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Pobst Wins Closest Race in SPEED GT History Pobst Wins Closest Race in SPEED GT HistoryMONTEREY, Calif. – Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., drag-raced Ricardo Imery, of Caracas, Venezuela, down the front stretch of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to win the 2006 SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT finale by 0.310-second, the closest finish in SPEED GT history. The victory also earned Porsche the SPEED GT Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER Magazine. Rookie Lawson Aschenbach, of Gaithersburg, Md., crossed the line in ninth to win the SPEED GT Drivers’ Championship.

Starting second, Pobst slotted behind polesitter Leighton Reese, of Minnetonka, Minn., on the start. Reese was able to keep a steady gap back to Pobst for the first half of the race and through two full-course cautions for cars stuck off course.  The gap closed as Pobst continued to reset fast race lap, and not too long after the second caution period, the No. 23 At Speed Motorsports Porsche 911 Cup began to put pressure on the leader. Opportunity struck on lap 16, when Reese’s No. 6 Banner Engineering Chevrolet Corvette ran wide in Turn Six, but Pobst followed the leader into the gravel handing the lead to Imery. The off damaged the left-front suspension on Reese’s car and made him a sitting duck for Pobst, who made the pass for second-place three laps later. zzzz

Pobst spent the closing laps hunting down the No. 64 AXA Financial/Cavenas Elevators Porsche 911 GT3 of Imery. The final lap became a dogfight with Pobst using every inch of the road to find a way by Imery. Pobst’s final chance at victory came in Turn 11 as he drifted inside Imery and the pair of Porsche’s drag raced down the front stretch to the checkered flag. As the timing monitors refreshed, it was Pobst by 0.031-second over Imery, the closest finish in SPEED GT history and second-closest finish in SPEED World Challenge history, runner-up to the Denver SPEED Touring Car race earlier this year.

Pobst’s victory in the 27-lap, 60.426-mile race was his first SPEED GT win since driving an Audi RS6 to the Lime Rock winner’s circle in 2004.

Michelin bids F1 adieu Michelin bids F1 adieuThe 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix marks the end of an era as Michelin bows out of Formula One for the second time. The Clermont-Ferrand company has competed in 216 world championship grands prix, initially from 1977-1984 and more recently from 2001-2006. During that time it has scored 102 victories with seven teams and 20 drivers en route to amassing nine world championship titles (five for drivers, four for constructors).

Michelin is the world's most prolific road tire manufacturer and strongly believes that competition improves the breed. An early motorsport pioneer, it has cultivated a proud track record over the years on both two wheels and four. It has also notched up countless wins and titles in fiercely competitive disciplines such as F1, the World Rally Championship and MotoGP, as well as touring car and endurance racing (notably the Le Mans 24 Hours).

Michelin has had a considerable impact on Formula One since it returned in 2001 - so much so that it was supplying 70 per cent of the field by 2005 and had other potential clients queuing up. It voluntarily relinquished some of its custom this season, however, in the interests of fairer competition. zzzz

At the same time, it also confirmed that 2006 would be its final campaign in F1, which it has served so well for the past six seasons. Its withdrawal reflects the changing nature of the sport. The tire regulations were altered at the end of 2004 and again one year later, but each time Michelin responded effectively and provided products that enabled its partner teams to compete for race victories and world titles. Renault proved as much by sweeping to a championship double in 2005 and repeating that feat during the season just past. Motor racing's governing body the FIA announced that F1 would have a single tire supplier from 2008, however - a decision that dilutes an element of the cutting-edge competition the sport is supposed to represent. Michelin thus opted to pull out at the end of the 2006 campaign.

As Michelin's motorsport director Frédéric Henry -Biabaud says: "F1 is supposed to be competition in its purest form and you eliminate a key part of that if you remove the rivalry between tire manufacturers. I don't see the appeal in participating in a series on those terms. We compete in F1 to prove we are able to give our partner teams a performance edge. If you are in the sport on your own, people will talk about tires only if some kind of problem arises. As Edouard Michelin used to say, 'In an arena where its motorsport products finish simultaneously first and last, there is no marketing value'."

Michelin scored its first F1 victory on January 29 1978 when Carlos Reutemann dominated the Brazilian GP in Rio de Janeiro. The 102nd and most recent fell to Fernando Alonso and Renault in Japan, more than 28 years later.

Michelin might be bowing out of F1 but it will remain fiercely committed to other forms of motorsport. Will the Bibendum logo grace grand prix racing ever again? Not in the foreseeable future, perhaps, but this isn't an industry in which one ever says "Never"

Sprague Breaks Martinsville Drought Sprague Breaks Martinsville DroughtJack Sprague finally got the monkey off his back – figuratively and literally.

The three-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion, who never had won in 12 previous starts at Martinsville Speedway, took his No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota from Budweiser Pole to victory lane to triumph for the 27th time in a 343-race career.

The race was witnessed by a record Kroger 200 crowd estimated at 36,000.

Sprague, who led the Kroger 200 twice for 95 laps, benefited from Ted Musgrave’s restart error at lap 138 and stayed out front for the remainder of the event to edge Martinsville’s spring winner David Starr by .416 seconds – about a truck length.

The victory, Sprague’s second of the season, was worth $50,900. He averaged 60.172 mph for the 200-lap, 105.2-mile distance as a race record 12 cautions consumed 67 laps. zzzz

“This is huge for me because I don’t run good here,” said Sprague, whose best Martinsville finish of third came in 2005. “I’ve always struggled.”

The winner’s truck carried a large, stuffed monkey that his crew purchased earlier in the week in an effort to end a recent streak of ill-starred races – and finally break Sprague’s Martinsville drought.

“I guess we’ll keep it for awhile,” he said.

Sprague took the early lead but abdicated to Musgrave’s Team ASE Racing Toyota by pitting – with all but two lead lap drivers – at lap 33. He methodically moved through the field to move onto Musgrave’s rear bumper at lap 80.

The winner, however, refused to critique the move that gave him the lead – and ultimately the victory.

“He didn’t do anything any of us wouldn’t have done,” said Sprague of Musgrave’s restart. NASCAR officials previously had warned Musgrave of checking up just before the restart. As for being able to pass Musgrave, who was on a no-pit stop strategy, Sprague simply shrugged.

“I don’t know,” he said, “we’ll never know.”

Raybestos Rookie of the Year leader Erik Darnell finished third in his Northern Tool + Equipment Ford followed by teammate Mark Martin in the Scotts Ford. Martin made one late move on Darnell but backed off to give his partner five points in the championship standings.

Johnny Benson was fifth in the NAPA Auto Parts Toyota and made up significant ground on championship leader Todd Bodine, who brought his Lumber Liquidators Toyota home 14th after a second pit call at lap 134.

Bodine continues to head the standings by 79 points after entering the season’s 21st of 25 events with a cushion of 113.

Kyle Busch took the sixth spot followed by No. 2 starter Mike Skinner. Denny Hamlin was eighth in his first series Martinsville appearance with Rick Crawford and Chase Miller completing the top 10.

Musgrave, forced to pit his truck at lap 161 to repair front end damage, finished a spot behind Germain Racing teammate Bodine in 15th.

Twenty-three of the race’s 32 finishers ran all 200 laps marking the fourth consecutive race in which 20 or more had gone the full distance.

Next event is Saturday’s EasyCare Vehicle Service 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Bodine won March’s race at AMS.

Liuzzi, MotoGP rider, to swap seats Liuzzi, MotoGP rider, to swap seats(GMM)  Tonio Liuzzi and MotoGP rider John Hopkins are going to 'swap' seats at the Valencia circuit on 31 October.

Liuzzi, the Italian grand prix racer, will try Hopkins' 'Rizla Suzuki' two wheeler, while American rider Hopkins climbs aboard the Toro Rosso single seater.

'Riding in Valencia should be very interesting as I will be able to compare my times to what the 'real' racers did on the Sunday before,' said Liuzzi, already a keen amateur motorcycle rider.

'Ciao Kimi', says Ron Dennis 'Ciao Kimi', says Ron Dennis(GMM) On Sunday at Interlagos, Kimi Raikkonen received a tongue-in-cheek blessing from Ron Dennis ahead of the Finn's switch to Ferrari.

The McLaren boss, marking 27-year-old Raikkonen's last race in silver overalls, presented Kimi with a cardboard depiction of himself enthusiastically waving an Italian flag and the words 'Ciao Kimi', as well as a picnic hamper of traditional Italian foods.

Ricardo Zonta was also farewelled in Sao Paulo, as the Brazilian attended his last race for Toyota as their test and 'reserve' driver.

Ahead of his switch to Renault for 2007, he was presented at the warm and sunny circuit with an encased Toyota steering wheel and a flag signed by all team members, including Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli.

"It is difficult to leave a team that I have worked with a long time and who have treated me so well," Zonta said.

Also in pit lane, a group of Michelin personnel staged a low-key gathering as they marked their final grand prix as a tire supplier.

Away from the privileged inner sanctum of the F1 paddock, meanwhile, two middle aged English ladies stood pensively as passers-by read their huge sign in quiet recognition of its meaning -- 'Auf Weidersehn Michael'.

The man himself, 37-year-old Schumacher, arrived at the circuit carpark to an unprecedented scrum of media and photographers, no doubt aware that his next appearance at a formula one race would be as a spectator.

Probably predicting the likely scrum, or having heard the story about the gun-wielding teenagers who attacked Toyota team members on Friday, casual-clothed Schumacher was flanked by not one but two bodyguards.

Racing News
Quotes of the week Quotes of the week
KEVIN KALKHOVEN, Champ Car World Series co-owner and PKV Racing team co-owner
"Paul Stoddart is more our kind of guy than a Roger Penske." (Kevin Kalkhoven was discussing the ongoing merger talks with the IRL, and commenting on Paul Stoddart after spending time with Stoddart in Surfers Paradise, Australia where they are attending the Lexmark Indy 300 Champ Car race amid rumors Stoddart may enter Champ Car)

PAUL TRACY, Forsythe Championship Racing, Champ Car driver
“I’m so pissed off with Champ Car and its officiating; I mean I can’t even describe how upset I am. During the two incidents today with Mario (Dominguez) I was avoiding both of us crashing you know, and I get penalized and have to drop 2 positions because of it. So basically you are damned if you do and you are damned if you don’t, if you make contact then they penalize you for that also. And what happened during the second incident at the chicane I feel that it was just a fix to get one of the Team Australia cars up on the podium, I mean it’s so clear it’s ridiculous. It’s extremely frustrating because this was our race to win. We had a problem during the first pit stop when we touched with Will Power and cut a tire, we had to come back in and get out of sequence, the new strategy worked beautifully and we were right up at the front at the end of the race but then they took it from us.”  (Comments made after the Lexmark Indy 300 race in Surfers Paradise, Australia where Tracy finished in 4th position)

CRAIG GORE, Team Australia Champ Car  co-owner
"Contrary to what Sebastien says, Will's times were on a par with Sebastien's. I think Bourdais just snapped a cog and got greedy. When A.J. Allmendinger went out of the race, Sebastien was Champion . I think Will got into his mind this weekend. He outdrove him in practice and qualifying and he outdrove him in the race.  This is the last time he'll hold that (Vanderbilt Cup) trophy. He's won it three times in a row but the first two were against a fairly depleted field. I mean he really only had to beat Paul Tracy and Paul Tracy always crashes.  Sebastien isn't in Formula 1 because he's not good enough. He's holding up that trophy today but he doesn't deserve it. What he did today didn't benefit the series or the race, and it was quite stupid in my opinion."  (Team Australia boss Craig Gore was obviously miffed at Sebastien Bourdais after Sunday's Lexmark Indy 300 because he felt the contact between Bourdais and his driver Will Power cost Power the race win.)

CRAIG HAMPSON, Sebastien Bourdais Race Engineer, Newman/Haas Racing Champ Car team 
"That was very sporting of him. I congratulated him on a great season and wished him luck in NASCAR." After A.J. Allmendinger went to the Newman/Haas pit and congratulated several key team members after the shunt that simultaneously eliminated him from championship contention and secured Sebastien Bourdais' third straight Vanderbilt Cup.
KATHERINE LEGGE, PKV Racing, Champ Car driver
"My mum said she paid my guardian angel overtime, but seriously I think people were looking out for me in that race for sure. I am very grateful and I am very lucky to be okay so now you just get on with it." When asked if she was nervous about getting back in the car following the crash, Katherine responded "No, not at all. I think your subconscious does a really good job at just disconnecting your brain if you like and it doesn't feel like you were in the accident. I remember it but it doesn't bother me. I have a healthy respect for the danger, don't get me wrong. I don't think I'm invincible or anything stupid like that, but I think you sign up for those risks when you become a race car driver." (Commenting on the horrific accident Katherine had at the Champ Car race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin) zzzz 

ANTONIO PIZZONIA, Rocketsports Racing Champ Car driver and former F1 driver
"I didn't have a problem with Mark Webber (his former F1 teammate) but he was always trying to find a problem with me. I think he has two faces. He's like an actor. I respect Mark as a driver and he is very quick, but I don't respect him as a person." (Pizzonia was speaking at this weekend's Surfers Paradise, Australia Champ Car race.)

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER, 7 Times F1 World Champion, Ferrari F1 driver
"Apart from the extra photographers and cameras, I feel the same as usual," Schumacher told reporters after practice at the Interlagos circuit in Brazil. He added, "The only difference is the 'thanks' message from BMW, which made me very happy when I saw it. I can only say 'thanks' to them in return!" (In the morning practice, the blue lettering on the rearward-facing elements of the BMW-Sauber cars read 'Thanks Michael', in reference to Schumacher's 250th and last grand prix in a sixteen year career. In the afternoon, the team had switched the message to German with the wings now reading: 'Danke Michael'.)
JACQUES VILLENEUVE, former F1 World Champion and Champ Car Champion, and recent BMW Sauber F1 driver
Villeneuve, who was forced out of the BMW team earlier in 2006 and called time on his own formula one career, said he did not doubt either the success or the dedication of Michael Schumacher.  JV reckons Schumacher often drove 'inconsiderately', 'unfairly', and 'made his own rules'.  To the 'Welt' newspaper, the French Canadian also insisted: "I don't believe that you can judge the greatness or the quality of a sportsman by his achievements alone."  Villeneuve, the victim of Schumacher's notorious move at Jerez in 1997, said he was disturbed by Schumacher's insistence that he be a perpetual 'number one' within his team.  "And I'm not only referring to the equipment he and his teammates receive.  I'm talking about the psychological support, the way the drivers are treated by the team," he said.  Villeneuve said he wouldn't have accepted the job as Schumacher's number two.  "I accept that Michael did not want me," Villeneuve insisted, "but I would never have slipped into the role of an Eddie Irvine or a Barrichello or a Massa." (In the hours before Michael Schumacher's last of 250 career grands prix, his harshest critic - 1997 title rival Jacques Villeneuve - has issued one final verdict on the record holding seven time champion.)
JENSON BUTTON, Honda Racing, F1 driver
"You have to look at the facts, which he hasn't done, because I've done more miles than anyone in testing. During the season I've done about the same miles in testing as Michael." (Responding to Bernie Ecclestone's comments that Button was like an 'old-time driver' who tried to rely on talent rather than dedication. He said: "Michael (Schumacher) will win a race and next day start testing. I'm not sure whether Jenson is prepared to do that.")

Bourdais back with Newman/Haas Bourdais back with Newman/HaasAt a Newman/Haas team dinner at the Marriott resort in Surfers Paradise Sunday night to celebrate Sebastien Bourdais' third straight Champ Car title, Sebastien made a short speech to the team thanking them for everything and at the end he announced he would be back to make it four straight next year.  We have updated our 2007 Champ Car Silly Season page.
JV issues final Schu verdict JV issues final Schu verdict(GMM)  In the hours before Michael Schumacher's last of 250 career grands prix, his harshest critic - 1997 title rival Jacques Villeneuve - has issued one final verdict on the record holding seven time champion.

35-year-old Villeneuve, who was forced out of the BMW team earlier in 2006 and called time on his own formula one career, said he did not doubt either the success or the dedication of the Ferrari veteran.

JV reckons Schumacher often drove 'inconsiderately', 'unfairly', and 'made his own rules'.

To the 'Welt' newspaper, the French Canadian also insisted: "I don't believe that you can judge the greatness or the quality of a sportsman by his achievements alone."

Villeneuve, the victim of Schumacher's notorious move at Jerez in 1997, said he was disturbed by Schumacher's insistence that he be a perpetual 'number one' within his team.

"And I'm not only referring to the equipment he and his teammates receive.  I'm talking about the psychological support, the way the drivers are treated by the team," he said.

He said he wouldn't have accepted the job as Schumacher's number two.

"I accept that Michael did not want me," Villeneuve insisted, "but I would never have slipped into the role of an Eddie Irvine or a Barrichello or a Massa."

Wurz won't miss being test driver Wurz won't miss being test driver(GMM)  Alex Wurz, who completed his last 'Friday' driving duty for Williams at Interlagos, says he will not miss being a F1 tester.

The 32-year-old Austrian, who moved to the Grove based team from a similar role at McLaren, will finally return to a racing cockpit in 2007 after six years in the back seat.

"I learned a lot in the past six years," he told reporters for the South Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung in Sao Paulo, "but I am not going to shed any tears."

He beamed in Sao Paulo: "It's the end -- no more Friday driver role for me!"

Wurz lines up at Williams next year alongside Nico Rosberg, with Mark Webber driving for the team for the last time on Sunday before switching to Red Bull.

Wurz's last racing cockpit in formula one was at Benetton in 2000; a 'difficult situation', he says, because of apparently disruptive 'politics' between himself and team boss Flavio Briatore.

Monteiro fined $2000 for day of mistakes Monteiro fined $2000 for day of mistakes(GMM) Tiago Monteiro's day of qualifying at the 2006 season finale captured a plethora of what Spyker chief Colin Kolles called 'uncharacteristic' mistakes.

The day started badly when he incurred a $2000 fine for crossing the white line at pit exit.

"When I got out of the car, the president of Spyker, Victor Muller told me that if I made it to the second session (of qualifying) that he would cover it," Monteiro smiled bleakly.

But what followed is what the Portuguese described as 'one of the most stupid mistakes of my F1 career'.

Pushing hard, he hit the curb at turn-7 in the first 15-minute phase of 'knockout' qualifying, spun and stalled.

"Its really frustrating," he added, "as (teammate) Christijan (Albers) was only three tenths off P16 so I think we could have made it."

Schu hopes Massa can win Schu hopes Massa can win(GMM)  Despite spending his last ever qualifying session stranded in the pits with a broken motor car, Michael Schumacher made a kind gesture to his Ferrari teammate after Felipe Massa scored pole position in Brazil.

"It is definitely a great achievement for him to be a Brazilian on pole here," Schumacher - after walking down pit lane from the garage to parc ferme to personally congratulate 25-year-old Massa - said.

The German said: "I hope that he can convert it into a win tomorrow."

Schumacher, 37, starts his final grand prix from tenth.

Champ Car outdraws F1 in Australia Champ Car outdraws F1 in AustraliaUPDATE #3
Day 2006 Attendance       2005 Attendance
Thu. 56,155                         56,786
Fri.   65,061 (Event Record)  64,111
Sat.  89,772                        90,265
Sun. 101,066                     105,297 
Total 312,054                    316,459

This year's F1 race in Melbourne drew a total weekend attendance of 301,000.

Day 2006 Attendance      2005 Attendance
Thu.  56,155                        56,786
Fri.   65,061 (Event Record)  64,111
Sat.  89,772                        90,265
Total 210,988                     211,162

10/20/06 The crowd figure for Friday was announced as 65,061, which was a Day 2 record for the Lexmark Indy 300.  The combined 2-day total is 121,216.

10/19/06 Thursday's attendance for the Lexmark Indy 300 at Surfers Paradise was announced as 56,155, down 631 people from last year's 56,786.

Bourdais clinches 3rd straight title Bourdais clinches 3rd straight titleNewman/Haas Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais became the first driver since Ted Horn (1946-48) to win three consecutive Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford championships today in the Lexmark Indy 300 at Surfers Paradise.

Bourdais locked up the championship on Lap 20 of today’s event when A.J. Allmendinger (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) had race-ending contact with the Turn Three fence, ending his title chase, and giving the championship to Bourdais. Photo right, courtesy of Champ Car

The Frenchman, who won the 2004 and 2005 championships to lead into the 2006 season, currently leads the series in wins, poles, money won and laps led. The race is still ongoing at the time of this posting, a full race recap and championship follow-up will come at the conclusion of today’s event. Champ Car

ALMS race at 3/4 mark ALMS race at 3/4 markThe top six cars are on the lead lap with less than an hour remaining in the Monterey Sports Car Championships and the 2006 American Le Mans Series season. Allan McNish leads for Audi in the No. 2 Audi R10 TDI, less than three seconds ahead of Lucas Luhr of Penske Racing, the leading P2 car.

The top six are within 32 seconds in one of the best races of the year – much like 2005.

In the championship picture, Luhr would tie Sascha Maassen for the P2 drivers championship as Maassen's teammate Timo Bernhard is second in class.

In GT1, Aston Martin is running 1-2 which would give the team a tie in the class manufacturers championship with Corvette. But the No. 007 Aston Martin DBR9 is expected to make one more pit stop, which should allow both the Corvettes to slide up to second and third, which would give them the championship. Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin have seemingly wrapped up the drivers title.

In GT2, Petersen/White Lightning's Jorg Bergmeister is headed toward a second straight championship as he leads in class over Mika Salo in the No. 62 Risi Ferrari. Flying Lizard's Johannes van Overbeek is mired in seventh place after a lengthy early stop to replace a radiator.

Should Salo hold position, Risi will claim the class team championship. ALMS

Tracy tops Sunday morning warm-up Tracy tops Sunday morning warm-upPaul Tracy appears to be in a racy mood today and topped the morning warm-up session for today's Lexmark Indy 300. Polesitter Will Power was 2nd quick followed by AJ Allmendinger. The session was largely incident free except for an initial delay to clean up oil dumped on the track by support series car, and later for a harmless spin by Andreas Wirth.

