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Q and A with Edwards and Kenseth Q and A with Edwards and KensethMatt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion, was at Homestead-Miami Speedway today to help unveil the 2006 pace car vehicle fleet for Ford Championship Weekend. Kenseth talked about the rest of the season and how he plans to attack the final races of the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season. One of Kenseth’s teammates, Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion, has had five top-10 finishes in the six races of the Chase. He, too, was at Homestead-Miami Speedway today and he talked about going to Martinsville for this weekend’s event.

MATT KENSETH – No. 17 DeWalt Ford Fusion – ON COMING TO HOMESTEAD FOR THE SEASON FINALE. “It just depends on where you are at, the situation you are in and how close the points are where everyone is running. It depends on a lot of things. I mean if you come in here 100 points out there’s really not that much pressure, you just do what you got to do and run as hard as you can. You know really the pressure is the rest of these weeks getting close, if it’s close and you’re neck-and-neck with somebody for a championship when you come in here, the pressure will be great. But if you aren’t, it [the pressure] probably won’t be so much.”

HOW WAS IT WHEN YOU CAME HERE IN 2003 WHEN YOU WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP? “It was pretty mellow, because we actually won it at Rockingham so it was a little bit relaxed. You know they tried some new engine stuff and we blew up like on lap 20 so it was kind of strange to sit there and watch a whole race and then still stay down and do all of the celebration. It was not necessarily a super great ending for our season, but Rockingham was really exciting.”  zzzz

IT LOOKS LIKE EVERYONE IN THE CHASE HAS HAD MORE THAN ONE “GIMME.” IS THIS A DIFFERENT CHASE THIS YEAR? “Not really. I think if you look at Tony last year, he was really good and really consistent and he ran really good. He didn’t win a race in the Chase, but I think he had trouble at Dover; I don’t know where he finished. I think he had trouble at Homestead and didn’t finish that good, either, and was still able to overcome that. I mean, we’ve had some problems, but we haven’t really had the knockout blow by having a 40th place or blowing an engine or any of that. We’ve had our struggles and had a bad finish at Kansas. We didn’t do great last week [Lowe’s Motor Speedway], but we haven’t really had the devastating one; we’ve been hanging in there. We know that we have to do much better than what we’ve done, but still feel like we’re in.”

HAVE THE PROBLEMS YOU’VE HAD BEEN BAD LUCK? “I mean, we’ve had a little bit of everything. We haven’t really had bad luck, we didn’t run good at Loudon, but got a good finish for what we ran. I didn’t have any brakes and still finished 10th. Dover we had a dominating car and it just didn’t quite do everything right, didn’t turn out for us. Kansas, we just ran bad. We just ran terrible; we still don’t know what we did wrong there. At Talladega, we did everything good, I thought. Last week, we just did everything wrong, from having the car prepared before the race to pit road. Just right after we pit the caution comes out, we get back out in front of the leader and can’t get a caution to get your lap back. Just nothing went our way last weekend. We had a good enough car to run in the top 10, maybe a little better than that, we just couldn’t get anything to go our way.”

DO THE NEXT FIVE RACES HAVE TO BE AS NEAR PERFECT AS POSSIBLE? “Well, it depends on what happens to everyone else. I mean, we’re certainly aiming at that and trying to be realistic and aim for a top 10 this weekend at Martinsville; that’s one of my toughest places. If we could do that, I’d be happy with that. The rest of the races, we just kind of go and try to win and try to lead laps and be in contention to win. I think Jeff [Burton] is strong at all of the tracks coming up, but especially Martinsville and Phoenix. I think you’re going to have to run basically in the top, average a fifth-place-or-better finish for the last five races here to have a shot.”

AFTER KANSAS, HOW CONCERNED ARE YOU ABOUT ATLANTA? “I’m not overly concerned about it right now, because it wouldn’t do any good. We got the car we ran there in the spring and ran really well in the spring. The worst we would have ran was second if we didn’t have the tire problems we had there in the spring. Hopefully, we can get that figured out and have a competitive run there. You never know, I thought Kansas should have one of our best tracks, too, and was one of our worst performances of the year. We’re going to bring the cars that we know some stuff about and hopefully get them tuned in.”

IS THE MARTINSVILLE THE LAST TRACK THAT YOU HOLD YOUR BREATH ABOUT? “You know they all are; you don’t know what’s gonna happen. You could go there [to our worst track] and something weird could happen and have a great finish. You can go to Atlanta, which is one of my favorites, and get a terrible finish. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m more nervous about our performance at Martinsville than at any other track. As you know, it takes a lot more than performance, you’ve got to have everything else.”

CARL EDWARDS – No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion -- YOU’VE ONLY FINISHED OUTSIDE OF 10TH ONCE IN THE CHASE RACES SO FAR. DO YOU FEEL THAT SOME OF THE PRESSURE IS OFF OF YOU NOW? “Not really, I have the same pressure every week and have had the same since the first time I got into a race car 10 or 12 years ago, so I don’t think that it changes that much. I just think that our luck has changed a little bit lately and the reason we aren’t in the Chase is because we didn’t really have the greatest luck this season. Hopefully, our luck continues to turn around.”

MARTINSVILLE IS A SHORT HALF-MILE TRACK. DO YOU ENJOY THE SHORT TRACKS? “ I enjoy the short tracks, I like the short tracks. All tracks are fun if you’re running.”

MATT KENSETH AND MARK MARTIN BOTH HAVE SAID THAT MARTINSVILLE CAN BE A WILDCARD. DO YOU VIEW MARTINSVILLE THAT WAY, AS A PLACE WHERE A DRIVER CAN LOSE A LOT OF POINTS? “Yeah. I’ve never run well at Martinsville, so to me, it’s kind of a little bit of crapshoot. I don’t know how we’re going to run. In the Busch race we ran well there.”

IN NOT MAKING THE CHASE, YOU SAID THAT YOU WOULD USE THE LAST RACES OF THE SEASON TO TRY THINGS FOR NEXT YEAR AND TO LEARN FOR NEXT YEAR. “We’ve just been a lot more open to trying new stuff and changing some things and it’s worked out. I mean it’s not the end of the world if we try something and we don’t run well.”

HOW DO YOU APPROACH NEXT YEAR? “Just to not make any mistakes to lose points. You realize the longer you go, the points are so important. I guess I learned a lot this year about how to lose points and hopefully I can apply that stuff and not lose any unnecessary points in ’07.” Ford Racing

Team Australia announces new sponsor Team Australia announces new sponsorTeam Australia is pleased to announce that WOW Sight & Sound is the latest Australian company to join the operation’s sponsorship portfolio, with the electronics retailer backing the green and gold Aussie Vineyards Champ Cars of Will Power and Alex Tagliani for the remainder of the 2006 Champ Car World Series.

WOW Sight & Sound will adorn the cars for this weekend’s Lexmark Indy 300 on the Gold Coast and the season finale in Mexico City, Mexico. WOW Sight & Sound is also a sponsor of Team Australia Co-Owner Craig Gore’s WPS Racing operation in the Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series.

WOW Sight & Sound is a Queensland-based electronics retailer that currently boasts eight superstores with a further four planned to open by December 2006. Over the past two years the company has made its mark on the electronics and entertainment industry, just as Team Australia has emerged over the past two years in the Champ Car World Series.

WOW Sight & Sound currently has seven stores open in Queensland with a further store in Darwin, Northern Territory. Plans are well advanced to continue the roll out across Australia as well as across the Tasman Sea into New Zealand.

“WOW Sight & Sound is a local company in the process of opening new stores and expanding its business,” said Team Australia Co-Owner and Queensland businessman Craig Gore.

“WOW is a sponsor of our V8 Supercar operation and it’s great to now have them as part of Team Australia.

“WOW is proudly Australian, proud to be a part of the Team Australia program and motivated to be a part of our success.

“It’s great to welcome them to Team Australia and have them on our Aussie Vineyards Champ Cars starting at our biggest event of the year at the Lexmark Indy 300 and also at the season finale in Mexico City.”  zzzz

WOW Sight & Sound superstores carry a wide range of home entertainment, home office, car audio, mobile phone and communications products. WOW Sight & Sound prides itself on setting the benchmark for the industry by offering a greater selection of brands, product items (over 20,000 per store) and expert knowledge from a team of technically trained staff.

“WOW Sight & Sound is a new emerging force in the process of expanding nationally,” said John Karabalis, National Advertising and Marketing Manager of WOW Sight & Sound Superstores Pty Ltd.

“Everyone at WOW is very excited to be a part of Team Australia and there are definite synergies between the two brands. Both the Team Australia Champ Cars and the WOW Sight & Sound Superstores have a definite ‘WOW’ factor.

“WOW Sight & Sound is working hard at enhancing its presence and business from a branding point of view and we see this relationship with Team Australia as a vital tool to assist us in the growth of the WOW brand.

“I look forward to working together with Craig Gore and everyone involved in the Team Australia program as we both grow and develop into the future. Everyone at WOW Sight & Sound will be cheering for Will Power and Alex Tagliani this weekend and in Mexico next month.”

Team Australia welcomes WOW Sight & Sound to the Champ Car World Series as the exciting retailer joins other proud Australian brands such as Aussie Vineyards, Wright Patton Shakespeare Financial Group, Qantas, RM Williams, Fish Liquor, the Queensland Government and Tourism Australia as part of the Team Australia program. Team Australia PR

Wednesday news from Surfers - II Wednesday news from Surfers - IISome scenes from Surfers as the teams work feverishly to unpack their equipment and begin to assemble the cars.

Rookie leader, Power, looking forward to home race Rookie leader, Power, looking forward to home raceWill Power, driver of the No. 5 Team Australia Champ Car, will be at home this weekend when the Champ Car World Series races at Gold Coast in Australia: Power, who leads the series’ Rookie of the Year standings by six points over Dan Clarke and is in seventh place overall in the points race, was born in Toowooba, Queensland, Australia.

Will Power – No. 5 Team Australia Lola Ford – YOU HAVE A SIX-POINT LEAD ON DAN CLARKE IN THE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR STANDINGS. IS THERE ADDED PRESSURE GOING INTO THE FINAL TWO RACES?  DO YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT STRATEGY FOR AUSTRALIA? “Well, it’s no more pressure than I put on myself this year.  I’ve been to Australia; it’s my home race.  All went fairly well there last year and at Mexico City.  To be honest, I’m just looking forward not only thinking about Rookie of the Year, but the overall points because they are very close as well.  I’m really looking forward to the next two races because I won’t be learning the tracks.” [Power is seventh in the overall standings; only 16 points separate fourth to 10th place.]

HOW FAR IS TOOWOOMBA, YOUR HOMETOWN, FROM THE GOLD COAST CIRCUIT?  “We have a house on the Gold Coast, so I’ve spent a lot of time on the Gold Coast over the years; it is sort of like home to me anyway.  So I’ve been around there and it’s home for me anyway.  Toowoomba is two and a half hours away inland, that’s where I was born, where went to school and grew up.”  zzzz

HOW IS THE SUPPORT IN AUSTRALIA COMPARED TO OTHER RACES? “It’s all positive.  I think you always bring a little bit more out of yourself, you almost have to pull something out of the bag, even if you haven’t got a car that’s capable of running right at the front, you just seem to be able to pull it out and you have to pull it out because everyone is expecting it. Yes, I’m looking forward to it.  To be honest, I feel like I’m driving better than I ever have, I feel very fit with the car at the moment.  Also I’ve been really fast the last couple of races, I just want a chance want to really show and prove it and finish where I should finish, so that’s my plan for the next couple of races.”

YOU MENTIONED NOT HAVING TO LEARN THE FINAL TWO TRACKS. THIS YEAR YOU’VE ADDED 12 NEW CIRCUITS TO YOUR CAREER, DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE? “I really liked Montreal – I enjoyed that.  Edmonton – I really enjoyed that.  Favorite?  Probably for atmosphere, I think San Jose had a really good atmosphere about it, and crowd and the people – I enjoyed that race a lot.  To be honest, I think all of them – Elkhart Lake was an awesome track, but I didn’t have the best weekend there.  And in these cars, they are so much fun. I’m hoping that I can say at the end of this year Surfer’s Paradise will be my favorite race, if I have a podium finish.”

YOUR FIRST CHAMP CAR RACES WERE IN LAST YEAR’S SURFER’S PARADISE AND MEXICO CITY. NOW THAT YOU’VE HAD 15 RACES IN THE LOLA CHASSIS, WHAT ARE YOU THOUGHTS ON MOVING TO THE PANOZ DP01? “I think the new chassis will be especially good for our team because we can see how well they did when new chassis for Atlantic came out they all started on even ground. Walker Racing/Team Australia really got a handle of it quickly and that’s same sort of thing that we are doing, so it’s a really good thing for our team.” 


ARE YOU GOING TO AUSTRALIA EARLY TO TAKE A BREAK?  WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE NEXT TWO WEEKS?  “I plan to do a lot of fitness, get some good rest and eat some good food and getting over the jet lag.”

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THIS YEAR BEING IN CHAMP CAR COMPARED TO OTHER RACING SERIES? “What I can say is that I’ve never learned so much in one year in racing as I did this year.  I feel as though I’ll be a much better driver.  In Champ Car, I found the competition is really tough, because you’re not just dealing with people that have been in the series for one year you dealing with people who have been in the series for multiple years.  They’ve really mastered it and I feel that I’ve found that learned tracks quickly now and get on top of problems a lot quicker.  All in all, Champ Cars are hard to drive; it’s hard to get that last half-second out of it.  It’s a great series because of that and all the circuits we go to.” Ford Racing

Montoya to Make NASCAR Debut in Memphis Montoya to Make NASCAR Debut in MemphisJuan Pablo Montoya will make his NASCAR debut in a Busch Series race at Memphis Motorsports Park, his team announced Tuesday.  Montoya will drive the No. 42 Dodge for Chip Ganassi Racing in the race on Oct. 28. The decision was made after the Colombian tested at the Memphis track last week.
Wednesday news from Surfers - I Wednesday news from Surfers - IMexican Mario Dominguez of Rocketsports Racing, and Frenchman Nelson Philippe of CTE-HVM Racing were flying the Gold Coast yesterday in one of the pre-race media events for Sunday's Lexmark Indy 300. They flew a Nangchang plane operated by Blackjet and both drivers had the chance to have a eagle-eye view of the circuit. The Nangchang plane was first constructed in China, then the design was copied by the Russians. The first Nangchang plane was constructed between the years of 1988 and 1989. This plane is still on production and is very strong and reliable, it seems like a WW2 plane.

Changes to the 2007 MotoGP calendar Changes to the 2007 MotoGP calendarThe FIM yesterday announced some changes of dates in the calendar for the 2007 MotoGP World Championship.

 The calendar is therefore as follows: (changes in bold):
March 10th** - Qatar, Doha/Losail
March 25th Spain, Jerez de la Frontera
April 22nd - Turkey, Istanbul Park
May 6th -China, Shanghai
May 20th - France, Le Mans
June 3rd - Italy, Mugello
June 10th - Catalunya, Catalunya
June 24th- Great Britain, Donington Park
June 30th**- Netherlands, Assen
July 15th - Germany, Sachsenring
July 22nd* -United States, Laguna Seca
August 19th - Czech Republic, Brno
September 2nd- San Marino & Riviera di Rimini, Misano
September 16th-- Portugal, Estoril
September 23rd - Japan, Motegi
October 14th- Australia, Phillip Island
October 21st Malaysia, Sepang
November 4th- Valencia, Ricardo Tormo
*: Only MotoGP class
**: Saturday
Gibernau to miss season finale Gibernau to miss season finaleThe Ducati Marlboro Team announced that Sete Gibernau will not be fit in time for the Valencia season finale on October 29.

