class with Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas. The trio had led the LMP2 class early before a seventh-hour retirement due to a broken input shaft. More ...

Japan: Pedrosa tops opening practice  Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa was the man on the pace in the first MotoGP free practice outing at the A-Style Grand Prix of Japan, as he put in the best time of 1’48.249s right at the end of the hour long session.

The MotoGP riders made their first appearance of the weekend under a cloudless blue sky and with the temperatures at Motegi already reaching 30 degrees Celsius. It was no sweat for Pedrosa however, as he jumped ahead of second fastest participant Casey Stoner by a 0.242s margin on the last of his 23 laps.

Behind that pair on the timesheet was Honda Gresini’s Marco Melandri who is back towards full fitness levels after his recent series of problems and hopes to be fully competitive in Japan over the next 48 hours - having started just 0.430s off Pedrosa’s pace.

Kawasaki’s Randy de Puniet was fourth quickest and just 0.010s slower than Melandri, with the top five completed by Estoril race winner Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha).

Rizla Suzuki’s John Hopkins was just behind Rossi and just over half a second off Pedrosa’s best – meaning that six different teams were represented in the top six. More ...

industry news
More management changes at Ford  Another management shakeup is underway in Dearborn this morning, with Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally promoting two members of his senior leadership team and announcing the retirement of a third.

Francisco Codina, the head of marketing, sales and service for Ford in North America will leave on Nov. 1 after 30 years at Ford. His departure, which has long been hinted at, comes as the automaker struggles to stop a decade-long slide in U.S. market share.

"Cisco's passion and dedication to Ford will be missed," said Ford Americas President Mark Fields. "Under Cisco's leadership, we began to stabilize our retail market share, energize our dealers, improve the resale value of our vehicles and speak with a more confident tone in our marketing." More ...

Eury Jr. to leave DEI after Talladega  Tony Eury Jr. will leave Dale Earnhardt Inc. for Hendrick Motorsports earlier than expected, team officials confirmed on Thursday. Eury, who has been Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s car or crew chief for all but one season since the two broke into the Nextel Cup Series in 2000, will step down after the Oct. 7 race at Talladega Superspeedway. He will be allowed to take four members of Earnhardt's #8 team with him under a deal made by DEI when it agreed to free him contractually to join Earnhardt at HMS in 2008. DEI vice president John Story said he met with Eury's crew this week and only one person has mentioned leaving thus far. Eury and Earnhardt could work together for HMS as early as the Car of Tomorrow test at Atlanta Motor Speedway following the Oct. 28 race. Tony Gibson, who replaced Eury during Eury's six-race suspension earlier this year, will complete the season with Earnhardt Jr. Mark Martin will step into Earnhardt's #8 next year, bringing crew chief Ryan Pemberton and his entire crew with him from the #01 team. Gibson is a candidate to move to the #01 car that will be driven by Regan Smith. "Tony Gibson needs an opportunity to get his team together,'' said Max Siegel, the president of global operations at DEI. ESPN.com
Dale Jr. to run up to seven Busch races  Dale Earnhardt Jr. likely will run seven Busch Series races next season. Which races he runs in the #5 car is still to be determined, said his sister Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, general manager for JR Motorsports. "It will be around seven or so," Earnhardt Elledge said Wednesday. "We haven't identified where exactly and we haven't identified all of the sponsor partners." The team has not yet named a driver for the #88 car, where Brad Keselowski is finishing out the season and is a candidate to remain there for next year. The drivers of the #5 car will likely come from the Hendrick Motorsports stable. The two teams are merging their Busch operations. SceneDaily.com
Date set for Champ Car’s return  The Champ Car World Series returns to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca May 16-18, part of the Monterey Festival of Speed.

Fans are in for a double treat that weekend, as the Champ Car World Series will race Sunday, May 18, while the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series races Saturday, May 17. 

The Monterey Festival of Speed will mark the 23rd time the Champ Cars have raced in Monterey, having previously raced there every year from 1983 to 2004.

Since 2004, several million dollars in track and spectator improvements have been made, including the complete repaving of the circuit, increasing run-off areas in all corners, relocating the Turn 9 bridge and adding the Red Bull Energy Center, a state-of-the art hospitality complex overlooking the 2.238-mile circuit. More ...
PCM signs Mexican Superstar Mario Dominguez  Pacific Coast Motorsports announced today that Mexican racing star, Mario Dominguez will replace Ryan Dalziel in the #28 PCM Champ Car at the two remaining races of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season.

An aggressively growing team both from the business development and operational standpoint, PCM has earned seven top-ten finishes and developed multiple commercial partnerships throughout their debut season.  “We’ve been working very hard on commercial programs in Mexico for some time.  The opportunity to add a proven race-winner and Mexican star of Mario’s stature enhances these programs significantly.  In addition, Mario’s wealth of experience on both of the upcoming circuits will strengthen our program as we prepare for the 2008 Champ Car season,” commented team director, Tyler Tadevic. “This was a difficult decision, we’ve enjoyed a four-year relationship with Ryan and he’s done a great job for PCM.  We’re proud to have worked with him and we hope to work with him again in the future.  I am sure Ryan’s talents will be recognized and utilized by other motorsport organizations.” More ...

Spyker agrees to sell F1 team for 88M Euros  Spyker Cars NV is to sell its loss-making Formula One team to a group which includes businessman Vijay Mallya for $123 million, the Dutch sports car maker said on Thursday.

"With the sale of the Formula One Team now agreed in principle ... Spyker Cars N.V. will return to the task of finalizing the internal strategic review and associated refinancing which has been ongoing since May," Spyker said in a statement.

On September 1, Spyker's director of Formula One, Michiel Mol, said he had teamed up with Mallya to make an 80 million-euro bid for the team. The offer was made through Strongwind, the investment arm of the Mol family, and Watson Limited, which is owned by Mallya.

Mallya is chairman and controlling shareholder of the UB Group, which has beer, spirits and airlines operations in India.

Spyker shareholders will vote on the sale on September 29.

Scott Speed to race ARCA Talladega  Team Red Bull and Eddie Sharp Racing are pleased to announce today that former Formula One Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Scott Speed will drive the No. 21 Red Bull Toyota in the ARCA RE/MAX Series at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 5, 2007.   This will mark Speed's debut in stock car racing. “I come from a completely different world of racing, so there's no doubt it’s going to be a challenge learning how these cars handle, but I’m ready to get out there and see what I've got!” said Speed.

