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Edwards calls for end of NASCAR's Kangaroo Court  If you ask Carl Edwards, the time has come to implement an outside appeals committee in NASCAR that carries no ties to the sanctioning body.  The National Stock Car Commission, NASCAR's appeals committee, this week upheld the 25-point penalty levied against Edwards' No. 99 Ford team after it failed to meet the minimum height requirement during post race inspection at Dover International Speedway two weeks back.

"I think it'd be best for the integrity of the sport, for fairness all around, if it was more of an unbiased panel," Edwards said Friday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "But the way it is, it's the same for everybody."

The National Stock Car Commission is comprised of 32 industry personalities, led by Chairman George Silbermann that includes, among others, track owners and executives, former drivers and former team owners. Silbermann and two others hear each appeal. ESPN.com Industry insiders liken it to a Kangaroo Court.

NASCAR is pleased with its current process, and feels like it has long served them well and will continue to do so. They have no plans to change the process.

Conquest Racing and Philippe Get their Motors Revved  

Nelson Philippe

Nelson’s Adopted Hometown
While he may credit Valence, France as his hometown, Nelson Philippe (#34 Juniper Group/Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) has recently adopted Surfers Paradise as his new residence. He has been living in the seaside town with girlfriend, Sarah Buller, the reigning Bartercard Miss Indy for the past few months but is ready to be back racing in a Champ Car.

“I am very happy to be racing again, especially in my adopted hometown of Surfers Paradise!” said Philippe. “I have been here for the past two months looking at the track being built and it is an awesome feeling to be back to defend my title.”

Nelson’s new Aussie home offers him the ideal perch from which to scope out the challenging, 2.795-mile street course. Just one year ago, Philippe became the youngest Champ Car driver to win a race and now, at 21 years of age, is looking to make history again by being the first driver to earn a repeat win at the Lexmark Indy 300 event.

In addition to the already busy agenda preparing for his Champ Car return, Nelson has kept up a rigorous media schedule which included a trip to Mexico City before returning to Australia to fundraise for local charity, CanTeen – The Australian Organization for Young People Living with Cancer.

Welcoming New Sponsors
Nelson will be racing to make history with the support of new sponsors Juniper Development Group, their Surfers Paradise project, Soul and Opes Prime Group; all local Australian companies. Throughout the weekend, Nelson and the Conquest Racing team will be welcoming guests from all of these sponsors and providing these partners with a behind the scenes look at Champ Car World Series Racing. More ...

Forsythe team signs Mexican for ’08  

David Garza

At a news conference in his hometown, Mexican rising star David Garza today announced that he will join the Forsythe Championship Racing Team for the 2008 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season. 

Garza, who will turn 20 years of age midway through the 2008 season, competed in his rookie Champ Car Atlantic season in 2007 with US RaceTronics. He earned career-best results in each of his first six starts, topped by best finishes of eighth at Cleveland and the first race of the doubleheader at Edmonton. He finished 10th in the Rookie of the Year standings and 17th in the overall championship. As was the case in 2007, Garza’s car will carry sponsorship from Monterrey, Mexico-based Axtel, a leading carrier of communications services in Mexico. More ...
Seven drivers to test at Barber Motorsports Park  Dan Wheldon has been anxiously awaiting the IndyCar Series Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park. Not only is it the IndyCar Series' first test on the 2.38-mile, 16-turn road course at in Birmingham, Ala., it's also one of the few opportunities he will have to drive the car before the winter. It's all part of the off-season planning for the 16-race IndyCar Series season.

"It's great to get back in the Target car and test so soon after the end of the season," the 2005 IndyCar Series champion said. "It might not seem like it's been that long since the last race, but to a driver, it's an eternity because that's where we love to be. Any time that we can get on track to test is a chance for us to improve, and it's really important to drivers and teams to push forward with development in order to raise the level of competition for the next season of racing."

Wheldon will join six other drivers from four IndyCar Series teams at the test, which will allow IndyCar Series officials to further evaluate technical changes for the upcoming season.

"The test will help us further access the variable ratio steering racks that a few teams will have and it will be phase two of the paddle shifting installation program," said Les Mactaggart, senior technical director for the IndyCar Series. "One of the Ganassi cars will have that system, and this test is a chance to have more miles put on the system." More ...

Team USA thrilled with Ferrari deal  Starting with the 2008-09 season, A1 TEAM USA will be powered by Ferrari and use chassis designed by Ferrari in A1GP World Cup of  Motorsport.

"All of us at A1 TEAM USA and A1GP are thrilled to be associated with Ferrari, the most famous motor racing organization in the world and builder of exquisite road cars," A1 TEAM USA owner Rick Weidinger of Washington, D.C., said.  "We are proud to welcome the Prancing Horse to our team and A1GP.

"A1GP has a six-year agreement with Ferrari which includes an exclusive licensing agreement for merchandise. Ferrari will also consult with the constructor selected to build the new chassis. The decision to bring in new cars and engines and the length of our deal with Ferrari shows the commitment A1GP has to the future of the World Cup of Motorsport."

Q and A Vijay Mallaya  Last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix marked Dr Vijay Mallya’s first race visit as a team owner, the Indian businessman having just completed his and Dutch entrepreneur Michiel Mol’s buyout of Spyker. As a Toyota sponsor, Mallya has been a well-known figure in the Formula One paddock for some time. But how does the man dubbed the ‘king of good times’ in his native India envisage his transformation to team owner - and what personal input does he expect to make to the sport?

Now that the deal is done and you have had four weeks to think about your new role, how are you planning to handle your involvement?
"Together with the Mol family I established a new joint-venture company called Orange India. The company will have five directors and I will appoint three and the Mol family two. I will be the CEO of that new outfit and will have the operational control. You can be sure that my contribution is very much hands on!"

You must already have an idea of what your personal contribution to the team, and the sport, will be…
"I am no newcomer to the sport - I have been involved in Formula One over the last ten years. But my role has definitely been upgraded and so my input will be more essential than as a mere sponsor because now I am in the driving seat of future team decisions. What can I add? Well, first of all I bring India to the F1 table. The potential of India is equal or even better than China. Secondly, out-of-the-box thinking. I have proved with all my businesses that, with an atypical approach, success is possible even in the most challenging environments. Thirdly, my relationship to Airbus Industries will help to push the aerodynamic development, and I have access to composite technology. Fourthly, people management skills. We have good people in the team but they probably have to be managed better. Money alone cannot perform - we have to create an environment for success." More ...

Roush Signs Stenhouse  Roush Fenway Racing announced today that they have signed Olive Branch, Miss. native Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to a multi-year contract. Stenhouse will race full-time in the ARCA RE/MAX Series for Roush Fenway beginning in 2008. Stenhouse is currently racing in USAC's National Sprint Car and National Midget Car Series'.

"I've been waiting for this for a while," said Stenhouse. "I'm really excited about this opportunity. Since I was six years old and starting to race this is what I've wanted to do. To be racing for Jack Roush, John Henry and a team like Roush Fenway Racing, it's a dream come true."

Stenhouse has looked brilliant in both a Sprint and Midget car in 2007 racing for Tony Stewart Racing. In 22 Sprint car starts, Stenhouse has chalked up two wins, seven top-five and 14 top-10 finishes and currently sits fifth in the overall point standings. In the USAC National Midget Series, Stenhouse has looked just as strong claiming five wins in 23 starts along with 10 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes while occupying third in the overall point standings.

"We're very excited to have Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. as part of our Roush Fenway Racing stable of drivers and as part of the Ford family," said team owner Jack Roush. "Ricky has shown tremendous talent in the USAC series this year with six wins and we feel he'll do a great job for us in the ARCA series in 2008."

industry news
Ford lures new marketing chief from Toyota  Ford Motor Co. is expected to announce as early as today that James D. Farley, group vice president of Toyota Motor Co.'s Lexus Division, will be Ford's first chief marketing and communications officer.

The move would be a signature appointment by CEO Alan Mulally, who has openly criticized Ford's marketing efforts and signaled his desire to install top marketing talent at the Glass House. Farley's arrival also would be the second high-profile defection from vaunted Toyota to a Detroit automaker, suggesting that highly regarded industry pros see opportunity in their beleaguered rivals.

"Farley is their superstar," a source familiar with the situation told me today, adding that Ford has been talking with Farley off and on for a year. "It's a done deal. This is a good move for us. This is the guy we wanted. He has an engineering background." More ...

3M Continues Partnership with Biffle  3M announced today a multi-year partnership with Roush Fenway Racing to become the primary sponsor of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion.  The contract calls for 3M to be the primary sponsor for driver Greg Biffle for 23 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in 2008.   Terms were not disclosed.

“Greg is one of the most respected drivers in NASCAR and we’re looking forward to building on the great relationship that has grown over the years with Greg and with Roush Fenway Racing,” said Bob MacDonald, 3M Senior Vice President of Marketing. “He’s great on the track and just as good with our customers and employees and with all the fantastic NASCAR fans.

“The 3M Motorsports team is really working hard to drive brand awareness and sales growth with the great NASCAR fans through our association with NASCAR and Roush Fenway Racing,” MacDonald added. “Jack Roush has been instrumental in helping us take 3M’s NASCAR program to the next level, and I appreciate everything he and his team have done. I also thank Todd Kluever for his contributions to our program over the last two years. We wish him every success in the future. ”

Mowlem forced to withdraw  Following its outstanding North American debut at Petit Le Mans, the LMP2 Zytek 07S moves on to race at the Laguna Seca American Le Mans Series round. The Zytek team had been looking forward to welcoming back Johnny Mowlem to its driver line-up for the race. However, due to an injury received driving at Petit Le Mans, he has sadly had to withdraw from the event.

Johnny drove for the team in the final races of last year’s ALMS championship, finishing second overall at Petit Le Mans and leading the race at Laguna Seca.

“It is very unfortunate that Johnny, through no fault of his own, will be unable to drive for us at Laguna Seca due to the wrist injury that he suffered last weekend,” said Zytek Motorsport team director Trevor Foster. “He did a first class job when he raced for us in the USA last year and, I hope there will be an opportunity to work with him again in the near future.” More ...

Racing News
Porsche Motorsport North America names new president  

Paul Ritchie

Paul S. Ritchie, executive director – engineering operations for Magna Steyr North America, and former chief executive officer of Porsche Engineering Services, Inc. USA, has been named president of Porsche Motorsport North America (PMNA).

He will succeed Uwe Brettel, who will take over new responsibilities in the management of Porsche Motorsport in Weissach, Germany. Ritchie will join the PMNA team on November 15, 2007, while Brettel will return to Weissach by the end of March, 2008.

“Uwe has grown the Porsche Motorsport activities in the United States significantly since he arrived in 2003, increasing the presence and services of PMNA in various U.S. racing platforms. He also gained the confidence of both customers and sanctioning bodies,” said Hartmut Kristen, head of Porsche Motorsport worldwide.