Warm-up results

Pos Driver # Team Lap Time
1 P. Tracy 3 Forsythe Championship Racing 1:34.847
2 W. Power 5 Team Australia 1:35.042
3 A. Allmendinger 7 Forsythe Championship Racing 1:35.425
4 D. Clarke 14 CTE Racing - HVM 1:35.633
5 N. Philippe 4 CTE Racing - HVM 1:35.937
6 C. Zwolsman 34 Mi-Jack Conquest Racing 1:36.194
7 A. Tagliani 15 Team Australia 1:36.451
8 B. Junqueira 2 Newman/Haas Racing 1:36.550
9 S. Bourdais 1 Newman/Haas Racing 1:36.738
10 M. Dominguez 8 Rocketsports Racing 1:37.036
11 O. Servia 6 PKV Racing 1:37.054
12 K. Legge 20 PKV Racing 1:37.268
13 A. Ranger 27 Mi-Jack Conquest Racing 1:37.319
14 A. Pizzonia 18 Rocketsports Racing 1:37.700
15 A. Wirth 19 Dale Coyne Racing 1:37.903
16 R. Briscoe 10 RuSPORT 1:37.983
17 J. Heylen 11 Dale Coyne Racing 1:39.069

Brazil: Saturday press conference Brazil: Saturday press conference
NASCAR to switch to unleaded fuel sooner NASCAR to switch to unleaded fuel soonerNASCAR will make the transition to unleaded fuel one year earlier than previously announced as it plans to have all three series run almost the entire 2007 season on unleaded fuel. The lone exception, involving the Nextel Cup Series, will be the season-opening Daytona 500. Crew chiefs said Friday at Martinsville Speedway they were informed of the decision this week, and a NASCAR official confirmed the move. SceneDaily.com
Seen in Surfers Sunday - I Seen in Surfers Sunday - ISebastien Bourdais is in his T-car today, the Newman/Haas team deciding to go with that car rather than fix the primary car.

Dale Coyne tells us he ordered three new cars for next year during the Montreal race weekend. He also expects most of his sponsors to be back next year.

Sunday morning has dawned cool and partly cloudy. There is a chance of showers today so we might have a wet race. It rained fairly hard late Saturday.
Seen in Surfers Paradise Friday - IV Seen in Surfers Paradise Friday - IVUPDATE For the record, here is our story about Paul Stoddart after speaking to him on Saturday, which includes some telling quotes. He was very focused during qualifying Saturday, watching intently with Kalkhoven from the PKV Racing pitlane stand.

10/20/06 We spotted Paul Stoddart again in Surfers Friday night going to the Lexmark Indy 300 Gala Ball at Conrad Jupiters Casino. Stoddart was dressed in a Tuxedo and was spotted talking with Kevin Kalkhoven and other prominent Champ Car officials. It appears Stoddart is getting fairly serious about Champ Car. Mark C.
Aussie TV coverage 2nd to none Aussie TV coverage 2nd to noneSurfers Paradise TV Channel Ten has six hours of live TV coverage from the Surfers track both Saturday and again on Sunday. Not only do they do an excellent job of TV production, they even employ the use of the cable camera you see to the right that flies up and down pitlane on a wire cable at speeds of 60 mph.
These things happen in racing These things happen in racingTo the great delight of the noisiest crowd on the F1 calendar, local man Felipe Massa took pole position for tomorrow's final round of this year's world championship, with a bravura performance at the wheel of his impeccable 248 F1. But if a happy Massa claimed he would remember this day for the rest of his life, his Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro team-mate, Michael Schumacher found himself re-using a phrase he had delivered after retiring from the Japanese Grand Prix a fortnight ago: "these things happen in racing." Having comfortably made sure of a run in the final part of qualifying, the German left the pits for his last ever qualifying run, only to gradually slow and crawl back to the pit lane with what was later found to be loss of fuel pressure, due a faulty fuel pump. It was a cruel blow given the well known situation in the Drivers' championship, even if it means that tomorrow's 71 lap Brazilian Grand Prix now promises to see a very interesting race develop. An all-Ferrari front row was definitely on the cards today had it not been for Schumacher's bad luck. Instead, for his third pole position, Felipe shares the front row with the man who will be his team-mate next season, Kimi Raikkonen, in the McLaren-Mercedes. Third place goes to the Toyota of Jarno Trulli, while reigning champion Fernando Alonso is fourth in his Renault. The third row sees Rubens Barrichello put his Honda in fifth spot, with Giancarlo Fisichella in the second Renault in sixth spot. Michael shares the fifth row of the grid with the BMW-Sauber of Robert Kubica. The challenge of winning either the Drivers' or Constructors' championships will be extremely tough tomorrow, however, if "these things happen in racing" is the unfortunate leitmotif of the last two races for the Scuderia, "we never give up" is a much longer-standing Ferrari tradition. Technical Director Ross Brawn feels the overall 248 F1-Bridgestone package is good enough to still see both Felipe and Michael stay and get to the front tomorrow. And it is worth noting that Michael once won the Belgian GP starting way down in sixteenth place. Ferrari
Justice wins race, Carrio takes championship Justice wins race, Carrio takes championshipMonterey, California. Jumping into the lead on the opening lap, Ryan Justice survived a caution filled race to take the victory in the season finale of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Joining Justice on the podium were Michael Potekhen, in second place, and Adrian Carrio, who captured the championship, in third place.

Justice, driving the #38 Northwest Autosport World Food Program Mazda, lined up second on the grid even though he damaged his left front suspension after making contact with the tire wall in turn six during the qualifying session and quickly climbed into the lead on the opening lap. "The Northwest Autosport crew did a great job getting the car back together in the short time between qualifying and the race and I was able to take the lead right away. It was disappointing that we only got five green flag laps as I think we could've put on a good show for the fans," a student at Loyola explained. "That said it still feels good to leave here with a victory as I'm in my final semester at school and when I'm in the library until four in the morning on a Saturday night as I try to catch up for the time I've been away at the racetrack it's always nice to look back at a victory." zzzz

Jumping from seventh to second on the opening lap, Potekhen, in the #53 Apex Racing Avenue Communities Mazda was happy to be back on the podium but disappointed that the cautions eliminated any fight for the victory. "Qualifying didn't go quite as I had hoped but I had an excellent start," the Tempe, Arizona resident said. "It was like the seas parted on the opening lap and I was able to drive around three cars on the outside in turn two and got a run on Adrian heading into turn five and that was the race right there. It was a shame having to spend so much time following the pace car and I hope that the series can figure out how to return to the green flag racing in the future."

Newly crowned champion Adrian Carrio echoed their thoughts as he brought the #14 World Speed Motorsports Rockford Fosgate Mazda home in the final podium position after locking up the championship with his pole position effort in qualifying. "I was really hoping that we were able to stay green this weekend in what will be my last Star Mazda race as I look to move up to the Champ Car Atlantic Series next season," the seventeen-year old said. "Ryan was able to get the jump on me at the start as I was looking to protect my car and Michael got a run on in me in turn five but we never got a chance to really race each other. It feels good to take the championship and I have to thank my crew at World Speed Motorsports as they work as hard, if not harder, than we do as drivers. I also have to thank Rockford Fosgate and Barry Shames for sponsoring me this season as without their assistance I couldn't go racing."

Originally scheduled for twenty-eight laps the race would wind up being a timed event as the newly configured gravel traps around the 2.238-mile circuit and several racing incidents combined to make the race a forty-five minute timed event.

As the hard fought championship comes to a close, Carrio finishes his championship season with 433 points, while Kevin Lacroix in the #74 John Walko Racing Uni-Select Auto Parts Mazda goes into the books in second place with 394 points. In a wild chase between four drivers for third place in the championship, Justice, came up big in the race to lock down the spot with 366 points. Potekhen would claim fourth with 333 points and Ron White in the #69 Ross Smith Racing Mazda would complete the top five in the championship with 326 points.

In the Expert Championship, for drivers aged 30-44, Gerardo Bonilla, who would take a wild ride though the gravel in turn five this afternoon, locked up the championship in Round Eleven at Road Atlanta in the #9 Andersen Racing Team Skip Barber Mazda. Phil Fogg Jr. in the #29 Northwest Autosport Consonsus Health Services Mazda captured the class victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and finished fourth in the championship. The battle for second place came down to the wire with Brian Thienes, of Huntington Beach, California, taking the second spot in the class in #77 JDC Motorsports Thienes Engineering Mazda with 166 points while Dan Tomlin III, of Dallas, Texas, had to settle for third place with 153 points in the #56 Team Tomlin Mazda.

In the Masters Championship, for drivers aged 45 and older, the championship race was a two way battle between former class champions Doug Peterson in the #87 American Speed Factory 3-Dimensional Services Mazda with 160 points entering the event, and John Faulkner in the #93 Phenom Racing Group Molecule Mazda with 153 points. Peterson, from Bonita Springs, Florida, would put in a solid drive to take the class victory with a twelfth place finish overall and the championship ahead of Faulkner, who finished fifteenth overall today. Ken Losch, of Paradise Valley, Arizona, took third place in the class behind the wheel of the #52 Apex Racing Centerpoint Communities Mazda.

In the Team Championship the championship went to John Walko Racing with 241 points overall. World Speed Motorsports finished in second place with 227 points and Northwest Autosport made a late season charge to take the third spot in the championship with 187 points.

Round Twelve of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear is scheduled to air on Speed Channel at 3:00 PM Eastern Time on Sunday, October 29th. For more information please visit www.starmazda.com

Tires in chicane remain an issue in Surfers Tires in chicane remain an issue in SurfersUPDATE To the right is a photo taken Sunday morning in Surfers showing the tire bundles in the chicanes that are causing all the controversy.  On Friday they were wrapped with a rubber covering twice as high as you see here.  On Saturday morning the covering was replaced with a plastic wrap that you now see but it was higher.  Now the wrap is cut down to the height of the tires.

10/21/06 Both Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais had problems with hitting the tires situated in the apex of the chicanes to stop the drivers from cutting the corners, but in both their cases the wrap around the tires tended to "grab" the car sending it into the barrier and doing significant damage to the cars. And of course Justin Wilson broke his wrist just skimming one of the barriers. To right Justin Wilson explains how he broke his wrist using a twisting motion to explain how his steering wheel was rotated violently after hitting barrier

Paul Tracy said, "I think for me yesterday, it was the wrap that was around the tires was very tall and probably 20 inches tall, and it was rubber. When I hit it yesterday, I just skimmed on the inside tire and it just ripped the tire right off and then I had no steering and basically went head on into the wall. So we tried to make a change overnight. Sebastien had a firsthand look at it because he went back and looked at it. Different system now, seems to be plastic now versus rubber."

Bourdais added, "It's a piece of plastic that's about 10 mil. or something like that thick, and it's so stiff that it won't collapse or fold or anything. I grabbed it and it's so sharp, the wheels rubber went on it and the car took off. It not like I was out of control. I just went a little too much on the right and the thing (car) completely took off and by the time I touched the ground I was already into the tires (in front of the outside wall).

We asked Bourdais from the drivers perspective, would it be better to remove those tires all together?

"Well we could not remove the tires because the FIA would not regulate the racetrack like that, I think we had in '03 or '04 at some time the bales of hay in the chicanes, so it's not the solution. But I think probably go back to what we used to have, which isn't really satisfying because when we stop taking these belts off, then we can use a little bit of the tires and all of the tire stack starts to turn around, and it's a movable apex which goes once in, once out, and so it's never the same racetrack. So there's no really easy fix right now, but for sure, it would be about time to think for something better for the future.

"I said to Tony [Cotman], 'What, are you trying to kill us?' We suggested something similar to Long Beach, using rumble strips, and then we get here and discover that, hey, they're going to run what they proposed anyway. So what was the point in asking us?

"It's a pity because Champ Car now has had a lot of wrecks, team mechanics have had a lot of extra work, for what I think are avoidable reasons."

Ted Johnson dies Ted Johnson diesStatement from Texas Motor Speedway President EDDIE GOSSAGE regarding TED JOHNSON, of Plano, Texas, who passed away Friday evening after a prolonged illness.  Johnson, a former sprint car racer, founded the World of Outlaws sprint car racing series in 1978.  He sold the series a few years ago while continuing to serve as a consultant:

“We lost one of the most charismatic pioneers in the sport and we lost a good friend.  Prior to the formation of the World of Outlaws series, sprint car racing was disorganized and confusing to fans because racers went to whatever track would pay them the most – hence the nickname ‘outlaws.’ Ted gave sprint car racing and its fans order and helped it grow to a staggering level of acceptance.  To underscore how singularly important Ted was to sprint car racing, all you have to do is look at the conflict and disorganization that has befallen sprint car racing since he stepped away from running the series in the last few years. It takes a smart, tough man to hold a group of ‘outlaws’ together. Personally, we will miss his quick wit, sharp observations and the warmth he shared in his relationship with the staff here at Texas Motor Speedway. We loved hosting World of Outlaw races, but we enjoyed Ted’s company and friendship even more.”

Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in briefUPDATE
Michael Jordan tells Schu to play golf
Haug plays down 'Kimi light' gossip

Brawn urges Schu to take 'time away'
Bernie critical of Schumacher
Ralf explains Schu party snub
F1 personnel attacked by gunmen in Brazil
Engine change and penalty for Doornbos
Hakkinen in Brazil for Schu's last race Hakkinen in Brazil for Schu's last race(GMM)  Mika Hakkinen, 1998 and 1999 world champion, has told reporters at Interlagos that he flew to Brazil in order to watch Michael Schumacher compete in formula one for the last time.

The Finn, who retired in 2001 and today races in the DTM series, was named by Ferrari's Schumacher as his most memorable title rival when the retiring seven time title winner addressed the world's media on Thursday.  Schumacher said driving against Hakkinen was 'pure racing'.

"The best fights were with Mika," Schumacher said.  "I remember 2000, and also 1998 and 1998, with a lot of good memories."

Hakkinen told Eurosport: "It was fantastic.  It was pure racing.  It was not about crashing, not complaining after the race in the press.  That's one of the biggest reasons why there is such a high respect from Michael to me.  And vice versa."

Hakkinen, 38, was also asked if he would ever consider returning to the cockpit of a formula one car, perhaps for a McLaren test.

Hakkinen, a guest of the Mercedes-powered team in Brazil, said: "I'm sure Ron Dennis would give me enough time to test in F1 but it would be only for fun."

Ferrari 1-2 in final Brazil practice Ferrari 1-2 in final Brazil practice(GMM) The last free practice of the 2006 season was painted red in Brazil on Saturday morning, with Ferrari's Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher more than half a second clear of the opposition.

Honda's Jenson Button and Robert Kubica (BMW-Sauber) snatched third and fourth in the overcast and fairly cool conditions, while championship leader Fernando Alonso was more than a second off Schumacher's pace, seventh.

Schumacher had to be content with second best after he made a small mistake on a hot lap.

Nico Rosberg, who turned his Williams around in the Ferradura corner, headed the list of incidents, but Schumacher - with a special helmet for his last ever grand prix - was also spotted stationary on the curbs after a harmless spin.

The German's bespoke helmet features the name of all of his record 91 wins, beginning with the 1992 Belgian GP. Teammate Massa is wearing special green and yellow overalls - designed by tobacco sponsor Phillip Morris - to mark his home race.

Sakon Yamamoto (Super Aguri) and Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault) also had spins, as former world champions Mika Hakkinen and Emerson Fittipaldi watched on from the paddock.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:11.443 17
 2. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:11.631 + 0.188 15
 3. Button Honda (M) 1:12.306 + 0.863 15
 4. Kubica BMW-Sauber (M) 1:12.535 + 1.092 20
 5. Fisichella Renault (M) 1:12.567 + 1.124 15
 6. Barrichello Honda (M) 1:12.697 + 1.254 18
 7. Alonso Renault (M) 1:12.721 + 1.278 14
 8. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:12.723 + 1.280 12
 9. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:12.780 + 1.337 15
10. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) 1:13.037 + 1.594 15
11. Webber Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:13.205 + 1.762 16
12. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:13.380 + 1.937 13
13. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:13.455 + 2.012 18
14. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:13.530 + 2.087 20
15. Doornbos Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:13.564 + 2.121 21
16. R.Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:13.642 + 2.199 20
17. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:13.814 + 2.371 21
18. Monteiro Spyker MF1-Toyota (B) 1:13.832 + 2.389 15
19. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:13.944 + 2.501 20
20. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:14.051 + 2.608 19
21. Albers Spyker MF1-Toyota (B) 1:14.108 + 2.665 19
22. Yamamoto Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:14.875 + 3.432 21

F1 personnel attacked by gunmen in Brazil F1 personnel attacked by gunmen in BrazilA group of Formula One personnel were attacked at gunpoint when trying to drive from the Interlagos circuit to their hotel in Sao Paulo. The carload of four media staff for the Toyota team managed to escape an attempting carjacking, but Toyota spokesperson Fernanda Villa-Boas de Mello admitted that they were 'shocked' to experience first hand the notorious street crime of the sprawling Brazilian city.

Villa-Boas de Mello told PA Sport in Sao Paulo: "They would not have known there were Toyota personnel inside the car as it has blacked-out windows. One person tried to kick in a window, and then there were shots fired. He didn't want to shoot us, he just wanted to rob us. We eventually managed to pull away. Fortunately nobody was hurt."

Industry News
GM continues to lose global market share GM continues to lose global market shareGeneral Motors Corp.'s global sales declined 2.5% in the first nine months of the year, a sign that it is still losing ground to Toyota Motor Corp. in the race to remain the world's largest automaker.

GM's sales fell to 6.89 million vehicles through September from 7.07 million a year earlier, spokesman John McDonald said. Toyota's sales rose 7.1% in the first half of 2006 as GM sales slipped 2.3%. A Toyota spokesman couldn't immediately provide nine-month global sales figures.

Declining worldwide sales may hamper GM Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner's plan to recover from a $10.6-billion loss last year by trimming spending and introducing new models. Toyota earned $12.1 billion in the fiscal year that ended in March. zzzz

"The Toyota juggernaut is unstoppable -- they have all the money they want to do whatever they want," said John Wolkonowicz, an analyst with Global Insight Inc. in Lexington, Mass. "GM has done a lot to bring back consumers, but there's still this sense that the smart, sensible purchase is Toyota."

At the current pace, however, Toyota is unlikely to pass GM this year to become the world's largest automaker. Toyota projects 8.85 million sales in 2006. GM sold 9.17 million cars and trucks last year. It hasn't made a forecast for the year, but a 2.5% decline would bring total sales to 8.94 million. Detroit Free Press

Scenes from Surfers Saturday Scenes from Surfers SaturdaySome interesting scenes from Surfers Paradise on Saturday:


(L to R) Another photo of this stunning women many asked for, Paul Stoddart talking to Neil Micklewright and Kevin Kalkhoven, Tire Warmers on the new DP01, something that Champ Car should allow for all teams at all venues - one less crash caused by cold tires pays for all the tire warmers in one fell swoop.

Brazilian GP: Friday press conference Brazilian GP: Friday press conferenceParticipating: Ross Brawn (Ferrari), Patrick Head (Williams), Christian Horner (Red Bull), Pat Symonds (Renault) Transcript
Gore ecstatic over Power’s pole in Surfers Gore ecstatic over Power’s pole in SurfersAustralian businessman Craig Gore who put together the financing for the Team Australia Champ Car team was ecstatic over Will Power’s pole position for tomorrow's Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise. Right, Gore hugs Power after winning pole position.

“I think I’m having a fantastic dream and I don’t want to wake up yet,” said Gore.

“For Will to get the provisional pole yesterday was awesome and for him now to get the first pole for an Australian since Geoff Brabham in 1981 is just unbelievable.

“This is something the whole country can be proud of and something that will be remembered in Australian motorsport history for a long time.

“I’m so proud to have worked with all of our sponsors to make this a reality. The Team Australia crew is just amazing and Will is an extremely talented driver.

“I guess it’s fair to say I don’t want the dream to end, which means Will or Alex will have to win the race tomorrow. What a day it’s going to be for Team Australia.”

Kalkhoven dismisses any notion of a merger Kalkhoven dismisses any notion of a mergerChamp Car series co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven dismissed the notion that the series and Indy Racing League are even remotely close to a merger.

"That whole thing got blown out of proportion," Kalkhoven said Saturday at the Indy 300. "Tony and I talked, but there was nothing specific."

"We have gone a long way to resolving all sorts of issues, but our concentration is on Champ Car, which is going really well now," Kalkhoven said. "I'm kind of happy and not in any hurry."

"It would be nice to do a merger in some respects, but culturally the two organizations are very far apart," Kalkhoven said. "Paul Stoddart is more our kind of guy than a Roger Penske."

"There are no sticking points because we haven't got to that point," Kalkhoven added. "Tony and I just spent time getting to know each other. Everyone thought merger."

So will there ever be a merger?

"It's impossible to say," Kalkhoven said. "We're not really at that level of discussion."

TV News
USA TV reminders for Sunday USA TV reminders for Sunday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com
Champ Car Australia 11:10pm (Live Saturday night)
Shown Live on Champ Car's Race Director
NASCAR RaceDay Martinsville
11:00am-12:30pm (L) SPEED
Inside Drag Racing
12:00pm-12:30pm ESPN2
12:30pm-1:00pm ESPN2
Formula 1 Brazil
12:30pm-3:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Martinsville, VA Subway 500
12:30pm-4:30pm (L) NBC
Champ Car Australia
3:00pm-5:30pm (Delay) SPEED
IHRA Drag Racing Budds Creek
6:00pm-7:00pm SPEED
NASCAR Victory Lane Martinsville
7:00pm-8:00pm (SDD) SPEED
The SPEED Report
8:00pm-9:00pm SPEED
Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain
Jeff Gordon (NASCAR)
Dale Earnhardt Jr (NASCAR)

9:00pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED

All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.
Surfers Saturday tidbits Surfers Saturday tidbitsSebastien Bourdais must finish ninth or better in order to clinch his third consecutive Champ Car title tomorrow.

Will Power became the first Australian-born driver to win a Champ Car pole position since Geoff Brabham turned the trick at Riverside in 1981. It was only Brabham’s second Champ Car start, but he would never win a pole again despite making 87 total appearances.

Will Power and Dan Clarke have claimed the last two Champ Car poles, Power here in Australia and Clarke in Road America. This marks the first time that two different rookie drivers have started from pole in consecutive races since 1983. John Paul Jr. (Las Vegas) and Teo Fabi (Laguna Seca) were the last rookies to start on pole in back-to-back events.