Speed’s connection with Red Bull dates back to 2002, when he won the Red Bull Driver Search, a program aimed at putting an American talent into Formula One. With Red Bull backing, Speed raced his way through the European ranks and into a full-time seat in 2006 at Red Bull Racing’s sister team, Scuderia Toro Rosso. After parting ways during the 2007 season, Speed turned his attention to landing a Red Bull-backed drive in the States.   

In an effort to hone and adapt Speed's skills from F1 to stock car racing, Red Bull tapped what is arguably the best ARCA team in the field, Eddie Sharp Racing. Speed’s inaugural stock car race will have him paired with a well-established ARCA team with high-caliber equipment and the personnel to support his climb through the stock car ranks. With Red Bull backing and the strong team support of Eddie Sharp Racing, Speed will have the best of both worlds.

Jerez Day 3: de la Rosa again fastest  Pedro de la Rosa ended the final official Formula One test of the season with the quickest time at Jerez in Spain on Thursday.

Pos  Driver        Team                Time      Laps
 1.  de la Rosa    McLaren-Mercedes    1:19.617   68
 2.  Badoer        Ferrari             1:19.656   68
 3.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault    1:20.067   42
 4.  Heidfeld      BMW-Sauber          1:20.184   94
 5.  Piquet        Renault             1:20.655  120
 6.  Button        Honda               1:20.831   66
 7.  Trulli        Toyota              1:21.621   77
 8.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari  1:21.626   82
 9.  Rossiter      Honda               1:21.663   39
10.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota     1:22.148   57

Highcroft Signs Robbie Kerr  Highcroft Racing announced today that they have signed Robbie Kerr, a British driver, to drive in the tenth running of the Petit Le Mans in Atlanta and at Laguna Seca in Monterey, CA.  Kerr will share driving duties with Highcroft's two main drivers, David Brabham and Stefan Johansson.

Kerr made a trip to the States this week from his home in England to test with Highcroft at the Road Atlanta circuit on Monday.  Said Kerr of his first time at the track and in the Acura ARX-01a, "It was my first outing at Road Atlanta and once I was familiar with the track, I really enjoyed driving the Acura. It is a car that gives a driver great confidence." 

As a first-time entrant in the American Le Mans Series, he added, "To race for Highcroft Racing, one of the top ALMS teams, is absolutely fantastic. Also, to be able to work with Stefan and David and learn from their sports car experience is a great opportunity.  Any driver would want to be in my shoes." More ...

Friday deadline for McLaren appeal - FIA  (GMM)  F1's governing body has confirmed that Friday is the deadline for McLaren to appeal its $100m fine and championship expulsion.

The FIA said in a statement on Thursday that it released the information following a "number of enquiries from the international press".

"After conferring with the Secretariat of the International Court of Appeal the FIA understands that the deadline for such an appeal is 1700 hrs (CET) on Friday, September 21st," the statement read.

McLaren earlier this week withdrew its scheduled appeal against a stewards' decision handed down at the Hungarian grand prix.

Team boss Ron Dennis in Spa-Francorchamps suggested that he wanted "closure" on the various controversies that have dogged the Mercedes-powered team in 2007.

Spyker confirms signing of Rodriguez  The Etihad Aldar Spyker Formula One Team announces today that GP2 driver Roldan Rodriguez will join its test and development driver line-up over the 2007/08 winter period. [Editor's Note: The 22-year-old, with $15m in personal sponsorship, is also strongly linked with a racing role for next year.]

Twenty-two year old Roldan, from Valladolid, Spain, completed a 50km shakedown of the Spyker F8-VII at Silverstone last week. He commented, 'This test drive is a good opportunity for me to get more F1 experience. I enjoyed the shakedown at Silverstone but as we could only do 50km, I am pleased that I can now get more mileage under my belt. I know the team has high expectations for next year and I really want to help it achieve its aims by contributing to the development program over the winter.'

Colin Kolles, Spyker F1's team principal and managing director, added, 'I'm pleased to welcome Roldan to the team as a test driver. Despite only having limited time in the car last week at Silverstone, he applied himself well. With this experience and his good knowledge of the circuits we go to over the winter, I believe he will make a strong contribution to the team's progress.' More ...

New Earnhardt merchandise already on sale  The Dale Earnhardt Jr. merchandise machine was cranked up as soon as Wednesday's announcement of new number and sponsors was made at the Dallas Convention Center.

Mark Dyer, president and CEO of Motorsports Authentics, was in Dallas when Earnhardt made it official. His new number will be 88 and Mountain Dew's Amp Energy drink and the National Guard will serve as primary sponsors in 2008 when he leaves Dale Earnhardt, Inc. for Hendrick Motorsports.

Even before Earnhardt unveiled the new paint schemes, merchandise was already on sale at various online stores. Dyer said he expected sales would be brisk

racing news
SPEED Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking  
Updated 9-19-07
Pos.(LW) Driver (Series)                       Pts
1. (3) Tony Stewart (NASCAR)                   7.676
2. (4) Dario Franchitti (IRL)                  7.632
3. (16) Clint Bowyer (NASCAR)                  7.485
4. (20) Kimi Raikkonen (F1)                    7.376
5. (5) Jeff Gordon (NASCAR)                    7.350
6. (6) Scott Dixon (IRL)                       7.272
7. (14) Kyle Busch (NASCAR)                    7.266
8. (2) Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR)                 7.252
9. (8) Sebastien Bourdais (CCWS)               7.162
10. (1) Fernando Alonso (F1)                   6.997
11. (13) Martin Truex Jr. (NASCAR)             6.982
12. (11) Justin Wilson (CCWS)                  6.837
13. (15) Matt Kenseth (NASCAR)                 6.723
14. (12) Tony Kanaan (IRL)                     6.693
15. (NR) Carl Edwards (NASCAR)                 6.617
16. (7) Kurt Busch (NASCAR)                    6.333
17. (9) Lewis Hamilton (F1)                    6.266
18. (23) Casey Mears (NASCAR)                  6.182
19. (18) Ryan Newman (NASCAR)                  6.166
20. (39) Felipe Massa (F1)                     6.118

Dropped out: Denny Hamlin (NASCAR), Kevin Harvick (NASCAR), Jeff Burton (NASCAR)

Provided by STATS Inc.
Current year results, last 10 races, last five races and last race are factored in equally, with an adjustment factor to compensate for the series different scoring systems. In addition, a competition difficulty factor has been included to balance the competitive depth of each series.