“Paul Ritchie’s familiarity with Porsche, the original equipment manufacturer and aftermarket parts and engineering business, and all forms of high tech engineering, makes him a perfect successor to take over and continue the job that Uwe has started,” said Kristen. More ...

Canada team ecstatic over A1GP Ferrari deal  Montréal, Canada - A1 Team Canada Seat Holder Wade Cherwayko has expressed his delight at the news today that an historic and ground breaking partnership has been reached between the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport and Ferrari. 

It was confirmed in an announcement this morning that Ferrari has signed a six-year agreement to manufacture and supply all A1GP engines for the unique nation versus nation series and will design and consult on the manufacture of all A1GP car chassis for use in Season Four (2008-09).

The partnership with Ferrari extends to an exclusive licensing agreement for all A1GP merchandise to use the Ferrari name and phrase 'Powered by Ferrari' from January 2008.

"A1GP's partnership with Ferrari is both significant and encouraging," reflected Wade Cherwayko, A1 Team Canada's Seat Holder.  "It helps to further establish A1GP as leading motor racing series while it breaks ground given it's the first time Ferrari has become involved in another formula in this manner." More ...

British team ecstatic over A1GP Ferrari deal  
Tony Clements, British A1GP Seatholder; "From a business point of view this agreement is a landmark deal and one that will enable us to market Britain's national team in The World Cup of Motorsport in association with arguably the most famous brand in motor racing. Ferrari's technology will take the A1GP series on to anew level, and add a level of interest and excitement to the series starting in season 4. This is certain to assist in the team's quest for commercial partners, who can now not only benefit from being associated with a winning, national team, but also the association with Ferrari."

Katie Clements, Team Principal; "We have been waiting to hear news about the season 4 technology partnership and I think it's true to say this news is groundbreaking. As I understand it Ferrari has never designed and provided technologies to single seater race cars outside of Formula One, at least not in the modern era, so it is a credit to A1GP that the series has managed to attract this caliber of partner less than three years after we started. I think the interest in seeing Team Great Britain's new car in 2008 will be very high. In the meantime we have the current season to think about - it would be ideal to go into the first season of using Ferrari technology as the reigning title holders in The World Cup of Motorsport."

Robbie Kerr, Driver; "From a driver's point of view this news is terrific. The only way to drive a Ferrari single seater has, until now, been through Formula One - this agreement means that we will have the opportunity to race Ferrari technology in A1GP and that is something I would relish. As a driver you want to have the best technology available, and I am certain Ferrari will provide a very exciting product. I also think that having over twenty Ferrari-designed A1GP cars lining up on the grid for The World Cup of Motorsport is going to encourage other top drivers to the series, and really appeal to fans."

Interview with Super Aguri's aero chief  Super Aguri's head of aerodynamics Ben Wood took part in a question and answer session looking back at his car's performance this season and his hopes of finishing the year on a high at Interlagos.

Q: Ben, what are your feelings about the SA07's performance this year?
BW: In general, we have been pleased with the first half of the season's performance. We extracted a lot of performance from this car, but in the end we cannot compete with the larger teams we are up against. It's a constant development game and if you don't develop and put parts on the car as the season progresses, you go backwards on the grid. Our race team has done an excellent job in ensuring they extract the most out of the car. We are also very proud of the fact we took our points during dry conditions and by merit earlier in the season.

Q: It has been said many times that the team's in-season development has been hampered by budget constraints, do you have anything to add to this?
BW: We've never had the largest aero department and we are currently a team of 11 people doing everything, so we're quite used to making the most of limited resources. However, that gets a bit difficult when you can't afford to wind tunnel test. We have not been able to put on any really serious development parts since May, so it's really hurt our on track performance. This is one of the reasons why our situation is particularly difficult. More ...

Kenwood to sponsor Hornish LMS  Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the #06 Kenwood Dodge Charger, will attempt to make his Nextel Cup Series debut at the 1.5-mile Lowe's Motor Speedway on Saturday. This is Hornish's first attempt to qualify for a Cup event in a race not using the Dodge Avenger. Hornish has attempted to qualify for three Cup Series events so far this season - New Hampshire, Dover and Talladega. Although Hornish's 2008 plans have not been determined, the 28-year-old will attempt to qualify for no more than seven events, including each of the two remaining COT races with Roy McCauley leading the charge. Penske Racing PR
Latest F1 news in brief  
  • FIA officials to ensure McLaren equality in Brazil
  • Hamilton apologizes for three-way title fight
  • Massa doubts he'll need to help Kimi in Brazil
  • Webber does not regret attacking 'golden boy'
  • Hamilton not required by Modena prosecutors
  • Glock to sign Toyota contract after Brazil

FIA officials to ensure McLaren equality in Brazil
(GMM) The highest ranking Spanish motor sport official will travel to Brazil next weekend to ensure that McLaren give equal treatment to countryman Fernando Alonso for the 2007 championship finale.

Carlos Gracia, also an FIA vice president and member of the World Motor Sport Council, confirmed to the newspaper Diario As that he has accepted the invitation to watch proceedings at Interlagos from the Woking based team's garage.

"Ron Dennis extended me an invitation so that I can see that they have nothing to hide, and I decided to accept," he said.

Gracia insists, however, that his presence will not be in an official FIA capacity, and that he believes McLaren's announcement on Wednesday that Alonso and his teammate Lewis Hamilton will be treated equally in Brazil.

"Logically it could not be different," he explained, "also because behind them is a Ferrari driver, so that McLaren has to fight against the red cars, not their own driver."

But Gracia also revealed that the FIA will commission an official to formally ensure that equality is adhered to at McLaren for the last race of 2007.

He said "strange situations" have arisen at McLaren, particularly in qualifying at the last three grands prix.

Gracia said he met with FIA president Max Mosley a few days ago and laid out his concerns, and also put the issue in writing.

He said the FIA responded with confirmation that an official will watch "very closely any activity that is against Alonso" at the event

Hamilton apologizes for three-way title fight
(GMM) As a rare three-way battle for the 2007 championship approaches, Lewis Hamilton has apologized to his fans for not wrapping up the title already.

The British rookie slid into a pit entry gravel trap in Shanghai last Sunday after commandingly leading the opening stanza of the race, when simply finishing ahead of his McLaren teammate Fernando Alonso would have guaranteed the crown.

The mistake has brought Alonso and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen back into the hunt for the upcoming Brazilian finale.

Hamilton told his fans on Wednesday: "I have to apologize for keeping them in suspense."

Speaking with British reporters, the 22-year-old vowed to focus on the ultimate prize at Interlagos rather than push only for the race win. More ...

Former ’Ford’ guy Mark Martin opens Chevy dealership  

Mark Martin is a Chevy guy now

Veteran NASCAR driver Mark Martin announced that he has opened a Chevrolet dealership in Melbourne, Ark. The dealership is located approximately 30 minutes from Martin’s hometown of Batesville, Ark., where Mark Martin Ford Mercury and his museum are located.

“We are real excited about Mark Martin Chevrolet,” said Martin. “I know that I’ve had a lot of fun driving Chevys this year in the Nextel Cup Series, and we are really excited about partnering up with Chevy for a dealership.

“We are an authorized Corvette dealer and we are currently in the process of remodeling the facility. The dealership is located close to my hometown of Batesville and we are very excited about what we have going on.

“My partner and good friend Lance Landers will oversee the day-to-day operations at each facility. Nobody knows the dealership business better than Lance and it should be really cool to see how it is able to grow under his direction.”

The dealership, formally Tate Lawrence Chevrolet, has approximately 250 units in stock and is located at Hwy. 69 and 9 in Melbourne.

McLaren team insists there is equality  With only one Grand Prix left this season, the 2007 Formula 1 Driver’s World Championship battle is more intense than it has been for a long time with both the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes drivers having been at the top of the point standings since the fourth race of the 2007 season. Consequently there was, and is, competitive tension between Fernando and Lewis who are fighting as team mates for the Championship title.

Following suggestions that there might not be equal treatment for both Fernando and Lewis, the team wants to make it absolutely clear that its policy of treating both Fernando and Lewis with complete equality and fairness will continue for the final race in Brazil on Sunday 21st October 2007. This policy has been conducted throughout the year and McLaren and Mercedes-Benz will continue to take every step that is within their control to ensure that both Fernando and Lewis will enjoy the same opportunity to win in terms of equality of car, engine, tactics and use of resources.

Ron Dennis

Commenting on the matter, Ron Dennis, Team Principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes said:
“This has been a tremendous season to which the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team and our drivers have, I believe, contributed a great deal. This contribution has been enhanced by allowing Fernando and Lewis to race each other with complete equality. This will, of course, continue in Brazil where the entire team will be doing its absolute best to win the Drivers’ World Championship.”

Norbert Haug

Norbert Haug, Vice-President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport said:
“There have been a lot of suggestions and rumors about equality in the team this year. The current point standings illustrate better than anything else the fact that equal treatment is in place. During the 12 years Mercedes-Benz and McLaren have been working together all drivers in the team had the same possibilities to perform. We will not change this principle for the next race which is the last of the thrilling 2007 season and we will see both Fernando and Lewis compete for the Driver’s World Championship title.”

industry news
UAW goes on strike at Chrysler  UPDATE The UAW, which had 34,000 workers strike at 18 of Chrysler’s 25 U.S. manufacturing plants today after negotiations over a new labor contract failed to meet an 11 a.m. deadline, has reached a deal with Chrysler, the union and company announced this evening in separate statements.

The deal, which still requires ratification by UAW members, includes the creation of a retiree health care trust fund, Chrysler said. This agreement was made possible because UAW workers made it clear to Chrysler that we needed an agreement that rewards the contributions they have made to the success of this company,” UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in a statement.

Forbes.com reported earlier in the day that the UAW and Chrysler had reached a tentative deal an hour after the 11 a.m. strike.

“Once again, teamwork in the leadership and solidarity in the ranks has produced an agreement that protects jobs for our communities and also protects wages, pensions, and health care for our active and retired members,” said Vice President General Holiefield in a statement.

10/10/07 The United Auto Workers launched a widespread strike against Chrysler LLC this morning after all-night negotiations failed to produce a tentative agreement on a new labor contract.

Thousands of UAW members took to the picket lines at Chrysler plants across the United States in the second walkout against one of Detroit's Big Three during this year's contract talks.

Talks between UAW and Chrysler negotiators broke off at about 11 a.m., when the strike deadline imposed by the union took effect.

Chrysler officials were aware that UAW workers were leaving plants but would not officially confirm any labor disruption. Representatives for the UAW could not be immediately reached for comment.