Ryan Briscoe will start 11th in his Champ Car debut Sunday, putting him third among the eight rookies that will start Sunday’s event. Champ Car

The truth about Legault and Champ Car The truth about Legault and Champ CarUPDATE Not wanting to say much, Kevin Kalkhoven confirmed on Saturday in Surfers that negotiations are ongoing with Normand Legault with regard to Mont-Tremblant.

10/20/06 We spoke to Paul Gentilozzi (pictured right) today in Surfers to find out what's the real story of how Normand Legault went from being an apparent enemy of Champ Car over what happened with regard to the Montreal race, to now being a co-promoter of the new Mont-Tremblant race.

"At the request of track owner Lawrence Stoll I had three meetings with Normand," said Gentilozzi.  "Lawrence is good friends with Normand, who himself is a very successful businessman, and has been involved in F1 circles.  Once we sat down and understood what Legault's concerns with Champ Car were, and he ours, it became clear that Normand wasn't the enemy he was made out to be.  He originally bought CART, and what he got was Champ Car, two different things.  There will be more that will be coming out about the promoter relationship in Mont-Tremblant in a few weeks time, so I cannot say too much, but you must remember that the only person who has ever made money promoting a race in Quebec is Normand Legault, and together with Lawrence Stoll the track owner, who really wanted Normand on his team, the two of them will make this event very successful, you will see." Mark C.

Allmendinger and Tracy lead Surfers practice Allmendinger and Tracy lead Surfers practiceForsythe Racing teammates AJ Allmendinger and Paul Tracy ran 1-2 in Saturday morning practice in Surfers Paradise after a disastrous Friday which saw accidents damage two of the team's tubs.

Pos Driver # Team Lap Time Behind Leader
1 A. Allmendinger 7 Forsythe Championship Racing 1:32.929 N/A
2 P. Tracy 3 Forsythe Championship Racing 1:33.007 0.078
3 B. Junqueira 2 Newman/Haas Racing 1:33.064 0.135
4 S. Bourdais 1 Newman/Haas Racing 1:33.080 0.151
5 A. Pizzonia 18 Rocketsports Racing 1:33.194 0.265
6 N. Philippe 4 CTE Racing - HVM 1:33.905 0.976
7 D. Clarke 14 CTE Racing - HVM 1:34.020 1.091
8 W. Power 5 Team Australia 1:34.051 1.122
9 A. Tagliani 15 Team Australia 1:34.089 1.160
10 R. Briscoe 10 RuSPORT 1:34.115 1.186
11 M. Dominguez 8 Rocketsports Racing 1:34.415 1.486
12 O. Servia 6 PKV Racing 1:34.570 1.641
13 J. Heylen 11 Dale Coyne Racing 1:34.626 1.697
14 A. Ranger 27 Mi-Jack Conquest Racing 1:34.747 1.818
15 C. Zwolsman 34 Mi-Jack Conquest Racing 1:34.864 1.935
16 K. Legge 20 PKV Racing 1:35.415 2.486
17 A. Wirth 19 Dale Coyne Racing 1:38.218 5.289

Justice sweeps both Friday practice sessions Justice sweeps both Friday practice sessionsRyan Justice, of Portland, Oregon, set the pace in both practice sessions today for Round Twelve of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear being held this weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca as part of the Monterey Sports Car Championships. Driving the #38 Northwest Autosport World Food Program Mazda, Justice improved on his morning fast time with a lap of 1:21.426 (98.816 MPH) around the 2.238-mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit to lead the field of forty-one drivers participating in the Star Mazda season finale.

"The team did an excellent job today so I have to give the credit to them for all their hard work and I also have to thank the World Food Program and Jim Justice for their support," Justice said. "We had some problems with the brakes in the first session today and the crew went to work and changed everything out before the afternoon session. The car is working really well and I'm looking forward to qualifying and the race." zzzz

Michael Potekhen returns to the top of the time sheets today after setting the second fastest time overall with a lap at 1:21.697 (98.618 MPH) in the #53 Apex Racing Avenue Communities Mazda. "We had a rough weekend at Road Atlanta when the wiring harness failed during the race so it feels good to be back up at the front of the field again," the Tempe, Arizona resident explained. "I really enjoy this track and they've done a great job with the circuit. Now we're looking to go out tomorrow and finish out the season with a victory."

As the championship race becomes a two-man battle between Adrian Carrio and Kevin Lacroix, Carrio currently holds the speed advantage after setting the third fastest time of the day at 1:21.705 (98.608 MPH) in the #14 World Speed Motorsports Rockford Fosgate Mazda. "We had a strong session out there this afternoon and know exactly what we need to do tomorrow, " Carrio, the championship points leader entering the final round, revealed. "We spent most of the session working on our race setup and determining how the car will change during the race and we feel we'll be ready for the final battle tomorrow."

While Carrio sits ahead of Lacroix at the end of final practice he wasn't able to put a large gap on the St Eustache, Canada resident as Lacroix sits just behind him on the time sheets with the fourth fastest time of the day in the #74 John Walko Racing Uni-Select Auto Parts Mazda. Lacroix, who clinched the Rookie-of-the-Year crown at Round Eleven, still has an uphill climb to take the championship from Carrio, who holds a thirty-five point lead in the standings.

The championship showdown will now move to the sole forty minute qualifying session of the weekend which is scheduled for 8:00 AM Pacific Time on Saturday, October 21st. Round Twelve of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear is scheduled to roll off the grid later in the morning at 11:35 AM Pacific Time.

German F3
Oval victim Foster released from hospital Oval victim Foster released from hospitalJoey Foster has been discharged from hospital to continue his recovery at home from injuries sustained during the German F3 race at the Lausitzring back in July. A 120 mph impact with the oval track's concrete wall left him hospitalized for two months with extensive back and neck injuries.

"I was going into exit turn one and there was a slower car higher up the banking," he recalls. "It came back down ever so slightly and that distracted me. There was no collision but at the precise moment I glanced at it I went down lower and clipped the curb on the inside. That turned the car around and I went back up the banking and hit the wall gearbox first.

"Everyone has had high speed spins before and you kind of try and work out at which angle you are going to hit at. I didn't expect it to be an especially large impact but obviously it was. I remember the bang and then I just felt really winded. Then I realized that my legs had been pushed up and were right up in the cockpit and I remember thinking that probably isn't a good thing!

"I had some pain but it wasn't too bad, I guess the adrenalin was overriding it. The marshals were terrific and once they came I relaxed a little. To be honest the car didn't look too badly damaged at all but it was just unlucky the angle that it hit at. Everyone knows that the Lola is a very fast car, but it is also bloody strong, considering the speed it hit the wall."

BMW rear wing: ’Thanks Michael’ BMW rear wing: ’Thanks Michael’UPDATE (GMM)  Ferrari's Michael Schumacher thanked his rivals on Friday after the German veteran spotted a retirement message on the rear wing of all three BMW-Sauber F1 cars.

In morning practice, the blue lettering on the rearward-facing elements of the BMW cars read 'Thanks Michael', in reference to 37-year-old Schumacher's 250th and last grand prix in a sixteen year career.

In the afternoon, the team had switched the message to German with the wings now reading: 'Danke Michael'.

"Apart from the extra photographers and cameras, I feel the same as usual," Schumacher told reporters after practice at the Interlagos circuit in Brazil.

He added: "The only difference is the 'thanks' message from BMW, which made me very happy when I saw it.  I can only say 'thanks' to them in return!"

German squad BMW-Sauber's Friday driver, Sebastian Vettel, commented: "I hope he saw (the message) and he enjoyed it."

10/20/06 (GMM)  The rear wing of German teenager Sebastian Vettel's third BMW-Sauber at Interlagos on Friday morning paid homage to his retiring countryman.

In big blue lettering, it read: 'Thanks Michael'.

Wurz comments on tire war in Brazil Wurz comments on tire war in Brazil(GMM) Bridgestone-shod Williams' Friday practice driver Alex Wurz believes departing tire rival Michelin have an advantage over a single lap in Sao Paulo.

The Austrian told 'Premiere': "But the Bridgestones could get better as we go along (this weekend). I think the Bridgestones could even have an advantage in the race."

No penalty for Alonso engine swap No penalty for Alonso engine swap(GMM)  Renault on Friday confirmed reports that championship leader Fernando Alonso's 'd' specification of V8 engine was changed prior to practice at Brazil.

Head of engine operations Denis Chevrier said the unit now residing the rear of the Spaniard's racer at Interlagos was originally fitted to the t-car.

He said: "The latest results of our dyno testing in Viry indicated it offered us the optimum performance-reliability compromise.  This unit functioned faultlessly today, as did the E specification engine in Giancarlo (Fisichella)'s car."

With 25-year-old Alonso needing a single point to seal his second drivers' crown on Sunday, the engine change does not incur a penalty because it was completed before he turned a lap in Sao Paulo.

He was tenth quickest in the decisive second session.

McNish shows way in first practice McNish shows way in first practiceMonterey, Calif. – Allan McNish turned the fastest lap in the first official practice session for the Monterey Sports Car Championships on Friday morning, a 1:14.806 effort in the diesel-powered Audi R10 TDI he will share with Rinaldo Capello.

The Scot, who already has clinched the LMP1 drivers championship with Capello, was nearly a half second better than Sascha Maassen in Penske Racing's No. 6 Porsche RS Spyder, the leading LMP2 car. In Thursday's test session the RS Spyder was the quickest overall, besting even the Audi around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

McNish said the Audi had little problems with the twisty 11-turn, 2.238-mile circuit. With the tremendous amount of torque the diesel engine produces, some were wondering how difficult – if at all – navigating the track would be. zzzz

"It's nice to be back," said McNish, who last competed at Laguna Seca in 2000. "There was a bit more sand on the circuit than I remembered, but that's probably a lack of memory from five years ago. The problem with our torque and oversteer is the least of our issues. The weight will be more of a problem. I'm not complaining, that's just the way it works out."

The next quickest P1 car was the Creation-Judd of Nic Minassian (the pole winner at Petit Le Mans) and Harold Primat at 1:15.461, good for fourth overall. The "Blue Rocket" sat just ahead of the factory Zytek 06S of Stefan Johannson and Johnny Mowlem.

Maassen's time of 1:15.231 was 0.019 seconds ahead of the sister Porsche of Romain Dumas and Lucas Luhr. Maassen is sharing driving duties with Timo Bernhard and is seeking the class drivers championship. The two Porsches paced the P2 field ahead of a pair of Radical SR9s, the first being the Team Bruichladdich entry of Stuart Moseley and Michael Vergers at 1:15.963. The van der Steur Racing Radical of Ben Devlin, Gunnar van der Steur and Adam Pecorari was at 1:17.278.

In GT1, Pedro Lamy set the fastest time for the second straight day in the No. 009 Aston Martin DBR9. His lap of 1:21.326 put him less than 0.1 seconds ahead of the No. 4 Corvette C6.R of Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin. Next up was the other Corvette of Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell at 1:21.454.

Mike Rockenfeller was the quickest driver in GT2 with a 1:24.745 in the Alex Job Racing Porsche. The Porsche factory pilot was 0.127 seconds better than the Petersen/White Lightning Racing Porsche of Jorg Bergmeister and Patrick Long. Next up was the first of the two Ferrari F430GTs of Risi Competizione – the No. 62 of Mika Salo and Stephane Ortelli at 1:25.127.

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, and IMSA Live Timing & Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.

Brian France tries to fool the media Brian France tries to fool the mediaNASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France indicated that he “remains unfazed by declining” Nielsen ratings and “blamed the dip mostly on a lack of promotion from NBC,” which is in the last year of its contract with the racing organization. “That’s kind of par for the course when you change TV partners and you have a final year in the situation that we’re in.”

Psst, quick someone tell France that NBC’s Nextel Cup ratings are down 11% this season, while Fox saw an 8% decline in the first half of the season, so they are down across the board and not just for NBC's portion. TNT's portion was also consistently down.  The fact of the matter is that NASCAR's ship is taking on water fast.  Man the Life Boats - AC Delco and GM Goodwrench have already jumped ship.

Justice sets pace in first official practice Justice sets pace in first official practiceMonterey, California. Ryan Justice, of Portland, Oregon, topped the time sheets this morning in the first official practice session for Round Twelve of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear. Driving the #38 Northwest Autosport World Food Program Mazda, Justice lapped the 2.238-mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit in a time of 1:21.533 (98.816 MPH) to lead the field of forty-one drivers participating in the Star Mazda season finale.

Drivers took to the track for a forty-five minute session under sunny skies and temperatures in the low sixties and while Justice sits out front the competition is not far off of his pace. Leading the chase in this morning's session was Michael Potekhen in the #53 Apex Racing Avenue Communities Mazda with a time of 1:21.697 (98.618 MPH) while Ron White, who has won the past three races, was third fastest with a time of 1:22.083 (98.154 MPH) in the #69 Ross Smith Racing Maxwell Paper Products Mazda.

Practice continues this afternoon with a final forty-five minute session set to get underway at 12:45 PM Pacific Time. Qualifying and Round Twelve of the Star Mazda Championship presented by Goodyear are slated for Saturday, October 21st.

Angelelli Tops Laguna Seca Morning Practice Angelelli Tops Laguna Seca Morning PracticeMONTEREY, Calif., – Max Angelelli, of Monte Carlo, Monaco, led the SPEED GT morning practice session at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, part of the Monterey Sports Car Championships. Randy Pobst, of Gainesville, Ga., and Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton, Fla., completed the top three.

Angelelli clocked a time of 1:29.064 (90.460 mph) around the undulating 2.238-mile track, 0.3-seconds under the current track record of 1:30.387 (89.136 mph), set by Wolf Henzler last year in a Porsche 911 Cup.  The No. 12 XM/Mobil/Motorola/On Star Cadillac CTS-V led practice from start to finish and set his quick time shortly after the start of the session, which was a simulated qualifying session for many.

“It’s a good benchmark to see where we are compared to the other competitors,” Angelelli said. “I still believe [Tommy] Archer is hiding a lot of speed and not showing his true potential.  He’s going to show it to everybody tomorrow, but right now we’re looking quite good, so I’m very happy about that. I love this track.” zzzz

Second quick is the No. 23 At Speed Motorsports Porsche 911 Cup of Pobst, who clocked a time of 1:29.629 (89.890 mph). Pobst is pulling double duty this weekend running both SPEED GT and Touring Car, and finds himself second on the timesheets in both classes.

Closing out the top three is Angelelli teammate and defending SPEED GT Champion Pilgrim, with a 1:30.088 (89.432 mph) in the No. 1 Cadillac CTS-V.

Johnny O’Connell, of Flowery Branch, Ga., was fourth quick in his No. 16 Cadillac CTS-V, with a time of 1:30.114 (89.406 mph), followed by the No. 6 Banner Engineering Chevrolet Corvette of Leighton Reese, from Minnetonka, Minn., with a 1:30.184 (89.337 mph).

The entire top five were under the current qualifying lap record at Laguna Seca.

The final SPEED GT practice session will take place Friday afternoon at 4:55 p.m. (Pacific).  Sunday’s race is scheduled to begin at 2:00 p.m.

Podlesni Earns Atlantic Test With PR1 Motorsports Podlesni Earns Atlantic Test With PR1 MotorsportsButtonwillow, Calif. – Robert Podlesni scooped the top honors during Sunday evening’s post-season banquet in Las Vegas, capping his remarkable sophomore campaign in the Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Hankook Tires.

The 18-year-old from Thousand Oaks, Calif., already had made clear his intention to graduate into next year’s Champ Car Atlantic Series Powered by Mazda, and his aspirations moved one step closer to reality midway through the evening when he was offered an all-expenses-paid test in a Champ Car Atlantic Series Swift, courtesy of PR1 Motorsports and Buttonwillow Raceway.

"The Atlantic announcement was a surprise to me," said Podlesni, who won six of the season’s 12 races in his Alpinestars/Dave Freitas Racing Van Diemen. "I had been talking to PR1 Motorsports about doing some testing with them, but getting a free one-day test is just great. It is a wonderful reward for Pacific F2000, and one that I think will attract a lot of attention to the series.

"I can’t wait for the test and would like to thank Bobby Oergel and Les Phillips for taking the time and resources to work this out. It’s a fantastic opportunity and one I very much look forward to taking part in."

"I’ve been keeping an eye on Robert and have been impressed," explained Bobby Oergel, whose PR1 Motorsports team guided Canadian Mike Forest to the 2005 Pacific F2000 Championship before graduating into the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. zzzz

PR1 took a deserved first Atlantic win recently when former F2000 champion Jonathan Bomarito took the checkered flag in the season finale at Road America.

"Our team has a good history in the Pacific F2000 series and there’s a bunch of talented youngsters taking part," continued Oergel. "It’s nice to be able to give one of them an opportunity like this."

For Pacific F2000 Championship founder Les Phillips, the Atlantic test provides a further validation of the series’ worth.

"With the help of our generous sponsors we are so happy to offer this opportunity to a more than deserving winner," said Phillips. "We’ve just finished our third season and it’s good to know that our influence in the driver ladder system continues to grow. Our successful drivers from past years continue to move up, and the chassis-engine-tire package has proven to be by far the best value-for-money platform out there.

"The combination of fast tracks like California Speedway and more technical challenges like Infineon and Buttonwillow Raceway have provided great variety and tuning challenges for our young drivers in 2006.

"The 2007 season is already taking shape and the entry count will be even higher than the 20-plus cars per event over the past two years," added Phillips. "Drivers from karting and the SCCA are all recognizing the benefits that the Pacific F2000 Championship provides toward career advancement."

Brazil: Wurz fastest in practice 2 Brazil: Wurz fastest in practice 2(GMM) After a comparatively sedate morning session, Interlagos burst into life as the last Friday afternoon practice for the 2006 season was staged outside of Sao Paulo.

Conditions remained cloudy and cool, with a few spots of undisruptive rain even falling on the 'Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace' in an action-packed sixty minute session.

Behind the unrestrained 'Friday' runners, the quickest race driver was Jarno Trulli (Toyota), while title protagonists Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso were separated by a tenth of a second in sixth and tenth places.

Alonso had an anxious run, with a lock-up, traffic often getting in his way and a near-collision with the wayward Super Aguri of Sakon Yamamoto.

Moreover, for an unspecified reason, mechanics had made a late engine change to the similar 'd' specification of the t-car, but the Spaniard avoids a qualifying penalty because it was completed before his installation lap this morning.

Robert Kubica (BMW), Scott Speed (Toro Rosso) and even Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) had harmless spins, but a worse fate befell Robert Doornbos when his Red Bull appeared to grind to a stop.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa finished the session a distant seventeenth, but he nonetheless rode on the hopes of his local supporters by wearing a special Brazil-colored set of overalls. And for the benefit of German-speaking spectators, BMW switched the writing on the rear wings to: 'Danke Michael'.

None of the four Cosworth-powered cars (Williams, Toro Rosso) in the field rose above 19th best, meanwhile, but a technician lamented the engine supplier's last race in formula one with a t-shirt that said: 'Cosworth don't do formula one engines anymore.

'But if they did ...'

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Wurz Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:12.547 33
 2. Davidson Honda (M) 1:12.653 + 0.106 37
 3. Vettel BMW-Sauber (M) 1:12.870 + 0.323 33
 4. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:13.483 + 0.936 21
 5. Button Honda (M) 1:13.485 + 0.938 13
 6. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:13.713 + 1.166 15
 7. R.Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:13.765 + 1.218 22
 8. Montagny Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:13.792 + 1.245 20
 9. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:13.803 + 1.256 8
10. Alonso Renault (M) 1:13.820 + 1.273 16
11. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:13.926 + 1.379 16
12. Fisichella Renault (M) 1:14.053 + 1.506 17
13. Barrichello Honda (M) 1:14.434 + 1.887 17
14. Ammermuller Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:14.436 + 1.889 31
15. Monteiro Spyker MF1-Toyota (B) 1:14.468 + 1.921 18
16. Kubica BMW-Sauber (M) 1:14.510 + 1.963 15
17. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:14.561 + 2.014 15
18. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) 1:14.793 + 2.246 13
19. Webber Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:14.839 + 2.292 15
20. Viso Spyker MF1-Toyota (B) 1:14.972 + 2.425 26
21. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:15.023 + 2.476 27
22. Albers Spyker MF1-Toyota (B) 1:15.086 + 2.539 21
23. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:15.124 + 2.577 14
24. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:15.214 + 2.667 21
25. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:15.737 + 3.190 22
26. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:15.855 + 3.308 28
27. Jani Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:15.868 + 3.321 22
28. Doornbos Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:16.251 + 3.704 8
29. Yamamoto Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:18.321 + 5.774 9

With Toyota Williams begins to steal talent from others With Toyota Williams begins to steal talent from othersAs we have seen with the Japanese manufacturers when they come into any racing series, be it IMSA, CART, IRL, NASCAR or F1, they win by buying the best talent from the opposition.  While Toyota or Honda might not write the check directly, the pattern has been evident with any team they become associated with.  The latest example is the Williams F1 team.

Williams has been busy building up its technical staff with the appointment of Renault's deputy head of aerodynamics Jon Tomlinson becoming head of the Williams aero department. He will be joined by former McLaren senior aerodynamicist Amit Chakraborty.  The team's new chief designer Ed Wood will be joined by former Williams man John Russell, who was chief designer at Jaguar Racing before heading off to Australia for three years in the V8 series. In part from Grandprix.com

New Champ Car shifts almost as fast as F1 cars New Champ Car shifts almost as fast as F1 carsWe spoke to a Pi Research person in Surfers on Friday about the new paddle shifter gear change system that they were heavily involved in developing for the new Champ Car (See photos below). What we learned is that the new Champ Car upshifts in about 23 to 24 milliseconds and downshifts in about 27 milliseconds. A $10 million F1 car only upshifts and downshifts about 3 milliseconds faster. Talk about F1 being a total waste of money. A Champ Car costs less than $400K and your ears will never be able to hear the difference of 3 milliseconds.  The F1 system is hydraulic while the Champ Car system is pneumatic.

The new Champ Car looks almost identical to an F1 car except for the airbox on the engine. If Champ Car can get its teams to use paint schemes as flashy and professional as F1 teams, they can present a very similar product to fans as F1 does for a small fraction of the cost. And with the new Champ Car being 100 pounds lighter than the existing one, yet with more downforce and the same HP and tire grip level while F1 cars will be going slower on harder tires next year, Champ Car starts to become, to the naked eye, awfully similar......and you wonder why Bernie is trying to outmaneuver Champ Car in every new world market? One might think Bernie might be a bit worried perhaps......