Cleveland race airport to remain open  Burke Lakefront Airport will remain open and there are plans for commercial development on its eastern and western edges, city officials said.
Percy Dangerfield, chief of staff to city airport director Ricky Smith, told the City Council's Aviation and Transportation Committee this morning that Smith would recommend the airport remain open. Councilman Kevin Kelley, the committee chairman, said: "We are very pleased the debate is over."

Today's announcement ends months of speculation about the future of the 450-acre airport. Some felt it would be best to close the airport and merge its operations with Cuyahoga County Airport. Others suggested the opposite -- closing the county airport and merging operations at Burke.

At a public forum in August, officials said keeping the airport open would require major improvements, such as possibly adding a runway.

Councilman Joe Cimperman said Tuesday there's discussion now underway on how to add commercial development to Burke's eastern and western edges. Cleveland.com

Atlantic team to expand to two cars  Mathiasen Motorsports announced its intention to expand its racing operations and field a two-car effort in the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. With the 2007 Atlantic season recently concluded, the teams focus now turns toward an aggressive off-season testing program commencing in October. The ultimate goal of the testing program is for Mathiasen Motorsports to obtain the services of two drivers capable of not only challenging for, but winning the 2008 Atlantic Championship.

Mathiasen Motorsports team owners Leslie and Ray Mathiasen and their Technical Director Alain Clarinval look forward to the challenge of expanding the three year old team after a 2007 season that saw its performance improve significantly from the previous year.  The team was able to finish consistently in and around the top ten this season, and finished within 2 points of tenth place overall in the driver point standings. This year’s Atlantic campaign was the first season for Clarinval with Mathiasen Motorsports.  His years of motorsports experience, including successful stints in Atlantics and Indy Lights with Dorricott Racing (where he won a championship with Oriol Servia), was one of the major reasons for the teams improvement. More ...

2007 IRL TV ratings down  Overall Nielsen TV ratings for the Indy Car Series for 2007 vs. 2006.   The biggest drop was the series' biggest race, the Indy 500, which was down 14%.  Overall race viewership was down 4.4% on ABC to 2.5 million average viewers.  ESPN/ESPN2 races averaged 556,000 viewers.

DATE TRACK                NET '07 RAT Viewers*'06 RAT  Change
3/24 Homestead-Miami      ESPN2 0.7    829     0.8     -12.5%
4/1  Streets of St. Pete  ESPN  0.4    388     0.3     +33.3%
4/21 Twin Ring Motegi     ESPN  0.4    379     0.6     -33.3%
4/29 Kansas               ESPN2 0.3    366     1.2     -75.0%
5/27 Indianapolis         ABC   4.3  6,402     5.0     -14.0%
6/3  Milwaukee            ABC   1.0  1,345     0.4    +250.0% 
6/9  Texas                ESPN2 0.7    875     0.6     +16.7%
6/24 Iowa                 ABC   1.1  1,593     New------Race
6/30 Richmond             ESPN  0.6    803     0.4     +50.0%
7/8  Watkins Glen         ABC   1.0  1,385     0.8     +25.0%
7/15 Nashville            ESPN  0.4    508     0.4      +0.0%
7/22 Mid-Ohio             ABC   1.7  2,432     New------Race
8/5  Michigan             ESPN2 0.2    201     1.0     -80.0%
8/11 Kentucky             ESPN2 0.6    760     0.8     -25.0%
8/26 Infineon             ESPN  0.6    721     0.6       0.0%
9/2  Belle Isle           ABC   1.0  1,454     New------Race
9/9  Chicagoland          ABC   0.9  1,275     0.7     +28.6%

* in 1,000s

NASCAR cheaters appeal denied  On September 18, 2007, the National Stock Car Racing Commission heard and considered the appeal of Robert Yates Racing. The appeal concerned three penalties issued by NASCAR following post-race inspection on August 4, 2007 for the NASCAR Busch Series race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal.
The infractions concerned Section 12-4-A of the NASCAR Rule Book “Actions detrimental to stock car racing”; Section 12-4-Q “Any determination by NASCAR Officials that the car, car parts, components, and/or equipment used in the Event do not conform to NASCAR rules”; Section 20A-12.3C (3): Divider pistons in both front shock absorbers were not installed to the manufacturer’s specifications”, and Section 12A-12.3l: “Oil volume did not meet the minimum one (1) inch specification”.

The penalties assessed were:

  • Loss of 25 NASCAR Busch Series Championship Car Owner Points for car owner Robert Yates.
  • Loss of 25 NASCAR Busch Series Championship Driver Points for driver Stephen Leicht.
  • $10,000.00 fine for crew chief Charles Barraclough.

In deciding the Appeal, the Commission considered several factors: More ...

Villeneuve to make Truck debut at Vegas  UPDATE Jacques Villeneuve will be officially welcomed to the NASCAR family this weekend, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Saturday night’s 219-mile Trucks race, in a Bill Davis Toyota Tundra.

Can Villeneuve make The Show?

Villeneuve has been in NASCAR machines for barely a month, though his testing schedule with Davis’ team has been extensive to prepare for the 11/2-mile Las Vegas track. But in five big tests, Villeneuve never scraped the wall, a good start.

The goal is for Villeneuve to drive in next season’s Daytona 500 in February.

And the rest of 2008? Juan Pablo Montoya, another “defector” from Formula One, won in his first season on the Nextel Cup tour. Can Villeneuve win that quickly?

“That might be asking too much, and there are a lot of good drivers in NASCAR who go a long time without winning,” Villeneuve said. “You want to be competitive. You want to win, of course. However, there are a lot of things to get through before that.

“But right now we’re on target, though you never know when it may turn back. But right now we’re very happy.”

Davis’ trucks have been the toast of that part of the NASCAR world this season, so Villeneuve won’t have to worry whether his equipment is up to snuff. More at Winston Salem Journal

09/18/07 Saturday's Las Vegas 350 Craftsman Truck Series race has 36 trucks on the preliminary entry list, though one truck does not have a driver listed.  The No. 08 Green Light Racing Chevrolet has yet to name a driver for Las Vegas.  