People close to the situation said that at least five Chrysler assembly plants were not included in the strike -- the Jefferson North in Detroit, a truck plant in Warren, and plants in Belvidere, Ill., and Newark, Del.

The Jefferson North, Warren, Newark and Belvidere plants were among five Chrysler assembly plants that had been temporarily shut down this week to reduce inventories of slow-selling vehicles.  Detroit News

Switzerland lifts motor racing ban? No  UPDATE The Swiss Council of States (known as the Senat) has examined the law passed by the National Council to alter the terms of the Road Traffic Law of 1958 which prohibits circuit racing in Switzerland. The proposal was to allow racing on closed circuits in the country. The Council of States rejected to new law and although the legislation will now go back to the National Council there is little chance that it will now pass into the law. Grandprix.com

06/06/07 (GMM) Switzerland has finally lifted a more than fifty-year ban on organizing motor racing events such as formula one.

A photograph in the country's national newspaper Blick showed politicians celebrating the occasion by spraying each other with champagne.

The ban fell back in 1955, after more than 80 spectators died in an horror crash at Le Mans.

But in parliament this week, it was lifted when 97 votes defeated 77, with politicians arguing that motor racing would be of benefit to Swiss car component manufacturers and tourism.

Those opposed said motor racing was damaging to the environment and would promote hooligan driving on the roads.

The news, however, instantly sparked speculation of a return of the Swiss grand prix; a formula one event that was last held at the Bremgarten circuit and won by Juan Manual Fangio in 1954.

"But where are we going to build this apparent circuit?," a skeptical Beat Zehnder, BMW-Sauber's team manager, wondered in Montreal.

"Talking about a grand prix is, I think, simply unrealistic," he added, explaining that Switzerland can probably not compete with big-spending countries like Abu Dhabi and South Korea for a spot on the calendar.

Carpentier confirmed by Gillett Evernham  Gillett Evernham Motorsports announced today that they have added Patrick Carpentier to their driver lineup for 2008. The Quebec native and former open wheel stand out will drive fulltime in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series next year as well as select races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The car number and sponsorship have not yet been announced.

Carpentier made his NASCAR Nextel Cup Series debut earlier this season driving the No. 10 Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge Avenger at Watkins Glen, leading seven laps in the event. Just one week earlier, he had made his NASCAR Busch Series debut at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. The road course veteran proved to be a quick study as he won the pole for the event and led 14 laps en route to a second-place finish. Carpentier has compiled five Champ Car World Series/CART wins, and a Toyota Atlantic Championship in 1996.

"We are excited to add Patrick Carpentier to our organization for 2008," said George Gillett co-owner of Gillett Evernham Motorsports. "Patrick (Carpentier) has shown tremendous talent in every series he has driven throughout his career and has a bright future in NASCAR. We are committed to giving Patrick (Carpentier) the best resources and opportunities available to make this transition and we look forward to a great deal of success together both on and off the track."

Kangaroo causes havoc at race  Drivers at a V8 Supercar auto race in Australia barely missed making road kill out of a wayward kangaroo. Watch Video
ALMS attendance up 40%  For the record, it was a record crowd of more than 100,000 for the Petit LeMans race this past weekend at Road Atlanta.  For the year, ALMS attendance is up over 40% - and that’s NOT COUNTING attendance figures from Sunday doubleheader events.
industry news
Chrysler pulls dealer quotas  Chrysler LLC is scrapping its controversial, quota-based dealer incentive program and instead will pay a cash bonus to retailers every time a vehicle is sold.  Chrysler will tell 2,000 of its dealers assembled at a meeting today in Las Vegas that it is ending the Volume Performance Allowance program effective Jan. 1, officials told The Detroit News.

Critics say the program compels dealers to sell products at a loss to earn cash bonuses tied to monthly sales goals set by the automaker. In June, Chrysler dropped VPA targets by 10 percent in response to dealer complaints.

After Jan. 1, the automaker will pay dealers a straight-up bonus -- $200 when the dealer invoices a vehicle and $200 when it's sold. Under the VPA program, every month, a Chrysler computer spits out a new target, said Alan Helfman, owner of River Oaks Chrysler Dodge in Houston. At River Oaks, the dealership gets $300 per vehicle for meeting 85 percent of its goal and $500 for meeting its entire goal. In some areas of the country, dealers have reported bonuses of up to $700 per vehicle.  Detroit News

Q and A with Kazuki Nakajima  

Kazuki Nakajima

Kazuki Nakajima will race for the team AT&T Williams F1 Team in the final Grand Prix of the 2007 season in Brazil in a fortnight's time. The 22-year old Japanese driver, this year's GP2 series Rookie of the Year, is the team's official test and reserve driver. Nakajima talks about the challenge that awaits him at Interlagos:

So, congratulations are in order Kazuki! You must be very excited about driving in Brazil?
"I'm really excited, and I have to say many thanks to the team for giving me this opportunity. Now, I'm just really looking forward to getting to Brazil and making the most of it. I'm quite relaxed at the moment, but there's still plenty of time to get nervous!"

How did you feel when you took the call?
"I had mixed feelings, I suppose. In one respect, I was really happy and excited because it's a dream come true, but the sport has also lost a great driver in Alex Wurz and I know the team were all very fond of him. Patrick told me the news; I haven't spoken to Frank yet but I'm looking forward to a conversation with him this week before the race. They aren't putting any pressure on me, they've said it's not a test for a seat next year, it's just this race. "

Interlagos is quite a challenge, how are you preparing for it?
"I'm spending a day at the factory this week on the simulator, and with the engineers talking everything through. It'll be my first time racing on the track and many people have told me it's very bumpy. It's also ant-clockwise, so I've just been clocking the miles on the sim in preparation. Fortunately, I have quite a lot of time before the race so I can be well prepared."

As you mentioned, Brazil is an anti-clockwise circuit and therefore something of a greater challenge. Are you making more trips to the gym than usual?
"Definitely. I'm putting the hours in and training a lot harder than usual to give myself the best possible chance. I'm really working on the left hand-side of my neck as well. I'm not sure quite how tough it's going to be, but I imagine it's going to be a real challenge so I'm really pushing as hard as I can on my preparation work." More ...

Edwards appeal to be heard Tuesday  UPDATE Like we said, no one wins an appeal against a NASCAR penalty.  On October 9, 2007, the National Stock Car Racing Commission heard and considered the appeal of Roush Fenway Racing regarding the #99 car. The appeal concerned three penalties issued by NASCAR following post-race inspection on September 23, 2007 for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series event at Dover International Speedway. 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" and Section 20-12.8.1.C of the NASCAR COT Technical Bulletin #3 dated 4/10/07: "Failed to meet the minimum rear car heights."
The penalties assessed were:
  • Loss of 25 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Championship Car Owner Points for car owner Roush Fenway Racing.
  • Loss of 25 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Championship Driver Points for driver Carl Edwards.
  • $25,000.00 fine and probation until December 31, 2007 for crew chief Robert Osborne.

The Appellants argued that the infraction was due to the failure of a clamp on a jack bolt and that the resulting low rear car height was a performance disadvantage. They further argued that penalties imposed during the Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup should be assessed differently than during other portions of the season, and differently for Chase contenders than for other competitors.
In deciding the Appeal, the Commission considered several factors:

  • There was no indication that the infraction was intentional.
  • The car failed to meet post-race height requirements. Whether this constituted an advantage, disadvantage or otherwise does not alter the fact that the car failed to meet the rules.
  • All eligible competitors in each NASCAR Nextel Cup Series championship race are awarded championship points per the NASCAR Rule Book. Accordingly, point penalties should continue to be assessed irrespective of a given competitor's overall standing in the championship points, or in which championship race an infraction occurs.
  • The penalties imposed are consistent with those for other recent car height violations.

Therefore it is the unanimous decision of the National Stock Car Racing Commission (John Capels, Grant Lynch and George Silbermann, Chairman) to uphold the original penalties assessed by NASCAR. The Appellants have the right under Section 15 of the Rule Book to appeal this decision to the National Stock Car Racing Commissioner. NASCAR PR

10/06/07 Roush Fenway Racing will have its appeal hearing Tuesday in front of a three-person panel of the National Stock Car Racing Commission. #99-Carl Edwards was penalized 25 points after winning two weeks ago at Dover when a post race inspection showed the rear quarter panel on his No. 99 Ford was too low. Edwards plans to attend the hearing with Roush Fenway Racing president Geoff Smith. "If I go, maybe I can learn something about the process," Edwards said. "And I still believe we have a good case to get some relief." NASCAR officials admit the lower height of the car was not an advantage, but a rule is a rule. That isn't the argument for team officials. Smith and team co-owner Jack Roush have argued that the points penalty should be reduced from 25 points to 10 during the Chase because fewer points are available for the Chase competitors. ESPN.com

[Editor's Note:  Too funny.  No one wins a NASCAR appeal.]

racing news
SPEED Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking  
Updated 10-10-07
Pos.  (LW) Driver (Series)                     Pts
1. (10) Kimi Raikkonen (F1)                    8.761
2. (3) Jeff Gordon (NASCAR)                    8.526
3. (2) Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR)                 8.331
4. (5) Dario Franchitti (IRL)                  7.632
5. (32) Fernando Alonso (F1)                   7.453
6. (16) Tony Stewart (NASCAR)                  7.428
7. (4) Clint Bowyer (NASCAR)                   7.318
8. (7) Scott Dixon (IRL)                       7.272
9. (8) Sebastien Bourdais (CCWS)               7.162
10. (9) Casey Mears (NASCAR)                   7.088
11. (NR) Denny Hamlin (NASCAR)                 7.056
12. (12) Kurt Busch (NASCAR)                   6.942
13. (13) Justin Wilson (CCWS)                  6.837
14. (15) Tony Kanaan (IRL)                     6.693
15. (NR) Ryan Newman (NASCAR)                  6.522
16. (NR) Carl Edwards (NASCAR)                 6.293
17. (11) Kevin Harvick (NASCAR)                6.200
18. (34) Felipe Massa (F1)                     6.166
19. (6) Greg Biffle (NASCAR)                   5.975
20. (17) Kasey Kahne (NASCAR)                  5.733

Dropped out: Lewis Hamilton (F1), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NASCAR), Reed Sorenson (NASCAR), Kyle Busch (NASCAR), Martin Truex Jr. (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.

Hamilton is derided as a daddy’s boy  

Lewis Hamilton

To know how divisive this Formula One season has been, how sporting rivalries have turned personal, you only had to experience the cheers that went up when Lewis Hamilton slid into the gravel in China yesterday. And that was just in the media centre.

Hamilton may be on a fast track to hero status in Great Britain, but there were plenty of people who could not hide a snigger as he ground to a halt just a few hundred yards from where the mechanics were ready with their tires. There were more chuckles when he was forced to clamber on to the back of a yellow scooter for the short ride home.