Gibernau injured his still-healing left collarbone and fractured the fifth metacarpal bone in his right hand when he struck Casey Stoner's fallen bike early in Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix. Gibernau had only just recovered from two operations to plate the same collarbone after it was broken in June's Catalan Grand Prix.

Gibernau left Portugal immediately after the race to go to Madrid's San José hospital, where he underwent a new kind of medical treatment, which has been in use over the last two months in Spain, and has now been applied to a professional sportsman for the first time ever. The treatment consisted of the extraction of stem cells and their subsequent injection into the affected areas. In this case the cells were applied to the hand and collarbone. The operation, which lasted less than an hour, was carried out by Dr. Ángel Villamor.

"The results obtained with this technique on patients with weakened bones and repeated fractures have so far been very satisfactory. For this reason we decided to apply it to Sete Gibernau: the fact that one of the two plates inserted in his collarbone had given way gave rise to fears that the bone was not strong enough," he explained. "The operation, which avoids the immobilization of the traumatized limb, went well. Hopefully within a month or so we can confirm the complete efficiency of the treatment applied to Sete and he can return to his normal sporting activity."

Strong growth forecast for the USA Strong growth forecast for the USAToday it was announced that the population of the U.S. was officially 300 Million.  It was also announced that in 2042 the population of the U.S. will be at least 400 Million people.  It's going to get crowded, very crowded in the U.S. in your lifetime.   For racing that means more potential fans and more sponsors.
Papis to run Texas Busch race Papis to run Texas Busch raceMiami, FL – Max Papis has had an exciting year, including making his NASCAR debut in Watkins Glen, NY, on August 12th.  Now Papis will add NASCAR ovals to his already impressive resume when he rolls into Texas Motor Speedway for the November 4th running of the NASCAR Busch Series race in the Lone Star State.  Sport Clips will once again be the primary sponsor on the Italian’s #36 McGill Motorsports Chevrolet.   

Mad Max has had a year that dreams are made of.  The 2004 Grand Am Rolex Series Champion has also competed in the 24 Hours of Daytona, the Indianapolis 500, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the IROC Series and has taken his show to NASCAR; all of which have happened in 2006.  Then during a brief intermission, his wife, Tatiana, delivered their first child, a son named, Marco.  Most race car drivers do not accomplish these feats in an entire lifetime; Max Papis has accomplished them in a single season.     

Saturday, August 12th was the day that Papis proved to the world that he could officially race anything on four wheels when he made his NASCAR Busch Series debut in Watkins Glen, NY.   zzzz

Qualifying in Watkins Glen took place in a “European-style” format in which Papis would ultimately find himself starting from the 43rd position.  When the green flag dropped, Mad Max took over and the #36 Sport Clips Chevrolet went straight forward picking up positions one at a time.  Papis would run solidly in the Top 15 before claiming 14th position when the checkered flag waved, giving McGill Motorsports their best result of the 2006 season. 

Papis, who has experience at Texas Motor Speedway in IROC, Champ Car, and the Indy Racing League, is looking forward to his first race on a demanding oval.   

“I’m looking forward to continuing the relationship that I have with John McGill and Ricky Pearson,” Papis said.  “It means a lot to me that Sport Clips CEO Gordon Logan believes in me enough to join this effort in Texas.  We had a great run at the Glen and I’m looking forward to proving myself on an oval track in NASCAR and prove that I belong here.” 

Papis continued, "I'm proud to be the first Italian in the modern era to debut in NASCAR and represent my country, Italy.  We had a great run at Watkins Glen and I am looking forward to running in Texas and having the opportunity to race on the biggest stage in the United States.”

A native of Como, Italy, Papis moved up the ladder of European formulas during his late teens and early 20s before finding a Formula One test ride with Lotus and Honda in 1994. The following year, he competed in seven Formula One races with Arrows.

In 1996, Papis posted three wins in IMSA World Sports Car, then joined CART, where he won three races in five years.  Since then, Papis has been one of the top competitors in American sports-car racing. He posted an overall win at the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2002, a Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series championship in 2004, and class wins at the

12 Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Daytona and two runner-up finishes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Papis also drives in the Crown Royal IROC Series and has added NASCAR to his already impressive resume.   

Sport Clips, Inc. is a Georgetown, TX-based enterprise that is approaching 400 stores nationwide.  Targeting men and boys, Sport Clips provides high-quality haircuts in a fun sports environment, complete with TVs at every Stylist’s station tuned to sports.  Every Sport Clips has “guy smart” Stylists who focus on providing the highest level of service to every client.  For a location near you or for franchise information, please visit: www.SportClips.com. Max Papis PR

ALMS GT2 championship closest of all ALMS GT2 championship closest of allBraselton, Ga. - Before the 2006 season started, the GT2 class in the American Le Mans Series was expected to be the most competitive and wide-open of all the four classes. With nine races down and one to go, GT2 hasn't just met expectations - it has exceeded them in nearly every way.

Four different auto manufacturers have battled it out all season, each recording at least two podium finishes. As the focus turns to this weekend's Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, all eyes are on one of the closest class championship battles the Series has seen in recent years.

Let's start with the drivers race. Johannes van Overbeek of Flying Lizard Motorsports leads Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing's Jorg Bergmeister by a scant 4 points heading into Saturday's four-hour finale. Twenty-three points go to the race winner. zzzz

"Anytime you do something for the first time, you anticipate it as a bigger deal than someone who has done it before," said van Overbeek, who finished third in the championship in 1999, second in 2004 and third last year. "I've been close several times, but it's been elusive and we're keen on finally nailing it down."

Van Overbeek has led the championship since the Lone Star Grand Prix in May and has posted a victory this year at Mid-Ohio with Wolf Henzler. But Bergmeister's three wins with teammate Patrick Long starting at Lime Rock - including a key win at Petit Le Mans - have put a second straight title within reach.

"Before the last race I thought the championship was already over. But after the last race it looks a little better, so it should be an interesting weekend," said Bergmeister, who shared the crown last year with Long. "We've had a pretty good season so far at least from the standpoint of performance of the car. We had some bad luck with reliability. The car has always been quick. We just hope we won't have any more problems."

There haven't been many during the second half of the last two seasons. Following the Le Mans break in 2005 and '06, Petersen/White Lightning has taken seven victories in 13 races. One more - a repeat in Monterey - would make Bergmeister a champion again.

Van Overbeek would win the championship as long as the No. 45 Porsche finishes one spot behind the No. 31 entry. If Bergmeister finishes fourth or better and two spots ahead of van Overbeek, the German will be champion.

"For us, we just need to focus on winning the race," van Overbeek said. "If we do that, we don't have to worry about anything else. As for the other scenarios we've looked at them. You can go crazy thinking about it. If we focus on bringing the absolute best to the table in every department and go for the win, whatever happens happens."

That applies to the team championship as well. Both Flying Lizard and Petersen/White Lightning trail Risi Competizione after nine rounds. Risi holds a 6-point lead over the Lizards and a 10-point edge of the defending class champions from Las Vegas. If one of the Risi Ferraris finishes first or second, it clinches the team title no matter where the Porsches finish. Flying Lizard can win the team title with a victory and third-place finish by Risi or a runner-up finish by the Lizards and fifth-place Risi result.

For Petersen/White Lightning to win its second straight championship, it must win the race plus have Risi finish fourth or worse and Flying Lizard finish second or worse.

"We were leading both championships pretty handily for awhile and the Ferraris came on pretty strong," van Overbeek said. "We'd like to win both and will try to win both. Even if we were to focus on one championship over the other, our preparation would never change. We still need to prepare the best car we can, have the best pit stops we can and hope luck works in our favor. Hopefully that means we'll win both championships."

"We are doing what we have tried to do all year - winning races," Bergmeister said. "Then we'll see where we end up."

The final round of the 2006 American Le Mans Series is the Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at 2:45 p.m. PDT on Saturday, October 21 with SPEED providing live coverage. MotorsTV will broadcast the race in Europe starting at 10:30 p.m. UTC in England and 11:30 p.m. CET. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage. ALMS

Should NASCAR change its point system again? Should NASCAR change its point system again?The answer to that question is, yes.  I don’t mean totally overhaul the system as they did a few years ago, but just the adjustment that fans and drivers have been asking for since the beginning of time.  The beginning of time would be 1949 A.D., the year of the inception of NASCAR.  It needs a change that would deliver a weekly race where the participants would compete to win, not just to survive.

More points to win

The simple answer is to award more points for winning a race.  If the race winner is granted a sizable point increase over second place then the emphasis would be on winning.  The driver who wins the most races is probably going to qualify for the Chase.  That’s right I would keep the current format of the Race to the Chase and then the Chase.  Just award more points to actually win a race.  Other racing series seem to reward winning more than consistency.  NASCAR rewards the consistent driver who may never win a race. zzzz

Now it’s unfair to compare series because NASCAR has clearly won the battle of the most popular and consistently outdraws other racing series by a lot, so it’s hard to question their decisions as the current system was well thought out and planned and no question an improvement over the past system.  It always seemed that in the past by the final 10 races the championship was a forgone conclusion, the excitement of a close championship battle was a rarity rather than the norm.  It’s quite clear that NASCAR knows how to respond to the fans need for a tight battle up to the last race of the season, the fact that last year’s champion won races this year and is considered one of the best drivers out there but didn’t qualify for the Chase is a call to NASCAR that the current point system is in need of an adjustment.

Bad race and you're out

With the current system if one of the 10 drivers who qualified for the Chase has a bad race then their championship hopes are dashed.  Some people feel that a driver can overcome a bad finish and still win the championship.  It can happen, but only if the other nine drivers in the Chase each have at least one bad race also.  That puts you in a position of hoping other drivers have problems when you have a problem. 

More points for winning would help erase a big deficit and force everyone to race to win and not for just a good finish.  It seems that if a Chase contender is within the top 10 in the running order of a Chase race then they are content to just stay there and ride to top a 10 finish.  The urgency to win takes a back seat to the fear of bad races.  The fear of that one bad race affects the way the driver, team, and owner approach a race and directly influences the outcome. 

The team may set up the car to be more stable to drive so as not to wreck and that in turn makes the car slower and unable to compete for the win.  The owner may tell a driver not to take unnecessary chances on the track, may cut practice short for fear of wrecking, and may take horsepower from the engine for fear of mechanical failure.  Basically tie the hands of the driver and team from winning a race that if they were trying to win might have achieved.  The fear of losing overshadows the desire to win.  More points to win could overcome that fear and make racing the Chase what it was supposed to be, racing to win. South Florida Motorsports

Industry News
GM sells most over 30mpg cars GM sells most over 30mpg carsAccording to the recently released 2007 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Fuel Economy Guide, General Motors leads the industry with more vehicles that achieve 30 mpg, on the highway, than any other manufacturer.
German F3
New name for German F3 series New name for German F3 seriesThe German F3 series will be sponsored by renowned wheel manufacturer ATS starting in 2007.  They have revealed a new series logo.  The series will henceforth be known as the 'ATS Formel 3 Cup.'
Jay Howard tops of all IRL drivers Jay Howard tops of all IRL drivers[Editor's Note: It's interesting to note that Sarah Fischer is going back to school to learn how to drive on a road course, that Jay Howard, who we told you was a future star in the making, was the fastest of all IRL drivers in this karting event, and that Katherine Legge and Sarah Fisher were up to 4th place before they had chain problems on their kart..]

When the inaugural endurance karting event at New Castle Motorsports Park took place in 2004, track owner Mark Dismore never envisioned how large it would become. That year, 30 entries took the green flag for the race.

This year's edition saw 80 entries and a 56-kart starting field for the 200-lap contest on Oct. 15.

"I guess word traveled from year to year that people were having a good time," said Dismore, a former IndyCar Series driver. "The 56 cars that were on track had some great drivers. Hopefully, next year we'll have an even bigger and better event."

Eight representatives from the IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series were on hand to take part in the event, including last year's winner Dan Wheldon. The 2005 IndyCar Series champion was again paired with Mark Dismore Jr.

Their thoughts of being back-to-back winners were foiled in the early going when their Comet Kart Sales-sponsored machine experienced brake problems, putting them several laps behind. zzzz

Despite the mechanical troubles, Wheldon was delighted to return to his racing roots.

"It's always good to come out and do things like this," the Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver said. "This is how I started my racing career, so it's good to be out here with people who aspire to be in the IndyCar Series. You can even learn a thing or two by being out here and running against these guys because a lot of them do this all the time. The Dismores are great people, and they were actually the ones that took me to my first Indianapolis 500."

Reigning Indy Pro Series champion Jay Howard and his No. 0 Screaming Talent team finished 13th - the highest of IndyCar Series and Indy Pro Series drivers. Like Wheldon's, Howard's kart was strong in the beginning, but a miscue in the pits cost the team a shot at the victory.

"We were leading in the first stint and came in for a pit and were docked a position for a fueling infraction," Howard said. "We went back out and during my second stint the exhaust broke, so I had to come back to the pits. It was really fast out there though and it was a lot fun and a great workout."

IndyCar Series veteran Sarah Fisher was also on hand, teaming with Katherine Legge for this year's event. They finished 22nd after a chain came loose from the kart, forcing a string of unscheduled pit stops. For Fisher, it marked the beginning of what is shaping up to be a hectic off-season.

"I'm going to do some Skip Barber off-season training to prepare for road course racing," Fisher said. "I have been helping Kyle O'Gara with some karting races as well. We're going to go run an endurance race in Norway, which I'm looking forward to. On top of all this, I'm also going to school so all of this is keeping me plenty busy."

Also participating were the IndyCar Series' Tomas Scheckter, Jeff Simmons and Scott Dixon as well as Indy Pro Series drivers Veronica McCann and Arie Luyendyk Jr.

"It's good to be out here," Scheckter said. "With everyone like Dan (Wheldon) and Scott (Dixon), plus all of the kids that race this event, it makes it very special. We all grew up doing this, and we're all still very competitive. Sometimes we don't like getting beat by a 15-year-old kid, but that happens. We've made about 10 unscheduled pit stops, but this a great event, and I have to thank the entire Dismore family for putting this on."

The RH Racing entry of Ricky Rudd and Paulie Harraka won the race, which was taped for broadcast on Speed.

"We have a former Brickyard 400 winner that won here today and last year we had an Indy 500 winner (Wheldon)," Mark Dismore said. "We are going to put a trophy on permanent display in the lobby, which will list all of the previous winners of this event." IRL

Nextel Cup Series will not race outside U.S. Nextel Cup Series will not race outside U.S.UPDATE The Canadians will eventually realize that they will forever have the 2nd-rate NASCAR Busch series in Montreal in place of Champ Car. The Canadian media who supported the switch will eventually realize they were led down a primrose path and every year we will see articles from them proclaiming that "Cup is coming" but it never will. Canadian fans, like Mexican fans, will eventually reject having a 2nd rate series.

10/16/06 CONCORD -- NASCAR Chairman Brian France says the Nextel Cup series likely won't race outside the U.S. soon, isn't worried about sagging TV ratings and that California Speedway will keep its two race dates although it has struggled to sell all its tickets. France made those comments this week in a conference call with West Coast reporters only.

The Busch series will race next season at Mexico City and Montreal. The Cup series does not race outside the U.S., but might that happen? "I think it's problematic for us to try to do that because the Cup schedule domestically is so full and there's so much demand here in the U.S. it would be impractical to think we could take, you know, a championship points race outside of the U.S. at this time," France said. "So, we'll always look at it but right now there's just too much domestic demand from across the country."