Former Formula One and CART champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve is scheduled to make his NASCAR debut, driving Bill Davis Racing's No. 27 Toyota.  Another former Indy 500 winner, Buddy Lazier, is also entered. Lazier is driving Billy Ballew Motorsports' No. 15 Chevrolet.

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Bernie blasts Spyker's contribution to F1
  • Red Bull teams trial 'bridge' wing
  • Alonso will secure crown says Heidfeld
  • Heikki accepts Webber's outdoor challenge
  • Aguri future now 'more positive' - boss

Bernie blasts Spyker's contribution to F1
(GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has delivered a parting shot to Spyker by suggesting that the outgoing Dutch team "did not really contribute anything" to formula one.

For the third time in as many years, the Silverstone based outfit is again on the verge of being sold; this time to a consortium led by the F1 chief executive's fellow billionaire and friend Vijay Mallya and the wealthy Mol family.

"They came in and that was it," Ecclestone, referring to Spyker's buyout of Midland last year, is quoted as saying by the Dutch publication Sportweek.

On the other hand, Ecclestone, 76, is a close friend of Mallya, who intends to rename the team something along the lines of 'Team India'.

"Vijay wanted to come into formula one and I put him in contact with Toyota," Bernie explained, referring to Mallya's sponsorship of the Japanese outfit via his Kingfisher brand.

Ecclestone also said he backed Mallya's subsequent interest in Spyker.

But, apparently again referring to Spyker, he added: "I would have been happier if the other people had done what they said they were going to do.

"They came in (to F1) and that was it. They did not really contribute anything, no," Ecclestone said.

Red Bull teams trial 'bridge' wing
(GMM) F1's two Red Bull-backed teams at the Jerez test have became the latest to follow the trend started by McLaren this year in trialing a 'bridge'-esque front wing.

Red Bull and Toro Rosso, whose cars are similarly overseen by the company Red Bull Technology, both ran with the conspicuous innovation while on Wednesday testing during the last in-season session of 2007.

Williams had been the first to emulate the McLaren design recently at Monza, although interestingly the Grove based team was not using the same wing at Jerez.

Honda has similarly run with and without its new bridge-style wing this week.

BMW-Sauber, meanwhile, is unlikely to follow suit any time soon, with Mario Theissen revealing that - with second place in the constructors' championship now all but guaranteed - development of its 2007 car has ceased completely. More ...

racing news
Tracy to go off-roading  Championship Off Road Racing’s superstars return back to the Quarry at Chula Vista International Raceway on Sept. 29th and 30th.  Fans won’t want to miss Champ Car Champion Paul Tracy’s first off road race in his impressive open wheel career. [Editor's Note: Paul will be wearing MONSTER colors during this event and driving a MONSTER sponsored truck.]

“For me it will be the first time racing off road.  I am excited about racing against some of off road racing’s greats like Ricky Johnson and Johnny Greaves.  I am planning on going out there and having fun,” said Paul Tracy.

Paul Tracy holds the most Cart victories of any active driver in Champ Car with 29 wins.  Not only is he a champion, but he was voted 2003’s most popular driver by the SPEED Channel.  This will be his first time racing in CORR and he’s up against tough competition in the Pro 2 division.  His competition will include seven time Supercross/Motocross Champion and Pro 2 CORR Champion Ricky Johnson, Pro 4 CORR Champion Rob MacCachren and don’t forget about the 52 wins and three championships of Carl Renezeder. More ...

Joel Miller Champ Car Atlantic Test  Current Skip Barber championship points leader Joel Miller was given the opportunity via the Team USA Scholarship to test a Champ Car Atlantic with USRacetronics.  The test took place yesterday at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in central California.

This would be Miller's first time in a car of this caliber.  After showing his capabilities in the morning sessions, the team decided to put new tires on the car for the afternoon.  With the new slicks up to temperature, Miller was able to drop his times by a whole second despite the extreme heat in the afternoon.  "The amount of grip and braking capabilities the car had was unbelievable!  Before the test I only heard from other drivers about the characteristics of the car, but experiencing them for yourself gives a whole different perspective.  I can definitely see myself racing for the championship in years to come," quotes Miller after the test. More ...

Kanaan joins fatherhood  Tony Kanaan has joined the fatherhood club.  His wife, Dani, gave birth to Leonardo early Sept. 18. Mother and son -- and father, as far as we can determine -- are doing well. Kanaan's next race will be the Petit Le Mans for Andretti Green Racing on Oct. 6. He'll undoubtedly bring plenty more photos to pass around. IndyCar.com
Toyota driver heroin case update  UPDATE NASCAR driver Aaron Fike was arraigned Wednesday in Warren County Common Pleas Court on charges of possession of heroin and drug abuse instruments.

Fike, 24, of North Carolina was arrested July 7 when police responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle and two people engaging in suspicious activity in the parking lot at the Kings Island amusement park in Mason.

Fike and his fiancée, Cassandra Davidson, 21, attempted to drive away but were blocked by police, who said they discovered bloody napkins, syringes, a spoon and black tar heroin in their vehicle.

Davidson is scheduled to appear in court on the same changes Oct. 11.

Fike, the younger brother of former NASCAR driver A.J. Fike, is the driver of the No. 1 Toyota Tundra for Red Horse Racing in the Craftsman Truck Series. He competed at the Kentucky Speedway in 2005 and 2006 in the NASCAR Busch Series race.

07/21/07 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Aaron Fike and his fiancée Cassandra Davidson waived their right to a preliminary hearing in Mason Municipal Court on July 19 on recent drug charges. The case will move to Warren County Common Pleas Court.

Fike, 24, and Davidson, 21, were arrested after a drug incident at Kings Island on July 7.

Both Fike and Davidson admitted to possessing heroin after they were found with drugs in the Kings Island parking lot, according to a police report.

Kings Island security attempted to detain the two when they were found in a parked 2005 Toyota Sequoia with a towel or blanket crossing the front seat headrests.

According to the report, Fike started to drive away when confronted and clipped an officer with the passenger side mirror.

Mason Prosecutor Robert Peeler advised officers that vehicular assault had not occurred because the officer was not injured.

A search of the vehicle revealed syringes, one of which had brown liquid in it that Fike said was heroin, spoons with residue and other drug paraphernalia.