The savior of the sport? Bernie Ecclestone may believe so, but the rise of the rookie is not being sold as a feel-good story in every corner of the globe, and certainly not across swaths of southern Europe. There he is derided as a daddy’s boy who has received preferential treatment. A daddy’s boy with two protective fathers if you include Ron Dennis, the McLaren Mercedes team principal. More at the London Times

Hamilton to also face Italian prosecutors  

Lewis Hamilton

(GMM)  Lewis Hamilton will also be interviewed by Italian authorities as part of the criminal investigation into the espionage affair that this year rocked formula one.

His McLaren teammate and championship rival Fernando Alonso, who like 22-year-old Hamilton is not under investigation, was questioned in Ferrari's local region of Modena for two hours on Tuesday.

La Gazzetta dello Sport also reported that Pedro de la Rosa, McLaren's primary test driver, will be similarly interviewed soon.

McLaren chiefs including Ron Dennis were at Monza last month informed that they would be investigated for possible fraud, embezzlement and espionage.

"Alonso is only a witness," magistrate Giuseppe Tibis was quoted as saying.

Enge on standby for Czech Republic  

Tomas Enge

In an unexpected move, A1 Team Czech Republic will only confirm its choice of race driver for its home event at Brno this weekend after free practice on Friday has taken place.

Former A1GP race winner Tomas Enge has been officially placed on standby for this weekend, in case ‘the pressure of the home event’ for lead driver Erik Janis gets too much.

Janis was named before the start of the season as the team’s lead driver for 2007/08. The 18-year-old acquitted himself well in his maiden A1GP event at Zandvoort two weeks ago, finishing in the points on the Feature race.

However, with Janis still inexperienced, team officials have chosen to also nominate 31-year-old Enge for Brno to give themselves options ahead of the race weekend. More ...

track news
Silverstone set to unveil plans  Silverstone is set to unveil its development plans and invite residents from nearby neighborhoods to comment on the proposals in a public hearing. The plans include a motor sport technology park, college, business park, hotels, restaurants and more housing near to Silverstone village.

A museum and welcome centre are also being proposed as part of the circuit modernization and to try to make Silverstone the kind of tourist destination that other major circuits in the world are, such as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The British Grand Prix is estimated to bring £40m to the local economy each year. The plans will be available publicly from 16 October.

track news
No lights for Martinsville  Clay Campbell, president of Martinsville Speedway, questions if adding lights makes business sense, because his track's race dates are typically in early April (it will be late March next year) and mid-October, when conditions can be cool during the day, let alone at night.

"The thing that would push it over the edge for us maybe doing lights would be the other events that we do ... like the modified race and the Late Models," Campbell said.

Adding temporary lights presents issues, Campbell said, because they take up so much room. Roanoke.com

Twinkle-Toes Castroneves hangs on  

Helio Castroneves

He might not be the best race car driver, but he can dance.  Helio Castroneves and Mark Cuban survived another round of cuts on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" show Tuesday night, but popular entertainer Wayne Newton did not.  A night after receiving the lowest score from the show's three judges, "Mr. Las Vegas" was knocked out of the competition by the television voters.

Nine contestants remain, including Castroneves, the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, and Cuban, the Indiana University graduate who owns the Dallas Mavericks.

Castroneves was the favorite of the judges Oct. 2, but he slipped to sixth this week. Cuban was ninth. The next round is Monday night in Los Angeles. Indy Star
Q and A with Mike Gascoyne  

Mike Gascoyne

Q. Spyker was the only team to start the race with extreme wets. What was the thinking behind the decision?

Mike Gascoyne - Spyker chief technical officer: "Basically we had the prediction of heavy rain for the first 20 minutes, and the radar plot showed that coming in. It really just veered away and we only got the tail end of it. We just gambled that it was going to be heavy rain, and if we were the only ones on extremes, and other teams had to stop, we would be looking good.

"The bottom line was that we weren't competitive during the weekend, and we were just going to drive around so we had to take a risk to move up. We were not the only ones to struggle - if you look at Renault and Williams and where we were relative to them, we were in the same position as normal."

Q. Was a gamble worth taking?

MG: "Really we weren't going to get much out of the weekend, and if you are in that position then you need to take risks – effectively you have nothing to lose. If it had worked out then we would have been very well placed, but in the end the gamble on the tires didn't pay off. We then went on to the wets, and we then changed to drys just as it started raining again."

Q. What happened to Adrian?

MG: "Adrian made a mistake, but to be honest he can't be blamed for that. It was raining again and he had just changed to drys and just skidded off in the last corner after Ralf Schumacher had just done the same thing. It had started raining, and it was wet in that corner. It's just one of those things." More ...

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Hamilton hits back at Montezemolo scorn
  • Mosley refuses to apologize for Stewart attack
  • Rodriguez - I deserve 2008 Spyker seat

Hamilton hits back at Montezemolo scorn
(GMM) McLaren's championship leader and title favorite Lewis Hamilton has hit back at Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo.

Referring to the espionage saga, in which McLaren was kicked out of the constructors' championship but allowed to keep racing for the drivers' crown, Montezemolo said recently that if Hamilton wins, it will be "thanks to Ferrari, because within his car there is plenty of our team."

Even if Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen wins the 2007 finale in Brazil next weekend, the Finn will only be drivers' champion if Hamilton improbably finishes outside of the top five.

According to the German newspaper Bild, 22-year-old Hamilton hit back at Montezemolo by saying: "I am leading the championship because we have had a better car than Ferrari, and because we did a better job with our reliability."

Mosley refuses to apologize for Stewart attack
(GMM) Max Mosley has publicly refused to apologize to Sir Jackie Stewart for last month calling him a "certified halfwit".

Over a media lunch with British journalists late in September, the FIA president was scathing of Stewart, the triple world champion, for criticizing the FIA's handling of the spying saga.

Stewart, who is 68, told the Guardian newspaper this week that an option to sue Mosley for libel is "very open".

"My lawyers are in communication with Mr. Mosley," he revealed.

Mosley, however, insisted to the same newspaper that he will not retract or apologize, even after 1996 world champion Damon Hill slammed his comments as a "gross insult" to someone who suffers from dyslexia.

Mosley said Stewart's description of the espionage affair as a witch hunt was "ill informed". "To make this and other unfounded and partisan accusations without viewing any of the evidence was not only inept but thoroughly irresponsible," he added.

"Such comments could do nothing but damage to the sport.

"I have no apology to make and I am more than happy to repeat this view about him now and in the future.

"Some members of the British motor sport establishment consider Jackie Stewart to be a national treasure," Mosley continued. "I have known Jackie for almost 40 years, and understand their view, but they must forgive me if I do not share it."

Rodriguez - I deserve 2008 Spyker seat
(GMM) Spanish GP2 driver Roldan Rodriguez still counts himself in the running for a race drive with the Spyker team in 2008.

The 22-year-old, reportedly with $15 million in sponsor cash in tow, was late last month confirmed as a tester for the Silverstone based team for the upcoming "2007/08 winter period".

Rodriguez will travel with the newly Indian-Dutch owned team to Brazil next weekend, and he declared in the Spanish sports newspaper Marca that "I deserve to be one of the 24 drivers" next year.

"I am going to see how the team works (at a race weekend)," he added.

Rodriguez, who drove for the Minardi-Piquet team this year, finished the GP2 championship in seventeenth place.

"Because of circumstances, lack of experience, failures of the team and bad luck, I did not obtain the result I would have wanted," he declared.

Alonso gives evidence to the court in Italy  UPDATE (GMM)  Fernando Alonso on Tuesday was interviewed for nearly two hours by Italian prosecutors, the newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport and other local media reported.

He who laughs last, laughs loudest

The casually-clothed Spaniard and reigning world champion was then photographed by the press upon leaving the Judiciary Police headquarters in Modena, near Ferrari's Maranello factory, but he did not speak with reporters.

Alonso is not under investigation but reportedly opted voluntarily to provide information, with his McLaren bosses including Ron Dennis being probed for sporting fraud, embezzlement and spying.

The Italian news service ANSA reported that prosecutors, led by magistrate Giuseppe Tibis, were interested to know more about Alonso's possession of emails that depict fellow team members as knowing about the content of a 780-page Ferrari dossier that was found in the possession of McLaren chief designer Mike Coughlan earlier this year.

10/10/07 Fernando Alonso was in Módena, Italy Monday to testify before the town’s prosecutor in the Ferrari espionage case.  The Italian judiciary is continuing to investigate the case, despite the fact that the FIA Formula One authorities have already held their own hearing and handed down the punishment of the $100 million fine for McLaren and their banning from the constructors’ championship this year.

It’s understood that Alonso was questioned about the emails which he exchanged with Pedro de la Rosa, the McLaren test driver, which are said to be at the centre of the allegations of the alleged espionage by McLaren on Ferrari.

The prosecutor is investigating four members of the McLaren team including the boss Ron Dennis and Paddy Lowe, the team’s head of engineering.  The same prosecutor in Módena is also still investigating allegations of sabotage of two Ferrari cars during the meet in Monaco earlier in the season.

Andy Wallace on Laguna Seca  

Andy Wallace

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is one of the classic sports car venues in the world, just as Dyson Racing’s Andy Wallace is one of the all-time great drivers. This season marks 10 years since Wallace’s first appearance at the circuit and the first time since 2001 that close friend and former Dyson pilot James Weaver won’t be in attendance. Wallace recently spoke about both as he prepares to drive with Andy Wallace in the Dyson No. 16 Porsche RS Spyder.

For drivers and fans:
“I have sort of a love-hate relationship with Laguna. It’s a great layout I really like the Corkscrew, the twists and the turns. But unfortunately it’s such a low-grip track that there is absolutely no grip at all. You spend your whole life trying to get the wheels to stop spinning, trying to get any grip. So from that point of view it is infuriating as a driver. But if you get the setup right and somehow find a way to grip the track then it’s a good track. But it’s also another one where you can walk all the way around the track, you can sit on top of the hill and you can see many corners from there. It’s a really good track and of course the climate is always nice that time year.”

Here’s to you, Mr. Weaver:
“James (Weaver) is a great friend of mine and still is and we only live about an hour apart in England. It would be pretty nice if he would come and watch the race just for once but I don’t know if he will or not. I think he got cheesed off with traveling all over the world which I don’t blame him; it’s quite a stressful thing. But it’s going to be a good race, as I say it’s a competitive Series and the way the IMSA Cup is shaping up on the points I think we are only 1 point behind in second place.”

The final round of the 2007 American Le Mans Series is the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The four-hour race is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. PT on Saturday, October 20. SPEED will air the race live from 5:30 to 10 p.m. ET. Live coverage from American Le Mans Radio and IMSA Live Timing and Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.