TV ratings have been down this season from last year for nearly every race. France says the drop has been greater in the season's second half. He blames NBC, which is in its final season of broadcasting Cup races. ESPN/ABC will replace NBC next year. "They're not going to promote the NASCAR events to the level that they have in previous years and we understand that,'' he said of NBC. "They have other priorities to focus on ... and that's at our expense." News-Record

tv news
SPEED Channel giving fans a voice SPEED Channel giving fans a voiceSPEED is letting fans have the last word when it comes to the network’s inaugural SPEED Performance Awards, offering eight of the show’s 10 awards for an open fan vote.

Beginning the week of Nov. 20, SPEED will air nominees for the fan-vote categories, allowing SPEED viewers to vote for their favorites at SPEEDtv.com. The winners will be announced as part of a 90-minute special in February, culminating with the presentation of the Mario Andretti Trophy to the inaugural SPEED Performer of the Year.

Fan-vote categories for the SPEED Performance Awards:

Best Rivalry
Biggest Upset
Biggest “Hit” 
Oops Award
Tell it Like it Is
Best Finish
Temper, Temper
Best Victory Celebration

“Some of the categories speak for themselves, but we wanted to make sure to include a sense of humor,” said Hunter Nickell, SPEED Executive VP & General Manager. “The ‘Oops Award’ could be any mistake caught on camera, ‘Tell it Like it Is’ refers to truthful on-camera interviews and ‘Temper, Temper’ will take a light-hearted look at some of the year’s best confrontations at the race track. Overall, we want this show to not only look at motor sports, but how motor sports plays on television.”

The SPEED Performer of the Year will be selected by a panel of racers, journalists and SPEED producers and personalities. The winner will receive the Mario Andretti Trophy, created by bronze artist Elie Hazak. A tenth award to be presented on the show is in development.

Ecclestone signs Korea deal Ecclestone signs Korea dealUPDATE #2 To the right is the proposed Hermann Tilke designed South Korea F1 track. Track diagram courtesy of eTracksOnline.co.uk

10/02/06 South Korea will host a Formula One grand prix from 2010, organizers said on Monday.

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone and Park Joon-yung, governor of South Korea's South Cholla province where a new circuit will be built, said the agreement will bring the race to one of the world's leading car exporting countries.

Ecclestone, who flew to Seoul after Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, said he would help to bring up Korean Formula One drivers in the hope of having a Korean team take part in the race one day.

The Korea Auto Valley Operation, a joint venture between South Cholla province and the Korean F1 promoter M-Bridge Holdings, will build a Hermann Tilke-designed 5.45-km (3.39- mile) track in the southwestern region at a cost of 250 billion won ($264 million). More at Reuters

09/22/06 Autosport.com reports that South Korea has reached an agreement with Formula One Management to host a Grand Prix from 2010.  The Korea Auto Valley Operation (KAVO) - a joint-venture between the Jeollanam-do province government and official F1 promoter company M-Bridge Holdings - will hold the signing ceremony in ten days in Seoul.
Q and A with Gavin and Turner Q and A with Gavin and Turner
ALMS season finale news and notes ALMS season finale news and notes
· The 2006 Monterey Sports Car Championships is the eighth American Le Mans Series event held at scenic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, nestled between the California mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course is one of four tracks to have played host to a Series event in each of its eight years - Sebring, Mosport and Road Atlanta are the others.  Laguna Seca has hosted the Series finale since 2004.

· Eighteen (18) drivers entered for the 2006 Laguna Seca round have scored a total of 27 Series victories there since 1999: Olivier Beretta (1999-2000 GTS, 2005 GT1); Jorg Bergmeister (2005 GT2); Frank Biela (2001-03 overall); David Brabham (2003 GTS); Rinaldo Capello (2000 overall); Romain Dumas (2004 GT); Tomas Enge (2002 GTS); Ron Fellows (2004 GTS); Clint Field (2004 P2); Oliver Gavin (2005 GT1); Butch Leitzinger (2003 LMP675), Lucas Luhr (2002 and 2003 GT, 2005 P2); Sascha Maassen (2002 and 2003 GT, 2005 P2); Allan McNish (2000 overall); Johnny Mowlem (1999 GT); Johnny O'Connell (2004 GTS); Emanuele Pirro (2001 and 2002 overall); and James Weaver (2003 LMP675).

· Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is the site of the closest finish in American Le Mans Series history. In 2000, the ORECA Viper of Olivier Beretta and Karl Wendlinger beat the Corvette C5-R of Ron Fellows and Andy Pilgrim in GTS by 0.001 seconds. Coincidentally, Beretta and Fellows are now Corvette Racing teammates. zzzz

· The overall winning margins at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for each of the past seven years have been less than one lap with multiple lead-lap finishers. The breakdown:

2005: 1:15.064
2004: 56.832
2003: 82.283
2002: 25.799
2001: 1.602
2000: 0.352
1999: 13.889

· Four drivers entered for the 2006 Laguna Seca event have competed in all seven previous Laguna Seca Series races (1999 through 2005): Ron Fellows, Jon Field, Sascha Maassen, and Johnny O'Connell. Noteworthy drivers who have yet to win in Monterey in the Series include Bill Auberlen, Timo Bernhard, Chris Dyson, Jon Field and Chris McMurry.

· Two of the oldest speed records in the American Le Mans Series still stand at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Allan McNish set the LMP1 fastest race lap - 1:16:280 and 105.621 mph - in 2000. JJ Lehto and Steve Soper set the fastest winning speed in race history in 1999 - 98.837 mph.

· Porsche is the winningest manufacturer in the Series at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with six class wins - five in GT2/GT and last year in LMP2. Porsche has four straight GT2 victories at Laguna Seca: Petersen/White Lightning in 2005 and 1999, and Alex Job Racing (2002-04).

· All four winning entrants from 2005 are back at the Monterey Sports Car Championships in search of repeats: Zytek Engineering (LMP1), Penske Racing (LMP2), Corvette Racing (GT1) and Petersen/White Lightning (GT2).

· Last year's overall win by Zytek broke a five-year win streak by Audi at Laguna Seca. Both Zytek and Audi are back this year with other LMP1 entries coming from Dyson Racing, Autocon and Creation Autosportif. 


In its eight-year history, the American Le Mans Series championship chase has never been closer.  With seven  Series championships still to be determined - three class drivers titles, 2 team championships, one tire (GT1) and one manufacturer (GT1) - the 23 championship points offered in the four-hour Monterey Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca are precious indeed! 

Tiebreakers: Never before in Series history has the full gamut of tie-breaker solutions come into play. If there is a tie, the step-by-step system of tiebreakers includes:  1) Most wins in season; 2) Most second-place finishes that count in team standings, most third place finishes that count in team standings, etc. through 10th place. If there has been a 1-2 finish in a respective class involving a team with multiple cars, i.e., GT1 involving Corvette or Aston Martin, only the highest finishing car is counted in the team standings.

In LMP1, Audi R10 teammates Rinaldo (Dindo) Capello and Allan NcNish clinched a championship with a victory at Mosport.  It was the second Series title for McNish (2000) and Capello's first.

In LMP2, Penske Racing's Sascha Maassen holds a 4-point lead on teammate Lucas Luhr heading into the final race. Maassen, a two-time GT champion, is 15 points ahead of Intersport Racing's Clint Field (the defending Series champion) and Liz Halliday. Penske Racing and Porsche clinched the team and manufacturers championship with its 1-2 finish at Road Atlanta.

In GT1, defending driving champions Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin lead Tomas Enge by 11 points, Stephane Sarrazin by 17 points and teammates Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell by 21 points. With four cars entered in the class, Gavin and Beretta must complete 70 percent of the distance covered by the overall winning car, based on the IMSA points scale. In the team championship, a real possibility exists of a tie between Aston Martin and Corvette if the DBR9s finish 1-2 and Corvette completes the required 70 percent.

In GT2, it's down to a two-driver shootout for the championship between season-long points leader Johannes van Overbeek (132) and Jorg Bergmeister (128). Bergmeister gained 14 points thanks to a win at Petit Le Mans by Petersen/White Lightning while van Overbeek and Flying Lizard Motorsports finished fifth. In the team championship, Risi Competizione leads by 6 points over Flying Lizard and 10 over Petersen/White Lightning.

Massa will only help Schu if it matters Massa will only help Schu if it mattersFelipe Massa has vowed to go for the Brazilian Grand Prix victory this Sunday unless Ferrari find themselves in a position where Michael Schumacher can win the drivers' championship title.

Schumacher heads to Interlagos needing not only the race win but also for championship rival Fernando Alonso to finish outside the points in order to claim his eighth Drivers' title. However, given Renault's reliability and pace, the chances of that happening are very slim.

And therefore Massa says he may have the opportunity to race for the victory at his home grand prix, that is of course, unless there's a chance of Schumi winning the world title.

"It is obvious that, given the situation in the Drivers' classification, for me to win the Brazilian GP, that would mean that Alonso is in a points scoring position, whereas if he is not, then my race will take on a different direction and it will be no problem for me to help Michael. I will even be happy to help him," the Brazilian said. More at Sportinglife.com

Troxel gets national award Troxel gets national awardDrag racer Melanie Troxel was honored as Sportswoman of the Year by the Women's Sports Foundation at its annual awards dinner in New York.  Troxel beat out nine other finalists, including golfer Annika Sorenstam, a former winner. The Avon resident is the first race car driver cited by the WSF, which was founded in 1974 by tennis legend Billie Jean King. Troxel, 33, led the NHRA Top Fuel standings through the first 12 races and is fourth with two events left in the season. Indy Star
Homestead test Day 1 Homestead test Day 1A three-day test began Monday afternoon featuring 40 teams with 63 cars. Additional teams are expected to join the test on Tuesday. Under NASCAR rules, teams can only test for two of the three days. The session also mixes in cars competing in the 2006 Nextel Cup Series, along with several 2007 cars and at least five examples of the Car of Tomorrow. Toyota is represented by at least five teams, including two Cars of Tomorrow. Con-Way has one COT, driven by Johnny Benson, while Bill Davis Racing has a #22 COT for Dave Blaney and Jeremy Mayfield. Also testing a Toyota is Red Bull Racing, with Mike Skinner. Blaney and Mayfield are also sharing time in the #55 NAPA Dodge fielded by Michael Waltrip Racing, giving both drivers time in a current car, the 2007 Camry plus the Camry Car of Tomorrow. Additional Cars of Tomorrow are a pair from Roush Racing, the #26 and #99, and the #1 from Dale Earnhardt Inc., driven by Martin Truex Jr. and Kerry Earnhardt. Each day is divided into two sessions, in the afternoon from 1-5 p.m. and under the lights from 6-9 p.m. Spectators are invited to view the activities free of charge from the Speedway Club on the fourth floor of the main office building. HMS Site

DAY 1 - Oct 16, 2006 Session 1
rank car# driver manu time speed
1 41B Reed Sorenson Dodge 31.459 171.652
2 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevy 31.463 171.630
3 42B Casey Mears Dodge 31.465 171.619
4 31 Jeff Burton Chevy 31.473 171.576
5 5 Kyle Busch Chevy 31.475 171.565
6 29 Kevin Harvick Chevy 31.478 171.548
7 99 Carl Edwards Ford 31.520 171.320
8 31B Jeff Burton Chevy 31.522 171.309
9 6 Mark Martin Ford 31.533 171.249
10 2B Kurt Busch Ford 31.581 170.989 zzzz
11 12B Ryan Newman Dodge 31.590 170.940
12 16B Greg Biffle Ford 31.633 170.708
13 20 Tony Stewart Chevy 31.649 170.622
14 42 Casey Mears Dodge 31.652 170.605
15 20B Tony Stewart Chevy 31.655 170.589
16 10 Scott Riggs Dodge 31.659 170.568
17 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevy 31.660 170.562
18 8B Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevy 31.664 170.541
19 48B Jimmie Johnson Chevy 31.669 170.514
20 2 Kurt Busch Ford 31.687 170.417
21 21 Ken Schrader Ford 31.692 170.390
22 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge 31.704 170.326
23 16 Greg Biffle Ford 31.706 170.315
24 11 Denny Hamlin Chevy 31.733 170.170
25 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge 31.751 170.073
26 6B Mark Martin Ford 31.760 170.025
27 18 J.J. Yeley Chevy 31.760 170.025
28 23B Jeremy Mayfield Toyota 31.766 169.993
29 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge 31.784 169.897
30 10B Scott Riggs Dodge 31.786 169.886
31 9B Kasey Kahne Dodge 31.798 169.822
32 19B Elliott Sadler Dodge 31.800 169.811
33 25 Brian Vickers Chevy 31.831 169.646
34 25B Brian Vickers Chevy 31.836 169.619
35 88 Dale Jarrett Ford 31.847 169.561
36 29B Kevin Harvick Chevy 31.850 169.545
37 24B Jeff Gordon Chevy 31.853 169.529
38 17 Matt Kenseth Ford 31.855 169.518
39 18B J.J. Yeley Chevy 31.863 169.476
40 55 Michael Waltrip Dodge 31.865 169.465
41 7 Robby Gordon Chevy 31.875 169.412
42 5B Kyle Busch Chevy 31.878 169.396
43 45 Kyle Petty Dodge 31.887 169.348
44 24 Jeff Gordon Chevy 31.910 169.226
45 17B Matt Kenseth Ford 31.912 169.215
46 88B Dale Jarrett Ford 31.938 169.078
47 83 Mike Skinner Toyota 31.944 169.046
48 11B Denny Hamlin Chevy 31.952 169.004
49 06 David Ragan Ford 31.955 168.988
50 4 Todd Bodine Chevy 31.999 168.755
51 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge 32.005 168.724
52 1COT Martin Truex Jr. Chevy 32.020 168.645
53 43B Bobby Labonte Dodge 32.032 168.581
54 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevy 32.046 168.508
55 4B Todd Bodine Chevy 32.113 168.156
56 22 Dave Blaney Toyota 32.186 167.775
57 72COT Johnny Benson Toyota 32.533 165.985
58 26COT Jamie McMurray Ford 32.793 164.669