Back to the paddle shifter systems, we spoke to test driver Roberto Moreno who is ecstatic about the new systems. He tells us it works flawlessly and it is very very fast. "The drivers are really going to like it," said Moreno. He showed us the bottom right-hand button on the wheel which is used to select reverse.

Jarrett UPS numbers to be revealed today Jarrett UPS numbers to be revealed todayWhat number will Dale Jarrett’s UPS Toyota Camry carry during the 2007 Nextel Cup Series season? That question will be answered Friday, October 20th at 10:00am/et, on the UPS Racing web site, www.racing.ups.com. The UPS Racing program will have a new home, new manufacturer and new look for the 2007 season. It was announced in July that UPS will join driver Dale Jarrett at Michael Waltrip Racing, adorning the hood of a Nextel Cup Series Toyota Camry beginning at Daytona International Speedway in February. The number of that car, along with the paint scheme, will be unveiled at www.racing.ups.com this Friday.(UPS PR)
Montoya finds NASCAR more friendly Montoya finds NASCAR more friendlySomething just wasn't right as Juan Pablo Montoya turned his first official laps in a NASCAR Nextel Cup car this week at Homestead-Miami Speedway.  "(Kevin) Harvick came to the team. He said, 'You know, looking at the car from behind, I think the car is too low on the left,' " Montoya relayed in a teleconference Wednesday. "He said, 'I think you should try this here, do that.' "

So much for whether the Formula One-turned-NASCAR driver at Chip Ganassi Racing would be accepted. The 31-year-old Colombian already has spent time with Cup drivers off the track, and they've proved to be equally as friendly on it.

"We don't do that in Europe. If you see somebody struggling in Formula One, you never going to go and say, 'You're making this wrong.' You actually go to your guys, and you say, 'You see what they're doing wrong,' " Montoya said with a chuckle.

Montoya will make his NASCAR debut in a Busch Series car Oct. 28 at Memphis Motorsports Park, which wouldn't be his first choice.

"If I had to pick to say where I wanted to do my first Busch race, I wouldn't pick that one," said Montoya, who has run two ARCA races in recent weeks, of the tricky track. USA Today

Williams to stay blue and white in 2007 Williams to stay blue and white in 2007(GMM) Williams is the third formula one team that is heading for a January launch.

In a telephone news conference, team principal and co-owner Sir Frank Williams revealed that the team's identity for 2007 will be unveiled in the opening days of the new year.

Williams' disclosure follows those of rivals Renault and McLaren, with the reduction in pre-season testing this winter sure to put a premium on releasing new cars as soon as possible.

"Essentially our colors will remain blue and white," Sir Frank Williams said, whilst enthusing about the new multi year 'AT&T' title sponsorship and a raft of new technical appointments at the factory in Grove.

track news
Goody's signs on for 3 more years at Martinsville Goody's signs on for 3 more years at MartinsvilleGoody’s Headache Powders will return to historic Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, VA. as title sponsor of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race for the next three years, announced Alan McKirby, Director of Goody’s Marketing, and Clay Campbell, President Martinsville Speedway.  Next year’s Goody’s 500 will be held on Sunday, April 1, 2007. 

“After many years of sponsoring NASCAR races at Martinsville, we’re thrilled to be back in the heart of Goody’s Country as title sponsor of the Goody’s 500, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race,” said McKirby.  “Fans can look forward to 2007 being a groundbreaking year for Goody’s in the sport of NASCAR.  Celebrating 30 years in the sport, there will be an abundance of new and exciting activities in 2007 all of which will enhance the experience of race fans throughout Goody’s Country.”

Brazil: Kimi tops practice 1 Brazil: Kimi tops practice 1Under black clouds at the Interlagos circuit, free practice kicked off late on Friday morning for the final grand prix of the 2006 season.

Championship contenders Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso were giving nothing away about their likely form in Brazil, however, with Alonso only doing a casual out lap eleven minutes from the end and Schumacher devoting his time to a quick seat fitting in his Ferrari.

Ernesto Viso at least provided some entertainment as the Venezuelan made his 'Friday' debut for Spyker, spinning twice.  Jarno Trulli also lost grip at one point on the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace layout, turning his Toyota in the Bico di Pato corner.

Local driver Rubens Barrichello arrived at the circuit on Friday morning with his five year old son, Eduardo, then later wore a special helmet - with bright yellow flashes - on track.

Viso's fellow 'Friday' runners notched up the majority of laps, but just five tours were enough for Kimi Raikkonen to top the times.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
 1. Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:13.764 5
 2. Davidson Honda (M) 1:13.902 + 0.138 32
 3. Wurz Williams-Cosworth (B) 1:13.922 + 0.158 25
 4. Vettel BMW-Sauber (M) 1:14.204 + 0.440 29
 5. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:14.237 + 0.473 5
 6. Button Honda (M) 1:14.487 + 0.723 4
 7. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:14.888 + 1.124 8
 8. Jani Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:15.159 + 1.395 25
 9. Barrichello Honda (M) 1:15.661 + 1.897 6
10. Ammermuller Red Bull-Ferrari (M) 1:15.711 + 1.947 22
11. R.Schumacher Toyota (B) 1:16.168 + 2.404 6
12. Sato Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:16.534 + 2.770 16
13. Viso Spyker MF1-Toyota (B) 1:16.737 + 2.973 32
14. Speed Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:17.047 + 3.283 14
15. Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Cosworth (M) 1:17.311 + 3.547 8
16. Yamamoto Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:17.388 + 3.624 14
17. Montagny Super Aguri-Honda (B) 1:17.744 + 3.980 6
18. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (M) No time 1
19. Kubica BMW-Sauber (M) No time 1
20. Albers Spyker MF1-Toyota (B) No time 1
21. Monteiro Spyker MF1-Toyota (B) No time 1
22. Coulthard Red Bull-Ferrari (M) No time 1
23. Doornbos Red Bull-Ferrari (M) No time 1
24. Fisichella Renault (M) No time 1
25. Alonso Renault (M) No time 1
26. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B)
27. Massa Ferrari (B)
28. Webber Williams-Cosworth (B)
29. Rosberg Williams-Cosworth (B)

Lexmark Indy 300 live on Race Director Saturday night Lexmark Indy 300 live on Race Director Saturday nightReminder - The Lexmark 300 Champ Car race in Surfers Paradise, Australia can be seen live on the Champ Car Race Director on Saturday night at 11:10 pm ET.  The race will be aired delayed on Sunday, October 22, 3:00 pm - 5:30 pm ET on SPEED.  A replay of the race will be shown Wednesday, October 25, 12:00 pm - 2:30 pm ET SPEED.
TV News
USA TV reminders for Saturday USA TV reminders for Saturday
Courtesy of TVRacer.com

CHAMP CAR Lexmark Indy 300, Surfers Paradise, Practice 4
12:00 am, Champ Car Race Director
CHAMP CAR Lexmark Indy 300, Surfers Paradise, Qualifying 2
12:20 am, Champ Car Race Director
FORMULA 1 Inside Grand Prix Brazil
2:30am-3:00am  SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Final Practice Martinsville
11:00am-12:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Martinsville
12:00pm-12:30pm (L)  SPEED
NASCAR Craftsman Truck  Martinsville, VA
12:30pm-3:30pm (L) SPEED
FORMULA 1 Qualifying Brazil
3:30pm-5:00pm (SDD) SPEED
3:30pm-5:30pm HBO2
5:30pm-10:00pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown Irwindale, CA
10:00pm-2:00am (L) SPEED
CHAMP CAR Lexmark Indy 300, Surfers Paradise Race
11:10pm (L) Champ Car Race Director
(Shown delayed on SPEED on Sun, Oct. 22)

All times listed are ET. For a complete listing of TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.

Williams announces title sponsor Williams announces title sponsorWilliams announced on Friday that AT&T, which formerly stood for 'American Telephone and Telegraph', will become title sponsor next year.

The multi year agreement, speculated to be worth up to $50m per year for at least three years, will see the newly Toyota-powered renamed 'AT&T WilliamsF1 Team' from 2007.

AT&T, based in San Antonio and Texas (USA), has existing formula one links with the McLaren and Jaguar teams. Williams, founded by Sir Frank Williams and Patrick Head in 1977, did not have a title sponsor in 2006.
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
1. Ralf steers clear of Trulli 'rift'
2. Klien to show face in Brazil
3. Fisi tells Piquet to expect long wait

Ralf steers clear of Trulli 'rift'
Ralf Schumacher has steered clear of reports that he and Toyota's senior management were annoyed at Jarno Trulli after the Japanese grand prix.

Speculation suggests that team bosses scolded Ralf's Italian teammate at Suzuka because Trulli ignored radio calls to let the quicker Toyota car pass.

A single extra point in Japan would have drawn the Cologne based squad level with BMW-Sauber in the constructors' title.

Schumacher, 31, rejected talk of a team 'rift', but he did say in Brazil: "For the team it would have been better if I had overtaken him. I think I could have finished fourth, but it is impossible to know that."

Instead, Trulli was sixth, and Ralf seventh. Zzzz

Klien to show face in Brazil
He may not have a car to drive, but Christian Klien is scheduled to show his face in the Interlagos paddock on Friday.

The 23-year-old Red Bull refugee, who lost his drive after missing out on a seat for 2007 and turning down a funded Champ Car offer, is planning meetings with both Spyker and Honda and will be accompanied by his father-manager Johannes, according to rumors.

Fisi tells Piquet to expect long wait
Giancarlo Fisichella has warned Nelson Piquet Jr to sit tight after the 2007 Renault test driver said he was anticipating the Roman's retirement from F1.

21-year-old Piquet commented this week: "Fisichella may retire in 2008 and if everything goes right, I should replace him."

But Fisichella, who in January will turn thirty four but is still younger than a handful of current F1 rivals, told reporters at Interlagos that he was not planning to hang up his helmet any time soon.

Referring to Brazilian Piquet, he said: "If he is waiting for me to retire then I think he will only be an F1 driver in six or seven years.

"I want to renew my deal here and I would like to work with Renault for a few more years."

Fisichella signed a contract in June to race for Renault for a third consecutive season in 2007.
Button scolds Bernie for 'lazy' jibe Button scolds Bernie for 'lazy' jibe(GMM)  Jenson Button has hit back at Bernie Ecclestone after the F1 supremo accused him of not putting enough effort into his career.

Ecclestone, 75, said earlier this week that Honda's 26-year-old Englishman was like an 'old-time driver' who tried to rely on talent rather than dedication.

He said: "Michael (Schumacher) will win a race and next day start testing.  I'm not sure whether Jenson is prepared to do that.'"

In the Interlagos paddock, Button reacted angrily to the suggestion and accused Bernie of speaking out of turn.

"You have to look at the facts, which he hasn't done," Jenson told reporters, "because I've done more miles than anyone in testing.

"During the season I've done about the same miles in testing as Michael."

Broken wrist sidelines Wilson Broken wrist sidelines WilsonSurfers Paradise, Qld., Australia – Due to the injury which Justin Wilson sustained during provisional qualifying warm up, RuSPORT will be withdrawing the #9 CDW / RuSPORT car. 

In a statement from Champ Car Director of Medical Affairs, Dr. Chris Pinderski, “Justin (Wilson) suffered a fracture of his scaphoid bone in his right wrist.  The fracture will preclude him from participating this weekend and he will be re-evaluated upon his return to the United States.” 

Justin Wilson stated, “I’m very disappointed not to be able to race this weekend.  It is a track and a race that I enjoy a lot and was looking forward to.  I thought we had a very good chance of finishing on the podium for CDW.”

“It seems hard to believe that such a small incident (he just skimmed the wall) can put me out for the weekend. What makes this more difficult is that, from a racetrack configuration standpoint, this was totally avoidable.”

“Needless to say it is very disappointing to have to withdraw the #9 CDW car for the remainder of the weekend here at Surfers Paradise,” said RuSPORT president Jeremy Dale.  “Justin’s incident was a very minor one and in fact he drove the car back to the pit without any problems but there is just no possible way for him to drive a Champ Car this weekend. Our main focus with Justin now is to get him back to the states and get him 100% healthy as quickly as we can.”

Alonso admits focus on drivers' crown Alonso admits focus on drivers' crown(GMM)  Fernando Alonso admitted at Interlagos that he is not focused on helping Renault to secure the constructors' championship in his last race for the F1 team.

The Spaniard, who will switch to McLaren for the 2007 season, told reporters in Brazil that the 'important thing for me' is the drivers' crown, for which he only needs to add one more point to his tally.

"For sure (the constructors) is an important championship, but I think the team and myself know which one is more important," Alonso, 25, said.

"(We) try to win this drivers' championship first."

Undoubtedly, however, Renault has taken a more conservative approach to Alonso's team farewell in Brazil, by installing a more reliable engine in his car.  Teammate Giancarlo Fisichella has the mightier 'E' spec.

Alonso also hinted that his championship run has been tainted by politics in 2006, by explaining that he enjoyed last year's battle with McLaren more.

"For sure I had a much better feeling last year about the championship, the sport and about everything," he said.

Massa promises to play fair Massa promises to play fair(GMM)  Felipe Massa promised at Sao Paulo to play fair, despite pledging to help teammate Michael Schumacher to win a final championship crown.

"I am going to be honest," said the Brazilian, at his first home grand prix at Interlagos as a Ferrari driver.

The only way Schumacher, 37, can snatch the drivers' title is if he wins the race on Sunday and Fernando Alonso fails to finish.

Massa, admitting that he can only eye victory for himself if Alonso runs into trouble, insisted: "I am not going to be dirty.  I don't want to do that at all.  I will only help Michael in the right way.

"There will be no dirty tricks."

Seen in Surfers Paradise Friday - III Seen in Surfers Paradise Friday - IIIPhoenix and Las Vegas Champ Car race promoters Dale Jensen and Brad Yonover are in attendance at Surfers Paradise this weekend and we had a chance to chat with them for awhile on Friday. (Dale Jensen, white shirt studies a cell phone while Champ Car's Dick Eidswick chats with Roberto Moreno)

Both came to Australia to see how Champ Car's biggest street race is done as both of their new events for 2007 are street races. They also gave us some insight into the political wrangling that went on between them and ISC's Phoenix International Raceway regarding the Phoenix race. (A busy Brad Yonover, left, dials his cell phone)

While much of the conversation was off the record, the bottom line was that they outmaneuvered the powerful France family politically and exposed the lies that were being told with regard to the negative impact that the Champ Car street race might have on the 2nd NASCAR Nextel Cup weekend. When it was all said and done, the surveys showed that the PIR race would only see a drop of a few thousand people over the entire weekend.

Yonover told us that "We also came to an agreement to allow each other space at each other's event to cross-promote the two events. Everything is looking good for both of our events. We are talking to a number of firms about title and presenting sponsorship and one company might want to sponsor both races," said Yonover.

As for the issue with the location of the pits for the Phoenix race Yonover said, "We are still looking at how to best handle the location of the pits. Unfortunately we have some natural barriers we must deal with."

Rocketsports team shows improvement Rocketsports team shows improvementA good start to the Rocketsports Racing weekend Down Under as the team provisionally qualifies Mario Dominguez and Antonio Pizzonia in the ninth and tenth spots, respectively.

It was not a challenging start for Dominguez as it was for his teammate Pizzonia this morning. Dominguez is attempting to make his fifth start at the Australia venue this weekend and has the experience and a race win during his rookie year in 2002 under his belt, which helped him as he began preparations for this weekend's Lexmark Indy 300. Pizzonia, who will be making his third start with the team on Sunday, is new to the 2.795-mile temporary street course and took the time today to learn the course finding a good line and understanding exactly what the #18 Lexington Energy Services/Rocketsports car needs to be competitive.

Dominguez began to experience a mechanical issue on the #8 Pemex/GICSA/Del Valle car this afternoon during the pre-qualifying practice session. He was able to get in one good run, before the issue really became a problem for the team, which saw him post his quickest time in provisional qualifying of 1:33.267 (107.884 mph, 173.622 kph) on his fourth lap out. Despite the Rocketsports team's effort to repair the car, they ran out of time this afternoon to send him back out there for his second stint. The time he recorded placed him ninth on the Champ Car timing and scoring charts, not bad considering the team's misfortune.

Pizzonia continued to work on learning the course in the afternoon, but did post a competitive time of 1:33.736 (107.344 mph, 172,752 kph) on his sixth orbit. That time put him in the top ten, just behind his teammate in tenth spot for the final results of provisional qualifying. Pizzonia was the third quickest rookie this afternoon out of a total of eight drivers running for the first time at this venue.

So a positive showing today for the team in its first day at the Australia track, with the anticipation that tomorrow's results will be even better. Both cars will have two sets of the Bridgestone Potenza Red Tires for tomorrow, as the team only ran on Black tires this afternoon. So with that in favor, times should improve along with the opportunity of more track time in the morning, as long as the weather cooperates. Rocketsports

Both RuSPORT cars miss Friday qualifying Both RuSPORT cars miss Friday qualifyingJustin Wilson (#9 CDW / RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth / Lola / Bridgestone) as well as teammate Ryan Briscoe (#10 RuSPORT / Ford-Cosworth / Lola / Bridgestone) did not put up qualifying times during provisional qualifying for the Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, Australia.  They will be placed 16th and 17th respectively on the provisional grid.

Wilson and his CDW / RuSPORT team along with Briscoe and his RuSPORT team will work to improve their starting position in final qualifying tomorrow in Surfer’s Paradise, Australia.

“First of all, for all of us at RuSPORT, it is great to have the #10 car back on track.  The three race layoff was really tough on all of us so it is gratifying to have the car back on the track.” said RuSPORT president Jeremy Dale.

After missing three races, the No. 10 RuSPORT Champ Car was back on the track with Australian driver Ryan Briscoe. “Obviously it is a big disappointment not to be able to turn a lap in qualifying.” said Briscoe. “During pre-qualifying I had a small mistake, clipped the wall and on this track a small mistake can be very costly.  We plan to repair the car and go have another crack at it tomorrow.” zzzz

“Needless to say it was an interesting day,” states Dale.  “Both Justin and Ryan had a good practice session this morning and as a result of that we felt confident going into this afternoon’s provisional qualifying event.  Unfortunately, both cars came to grief in the pre-qualifying session.”

“Justin just barely nicked an apex tire and the result of that was that it jerked the steering wheel out of his hands and he hurt his right wrist. The car was fine no damage at all but Justin had to go directly to Champ Car medical and be assessed and as a result he was not able to participate in the qualifying session.  Justin’s result today was frustrating on a number of levels first of all because Justin is hurt but I also know that Justin will be frustrated that he didn’t finish because his car is very competitive and he felt he could have been quickest in qualifying.”

“On the #10 car side, I first want to say that it is great to have Western Union back on board for these last two races.  They are a valued partner and one that we have quite a bit of history with so we are very pleased to be working with them again.  Ryan had a very solid morning session and following the plan perfectly.  In the pre-qualify practice session he was just starting his quick lap when he made a small mistake at the exit of the second chicane and the tire wall tore the left front corner off the car.  The Champ Car safety team brought the car back to pit lane where the crew had a quick look at it and decided that the car was not fixable in time for Ryan to participate in provisional qualifying.”

“Obviously today’s results are disappointing for the team but we’ll regroup overnight and come out fighting on Saturday,” finished Dale. RuSPORT

Bourdais pips Tagliani in Practice 1 Bourdais pips Tagliani in Practice 1Points leader Sebastien Bourdais topped opening practice for Sunday's Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, Australia with a late fast lap to bump Team Australia's Alex Tagliani down to 2nd.  Justin Wilson was third.

Pos Driver # Lap Time Behind Leader
1 S. Bourdais 1 1:33.441   N/A
2 A. Tagliani 15 1:33.813 0.372
3 J. Wilson 9 1:34.032 0.591
4 W. Power 5 1:34.074 0.633
5 P. Tracy 3 1:34.110 0.669
6 B. Junqueira 2 1:34.122 0.681
7 O. Servia 6 1:34.617 1.176
8 A. Allmendinger 7 1:34.852 1.411
9 N. Philippe 4 1:34.906 1.465
10 M. Dominguez 8 1:35.428 1.987
11 R. Briscoe 10 1:35.660 2.219
12 A. Pizzonia 18 1:35.694 2.253
13 D. Clarke 14 1:35.783 2.342
14 A. Ranger 27 1:36.040 2.599
15 K. Legge 20 1:37.003 3.562
16 J. Heylen 11 1:37.855 4.414
17 C. Zwolsman 34 1:38.222 4.781
18 A. Wirth 19 1:38.650 5.209

Seen in Surfers Paradise Friday - II Seen in Surfers Paradise Friday - IIFriday morning practice is underway in Surfers Paradise under perfect weather conditions. The teams are pushing hard to put in a good qualifying time today because possible showers Saturday could slow final qualifying, thereby leaving today's provisional pole sitter on the pole and today's times as the times you will line up with.

Paul Tracy has just clipped a chicane on the backstraight at the wrong angle and stuffed his car into the wall with major left front-end damage. A red flag is flying with 14 minutes to go in the session. Alex Tagliani, Will Power and Paul Tracy topped the charts at the moment with Junqueira and Bourdais rounding out the top 5.

Atlantic driver Leo Maia is here wandering the pits in search of a deal for next year.  At this stage he is hopeful he will be back in Atlantics in 2007 if he can raise the money.

Seen in Surfers Paradise Friday Seen in Surfers Paradise FridayFormer F1 car owner Paul Stoddart has arrived in Surfers Paradise for further meetings with Kevin Kalkhoven about a possible Champ Car involvement........which if he comes in we still hear he could buy into the HVM team.  Stoddart was one of the judges last night at the 2006 Bartercard Miss Indy contest. He quite enjoyed himself.
2006 Bartercard Miss Indy crowned 2006 Bartercard Miss Indy crownedSarah Buller, the 21-year-old stunner from Western Australia, was last night crowned the 2006 Bartercard Miss Indy at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre in front of 1,100 guests.
Tracy offers Bourdais an Olive Branch Tracy offers Bourdais an Olive BranchChamp Car firebrand Paul Tracy yesterday began thawing the icy relationship he has with reigning series champion Sebastien Bourdais.

 On the eve of this weekend's penultimate race of the season, Canadian Tracy offered a verbal olive branch to his bitter rival.