Preview: Nextel Cup at Lowe's  Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter explains why racing in Charlotte is good for the racing community and what to expect from the field this weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway.  Meanwhile Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Chad Knaus discuss the keys to winning at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Lowe's Nextel Cup Preview Video
tv news
A1GP Zandvoort race to be televised  The A1GP season-opening race held in Zandvoort, The Netherlands on September 30, 2007, will be shown on Thursday, October 11, 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm ET on SPEED.
Franchitti to drive truck at Martinsville  Chip Ganassi Racing officials announced Tuesday that newly signed driver Dario Franchitti would make his NASCAR debut in the Craftsman Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 20.  Franchitti will drive a No. 41 Dodge fielded by Cunningham Motorsports, with Ganassi personnel pitting the truck. Ganassi's Brian Pattie will serve as crew chief.
Checa to quit MotoGP  Spanish rider Carlos Checa will leave MotoGP at the end of the season to ride for the Honda Ten Kate team in the World Superbike series, he announced on his Web site (www.carloscheca.com) on Tuesday.  "I'm looking forward to this new challenge," Checa said.  "It's a great opportunity as I know my results won't be hampered by technical difficulties as has been the case for the past two years," added Checa, who will be replaced at the LCR Honda MotoGP team by Frenchman Randy De Puniet.
Zanardi to race New York Marathon  Alex Zanardi is planning another first.  The former Champ Car driver who lost both his legs in a horrific crash in 2001 has announced plans to race in the New York City Marathon next month in the disabled class using a modified handcycle. 

"My goal is to finish in less than two hours," Zanardi tells autosport.com.

Last year's top time in the handcycle category was 1:26.24. Of the 95 competitors who finished the race, 17 were able to do so in under two hours.

Zanardi, who currently competes in the BMW World Touring Car Championship, says the idea came up in a conversation with one of his personal sponsors, who stage a Pasta Party on the Saturday before the actual race.

"I said, half seriously, half in jest, that if I had to be (in New York) I might as well take part in the marathon," Zanardi recalled. "Their reaction was, are you crazy? And this obviously stirred my competitiveness up and pushed me to decide that I actually wanted to do it!"

"I have done a lot of crazy things before. Therefore I feel like saying that I won't only cross the start line, but the finish line too."

Weekly NASCAR cheating report  NASCAR docked Reed Sorenson and his Chip Ganassi Racing team docked 25 points Tuesday after the driver's No. 41 Dodge was found to be too low in the front of the car following Sunday's UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Crew chief Jimmy Elledge was fined $25,000 and placed on probation until Dec. 31.

The violation was found after Sorenson's 10th-place finish. The car went through NASCAR's height sticks twice and had the car of tomorrow template placed on it in postrace inspection. Sorenson was a random selection for inspection.

track news
MIS improvements slated for 2008  With Michigan International Speedway celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2008, the Irish Hills track has begun construction on several capital improvement projects that will strengthen the speedway’s on-going commitment to its race fans.

Michigan International Speedway will spend about $10 million in the coming months to continue enhancing the speedway based on feedback from the fans. The latest round of improvements will be completed by the start of the track’s 40th season of racing in June.

“It is an exciting time at MIS,” track president Roger Curtis said. “We have incredible momentum from the success of our improved traffic patterns following our June events, and are looking forward to further implementing some of the fan feedback that our guests continue to give us. All of these ongoing projects to elevate and enhance the fan experience are a result of the fans taking ownership of Michigan International Speedway and telling us what they want.”

Projects include:

  • A new, state-of-the-art 142-foot, three-sided LED leaderboard. The scoreboard, higher than the 130-foot Scoring Tower, will replace three scoreboards at MIS, two in the turns and one in the center and be visible from all grandstand seats, as well as several of the infield camping sites. The old center scoreboard only showed the top-five positions, a far cry from the new leaderboard display which can track all 43 drivers in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. The scoreboard can also be programmed to show video and graphics displays, setting the industry standard for motorsports venues.
  • The first phase of a signage project throughout MIS property will also begin. The branded signage will help pedestrians, motorists and campers find their way in, out and around the 1,400-acre racetrack property.
  • Some 300 new campsites sites with electric hookups will be added to the Graves Campground, bringing the total number of campsites at MIS to nearly 9,000.
  • A permanent restroom/shower building will be built in the Graves Campground.
  • Michigan International Speedway is moving forward with additional improved seating. Two additional grandstands in Turn One have been torn down and will soon be replaced with a grandstand that has wider seats, seatbacks and more leg room. The project began last year when one of the old “silver” grandstands was torn down and replaced with seats that are four inches wider than seats in the old grandstands. The project does not add seats, but merely replaces old seats. 
  • Lastly, as part of the grandstand replacement project, MIS will be acquiring more than 32,000 grandstand seats from the former Pikes Peak International Raceway for future “silver” grandstand replacement.

“These are just a few of the ongoing projects we are continuing in an effort to enhance and elevate the fan experience at MIS for many seasons to come,” Curtis said. “I would also like to thank the State of Michigan for their support in making these investments possible. These new improvements will help us continue are commitment to the race fan, which in turn will help drive tourism to the state during the popular summer months.”

Letarte wins Crew Chief of the Race award  Patience was the word of the day for crew chief Stave Letarte and the No. 24 Pepsi/DuPont Chevrolet team during the running of the UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. While most of the field jostled at the front, providing 42 lead changes during the 188 lap race, Letarte kept his driver, Jeff Gordon, at the back of the pack turning the laps as the race ran down. Throughout the race, Gordon and Letarte kept to their strategy, only hindered by a penalty on lap 140. Gordon was requested by NASCAR to make a pit road pass through after an equipment violation during a circulation of yellow flag pit stops. The penalty was served and Letarte kept Gordon and his crew calm, knowing there was still plenty of time remaining. As the final laps were run Gordon shuffled to the front. It was not until the white flag that Gordon lead his first lap of the day keeping up front to take the checkered flag. For his patient strategy and cool head, Letarte was awarded the WYPALL* Wipers crew chief of the race.

At the conclusion of the race, Letarte commented on the team’s sixth win of the season. “I am so proud of this DuPont/Pepsi team,” said Letarte. “They never gave up, they never panicked and we pulled it out. Jeff [Gordon] drove a patient, smart race and this was a team effort for us.”

A panel of judges including a member of the local media, Robbie Reiser, Kenny Francis and a WYPALL* Wipers spokesmen, all agreed Letarte was a deserving crew chief of the race winner. “When you are racing in Talladega it is always a tough decision to either stay up front to avoid any crashes or keep at the back and be patient,” said Francis. “Steve really planned and executed everything well. Nobody saw or heard from that team until the end when it really counted.”

Surfers future to be decided  The Queensland Government wants to secure the Champ Car Lexmark Indy race until 2011 when Champ Car bosses arrive next week for the annual Surfers Paradise motorsport event.

The contract for the Surfers Paradise race expires after next year's event and Indy bosses are expected to finalize a new deal with the Champ Car series boss Kevin Kalkhoven during the upcoming Indy.

The State Government pumps $12 million a year into the Indy, which they say adds an extra $60 million to the Queensland economy.

Molson Coors, SABMiller Combine U.S. Ops  The makers of Coors and Miller Lite plan to combine their U.S. brewing operations in an effort to compete better against industry leader Anheuser-Busch.

The joint venture announced Tuesday will be known as MillerCoors and will have responsibility for selling brands including Miller Lite, Miller Genuine Draft, Coors, Coors Light and Molson Canadian in the U.S.Anheuser-Busch Cos. accounts for about half of the U.S. market with brands such as Budweiser, Michelob and Bud Light.

SABMiller PLC will have a 58 percent economic interest in the venture and MolsonCoors Brewing Co. will own 42 percent of the new company. They will have equal voting interests, however.

Precise financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"It is clear Miller and Coors will be a stronger, more competitive U.S brewer than either company can be on its own," said Molson Coors Chief Executive Leo Kiely, who will be the new CEO of the joint venture.

Phillips slams Champ Car  In his latest SPEEDTV.com article, Champ Car regular columnist David Phillips slams the Champ Car management and owners for largely failing on all fronts.  He concludes by taking a hard slam on the series owners.

"Let’s see . . . one Champ Car partner/team owner spent a critical few weeks in the off-season “communing with penguins” while another hasn’t been to a race since Houston. The other two merged their teams then divided them – all in the course of six months. Meanwhile the folks they put in place to run Champ Car while they attended to more important matters have failed to secure a series sponsor, presided over a series that saw three of 17 scheduled races canceled (not to mention San Jose for ‘08) and has fewer regular starters than it had in its first year of operation. As the non-billionaires make the tough decisions that have to be made to run their teams like a business, it would be nice if the billionaires and their minions ran Champ Car like a business as well."  David Phillips

Michel Jourdain Jr. to drive for Mexican team  Former CART driver Michel Jourdain Jr. will drive for the Mexican A1GP team at the next race in Brno, Czech Republic.
Labonte Goes Pink for the Cure  Bobby Labonte is partnering with General Mills this Saturday night at the 1.5-mile Lowe’s Motor Speedway located in Concord, North Carolina to help introduce “Pink for the Cure”.  Labonte will be driving the #43 Cheerios/Pink for the Cure Dodge in Saturday night’s Bank of America 500. 

Labonte’s pink “Pink for the Cure” Dodge is supporting the General Mills’ campaign that donated $2 million to Susan G. Komen for the Cure and offers anyone touched by the disease the opportunity to join the cause.

Fans can go to www.PinkTogether.com, an online community encouraging anyone touched by breast cancer to share their story.  General Mills will donate $1 for every story shared on PinkTogether.com, up to $100,000, through October 31, 2007.  Fans can also share their support by looking for General Mills products with special pink packaging including Cheerios, Progresso Soup and Nature Valley Granola Bars. By supporting these brands, consumers help ensure that General Mills can continue to support the fight against breast cancer. More ...

industry news
BMW sales up  The BMW Group continued on its successful path worldwide in September 2007. With 141,952 (previous year: 132,202) BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce automobiles delivered, sales increased by 7.4% over the same month last year.
Renault ready to rock Mexico City  The ING Renault F1 Team Roadshow will touch down in Mexico City next weekend for a spectacular show in the streets of one of the world’s most populous cities! Giancarlo Fisichella and Nelson Piquet Jr. will put down a great spectacle for the fans.

But it won’t be the first time this month that a Renault engine has made sweet music in Mexico… The main roads of Monterrey to be precise, and then Guadalajara just last weekend, have seen Renault’s engine partner Red Bull Racing building up the atmosphere to a crescendo on Sunday, 14 October in the streets of the capital.

Mexico City is one of the most populous and vibrant cities on the planet, but it will beat to the rhythm of the Renault F1 V8 on 13 and 14 October thanks to the ING Renault F1 Team.