DAY 1 - Oct 16, 2006 Session 2
rank car# driver manu time speed
1 42 Casey Mears Dodge 31.200 173.077
2 42B Casey Mears Dodge 31.262 172.734
3 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevy 31.319 172.419
4 7 Robby Gordon Chevy 31.333 172.342
5 16 Greg Biffle Ford 31.338 172.315
6 20B Tony Stewart Chevy 31.341 172.298
7 23B Jeremy Mayfield Toyota 31.353 172.232
8 29 Kevin Harvick Chevy 31.399 171.980
9 24B Jeff Gordon Chevy 31.402 171.964
10 31B Jeff Burton Chevy 31.408 171.931
11 2B Kurt Busch Dodge 31.429 171.816
12 20 Tony Stewart Chevy 31.441 171.750
13 6 Mark Martin Ford 31.454 171.679
14 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevy 31.462 171.636
15 10 Scott Riggs Dodge 31.462 171.636
16 41B Reed Sorenson Dodge 31.468 171.603
17 5 Kyle Busch Chevy 31.471 171.587
18 9B Kasey Kahne Dodge 31.472 171.581
19 31 Jeff Burton Chevy 31.492 171.472
20 21B Ken Schrader Ford 31.500 171.429
21 43B Bobby Labonte Dodge 31.500 171.429
22 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge 31.516 171.342
23 99 Carl Edwards Ford 31.534 171.244
24 8B Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevy 31.535 171.238
25 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge 31.535 171.238
26 88 Dale Jarrett Ford 31.536 171.233
27 21 Ken Schrader Ford 31.559 171.108
28 12B Ryan Newman Dodge 31.562 171.092
29 2 Kurt Busch Dodge 31.563 171.086
30 19B Elliott Sadler Dodge 31.575 171.021
31 16B Greg Biffle Ford 31.609 170.837
32 48B Jimmie Johnson Chevy 31.611 170.827
33 5B Kyle Busch Chevy 31.629 170.729
34 17B Matt Kenseth Ford 31.644 170.648
35 24 Jeff Gordon Chevy 31.660 170.562
36 45 Kyle Petty Dodge 31.666 170.530
37 25B Brian Vickers Chevy 31.677 170.471
38 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevy 31.683 170.438
39 18 J.J. Yeley Chevy 31.686 170.422
40 29B Kevin Harvick Chevy 31.714 170.272
41 10B Scott Riggs Dodge 31.720 170.240
42 11 Denny Hamlin Chevy 31.723 170.223
43 17 Matt Kenseth Ford 31.725 170.213
44 55 Michael Waltrip Dodge 31.753 170.063
45 83 Mike Skinner Toyota 31.755 170.052
46 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge 31.821 169.699
47 26B Jamie McMurray Ford 31.823 169.689
48 99COT Carl Edwards Ford 31.828 169.662
49 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge 31.841 169.593
50 6 David Ragan Ford 31.882 169.375
51 4 Todd Bodine Chevy 31.905 169.252
52 22COT Dave Blaney Toyota 31.910 169.226
53 88B Dale Jarrett Ford 31.955 168.988
54 11B Denny Hamlin Chevy 31.965 168.935
55 4B Todd Bodine Chevy 31.993 168.787
56 1COT Martin Truex Jr. Chevy 32.130 168.067
57 72COT Johnny Benson Toyota 32.291 167.229
58 26COT Jamie McMurray Ford 32.477 166.272

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
McLaren to reveal new image
Renault head for January launch
McLaren release Paffett to chase race seat
Renault confirm 'safe' engine for Alonso
Piquet eyes Fisi's seat for 2008
Kimi to lead Ferrari decline - Lauda
Sauber says he funded Schu debut
Briatore would consider switch to politics
Locals to support Alonso title quest
Rivals vow 'no help' for Schu title
Crash makes Alonso cautious - 'insider'
ING to advertise trackside in 2007
Piquet now managed by Briatore Piquet now managed by BriatoreNelson Piquet Jr has admitted that he is now managed by Renault F1 boss Flavio Briatore.  "Briatore and I are partners," Piquet told Reuters. "He helped me negotiate my entry in Formula 1 and has a share in everything we achieve together. He had an interest, and I needed someone who was involved, because I'm too young and my father doesn't have time for that. He is also the director of Renault, and said that he wanted to get me to drive."
Racing News
Motorsports sponsorship update Motorsports sponsorship updateValvoline's decision to sign on with Don Schumacher Racing just in time for the NHRA U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis last month paid off handsomely for the motor oil brand. The multiple-car operation was largely responsible for supplying Valvoline (along with subsidiaries Zerex and Pyroil) with 21:01 of exposure time and 21 verbal references, good for $456,380 of comparable exposure value. In comparison, Valvoline earned just $132,230 during the 2005 broadcast of the U.S. Nationals. 

The Sauter brothers – Jay, Johnny and Tim – raced against each other in 24 of the first 29 NASCAR Busch Series races this season.  Despite Johnny’s higher ranking in the standings (10th), Jay’s sponsor, Western Union, holds the edge among the brothers’ three primary supporters – Lester Building Systems (Tim), Yellow (Johnny) – in the amount of exposure received during telecasts devoted to those races.  All told, Western Union has appeared on camera for more than 42 minutes and has received 10 mentions for a comparable value total of nearly $2.3 million during races in which all three Sauters participated. zzzz

In the race for television exposure among auto manufacturers in the 2006 Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship, Mazda sits atop the standings with 2:58:06 of on-screen time, 316 mentions and $628,130 of comparable value.  Mazda –  which leads Acura by more than $200,000 heading into the Road Atlanta event – also ranks second overall in terms of exposure value among the 328 sponsors monitored thus far this broadcast season.

Question:  Which of its four drivers has generated the most television exposure value for team sponsor Mobil 1 during Speed World Challenge GT Championship series telecasts on Speed Channel?  Answer:  Ron Fellows.  Thus far in 2006, the veteran road racer, who has carried Mobil 1’s colors in several races this year, has racked up $12,035 for the sponsor from driver-related exposure (i.e., vehicle identity, sponsor mentions), ahead of Andy Pilgrim ($12,010), Johnny O’Connell ($6,965) and Max Angelelli ($3,540).

Call it the commentator effect...  Thus far in the 2006 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series campaign, Aaron’s has enjoyed more than 560 mentions as the exclusive sponsor of the Lucky Dog award.  When Michael Waltrip is in the booth, his sponsor-friendly conversations have proven to be far more favorable for the rental company than when he is not guest commentating.  The average number of mentions for Aaron’s for a non-Waltrip telecast is 17, good for $29,750 of exposure value.  Meanwhile, in races where Waltrip is commentating, Aaron’s collects an average of 47 mentions and a whopping $82,250.

What’s in your wallet — graphics!  Capital One rode the power of graphics during telecasts of the IRL IndyCar Series this past season to rank fourth overall among all sponsors after collecting more than $14 million of in-broadcast exposure value.  Leaderboard, Presented By, Side-By-Side and Brought to You By graphics all led to significant screen time for Capital One.

JeanRichard, the official timepiece and timekeeper of the 2006 American Le Mans Series, has parlayed that role into being the fourth-most exposed sponsor all year in the series.  Utilizing an effective and highly visible gallery of exposure sources, such as clock identity (0:54/$35,180), along with a rich assortment of graphics — such as running order (1:22:16/$3,007,065), Driver Identification (2:15/$121,940) and Battle for 1st  (0:30/$34,650) — have combined to push the sponsor to its elite status among all sponsors of the endurance road racing series. Joyce Julius

Talladega Nights Product Placement Juggernaut Talladega Nights Product Placement JuggernautWith the summer comedy hit Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby nearing the end of its theatric run, and the movie's replica racing suits quickly becoming the hot item for Halloween this year, the unprecedented marketing boost Wonder Bread has received from its association with the film does not appear to be ending anytime soon.

Tabbed by the Talladega Nights producers as the iconic American brand to serve as Ricky Bobby’s (a.k.a. Will Farrell) racing sponsor for the film, Wonder Bread enjoyed  the product placement ride-along without any appearance fees.  That arrangement proved to be quite a coup for Wonder Bread, paying off even prior to the movie’s premier, as Farrell took product placement to a new saturation level when he made national TV appearances, such as on The Tonight Show, clad in an authentic Wonder Bread racing suit.  The buzz generated from the media blitz enabled Talladega Nights to claim the top spot at the box office on its opening weekend in early August, with Wonder Bread shining brilliantly in a co-staring role.

According to Joyce Julius & Associates research, Wonder Bread had realized nearly $16 million in exposure value (as of October 1), stemming from print articles, television news features and the product placements within the film.  When also factoring in exposure value from advertising promoting the movie and Talladega Nights-related merchandise (die casts, hats, jackets… basically all the offerings of a real NASCAR team), the profile of the Wonder Bread brand has certainly been elevated to new heights. zzzz

Also adding to this product placement fairy tale is the fact that Wonder’s parent company, Interstate Bakeries Corp., has been in Chapter 11 protection since 2004.  Yes, even the back-story here seems to have a Hollywood feel about it.

The Talladega Nights DVD is slated for release on December 12, just in time for the holidays and a whole new wave of Wonder Bread exposure.  Typically, the theatric run accounts for about 25% of a film’s total revenue, with DVD sales and rentals, along with pay-per-view, premium cable and eventual mainstream television broadcasts dwarfing (from a business perspective) what happens on the big screen.  Ricky Bobby’s audience is about to increase tenfold, and Wonder Bread's exposure could soon climb beyond $60 million before the sequel is even written.

The following table details the locations Wonder Bread was monitored during Talladega Nights, and the ensuing value accumulated through October 1, 2006.

Wonder Bread's Talladega Nights Product Placements
Logo Location On-Screen Time Exposure Value
Bobby's Uniform  3:00  $3,570,000
Crew Member Uniforms  1:47  2,122,165
Bobby's Helmet  1:29  1,765,165
Hood Identity  1:05  1,289,165
Bobby's Hat  1:05  1,289,165
Bread Loaf  0:36  714,000
Shirts  0:36  714,000
Rear Quarter Panel Identity  0:24  476,000
Sign in a Bar  0:22  436,335
Bobby's Jacket  0:21  416,500
Mentions (2)  N/A  396,665
TV Panel Identity  0:17  337,170
Cast on Bobby’s Arm  0:15  297,500
Transporter  0:15  297,500
Wonder Bread Total:  (2 Ment.)  11:32  $14,121,330

Tuesday in Surfers Tuesday in SurfersUPDATE Below are some photos of the cars and tires sitting on pitlane in Surfers yet to be unpacked.  The teams are not allowed access to the cars until 9:00 AM Wednesday morning.  The Bridgestone tire personnel were, however, hard at work unpacking the tires and getting them ready for the teams on Wednesday morning.


10/16/06 All the Champ Car teams and media have arrived safely in Surfers Paradise Australia after a 13+ hour flight from Los Angeles to Brisbane.  The weather Tuesday morning is delightful with some cloud cover and a few showers in the area.  The forecast for the rest of the week is fair weather and pleasant temperatures.  Some showers are possible during the weekend.  The cars and equipment arrived a few days ago and teams now begin the process of unpacking everything and getting the cars race ready.  We will have further reports live from Surfers throughout the week. Mark C.
Cosworth plans unique RPM record in Brazil Cosworth plans unique RPM record in BrazilCosworth is hoping to establish a unique record by running Mark Webber’s engine at over 20,000rpm for the duration of the Brazilian GP, we can reveal.

Webber is one of several drivers who have access to a fresh one-race engine for the last round of the World Championship, and Cosworth intends to take advantage of the opportunity for a final fling before mothballing its V8, which no longer has a customer.

Since the FIA has set a limit of 19,000rpm for 2007 and beyond, the achievement will never be matched.

“We’ve been running 20,000rpm in qualifying from Bahrain at the start of the season,” Cosworth’s Simon Corbyn told SpeedTV.com. “Obviously, as we’ve developed the engine during the season the duty cycle of the engine has been increased, and we’re now in a position where we run quite a bit of the race at 20,000rpm. More at SpeedTV

Andreas Wirth honors Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin Andreas Wirth honors Crocodile Hunter Steve IrwinWAGHÄUSEL, Germany -- Following up on the recent thrilling announcement that he has been selected to compete in Champ Car this year at Surfers Paradise, Andreas Wirth is pleased to promote his initiative to honor Australia. The Land Down Under will always hold a special place in his heart as the host to his rookie debut in Champ Car – the race that he hopes will launch his career.

"I wanted to do something special in Australia ," explained Wirth. "I've been trying to decide on a charity to support, but until now nothing really popped out at me. However, this great opportunity I've been given to race in Surfers Paradise set the light off in my head. What better way to honor the country where I'll compete in my first Champ Car race, than to commemorate the life of a man who in so many minds 'is' Australia."

As a tribute to the world's original Wildlife Warrior, Andreas Wirth with carry the logo of Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors Worldwide on the livery of the #19 Dale Coyne Racing Entry in Surfers Paradise, Australia. Andreas encourages race fans from around the world to "live a little on the wild side" and help make it possible for Steve's legacy to live on through the continuation of his life's work by means of your generous contributions to this exceptional cause.

Steve Irwin – The Crocodile Hunter, and his wife Terri established Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors Worldwide organization (formerly Steve Irwin Conservation Foundation) as a way to enlist the support of caring people around the world for the protection of injured, threatened or endangered wildlife. With the recent tragic passing of this dynamic personality, many hearts have been touched and fans from around the globe have been moved to show their love and support by donating funds for the furtherance of Steve's vision for wildlife conservation. zzzz

Commenting on this exciting promotion, Executive Director of Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors Worldwide, Michael Hornby, said, "We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from around the world to support Wildlife Warriors and continue the legacy for Steve. We are delighted that Andreas has also come on board to help carry the message of conservation and keep Steve's dream alive. Whatever the result in his debut race, Andreas will be a winner for wildlife."

In conclusion Andreas stated, "In my own small way I hope to honour this national hero and contribute to wildlife conservation and I hope that race fans will join me in respecting his memory in this way."

Wildlife Warriors wristbands will be available for purchase on race day for a small donation of $3 – with all proceeds benefiting Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors Worldwide – look for the volunteers on the grounds of the Lexmark Indy 300.

To further show your support, visit www.wildlifewarriors.org.au and become a Wildlife Warrior today!

About Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors Worldwide

Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors Worldwide Ltd. was inspired by Steve and Terri Irwin to deliver effective on-the-ground wildlife and habitat conservation and most importantly, to engage humanity in the process. Our mission is to be the most effective wildlife conservation organization in the world through the delivery of outstanding outcome-based programs and projects, and inclusive of humanity. Wildlife Warriors wants more and more people to join a global wildlife force, and make it easy to make a meaningful contribution to the health of our environment and the well-being of wildlife.

It's up to all of us now to carry the torch to ensure that Steve's dream lives on.

Wildlife Warriors Programs include The Australian Wildlife Hospital, Tiger Conservation, Elephant Conservation, Crocodile Research and Rescue, Sea Turtle programs, Education and Awareness Programs and Research.

For more information visit: www.wildlifewarriors.org.au
Who Won

Jay O'Connell joins Rahal Letterman Jay O'Connell joins Rahal LettermanRahal Letterman Racing (RLR) announced today that Jay O’Connell has joined the team as Technical Director.  O’Connell will oversee all aspects of RLR’s engineering department and programs.

O’Connell brings a wealth of engineering experience in and out of motorsports to RLR.  He has worked on multiple projects with the Ford Motor Company, most recently as a SVT Chief Vehicle Engineer where he oversaw 25 engineers working on the 2007 Shelby GT500 and the 2006 Ford GT. 

“Jay is someone I have known and respected for a longtime,” said Bobby Rahal.  “His track record of success is well documented and I felt a chance to bring someone of his experience and stature into our team was an opportunity to significantly strengthen our operation.  I think the addition of Jay to our engineering staff will prove to be one of our most beneficial moves of the off season.”

“I am really excited to work with Bobby again and leverage my background in open wheel and sports car racing.  I am looking forward to leading the talented group of engineers at Rahal Letterman Racing to become an even more engineering driven organization.”

“The level of competition in the IndyCar Series has been raised to a high level,” said Scott Roembke, Chief Operating Office of Rahal Letterman Racing.  “Our foremost priority in this off season is to increase our competitiveness.  The addition of Jay to our current engineering staff is a big step towards meeting our goals.”

A 1988 graduate of Cornell University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, O’Connell has previously worked with Jaguar Racing Formula 1 in 2001–2002 as Research and Development Department Manager and he was the Ford Racing CART Program Manager from 1998-2001.  He has significant sports car experience most recently having redesigned the Panoz LMGT2 chassis, which won the 12 Hours of Sebring. O’Connell has also worked with Multimatic, Inc. as a Vehicle Engineering Manager for two years and spent four years as the Ford Racing Vehicle Development Manager. 