Asked if he hoped Bourdais would stay in Champ Cars in 2007, Tracy said he hoped the Frenchman achieved his dream of getting a Formula One drive.

"If he (Bourdais) wants to be here that is great," said Tracy.

"I know that he wants to get to Formula One and I think he deserves the chance to be there. He has done everything that there is to do here. I think he has done it all.

"However, the longer he stays in Champ Cars the less likely it will be that he will get to Formula One.

"So as a series we would like to see him stay, but it would be nice to see him get an opportunity." zzzz

The platitudes from Tracy are a stark contrast to the rocky relationship the pair have shared in recent seasons. The verbal jousts sometimes sparked on-rack rumbles and there was even a physical confrontation when the pair came together in Denver in August.

Both have acknowledged that their intense personal duel comes mostly from their own highly competitive natures. Tracy won the series in 2003 and since then has taken a back seat while Bourdais took the crown in 2004 and 2005 and has an all-but-unassailable lead in the series this year.

"We don't have the greatest of relationships on or off the track," said Tracy in a fit of understatement yesterday. "He is a great driver, fantastic at what he does. He is the measuring stick that everyone wants to beat."

But the rose-colored glasses could not stay on all day.

"My attitude and AJ's (Tracy's teammate AJ Allmendinger) attitude is that we are probably the only two guys in the series that are not going to get rolled over by him.

"He (Bourdais) seems to have his way with everybody else. But I am not the type and AJ is not the type to just roll over for him, and that is where the problems arise.

"He thinks he should have things a certain way and I am not prepared to give that.

"That is just racing and competition. I don't change for anybody and we can argue and bicker back and forwards in the media, but at the end of the day I am going to race him as hard as anybody.

"He has done a great job and to win three championships in a row makes him the measuring stick. He drives great and if he continues to stay in the championship he is the man to beat."

Bourdais accepted the offered olive branch.

"The truth is we have a lot of respect for each other and, yes, we have had our share of incidents," said the Frenchman.

However, he said a change soon to F1 was unlikely.

"The opportunity in F1 I don't see happening right now," he said.

"The conditions required of me are not acceptable. They want me to be a test driver for a year with no guarantee of anything.

"I don't think so. I have too much to give up here for a maybe. It is frustrating, but I know that this is the way the game is played.

"There are tons of very good drivers that don't get opportunities and I was hoping not to be one of those. It is not something you have control over. You have to be positive. You also have to be content with what you have.

"How many guys would kill just to be in the position I am in, in a great team and making big money." More at Gold Coast Bulletin

SPEED World Challenge
SPEED World Challenge titles down to wire SPEED World Challenge titles down to wireThe 2006 SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT and Touring Car Championships will be decided this weekend at the 10th and final round of the season, held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Five different point races remain up for grabs, with only Acura securing the SCCA SPEED Touring Car Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER Magazine prior to the season finale.

With the Touring Car Manufacturers’ title confirmed, Pierre Kleinubing can focus solely on capturing his fourth Drivers’ Championship, and first since 2001. The driver of the No. 42 Acura Certified Pre-Owned/RealTime Racing Acura TSX has an 11-point lead over Randy Pobst, driver of the No. 73 Mazdaspeed/TriPoint Motorsports Mazda 6. Pobst won the most recent round at Road Atlanta in dominating fashion, and gained more than a dozen points in the process. zzzz

In the Piloti Rookie of the Year race for SPEED Touring Car, Jeff Courtney can sew up the honor with a solid run at Laguna. The No. 99 MPI Coin/Karavan Trailer/Kenda Audi A4 driver has a 23-point advantage on Robb Holland (No. 67 3R-Racing/Dodge Mtspts Dodge SRT4).

In SPEED GT, the Drivers’ Championship battle is even tighter, with five drivers having a mathematical shot at it and three drivers within eight points.

Rookie Lawson Aschenbach (No. 66 AXA Financial Porsche 911 GT3) is in the driver’s seat on the Championship entering the finale, with a seven-point advantage over defending Drivers’ Champion, and Road Atlanta winner Andy Pilgrim (No. 1 XM/Mobil 1/Motorola/On Star Cadillac CTS-V). Lou Gigliotti hopes to secure his fourth title and has the most wins on the season (two) in his No. 28 LG Pro Long Tube Header Chevrolet Corvette C6. Gigliotti is just one point behind Pilgrim.

The SPEED GT Manufacturers’ Championship Presented by RACER is also tight. Dodge, which has never won a series Manufacturers’ Championship, holds a five-point advantage over defending Champion Cadillac and five-time Champion Porsche. Both Cadillac and Porsche are pulling out the stops this weekend to try and catch Dodge, with Cadillac running three cars (Pilgrim, Max Angelelli and Johnny O’Connell) and Porsche recruiting former factory driver Randy Pobst to drive the At-Speed Motorsports 911.

The Piloti Rookie of the Year honor will go to a Jon Groom Racing driver, but the race will determine which one. Aschenbach holds a 25-point advantage over teammate Ricardo Imery (No. 64 AXA Financial/Cavenas Elevators Porsche 911 GT3) heading into the weekend.

There are a maximum of 37 drivers’ points (five for qualifying, 32 in the race) and 10 manufacturers’ points (one for pole, nine for a win) available in each class this weekend.

Rahal Letterman announce ALMS program Rahal Letterman announce ALMS programMONTEREY, Calif. - Rahal Letterman Racing (RLR) announced today it would enter the American Le Mans Series in 2007 as a participant in the GT2 category.  RLR intends to run a program in the ALMS and will utilize the new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR for the 2007 campaign.

“I have made no secret in recent years that I wanted to begin a sports car program for Rahal Letterman Racing,” said 2004 International Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee Bobby Rahal.  “I trace my racing roots back to sports cars and my time on the historic tracks of Sebring, Laguna Seca, Mid-Ohio and Elkhart Lake.  A passion for road racing and sports cars is a foundation of our team.  The opportunity to diversify our business model at RLR and to do so with the addition of an ALMS program is an outstanding opportunity.  I don’t think it is an anomaly that more IndyCar teams are looking at the addition of an ALMS program. There is a certain synergy that strengthens our organization on and off the track.”

“The Rahal Letterman name and team are synonymous with top line racing success,” said Scott Atherton, President and CEO of the American Le Mans Series.  “There is no doubt that it will bring the highest level of performance and competition to the American Le Mans Series competitive ranks and the GT2 class.  Bobby’s success as both a driver and team owner has allowed him to become one of the icons of the motorsports industry.  We cannot wait to see the new Rahal Letterman GT2 team entry at the 2007 season opener – the 55th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

“This marks another impressive line of world-class content that the American Le Mans Series will unveil to its fans next season.  The Series has shown tremendous strides in recent seasons with the addition of renowned teams like Penske Racing, Aston Martin Racing, Andretti-Green, Fernandez Racing and now Rahal Letterman.  2007 is truly going to be a highly competitive as well as showcase season for the American Le Mans Series.”

“As a driver, Bobby Rahal has a winning tradition with Porsche, racing to victory in some of America’s most prestigious sports cars races behind the wheel of our cars,” said Uwe Brettel, president of Porsche Motorsport North America. “Now as a Porsche team owner, we expect his success with the brand to continue. We are pleased Rahal Letterman will be part of our 911 GT3 RSR customer program in 2007 and anticipate the team will enhance the already highly competitive GT2 Class in the American Le Mans Series.”      

Rahal Letterman Racing had fielded multiple series programs in the past, including 2003 when RLR was the only team in North America to compete in the IndyCar Series, Champ Car World Series and the Formula Atlantic Championship. 

A full announcement on the RLR GT2 program including sponsorship and driver line-up is forthcoming.

Marco Andretti joins fundraising effort Marco Andretti joins fundraising effortMarco Andretti, the 2006 IndyCar Series Bombardier Rookie of the Year, will join more than 1,200 guests Oct. 21 at the 15th annual Ringside for Mercy's Sake fundraising event in Chicago.

Ringside for Mercy's Sake will feature live boxing matches between members of the city's financial exchanges and will benefit Mercy Home for Boys & Girls and WGN-TV Children's Charities, a fund of the McCormick Tribune Foundation.

Employees of such companies as the Chicago Board of Trade, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Chicago Board Options Exchange, Mesirow Financial, NYSE Group, and Black Rock Trading will again don gloves and slug it out in seven amateur boxing matches. The fight of the night features Black Rock Trading's Joe Markowski vs. the Chicago Board of Trade's Lawrence Dunning.  Among the celebrities joining Andretti will be boxing legend Roberto Duran.

Dreyer and Reinbold partners with EurUp Dreyer and Reinbold partners with EurUpDreyer and Reinbold Racing announced an associate sponsorship agreement with Kaiserdom USA, the makers of EurUp energy drink. Kaiserdom USA is a Wisconsin-based brewer of beers and lagers and a partner of Kaiserdom Brewery in Bamberg, Germany.

"We are very excited to partner with EurUp as this new energy drink is a well-developed, 300-year tradition of Kaiserdom," said team co-owner Dennis Reinbold. "The EurUp brand represents a wealth of excitement and energy for not only the sports athlete but the average everyday person. We look forward to providing EurUp a direct avenue to target the consumer through the power and thrill of motorsports. Adding EurUp to our existing sponsor base is a big step for us as we continue to evaluate which direction we will take our racing team for the 2007 season."

EurUp is a lightly carbonated, non-alcoholic energy drink. The presentation of the EurUp energy drink matches the bar scene, the race car driver, the skateboarders and yet EurUp goes beyond the stereotype to reach out to the office professional, the factory worker and the busy parent. EurUp addresses the "I need a break" person.

"We are very excited to partner with the Dreyer and Reinbold organization and to introduce our brand to the world through the power and excitement of motorsports," said Gary Luther, EurUp Managing Partner. "Motorsports fans are the most brand loyal of any sport and we look forward to bringing them another great product for use in their everyday activities."

Energy drink sales are a $3 billion industry with a sales growth of 61.2 percent in 2005 alone, added Luther. Dreyer and Reinbold Racing is actively soliciting distribution and retail partners.

Larry Foyt gets more involved in A.J. Foyt Racing Larry Foyt gets more involved in A.J. Foyt RacingLarry Foyt's daily involvement in the operations and decision-making of A.J. Foyt Racing began when he walked into the race shop in Waller, Texas.

Foyt, who recently moved back to Texas after overseeing liquidation of the Foyt stock car assets in North Carolina, is working closely with his father and the team's senior management to identify areas for improvement, and create a plan to implement the necessary changes.

The team has had several meetings with its primary sponsor ABC Supply to discuss plans for 2007, during which ABC Supply will celebrate its Silver Anniversary and A.J. Foyt will celebrate his Golden Anniversary in IndyCar Series racing.

Preparation for the March 24 season opener includes wind tunnel testing of the Dallara chassis later this month and increasing its staff of mechanics and engineers. The team is preparing the race car fleet for a new paint scheme. IRL

BAT ends F1 involvement BAT ends F1 involvementLucky Strike branding will appear on Honda’s cars for the final time in Brazil this weekend as British American Tobacco ends its F1 involvement.

BAT were founders of the BAR team that made its F1 debut in 1999.

“We are very proud of the team’s sporting achievements and wish them every success in the future, but our time is over,” said marketing director Jimmi Rembiszewski.

“Public opinion and many of our stakeholders no longer think it is appropriate for F1 to be sponsored by the tobacco industry.

“We have listened to their views and agree.”
“For many years now, our marketing strategy has been moving away from relying on mass media as we believe it more important to focus our efforts on the point of sale in the outlets that adult smokers use.”

tv news
SPEED Channel suspends reporter for racial remark SPEED Channel suspends reporter for racial remarkSpeed Channel has suspended pit reporter Ray Dunlap one week for making "racially insensitive" remarks during a recent appearance on the Speed show "Trading Paint," The Charlotte Observer has learned.

Dunlap will not appear on Saturday's Speed broadcast of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Martinsville, Va., but is expected to return for the following week's broadcast from Atlanta Motor Speedway.

"NASCAR is incredibly disappointed in remarks made by Ray Dunlap. His remarks do not reflect NASCAR's values," NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said.

"We were in contact with Speed executives right away and fully support the steps they've taken."

Speed spokesman Erik Arneson on Thursday confirmed Dunlap would not be a part of Saturday's broadcast and should return the following week. Arneson declined to answer any further questions regarding Dunlap, citing a "personnel matter."

Dunlap, reached Thursday by phone, declined to comment. ThatsRacin.com

Legge helps out aspiring Aussie karting female Legge helps out aspiring Aussie karting femaleKarting is the breeding ground for the majority of Champ Car drivers, including PKV Racing’s Katherine Legge who will this weekend become the first female driver to compete at the Lexmark Indy 300.

Legge took time out of her hectic schedule in the lead up to her debut on the streets of Surfers Paradise to lend a hand to aspiring young Australian female motorsport star Jessica Golding at the Gold Coast Kart Track.

“Karting is a real passion for me, it is the perfect learning ground for any young driver who is looking to make a career in motorsport,” said Legge, pictured right with Golding.

“It is where I learned many of the skills and techniques which I currently use in my Champ Car and I still regularly get behind the wheel of a kart to make sure I stay sharp.

“Just like Jess, when I was younger there weren’t too many girls racing, I was actually the only girl who raced in my region, but it is one of the few sports in the world where the girls and guys can compete on an even playing field.”  More at KartingSportNews.com (including photos)

Michael Andretti marries 3rd wife Michael Andretti marries 3rd wifeUPDATE The rustic, Italian charm of the Andretti Winery in Napa, CA was the pristine setting for the Andretti-Paterson wedding.

An old world metal arch entwined with vines and florals coupled with ambient lighting and fabric-drapings in soft coral and champagne added a romantic backdrop to the exchanging of wedding vows that took place on October 7, 2006.

The ceremony was officiated by J-F Thormann, a long-time friend, business partner and former teammate of Michael's.

Marco Andretti stood on behalf of the couple as Best Man and Jasmine Gayton as Matron of Honor. Andretti.com

Additional wedding-party attendants included:

  • Groomsmen: Seth Paterson, Tony Domiano, Jr. and Tommy Constantine
  • Bridesmaids: Brande Roderick, Jessica Paisley, and Marissa Andretti
  • Ring Bearers: Lucca Andretti and Zach Paterson
  • Flower Girl: Phoebe Todd

After an intimate reception of approximately 60 guests, the newlyweds set off for an exclusive 10-day honeymoon in Bora Bora. Andretti.com

07/15/06 INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -  Andretti Green Racing co-owner and racing legend Michael Andretti has announced his engagement to model and actress Jodi Ann Paterson. The couple is planning to marry on Oct. 7, 2006.

Paterson, who was born in Balikpapan, Indonesia and raised in Springfield, Ore., was chosen as Playboy Magazine's 2000 Playmate of the Year. Paterson's acting credits stem from both movies and television, including an appearance in the film Dude, Where's My Car? and a role in the upcoming movie Toxic. She has also worked on a variety of television networks and shows, including E!, VH1 and Best Damn Sports Show Period.  Paterson is a 1997 graduate of Oregon State University.

Andretti, who is in his fourth year of race team ownership at Andretti Green Racing, was a 42- time winner in CART competition and returned to competition for one race this season, finishing third in the 90th running of the Indianapolis 500.
Brazilian GP: Thursday press conference Brazilian GP: Thursday press conferenceParticipating: Fernando Alonso (Renault), Rubens Barrichello (Honda), Felipe Massa (Ferrari), Tiago Monteiro (Spyker MF1), Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren Mercedes). Transcript
Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in briefUPDATE #2
Williams to reveal title sponsor on Friday
Rain at Interlagos!
Schu still does not believe in eighth title
Schu plays down reports of F1 return

Alonso vows to 'stay out of fights'
De la Rosa denies 2007 seat secure

Turkey pays half of $5m fine
FIA reveal new rules for 2007
FIA revise 2007 calendar
FIA seal Cosworth's F1 exit
Kimi not fazed by Schu engine failure
Schu's manager hopes pressure gets to Alonso
Scenes from Surfers Thursday Scenes from Surfers ThursdayA few select photos from Surfers on Thursday:



Stewart: Schu made Ferrari great Stewart: Schu made Ferrari greatMichael Schumacher's greatest feat was not winning seven world titles but turning Ferrari into Formula One's best team, says Sir Jackie Stewart. Schumacher ended Ferrari's 21-year wait for the drivers' championship in 2000.

"Michael brought Ferrari from 21 years of not winning a world title to being champions many times," said Stewart.

"I put that down much more to him than president Luca di Montezemolo or team boss Jean Todt. Without Michael Schumacher it would not have happened."

Di Montezemolo was appointed president and managing director of Ferrari in 1991 while Todt took over as team boss in 1993.

Schumacher followed in 1996, making the switch from F1 rivals Benetton. The 37-year-old German had already won the drivers' championship twice (1994-1995) but won it a further five times with Ferrari (2000-2004). zzzz

He could make it six in Brazil on Sunday in his final race before retirement but needs to win at Interlagos and hope championship leader Fernando Alonso fails to score a point.

"Michael's greatest skill has been able to motivate people to come with him and raise the bar to create the best car that he could drive and get the success they wish to have," said Stewart, who was world champion three times.

"Generally speaking, I think it's true to say he re-shaped Ferrari and made the Ferrari the car it is today.

"Of course, (technical director) Ross Brawn had a lot to do with it. Of course, (designer) Rory Byrne had a lot to do with it. But nevertheless that's an extraordinary motor car."

Yet despite Schumacher's unrivalled success, Stewart is reluctant to class him as the greatest driver of all time.

"Michael has one flaw in my view that there is hardly a weekend that he hasn't been off the road at one time or another and sometimes several times because he stretches the elastic a tad too far," said the 67-year-old Scot.

"Now maybe he knows that if he goes off today's tracks are so safe he's not going to do any real damage to the car or himself, but still you're in the hands of the gods once you leave the black-top.

"That's one of the reasons I'm pleased to see him retiring, because I think it's the right time for that." BBC Sport

Schu visits Senna's grave Schu visits Senna's grave(GMM)  In the days before his final of 250 grand prix appearances, Michael Schumacher in Sao Paulo visited the grave of his late rival, Ayrton Senna.

Although many fans of Brazil's triple world champion, who died at Imola in 1994, never forgave Schumacher for celebrating his victory in the tragic race, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports that the retiring Ferrari driver 'visits Senna's grave most years'.

At Imola, Senna was leading Schumacher - who later in 1994 controversially won his first title - when the 34-year-old speared fatally into a concrete wall at the Tamburello corner.

"Perhaps (Schumacher) was also looking to close that chapter in his racing career before saying his farewell," 'dpa' speculated of Schumacher's latest visit to the Senna grave.

 TV News
Sam Hornish on Late Show with David Letterman - Replay Sam Hornish on Late Show with David Letterman - ReplayFor those of you who missed Sam Hornish, Jr.'s guest appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman after Hornish won the IRL Championship, a replay of the September 12, 2006 show will be aired on Friday night at 11:30 pm ET/PT on CBS.  Check local listings for your time zone.
ACO issues 2007 'LeMans' regulation changes ACO issues 2007 'LeMans' regulation changesSince its creation in 1923 the Le Mans 24-Hours race has always been a testing ground for new motorcar technologies. It is a laboratory in which safety improvements, reliability and engineering performance plus the pleasure of driving are tested and confirmed while respecting the environment.

These are key values that are dear to the heart both the Automobile Club de l'Ouest and its president Mr. Jean-Claude Plassart. "To respect this spirit our regulations are framed in such a way as to encourage manufacturers to take up new challenges. We are delighted with the recent initiative of two major manufacturers, which have accepted the challenge to race at Le Mans with a clean diesel engine. AUDI was the first to go for this technological gamble and so became the first manufacturer to win the race with diesel power in this year's Le Mans 24 Hours."

"When the A.C.O threw down the gauntlet with this diesel challenge the A.C.O. made it quite clear that it would keep a close eye on the equivalence between diesel and petrol-engined cars," the president of the centenary club continued. "Thus, we have been working in close collaboration with the manufacturers, the petrol companies and major independent engineers. From these studies and on-going analyses with very sophisticated simulation models and computer programs we came to the conclusion that corrections had to be made but with considerable caution, all the more so as those in the running for victory were separated by small gaps."

"First of all, for 2007 we've decided to work on adjusting the quantity of energy supplied. It's a painstaking job which is of the utmost importance as we're sure that in the future manufacturers are going to come along with new technological innovations and above all with questions linked to different forms of energy."

2007 Regulations zzzz
First, a reminder that the A.C.O's rules accept two categories: Prototypes and Grand Touring Cars.

Each of these categories is divided into two groups:

  • LM P1 and LM P2 for the Prototype category,
  • LM GT1 and LM GT2 for the Grand Touring Car category,

The LM P2 and GT2 categories are reserved mainly for private teams and must have performances inferior to those in LM P1 and LM GT1.

The A.C.O wants to ensure that the performances in each category and group of cars are respected as follows:

  • 1st level of performance: LM P1
  • 2nd level of performance: LM P2
  • 3rd level of performance: LM GT1
  • 4th level of performance: LM GT2

Taking into account the results this year in the various events held under the "Le Mans" label (Le Mans 24 Hours, American Le Mans Series, Le Mans Series) the following modifications will be made to the 2007 technical regulations:

LM P1: Concerning the adjustments to be made to performances between petrol and diesel-engined cars, the advantages and disadvantages linked to the use of different types of engines must be taken into account. After making this clear the A.C.O considers that for 2007 in the light of the results achieved this year the size of the air restrictors, the supercharger pressures and the weight of all the LM P1s should remain identical to those of the 2006 season. The gap between the quantity of energy in a liter of diesel and a liter petrol being 10% the capacity of the diesel-engined cars' fuel tanks will be reduced by this amount to 81 liters.

LM P2: The performances of some of the LM P2 cars are very close to and indeed sometimes even better than the LM P1s on certain circuits so a reduction is necessary. The air restrictors will be 5% smaller.

In addition, a gap of 1.5% between the best LM P1 and LM P2 laps times must be respected. If the gap is under this figure the A.C.O will take steps to re-establish it at the end of the year.

LM GT1: Given that the performance and top speed of these cars are constantly increasing approaching those of the LM P2s, their air restrictors will be reduced by 5%. As the capacity of the fuel tanks has to be adjusted according to the type of energy used (petrol or ethanol; see 'fuels' below), the amount of fuel on board the car must not exceed 90 liters.