Organized thanks to the partnership of Renault Mexico, ING Mexico and the Federal District Government, the event aims to be a true motorsports festival, with a relaxed, approachable atmosphere that reflects the founding principles of the ING Renault F1 Team Roadshow program. More ...

Industry News
Nissan to unveil innovative concept car  Ahead of the 40th Tokyo Motor Show (October 26 to November 11), Nissan unveils its electric-powered Pivo 2 concept car. Designed for urban use, the Pivo 2 features a 360-degree revolving cabin, inherited from the first-generation Pivo, allowing the driver to always face forward while driving, even when parallel parking, and to access the unique front door from any direction.

The three-seat car is equipped with safety systems such as Around View Monitor (AVM), Distance Control Assist System (DCAS) and also a Robotic Agent that uses facial monitoring technology to interact with the driver. Video: Nissan Pivo 2

Industry News
Chrysler to cut deeper  Chrysler LLC, deep into labor contract negotiations with the UAW, also is making changes to its nonunion workforce -- cutting hundreds of salaried and contract jobs.

The Auburn Hills automaker announced plans in February to eliminate 13,000 jobs over three years, including 2,000 salaried jobs. Now it intends to reduce even more white-collar positions by cutting the nonunion salaried workforce by 5% and cutting the contract workforce at Auburn Hills by 37%, said people who had been briefed on the plan but were not authorized to speak publicly about it. The move comes as the UAW has given Chrysler an 11 a.m. Wednesday deadline to reach a new labor agreement or face a nationwide strike, according to a memo sent Monday by UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and UAW Vice President General Holiefield to UAW local leaders.

Although Gettelfinger told local leaders that Chrysler had "thus far failed to make an offer that adequately addresses the needs of our membership," several industry observers said the new deadline could indicate the two sides are near a deal.

"It is meant to put the negotiations into their endgame," said Harley Shaiken, a labor expert from the University of California, Berkeley.

"A deadline like that indicates two things that are a bit contradictory: first that a deal is near. Second that there is some trouble closing it." More at Detroit Free Press

More Cup testing for Hornish  Sam Hornish, Jr. is scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway in a Penske Racing R&D car along with #36-Jeremy Mayfield on Tuesday, Oct 9th and on Wed, Oct 10th Gillett Evernham Racing will test an R&D car, no driver named. Fans can watch from the Turn 3 Fan Center at no charge. Schedule subject to change daily. Test times vary.
Q and A with Lewis Hamilton  McLaren sensation Lewis Hamilton was on course to become the first rookie in the history of Formula One to clinch the world driver’s title in China on Sunday afternoon, but a trip into the gravel on his way in for a change of tires put a sudden halt to his charge and he was forced to watch the rest of the race unfold from the garage.

Speaking to the team’s official website, the young Brit explains just what happened….

Lewis – talk us through what happened? Why did you stay out on those tires?
We were having a great race. We didn’t know if it was going to rain or not. The tires were getting worse and worse and at the end I could almost feel the cambers underneath I came into pits but then just couldn’t do anything about it.

We could see it but were you calling to the team and telling them there was a problem?
My mirrors were dirty so I couldn’t see through them to see my tires, but it felt like they were finished and I was coming in that lap so it could have worked out perfectly– I think we could have had the pace in the dry. So - very unfortunate for the team - they did a fantastic job as always so I am sorry for them. We still have one race to go so don’t worry I can still do it. Obviously, I was gutted when I got out of car as I hadn’t made a mistake all year and to do it on the way into pits is not something I usually do but you can’t go through life without making mistakes – I am over it. Now we look forward to Brazil and I know the team is working hard to make sure the car is quick enough – there are still points to be had.

What was the problem today?
The tires and the mistake were the problem.

Who took the decision to leave you out on the wet tires?
The decision to keep the intermediates tires was joint between the team and I. I didn’t realize how badly damaged they were – it's all part of my learning process.

How are you feeling?
Disappointed, but I have still got one more race to go and we are still ahead.

How will you approach the last race?
I will attack at the last race and I will bounce back.

Do you think it was a right decision to not call you in earlier?
It was the right decision we made in the circumstances, but we were just unfortunate.

Bridgestone blames McLaren  Lewis Hamilton's title hopes exploded in Shanghai because McLaren ignored the advice of tire experts for five crucial laps.

Until now it was thought the 22-year-old sensation and his team pushed their luck just a lap or so too far. But well-placed sources have revealed the scale of the McLaren muddlers' miscalculation in the biggest race of the year.

The blunder could yet cost Lewis a world title and his place in history as Formula One's first rookie champion.

Tire suppliers Bridgestone are furious that the advice of their experts was ignored in such changeable track conditions, and in such a crucial race. Given the variable weather, Hamilton's team were advised he should pit on lap 26. More ...

Alonso hits out at McLaren  Fernando Alonso has insisted that he does not get enough support from McLaren and team boss Ron Dennis. The two-time world champion has once again insisted that McLaren are giving preferential treatment to team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who leads the world championship going into the fine race in Brazil.

Alonso was quoted in the Daily Express saying: "We are going to try to make the impossible possible. But I know the team are never going to be favorable towards me."

Alonso also stepped up his personal feud with Dennis, blaming him for the team's off-track problems this year and hinting that he has struggled to get on with drivers at McLaren in the past.

"He (Ron Dennis) is behind many of the scandals McLaren have been involved in off the track this year," Alonso said.

"Each one has his own philosophy, he has his, and we all understand it. I have spoken a lot with (David) Coulthard, (Juan Pablo) Montoya, Kimi (Raikkonen). They have all left the team and found a lot of happiness. There must be a reason." [Note: Just ask Michael Andretti about Ron Dennis]

"We will do everything in order that our drivers have the right opportunity to win the world championship," he said.

"Both of them need to do different things and the team will be supportive of that."

Hill slams Mosley  UPDATE Jackie Stewart is considering legal action against FIA president Max Mosley following remarks attributed to the FIA President in the British media last week.

"That [legal] option is still very open," Stewart told autosport.com. "My lawyers advised me that I have every right to do so, and that's an option that I am able to take up. We're in communication - I'm not personally, but my lawyers are in communication with Mr. Mosley."

"I think it was very wrong for Max to do what he did, because it's unbecoming for the president of the body that governs this sport to be speaking in such a fashion," he said.

"I don't think you would see the chairman of the Olympic movement saying such a thing. And that of course is much higher than Max, but nevertheless it is an international organization.

"I think it was an act of misjudgment by him, but he must have been very upset - for no apparent reason, because any criticisms that I have made are no different from many other people aired with respect to the severity of the penalty of the McLaren thing, and the manner in which the case came together.

"So I think I was observing and I have the privilege of doing that as an individual opinion, but he obviously has not used to people questioning some of his judgments. And in this particular case I didn't do it against Max Mosley, it was just my opinion of the whole business that took place.

"But I think it is unfortunate that he behaved in the fashion that he has. It is libelous, and I think that's really all I can say."

10/05/07 Former world champion Damon Hill attacked Max Mosley, president of Formula One's ruling body, the FIA, over "insulting" remarks he made about British motor racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart.

Mosley labeled Stewart, a lifelong sufferer of dyslexia, "a certified halfwit."

In a letter to the magazine Autosport, Hill slammed Mosley: "To call him 'a certified halfwit' would be on the first level unkind, but on another level is nothing other than a wicked joke designed to visit the utmost humiliation on its victim.

"Regardless or not of whether he was alluding to his dyslexia, what he said was a gross insult to one of the sport's leading figures over the last four decades and a thrice world champion. Not only is it bad manners, it also calls into question the character and judgment of the man who represents motor sport throughout the world through the august institution of the FIA.

"It is conduct most unbecoming of an FIA president and, in my humble view, brought the sport into disrepute, a crime he seems so keen to eradicate. I would like to emphasize that my motive for writing is sheer indignation and outrage at what I see as abuse."

Williams team to run Nakajima in Brazil  The AT&T Williams team today confirmed that Kazuki Nakajima will race for the team in the final Grand Prix of the 2007 season at Interlagos in Brazil in a fortnight’s time. The 22-year old Japanese driver, this year’s GP2 series Rookie of the Year, is the team’s official test and reserve driver. He has covered over 7,000km in the FW29 in testing and has represented the team at five Grands Prix as a Friday driver.

The intention behind Kazuki’s nomination is to build and develop his experience and is not an evaluation exercise for a race seat in 2008. AT&T Williams Team Principal, Frank Williams, said, “You cannot assess a driver’s capability on the basis of one race but this is an ideal opportunity to develop Kazuki’s experience. I am confident he will approach the race in a very workmanlike and focused way.” For his part, Kazuki Nakajima said, “I am very grateful to the team who have given me this opportunity. I hope I now know the car very well and thankfully have done some Friday driving as recently as Shanghai. This is a chance I intend to grab with both hands and repay the faith the team are showing in me with a strong performance.”

[Editor's Note: Is there anyone out there that does not think Nakajima driving in Brazil has everything to do about engine supplier Toyota buying the ride? Both Honda and Toyota have been supporting Japanese drivers for years in CART and F1 and they have yet to come up with that can get the job done. They would not get a ride if not for this support by the deep pockets of Honda and Toyota.]

Long Beach gets greener  Toyota Grand Prix ticket sales got the green light Monday - and the 2008 event also will be a little green. The Green Power Prix-View was added to the growing list of Grand Prix to-dos.

The on-track demonstration of fuel-efficient vehicles will take place before the Champ Car World Series grand finale on Sunday, April 20.

"It's a recognition of the fact that our nation, as well as other countries around the world, are moving in a direction of finding energy solutions to problems around the world," said Grand Prix Association President & CEO Jim Michaelian.

"It's a sport involved with the use of energy, and it's important to preview where the trends are going and make people aware of what's being done to make vehicles more fuel-efficient."

The 34th annual Grand Prix, which takes place April 18-20, features the Champ Car World Series, the Champ Car Atlantic Championship, the EZ Lube Team Drift Challenge, the American Le Mans Series and the 32nd Annual Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race.

The race also includes a lifestyle expo, concerts, and other events, such as the April 17 Tecate Thunder Thursday on Pine Avenue, leading up to the three-day event.

In addition to the Green Prix on the track, the event will have energy efficiency on display at the "Lifestyle and Alternative Energy Expo." The expo runs all three days of the race in the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center. LB Press Telegram

Latest F1 news in brief  
  • Stepney presses on with controversial book
  • Italy mocks Hamilton after pit gravel gaffe
  • Second place would seal title for Hamilton
  • 'No talks' with Vettel about McLaren seat - Haug

Stepney presses on with controversial book
(GMM) Nigel Stepney has vowed to continue with his autobiography despite being dropped by his planned publisher.