Laguna Seca Champ Car race date confirmed  The 2008 season at the world-renowned Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will feature the best in motorcycle, historic, sports car and, after a three-year hiatus, open-wheel racing, on the 2.238-mile Monterey Peninsula circuit.

The 52nd season of racing officially kicks off May 16-18, with the new Monterey Festival of Speed, a doubleheader weekend featuring the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series on Saturday and the Champ Car World Series on Sunday (which confirms this rumor).  The event will mark the fourth consecutive year for Grand-Am’s Daytona Prototype and GT cars in Monterey, while the Champ Cars are returning after a three-year absence. More ...

ABC Supply Co. to back A.J. Foyt 225 at Milwaukee  A.J. Foyt Enterprises and ABC Supply Co., Inc. have announced a renewal of the ABC Supply / A.J. Foyt 225 IndyCar Series race entitlement at The Milwaukee Mile.

Since the inaugural IndyCar Series race was held at The Mile in 2004, Foyt has granted the track permission to use his name in the race entitlement. Foyt has driven in more races at The Milwaukee Mile than at any other track in his storied career.

"I am honored to be part of the IndyCar Series race at The Milwaukee Mile in such a significant way and am grateful for my sponsor ABC Supply's continued support of the ABC Supply / A.J. Foyt 225," Foyt said. "Together I hope we can make the 2008 race the best one ever."

The ABC Supply / A.J. Foyt 225 will be held on June 1, 2008, the Sunday following the Indianapolis 500. The 2008 event marks the fourth straight year ABC Supply Co., Inc. will serve as the title sponsor of the event.

"The tradition continues of having A.J. Foyt and ABC Supply Company involved with our IndyCar Series event on what will be the 51st occasion of The Milwaukee Mile hosting the IndyCar Series stars the Sunday following the Indy 500," said Craig Stoehr, Milwaukee Mile chairman. "We couldn't be happier for our fans."

IRL names new VP of Marketing  John Lewis, who has nearly 15 years of experience with both the Indy Racing League and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, will expand his current duties to include the league’s marketing initiatives and has been named Vice President, Marketing & League Development for the Indy Racing League. The announcement was made today by Terry Angstadt, president of the sanctioning body’s commercial division.

Since 2006, Lewis has served as Vice President, League Development where he served as a liaison to all tracks, was responsible for developing the IndyCar® Series and Indy Pro Series™ schedule, served as an internal liaison between the League’s operations and business affairs units while also responsible for planning and implementation of all operational procedures and the League’s budget. More ...
Franchitti likes Road Atlanta  The 10th running of Petit Le Mans will mark Dario Franchitti’s third start in the American Le Mans Series this season. And after the 10th running of the Series’ cornerstone event at Road Atlanta, all three events will have been on completely different types of circuits.

Road Atlanta is a fast, flowing 12-turn natural terrain road course that covers 2.54 miles in the foothills of northeast Georgia. The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring - where Franchitti, Bryan Herta and Tony Kanaan won in LMP2 and finished second overall in the Series debut for Acura and Andretti Green Racing – takes place on the site of a former World War II base. Part of the 3.7-mile, 17-turn circuit sits on an old runway with no elevation change. Long Beach, where Franchitti captured the overall pole position and led 39 of the first 46 laps, is a tight and twisty 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit that sits on the southern California waterfront. More ...

Yates releases the No. 88 because of family ties  Team owner Robert Yates says family ties led him to retire the No. 88 from his arsenal and allow Dale Earnhardt Jr. to race with it in 2008.

"Ralph Earnhardt drove the No. 88 Olds in 1957, and because of this number's history with the Earnhardt family, I felt car No. 88 should continue with Dale Earnhardt Jr.," Yates said of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s grandfather.

"Younger fans don't realize I built cars and raced against Ralph. I also had a very close relationship with Dale Earnhardt Sr. I'm proud to transfer this number to Dale Jr. and let him know how much I appreciate the friendship and competitive racing I've always enjoyed with his family."

Dale Jarrett won the 1999 NASCAR Cup title with RYR in the No. 88.  Scenedaily.com

Bridgestone keen to develop "Indian" compound  Interest in Formula One now sees the series going stratospheric in India. The sub-continent has had a grass roots interest in motorsport for many years, with races being staged at Madras, but F1 looks set to becoming second only to cricket in the nation's sporting affections.

The renewed interest in F1 is for two reasons: Indian entrepreneur Vijay Mallya is in the throes of buying a 50 percent stake in the Spyker F1 team and an Indian Grand Prix in 2010 has basically been confirmed.

Mallya is teaming up with Spyker's director of F1, Michiel Mol, to buy Spyker. Their 80 million Euro bid has been accepted by Spyker cars and the deal is expected to be completed before the Japanese Grand Prix at the end of the month. The new team has been dubbed Team India and could end up with two Indian drivers, which raises hopes of a return to the top echelon of the sport by Narain Karthikeyan.

"The deal is good for F1," said Mallya. "It's good for India and it's good for Formula One Management because the viewership is going to shoot up now."

All the while Mallya has been working on the deal to buy Spyker, F1 track designer Hermann Tilke has been visiting various sites for a planned Indian GP. He recently returned from a two-day visit to New Delhi, where he was a guest of the Indian Olympic Association.

Tilke has already investigated the possibility of a street race in Mumbai and if the infrastructure for a race is going to be ready for '09, a decision about its location will have to be taken shortly. And Bridgestone will be first on the long list of motorsport companies that will head out to Mumbai, to ensure it develops the right compound of tires for the race.

"Once the race and venue is confirmed, we would like to check the asphalt as early as possible," agreed Kees van de Grint, Bridgestone Motorsport's Head of Track Engineering Operations. "If the Indian GP is held on a street track, we'd expect to use a-soft tire compound because the speeds are low and the track surface will be slippery. If it's on a permanent venue, a lot depends on the track surface and the speed of the corners."

No. 88 confirmed for Earnhardt  UPDATE Mountain Dew AMP Energy and the Army National Guard will sponsor Dale Earnhardt Jr. when the popular stock-car driver joins Hendrick Motorsports for the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series campaign, it was announced Wednesday at the Dallas Convention Center.

Earnhardt, who helped design his two primary paint schemes and red car-number graphic, will drive the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolets next season. The cars will see racing action for the first time in February during season-opening Speedweeks at Daytona ( Fla. ) International Speedway.