LM GT2: To maintain a reasonable gap to the GT1s the air restrictors will also be reduced by 5%. As the capacity of the fuel tanks has to be adjusted according to the type of energy used (petrol or ethanol; see 'fuels' below), the amount of fuel on board the car must not exceed 90 liters.

FUEL: In 2007, the ACO will supply only one kind of petrol and one kind of diesel for the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Le Mans Series events. To meet the requests of several entrants who want to use bio fuels, the ACO is currently evaluating the possibility of supplying a type of diesel and petrol in 2008 that contain a certain quantity of bio fuel. These fuels will be compatible with current engines.

However, the ACO agrees that the American Le Mans Series supply a third kind of fuel based on ethanol for its events in 2007. The capacity of the fuel tanks will be adjusted in such a way that the quantity of energy will be the same whether it is petrol or diesel. For safety reasons the capacity of the fuel tank cannot exceed 110 liters.

NASCAR slams cheating Penske team NASCAR slams cheating Penske teamUPDATE President Tim Cindric released a statement that said the team will not appeal.

"While we respect the fact that the shock in question did not move the required amount after Kurt's qualifying run, under the rules we are unable to open the shock to determine the reason until the appeal period ends," Cindric said in the statement. "After discussing the situation with our team, I'm convinced that the problem we had with our shock was not an intentional attempt by any member of our team to circumvent NASCAR's rules.

"We do not plan to appeal the decision, but we look forward to opening the shock with NASCAR to determine what caused us to fail post-qualifying inspection."

10/18/06 NASCAR announced today that penalties have been issued to the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series #2 Dodge team as a result of rule violations last week at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Crew chief Roy McCauley has been fined $25,000 and suspended from all NASCAR events until Nov. 1, 2006. McCauley has also been placed on probation until Dec. 31, 2006. Driver Kurt Busch was penalized with the loss of 50 driver championship points and car owner Roger Penske was penalized 50 owner championship points. The penalties resulted from violations of Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment that do not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20-12.3M (right rear shock absorber would not compress) of the 2006 NASCAR Rule Book. The infraction was discovered during post-qualifying inspection on Oct. 12. NASCAR PR
Racing News
President to visit Victory Junction Gang Camp President to visit Victory Junction Gang CampUPDATE President Bush paid a very special visit to the Victory Junction Gang Camp today.  The President’s visit was prompted by his interest in the great humanitarian work that takes place at Victory Junction.

Upon the Presidents’ arrival he was greeted by Victory Junction co-founders, Kyle Petty and his wife Pattie, as well as Richard “The King” Petty. 

“This visit enabled the President to see how the camp provides a life changing experience to the children and their families free of charge.  I can’t thank the President enough for taking the time to come visit Victory Junction.  I hope this makes every child and parent that has visited the camp very proud,” said Pattie Petty, CEO of the Victory Junction Gang Camp.

The Presidential visit consisted of a tour of Victory Junction and participated in some of the camps program areas.  Fishing took place at the Bass Pro Shop, Catch Kiss & Release Marina where the President was met by Victory Junction campers Maddie Lee and Hank Grissom. 

“Pattie and I are honored to have President Bush come visit the camp.  This is exciting for all of us and we are truly humbled.  So many NASCAR drivers, officials and fans have poured their hearts and souls into helping the camp grow,” said Kyle Petty.  “President Bush visiting the camp is a great reward for everyone’s dedication and an incredible opportunity for him to bring awareness to the plight of a chronically ill child.”

The second stop was Adams Race Shop, a 9,000 square foot building that looks like a race car.  Inside Adams Race Shop President Bush was greeted by Victory Junction campers Paul Rader, Will “Cheese” Kwapil, Morgan Sagerman as well as NASCAR drivers Michael Waltrip and Jimmie Johnson.  The campers challenged the President to test his skills on one of the NASCAR simulators.   The final stop was at the Fuel Stop (dining hall) where the President greeted and took a photo with the entire staff. zzzz

10/17/06 The Victory Junction Gang Camp is proud to announce that President Bush will be coming to the camp on Wednesday October 18th for a tour of the facilities and to meet some of the VJGC campers. 

“Pattie and I are honored to have President Bush come visit the camp.  This is exciting for all of us and we are truly humbled.  So many NASCAR drivers, officials and fans have poured their hearts and souls into helping the camp grow,” said Kyle Petty, Co-founder of Victory Junction Gang Camp.  “President Bush visiting the camp is a great reward for everyone’s dedication and an incredible opportunity for him to bring awareness to the plight of a chronically ill child.  This visit will enable the President to see how the camp provides a life changing experience to the children and their families free of charge.  I can’t thank the President enough for taking time to come. I hope this makes every kid and parent that has visited the camp very proud.”

About Victory Junction Gang Camp

The mission of the Victory Junction Gang Camp is to enrich the lives of children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses by providing life-changing camping experiences that are exciting, fun, and empowering, in a safe and medically sound environment.  Founded by NASCAR driver Kyle Petty and his wife Pattie in honor of their late son Adam, the Victory Junction Gang Camp is a year-round facility serving children, age 7 to 15.  Each summer, children suffering from similar medical conditions including heart, lung and kidney disease, spina bifida, HIV, cancer, burn survivors, neurological disorders, and a host of others, gather to kick back, relax and have some fun.  The camp offers traditional activities, including horseback riding, boating and fishing, arts and crafts and others, as well as NASCAR related program areas.

The Victory Junction Gang Camp is a member of the Association of Hole in the Wall Gang Camps and is free to children and their families.   The camp operates solely on the generous donations of individuals, corporations and foundation.  For more information, visit www.victoryjunction.org.

BMW Sauber F1 Team confirms 2007 driver lineup BMW Sauber F1 Team confirms 2007 driver lineupMunich/Hinwil. The BMW Sauber F1 Team will be competing in the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship with German driver Nick Heidfeld (29) and Robert Kubica (21) of Poland (pictured right). 19-year-old Sebastian Vettel has been promoted to regular test and reserve driver.

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen: "We are very pleased with our drivers and believe we have a good lineup for the future. Nick was already a firm fixture for 2007. He is the experienced driver in the team, both in terms of Formula One and from the point of view of his affiliation with the team. He has raced for Sauber and in 2007 will be contesting his third season for BMW. Robert, before he was signed as a test driver less than a year ago, was an unknown quantity. From the outset he made an outstanding impression on his test drives and in the Friday practice sessions. The reward was the switch to a racing cockpit in Budapest, a move that was vindicated when, in only his third grand prix, he made it onto the podium. Following these accomplishments, we have confirmed his position as a team driver for 2007. After Robert's promotion, an even younger driver was tapping at the door: 19-year-old Sebastian. He has accumulated major successes in the junior racing arena but hasn't yet clocked up many kilometers in a Formula One car. Even so, he immediately picked up from Robert's achievements in Friday's practice sessions, both in lap times and setup work. This debut was reason enough for us to confirm him as our test driver." zzzz

"For me to be confirmed as a driver for the team in 2007 proves that in the last five races I have done the job expected of me," says Robert Kubica. "Although we still have the season's final race to go, I feel I can start my 2007 season now. It is a good feeling when you know exactly what your racing plans will be and I think any driver who can approach the next season before the current one is finished can really be properly prepared. The experience I have gained this year as a Friday driver up to the Hungarian Grand Prix also means that I shall know the tracks from this year we will be racing on and, therefore, have some valuable data for the start of each grand prix weekend. The BMW Sauber F1 Team has given me a great opportunity and I want to thank Mario Theissen and the team for this."

"I'm over the moon," declared Sebastian Vettel. "This is a tremendous step in the right direction. I have always dreamed of sitting in the cockpit of such a fast car on a regular basis. The task that awaits me is clear: I will do everything to help the team as a test driver and to push developments forward. I would like to thank the whole team for the trust they have placed in me, and also for giving me the opportunity earlier this season of being regularly involved as the Friday driver. It has paid off."

Andretti to receive prestigious award Andretti to receive prestigious awardA few years ago he was voted by both the fans and media as America’s greatest driver of the twentieth century. As everyone knows, Mario Andretti’s track record is unequalled. His record of success is the most diverse in the sport’s history, embracing the F1 world championship, USAC and CART championships, victories in the Indy 500, the Daytona 500, as well as Sebring and Daytona long-distance sports car races, the Pike’s Peak Hillclimb, and an IROC championship back in the days when that series meant something.

Andretti is ranked second only to A.J. Foyt in all-time Champ Car wins and is unchallenged as the leading all-time Champ Car pole winner. And of course, he also enjoyed one of the longest competitive racing careers in history, spanning more than thirty years, and is the only man to have won a Champ Car race after his fiftieth birthday. His glittering record includes more than one hundred wins in almost every conceivable type of race car known to man.

Over the years, Mario has earned many awards and accolades, but on Monday, October 23 in New York City, he will be recognized in a very special way. Andretti will receive an Italian knighthood--Commendatore Ordine all Merito della Repubblica Italiana--in a private ceremony performed by Italy’s consul-general at the Columbus Citizen’s Foundation on 69th Street. He will become the first Italian-born racing driver to receive the accolade. “It’s quite an honor for our sport,” Andretti remarked. “Usually it’s professors, scholars, scientists and politicians.”

Enzo Ferrari is the only other Italian-born racing legend to be recognized in this way. None of the great Italian drivers like Tazio Nuvolari or Alberto Ascari were honored in this way, although two Brit racers, plus a Scot and an Australian have been knighted in the UK by Queen Elizabeth.

“I’m really, really pleased,” Mario said. “It took me aback when I first heard about it. It makes me really happy. I feel really good about it. You look back at our counterparts in England with Sir Jackie Stewart and Sir Stirling Moss and Sir Jack Brabham and Sir John Surtees.

“Now,” he added, only half-joking, “we’ll have a token Italian in there with them.” More at ChampCar.ws

TV News
USA TV reminders for Friday USA TV reminders for FridayCourtesy of TVRacer.com

Formula 1 Practice Brazil
2:00pm-3:00pm (SDD) SPEED
NASCAR Live! Martinsville
3:00pm-3:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying  Martinsville
3:30pm-5:30pm (L) SPEED
NASCAR Beyond the Wheel Martinsville
5:30pm-6:30pm SPEED
NASCAR Trackside Martinsville
7:00pm-8:00pm (L) SPEED
Lexmark Indy 300, Surfers Paradise, Practice 3
8:00 pm ET, Champ Car Race Director 
NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown -Qualifying Irwindale, CA
11:00pm-2:00am (L) SPEED
Late Show with David Letterman
Guest: Sam Hornish Jr. (IRL Champ)
Part of Show   11:30pm-12:30am (R)
* Check local listings for your time zone CBS
Lexmark Indy 300, Surfers Paradise, Practice 4 - Saturday 10/21/06
12:00 am ET, Champ Car Race Director
Lexmark Indy 300, Surfers Paradise, Qualifying 2 - Saturday, 10/21/06
12:20 am ET, Champ Car Race Director

All times listed are ET.  For a complete listing of TV Programs, see TVRacer.com.
Seen in Surfers Paradise Thursday Seen in Surfers Paradise ThursdayThe crowd appeared to be larger today than any Thursday we have seen in Surfers Paradise where Champ Car is in town for the annual Lexmark Indy 300. The fans are rowdy shouting from balconies and rooftops and partying like there's no tomorrow. A very festive atmosphere.......The weather continues to be delightful with low humidity and generally sunny skies.......Surfers Paradise, like Long Beach, is reaping the benefits of its Champ Car race as the tourism industry, which benefits from the worldwide exposure it gets from the race, is booming. This has spurred major construction efforts in the city and led to a strong economy............One Champ Car fan here for the first time told Autoracing1.com, :This place is awesome, the best race I have ever been to.
Wirth feels pressure of Champ Car debut Wirth feels pressure of Champ Car debutChamp Car Atlantic driver Andreas Wirth from Germany talks about his much anticipated Champ Car debut this weekend in Surfers Paradise, Australia with Dale Coyne Racing in this exclusive AutoRacing1.com interview. Wirth talks about being nervous, what a race in Germany might mean to him and his primary focus for 2007. (Windows Media audio file 2.0 MB)
Briscoe compares F1 to Champ Car Briscoe compares F1 to Champ CarHaving done extensive testing with Toyota in F1 and now stepping into a Champ Car with RuSPORT, Australian Ryan Briscoe had the opportunity to do a comparison of the two cars as well as talk about his plans for next season in this exclusive AutoRacing1.com interview from Surfers Paradise.  (Windows Media audio file 2.1MB)
Racing News
Strong Macau GP F3 entry list announced Strong Macau GP F3 entry list announced
Kohei Hirate (Dallara 306-Mercedes) - Manor
Kazuki Nakajima (Dallara 306-Mercedes) - Manor
James Jakes (Dallara 306-Mercedes) - Manor
Sebastian Vettel (Dallara 306-Mercedes) - ASM
Paul Di Resta (Dallara 306-Mercedes) - ASM
Kamui Kobayashi (Dallara 306-Mercedes) - ASM
Adrian Sutil (Dallara 306-Toyota) - Tom's
Kazuya Oshima (Dallara 306-Toyota) - Tom's
Christian Bakkerud (Dallara 306-Mugen) - Carlin
Oliver Jarvis (Dallara 306-Mugen) - Carlin
Sebastien Buemi (Dallara 306-Mugen) - Carlin
Maro Engel (Dallara 306-Mugen) - Carlin
Fabio Carbone (Dallara 306-Nissan) - Three Bond
Yelmer Buurman (Dallara 306-Mercedes) - Fortec
Romain Grosjean (Dallara 306-Mercedes) - Signature
Charlie Kimball (Dallara 306-Mercedes) - Signature
Richard Antinucci (Dallara 306-Mercedes) - Hitech
Roldan Rodriguez (Dallara 306-Mercedes) - Hitech
Maximo Cortes (Dallara 306-Mercedes) - Hitech
Kodai Tsukakoshi (Dallara 306-Mercedes) - Prema
TBA (Dallara 306-Mercedes) - Prema
Rodolfo Avila (Dallara 306-Mugen) - Performance
Jonathan Kennard (Dallara 306-Mugen) - Docking
Cheong Lou Meng (Dallara 306-Mugen) - Docking
Mike Conway (Dallara 306-Mercedes) - Raikkonen
Stephen Jelley (Dallara 306-Mercedes) - Raikkonen
Michael Ho (Dallara 306-Mugen) - Ombra
Mauro Massironi (Dallara 306-Mugen) - Ombra
Jo Merszei (Dallara 306-Opel) - SRT
Lei Kit Meng (Dallara 306-Opel) - SRT
Daisuke Ikeda (Dallara 306-Toyota) - EMS
James Winslow (Dallara 306-Toyota) - Zap Speed
NASCAR hammers cheating Busch teams NASCAR hammers cheating Busch teamsNASCAR announced that Newt Moore, crew chief of the No. 66 Ford driven by Scott Wimmer and Kevin Caldwell, crew chief of the No. 80 Chevrolet driven by Robert Richardson, have each been fined due to rule violations discovered during opening day inspection at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on Oct. 12, 2006.

Moore was fined $5,000 for violation of Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment used that do not conform to NASCAR rules: 20A-5.10.1B(6): Thickness of the carburetor throttle shaft and throttle plate was less than 0.197 inch) of the 2006 NASCAR Busch Series Rule Book.

Caldwell was fined $1,000 for violating Sections 12-4-A and 12-4-Q (20A-16.5.1F: Excessive fuel line length).

Don King the Champ Car fight promoter Don King the Champ Car fight promoterBAM Media boss Brett Crusher Murray showed up at Thursday morning's 'breakfast with the Champ Car drivers' in Surfers Paradise dressed as fight promoter Don King which brought the house down with laughter. King proposed an official fight between Paul Tracy and his fight opponent from San Jose, Alex Tagliani. He also said that Tagliani and Sebastien Bourdais, Tracy's other arch nemesis, could play tag-team when one gets tired the other can take over against Tracy. It all made for some real laughs and Tracy and Tag played right along with his antics while Bourdais didn't know what to quite make out of it all.


Close Champ Car rookie battle Close Champ Car rookie battleChamp Car rookie Dan Clarke sits just seven points behind Australian Will Power in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year Battle.  If it is up to Clarke, he won’t sit there for long.  The British Rookie has earned 70 championship points in the last three races and topped the Rookie class at each of those events.  

Just 16 points separates fourth through tenth in the series championship points standings and Clarke is in the thick of the battle.  He broke into the top-ten in the standings with his pole position at Road America, he is ranked 10th with 168 points, just nine points out of sixth!  With only two races left in the 2006 season, the pieces of the championship puzzle will fall into place this weekend in Australia.

  Dan Clarke:  "It’s been too long since I’ve been in the car – I’ve turned 23 now (and had a great time celebrating!). I’ve not been ‘down under’ before, so it’s all a new experience for me. I think there’s quite a few fun activities lined up for our visit, which will be good experiences, but my focus will be on the race and the team. We’ve had a run of strong results and we need to stay strong and add to this, to finish the season on a high. We’ve been growing as a team and it’s a tight unit now, so we have the ability to be a front-runner. There’s lots to play for still – I'm in the Rookie of the Year title chase, and I’m not too many points off Nelson, so we need to come home top five this weekend in Oz." CTE-HVM Racing PR
Imola still left off of 2007 F1 calendar Imola still left off of 2007 F1 calendarUPDATE We have revised our 2007 F1 calendar accordingly. Also there is one very simple way for Imola to get itself added onto the 2007 F1 calendar immediately. They just need to open talks that they might run a Champ Car race instead and Bernie and Max will give them their F1 race back as sure as Bernie loves money.

10/18/06 The World Council released the following final 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship calendar and Imola is still nowhere to be seen.
18 March AUS Australia
08 April MAL Malaysia
15 April BRN Bahrain
13 May E Spain
27 May MC Monaco
10 June CDN Canada
17 June USA United States
01 July F France
08 July GB Great Britain
22 July D Germany**
05 August H Hungary
26 August TR Turkey
09 September I Italy
16 September B Belgium
30 September J Japan*
07 October CN China*
21 October BR Brazil
*Pending the ASN’s confirmation.
**The 2007 German Grand Prix will take place at Nürburgring. In 2008, it will switch to Hockenheim. It will continue to alternate between these two circuits thereafter.
(It was noted that no agreement was in place for an 18th race and there will continue to be 17 races in the 2007 calendar).
Where to watch Surfers race Where to watch Surfers race
On the Internet via Champ Car's Race Director (All live)
Friday / Oct 20 
CCWS Practice 3: 8:00 PM ET
Saturday / Oct 21
CCWS Practice 4: 12:00 AM ET
CCWS Qualifying 2: 12:20 AM ET
CCWS Race : 11:10 PM ET
USA TV - SPEED Channel
Pre-Race Show
Sunday, Oct 22 3:00 PM ET

Race Tape Delay:
Sunday, Oct 22 3:30 PM ET

Race Repeat:
Wednesday, Oct 25 12:00 PM ET

FIA World Council rules on karting changes FIA World Council rules on karting changesTotal has won the tender to be the sole fuel supplier to the 2007 CIK-FIA Championships.

Dunlop has won the tender to be the sole tire supplier to the 2007 CIK-FIA Championships.

Dell’Orto has won the tender to be the sole Carburetor supplier to the CIK-FIA Championships for three years from 2007 to 2009.

SRW Events has won the tender for the media and marketing rights to the 2007 and 2008 CIK-FIA Championships.

The North American Karting Championship has been re-introduced to the
CIK-FIA calendar. It will take place on 1-3 June, 2007 in Newcastle, Indiana.

The CIK-FIA World Karting Championship will take place at Mariembourg, Belgium* on 20-23 September 2007.

*Pending the homologation of the circuit.

FIA moves to lower costs in FIA-GT series FIA moves to lower costs in FIA-GT seriesA program for reducing costs in the 2007 FIA GT Championship was agreed:
  • The number of events counting towards the Championship will be limited to 10.
    Events will be run over two days.
  • Races will run for two hours and each car will have to perform two mandatory pit stops.
  • Each car will be allowed to use a maximum three engines per season.
  • Each car will use a single set of gearbox ratios for the entire season and a maximum of three final drives homologated by the FIA.
  • The championship will have a sole supplier of brakes, homologated by the FIA.

Following the acceptance of these principles, detailed regulations will be submitted to the December World Council.

Shell has won the tender to be the sole fuel supplier to the 2007 and 2008 FIA GT Championships.

Panta has won the tender to be the sole fuel supplier to the 2007 and 2008 FIA World Touring Car Championships.

World Rally to switch to single tire supplier World Rally to switch to single tire supplierIt seems the FIA is following the USA's lead in all its racing series. A tender will be issued for a single tire manufacturer to equip all World Rally Cars entered in the 2008 World Rally Championship.
Bridgestone brings option tires to Surfers Bridgestone brings option tires to SurfersFor the first time in history, Bridgestone brings its softer option tires to Surfers Paradise.

Potenza Race Tires Supplied: Bridgestone delivered 668 dry-condition (“slicks”) and 288 wet-condition (“rains”) Potenza race tires for use this weekend. All were produced at the Bridgestone Technical Center in Akron, Ohio. Per Champ Car World Series regulations, Bridgestone brought two dry-tire specifications and a single wet-tire spec, broken down in the following manner:

   * Standard dry-condition tires: Each car receives six sets of standard specification slicks (24 tires) for the weekend, to use in the practice, qualifying and race sessions. New for 2006, the primary Potenza selected for Surfers falls into the mid-range of the current Bridgestone street-course tire family. This spec was available to Champ Car teams that participated in the open test at Fontana earlier this year and was also used at all street-course type team testing at venues including Sebring and Firebird.

   * Alternate dry-condition tires: Each car receives two sets of alternate slicks (eight tires) to use this weekend; they are easily identified by their bright red sidewalls. At least one set of alternates must be used for a stint in Sunday’s race. The Bridgestone alternate tire’s construction is identical to the standard slick, but the alternate possesses a tread compound with better grip (“softer”), making it faster but possibly not quite as durable. The alternate Potenza for this weekend was previously used this season as the primary tire on the streets of Houston, Toronto, San Jose and Denver.

   * Wet-condition tires (“rains”): Each car receives up to four new sets of grooved-tread Potenza rain tires (16 tires) per weekend on road and street courses, as needed. In addition, each car may use two sets of same-spec rain tires issued at a previous event. Bridgestone officials opted for their “softer,” or higher-grip, rain-tire specification for this weekend.