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Spyker plan 'shootout' for second seat
Ferrari crack 20,000 rpm for Schu farewell
Schu to keep F1 racer after Brazil
Kimi plans retirement after Ferrari
Schu exit won't hurt F1 - brother
Schu to fight 'clean' in Brazil - Gene

Hamilton backs GP-debut delay
Prodrive baulk at customer car row
'New' GPDA scores win for test safety
Heidfeld fit for Sao Paulo finale
'No reason' for Schu to quit - Rubens
Schu brothers split - Lauda
F1 hosts scolded for ignoring tobacco ban
Showers forecast for Sao Paulo finale
Renault confirm new title sponsor
Racing News
Quotes of the Past Week Quotes of the Past Week
BERNIE ECCLESTONE, President and CEO of Formula One Management and Formula One Association
Bernie has played down the disappearance of big names in 2006. He said Juan Pablo Montoya is a bigger loss to Formula One than the similarly departed Jacques Villeneuve.  The biggest loss, of course, is seven time world champion Michael Schumacher.  Ecclestone, though, reckons the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994 was a bigger blow to his sport.  "(Senna) had more supporters than Michael, and more charisma," Bernie said.  "Of course, it is painful that they have gone, but not a tragedy."  Ecclestone said a new generation is already lining up to become Formula One's stars of the future. He named Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Robert Kubica and Nico Rosberg.  He continued: "And others will arrive as well.  Elvis died but music went on. When I am gone, things will be the same as they were before."

JEAN TODT, Team Principal, Ferrari F1 team
"Mathematically, it's (the World Championship) still possible but, logically, we know it will be very difficult.  But that's racing. We know that to win races, to win championships, we need performance, good tires, good team, reliability, good drivers and, [at Suzuka], we did not have good reliability and we paid the highest price.  It's our mistake and we have to accept it. The others did not make a mistake and they are in front, so there is logic.  We [have been] in this business for many years so, when you have success, you must be happy, and, when you don't, you must turn the page. Sometimes, you must remember the unbelievable period we have had - success, friendship, a unique relationship.  We are lucky to be able to exercise our passion, knowing that some more difficult things happen in the world. We must give a weight to each single thing."  (Ferrari team boss Jean Todt says the team had no warning that Michael Schumacher's Ferrari was going to blow an engine while leading at Suzuka, Japan.  The rare engine failure - the German's first in a race for six years - turned the championship on its head, and handed Alonso a near-impenetrable ten-point advantage with one race to run.)

BILL ELLIOTT, former NASCAR Champion
In Bill Elliott's new autobiography, he accuses NASCAR of not getting serious about long-standing safety concerns until after Dale Earnhardt's fatal crash in the 2001 Daytona 500.  He said, "That's disrespectful to the memory of drivers such as Adam Petty, Tony Roper and Kenny Irwin, who died in on-track accidents in the months before Earnhardt.  No one rang any alarm bells when any of these guys died.  No one called for investigations or softer walls or Hans Devices when these drivers died.  But when Dale Earnhardt died, NASCAR went full bore, head over heels on safety.  We ought not only address incidents that kill stars.  Shame on NASCAR for letting a handful of good men die before finally addressing the problem after Dale died."

He also said that NASCAR should have a regular medical trauma unit, with trained specialists, that travels the entire circuit.  "Fans would be shocked to know how poor basic first aid is at may NASCAR tracks.  This is a true story: I had a guy after a wreck one time, a paramedic, who was riding with me in the ambulance.  On the way to the hospital he actually asked me to autograph my oxygen mask for him."

Elliott also calls on NASCAR to make the interior of the race cars larger, saying it is difficult to get out of one in an emergency.  (Comments made about NASCAR's safety policy in Bill Elliott's new autobiography, "Awesome Bill from Dawsonville: My Life in NASCAR")

Industry News
GM posts record sales in China GM posts record sales in ChinaGeneral Motors Corp.’s sales volume in China rose 37% to a record in the first nine months from a year earlier as the company added more models in the country, Bloomberg News reported. GM and its Chinese ventures sold 645,680 units from January to September, the company said in an e-mailed statement. Detroit Free Press
McLaren Mercedes announces 2007 launch date McLaren Mercedes announces 2007 launch dateThere is still one race to go in the 2006 F1 season and the McLaren Mercedes Team already announces the launch of their new car. The Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula One Team's presentation will take place in Valencia, Spain from Sunday 14th January 2007 to Tuesday 16th January 2007. F1 Technical 
Raikkonen says Ferrari will probably be his last team Raikkonen says Ferrari will probably be his last teamKimi Raikkonen, who on Tuesday will turn twenty seven, switches at the end of the season from McLaren to his new three-year contract with the Maranello based Ferrari team. But although he is to race in the retiring seven time world champion's place, Raikkonen told Auto Motor Und Sport: "I do not think I will drive (in F1) as long as (Michael) Schumacher did." He added: "Ferrari will probably be my last team." F1 Editorial
Industry News
JCB group drops pursuit of Jaguar JCB group drops pursuit of JaguarLONDON -- The head of JCB, the British-based construction machinery group, has abandoned his pursuit of Ford Motor Co.'s Jaguar division, the company said Monday.

Sir Anthony Bamford, chairman of the privately owned company, had signaled his interest in August. "Sir Anthony had always expressed an interest in Jaguar alone and it appears that it is not for sale," said JCB spokesman Daniel Ward, confirming a report in Monday's Financial Times. The newspaper quoted Bamford as saying that Ford was only interested in selling Jaguar together with the profitable Land Rover operation. "I am not interested in buying the two together and am therefore not getting involved," the newspaper quoted him as saying.

Ford put Aston Martin, the luxury sports car maker, up for sale in August. Last week, Ford also put Automobile Protection Corp., an extended warranty service, on the block.

Ford lost $1.4 billion in the first half of the year and is undergoing a major restructuring. The Detroit News

Hamilton relieved not to race in Brazilian GP Hamilton relieved not to race in Brazilian GPEven though he completed a further two days of testing for the McLaren team last week, Lewis Hamilton is a little bit relieved that he was not asked by team boss Ron Dennis, to make his debut in the pinnacle of Motorsports this coming weekend as teams contest the season finale at the Interlagos circuit in Brazil, a very unique track and one completely unknown to the young Brit.

“I do feel I am ready, but Formula One is the pinnacle of Motorsport, not something you just jump in and do. I've had a fantastic season, but I could have gone there (Brazil) and experienced a disaster. It could have rained, and I've never been out in the wet in a Formula One car." Finishing second to Michael at the Jerez circuit on the final day of the test last week, Lewis was left in awe of the seven time world champion, but he knows that the minimal amount of time he has had behind the wheel of the MP4-21, four test days in all, is nowhere near enough experience when it comes to lining up on the grid with some of the greatest names in the sport.

"It was a surreal feeling looking at the back end of Michael Schumacher," he said of his Jerez experience in the Daily Mail. "This was the first time I've ever been on a track with Michael. It was a moment to take in, to really appreciate. He's a remarkable man, one of my heroes, and having him on the same track was quite a strange feeling. But to be honest, a total of four days in the car is not ideal preparation to compete against Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher or Kimi Raikkonen.” GP2006

Heidfeld fit for Brazilian Grand Prix Heidfeld fit for Brazilian Grand PrixNick Heidfeld will be well enough to complete the 2006 season for BMW-Sauber at Brazil despite falling ill at the Jerez test last week.
The German did just a single installation lap at the Spanish circuit on Friday after he felt ill upon arrival on Thursday evening.
But although Heidfeld is understood to have recovered over the weekend and is scheduled to fly to Sao Paulo on Tuesday, it is worth mentioning that the 29-year-old had to sit out the Brazilian Grand Prix one year ago after his bicycling accident. He was quoted as saying on Friday:  "I hope to round off the season with a successful race." Motorsport-Network
New GPDA scores win for test safety New GPDA scores win for test safetyF1's 'new' Grand Prix Drivers' Association, headed now by three new directors, has scored its first victory for safety. Ralf Schumacher, having replaced David Coulthard as chairman, recently slammed the Spanish test circuit at Jerez for lagging behind formula one standards. The Toyota driver said at tests there were too few marshals, inadequate fire vehicles, and insufficient medical facilities. "These are things that are easy and fairly inexpensive to fix," Ralf said.

At the recent Japanese Grand Prix, it is understood that the GPDA - with Schumacher joined on the board of directors by Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber - earned the support of the teams in helping to implement the changes necessary to bring some test circuits up to scratch. Motorsport-Network 

Showers forecast for Brazilian Grand Prix Showers forecast for Brazilian Grand PrixAn unpredictable weekend of weather is forecast for the 2006 championship finale this weekend on the outskirts of sprawling Brazilian city Sao Paulo. Scattered showers and rain is expected to fall throughout the week until Friday, when opening practice will kick off at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, located in the neighborhood of Interlagos. The chance of intermittent rain is to remain on Friday and then increase for the afternoon of qualifying.  Sunday, however, is shaping up as the best weather of the weekend, with temperatures in the low twenties and cloudy skies. The probability for race day rain is thirty per cent. Motorsport-Network
Schumacher to receive Ferrari as departing gift Schumacher to receive Ferrari as departing giftMichael Schumacher can keep the Brazil-spec single-seater - the '248 F1' - that he will race for the last time in his sixteen year career at Interlagos this Sunday, according to Luca di Montezemolo. "I cannot think of a better parting gift for him," the Ferrari president is quoted as saying by AZ.

Schumacher, 37, can also expect a fitting send-off by staff at the 'Montana' restaurant, which is located next to Ferrari's Fiorano test circuit. 'Express' reports that restaurant staff intend to collect money to commission a bronze statue of the multiple world champion. Home of Sport F1

Ferrari latest engine to surpass 20,000 RPM Ferrari latest engine to surpass 20,000 RPMFerrari, with Michael Schumacher at the wheel, cracked the elusive 20,000 rpm barrier with its Brazil-only engine specification whilst testing at Jerez last week.

Cosworth and Honda are believed to have also surpassed the impressive figure at one time or another, but - in pursuit of the constructors' championship and a final grand prix win for the retiring German racer - the red team reportedly intend to regularly run the V8 past 20,000 revs in Sao Paulo this weekend.

"Because their engine must only last for one race, I can imagine that 20,000 is a realistic figure," Toyota's former engine boss, Norbert Kreyer, said.

Spain's 'Marca' newspaper, meanwhile, applauded Schumacher after he dominated proceedings last week at his last ever pre-grand prix test at Jerez.

"It is a good job for Alonso that the championship is basically decided," the newspaper wrote, "because if it was not, every alarm bell at Renault would now be ringing."

'Kicker', however, thinks Schumacher's Brazilian task for an eighth and final world title is distinctly unlikely, as the magazine referred to it as 'Mission Impossible 8'. Feed Me F1

Extra security recommended for Vickers Extra security recommended for VickersCONCORD, N.C. - I've said all along that NASCAR had every right to establish a playoff system. But as of this, the third autumn of the Chase, NASCAR has yet to establish a legitimate playoff system.

There's still too much of a traveling-carnival streak in NASCAR and its associated promoters for the Chase to be equated with the playoffs of other sports. Take last week and this week.

Carny barking had it that Brian Vickers, the accidental culprit of last weekend's Talladega debacle, would be given "extra security" here at Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte, going into last night's Bank of America 500.

The rationale was that "Monday, the speedway ticket office was inundated with calls from race fans angry about the finish," at Talladega last Sunday, track publicists said. (In their defense, they were following orders that came all the way from the top of the corporation that owns the track, Speedway Motorsports Inc. Chairman Bruton Smith.)

The glaring coincidence is that Charlotte hasn't sold out its 165,000-seat grandstands for its October race in years and always seems to be pulling something to juice up ticket sales.

So was this just another publicity stunt? "No, of course not," Vickers said with deadpan irony here Thursday. "We passed on that," he said of bodyguards. "I feel like if they were really concerned, they would have called me personally. I haven't gotten a call, and neither did Hendrick Motorsports (his team). When I told Jimmie Johnson, the primary victim of the Talladega debacle, of the security offer for his teammate, he immediately blurted, "Crazy."

"Our fans stick to their driver; they support their guy," Johnson said. "But I find it hard to believe that in that situation, extra security is really needed." zzzz

But the Charlotte track was just doing what it has always done best: seizing any opening NASCAR gives it to seek attention.

The opportunity blew right into Charlotte's wheelhouse from northern Alabama, home of the world's largest roulette wheel, Talladega Superspeedway.

That's where NASCAR shot the Chase in the foot for the third consecutive year by insisting on including a crapshoot restrictor-plate race in the playoff schedule. Dale Earnhardt Jr. led going into the final lap last Sunday. Johnson got a run on him down the backstretch, aided by bump-drafting from Vickers.

Whether Earnhardt or Johnson won, it surely appeared that both would make up lots of points and return to the fore of the Chase. And both had earned it, working carefully through the craziness of plate racing to get themselves up front at the finish.

But Vickers, who isn't in the Chase, made a mistake. He bump-drafted at the wrong instance, turning Johnson's car right into the side of Earnhardt's. Both the Chasers wrecked and dropped dismally behind in the standings. Vickers wound up winning.

Earlier, Jeff Gordon, who'd led early, had been wrecked out in a 13-car pileup that qualified under the drivers' term for the inevitable at Talladega, "the Big One." Earnhardt and Gordon are NASCAR's two biggest household names, and Johnson is the fastest-rising name. Now all three are all but done in the Chase. If they'd been beaten fair and square and/or performed poorly, their plummets in the Chase would have been legit -- like the New York Yankees' tumble out of the 2006 baseball playoffs. But all three were taken out by sheer luck, sheer travesty -- the nonsensical bounce of the 3,200-pound roulette balls at Talladega.

I've long wondered whether fans would love plate racing so much if they really understood how artificially close and dangerous it is. It was created to keep NASCAR's biggest tracks, Daytona and Talladega, from becoming white elephants too fast for crowd safety. The bonus turned out to be the appearance of tight racing, when in fact the drivers don't have enough power to escape one another. If the two all-time masters of plate racing, Bill Elliott and Dale Earnhardt, protested vehemently and often that it isn't real racing, that should be enough said to anyone.

This latest mess topped off a weekend of midstream rule-changing, another smudge on the face of Chase credibility.

After speeds exceeded 198 mph in last Friday's practice at newly repaved Talladega, NASCAR at first took no action.

Then, on Saturday, it abruptly mandated smaller restrictor plates -- and then allowed no practice before the race started.

The importance of safety granted, NASCAR should have seen the obvious coming. Any time a track is resurfaced, speeds are going to escalate. Gordon, for one, thought NASCAR should have prepared well in advance of race weekend.

Somebody likened the plate switch to changing the structure of the ball in the middle of the baseball playoffs. NASCAR's chief spokesman, Jim Hunter, was asked what the public must think. "I think maybe a casual fan wouldn't understand this," he said, "but I think a hard-core fan understands it." The casual fan and the newly curious are precisely the demographics NASCAR's marketing moguls are after. The Chase was conceived largely to wrest new audiences away from the baseball playoffs and football in the fall.

All of NASCAR's boom of the past decade, and all its marketing hopes for the future, hang on attracting new, more sophisticated, more mainstream audiences.

Yet in a pinch, NASCAR falls back on hard-core fans to understand that sudden rule changes -- without warning, not just in mid-season but in mid-playoffs and indeed mid-race weekend -- are par for NASCAR's history.

Smith, with his "extra security" edict for Vickers, took a backward nod toward NASCAR's old and terrible reputation for a rough -- and sometimes even dangerous -- following.

Neither implication does much to impress a mainstream public still uncertain whether NASCAR is completely clear of the boondocks yet. Lexington Herald-Leader

Stoner to Ducati, Checa to Honda? Stoner to Ducati, Checa to Honda?Casey Stoner will leave Honda and ride alongside Loris Capirossi at the factory Ducati Marlboro Team for the 2007 season, according to a report in his native Australia.