The sacked Ferrari chief mechanic, who was at the centre of the espionage scandal involving McLaren, revealed last week that Red Mist Books had pulled out because they had been "put under pressure" by an unnamed party.

Red Mist earlier said that Stepney's book would be his "own account of the Stepneygate saga" that rocked formula one this year.

But with a statement issued under the headline 'Too Hot to Handle', Stepney declared on a website bearing his name that he has now made "alternative arrangements" for the book to be published early next year.

He said he had been dropped by Red Mist "rather abruptly" but did not explain why.

Stepney added: "Despite opposition it will still be called 'Red Mist', which aptly describes my present demeanor".

He said proceeds from the sale of the book will go to the Great Ormond Street children's hospital.

Italy mocks Hamilton after pit gravel gaffe
(GMM) Italy's press scoffed at Lewis Hamilton after the British championship leader beached his chance of wrapping up the 2007 title last Sunday in a Shanghai gravel trap.

His McLaren chiefs accepted the blame for the pit entry slide by not changing his badly worn rain tires, and La Gazzetta dello Sport observed: "Everything was ready for a celebration in the McLaren pits, but formula one does not forgive errors".

Tuttosport added: "Hamilton committed a beginner's blunder.

"The Briton was merely a shadow of the excellent driver of the past months".

The Tuscan newspaper Il Tirreno pointed out: "Because of Hamilton's hara-kiri, Ferrari may hope again".

German commentator and former grand prix racer Hans-Joachim Stuck put the blame squarely on Ron Dennis and his aides for not doing anything about the visibly appalling condition of Lewis' tires.

"It was completely incomprehensible to me. They need to buy eyeglasses," he told Sport Bild.

Back in London, Hamilton seemed unfazed on Monday in discussion with England's Daily Mail, and vowed to now follow the example of F1's ice-cool Finn Kimi Raikkonen.

"He's like flat-lined, and I think my subconscious is pretty much like that," said the 22-year-old.

"I've been in these situations before many times, needing to close out championships, and I know how to deal with it." More ...

Continual improvements for Lexmark Indy 300  The piecing together of one of Australia’s biggest event construction jigsaws is nearing completion on the Gold Coast as organizers count down the final nine days until the start of this year’s Lexmark Indy 300 event spectacular.

The temporary motor racing precinct is a massive undertaking within the Streets of Surfers Paradise. With continual improvements the construction and pack up over the last 10 years has decreased from 199 days to 100 days which is an amazing effort.

An initial glimpse of the overall set-up of this logistical and labor intensive project sees the 2007 precinct model boasting a greater plan to facilitate heavy pedestrian traffic during the fours days of the Lexmark Indy 300 carnival.

“Over the years the construction process has been fine-tuned and runs like clockwork to be fully operational on the Thursday of the event while ensuring as little impact as possible on local residents during the process,” said Lexmark Indy 300 General Manager Greg Hooton.

“A comprehensive look at how we were doing things last year pinpointed a couple of areas within the precinct where bottlenecks of pedestrians were slowing crowd traffic as they moved to and from different areas of the circuit. More ...

Ferrari promises to go for broke  "If we look at the next race, we don't have any other choice than to be aggressive. We need to achieve first and second and then that's it. That, for sure, will be our strategy." Ferrari sporting director Stefano Domenicali was unequivocal regarding the team's ambitions after victory in the Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai left Kimi Raikkonen seven points adrift of championship leader Lewis Hamilton and three behind reigning World Champion Fernando Alonso with one race to go in Brazil.

Domenicali went on to praise Raikkonen in the way he attacked Hamilton but had it contributed to the McLaren driver understeering off into a gravel trap as he was entering the pits? "I don't know," admitted Domenicali. "To be honest maybe he was struggling with the tires, but Kimi was there, he was just behind, he was attacking at the right moment and it was important to avoid any kind of contact because you never know. At this stage, contact for us would have been dramatic because the championship would have been over, so that shows how Kimi was so cool to be right in the way to attack Hamilton."

Ferrari's director of track operations, Luca Baldisserri explained that preparations for the final race in Brazil were limited. "We are not able to test, because there is no more testing. We have a collaudo (shakedown) to do but that will only be to check the parts that we will have in the race so engine and gearbox, so the only major job we can do is again on the simulation and we will try to do our best on that." More ...

Kovalainen confirmed for the ROC  ING Renault F1 Team driver, Heikki Kovalainen, has been confirmed to perform during the Race of Champions this year on 16 December at Wembley stadium. The Finnish driver aims to win the race again after he triumphed in the 2004 event.

Heikki Kovalainen "Driving so close to so many fans creates a very special atmosphere and I'm really looking forward to race in Wembley Stadium. Last year I lost in the semi-finals by just 0.0002 seconds against Sweden's Mattias Ekstrom, who went on to win The Race of Champions, so I'm really motivated to try to take back the title I won in 2004."

Stepney starts web site to sell his book  Axed Ferrari engineer Nigel Stepney has started his own website to sell his book on the McLaren/Ferrari F1 scandal. In the book he promises to tell his side of the story about what really happened.
IndyCar Series star Castroneves still dancing  IndyCar Series driver Helio Castroneves returns to the dance floor for the third round of "Dancing With The Stars" hoping to give another standout performance.

Castroneves and his professional dancing partner Julianne Hough earned the highest score of the 11 celebrities on the ABC show in week 2. The couple will perform their third dance - the jive - during the third episode that airs at 8 p.m. (ET) Oct. 8.

"Julianne has been trying to push me to my limit, and now it's a little beyond my limit," Castroneves said of the fast-paced Jive. "But that's the type of the dance; there's not much you can do about it. But it's a team, and we're working together. We're looking very strong, and hopefully we're going to continue to be strong."
Castroneves and Hough, along with the other nine couples, will perform during the Oct. 8 episode. The result show will air on Oct. 9.
German architects to design India F1 track  Two German architects will next week visit New Delhi to prepare a master plan for the country's first ever Formula One track, according to Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi. Kalmadi said, that although the venue for the race was not finalised yet, he was confident that India would host the race in next couple of years.

"Bringing F1 is not a simple matter but we are very confident," said Kalmadi at the prize disribution ceremony for the JK tyres National Road Racing Championhips yesterday.

"We have got an F1 racer in Narain Karthikeyan and now Vijay Mallya is heading an F1 team so it is a natural progression that we should have an F1 track now.

"We have two German architects visiting New Delhi next week to prepare a master plan for the F1 track," he said. Venues on the outskirts of Delhi, in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have been recently inspected by F1 officials but nothing had been finalised about any particular site yet, kalmadi said.

"We are in negotation with the governments of both the states," he said adding "we also welcome private companies". Central Chronicle
Wurz announces retirement from F1  The AT&T Williams driver, Alex Wurz, today confirmed his retirement from active racing in Formula One.

Alex made his Formula One debut in 1997 with Benetton in Canada, since which time he has driven for McLaren and most recently the AT&T Williams team, as test driver in 2006 before taking on a race seat for the 2007 season.

In ten seasons, Alex has made 69 Grand Prix starts, with his most recent visit to the podium coming on the track where his Formula One career began in Montréal.

Making his announcement, the 33 year old Austrian, who has recently become a father for the third time, said, “I would today like to announce my retirement from active racing in Formula One. I would like to thank my family and fans, everyone at AT&T Williams and my previous teams, as well as the media, for all of their support during my Formula One racing career. More ...

Gordon quotes from Wind Tunnel  NASCAR NEXTEL Cup points leader Jeff Gordon appeared on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on SPEED Sunday night following his victory at Talladega Superspeedway.  Following are Gordon’s quotes from the program:

Despain: Let’s talk about the COT on the big track.  You haven’t been the biggest fan of that car through its brief history and with its first appearance on the superspeedway, how did it do?

Gordon: “I knew it would be an exciting finish and there would be a lot of passes for the lead and wild action like we always have at Talladega.  I don’t think you can ever stop that.  I think because of the way these cars run, I think it made a little more boring race for the first three-quarters of it.  That’s why we were hanging in the back – we just wanted to stay out of trouble.  We all wanted to get up there and run three-wide like we normally do at Talladega and then battle it out at the end.  But the closing rate is just so severe with these cars right now that we thought it was better to hang out at the back and kind of ride along with a group of 8 or 10.  We qualified back there, too, so it sort of put us in that position.  Typically, if we qualify there, we’re going to the front and maybe go up through the middle.  But with these cars, the closing rate is so severe that we thought that wasn’t the best thing to do today.”

Despain:  The one thing that seemed to me to be significantly different was the one thing that didn’t seem to happen to nearly the extent that we expected – bump drafting.  Did NASCAR get everyone’s attention? Was there a lot of it and we just didn’t notice it because of the nature of the cars? What was the bump drafting story today?

Gordon: “I think it was a combination of things.  Guys really used their heads and were really smart.  That’s why we didn’t see more wrecks than we did.  Usually with that closing rate, we see a lot more wrecks.  One is the front bumpers and rear bumpers just aren’t built as strong and thick as they used to be and you have to be really careful not to mess up the duct work for the radiator and overheat.  The other thing is NASCAR was pretty strong about it but they’ve been that way before and it didn’t seem to stop us.  Guys were getting pretty aggressive there at the end but I think that for the most part, this package made guys very apprehensive to do a lot of bump drafting.  Although the bumpers line up really well, it’s still really easy to turn a guy and get him sideways.  When Tony Stewart hit me from behind there at the end, as thankful I was that he did, it really upset the car.  If you line up those bumpers the wrong way, someone is going to turn himself.  Also, we were so spread out today for most of the race until the end, I don’t think you saw a lot of bump drafting until the closing laps.” More ...

Gavin and Beretta clinch GT1 Championship  Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Max Papis drove their No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6.R to a GT1 class victory in today's 1,000-mile Petit Le Mans endurance race at Road Atlanta. It was the sixth class title at Petit Le Mans for Corvette Racing, and the win clinched a third consecutive GT1 drivers championship for Gavin and Beretta. The trio completed 364 laps, finishing 50 laps ahead of the runner-up No. 27 Maserati MC 12, which retired after an accident. The No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R driven by Jan Magnussen, Johnny O'Connell, and Ron Fellows was sidelined in an accident after completing 15 laps.

"The traffic was suicidal at some points today," said Gavin. "People were doing the craziest stuff. I'm not sure whether it was the track, the conditions, or just people having a bad day, but there just were so many people going off the road. Fortunately everybody in the No. 4 car kept it on the road, the team did a fantastic job, and we came through without any issues."

The race was slowed by nine caution periods for accidents and off-course excursions. The first serious incident of the day occurred 20 minutes after the start when Magnussen was hit by Bryan Herta in the No. 26 LMP2 prototype in the high-speed downhill Esses. The impact sent Magnussen hard into the tire barrier at Turn 3, damaging the front end and left-front suspension. Magnussen got out of the car under his own power and was examined and released by the medical staff. Race officials subsequently penalized Herta for avoidable contact. More ...