“To be able to announce our new sponsorship partners, car number and paint schemes for 2008 is a big relief for me, and I know it is for my fans as well,” said Earnhardt, 32, winner of 17 Cup-level races and two NASCAR Busch Series championships. “This year has been full of major decisions and changes, and I'm really happy with the outcome.

“We are aligned with powerful brands, Mountain Dew AMP Energy and the National Guard, each with traits that everybody can identify with. And we are racing with a number that's very relevant to me, the No. 88. It's hard not to already be excited for the 2008 season.” More ...

Chevrolet clinches 31st manufacturers' championship  Jimmie Johnson's victory in Saturday night's Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway clinched the 2007 Manufacturers' Championship for Chevrolet in NASCAR's premier division.

With 10 races left in the season, Chevrolet has collected its 31st Manufacturers' crown since 1952.

"This has been a dream season for Chevrolet," said Ed Peper, general manager of Chevrolet. "We have won 19 Cup races so far this year. We have nine of the 12 drivers in the running for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup title. And tonight we also want to congratulate Hendrick Motorsports and Jimmie Johnson for winning the Chevy Rock & Roll 400. More ...

Kimi sides with Alonso over Hamilton incident  (GMM) Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen has sided with Fernando Alonso over the Spaniard's driving tactics at the start of the Belgian grand prix.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton hit out at his McLaren teammate after their on-track battle for position at the first corner.

Replays showed the Briton going wide at La Source while side-by-side with Alonso, who refused to deviate from the racing line and curbs.

"Fernando always complains about others he says are unfair, but he pushed me off clearly intentionally," Hamilton, 22, was quoted as saying by German television immediately after the race.

Alonso, meanwhile, told the Spanish press that he knew Hamilton would be able to recover because of the large asphalt run-off at the corner. More ...

A1GP signs hospitality sponsor  [Editor's Note: After Dutch brewery Bavaria's involvement in the Assen Champ Car race as its title sponsor, another Dutch brewery Heineken gets involved with A1GP as partner of the A1GP Zandvoort event!  Is this the second step of a much larger future involvement in international motor racing from Dutch breweries? At least very interesting ....]

Heineken Netherlands has agreed a deal with A1 Team Netherlands to become the official hospitality partner of A1GP Zandvoort next weekend.

During the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season opener on 28-30 September 2007 at Zandvoort, Heineken Netherlands will be part of the hospitality at the event and will be seen on signage around the track throughout the event.

‘With Heineken being such an iconic brand and with such strong sporting connections, we are confident this marks the beginning of a long and successful partnership,’ said Pete da Silva, CEO of A1GP. ‘This new partnership will enhance the experience of all our guests.’

Heineken will also use this A1GP partnership to communicate the Enjoy Heineken Responsibly campaign, its international platform which encourages alcohol users to consume beer in a safe and reasonable manner. More ...

Bernie was source of spy email tip-off  (GMM) A number of new details about the espionage saga emerged with the publication of the World Motor Sport Council transcripts on Wednesday.

In the 13 September hearing, which resulted in McLaren's constructors' championship exclusion and record $100m fine, it emerged that Bernie Ecclestone may also have been involved in informing the FIA about the incriminating emails between Pedro de la Rosa and Fernando Alonso.

Previously, it was believed that Ron Dennis tipped off the FIA after what he believed had been an empty threat issued by reigning world champion Alonso during a heated argument in Hungary.

The 26-year-old Spaniard was subsequently described as an extortionist in the world's press.

But Dennis suggested in Paris that "Bernie said that he may have seen something" and that he "would pass it to Max (Mosley)".

"I do not know what that is," the McLaren boss added. "I do know that Bernie said it was in Spanish, but I do not know how this material came to the knowledge of the FIA," he added, also in the presence of Ecclestone, who is F1's chief executive.

Nigel Tozzi, a lawyer acting for Ferrari, soon cleared up the mystery, jointly crediting the emergence of the emails to both Ecclestone and Alonso.

"If Alonso had not shown the documents to Mr. Ecclestone, and Mr. Ecclestone had not alerted Mr. Mosley, who then wrote to the drivers, we would not have found out about these e-mails," he said.

Elsewhere in the transcripts, when it was clear that exclusion from the 2007 and 2008 championships was a real threat for McLaren, engine partner Mercedes-Benz's Norbert Haug spoke about the impact that it would have on formula one.

In a possible reference to McLaren-Mercedes' alliance with Prodrive, he said: "We are speaking to a second team now; as you know, there are other issues in formula one now.

"This is not a threat; this comes from my heart."

Former Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn was also present as an expert witness for the Maranello based team, and he confirmed that he is in talks about returning to the sport.

"I know that you have left Ferrari to take a break from motor racing. Are you planning to return to motor racing?" McLaren lawyer Ian Mill asked the Briton.

Brawn replied: "I am currently in discussion with Ferrari about that possibility."

de la Rosa tops Day 2 testing at Jerez  Under sunny skies and warm temperatures, Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa topped the second day of testing at the Jerez circuit, the 2nd of three days slated for the final F1 test of the 2007 season.

Pos  Driver        Team                Time     Laps
 1.  de la Rosa    McLaren-Mercedes    1:19.267   70
 2.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault    1:19.947  106
 3.  Badoer        Ferrari             1:20.249   69
 4.  Heidfeld      BMW-Sauber          1:20.318  103
 5.  Liuzzi        Toro Rosso-Ferrari  1:20.318   47
 6.  Button        Honda               1:20.624   74
 7.  Piquet        Renault             1:20.804  111
 8.  R.Schumacher  Toyota              1:21.101   76
 9.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota     1:21.608   31
10.  Vettel        Toro Rosso-Ferrari  1:21.863   10
Record turnout honors top Rolex Series competitors  The top performers of 2007 were honored Monday night at the Venetian before a record crowd in the annual Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Special Reserve Champions Banquet.

While champions Alex Gurney, Jon Fogarty, Dirk Werner, Pontiac and Porsche won major accolades at the gala fete, expectations for 2008 began with several announcements of plans for the upcoming season that gets underway with January's running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

"We've enjoyed a record-setting season, and we're ending with another record tonight - an all-time record attendance for our banquet," said Roger Edmondson, President of the Grand American Road Racing Association.

"Since the Daytona Prototype program began in 2003, we've never had a repeat champion," Edmondson said. "That shows how hard it is to win. To go so deep into the final race of the season, in both divisions, is an amazing accomplishment." More ...