The Australian reveals that the 21-year-old will sign a multi-year deal with Ducati, replacing Sete Gibernau - the rider Stoner ironically injured when he crashed out of Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril.

Stoner has been prompted to leave Honda after the re-signing of factory Repsol riders Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa, plus the rumoured decision to hand Marco Melandri a third factory machine in 2007.

"Those deals with Marco, (Dani) and Nicky have already made me a minimum of fourth in line at Honda," said Stoner.
No rider has ever won a world championship on a satellite bike and that is what is appealing about a factory team like Ducati," he added. "Every year Ducati are winning more races, they are becoming more competitive, as are the Bridgestone tyres."

Stoner has taken one pole position and one podium in his debut MotoGP season, but six non-scores have left him just seventh in the championship standings. zzzz

Meanwhile, the Honda LCR team - which graduated with Stoner to the MotoGP class this season - has moved quickly to sign a replacement, tempting veteran Carlos Checa from the Tech 3 Yamaha team, where he has turned heads with impressive performances on Dunlop tyres this year.

"Yes, I have reached an agreement with Carlos Checa but I would also like to wish Casey all the best with his future career," confirmed LCR team principal Lucio Cecchinello.

Checa was due to ride a Honda, alongside Stoner, at the Pons team this season - but the departure of title sponsor Camel to Yamaha forced the team to withdraw from the championship.

In another development, Colin Edwards now looks certain to stay with the factory Yamaha team, alongside Valentino Rossi, in 2007 - the first season of 800cc racing. Crash Net

ING replaces Mild Seven at Renault ING replaces Mild Seven at RenaultRenault has confirmed Dutch banking giant ING as its new title sponsor for the next three years, replacing the Mild Seven cigarette brand.

The outfit, to be known as the ING Renault Formula 1 Team, will sport Japan Tobacco's colours for the last time in this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix after 13 years of support through the team's time as Benetton and then as the Renault factory squad.

"We are proud to introduce ING to the world of Formula 1, and the unique opportunities it offers for global growth," said team principal Flavio Briatore of the deal with ING, which has more than 60 million customers and employs around 115,000 people.

"ING is a brand that fits perfectly with the Renault F1 Team's image.

"Both companies are dynamic organisations seeking to enhance their global brand awareness through innovative forward-thinking and exceptional performance. More at itv-f1.com 

Home ground advantage to propel Team Australia Home ground advantage to propel Team Australia
Montoya crashes early in Iowa, recovers to finish 24th Montoya crashes early in Iowa, recovers to finish 24thNEWTON, Iowa (AP) -- Juan Pablo Montoya is having the time of his life racing stock cars - even though a rookie mistake cost him any chance for a win Sunday.

The former Formula One driver misinterpreted his spotter's instructions 18 laps into an ARCA race at Iowa Speedway, causing a wreck that put the Colombian in the pits for 40 laps and ruined his shot at a decent finish.

Montoya, who will take over the No. 42 Dodge for Chip Ganassi Racing next season in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series, completed 208 of 250 laps and wound up 24th, last among cars that finished the race. Montoya was third in an ARCA race at Talladega Speedway in his stock car debut on Oct. 6.

"Yes, we want to win. But we're here to learn. The main goal is to prepare ourselves for next year," Montoya said. zzzz

Montoya recovered after the crash, moving up 16 spots. And despite a disappointing finish, he sported a huge grin following the race, telling his team simply that "it was fun."

Part of the reason Montoya decided to make the jump from F1 to NASCAR was his disillusionment with the open-wheel series. He said Sunday that driving a stock car has already been more fun than he imagined.

"You're passing cars, you're racing guys, you're banging wheels. It's all part of the racing," Montoya said.

Montoya was leading heading into a turn with Steve Wallace a close second. Montoya's spotter yelled "outside" into his headset, indicating that Wallace was on the verge of making a move to the outside. Montoya thought his spotter meant that Wallace was simply eyeing a possible move and didn't realize Wallace was directly behind him.

Montoya then pulled to the outside as Wallace, the son of former NASCAR star Rusty Wallace, accelerated. Wallace nudged Montoya into the wall, causing heavy damage to the right front corner of Montoya's car.

"I thought he wasn't there, to be honest with you. I just went up the race track normally and we just touched," Montoya said.

The crash didn't hurt Wallace, who went on to win the race. But it did make the 19-year-old driver worry that he had taken out the day's star attraction. Associate Press

Gibernau breaks hand, damages collarbone Gibernau breaks hand, damages collarboneSete Gibernau sustained a broken bone in his right hand, and further damage to his recently re-plated collarbone, after being the innocent victim of Casey Stoner's early exit from Sunday's Portuguese Grand Prix.

The Ducati Marlboro rider had graduated one position to seventh after Shinya Nakano's first lap fall, but less than a minute later he too was bouncing down the asphalt after fifth placed Stoner lost control of his Honda just in front of him.

"I don't know if I lost the rear in the middle of the corner," said Stoner. "It seemed to slip a bit and as it came back it flicked out on me. All I remember is another bike hitting me pretty hard. I think Sete's bike smashed into the lower part of my right leg, but nothing's broken."

With nowhere to go, Gibernau had been forced up and over Stoner's sideways RCV before falling heavily on the other side. The Spaniard was immediately taken to the Clinica Mobile for treatment. zzzz

"I passed a few guys on the first lap, then Stoner crashed just in front of me and I couldn't miss his bike," confirmed Sete. "The fifth metacarpal in my right hand is broken and it seems I may have bent one of the plates that's screwed to the collarbone. But I'm lucky it's not more serious, it could have been worse. Anyway, we need to think positive and keep working. This has been an unlucky day but I am sure things will come right for us eventually."

Meanwhile, team-mate Loris Capirossi kept his factor Ducati on two-wheels for the full race distance - but an uncompetitive weekend ended with a twelfth placed finish, signalling the end of his slim title hopes.

"It's been a difficult weekend. We never found a good solution for our tyres here, they just didn't work on the new tarmac. Bridgestone brought some different tyres overnight which we tried in warm-up and although we had some problems we decided to use this tyre for the race. But I started losing grip after a few laps, I had to fight to make the finish," said Loris. "This season we have had some great moments with Bridgestone but this is the worst, so we have to think carefully about how to avoid these situations in the future. If we want to win, we need to go fast at every track."

"A terrible day for us," admitted Ducati MotoGP project manager Livio Suppo. "It was dreadful luck for Sete and for Loris also, because he doesn't deserve to finish 12th. We must keep looking forward and work as hard as ever. When things go our way we can be unbeatable, but we must avoid having bad days like today, that is our main goal at the moment." CrashNet.com 

Ford teams 1-2 in Turkey Ford teams 1-2 in TurkeyBP-Ford World Rally Team claimed a magnificent 1-2 finish on the Rally of Turkey today to move into the lead of the FIA World Rally Championship. Marcus Grönholm and Timo Rautiainen led from start to finish in their Ford Focus RS World Rally Car to secure their fifth victory of the season in treacherously slippery conditions. The Finns won by 2min 23.4sec from team-mates Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen, who equaled their career-best result in another Focus RS.

It was Ford's first 1-2 finish since the Rally Mexico in 2004 and the result propelled the team into an eight point lead in the manufacturers' championship with just three rounds of the 16 event series remaining. In the drivers' standings, 38-year-old Grönholm narrowed the gap to injured championship leader Sébastien Loeb to 25 points while Hirvonen climbed to third in the table.

This 13th round of the series delivered some of the most perilous conditions seen in the WRC for a long time. Torrential rain turned the gravel tracks in the Toros mountains, above the south coast holiday resort of Kemer, into swamps. More than half of the opening day's action was cancelled, slashing the competitive distance to 268.78km. Drivers yesterday compared the flooded roads to a skating rink. In contrast, today's final leg was played out in glorious sunshine and drying roads. zzzz

Grönholm started the morning with a 2min 05.2sec lead over Hirvonen. Both Finnish pairings took no risks on the final three speed tests, covering 50.96km, and returned to the Kemer finish without any challenge from behind. Neither driver experienced any problems with their Focus RS cars throughout the three-day event, and both were delighted with the performance of BFGoodrich's tyres in the hazardous conditions.

"To win with no problems in such tricky conditions is a fantastic achievement from the whole team," said Grönholm, who won five speed tests and for whom this was his 23rd WRC victory. "Yesterday was one of the worst days I have seen in the WRC. It was a difficult rally with so much mud and I felt far more relaxed when I no longer had to push after Petter Solberg retired yesterday. It was incredibly hard to attack on roads that were so slippery it was difficult to stand up.

"Now we have to try to extend our lead in the manufacturers' series. That is my priority. This victory has allowed me to close the gap on Sébastien Loeb in the drivers' championship but I'm not really thinking about that title now," he added.

"This has been a really strong weekend from the team and a very important result," said 26-year-old Hirvonen, who won two stages. "We made no mistakes which is excellent in these tough conditions. They constantly changed and we even saw hail yesterday. I was confident before the start because I knew changes to the set-up of my car would benefit me and I would be quicker. It is fantastic to have a 1-2 finish for Ford and Finland. We had such a good car and it was a good team effort. There are three more rallies and I hope for three more podiums."

BP-Ford team director Malcolm Wilson: "This is a dream result, especially on an event with difficult conditions in which it was so easy to make mistakes. Full credit goes to both drivers. Marcus imposed himself on the rally from the start and Mikko was fabulously strong, showing how much he is improving. He is doing a remarkable job and has an extremely mature head on young shoulders. It was a great performance by the whole team. We wish Sébastien a speedy recovery and hope he is back in action as soon as possible."

Jost Capito, director of Ford TeamRS, added: "This has been the best performance we have seen from the new Focus RS World Rally Car in its first season of competition. What is equally impressive is that this result was achieved in appalling weather and road conditions but neither car had any troubles. We now lead the manufacturers' standings and preserving that advantage is our target for the rest of the season."

Wallace Holds Off Kinser For Big Iowa Win Wallace Holds Off Kinser For Big Iowa WinNEWTON IA -- Steve Wallace recovered from an early race close call and withstood late race pressure from Kraig Kinser to win the inaugural Prairie Meadows 250 ARCA RE/MAX Series race at Iowa Speedway Sunday afternoon.

“They went from five to go. to four to go and (Kinser) kept getting closer and closer,” Wallace said of the closing laps. “I was expecting to get the old bump and run but he didn’t do that. Overall it was a pretty good day for us.”

In all, the 19-year-old driver led 177 of 250 laps in his No. 61 Hantz Group-TransAmerica Idex Mutual Funds Dodge en route to his third victory of 2006 and fourth overall. Bloomington, Indiana’s Kinser, making his first ARCA RE/MAX Series appearance since 2005, crossed the checkers .208 seconds behind to settle for second. 

“The track felt great,” said Kinser. “I thought the race speed would slow down but I was running laps faster than my qualifying time. Steven was good all day so I knew he would be tough to beat.” zzzz 

Wallace, whose father Rusty designed the newly designed 7/8-mile speedway, escaped a very close call during the opening laps of the race when he was battling for position with Juan Pablo Montoya. Wallace took the high line and made contact with Montoya, who glided up the track from the low groove in the No. 4 Texaco-Havoline Dodge, causing the two to make contact. Montoya went for a spin but was able to return to the track to post a 24th place finish, 42 laps down.  

"I had a run on the outside of him,” said Wallace. “You know the rule is if your fenders are past the quarter panels it’s your line. But I would say it was probably 50/50…Half his fault, half mine.”

The race was slowed by nine cautions for 69 laps and took two hours, 24 minutes and 25 seconds to complete. Six drivers exchanged the lead nine times, including Wallace, Montoya, Ryan Foster, Mario Gosselin, Kinser and Brian Keselowski.

Rocklin, California’s Justin Marks finished a career best third in the No. 65 Construct Corps Dodge. Michael McDowell and Ryan Foster rounded out the top-five.

“Early on I had to set a fast pace because I didn’t want to go a lap down,” said Marks. “The field was going really fast. But then, once we settled into a pace the car came to us. This is the first season I’ve ever oval raced. I’m a road course racer and this was only my 10th race in a stock car. Every one at Construct Corps has been so good to work with and I’m glad they took a chance on me. We’re coming back next year to run for a championship.”

Frank Kimmel brought his No. 46 Pork The Other White Meat Ford into the garage area on lap 122 with motor problems, relegating him to a 32nd place finish. On Saturday, the veteran driver clinched the 2006 national points championship, marking his seventh consecutive championship and eighth overall. 

“It wasn’t the day that we wanted,” said Kimmel. “It actually started out pretty good, but we had a little too much tape on the grill, it overheated and kind of upset the motor. Since we had already clinched the championship, we decided to pull in, so that we could save a $60,000 or $70,000 motor. I’m just really happy to be able to clinch another championship.”

Tony Heavrin, crew chief of the No. 47 Frank Kimmel Ford driven by Ryan Foster, earned SK Hand Tool Crew Chief of the Race honors. Bill Kimmel clinched the SK Hand Tool Crew Chief of the Year award, marking the seventh time that he has earned the honor.

In addition to the win, Wallace earned the Pork Pole award on Saturday, allowing him to clinch the ARCA RE/MAX Series Pork Pole Award title for 2006 for earning the most poles for the season. Wallace and rookie Brad Coleman each had three Pork Pole awards leading into the event at Iowa. In all, the series saw 15 different Pork Pole Award winners in 23 races, tying a record set in 1991. 