Minardi Team USA is revved up For Down Under  Minardi Team USA and the Champ Car World Series will hit the streets of Surfers Paradise on October 19-21, 2007, and the team’s Australian co-owner, Paul Stoddart, hopes for nothing less than another podium visit for drivers Robert Doornbos and ‘Speedy’ Dan Clarke.

Australia is also a favorite of team-owner Keith Wiggins who has led the team to two previous victories at Surfers – last year with Nelson Philippe and in 2002 with Mario Dominguez. The team name and driver line-up may have changed for 2007 but Wiggins has similar high expectations for this year’s event and is looking to achieve a third win at the always exciting Surfers Paradise venue. Keith is confident that the preparation and testing for this race has gone well and the team is well-placed for another top level performance.

Dutchman, Robert Doornbos, currently lies third in the Championship points standings, with two race wins and six podium finishes scored to date in an impressive Rookie season.  Englishman, Dan Clarke, earned his best result thus far in a relatively short Champ Car career with a fine second place at Road America, in Wisconsin, early in August.  Both drivers have spent the six-week break between Champ Car’s two European races, in Belgium and the Netherlands, and the upcoming Australian event, testing and training in order to keep themselves in top form for the final “push” that will determine the outcome of the 2007 title hunt. More ...

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

  • Alonso title would be 'joke' - Lauda
  • Dennis hits back at Spanish press claims
  • Alonso expects equality for title finale
  • Toyota 'interested' in Alonso - Howett
  • Alonso, Raikkonen, unfazed by Bernie rebuke New
  • Button says not candidate for Alonso seat New

Alonso title would be 'joke' - Lauda
(GMM) Niki Lauda says he would prefer if Fernando Alonso did not win a third consecutive world championship in 2007.

The Austrian legend, who won three titles in his own formula one career, referred to Spaniard Alonso's now openly acerbic relationship with his team boss Ron Dennis.

Contemplating that Alonso could snatch the title from his rookie McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton in Brazil in two weeks, 58-year-old Lauda told the Swiss newspaper Blick: "It would be a joke.

"For weeks Alonso has behaved so badly with his team that he has hardly any friends or supporters left."

Dennis hits back at Spanish press claims
(GMM) Ron Dennis on Sunday had to defend his reaction on the pitwall as Lewis Hamilton's championship hopes became stuck in a gravel trap.

Members of the Spanish press pointed out to the McLaren boss in Shanghai that, while he reacted with visible despair to the British rookie's predicament in the pit entry, he hardly batted an eyelid a week earlier when Fernando Alonso crashed heavily at Fuji.

"When Fernando had his accident, the car was destroyed. There was nothing anyone could do," Dennis told Spanish journalists in China.

"You always chose to see only one side of things," he added, scolding the partisanship of Alonso's home media.

Dennis vigorously denied claims that, although luck fell Alonso's way in Shanghai, the Spaniard might face another uphill struggle at the 2007 championship finale.

"Have you seen anything that would make you think otherwise?" Dennis countered. "There is nothing," he added, also denying rumors that Alonso's tire pressures in Japan, and perhaps also in qualifying in China, had been doctored by the team. More ...

Abe killed in Japan  Former Japanese World Championship rider Norifumi ‘Norick’ Abe, aged 32, was killed in a road accident in Japan.  Abe's racing career spanned 10 years from 1994 to 2004, was involved in a fatal traffic accident near his home in Tokyo on Sunday afternoon. Local police say that Abe collided with a truck that was making a U-turn on a two-lane municipal rode when he was out riding a motorcycle.

Abe made his World Championship debut at the 1994 Japanese Grand Prix in a wild card appearance, on the back of his title triumph in the All Japan Road Race Championship in the 500cc class. He challenged for the win against the likes of Kevin Schwantz and Mick Doohan in his first outing on the world stage, before crashing out with just three corners of the Suzuka circuit remaining. A full ride with Kenny Roberts’ Yamaha team followed. More ...

Johnnie Walker renews McLaren partnership  Diageo, through its Johnnie Walker brand, and Formula One team Vodafone McLaren Mercedes agreed to extend their sponsorship partnership.
The agreement, which will now run through to the end of the 2012 season, will see an increased level of branding and financial support of the team.
Ben Anderson, Marketing Director, Johnnie Walker said that: “Diageo and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes have agreed the terms of an extended sponsorship of the team by Johnnie Walker. The final agreement is expected to be concluded in the next few days. Over its first two years, the Partnership has been a powerful platform to drive brand equity and deliver Diageo’s responsible drinking messages and the extended sponsorship clearly demonstrates Diageo’s resulting confidence in the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team as Partners for the future.”
Irish team names Adam Carroll  A1 Team Ireland has ended months of speculation by announcing Adam Carroll will be the team’s main driver for the rest of the season. The GP2 race-winner tested for the team throughout the off-season, but the officials remained tight-lipped as to whether the 24-year-old Portadown driver would actually race for them this season.

However, this morning the team issued a statement, confirming Carroll would be the squad’s main driver from this weekend’s meeting in Brno onwards.

Carroll has just come off a strong summer program, having won two GP2 races this season. The team also thanked Ralph Firman, who returned to the cockpit for last weekend’s season opener at Zandvoort, scoring eight points.

‘I’m a racing driver, so my aim is simply to win races and challenge for championships,’ Carroll said. ‘In A1GP I have the additional motivation of representing Ireland and I’ll be giving it 100 per cent to make sure we get to the top step of the podium. More ...

Hornish fails to qualify again, delays decision  UPDATE Sam Hornish Jr. said he is going to wait until after the season before sitting down with his team, sponsors and owner Roger Penske to decide where he'll be racing next year.  Hornish failed to qualify at Talladega, his third miss in as many tries to make his Nextel Cup debut. He is committed to Car of Tomorrow races Oct. 21 at Martinsville, Va., and Nov. 11 at Phoenix, in addition to some Busch Series events.

Unlike fellow Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti, who as a rookie next year will inherit a car that is in the top 35 of the standings and thus assured of being in the first five races, Hornish would have to qualify week to week.

"We have to get to the point where we feel comfortable we can get into these races," he said. "What if I go to Daytona (for the 2008 opener in February) and don't make the race? Then we're behind all the way."

Hornish is not averse to spending another year in the IndyCar Series. "Whatever the team decides, I'm OK with that," he said. Indy Star

10/08/07 It isn't three strikes and you're out for Sam Hornish Jr.

The former Indy 500 winner and three-time IndyCar Series champion has failed in his first three attempts to qualify for a Nextel Cup event, but Penske Racing will continue to place Hornish on the entry list for upcoming Cup races.

"We're going to stay on our plan to try to qualify Sam in as many races as we can for the rest of the season," said Walt Czarnecki, vice chairman of Penske Racing. "Nothing has changed. We'll go again at Charlotte next week."

Czarnecki, who also is the listed owner of the No. 06 Dodge that Hornish is driving, said they already have a primary sponsor lined up for the third team car next season.

Would they still consider Hornish moving full time to Cup in 2008 if he doesn't qualify for any races this year?

"I think that's a possibility," Czarnecki said. "The disappointment he has, and we all have, is he was 20th quick at New Hampshire. We told him not to drive it too hard and he missed the show by a fraction.

"At Dover, he had one hour of track time, then misses the show by four one-hundredths of a second. Circumstances haven't worked in his favor."  More at ESPN.com

industry news
UAW sets Wednesday strike deadline  The UAW has set a Wednesday strike deadline in talks with Chrysler on a new four-year contract, people close to the negotiations told the New York Times late Sunday night. The two sides talked throughout the weekend after the union pushed to intensify discussions late last week, choosing Chrysler to go second in national contract talks after GM. The United Auto Workers and GM reached a tentative contract agreement on Sept. 26 after a two-day strike. GM workers are to finish voting on the deal Wednesday. Detroit Free Press
Villeneuve glad to keep nose clean  Formula One's Jacques Villeneuve qualified sixth but elected to drop to the back of the pack for the start, because this was his first Nextel Cup race. “It was the logical thing to do,” he said. “I had more to learn from the back … and it was also to show respect for the guys fighting for the Chase. I was thankful for them allowing me to race here, which is really special to me.”

Villeneuve played it cautiously and finished 21st, on the lead lap.

“Early in the race was tough, for some reason I was really tight,” Villeneuve said. “I almost ran into a couple of people on the inside line because of that.

“I didn’t want that to happen, so I moved up to the high line. That’s why I got into the wall (a brush).

“On one of the big wrecks I slammed on the brakes and went down to the apron, but got sandwiched between a couple of cars.

“I lost the shifter ball, and the radio plug came loose (which led NASCAR to black-flag him for radio repairs). And I lost third gear on the last restart.

“So we had a lot of things going on. It was a great day to learn. And I’m quite happy with the result.

“I’m glad I didn’t create any problems with the drivers. The finger was being pointed before the race, and that was understandable. The goal was to stay out of trouble and not make enemies … so the next time I come back everything will be a little easier.” Winston Salem Journal

Drivers give CoT thumbs down  UPDATE Greg Biffle was less than thrilled with the restrictor-plate race at Talladega Superspeedway.  Biffle was caught up in two crashes Sunday, ending the UAW-Ford 500 with a heavily damaged machine. The Roush Fenway Racing driver finished 23rd after being involved in a lap-176 pileup that ended his effort.

"Everybody got what they wanted," he said. "They got to see a wreckfest, just like Talladega. I haven't finished a race here yet in a Nextel Cup car. I don't ever plan to.

"I just come to put on a show for everybody and see when I wreck."

Biffle felt that the visibility issue drivers say was caused by the wing contributed to his problematic outing.

"It's unfortunate we've got to race like that because we can't see out of the cars," he said. "That's what most of these wrecks are caused from because we just can't see anything." Scenedaily.com

[Editor's Note:  We're not sure why NASCAR calls their latest car the Car of Tomorrow.  In fact there isn't anything on the new car that relates to any car anywhere on this planet, and especially not a future one given how antiquated the CoT is.  It really should be termed the CoY - Car of Yesterday.]

10/08/07 So what to make of NASCAR’s great car-of-tomorrow experiment at Talladega Speedway?

Well, if drivers couldn’t do much here, at this easy-to-drive track, and if they didn’t feel comfortable enough to put on a decent show, that certainly doesn’t bode well for February’s season-opening Daytona 500, if run with these cars.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and some of his fellow drivers gave the new car a less-than-ringing endorsement: “I don’t think it’s where it needs to be right now,” Earnhardt said. “I think we could try something else to get to where we need to get.

“But we need to take it easy on NASCAR….”

Others yesterday weren’t as gentle. More ...

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