Quote from Al Speyer, Executive Director, Bridgestone Motorsport: “Like everyone in the Champ Car World Series, we at Bridgestone are thrilled once again to make our annual trek to Australia for one of the greatest events in all of motorsports. The Bridgestone red alternate tires will be used this weekend for the first time on the tight and fast street circuit at Surfers, and we are looking forward to enhancing what is always an exciting show. The Australian fans are among the best in the world when it comes to their enthusiasm and support, and I know they will appreciate the added drama that the alternate tires create.” Bridgestone

FIA releases '07 WTCC and FIA-GT calendars FIA releases '07 WTCC and FIA-GT calendars
2007 FIA World Touring Car Championship
11 March BR Curitiba***
15 April MEX Puebla***
20 May E Valencia*
03 June F Pau**
17 June CZ Brno
08 July P Porto**
29 July TR Istanbul
02 September D Oschersleben
23 September GB Brands Hatch
07 October I Monza
18 November MO Macau
*Pending the ASN’s confirmation.
**Pending the homologation of the circuit.
***Subject to homologation of the circuit prior to 31 December 2006.

2007 FIA GT Championship
25 March CN Zhuhai
06 May GB Silverstone
20 May* RO Bucarest (City)**
24 June I Monza
8 July* D Oschersleben
29 July B 24 Hrs Spa
08 September I Adria
23 September* CZ Brno
30 September* F Nogaro
or 7 October*
21 October B Zolder
*Pending the ASN’s confirmation.
**Pending the homologation of the circuit.

FIA releases '07 and '08 World Rally calendars FIA releases '07 and '08 World Rally calendars
2007 FIA World Rally Championship
 19-21 January MC Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo
09-11 February S Swedish Rally
16-18 February N Rally Norway
09-11 March MEX Rally Mexico
30 March-01 April P Rally de Portugal
04-06 May RA Rally Argentina
18-20 May I Rally Italia-Sardinia
01-03 June GR Acropolis Rally of Greece
03-05 August FIN Rally Finland
17-19 August D Rallye Deutschland
31 August-02 September NZ Rally New Zealand
05-07 October E Rallye de España
12-14October F Rallye de France - Tour de Corse
26-28 October J Rally Japan
16-18 November IRL Rally Ireland
30 November - GB Rally GB
2008 FIA World Rally Championship
 25-27 January MC Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo
08-10 February S Swedish Rally
07-09 March SA (Rally South Africa)*
28-30 March JOR Jordan Rally
11-13 April C (Cyprus Rally)*
25-27 April RA Rally Argentina
16-18 May I Rally Italia-Sardinia
30 May-01 June GR Acropolis Rally of Greece
13-15 June TR Rally of Turkey
27-29 June PL (Rally Poland)*
01-03 August FIN Rally Finland
15-17 August D Rallye Deutschland
29-31 August NZ Rally New Zealand
12-14 September AUS Rally Australia
03-05 October E Rallye de España
10-12 October F Rallye de France - Tour de Corse
24-26 October J Rally Japan
28-30 November GB Rally GB
* Rally South Africa, Cyprus Rally and Rally Poland will be subject to inspection in 2007. One of the three events will be included in the 2008 calendar. The World Motor Sport Council agreed that all future candidate events must first be part of an FIA Regional Championship.
Industry News
CITGO to run ads aid backlash CITGO to run ads aid backlashCITGO Petroleum Corp. went on the attack Monday in new ads that blast what it calls "misleading and inaccurate" criticisms of the Houston-based arm of the Venezuelan oil company.

The ads reaffirm its commitment to the U.S. market and work to counter the backlash from a speech a month ago by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in which he called President Bush "the devil" during a visit to the United Nations.

In the first ad, which appeared Monday in the Washington Post, CITGO President Felix Rodriguez said critics are doing more damage to CITGO’s thousands of U.S. employees and small-business owners who sell CITGO gasoline than to the company itself.

"We understand that, as a corporation, we cannot always control the environment in which we operate, but we feel compelled to set the record straight out of respect for our employees, business partners and consumers," he said. More at Houston Chronicle

F1 goes with GPS tracking system F1 goes with GPS tracking systemA GPS marshalling system, involving a cockpit light display of flag signals, will be introduced to the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship. The GPS system will feature a cockpit light display of flag signals. The system will enable the race director to see the exact location of all cars at all times. It also will be able to communicate with the cars to illuminate cockpit lights and allow drivers to give a start abort signal if necessary.

Even NASCAR has a GPS tracking system in use which enables TV to display information about the cars. It was rather surprising to see Champ Car not implement such a system for its new DP01. GPS is rather common in passenger cars these days, so to implement such a system in Champ Car would seem to be quite doable, as NASCAR and F1 have show. Perhaps that will be a future enhancement.

FIA World Council rules on F1 changes FIA World Council rules on F1 changesThe World Motor Sport Council met in Barcelona on October 18, 2006. The following decisions were taken with regard to F1:

In regard to the US$5 million fine against the National Sporting Authority of Turkey (TOSFED) and the Organizers of the Turkish Grand Prix (MSO), a US$2.5 million payment from MSO has been unanimously accepted. This removes MSO’s liability. The remaining monies are still owed by TOSFED.

The following sporting regulations were approved for the 2007 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Teams may only use two cars in any one practice session. A nominated third driver or either race driver can use these cars in the session. The two free practice sessions on the first day of practice have been extended from one hour to ninety minutes each.

The single tire supplier is required to provide identical quantities and specifications of tires to all teams over a calendar year. It may only provide two specifications of tire at each Event. The quantity of dry-weather tires each driver may use at an Event has been increased from seven sets to 14. A maximum of four sets will be available to each driver for the first day of practice and 10 for the remainder of the Event.

The two-race engine regulations will now only apply to the second day of practice and the day of the race. Engines homologated and used during the last two Events of 2006 must now be used during the 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons.

Safety Car
When the Safety Car is deployed no car is permitted to enter the pits until all are bunched up behind the Safety Car. This is to remove all incentive for cars to be driven quickly back to the pits for refueling when the Safety Car is deployed. Before the Safety Car returns to the pits any lapped car between cars running on the lead lap must pass those cars and the safety car. It may then proceed around the track to take up position at the back of the line of cars behind the safety car. Before a race is resumed any lapped car between cars running on the lead lap must pass those cars and the safety car and then proceed around the track to take up position at the back of the line of cars behind the safety car.

The stewards may now impose grid place penalties.

The following sporting regulations were approved for the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship.

  • FIA ECU to be fitted for all testing in addition to races.
  • A 10 place grid penalty will be issued for an engine change, as opposed to a weight penalty.
  • A five place grid penalty will be issued for a gearbox change, as opposed to a weight penalty.
  • Gear ratios may be changed once per race under supervision.
  • Damaged gear ratios and dog rings may be changed without penalty provided it is evident physical damage has not been made deliberately.

Ferrari’s request to supply two teams with engines in the 2008 championship has been accepted.

Cosworth’s F1 re-entry hopes dashed Cosworth’s F1 re-entry hopes dashedFerrari’s request to supply two teams with engines in the 2008 championship has been accepted by the FIA World Council.  Cosworth had a chance of making a comeback to F1 after 2007 with the rule that a manufacturer could only supply one other team with engines starting in 2008.  That regulation would have meant that Ferrari would not have been able to continue supplying both Red Bull Racing and Spyker MF1 beyond next season - meaning there would be an opening for Cosworth.  That opportunity is now lost and Cosworth's only hope is to find a car manufacturer who might badge their engine, something we have been saying for years.
tv news
2007 IRL TV schedule 2007 IRL TV scheduleUPDATE Dear AutoRacing1.com, No matter how the IRL like to spin it, this is the worse TV schedule imaginable and underscores the fact that NASCAR, not IRL, will be ABC and ESPN's primary motorsports focus. Five races on ESPN2, which gets miniscule ratings, cannot be good and the start of the season leading up to the Indy 500 is all on ESPN or ESPN2. Terry Jones, Indianapolis, IN

10/18/06 (INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.) -- With the confirmation of Michigan International Speedway on the schedule, Indy Racing League officials have completed a 17-race schedule for the 2007 IndyCar® Series season, featuring the most diverse championship in all of motorsports.
The schedule, which will have races on 12 ovals, three on permanent road courses and two on temporary street circuits, includes every venue which hosted the IndyCar Series in 2006 plus new events at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio and the Raceway at Belle Isle near Detroit.
“The 2007 schedule is clearly the most diverse schedule in IndyCar Series history and one of the most diverse in motorsports today,” said Brian Barnhart, president and chief operating officer for the Indy Racing League, sanctioning body for the IndyCar Series. “The schedule offers night races, short ovals, speedways, street courses and road courses with each track offering its unique personality that should produce exciting racing.”
Each IndyCar Series event will be televised nationally by ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. The 2007 television schedule will include seven events on ABC, five on ESPN and five on ESPN2.  zzzz
“We are pleased to once again bring the speed and excitement of IndyCar Series racing to the viewers of ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 in 2007,” said John Wildhack, senior vice president of programming and acquisitions for ESPN. “This will be our 43rd year at the Indianapolis 500 and our 12th with the IndyCar Series. We look forward to more of the close competition and thrilling races that this series is famous for.”
For the sixth consecutive season, Homestead-Miami Speedway will serve as host for the season opener, but for the first time, IndyCar Series teams begin the season under the lights with a prime-time race scheduled for Saturday, March 24.
The race is one of five prime-time races on the schedule joining races at Texas Motor Speedway, Richmond International Raceway, Nashville Superspeedway and Kentucky Speedway as events held under the lights.
“We are committed to continuing the compacted schedule we introduced in 2006 with 17 races scheduled in a 25-week period, including the Month of May at Indianapolis and the two-week lead time for the event at Twin Ring Motegi,” Barnhart said. “In completing the schedule we achieved our two primary goals of returning to all of the venues that were on our 2006 calendar while adding three events to the schedule, and we truly appreciate the efforts made by all of the tracks on our schedule allowing the IndyCar Series to maximize the potential of its 2007 schedule.”
Chicagoland Speedway again will host the season finale on Sunday, Sept. 9. It will mark the second consecutive season that 1.5-mile oval will host the season finale. The 91st Indianapolis 500 is slated for May 27. Other highlights on the 2007 schedule include:
•        The IndyCar Series’ stop at Kansas Speedway moves to April 29 giving the IndyCar Series an extra event prior to the Indianapolis 500 for the first time since 2002 while allowing the Kansas Speedway to offer fans a cooler springtime date rather than a hot, humid July date.
•        The Milwaukee Mile event moves to June 3, one week after the Indianapolis 500, resurrecting a tradition that began in 1946. From 1947-1995, The Milwaukee Mile traditionally hosted the cars and drivers of the Indianapolis 500 in the weeks following the 500-Mile race. Eight drivers have been able to pull the Indianapolis-Milwaukee double, including four-time Indianapolis 500 winner A.J. Foyt, for whom the IndyCar Series race is named. In addition to Foyt, many Indianapolis 500 champions have competed at The Mile, including every Indianapolis 500 winner since 1946, with the exception of 1966 “500” winner Graham Hill.
•        With Kansas’ shift, the historic 3.37-mile road course at Watkins Glen International will have its third date in as many years, July 8, but the Fourth of July weekend has always been the track’s preferred choice for the IndyCar Series event with the intent to make the weekend a mid-summer institution.
•        Michigan International Speedway will move from its traditional July weekend to August 5 allowing the IndyCar Series to reach its intended goal of 17 events.
The ESPN alliance dates back to the league’s inaugural 1996 event with ABC’s’ first broadcast of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race in 1965, a relationship that is the second-longest in sports between a network and sports property.
The complete 2007 IndyCar Series schedule follows:
Date Venue Television
March 24 Homestead-Miami Speedway, 1.5-mile oval (Night) ESPN2
April 1 Streets of St. Petersburg, 1.8-mile street course ESPN
April 21 Twin Ring Motegi, 1.5-mile oval ESPN
April 29 Kansas Speedway, 1.5-mile oval ESPN2
May 27 Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 2.5-mile oval ABC
June 3 The Milwaukee Mile, 1-mile oval  ABC
June 9 Texas Motor Speedway, 1.5-mile oval (Night) ESPN2
June 24 Iowa Speedway, 0.875-mile oval ABC
June 30 Richmond International Raceway, 0.75-mile oval (Night) ESPN
July 8 Watkins Glen International, 3.37-mile road course ABC
July 14 Nashville Superspeedway, 1.33-mile oval (Night) ESPN
July 22 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, 2.258-mile road course ABC
Aug. 5 Michigan International Speedway, 2-mile oval ESPN2
Aug. 11 Kentucky Speedway, 1.5-mile oval (Night) ESPN2
Aug. 26 Infineon Raceway, 2.4-mile road course ESPN
Sept. 2 The Raceway at Belle Isle, 2.096-mile street course ABC
Sept. 9 Chicagoland Speedway, 1.5-mile oval ABC 


Racing News
SPEED Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking SPEED Weekly Top 20 Driver Ranking
Updated 10-18-06
Pos. (LW) Driver (Series) Pts
1. (1) Sebastien Bourdais (CCWS) 8.200
2. (2) Fernando Alonso (F1) 7.950
3. (15) Jeff Burton (NASCAR) 7.520
4. (4) A.J. Allmendinger (CCWS) 7.515
5. (6) Dan Wheldon (IRL)* 7.438
6. (8) Kasey Kahne (NASCAR) 7.390
7. (18) Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NASCAR) 7.216
8. (3) Matt Kenseth (NASCAR) 7.141
9. (10) Carl Edwards (NASCAR) 7.134
10. (22) Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR) 7.083
11. (16) Tony Stewart (NASCAR) 6.697
12. (14) Kyle Busch (NASCAR) 6.647
13. (5) Kevin Harvick (NASCAR) 6.624
14. (12) Scott Dixon (IRL)* 6.553
15. (17) Sam Hornish Jr. (IRL)* 6.426
16. (9) Brian Vickers (NASCAR) 6.422
17. (19) Justin Wilson (CCWS) 6.297
18. (NR) Bobby Labonte (NASCAR) 6.271
19. (21) Helio Castroneves (IRL)* 6.250
20. (NR) Casey Mears (NASCAR) 6.007
*Season complete

Dropped out: Kurt Busch (NASCAR), Mark Martin (NASCAR), Denny Hamlin (NASCAR), Martin Truex Jr.

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

Rahal recognized as rising star of American motorsports Rahal recognized as rising star of American motorsportsGraham Rahal's outstanding motorsport talent has been recognized by the Champ Car World Series, with the championship organizers honoring him the BBS of America Rising Star Award.

Rahal narrowly missed out on taking the Champ Car Atlantics title, finishing runner up in the overall points standings. But he did break many records in his pursuit of success, including becoming the youngest ever winner of an Atlantics race. He notched up more season records than any other driver, with an impressive list of accolades.

Youngest winner ever of Atlantics Race (Monterrey)
Most race wins, 5 victories
Most laps led, 32% of the total
Most fastest race laps, 5 events
Highest ranking prize money winner
Best average qualifying position of the field
New Qualifying record in Monterey
New fastest race lap record in Monterey
New qualifying lap record in Portland
New Fastest race lap record in Toronto
New Fastest race lap in San Jose
New qualifying lap record in Denver
New fastest race lap record in Denver
Tied for series lead in pole (four)
Second in Rookie of the Year
Second in Atlantics Series Drivers championship
Only driver this season to sweep every possible point on a race weekend
BBS Rising Star Award winner zzzz

The 17 year old racer, son of Indycar legend, Bobby Rahal, has enjoyed success throughout his career and is set to continue with an anticipated move to Champ Cars next season.

He says, "I've had a busy year of racing and had some great results; it's a shame I missed out on the Atlantics title and if just one of our DNFs had been finishes, it might have been a different story. But I'm proud of what I have achieved this season and I think I've demonstrated that I have the ability to race hard and get the wins. "

Rahal is continuing with his racing season, competing in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport with A1 Team Lebanon. He travels to Beijing, China, for the next round of the Series from 10 - 12 November. Rahal PR

Junqueira hopes to get back to winning ways in Surfers Junqueira hopes to get back to winning ways in SurfersThe more difficult the course, the better suited it is to Brazilian Bruno Junqueira’s driving style.  Junqueira missed the opportunity to not only win multiple events in Australia in 2005, he also missed the opportunity to do it back-to-back after having won here in 2004 but missed last year’s event while recuperating from his accident in the Indy 500.  Undoubtedly, he has been looking forward to his return to the streets of Surfers Paradise for longer than anyone else in the field.

“Australia is one of my favorite races and I won there in 2004 so I have good memories,” said the Brazilian who arrived to the Gold Coast on Monday.  “In 2004 I passed people on the track and had a quick pit stop that put me in a good position to win.  I have always done well in Australia; I’ve been on the pole and got great results there over the years.  Unfortunately I missed the chance to defend my win there last year but I am looking forward to returning this year and picking up where we left off.  There is always a big party on Sunday night but the one in 2004 was even better.  It was great to win there and it would be nice to do it again especially since no one has even won there twice.” zzzz

In his four previous races here. Junqueira came close to winning the pole twice (2002 and 2003) as well as the event twice before accomplishing the feat in 2004 from a third place start.  He was the provisional polesitter in 2003 but started second and led a race high 29 laps in the 47-lap event but crashed late in the race and finished 15th.  In 2002, he lost pole position to NHR driver Cristiano da Matta by a mere 1-1000ths of a second and led eight laps but finished 14th due to the timing of the rain-shortened event that favored backmarkers.  He started and finished 21st in his first race here in 2001 due to contact.  Junqueira is currently ranked sixth in the Champ Car standings with 177 points but is only seven away from fourth place ranked Paul Tracy (184) with two events to go.  He is looking forward to his return to not only his favorite street course of the season but also his favorite event.

“The Australian track is a street course but it is very, very long,” added Junqueira, whose season highlights are second place finishes in Cleveland, Denver and Road America.  “It’s almost a two minute lap.  It’s for sure the most difficult of all street courses and it is fun to drive.  In Australia everything is great on track and off track.  We spend a week there and go to the beach and relax and have time for the drivers and teams to hang out with each other.  Once we get on the track it’s pretty cool because we have such a great crowd, over 300,000 people.”

“I think everybody enjoys going to Australia because it’s a week long festival and everybody is on vacation,” added Bourdais.  “You’ve got contests going from one building to another.  You fly a long time to get there and it does deliver what is promised.  It’s getting toward the end of the season and the Australian experience is just something different and everybody enjoys it.  We are still concentrating on the job at hand but in the meantime we can feel the atmosphere without being part of it.  Just seeing how the fans seem to enjoy it is enough for us and it makes us proud to be part of it.” NHRPR

Bourdais could make history Bourdais could make historySURFERS PARADISE, Queensland, Australia --- McDonald’s driver Sebastien Bourdais hopes to drive to victory in this weekend’s Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, Queensland Australia and be the first Champ Car driver to win three consecutive open-wheel titles since Ted Horn accomplished the feat from 1946 to 1948.  Although he needs only to finish ninth or better in the 59-lap race on the 2.795-mile street course, Bourdais would like nothing better than to clinch the title in style with a victory like he did last year.

“Last year’s scenario was great because we just had to start the race (to win the title) and we could concentrate on racing,” said Bourdais who started second and took the lead after pitting one lap later than Paul Tracy last year and went on to win.  “In the meantime you want something coming from the race itself.   We wanted to finish the championship (fight) but it was kind of easy because we just had to take the start but we wanted to finish on a good note.  We were very successful and we brought the McDonald’s car to the top step on the podium.  It was a great race; we had a lot of speed and I had a great time the whole race. It’s always a great place to come and race and I guess last year it was even better because it was pretty relaxed and we just had to enjoy ourselves.  You can’t anticipate what can happen but we would be very happy to repeat last year’s scenario and win the race and clinch the championship in style.” zzzz

The only two drivers with a mathematical chance of winning the title are A.J. Allmendinger and Justin Wilson who reside 58 and 69 points behind Bourdais, respectively.  Although unexpected problems could arise that could prohibit a strong finish, Bourdais has historically been a contender for a top three finish in every race this season although he failed to finish two.  In Cleveland he started third but Paul Tracy made contact with his car and drove over the top of it in a scary accident and in Denver, Tracy slid into Bourdais entering the final turn on the penultimate lap and dropped him from second to seventh place.  A competitive setup for the Australian track has Bourdais optimistic of a fun and successful weekend. 
“I think the McDonald’s team has been very, very quick over the years in Australia,” said Bourdais, who used the downtime since the previous race to run and finish third in the Petit Le Mans sports car race in Atlanta.  “The baseline setup has been very quick for the last couple of seasons there and as the track comes to us it seems to be ever better.  I just hope that when we unload the car we are on the pace right off.  It’s a fun track and a fun event and I am looking forward to it.  As we know the weather can throw everything away but whatever the conditions are we seem to be able to put together a car that is reasonably quick.  I just hope that we enjoy ourselves and that is what we are going to focus on.” 

In 2005, Bourdais became the 15th different winner in the 15th event in Australia.  Of those 15 events, Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) drivers have won five races, seven poles, and amassed nine podiums.  NHR not only won the race last year, they started in the top spot here when Oriol Servia earned his first Champ Car career pole although he was hit from behind on the start and fought back to a fifth place finish.  Of the 2006 field, Mario Dominguez (2002), Paul Tracy (1995 with NHR), Bourdais and his teammate, Hole in the Wall Camps driver Bruno Junqueira, have the opportunity to become the first driver to win multiple events on one of the most challenging street courses of the season. 

“The track is pretty tough; it’s very easy to make a mistake.  And usually if you make a mistake there you’re going to hit something,” said Bourdais who won here in 2005, finished second in 2004 and made contact when rain and hail fell in 2003 after he started from pole.  “The chicanes -- there is no free pass there; you have to try and make it and if you don’t make it you’re going to hit something.  It’s so nerve-wracking but that’s also why it’s a tough race to win because lap after lap after lap you can’t make any mistakes but you still have to push really hard.  It’s been a real challenge over the years.” NHRPR

formula bmw
EuroInternational goes with Wickens and Coletti EuroInternational goes with Wickens and ColettiEurointernational announced today that it has secured the driving talent of Robert Wickens and Stefano Coletti for the DELL Formula BMW World Final 2006 scheduled on the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo at Valencia, Spain from November 24 to 26, 2006.