1 1 Steve Wallace/Mooresville NC 250 Running
2 13 Kraig Kinser/Bloomington IN 250 Running
3 30 Justin Marks/Rocklin CA 250 Running
4 9 Michael McDowell/Phoenix AZ 250 Running
5 4 Ryan Foster/Laurel AR 250 Running
6 10 Bobby Santos/Franklin MA 250 Running
7 19 Dexter Bean/Westby WI 250 Running
8 26 Chase Pistone/Mooresville NC 249 Running
9 31 Billy Venturini/Chicago IL 249 Running
10 11 Brian Keselowski/Rochester Hills MI 249 Running
11 8 Brent Sherman/Barrington IL 248 Running
12 14 Justin South/Hueytown AL 248 Running
13 21 Ryan Howard/Tipp City OH 246 Running
14 29 Bobby Gerhart/Lebanon PA 245 Running
15 20 Phil Bozell/Portage MI 244 Running
16 41 Todd Bowsher/Springfield OH 243 Running
17 27 Brett Rowe/Barboursville WV 240 Running
18 35 Darrell Basham/Henryville IN 238 Running
19 34 Norm Benning/Pittsburgh PA 237 Running
20 37 Brad Smith/Belleville MI 232 Running
21 15 Brett Hudson/Owensboro KY 232 Running
22 36 Doug Keller/St. Joseph MO 228 Running
23 33 Jason Hedlesky/Clinton MI 224 Running
24 3 Juan Montoya/Bogota Colombia 208 Running
25 24 Justin Allgaier/Springfield IL 196 Accident
26 16 Bryan Silas/Stuart FL 177 Accident
27 22 Troy Wangerin/Jordan MN 175 Accident
28 5 Blake Bjorklund/Isanti MN 171 Accident
29 39 Ricky Sanders/Stockbridge GA 164 Running
30 7 Mario Gosselin/Lake Wales FL 142 Oil Leak
31 17 Terry Jones/Amherstburg ON 131 Engine
32 6 Frank Kimmel/Clarksville IN 119 Overhtng
33 32 Travis Sharpe/Martinsville VA 117 Brakes
34 12 Justin Diercks/Davenport IA 116 Accident
35 25 Mark Gibson/Winder GA 95 Handling
36 23 Bryan Reffner/Wisconsin Rapids WI 83 Engine
37 40 James Hylton/Inman SC 79 Running
38 28 Amanda Gogel/Daytona Beach FL 76 Vibration
39 38 Mike Harmon/Birmingport AL 57 Engine
40 18 Phillip McGilton/Marion IL 29 Engine
41 2 Joey Miller/Farmington MN 11 Engine 

Burton to run No. 4 at Martinsville Burton to run No. 4 at MartinsvilleWard Burton will return to the Nextel Cup Series for the Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway, attempting to make his first series start in almost two years. He will be driving the #4 Lucas Oil Chevy for Morgan McClure Racing out of Abingdon, VA. "He's expressed a lot of interest in driving," said Chris Carrier, crew chief for the Morgan-McClure team. "He's a Virginia driver and we're a Virginia team. That makes for a great combination at Martinsville." One of Burton's seven NEXTEL Cup poles came at Martinsville (1997) as did one of his four Busch Series victories (1993). Burton and the team hope to test at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford this week to help prepare for the SUBWAY 500. Ticket prices for the SUBWAY 500 range from $42 to $77. Tickets for the Kroger 200 are $35 in advance and $40 the day of the event. Kroger 200 tickets for children ages 6 to 12 are $5. Martinsville Speedway PR
Formula BMW
Gelles Racing teaming up for Valencia Gelles Racing teaming up for ValenciaFront Royal, Virginia. –  Gelles Racing should be the only American racing team to travel abroad to the Formula BMW World Final in Valencia next month. Team owner Bob Gelles announced today at least five drivers of international caliber will be among the 36 entries in the four-day BMW race fest in Spain. Three regular 2006 Gelles drivers, Adrien Herberts, Maxime Pelletier and Sebastian Saavedra, will head to Europe while American Ryan Phinny and Formula BMW UK front runner Ross Curnow will join them. The fourth BMW World Finals are set to take place from November 23 to 26 at the facility that has become the Formula BMW headquarters. 

“This will be our first time at the World Final, claimed team owner Bob Gelles and we will bring a whole six-car team over there. Three of our 2006 regulars will return to the track where they tested a BMW for the first time. French Canadian Maxime Pelletier and Colombian Sebastian Saavedra will vie to be the Top Rookie in this year’s contest. Adrien Herberts from British Columbia is a 2-year veteran that anticipates a strong weekend.

We will also have Californian Ryan Phinny: he raced with us last year at Laguna Seca in the first rounds of the 2005 season and finished in tenth place in the 2006 standings. I am also very happy to have Ross Curnow from the United Kingdom join us. 18 year-old Curnow has been one of the stars of the BMW UK series for the last three years and has won rounds in every one of them: he was a Junior Scholar and Best Rookie in 2004 and just missed vice-champion this year by a mere 4-points. Ross is looking to compete in America next year and this will be his first experience with a U.S. team.

Completely revised cars
Since the end of the season in September, all six Gelles FB02 armada were completely stripped for a major revision. “We will be sending almost brand new cars to Europe, added Gelles. We didn’t leave any component from a complete overhaul and we know our cars will be in top shape. We will also have our best engineers and staff available and we look forward to put on a good show. We still have ONE seat available since we are entering all six cars and we are waiting for a confirmation for the last one.”

In 2007, Gelles Racing enters the Champ Car Atlantic Championship with a four-car effort and the Formula BMW USA Championship with six cars. Western Union, BMW of Sterling, Pure and Simple, Inc., Hebert & LeBleu sponsors the team. Gelles Racing announced it will campaign in the Champ Car series in 2007 with the next generation Panoz DP-01. For more information, Bob Gelles may be contacted at (703) 926-2474 or by email bob@gellesracing.com. Bob Gelles Racing PR

Johnson and Vickers patch things up Johnson and Vickers patch things upCONCORD, N.C. - Jimmie Johnson said Friday that he and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Brian Vickers have talked and "everything's fine" as they try to put last week's incident at Talladega Superspeedway behind them.

As Johnson tried to pass Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the lead on the final lap of the UAW-Ford 500, Vickers tapped Johnson, sending Johnson and Earnhardt Jr. spinning and Vickers to his first career win. It's racing," Johnson said. "It's like I've said all along. I know it wasn't intentional. We had a great opportunity to make up some points.

"But life goes on. We've got to worry about this weekend. Last weekend is last weekend, and it's all good."

Johnson sits eighth in points, 156 behind leader Jeff Burton with six races remaining heading into the Bank of America 500 Saturday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

"I really just have to go out and do all that I can and score as many points as possible and see how it falls into place," Johnson said. "We're pretty far out, and it's going to be tough to make up the deficit that we have.

"But the way this Chase has started and the way every year the Chase has been that I've been a part of it, it's so unpredictable. Anything can happen. Just when somebody looks like they're safe and secure, something crazy happens and they lose a lot of points. So I'm just going to do all that I can and see what happens." SceneDaily.com

Racing News
Guy Smith a father Guy Smith a fatherWe are happy to report that race driver Guy Smith's wife Alicia gave birth to a little girl this morning at 11am.  

The proud couple have named her Bronte Smith.  She weighed in at 5lbs 15oz and both mother and daughter are both doing really well.

Hayden and Pedrosa react to collision Hayden and Pedrosa react to collisionAlthough MotoGP Team Champions in 2006, the two Repsol Honda riders didn’t help each others’ cause in the fight for individual glory. Nicky Hayden arrived at Estoril in control of the championship, and could even have ended the day as World Champion. Dani Pedrosa still had a small outside chance to take the title depending on his rivals’ results, but when the Spaniard made a daring move on his team-mate on lap four and took both himself and the Kentucky Kid out of the race, one of their hopes of a maiden title was ended and the other was severely hit.

Hayden was in a fit of rage after sliding into the gravel, unable to pick up his bike and attempt to rejoin the race. Pedrosa gave no immediate reaction to events, and the two made little attempt at communication. It had previously been announced that there were no team orders in the Repsol Honda camp, something which perhaps explained Pedrosa’s bold attacks. The Spaniard denied that he was trying to pass his teammate on the corner.

“I don’t know what to say really – it just hurts. I had a really hard tire on for the race, especially for the left-handers, and it came in and I couldn’t believe how comfortable I felt in the first few laps. I was a lot faster than Edwards and I’d just made up my mind that I’d pass him right there on the brakes and I felt I could go and see what Valentino had,” said Hayden in a reflective mood, before turning his attention to the relationship between himself and his teammate.

“I don’t expect Dani to pull over and let me by but I definitely didn’t expect him to do that. We’re professionals and Dani did come to my motorhome and talk to me afterwards and we shook hands. I’ve proved this weekend that I wasn’t going to give up without a fight and even now I believe I’m pretty strong. This was not one of my best tracks and I’ve come here and gone quick – I was fastest in one session, got on the front row and had a good race pace. I need Dani’s help now because anything could happen in Valencia, so I hope his hand’s ok. I told him there’s a way to make it up to me and that’s if we run one-two in Valencia then the championship’s still possible. It’s racing.” zzzz

Pedrosa expressed his regret for the incident, but was insistent that it was not typical of his riding style and that it was an honest mistake.

“What can I say? I made a mistake and I’m really sorry. It’s the first time I’ve hit another rider in my career – it’s never happened before in practice or racing in six years and it’s happened at the worst moment that I could do it. Obviously I’m very unhappy and Nicky is not happy and I just want to apologize because I made a mistake. I said sorry to Nicky and I can understand that he is very upset – I wish I could change it. I didn’t want to pass him at that moment. I braked and my rear wheel came off the ground and then it touched the ground again, I got a little more speed. I couldn’t stop the bike and there was nowhere to go. I have a fracture in my little finger but we have time before Valencia.”

track news
Estoril Circuit renews with Dorna Estoril Circuit renews with DornaOn a weekend where Estoril welcomed the bwin.com Grande Premio de Portugal, the penultimate race of the 2007 World Championship, the Circuit Administration took the opportunity to proudly announce the renovation of their contract with Dorna Sports. The agreement with the Grand Prix rights holders extends their existing deal to hold MotoGP races by another two years, and is the second renewal for the Estoril Circuit.

Present at the event were Tourism Secretary Dr. Bernardo Trinidade, President of the Circuit Administration Council Domingos Piedade, CEO of Dorna Sports Carmelo Ezpeleta, ITP President Dr. Luis Patrão and ITP Vice President Dr. Frederico Costa. Appropriately enough, the handshake for the deal between Messrs. Trinidade, Piedade and Ezpeleta took place on the starting grid of the Portuguese track.

“This contract renovation represents Dorna’s recognition of the magnificent work carried out by the fantastic team here at the Estoril Circuit for MotoGP, including the excellent job undertaken by the government and Dorna itself. It is a great reward for everybody who has tried their utmost to bring this race up to the highest standard in the World Championship. Most importantly, it means that this magnificent race, which this year has welcomed 70,000 spectators, has sealed its place as a key event on the MotoGP calendar," said Mr. Piedade.

Third victory for Bruno Spengler Third victory for Bruno SpenglerCanadian Mercedes-Benz works-driver Bruno Spengler scored his third victory of the season at the first appearance of the DTM at the Bugatti Circuit in the French city of Le Mans, but it was another Mercedes-Benz-driver with the initials “BS”, namely Bernd Schneider, who came out on top of the championship standings. Fifth place was enough for the 42-year old driver to secure his fifth DTM championship title with one race remaining. For Schneider, the success is another great achievement after his earlier DTM titles in 1995, 2000, 2001 and 2003.

“It is unbelievable, after problems on the opening lap and dropping back to last still making it up into fifth. I am overjoyed”, a visibly relieved Schneider commented after the 39 lap race. After his third race win of the season, Bruno Spengler moved up into runner-up position in the championship standings. At Le Mans, in front of 34,000 spectators during the race weekend, Spengler was followed home by two times’ Formula 1 world champion, Mika Häkkinen, who completed the one-two victory for Mercedes-Benz with his best result of the season. Danish driver Tom Kristensen, who is the record holder at Le Mans with seven victories in the legendary 24 Hour race, claimed third position for Audi. zzzz

Schneider had an action-packed race. After problems in qualifying, he started only ninth, his worst qualifying result of the year so far. Then he became involved in turmoil right after the start. As several cars tangled, causing former DTM champion Mattias Ekström and Frank Stippler (both Audi) as well as Mathias Lauda (Mercedes-Benz) to retire, Schneider was also hit and ploughed through the gravel trap. 16th and last car on the track in the subsequent safety car period, his team decided to call him in early for his first mandatory pit stop once racing had resumed. After that, Schneider moved well up the order and eventually came out in fifth place. This allowed him to extend his margin in the championship standings to 13 points, with only ten points at stake during the season final at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg in a fortnight

Spengler, who had started from pole-position for the second time this year, drove an almost faultless race on his way to his third victory of the season, which makes him the driver with the most wins so far this year. “It is like at the Nürburgring. There, I also claimed pole in the final second and then I won the race, I did it likewise over here and for me, it is like a home win”, Spengler commented. As the checkered flag was out after 39 laps at the 4.180 kilometers long circuit, his fellow-Mercedes-Benz-driver Mika Häkkinen was hot on his heels: the Finn came home second, his best DTM result of the season, only 0.398 seconds behind Spengler. Tom Kristensen and Martin Tomczyk claimed third and fourth place for Audi, followed by Bernd Schneider, who scored four points for finishing fifth. British Mercedes-Benz-driver Jamie Green came sixth. Alexandros Margaritis (Mercedes-Benz) and Timo Scheider (Audi) completed the points-scoring positions, both with year-old machinery. Susie Stoddart was best-placed driver with a 2004-spec car. The Scottish lady racer finished 13th.

Bernd Schneider (DTM champion 2006, Vodafone AMG-Mercedes): “Today, I am really, really happy, having won my fifth DTM title. After the start, things were not particularly looking well for me, as I had run through the gravel trap and was last in the field. Thanks to a fantastic car and a perfect strategy, I still managed to make up into fifth place. I will be back to defend my title next year! I still enjoy racing in the DTM very much.”

Bruno Spengler (1st place, DaimlerChrysler Bank AMG-Mercedes): “I am very, very happy with my third victory. Winning at Le Mans is particularly beautiful, after all, racing here in France is something like a home race for me. Congratulations to Bernd, he is a worthy champion. I am now runner-up in the overall standings and will do everything I can to keep that position at Hockenheim.”


Pos. Driver / Entrant Gap
1. Bruno Spengler AMG-Mercedes 1:03:09.292
2. Mika Häkkinen AMG-Mercedes 0.398
3. Tom Kristensen Audi Sport Team Abt 12.770
4. Martin Tomczyk Audi Sport Team 23.709
5. Bernd Schneider Vodafone AMG-Mercedes 24.044
6. Jamie Green Salzgitter AMG-Mercedes 24.510
7. Alexandros Margaritis Easy Rent AMG-Mercedes 28.702
8. Timo Scheider Audi Sport Team Rosberg 29.203
9. Christian Abt Audi Sport Team Phoenix 40.180
10. Heinz-Harald Frentzen Audi Sport Team Abt 42.277
11. Jean Alesi stern AMG-Mercedes 42.649
12. Pierre Kaffer Audi Sport Team Phoenix 50.128
13. Susie Stoddart AutoScout24 AMG-Mercedes 54.876
14. Thed Björk Futurecom TME 59.708
15. Stefan Mücke AMG Mercedes 1 lap
16. Vanina Ickx Audi A4 2 laps
Daniel la Rosa TrekStor AMG-Mercedes 32 laps
Mattias Ekström Audi Sport Team Abt 39 laps
Frank Stippler Audi Sport Team Rosberg 39 laps
Mathias Lauda Junge Gebrauchte AMG-Mercedes 39 laps

Americans 1-2 at LeMans Americans 1-2 at LeMansAmerican driver Richard Antinucci (HBR Motorsport) claimed victory in the 18th round of the season of the Formula 3 Euro Series at Le Mans in France. His fellow-countryman Charlie Kimball (Signature-Plus) and Japanese driver, Kohei Hirate (Manor Motorsport) completed the line-up on the podium. Charlie Kimball congratulates Richard Antinucci with his F3 racewin at Le Mans on sunday  Photo Pieter W. Slinger/PWS Consultancy

At the 4.18 kilometers long Circuit Bugatti, points leader Paul di Resta finished sixth, scoring one point. Thus, with two rounds remaining in the Formula 3 Euro Series, the Scot has a margin of 15 points over Sebastian Vettel (ASM Formule 3). The German, Friday test driver of the BMW Sauber Formula 1 team, was only ninth at Le Mans after driving errors. There is a maximum of 17 points at stake during the final race weekend at Hockenheim in a fortnight.

Richard Antinucci, who already had won the race at Barcelona on Sunday, kept the lead after starting from pole-position. The American already pulled clear of his rivals on the first few meters and eventually won after 18 laps with a margin of 0.642 seconds over Charlie Kimball. For 25-year old Antinucci, it was the second victory in the world’s toughest junior racing series. At the post-press conference after sundays race: Charlie Kimball, Richard Antinucci and Kohei Hirate (from left to right). Photo Pieter W. Slinger/PWS Consultancy zzzz

On the ninth lap, Sebastian Vettel overtook Paul di Resta, his rival in the battle for the title, and thus was already sixth. On lap 15, however, he made two little errors that made him drop out of the points-scoring positions.