FIA reveals spy hearing transcripts  (GMM)  The more studious sections of the formula one world on Wednesday are grappling with nearly 200 pages of 'spy saga' transcripts.

The full documents, outlining every word uttered in the July and September World Motor Sport Council hearings, were released on Wednesday by the FIA; but - according to one source - an initial error meant that confidential sections, that had been requested removed by McLaren and Ferrari, could easily be exposed.

Another of the initial revelations of the Paris hearings is that McLaren boss Ron Dennis and Fernando Alonso were as of last Thursday "not on speaking terms".

"We have not had any conversations since that point," said the Briton, referring to an argument with reigning world champion Alonso before the Hungarian grand prix that ultimately led to the disclosure of incriminating emails between himself and test driver Pedro de la Rosa.

"The relationship between Fernando and myself is extremely cold.  That is an understatement," Dennis added.

Dennis also said McLaren asked Alonso to attend the hearing but the Spaniard turned down the request.  Lewis Hamilton did make the trip to Paris, but was dismissed as a witness when it became clear that neither side's lawyers wanted to question the British rookie.

"He does not speak to anyone much," Dennis explained, referring again to Alonso.

"He is a remarkable recluse for a driver."

India Sets Pace for 2007/08 Season  A1 Team India dominated this morning’s final test session at Silverstone in preparation for the new A1GP World Cup of Motorsport season, topping the time sheets early on and dominating for the remainder of the three and half hour session.

India’s Narain Karthikeyan, who had limited track time at the last official test due to illness, clocked a sensational time of 47.809s and broke the lap record for an A1GP car around the National circuit by three tenths of a second. The previous record was held by A1 Team New Zealand driver Jonny Reid, who set the time on the first day of the test.

Karthikeyan’s lap time puts him fastest overall at the end of the one and half day test session and the Indian driver is feeling confident as the team prepares to challenge for its first A1GP race win at Zandvoort next weekend: ‘We did the majority of our work yesterday and a little bit this morning - we kept improving the car a lot and I think we’re going in the right direction. I’m looking forward to the season-opener at Zandvoort - I believe we have a decent car and a good package and we will be front runners that’s for sure.’ More ...

David Richards gives Stepney new job - No  UPDATE Nigel Stepney is not joining either Aston Martin or Aston Martin Racing. The former Ferrari team coordinator has been reported to be working for Aston Martin by the Italian newspaper Gazetta dello Sport and has been picked up by other news sources, which have not checked the story.

It is still possible that Stepney is working for one of the customer teams that use Aston Martin machinery in sports car racing but thus far we have not been able to find one that fits the bill.

Thus any conspiracy theories linking Stepney with Aston Martin, with Prodrive and McLaren should be treated with care.  Grandprix.com

09/18/07 (GMM) Nigel Stepney, whose alleged actions of sabotage and espionage sparked F1's infamous spying affair this year, has landed a new job, according to reports.

The Briton, fired and now pursued civilly by the Maranello based team and also by criminal prosecutors in Italy, will shortly begin work at Aston Martin in the UK, the Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport reports on Tuesday.

The news, however, was not confirmed by Stepney's Italian lawyer, Sonia Bartolini.

Aston Martin, a luxury car firm, was sold by Ford earlier this year to a consortium led by Prodrive chief and incoming F1 team owner David Richards.

"We are confident we have all the right ingredients to take Aston Martin to even greater heights," he was quoted as saying at the time.

The FIA said in July that Stepney, and his 'Stepney-gate' conspirator Mike Coughlan, would be pursued by the governing body's legal department and possibly banned from international motor sport "for a lengthy period".
Maroney doubles up  13 year old Stars of Karting, IKF, WKA and California State Karting Champion Miles Maroney, the youngest Champ Car development driver in history having been added to the Pacific Coast Motorsports Junior Team at Portland in June, wrapped up the final two Western Division rounds of the Snap-On Stars of Karting championship in dominating fashion by capturing both victories at what many  believe to be the Western United States finest and toughest Karting facility, the 1.1 mile Moran Raceway in Beaumont, California, to close the season with serious momentum leading to the Stars National Finale at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway October 18-21.

After a tight battle in Saturday’s event saw Miles inch out a close victory after a race long battle with two other competitors, Sunday’s final saw Miles come out of the first corner 4th, working to the lead by lap 6 of the 18 lap event and never look back while opening a lead of close to three seconds before backing off and cruising to the victory to cap off a perfect weekend. More ...

Osborne wins Crew Chief award  Bob Osborne, crew chief of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford, faced many obstacles during the weekend at New Hampshire International Speedway.  The pressure that the Roush / Fenway Racing team was under, racing for the Nextel Cup, was magnified after an accident in the first practice session had the No. 99 Ford into the wall.  Osborne was immediately working overtime to have his backup car ready for his driver, Carl Edwards, to qualify for the Sylvania 300.  The two-lap qualifying run was good enough to put the No. 99 Ford 11th on the starting grid, however, after the second day of practice was a wash out, Osborne would be heading into the 300-lap race with no practice.  Despite the adversities, Osborne bounced back, working with his crew to produce a creditable performance in New Hampshire.  For his amazing efforts and pressure filled decision-making, Osborne was awarded the WYPALL* Wipers Crew Chief of the Race.
Throughout the 300-lap race, the first in the Chase for the Nextel Cup, the Osborne / Edwards combination used the limited number of cautions to work on their car.  Battling a tight car, Osborne utilized a two-tire pit stop to gain valuable track position, pushing the Ford as high as fifth at one point during the race.  Osborne never surrendered and rallied his crew for a hard fought solid 12th place finish.  The team remains as championship contenders after a weekend that could have produced disastrous results. More ...
Lathram lawsuit settlement reached  Tracy Lathram, whose husband Scott Lathram died in the Hendrick Motorsports plane crash in October 2004 near Martinsville, Va., has settled her lawsuit against Hendrick Motorsports and the government.  All sides had agreed to a settlement in June, and it was approved Tuesday in U.S. District Court in North Carolina.

The confidential agreement ends all of Lathram's claims against both Hendrick and the air-traffic controllers. It doesn't end Hendrick's request that the government be held at least partially responsible and contribute to any judgments, according to court documents.