Eurointernational has dominated the 2006 FBMWUSA Championship winning the Team and Drivers Championship with Robert Wickens, while , with only two events, Stefano Coletti has won 3 races and finished second in the other, at Montreal and Indianapolis F1 GP events, ending up fifth in the FBMWUSA Championship.

“It is a dream Team with Robert and Stefano at the World Final,“ said Team owner Antonio Ferrari, "and we will combine our USA and Italian Teams for the best effort possible. Eurointernational, Wickens and Coletti have some unfinished business since last year's Bahrain FBMW World Final, and all of us are looking forward to race in Valencia, bringing our Red-Bull livery cars in the winner circle.”

An overall prize fund of $60,000 is at stake for the drivers, and the overall winner of the World Final will get to test for the BMW Sauber F1 Team.

Dominguez turns down ride, Telmex to sponsor Duran Dominguez turns down ride, Telmex to sponsor DuranUPDATE With regard to this original report, Mario Dominguez told AutoRacing1.com Wednesday night in Surfers Paradise, Australia that it was he who turned down the A1GP because he wanted to focus on his Champ Car effort, and not because the team refused him. Dominguez also said that he is trying very hard to put together a deal for next season with Pemex and other Mexican sponsors. He was able to convince TV Azteca to step up their Champ Car effort and they are now not only advertising the Champ Car broadcasts more but they are also putting Mario in soap operas and doing other things to promote Mario and engage the Mexican audience.

Dominguez is also hoping that Champ Car's many races in markets with a lot of Mexican fans will help him land the sponsorship he needs for next year.

"The races in Long Beach, San Jose, Houston, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver and of course Mexico City, all have a lot of Mexican people," said Dominguez, so I hope it makes sense to have a Mexican driver in the series and I am hopeful sponsorship will materialize."

09/21/06 In a press conference today Julio Jauregui, the VP of A1GP Team Mexico announced that the 2007 A1GP Mexico race will be held in Mexico City at the "Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez."  The race will be run the weekend of March 23-25 (pretty close to the NASCAR weekend, if there is one).  The race will also have different concerts (can anyone say Champ Car 3 day festival copycat? )

Jauregui also announced that although the original plan was to have two different drivers, Salvador Duran (right) and Mario Dominguez, their sponsor TELMEX decided that they would only be sponsoring the team if Salvador Duran had the chance to drive all the races of the 2006-2007 schedule.  Therefore, Mario Dominguez is out of his hoped for A1GP ride.

Though not announced at the press conference, the word is that TELMEX will be paying for the race.  A1GP was avoiding using the tracks at Monterey or Mexico City because neither city wanted to help with the investment money.  TELMEX decided to invest the money needed, but nothing is free.  TELMEX wants to call the shots if they are going to pay for the race and sponsor the car of Team Mexico. That is why Salvador Duran will be the only driver of the team. Jose Arrambide reporting from Mexico
Busch Brothers, Mears Lead Second Day Busch Brothers, Mears Lead Second DayAll of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams continued preparation for the season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, with 75 cars testing on the variably-banked 1.5-mile oval in the final official test of the 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series campaign.

Brothers Kyle and Kurt Busch posted the two fastest speeds of the afternoon. The test gave several Toyota teams the opportunity to test their 2007 Camrys, while five Cars of Tomorrow also participated.

The test began Monday with 40 teams and 63 cars on hand, joined by an additional 13 teams on Tuesday. While the three-day test ends Wednesday, teams and drivers are allowed to only drive on two days.

Kyle Busch ran the fastest time Tuesday afternoon, touring the 1.5-mile oval in 30.790 in the No. 5 Hendrick Chevrolet. Kurt Busch, the 2003 Ford 400 winner and 2004 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion, was second in the No. 2 Penske Racing South Dodge, 30.818.

Casey Mears, who led Monday's testing with a lap of 31.200, was third with a best lap of 31.529 in the No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge. Ganassi teammate Reed Sorenson was fifth, behind Penske's Ryan Newman. zzzz

"We've got competitive cars," Mears said. "We've just got to keep working on them and find a good balance. The track keeps changing. There are more cars here today and they're putting more rubber down, so it's getting slick in the lower two grooves. When we come back here the racing groove is going to be the top, like it was last time."

Mears finished fifth in the 2005 Ford 400, trailing Roush Racing teammates Greg Biffle, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards.

"We ran really good last year and led a lot of the race. We had a real good car," Mears said. "Hopefully, we can take some of the stuff we learned last year and hopefully improve on it a little bit more. The biggest thing that we didn't have last year was short-run speed, and we have that now, because we're able to put a pretty good number on the board."

Ganassi Racing will be looking for its second victory of the year at Homestead. In March, Dan Wheldon won the IRL IndyCar Series opener here, the Toyota Indy 300.

"We're going to try," Mears said. "We want to win before the year is out. Hopefully, we can win before we come back to Homestead, but if we don't, it would be nice to at least win the last race."

The Ford 400 will be Mears' final race for Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Next year, Juan Pablo Montoya will take over the No. 42, while Mears will drive the No. 25 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.

Montoya, running his first official test in a NEXTEL Cup Series car, had the 46th-fastest car, 31.863 seconds in the No. 30 Ganassi Dodge.

Mike Skinner had the fastest 2007 Toyota Camry on Tuesday, 31.661 seconds.

The test also included five Cars of Tomorrow, led by Carl Edwards in the No. 99 Roush Ford with a lap of 32.279 seconds.

Mired back in 22nd - in the fastest Ford on Tuesday - was defending two-time Ford 400 winner Biffle.

"We got one of our cars running pretty good, but the other one wasn't running as fast as we wanted it to be so we put it away," Biffle said. "It's decent. I don't know if we can do it again. We'll see. We're running good here, so we have a chance to win here again."

The test concludes Wednesday, with action 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.

Ford Championship Weekend also includes Friday evening's Ford 200, the final race in the 2006 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season.

Tickets are still available for all three weekend races, including limited seats in a temporary grandstand that will be added for the sold-out Ford 400. For ticket information, call (866) 409-RACE.

Beattie welcomes Champ Car Beattie welcomes Champ CarQueensland Premier Peter Beattie and a host of government officials welcomed the Champ Car Series back to Surfers Paradise Wednesday night at an evening reception held at the Conrad Jupiters Hotel. All the Champ Car drivers were there and AutoRacing1.com was on-hand to capture the evening's activities.


Latest F1 news in brief Latest F1 news in brief
Sainz gets all-clear to drive Alonso's Renault
Home city to mark Schu's last race
Glock set for BMW test, 2007 seat
Soccer fans won't miss Alonso title bid
Webber says joining Williams was 'mistake'
Toyota confirm Montagny as test driver
China's F1 boss in scandal probe
What to look for at Surfers What to look for at Surfers 
Going for Three –Sebastien Bourdais is chasing history to join Ted Horn as the only driver to win three consecutive Champ Car titles and holds a 58-point lead over A.J. Allmendinger. Bonus points not withstanding, Sebastien Bourdais needs to finish ninth or better to clinch the 2006 Champ Car title this weekend. Last year Bourdais captured his second Champ Car title by winning in Surfers Paradise.    

At Home Down Under -  Since 1991 there have been five Australian drivers compete in the Champ Car race on the Gold Coast, Gary Brabham (1992 and 93); Jason Bright (2000); David Besnard (2004); Marcus Marshall (2005); Will Power (2005). All except Marshall were also making their Champ Car debuts in the race. Besnard’s seventh placing has been the highest by an Australian. This year two more Aussies will have a chance to try to beat that mark. Will Power who hails from Toowoomba currently leads the rookie-of-the-year point standings with two races remaining. Ryan Briscoe who calls Sydney, Australia his hometown, will be making his Champ Car debut this weekend. Zzzz   

Unpredictable Oz – The 2.795-mile Surfers Paradise street course holds the series record for most consecutive races without a repeat winner. 15 different drivers have visited Victory Lane in the 15 years of the event, the longest streak of any track in Champ Car history. Paul Tracy, Mario Dominguez, Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais are the drivers in this year’s event that have a chance to end that run in 2006.   

Briscoe Debut – This weekend Australian Ryan Briscoe will be making his first Champ Car start in front of his fellow country men at the Lexmark Indy 300 for the RuSPORT team filling in for the injured Cristiano da Matta. One of the most versatile drivers in the sport today, Briscoe has competed in V8 Supercars, Grand-Am sports cars and Indy Racing League machines this season.   

Out of Elbow Room –Sebastien Bourdais may be the clear leader in the standings by 58 points, but throughout the point queue there is a number of close battles going on.  With his victory at Road America Allmendinger retook the second position and now holds it by eleven markers over Justin Wilson. Nine points currently separate fourth from seventh and a single point separates tenth place Dan Clarke and eighth place Oriol Servia.   

Powering to the Top – Will Power has been the most consistent rookie this season on the Champ Car circuit and as a result currently leads the battle for Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year, over fellow rookie Dan Clarke who has cut Power’s lead down to seven points. Power currently holds seventh place in the overall point standings, just seven points from breaking into the top-five.   

Wirth the Trip – After driving a stellar year in the Champ Car Atlantic Series, German stand out Andreas Wirth will be making his first voyage to the Gold Coast to compete in the Lexmark Indy 300. Wirth began his career in North America by capturing the 2004 Formula BMW Championship title. From there he moved up into the Atlantic Series finishing 6th in 2005 and 3rd in 2006.   

Leading laps does not always equal wins - In nine out of fifteen years Champ Car has run in Australia, the victor has led eighteen laps or less during the event. The mark for least number of laps a winner has led was 3 and it was set by Emerson Fittipaldi in 1992. The mark for most laps led was set in 1994 when Michael Andretti led from start to finish, leading all 55 laps.   

Aussie Crowd Control – The Lexmark Indy 300 is one of the biggest events in all of Australia, drawing hundreds of thousands of fans to see the turbocharged Champ Cars. Last year’s race broke the existing Australia attendance record as 316,459 fans streamed through the gates during race weekend.   

The Victorious Trio - Sebastien Bourdais, A.J. Allmendinger and Justin Wilson are the only drivers to win Champ Car races this year through 12 events. The record for fewest winners in a season is three, that coming in 1964 when A.J. Foyt won 10 of 13 races while Parnelli Jones (two) and Lloyd Ruby (one) shared the other three.   

Do We Hear Twenty? – Alex Tagliani was the first driver to retire from the Lexmark Indy 300 in 2004, ending his day after Lap 19 contact. Remarkably, 19 laps is the deepest that any Champ Car race in Australia had gone before a retirement in its previous 15 seasons.   

All American - A.J. Allmendinger kept himself in the championship chase with his victory in Road America. The American ace overcame a pair of large margins where he trailed Bourdais by more than 10 seconds, to take his fifth victory of the season. In his two starts on the Gold Coast course Allmendinger has a top start of fourth, a runner up finish, and has led 6 laps.  

  Zooming in on Zwolsman - For Charles Zwolsman it was a career day in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin as he posted his best qualifying effort of third and best finish of seventh in his rookie season. Going into Surfers the rookie looks to continue a string of six consecutive top-ten runs, which currently ties him for the most by a rookie contender this season.  

National Pride –As the grid is set for the Lexmark Indy 300 each driver will have the colors of their homeland displayed proudly as they try to win the Nation’s Cup for their country. Currently, France has run out to a 38-point lead over England after 12 events.  The lone, American A.J. Allmendinger’s victory in Road America moved the U.S. within 20 points of catching the British trio of Justin Wilson, Dan Clarke and Katherine Legge. Champ Car
Toyota signs Montagny Toyota signs MontagnyPanasonic Toyota Racing has reached an agreement for Franck Montagny to become its third driver.

The team is delighted to add Franck to its driver line-up and he will complement race drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli, who are already confirmed for next season. He will begin his new role from the start of next year.

Franck, 28, boasts five years of Formula 1 testing experience and has already established a good feeling with the team after making his debut in a Toyota TF106B at Silverstone on 19 September.

Panasonic Toyota Racing Chairman and Team Principal Tsutomu Tomita said: "Franck is an experienced driver who knows the tracks and has a strong and successful record of developing Formula 1 cars. His outing at Silverstone was a good opportunity to familiarise himself with the team at a time when discussions were almost complete. He worked well within the team and his performance confirmed we have made the right decision." Toyota F1
Craig Gore might buy everyone a drink Craig Gore might buy everyone a drinkTeam Australia boss Craig Gore will consider shouting the entire Indy track if his team can win Sunday's race.

 The Lexmark Indy 300 carnival officially hit town yesterday after the entire fleet of Champ cars arrived in pit lane.

The Gold Coast developer talked up the chances of his team winning the event as he inspected the cars yesterday.

"I think we've a chance of winning it, I really do. We've been very close to podiums all year and unfortunately we just haven't been able to nail it," he said.

Mr. Gore floated the idea of shouting all the bars on track if successful.

"I might buy everyone a drink you never know." zzzz

Two 747 aircraft were chartered to bring 29 Champ Cars to the Surfers Paradise street circuit. The cars arrived at Brisbane Airport on Saturday night and were trucked to the track in the early hours of yesterday.

While Team Australia showed off one car, the remainder of the fleet remained under wraps with Customs officers expected to inspect pit lane today.

Indy chairman Terry Mackenroth said last night everything was in place for a bumper week.

"It's no doubt a great event. It's the best Champ Car event.

"The Champ Car people and the drivers say it's the jewel in the crown for the series," he said.

Organizers are now hoping for fine weather but the forecast is a concern with fine weather expected for most of the week before a large cloud band hits the Coast on Friday.

A spokesman for the weather bureau said it could bring showers.

Mr. Gore said the Surfers Paradise race had evolved into one of the leading events in world sport

"It's probably one of the premier events in the world and I'd be surprised this year if we don't knock the Melbourne event off as the largest event in Australian history," he said.

"I think we do it better than anywhere else in the world." Gold Coast Bulletin

Surfers race could be wet Surfers race could be wetGet ready for another rain-affected Indy.

That's the prediction from weather forecasters who say the main day, Sunday, will be plagued by persistent showers.

"There is a possibility of continuing showers on Sunday," said a weather bureau spokesman.

"Saturday will be mostly fine, quite warm, with fresh southeast winds developing in the afternoon.

"Friday will also be mostly fine. The showers on Sunday will be on and off so it would probably be wise to take an umbrella.

"There is a low chance of a storm."

Indy has become known as the 'drought breaker', consistently being plagued by rain and even hail over the past 14 years. zzzz

The traditional Friday night drag-racing had to be axed from the program in 2004 after being washed out.

The drags are back this year and should be blessed with dry weather.

Organizers are still predicting a 300,000-plus crowd for the four days of non-stop action.

The emergence of Team Australia drivers Will Power and Alex Tagliani as contenders has added extra spice.

Champ Car boss Kevin Kalkhoven said yesterday the Surfers Paradise event had become one of the truly great motorsport carnivals in the world.

"It is the jewel in our crown and it has been that way for some time," he said.

"The Surfers Paradise race is always one of the favorites for the drivers. The fans get into it and beer flows freely."

V8 Supercars boss Tony Cochrane said the event had matured and would command another huge crowd.

"I think the V8s really add that Australian element and there really is something for everyone here now," he said.

"(Indy chairman) Terry Mackenroth has done a very good job in difficult circumstances, with the loss of their CEO (James O'Brien).

"Given good weather, it will be another marquee event."

Mr. Cochrane said the Bathurst 1000 had attracted its best viewing audience in 20 years.

"Our research shows that a lot of Indy fans do come for the V8s and we're happy to share equal billing with the Champ Cars," he said. More at Gold Coast Bulletin

Junqueira just happy to be racing again Junqueira just happy to be racing againYesterday Bruno Junqueira had the world at his feet. On Sunday he will be happy if it's just the Champ Car field.

The 29-year-old Brazilian was on the observation deck of Q1 yesterday, the world's tallest residential tower, surveying the track he has already conquered once.

Junqueira won the Gold Coast Indy race in 2004 but missed the majority of last year after a horror crash in the Indianapolis 500.

"Last year I was in Miami watching the race in Australia on TV and I said: 'I am the reigning champion of this race and here I am'," he said, reflecting on missed opportunities.

"So I am just happy to be racing again." zzzz

Junqueira is sixth in the championship behind his Newman/Haas Racing teammate and champion for the past two years Sebastien Bourdais.

He denies being frustrated at a season that has been good but with an ounce of luck could have been so much better.

Of the 12 Champ Car races this year Junqueira has only been out of the top 10 once in the eight races that he has finished. Of those he has recorded three second places.

"The one thing that has been hard is the lack of luck this year," he said.

"Especially in the start of the season but now things are starting to come my way. I am getting some good results. I hope that coming from a good result (second) in North America I can get a good result here.

"But I finished second in the championship three years in a row (2002-04) and everybody was asking me if it has been frustrating, but no.

"Second is not a bad way to finish a race. First is better. But second is not too bad. This year the best I can do is finish fourth.

"So I certainly would like to have been finishing second this year. But, I am quite happy. I am in a better position than I was last year."

Junqueira had a sensational start to 2005, recording a third and a first before crashing in Indianapolis.

The accident left him with multiple injuries, including fractured vertebrae.

However he says he is now 100 per cent physically and mentally.

"I had no trouble getting my confidence back (after the crash)," he said.

"The first time I got back in the car I was up to speed quite quickly."

Although the best Junqueira can finish in the series is fourth he can etch his name in the Champ Car record books this Sunday. Since the first Indy race in 1991 no driver has won twice.

"I hope I can be the first two-time winner," he said.

"That would be great because I love this race, I love Australia and I enjoy every moment I am here." Gold Coast Bulletin

Legge not slowing down after horror crash Legge not slowing down after horror crashBy her own admission English driver Katherine Legge is lucky to be alive following an horrific crash at the previous Champ Car World Series race in the United States.

The crash was described as one of the worst in Champ Car history as Legge's car disintegrated after hitting the wall at more than 250km/h.

Miraculously, Legge walked away from the smash with only bruising to her legs.

The determined 26-year-old insists she bears no mental scars from the incident, and said she will look to put it behind her with a strong showing at the Lexmark Indy 300 on the Gold Coast this weekend.

"My mum said she paid my guardian angel overtime  but seriously I think people were looking out for me in that race for sure," she said.

"I am very grateful and I am very lucky to be okay so now you just get on with it." zzzz

Legge said she was not nervous about getting back in the car following the crash.

"No, not at all. I think your subconscious does a really good job at just disconnecting your brain if you like and it doesn't feel like you were in the accident," she said.

"I remember it but it doesn't bother me. I have a healthy respect for the danger, don't get me wrong. I don't think I'm invincible or anything stupid like that, but I think you sign up for those risks when you become a race car driver."

Amazingly, Legge said she did not think the crash was as bad as it looked on replay.

"I remember the car spinning off and thinking 'uh oh' and not being able to figure out the thought process of what actually happened," she said.

"Then it switched ends on me and I was thinking 'this isn't going to be good, this isn't going to be pretty'. And then it went in and I thought it wasn't such a big hit, but then things kept hitting me on the head."

The self-confessed adrenaline junkie has her sights set on a top-10 finish in her first race back since the crash. This is in spite of the fact she has never raced here before, and has studied the track by racing on it in a computer game.

"Yeah, I think so  the team had a really good car here last year with Jimmy (Vasser) and Christiano (da Matta)," she said.

"And we had a great car at Road America. We were running sixth and we were pretty strong so hopefully we can be competitive this weekend.

"I would like to finish in the top six or eight and be the lead rookie."

The feisty Pom said she is happy to be on the Gold Coast after hearing so much about the world-renowned event.

"I am excited because you hear so much about it all year. Everyone says 'wait until we get to Surfers', it will be a good experience," she said.

"It is just a great course and we are very excited to be driving it because it is very challenging as it's got a bit of everything.

"There are very fast corners and the crowd is phenomenal from what I hear." Gold Coast Bulletin

Bourdais out to avoid trouble Bourdais out to avoid troubleDefending champion Sebastien Bourdais needs to only finish ninth at the Lexmark Indy 300 to wrap up his third successive Champ Car title but he knows anything can happen on the treacherous streets of Surfers Paradise.

The tight and difficult circuit has a history of surprises and there is hardly a year that goes by without drama occurring on the first lap.

With the title on the line, Bourdais will be praying he can avoid the traditional mayhem at the first chicane and cruise towards his third consecutive championship.

The Frenchman said he does not believe he will be deliberately targeted early in the race.

"Not really. All I am saying is it is very easy to suffer any kind of incident at the start especially," he said.

"So we will just have to watch out and try and stay out of trouble really.

"When you are a title contender, it (the first lap) is one of the very easy occasions to get taken out."

Bourdais will be looking over his shoulder for bitter rival Paul Tracy, as the two have a long history and came to blows earlier this year. zzzz

For the entire season, Bourdais has missed the top three only twice  and both times it was because of contact by Tracy.

At the Denver Grand Prix in August, Bourdais overtook Tracy for second place on the final lap but the Canadian came down the inside line after locking the brakes and took out Bourdais.

The pair got out of their cars and pushed each other following a heated exchange.

There is much bad blood between the two, and Bourdais said he is hoping for a fair race.

"He's (Tracy) a very good but aggressive driver but sometimes he goes too far," he said. "We've had a good race in Montreal, we've had a good race in Elkhart and there were no incidents there.

"I just hope for fair and square races, where you can go at each other hard but fair  it's what racing is all about."

Bourdais is aiming to match Ted Horn (1946-48) as the only Champ Car driver to win three consecutive series titles.

He has a 58-point lead in the standings over second-placed American A.J Allmendinger and admits he will be going in with a cautious approach.

"We know we can do it. The only thing that can stop us from wrapping it up is mechanical or any kind of incident, because if it's all fair and square on the racetrack, finishing ninth isn't really a big deal," he said.

"We will see how it goes, but it is one of those situations where you would really like to go out there and win the race and everything but you really don't need to at all.

"So you might have to be a bit patient and play it safe probably."

He has good memories of the Gold Coast after winning last year and wrapping up back-to-back championships.

He is aiming to become the first driver to win here twice.

"It's a lot of fun coming here. We get to do different things and I think everybody likes it," he said.

"The trip is a drag but everything after that is good." Gold Coast Bulletin

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