After finishing a fantastic second in saturday's race, Jonathan Summerton stared 7th on the grid for sundays race (first eight in reverse order) in his ASL Mücke Motorsport Dallara F305 Mercedes. A great start promoted him to fourth on lap one, a position he held until the finish of the race. The 18-year old from Kissemmee (FL) scored his best result so far this season.  Jonathan Summerton on his way to fourth in Sunday's F3 Euroseries race at Le Mans. Photo Willem Staat/PWS Consultancy

Richard Antinucci (HBR Motorsport): “The entire race wasn’t easy for me. I had the slight advantage of being able to start with fresh tires. Thus, I could pull clear right away. After that, the condition of the tires became massively worse and I was sliding all over the place. Eventually, they recovered a little and I could drive victory home safely. I am happy with my second win in the Formula 3 Euro Series.” The first three drivers of sundays F3 Euroseries race on the podium while the American National anthem is being played.  Photo Pieter W. Slinger/PWS Consultancy

Charlie Kimball (Signature-Plus): “I had a good race, it was great fun. Especially my start was particularly strong. I immediately made up from fifth into second place. During the race, I had a nice battle with Kohei Hirate. Of course, a win would have been even better. Nevertheless, I am particularly happy for my team Signature-Plus. Here in their home race in France, they have been able to celebrate two podium positions this weekend.”

Kohei Hirate (Manor Motorsport): “I was starting fourth and was already second before the first corner. Unfortunately, then I locked up under braking and therefore dropped back to third. In the opening stages, Richard Antinucci and Charlie Kimball pulled away, but then I caught up. I had an excellent car and I almost closed up, but then, unfortunately, the race was over.”

Pos Driver Nat. Gap
1 Richard Antinucci USA
2 Charlie Kimball USA 00.642
3 Kohei Hirate JPN 01.833
4 Jonathan Summerton (R) USA 02.603
5 Guillaume Moreau FRA 04.155
6 Paul di Resta GBR 06.646
7 Kazuki Nakajima JPN 07.671
8 Esteban Guerrieri ARG 08.811
9 Sebastian Vettel GER 10.896
10 Romain Grosjean FRA 12.867
11 Sébastien Buemi SUI 13.302
12 Giedo van der Garde NED 15.808
13 Michael Herck MCO 18.910
14 Kamui Kobayashi (R) JPN 19.696
15 Tim Sandtler (R) GER 21.383
16 Alejandro Nunez ESP 28.766
17 Ronayne O´Mahony IRL 30.936
18 Filip Salaquarda CEZ 36.779
19 Paolo Nocera ITA 40.476
20 Julien Abelli (T) FRA 1:14.339
21 Anthony Janiec (T) FRA 1:31.653
DNF Cemil Cipa (T) TUR 7 laps
DNF Natacha Gachnang SUI 18 laps

The Open Wheel Talent Drain will continue The Open Wheel Talent Drain will continueThese are tough times to be an Open Wheel fan.

There is no light at the end of the Champ Car/Indy Racing League reunification tunnel, and many of the sport’s top stars suddenly seem to be gravitating toward the bright lights and burgeoning bank accounts of NASCAR.

Formula One star Juan Pablo Montoya will drive a Nextel Cup Dodge for Chip Ganassi Racing next season. Champ Car’s A.J. Allmendinger turned heads in his maiden NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series start two weeks ago, and is making no secret of his interest in a possible NASCAR career.

IRL champion Sam Hornish says he wants to compete in some NASCAR races next season, and that stock car racing is something he is going to do. "I want to try it out and see if I'm capable of doing that,” said Hornish this week. “We’ll have to wait and see when the right time is.”

Max Papis has been mouthing similar sentiments for more than a year.

Paul Tracy continues to dabble in stock cars – with limited success – as do Adrian Fernandez and Michel Jourdain, Jr. Even Danica Patrick played the stock-card (with questionable sincerity) in her effort to ply a heftier contract out of Michael Andretti.

It’s not exactly a case of rats jumping off a sinking ship, but it is certainly a trend worth watching. zzzz

It is easy for our friends in the Open Wheel community to attribute this recent exodus to nothing more than cold-blooded greed. In their eyes, Tracy, Jourdain, Hornish and company are little more than mercenaries, trading the purity and tradition of Indianapolis or Long Beach for greener pastures -- the old “green pictures of dead Presidents” -- in NASCAR-land. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

Yes, money is part of it. Tracy recently lamented that Nextel Cup rookie Denny Hamlin purchased his own jet recently; something PT has been unable to do in more than a dozen years of Champ Car war. Is Tracy starving to death? Certainly not. But compared to even a first-year NASCAR Nextel Cup driver, he’s working pretty cheap. Everyone wants to be fairly compensated at the end of their workday, especially if that day includes the distinct possibility of being critically injured, or even killed. I love my job, but make no mistake about it. I punch that time clock every day for one reason, and one reason only.

Because it pays the bills.

Beyond the financial reality, though, there is another reason for this sudden interest in NASCAR racing. It’s called ego. Elite athletes want to perform on the largest possible stage. They want to race in front of capacity crowds, and be seen and appreciated by millions of fans around the world. NASCAR allows them to do that, to a degree that Champ Car and the IRL can presently only dream of.

Tony Kanaan stepped into the media center at Daytona International Speedway yesterday, and commented on the number of reporters waiting there. “I have never seen this many reporters at a test,” said the IRL star. “It looks like race day in here.” Actually, the media mob was less than half what it will be when Nextel Cup testing begins at DIS in January, and a small fraction what it is each week on the traveling Nextel Cup circuit.

Apparently, the Open Wheel guys aren’t used to getting that kind of attention. And you know what? I think they kinda like it.

They also like the idea that you can land a ride in NASCAR on talent alone, without schlepping a $5-million sponsor along with you. There are quality rides available at every level of NASCAR right now, if you’ve got the talent to earn one. And if things go well, a kid like A.J. Allmendinger can parlay that talent into fame and fortune beyond his wildest dreams.

Don’t believe it? Just ask Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne, Casey Mears, or either of the Nextel Cup drivers named Gordon. All of them grew up dreaming of a career driving Open Wheel racers, but changed course when greeted by the harsh realities of the sport. CART and IRL had nothing to offer them when they came of age, just as it has nothing to offer the vast majority of talented young drivers today.

The money and the rides are all on NASCAR’s side of the fence -- no matter how much the open-wheel elitists wish it weren’t so – and it doesn’t appear that anything’s going to change in the foreseeable future. Kevin Kalkhoven and Tony George continue to fiddle while Rome burns, and the France Family thanks them for it, every weekend from February through November. Motorsports Soapbox

Wallace can't coach Montoya Wallace can't coach MontoyaESPN/ABC executives have nixed a request from Chip Ganassi Racing to have Wallace serve as a mentor/driving coach for Juan Pablo Montoya, Wallace said Thursday. Wallace, who will be allowed to continue running his Busch Series team even as he does commentary on the series, said he completely understood the decision.

"Chip asked me to be his mentor to get him going, and it was a conflict of interest then to talk about Montoya while I'm announcing ABC races," Wallace said. "I understood that with the network side."

That doesn't mean Wallace can't give pointers from time to time or step in a car to help a driver. "I can be involved in a Cup team only on a consulting basis," Wallace said. "I can help any driver I want as long as I'm not being compensated for it. My original plan was to help Juan all I could, and I just couldn't seem to pull that off with the networks."

ESPN/ABC will televise all of the Busch Series races and the final 17 Nextel Cup events next season.

Wallace's son, Steve, will drive in the Busch Series with his dad in the booth instead of in the spotter stand or somewhere else watching. Wallace said his Busch team is "grandfathered in" as far as how he can be involved in the sport outside of the booth.

"It'll be tough," Wallace said. "I've got to be careful. ... I'll have one eye on him." Scene Daily

Rossi takes points lead at Estoril Rossi takes points lead at EstorilOnly on the rarest of occasions could anything overshadow the MotoGP title chase, but an incredible maiden victory for Toni Elias might just have done it. The Spaniard’s unbelievable win went against everybody’s expectations, in a race that saw Nicky Hayden’s title hopes dented by a crash with team-mate Dani Pedrosa. Valentino Rossi now leads the Championship for the first time this season.

A truly breathtaking race started with Rossi on pole, alongside team-mate Colin Edwards and series leader Hayden. After an epic duel between the leading three and Pedrosa, the Spaniard pushed too hard and slipped under his fellow Repsol Honda rider, taking him out of the race and giving him his first DNF of the season. A fuming Hayden cursed to the skies as his normal laidback manner went out of the window. Pedrosa made a hasty exit with the backdrop of stunned faces in the Honda garage looking on.

It then seemed a relatively straightforward task for Rossi, as he set about trying to establish a gap. However, Elias stuck with the Italian and passed him on lap 20 as he slid his bike through the corner. A few laps later, the reigning World Champion came back, and Elias lost more ground as Kenny Roberts Jr passed him. zzzz

The American, who eventually came in second behind Elias and Rossi, even took the lead on lap 26, but as he battled with the Camel Yamaha rider, Elias burst through from nowhere. With Rossi eager to take a win, he ran wide on the chicane as Elias held him off, then just ran out of tarmac on the finishing straight as he attempted to clinch victory. A photo finish confirmed Elias’ first win in the Premier Class, leaving Rossi eight points ahead of Hayden in the Championship.

Edwards finished a comfortable fourth, ahead of Makoto Tamada in the Japanese rider’s best performance of the season. John Hopkins took sixth, ahead of Carlos Checa on the Spaniard’s 34th birthday. Marco Melandri, Chris Vermeulen and Randy de Puniet completed the top ten.

Alongside the Hayden-Pedrosa incident, there were also crashes involving Sete Gibernau and Casey Stoner, who collided early on causing a shoulder injury to the Ducati rider, and Shinya Nakano, who was stretchered off after failing to complete the first lap.

Garry McCoy earned Ilmor their first MotoGP point on their debut performance, despite having to come into the pits on two occasions. 

After Portugal, Rossi leads the standings for the first time this season with 244 points and is followed by Hayden, who stayed with 236 units.

1. Toni Elias SPA Fortuna Honda 46min 8.739 secs
2. Valentino Rossi ITA Camel Yamaha Team 46min 8.741 secs
3. Kenny Roberts Jr USA Team Roberts 46min 8.915 secs
4. Colin Edwards USA Camel Yamaha Team 46min 9.603 secs
5. Makoto Tamada JPN Konica Minolta Honda 46min 27.158 secs
6. John Hopkins USA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 46min 33.920 secs
7. Carlos Checa SPA Tech 3 Yamaha 46min 38.087 secs
8. Marco Melandri ITA Fortuna Honda 46min 40.552 secs
9. Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 46min 48.856 secs
10. Randy de Puniet FRA Kawasaki Racing Team 46min 50.235 secs
11. Alex Hofmann GER Pramac d'Antin MotoGP 46min 50.272 secs
12. Loris Capirossi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team 46min 53.515 secs
13. James Ellison GBR Tech 3 Yamaha 47min 27.852 secs
14. Jose Luis Cardoso SPA Pramac d'Antin MotoGP 47min 49.455 secs
15. Garry McCoy AUS Ilmor SRT (800cc) 47min 35.294 secs

Shinya Nakano JPN Kawasaki Racing Team
Sete Gibernau SPA Ducati Marlboro Team
Casey Stoner AUS Honda LCR
Nicky Hayden USA Repsol Honda Team
Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team

Ford and Gordon make it official Ford and Gordon make it officialRobby Gordon and Ford Motor Company will be reunited in 2007 with the signing of a manufacturer agreement between Ford Racing and Gordon’s company Robby Gordon Motorsports. [Right, Robby Gordon and Ford Motorsport boss Dan Davis pose with Gordon's Ford. Photo courtesy of Ford]

“I had a lot of success with Ford early in my career, and I owe a lot to Ford,” Gordon said. “I think our Nextel Cup program is at the point now where we’re ready to take it to the next level, and Ford has pledged its complete support of helping me realize my dream of winning a NASCAR championship as an owner/driver. I believe my best days as a Nextel Cup driver are still in front of me and I also believe we have laid the groundwork for the expansion of our program.” Like all Ford Racing supported programs, RGM will get its horsepower from the Roush/Yates Engine Company. RGM, in its second season of NASCAR Nextel Cup Series competition, will field the #7 Ford Fusions from a brand new facility in Charlotte that will cover more than 125,000 square feet. Site work for the new shop began Monday. “Robby is a racer in the true sense of the word and I couldn’t be happier to see him back behind the wheel of a Ford,” Davis said. “He’s enjoyed success wherever he’s raced, from off-road trucks to sports cars to open-wheel cars, and he’s been competitive in Nextel Cup despite being a one-car team. “The Ford Fusion is a championship-caliber race car and with the technical support we’ll provide, I believe we can build Robby Gordon Motorsports into a championship-level team.” In addition to RGM’s current car—the #7—it will at a minimum run a limited Busch Series schedule in 2007 with hopes of campaigning a car for the Busch Series championship, and will continue efforts to field the #77 Nextel Cup car in 2007. “Ford has a long history of success in Cup racing,” Gordon said. “Obviously they have been very successful recently with both Robert Yates Racing and Roush Racing, and Dan and everyone at Ford are committed to helping their teams compete for championships year-in-and-year-out and we hope we’ll be able to give them another program that they’ll be able to count on for that.” Ford Racing
Wallace on pole, Montoya 3rd at Iowa Wallace on pole, Montoya 3rd at IowaARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Steve Wallace earned his fourth career Pork Pole award Saturday afternoon at Iowa Speedway, circling the newly constructed track in 22.933 seconds (137.357 mph) in his Hantz Group-TransAmerica Idex Mutual Funds Dodge. 

Wallace nudged out Joey Miller and Juan Pablo Montoya for the top spot; as a result, Wallace will sit on the pole for Sunday’s Prairie Meadows 250 ARCA RE/MAX Series race.

“The car was really good,” said Wallace.

“We had a really good car by the end of practice. We were really lucky we ran as well as we did. I’ve turned a lot of laps with a rental car around this track. I’ve been here about every four months with my dad…They’ve been planning the track for about eight years and they’ve been talking about it forever so its cool to see that it’s actually done.” zzzz 

Wallace also earned the ARCA RE/MAX Series Pork Pole Award title for 2006 with the most poles for the season. Wallace and rookie Brad Coleman each had three Pork Pole awards leading into the event at Iowa.

In all, the series saw 15 different Pork Pole Award winners in 23 races, tying a record set in 1991.

2005 ARCA RE/MAX Series Rookie-of-the-Year Joey Miller, making his first appearance in the series since last year, qualified second, with a speed of 137.357 mph (22.933 seconds).

“Well today it was way up and down,” said Miller. “One of our sway bar bolts seized up before qualifying so we were not able to fix it. So hopefully, we will do better once the race starts. The competition level has stepped up since last year. Last year, there were only two cars that were able to win the race, now there are at least five. It’s awesome to be back in ARCA.”

Formula One veteran Juan Pablo Montoya qualified third after finishing third in his career first stock car attempt at Talladega Superspeedway on October 6th.

“Great qualifying run,” said Montoya, who will make his career first short track attempt in Sunday’s Prairie Meadow 250. “Top three is pretty good so I’m very happy. I had a shot at winning the race at Talladega. It was a shame that we couldn’t go all the way last week but it doesn’t matter how we finish it’s about getting the experience. At Talladega anybody can drive there. Here, you need to use the brakes a lot more and you need to know how to control yourself a lot more. I’m having fun and I’m loving it.”

Sunday’s Prairie Meadows 250 ARCA RE/MAX Series is LIVE on SPEED at 2:30pm Eastern.

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