Lathram, whose husband was a pilot for Tony Stewart and a passenger on the plane, will share the confidential settlement with her three children, all of whom are 16 or older.

Barrett Seeks Championship Glory  Buttonwillow, Calif. – The hard-fought Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Hankook resumes after a lengthy break this weekend with a pair of races on the scenic and immensely challenging Infineon Raceway, near Sonoma, Calif.

Patrick Barrett holds a commanding lead in the point standings after eight of this season’s 12 races, and while he hasn’t competed since the last two Pacific F2000 races in Utah in July, Barrett has had a hectic couple of months. In addition to celebrating his 18th birthday on August 30, and shortly thereafter passing his driving test (so he is now legally able to drive on the open roads), Barrett, from Los Osos on the central California coast, added another highlight to his growing résumé by being selected as one of two 2007 Team USA Scholarship winners.

Barrett will follow in the footsteps of such luminaries as Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Buddy Rice and A.J. Allmendinger when he carries the patriotic red-white-and-blue colors at the Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy in England later this fall. Right now, though, he is focused on clinching the Pacific F2000 title – on a track where he dominated the Formula Russell Championship last season. More ...

Albert2, the workaholic mathematical whizz kid  The BMW Sauber F1 Team has a worker of superhuman diligence within its ranks. His name? Albert2. Based in Hinwil and powered by Intel technology, this supercomputer makes a significant contribution to the team's success on the race track. Albert2 is a mathematical genius of literally huge proportions. But, as he tells us, a day off does not figure in his calculations.

Albert2, how long have you been on the payroll at the BMW Sauber F1 Team?

Albert2: Ever since my father Albert took his well-earned retirement in December 2006. So you could say that the connection with motor sport runs in our family.

How would you define your role within the team?

Albert2: As I work around five times more quickly than my father, my boss - our Technical Director Willy Rampf - has given me some important jobs to do. My main strengths lie in the field of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), which is extremely important in the development of front, rear and auxiliary wings, for example. Before an idea from the engineers is tested in the wind tunnel, I simulate the effects of a new component on the car's performance. And that saves the team a lot of time. More ...

Hornish to attempt Dover  Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the #06 Penske Truck Rental Dodge Avenger, will attempt to make his Nextel Cup Series debut at Dover International Speedway on Sunday in the Car of Tomorrow (Tomorrow? It is as sophisticated as a 1950's car). This is Hornish's inaugural appearance at the 1-mile concrete oval. Although Hornish's 2008 plans have not been finalized, the 28-year-old is determined to qualify for each of the four remaining COT races, including two additional Car of Yesterday.  Try  events, with Roy McCauley leading the charge. Penske Racing PR
Renault: We won’t throw in the towel  Fabrice Lom, the man in charge of the Renault V8 engine program at Red Bull Racing, analyses the Monza and Spa-Francorchamps weekends. Red Bull still suffers reliability problems and this while Williams is expanding its lead.

Fabrice, what are your views on the Italian and Belgian Grand Prix?
"Nothing very new I’m afraid! The level of performance is very close in the mid-field group immediately behind BMW, a group which includes Williams, Renault, Red Bull Racing and Toyota. One or other of these teams has an advantage according to their car’s characteristics and how it adapts to the track we’re racing on. At Monza, we were not in our element and we started from fairly far back on a circuit where overtaking is almost impossible. At Spa we were more at home and we scored a good seventh place. This only confirms that everybody has a chance in this group and that the tiniest detail can change the course of a weekend."

Was there a downside to the two weekends?
"Yes. Unfortunately, Nico Rosberg finished in front of us and Williams increased its lead in the championship. What’s worse is our reliability problems seem to have come back. We’ve retired three times in three races." More ...

Latest F1 news in brief   
  • Alonso defended amid 'bribe' claims
  • 'New' Honda not quest for 2007 pace - Button
  • Fired Chinese F1 official convicted
  • Alonso 'talks' to wait until season end - Haug
  • Porsche again rules out F1 return

Alonso defended amid 'bribe' claims
(GMM)  Fernando Alonso has been defended after reports in Britain this week accused him of attempting to bribe his McLaren mechanics.

The Daily Mirror on Monday said F1's reigning world champion "pays to beat" his teammate Lewis Hamilton by attempting to offer each of the mechanics on his side of the garage $1300 for a win over the British rookie.

The publication called it an "amazing stunt" that was "vetoed instantly" by team boss Ron Dennis because it is "divisive for team morale".

The Spanish newspaper Diario As hit back at what it describes as "another lie from England" about the 26-year-old.

"Alonso has always offered a bonus to his mechanics," 'As' revealed.

"At Renault he used to pay thousands of euros to his mechanics for each victory, and sometimes he invited them out for dinner near the factory in Enstone as well.

"The troops adored him for it."

'As' journalist Carlos Miquel concludes that the sustained British media attack on Alonso is an attempt "to disturb him and to try to cause a sporting error that Hamilton can benefit from".

Former McLaren driver and Briton Mark Blundell also played down the $1300 bonus claims.

"I can't see what the fuss is about," he wrote in his column for the Daily Telegraph.

"Drivers have been offering bonuses to mechanics for years.  It doesn't split the camp.  It is an extra incentive for the boys."

Triple world champion Niki Lauda said Alonso belongs to one of two camps of formula one drivers.

"There are the ones who see nothing more important than being the best only on the track.  I was one of them.

"On the other hand there are drivers who use politics to try to strengthen their position, and Alonso is like that," he told the German newspaper Bild.

Lauda continued: "Alain Prost was like this too, but Alonso is even worse.  Instead of trying so hard to achieve number one status, he should just drive quicker." More ...

tv news
Rusty Wallace to be on Live with Regis and Kelly show  Rusty Wallace will be a guest on the Live with Regis and Kelly show on Thursday morning, September 20.  The show airs at 9:00 am - 10:00 am in most time zones.  The network varies.  Please check local listings for your location and time zone.
Video: Kasey Kahne Budweiser announcement  Tony Ponturo, Vice President of Global Media and Sports Marketing for Anheuser-Busch Inc., introduces Budweiser as the new sponsor for Kasey Kahne in 2008. Kasey Kahne is introduced as the new driver for Budweiser in 2008 and unveils his Dodge Avenger with the new sponsor. Ray Evernham talks about Budweiser joining Gillett-Evernham Motorsports as a new sponsor in 2008.

Video: Kahne Budweiser Announcement

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